Tuesday, January 26, 2010

lemon drizzle cake

Clare was on her last bite and my fork was in midair when Ant piped up. "So, do we have any dessert?" he asked, dimple flashing. Cheeky monkey, I thought, we have a friend over and he knows there's no dessert prepared. I had planned to pull out some ice cream and the tea pot. But Clare started to laugh, and I thought, well, I've got the time. So I decided to whip something up.

I have had this cake bookmarked for several weeks. In Jamie's original version it includes poppy seeds but this walnut version has a nice nutty backdrop to the zesty lemon. The cake only uses one bowl (always a plus for me, since I am not a frequent baker) and the icing is dead simple. Mine is a bit less sweet than Jamie's too; this is not the right blog for rich, unhealthy desserts, as you know.

Lemon Drizzle Cake
adapted from Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook
serves 8 - 10

for the cake:
1/2 c (115 g) butter
1/2 c (115 g) caster sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 c (50 g) ground or finely chopped walnuts
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 c (125 g) flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda

for the drizzle:
1 3/4 c (225 g) icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, beating in well.
Fold in the ground walnuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Spoon the mixture into a 20 cm springform pan.
Bake at 350 F/180 C for 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to make the icing by mixing the icing sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Allow the cake to cool and then pour the icing over top.

Clare was patient while I baked and she laughed as I took photos. Then I pulled out the tea to go with this zesty, fresh cake.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

turkey and peanut stew

I was really inspired by Em's West African Peanut Stew recently. A hearty tomato based stew with peanut butter seems like the perfect hearty, healthy dinner dish. Em's is vegetarian, but I love cooking with turkey for a couple of reasons. We find it more flavourful than chicken, but just as easy. And it's a bit cheaper. I made this easy stew one evening to serve over the last of my black rice. (Actually, the rice here is only one part black rice and two parts brown rice. Look how dark it still is!)

Turkey and Peanut Stew
serves 3

2 T mild oil
2 small or 1 large onion(s), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
200 g turkey breast, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 c (1/4 head) cabbage, sliced
1/2 t crushed chilli flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 c (250 ml) apple juice
1/2 c (90 g) peanut butter

in a large frying pan, heat the oil and then gently sautee the onion and garlic over a medium low heat.
Add the turkey pieces and cook over medium heat until no longer pink (five to eight minutes, based on the size of the pieces).
Add the red pepper and carrots and cook for a further five minutes.
Add the cabbage, chilli flakes, tomatoes and their juice, and apple juice, and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the peanut butter and stir to combine. Heat through and then serve over rice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

whole wheat gems

These little muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a meal since they are not very sweet, but (optionally) contain some raisins for interest. They take only one bowl to whip up and contain things I always have in my cupboard. They are an emergency carb item for veg-laden meals that I want to make appeal to Ant a bit more!

I made up a batch the other night and took the leftovers to work to fill the four o'clock hunger gap. This is the part of the day I find more troublesome and I am always on the lookout for low sugar, nutritious snacks to munch on.

The recipe is adapted from the More-with-Less cookbook, where they are made with graham flour.
Whole Wheat Gems
adapted from More-With-Less Cookbook (World Community Cookbook)
makes 15 small muffins

1 c (120g) graham or whole wheat flour
1 c (125 g) white flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c (75 g) raisins (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 c milk
3 T oil or melted margarine

Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir only until combined.
Fill muffin cups and bake for 12 - 15 minutes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

spicy cucumber salad with toasted almonds

Apologies for my long absence; but now I am back and raring to go again. Home life has been quite busy recently: moving house and then leaving for a two week holiday straight away meant coming home to a disastrously messy flat and no time to fix it up. Happily, I came back from Christmas with an armful of fresh, tasty new cookbooks. So now that I have found my countertops and had the organic veg box delivery reinstated, I am happily humming to myself and cooking again.

This cucumber salad is from one of my brand new books, New Flavours for Vegetables, compiled by Williams-Sonoma, a gift from my cousin Katlyn. The fresh cucumber and spicy chilli pepper made this a refreshing side dish, and made a lovely light meal with grilled fish and mixed sauteed veggies.

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Toasted Almonds
adapted from New Flavours for Vegetables

1/3 c (80 ml) rice vinegar
4 t sugar
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 cucumber
1 small, mild onion
1 small green chilli
3 T whole almonds

In a small saucepan, heat the rice vinegar and sugar gently until sugar is dissolved. Leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan or in the oven, if it is already on. Coarsely chop the toasted almonds.
Thinly slice the cucumber, onion, and chilli. Remove the chilli seeds to make a milder salad, or keep them to make a more spicy one.
Add the veggies and vinegar mixture to a bowl and toss gently. Allow to sit for approximately thirty minutes, stirring it occasionally, to blend the flavours.
Sprinkle with the almonds just before serving.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

photo collages

I am trying out a photo collage. This was a brilliant idea of Sarah's.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

healthy eating

My class was filing out of the room for break, after our healthy eating lesson. Two girls were talking quietly. "And then he said that he ate cheese strings for his lunch." "For his whole lunch?" "Yes, eight of them... Isn't that an entire packet?" "Aren't there twelve in a packet?" "Maybe, but, can you believe it? Eight cheese strings for lunch!" I had asked the class to talk to their partners about all the things they had eaten in the last 48 hours. What a revelation! And they didn't even know that some of what they eat regularly was considered unhealthy.

Then we started to talk about what made up a healthy, balanced diet. I showed some slides based on the Food Standards Agency's eatwell plate. There was obviously a bit of confusion, though, since when I asked them to draw their own plate with a healthy, delicious meal on it, I saw one boy draw chips, mash, and chicken nuggets.

We finished with a game in which students had to make a character throw up. What is it about teenage boys and puke? They love it!

Sadly this is the only healthy eating lesson scheduled for this year's PSHE (Personal, Social, and Health Education) lessons, I think. Let's hope a few messages made it across.


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