Persian Love Cake…xxx

PersianLCblog

I posted this recipe a while ago now and (after I made it for a lovely Palmy Platters customer on the weekend), thought it was about time I re-visited it. I just love this cake – it is deliciously chewy, exotic and so satisfying – beautiful for morning or afternoon tea and always a winner for dessert. I do love it served with loads of berries and dusted in a little icing sugar. Whenever I look at the list of ingredients I find myself thinking “it can’t be that good” – but it is! Don’t be put off by its simplicity…more often than not, I find simple recipes to be the best.

My recipe is below – I hope you enjoy.

Serves 10 – Prep and cook time 1 hour and 10 mins (plus cooling time)

Ingredients

3 cups almond meal

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup raw sugar

125g butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 cup Greek-style yoghurt

1/2 tablespoon each ground nutmeg, cardamon and cinnamon

Chopped pistachios, pomegranate arils or mixed berries to decorate

Double thickened cream to serve

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan forced). Grease and line a 23cm springform cake pan.

2. Combine almonds and sugars in a large bowl; rub in the butter with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture in half; spoon one half into prepared pan and press evenly over base.

3. Add the eggs, yoghurt and spices to the remaining mixture; stir until combined. Pour over the prepared base and bake for 1 hour or until set.

4. Cool cake completely. Serve scattered with pistachios and pomegranate arils or mixed berries.

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Chicken , mushroom and thyme pie with a quinoa and parmesan crumble…

I recently bought Tim Robard’s new book 7:2:1 Plan and I absolutely love it – I would go so far as to say it’s one of those books that has already changed my life – in such a positive and fuss free way.

He shares some really wonderful and practical tips on fitness and healthy living and some of the best ‘every day’ recipes I have seen in a long while. I would make everything in his book and that is a rarity for me – often I buy a cook book for a few stand out recipes or because the imagery is exquisite or simply because they make a beautiful addition to a coffee table collection but Tim’s book is perfectly suited for busy, health conscious parents who want to feed their families nourishing, quick and tasty meals on a daily basis. I feel that they are really beautifully balanced with a strong emphasis on fresh, clean and colourful ingredients.

So far, I have made the cheat’s chicken casserole (delicious), the apple, coconut and chia crumble, the chicken, cashew and ginger stir-fry, the spinach and zucchini loaf and this delicious chicken pie with a quinoa crumble. All amazing. My girls loved the pie, Mark and I devoured it and Jack picked the chicken and a few veggies out but left the silver beet and mushrooms. And that’s ok…I have written often about how as a Mum, it feels almost impossible to please everyone at meal times and as my life is becoming busier I have learnt to pick my battles and also not pander to my children’s different tastes. I now whole heartedly understand how my own Mum Jude was fairly strict at meal times…she had to be! Cooking and meal planning can be an exhausting and tedious exercise but it can also be so much fun – these days I simplify our family meals, encourage the kids to always try different things and make them understand that if they don’t eat what’s in front of them there won’t be anything else on offer! There’s only so much we can all do in a day afterall…:-)

I hope you enjoy this yummy pie – I’m looking forward to trying (and sharing) many more of Tim’s recipes.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

500 grams chicken breast, cut into 2cm pieces

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 carrot, diced

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

Pinch of ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon water

2/3 cup chicken stock

2 cups shredded silverbeet

1/4 cup Greek style yoghurt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Quinoa Crumble

1 cup quinoa flakes (rolled oats are also good)

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 cup grated parmesan

80 grams ghee or butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the chicken and cook until just browned all over. Remove and set aside. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Then add the carrot, mushroom, nutmeg and thyme and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the cornflour mixture, then the stock, silver beet and chicken, and simmer gently over low heat for 5 minutes while you prepare the crumble topping.

To make the crumble, combine the quinoa, almond meal, parmesan and thyme in a bowl. Rub in the ghee or butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Take the frying pan off the heat and stir in the yoghurt and mustard. Taste and season if necessary. Spoon into a pie dish and top evenly with the quinoa crumble. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

For vegetarians…omit the chicken and add another cup of mushrooms and some diced red capsicum.

Serve the pie with sautéed green vegetables or a crunchy salad drizzled in olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s beef meatballs with broad beans and lemon…

I’ve been absolutely loving this season of Master Chef Australia and I really am excited to watch this week with one of my favourite chefs – Yotam Ottolenghi – visiting the set and providing the contestants with his guidance and inspiration.

A few years ago one of my dear friends and former colleagues, Kirrily, gave me the Jerusalem cook book for a birthday present…I just loved it and was so inspired by the way Yotam used fresh herbs, ingredients and textures to create the most amazing, interesting and flavour-packed meals and dishes. Whenever I can, I sit on the couch with a cuppa and pour over my favourite cook books and without question, I always come back to this one.

And when I cook from it I am reminded of my friend Kirrily (who is working and travelling in India at the moment) and I can’t help but appreciate the way in which food connects us all…her gift not only triggers fond memories of friendship and growth but provides me with inspiration to cook for those I love and also, share with you. There is something so pure and for me, heart warming about the passing on (an appreciation) of beautiful recipes.

When I’m not creating Palmy Platters on the weekend I love to cook dishes that are a little more special for my family…today I made these meatballs for my husband Mark and they really were the perfect Sunday meal on a chilly Winter’s afternoon. Our kitchen became filled with the most enticing aromas and I couldn’t help but feel happy and grateful for life’s simpler pleasures – particularly in this day and age when unfortunately our news and world seems to be filled with such inane hate and terror. Tonight I am thinking of London and all of the families who have lost loved ones…

Yotam’s meatball recipe is below and I recently posted a delicious vegan salad of his, made with dates and almonds (filed under Soul Food).

I hope you enjoy…

Ingredients

4 and a half tablespoons olive oil

350 grams broad beans, fresh or frozen

4 whole thyme sprigs

6 garlic cloves, sliced

8 spring onions, cut at an angle into 2 cm segments

2 and a half teaspoons lemon juice

500 ml chicken stock

salt and black pepper

Meatballs

300 grams minced beef

150 grams minced lamb

1 medium onion, finely chopped

120 grams breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons each chopped flat leaf parsely, mint, dill and coriander, plus 1/2 tablespoon extra each to finish the dish

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon baharat spice mix

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp capers, chopped

1 egg, beaten

Method

Place all of the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper and mix well with your hands. Form into balls about the same size of ping pong balls. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an extra-large frying pan for which you have a lid. Sear half the meatballs over a medium heat, turning them until they are brown all over, about 5 minutes. Remove, add another 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the other batch of meatballs. Remove from the pan and wipe it clean.

While the meatballs are cooking, throw the broad beans into a pot with plenty of salted boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins from half the broad beans and discard the shells.

Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan in which you seared the meatballs. Add the thyme, garlic and spring onion and saute over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the unshelled broad beans, 1 and a half tablespoons of the lemon juice, 80ml of the stock, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and plenty of black pepper. The beans should be almost covered with liquid. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pan with the broad beans. Add the remaining stock, cover the pan and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If it is very runny, remove the lid and reduce a little. Once the meatballs stop cooking they will soak up a lot of the juices so make sure there is still plenty of sauce at this point. You can leave the meatballs now, off the heat, until ready to serve.

Just before serving, reheat the meatballs and add a little water, if needed, to get enough sauce. Add the remaining herbs and a tablespoon of lemon juice, the shelled broad beans and stir very gently. Serve immediately.