Carrot Ginger Almond Cake

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.

Serves 4/6

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.

 

Carrot, coconut and ginger salad from Myanmar

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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.

Serves 4

  • 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.

Vegetarian Harira soup

IMG_7140-001 Harira is a traditional soup from Algeria and Morocco, and it is usually eaten not only during Ramadan but throughout all seasons. This popular recipe may vary according to different tastes and traditions, but is always made with lamb. We experimented a vegetarian version: saving chickpeas and lentils from the original recipe, the result will be a lighter, yet very tasty and beatifully spicy dish.

Serves 4

  • 4 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 red onionr
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red chilli pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste (or fresh radish, peeled and grated)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 lt vegetable stock
  • 1 can tomatoes, finely chopped or blended
  • 1/2 can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • bunch each coriander and parsley, chopped
  • 1 lime

Place the onion, red chilli pepper, garlic cloves and celery in a blender. Coarsely blend and transfer the mix into a large, heavy based pan together with the oil. Wash, peel  and slice the carrots not too finely and combine with the vegetables.

harira

Cook over medium-low heat until softened (20 minutes), add the spices, tomato purée and ginger and stir well.

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After 3 minutes add the stock and tomatoes as well.

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Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and pour the lentils and chickpeas in. Now let simmer for 25 minutes.

Then, stir in the chopped coriander and parsley, season with salt to taste and drizzle with a little more extra-virgin olive oil. For a creamier consistency, I like blending 1/3 of the soup.

Serve hot with lime wedges on the side for cooling.