Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Vegan Coconut Cake

Two of my colleagues are leaving Geneva for the flatter climes of Australia. One of them is, like me, a foodie, so I just had to cook something for their farewell morning tea.

First up... a vegan cake. My friend James is a vegan and every time we have a morning or afternoon tea he is left holding his cup of coffee unable to eat any of the goodies. So I decided that this time around he would not be left cakeless. I wanted to make something that wasn't "typical" vegan food, all wholemeal flours soy and treacle, but something light, fluffy, properly cake-like. So I baked this very yummy coconut cake, only to get to work to discover that James is off this week on holidays. How frustrating! Still, my other colleagues wolfed it down so it was still a success story.

Coconut Cake

3 cups of self raising flour
2 cups caster sugar
1 c dessicated coconut
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups coconut milk
2/3rds of a cup of vegetable oil (something without a strong flavour)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tspns vinegar

Start by putting your oven on to heat up to 180 degrees. Grease and sprinkle a ring tin with flour (I in fact use baker's grease - recipe to come).

In a your mixer combine the flour, dessicated coconut, sugar and salt. Stir in the coconut milk and oil and mix until you get a smooth batter. Just before pouring into the cake tin, stir in the vinegar - this step seems to be the key to getting a lovely light cake with a soft texture and golden crust.

Bake around 1 hour 15 until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes away clean. Don't open the oven to test it until it has been in at least 25 minutes or it will sink! Cool briefly in the pan then turn onto a cooling rack. This cake is beautifully moist and needs no icing.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Simple indulgence - Vanilla Bean Icecream

This gloriously simple icecream can't be beaten. All the complicated fancy icecreams out there, the cookie cream confections and english toffees are just blown out of the water. Creamy, rich, pure... sublime.

4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cream (double cream)
The seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Heat the milk just to the boiling point, remove from the heat. Beat the eggs and sugar together and while beating the milk continuously, add the egg mixture to the milk. Return to the stove and heat gently while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool completely and stir in the cream and vanilla. Pour into your icecream machine and churn/freeze for 20-30 minutes.

Serve au naturale or with fresh fruit or a hot fruit tart - I made this icecream when a friend came over to dinner and served it with a nectarine tart that I invented on the spot.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Coquelet with couscous and mushroom stuffing

I stumbled across a food event somewhere, which was a sort of paddock to plate affair. Cook up your dish, but show the before and after shots.

I found a little coquelet for sale at the markets, just the right size for dinner for one (well actually it made two dinners for one) being just 500g. As a single woman living alone, its not often I get to have a roast, so I snapped this up. I just adore my chickens stuffed (in some countries its called "dressed" which is up there with scones being called "biscuits" for weird descriptions) and it is something I miss very much living in Europe where beasts are roasted a naturale. But I didn't have any bread in the house, so what do I stuff the bird with? Ahah! Couscous... why not!?

So in fact, as I have lost where the paddock to plate food event is happening, this actually became an entry in "Culinarty"'s first foodblog event for an original recipe. Mind you, I could enter just about every dish I cook into this one, as I tend to be a bit of an original when it comes to cooking!

I am afraid I can't offer much in the way of guidance on quantities, as I did it all by eye. The stuffing was pretty straightforward though: make up a half cup of couscous with hot stock, some oregano and some broken up dried mushrooms (bolets and shitakes in this case). Allow to cool and mix in an egg. Stuff inside your bird, then roast. I actually had some extra left of the stuffing and put it into a butterfly cake mould to make this terribly cute stuffing extra.

I served the cooked coquelet with snow peas and potatoes au gratin and discovered that no matter how I arranged things, this meal refused to photograph beautifully. Still, it tasted great, and I guess that is what counts! The couscous stuffing was really very good - I had wondered whether the texture would be odd, but it was tasty and texturally interesting but not too interesting, if you know what I mean.

I decided too to go on to smugly celebrate my all round inventiveness and have added a label to the recipes I put up on the web, marking those which are my own original inventions. So you can go to the list of keywords and choose "Original" to make a collection of Kiriel originals.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Coconut Apricot Slice

Slices seem to be a real Australian phenomenon. I haven't really been able to find them anywhere else, apart from the ubiquitous brownie. But a slice is a beautiful, simple, delicious thing, and I encourage you to take the time to explore and experiment with it. To explain, a slice is a sort of cake made in a shallow rectangular baking tray. Sometimes they are baked, but often the recipes are no-bake, so are wonderful cooking activities to do with children. Being rectangular too, they are also very easily to slice up and share around.

Here is a great no-bake recipe, which is quick to make and always a hit.

Coconut Apricot Slice

250gm unsalted butter
400g white chocolate, broken up
3 cups dried apricots, chopped
100ml cream
500g shortbread biscuits
1 cup dessicated coconut

Line the base of a rectangular baking tray (I used one that is 28cmx44 but you could use 2 18x25cm trays instead) with baking paper.

Put the shortbread biscuits in a strong plastic bag and use a rolling pint to crush the biscuits up to crumbs.

Melt the butter and cream in a saucepan, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Break in the white chocolate and stir till melted and combined. Cool a little then add the biscuits, apricots and dessicated coconut. Press the mixture into your prepared tray and chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Ice with lemon butter icing: 50g melted butter, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 4 cups icing sugar. Chill again and slice in the tray to serve.