This recipe is inspired by a homey-cozy cake Nigella prepared during the Season 10 of my favourite cooking show Masterchef Australia. I substituted the original walnuts with almonds and made some adjustments, but the cake is nonetheless very similar to the original. If you want to have a more refined result, you can even the round top after baked and use a sac a poche for spreading the icing more accurately. But the essence of the cake is rustic, and rustic, in my opinion, has to be maintained.
For the cake:
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 200 gr plain flour
- 175g brown sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 100ml peanuts oil
- 100 ml olive oil, + extra for greasing
- 250gr carrots, peeled and grated
- 100gr almonds, roughly chopped
- 75g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
For the icing:
- 100 gr burro, at room temperature
- 100 gr icing sugar
- 100 g cream cheese
Peel, wash and coarsely grate the carrots. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the sugar, eggs and oil in another large bowl until creamy, then gradually add the flour mixture. Add the carrots, almonds and crystallised ginger and mix well, until everything is evenly combined.
Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan, and line the sides and the base of a 20 cm cake tin with wet parchment paper.
Transfer the mixture into the tin, even the top and bake for 55 minutes. Let the cake cool in its tin.
When the cake is completely cold, whisk the butter and icing sugar together; beat in half the cream cheese. Once the icing is smooth and creamy, add the remaining cream cheese and whisk thoroughly.
Unmold the cake, spread the icing on top and decorate with some almonds and crystallised ginger.
Today my goal is to create a perfect union between a typical Indonesian food like Tempeh and a savoury Mediterranean flavour to achieve a balanced and tasty result. As you might know, Tempeh is the final product of fermented yellow soya beans. Central in the vegan cuisine, Tempeh is a healthy high protein food which can well substitute meat, specially when served together with sauces, vegetabled and dips. Its flavour is slightly acid, which compliments the sweetness of the carrot and onion.
- 1 double pack natural Tempeh (about 150 gr)
- 2 large carrots
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 fresh chilli pepper
- 100 black olives (I normally use Taggiasche)
- 100 ml extravirgin olive oil + extra 4 tbsp
- 20 basil leaves, whashed, drained and tap dried
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
Place the basil leaves in a small food processor together with the olive oil and puls until homogenous and creamy. Pour in a bottle and set aside. This is a simple way to make your own basil oil -you can use it whenever you want to add some flavour to any of your dishes. Just remember to shake it well before using. This will keep up to 2 weeks when correctely stored in the fridge.
In a heavy-based saucepan, or wok, heat 2 tbsp oil and cook the Tempeh, thinly sliced, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until soft and a pale caramel colour. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm.
Peel and thinly shave the carrots with the help of a peeler. Slice the onions and chop the red chilli pepper.
In the same saucepan, or wok, in which you cooked the Tempeh saute the onion and red chilli pepper in the remaining 2 tbsp oil until soft and still white. Add the carrots, fry for 40 seconds, the add the olives and Tempeh. Pour in 2 tbsp soya sauce, season with some sea salt according to your taste and let cook for a few more seconds, until thickened. Serve hot.
To complete you dish, place the Tempeh and vegetables in the centre of your plate and drizzle some of the basil oil around it. Enjoy!
A while ago I was given a box of amchoor, which is dried green mango powder, as a gift. The challenge was to create a recipe with this wonderful ingredient, which is fruity, citrusy and slightly sour. This flavourful yet light curry is the result, which is perfect for spring.
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- 3 zucchini, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 3/4 tbsp amchoor (dried green mango powder)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
For the curry paste:
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 3 garlic clove
- 1 tbps coriander powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup almonds (of which 10 bitter)
Slice the carrots and zucchini, chop the spinach and set aside.
In a blender combine the garlic, ginger, coriander, paprika, turmeric, salt, almonds and 1/4 cup of water, and mix until smooth.
Heat some oil in a frying pan, add the cumin seeds and fry until you hear a few of them pop, then add the paste and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, continuing to stir to avoid burning the spices.
Now add your sliced vegetables and 1 cup of boiling water water. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add the mango powder and brown sugar, stir well and take off the heat. Your curry is now ready to serve, ideally with basmati rice.
How could I better share my love for the people and cuisine of Myanmar, where I recently travelled, if not by giving you some of their most incredible recipes? This salad is a perfect equilibrium of vegetables and spices. It is sweet, tangy, crunchy and flavourful, and I assure you it will be a great success, unless you don’t love the taste of onions and garlic.
- 6 carrots
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 fresh chilli, crushed
- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- peanut oil (if possible, cold pressed)
- 2 tbsp peanuts
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 coconut
- 1 bag pickled ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 limes
Heat 1 peanut cup oil in a medium pan and deep fry until golden and fragrant. Place the fried the onion on kitchen towels to absorb excess oil, replacing with new paper towels if they’re still too oily. Do the exact same procedure with the garlic.
If using a cold pressed oil, keep it and use it to season the salad after frying. In case you can’t find cold pressed peanut oil, season the salad with fresh peanut oil.
Wash, peel and reduce the carrot to a thin julienne (I used a food processor), then open the coconut, remove the flesh and prepare it in the same way you did the carrots (again, I used and recommend using a food processor).
Mix the carrot with the coconut, quartered cherry tomatoes and sliced pickled ginger. Season with the oil (either the frying oil or fresh peanut oil), salt, chilli flakes and lime juice. On top, add the fried onion and garlic, and toasted peanuts.
Nothing is better than this light salad to get back into shape after the Christmas nosh-ups. This recipe is inspired by -and dedicated to- my expert nutritionist, who recommends eating Jerusalem artichokes in good quantity as they are rich in calcium and iron. Plus, they are delicious and filling.
- 8 medium carrots
- 4 medium Jerusalem artichokes
- 2 fresh chives
- 1 big coriander
- 1 lemon
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp sesam oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp light soya sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp flax (optional)
Peel the carrots and Jerusalem artichokes and place in cold water with lemon juice so they won’t darken.
Steam 6 carrots and 3 Jerusalem artichokes until soft, and keep the rest raw.
Prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the cumin seeds, which you will sauté in a sauce pan without oil and then coarsely crush. Chop the coriander and thinly slice the chives lengthways. Let the cumin cool off and mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Use a julienne peeler to cut the raw carrots and Jerusalem artichokes (you can use a regular peeler if you don’t have a julienne peeler; this will create larger ribbons). Place the carrot and artichoke strips in a large bowl together and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top. Once the steamed carrots and artichokes have completely cooled off, dice them and mix together with the chives, the raw vegetable strips, and the honey-sesame dressing. Before serving, taste the salad and add a pinch of salt if needed. Enjoy!