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Zucchini and Scallion Fritters with Crème Fraîche
So on Sunday I ran in the Sydney Running Festival 9km bridge run (it was incredibly hot so I’m glad I wasn’t ambitious enough to try the half-marathon), but since I’m used to running quite a bit further than this I got home still hyped on adrenaline. I couldn’t sit still and decided to try a new recipe. It had to be easy and not require too many ingredients because I hadn’t gone shopping. I settled on this recipe for Zucchini fritters which I’ve come across a few times on various blogs and in the weekend food section of several newspapers.
Adapted from one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. The main difference is that I made mine gluten-free by using Orgran all-purpose gluten free flour.
Makes about 6 small fritters, I would advise doubling the recipe below
1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions (spring onions or green shallots), split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain gluten free flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying
To serve (optional)
1 cup crème fraîche
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.
Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor.
In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time (which I did), or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. You’ll be shocked by the amount of liquid you’ll lose, but this is a good thing as it will keep the fritters crispy.
Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit more. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.
In a large heavy frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until simmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the frying pan only a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula.
Cook the fritters over moderately high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed.
For the topping, if using, stir together the crème fraîche, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavours to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving.
Classic Buttermilk Sponge Cake with Lemon and Lime Cream Cheese Icing
Ok, so this has taken me ages…not the baking, the translating! Let me explain. Last week I happened to mention that my kitchen was filled to the brim with lemons (that’s an exaggeration, I’ll admit, there were only about eleven of said lemons). I successful managed to use four to make lemon curd, and a few more for lemonade and various other snacks. Then my mother suggested her Classic Buttermilk Sponge Cake with Lemon-Cream Cheese Icing. Yum! How could I resist? The fact is, “her” cake was derived from a recipe published in the Afrikaans magazine Sarie on 8 March 2000 (I know this because she has the magazine clipping) and since she hadn’t actually re-written the recipe, but only added pen corrections, some of which I didn’t understand leaving me to mix my lemon rind into the icing instead of sprinkling it on top as she does, meant I had the task of translating it.
Ps I’m enjoying a slice as I’m writing this and it’s delicious.
Classic Buttermilk Sponge Cake with Lemon and Lime Cream Cheese Icing
Serves 8 (or makes 24 cupcakes, bake for only 20 minutes)
250g plain/pastry flour
7.5ml baking powder
2.5ml bicarbonate of soda
3 eggs, room temperature
230ml buttermilk, room temperature
5ml vanilla paste or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g superfine/caster sugar
rind from 2 lemons
rind from 1 lime
250g cream cheese, room temperature
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
5ml vanilla paste or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean
500g icing sugar
extra lemon and lime rind for decoration
Preheat the coven at 180°C. Prepare two small cake tins (no more than 20cm in diameter) by buttering the inside and then lining the base with baking paper.
Sieve together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt.
Beat the eggs lightly until the whites and yolks have mixed. In a separate container combine the vanilla and buttermilk.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl. Add the caster sugar and beat until light in colour and creamy. Add the eggs, one tablespoon at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.
In turn, fold in a quarter of the dry ingredients and a third of the buttermilk mixture into the creamed butter until all the ingredients have been combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins.
Bake for 30 minutes (or until the sides have started coming away from the tin and the bounces back when it is lightly pressed).
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin and placing on a cooling rack. Remove the baking paper while still warm to prevent it sticking. Allow to cool completely before icing.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter, lemon and lime zest, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Slowly add the the icing sugar until combined.
Cover the top of one cake with icing, place second cake on top and decorate with remaining icing. Finally sprinkle with extra lemon and lime zest.
Lemons are in season!!! I know this because after grabbing a couple of lemons on a quick shopping trip on Wednesday, I came home to find that there were a further nine in the fruit bowl. This lemon hoarding is a new phenomenon, which started soon after I moved to Sydney. After years in Africa with a lemon tree in every garden of every house I’ve ever lived in, I moved to a city where the cockatoos love lemons even more than I do and subsequently, this time, there are no lemon trees for me to harvest.
What to do about suddenly owning 11 lemons? Make lemon curd!
For the pastry you can take a short-cut by using high-quality store bought rough puff pastry, or if you’re a purist, The British Larder has an excellent recipe for rough puff pastry.
250g rough puff pastry, store bough or fresh.
Juice and zest of 4 small lemons
3 large, free-range eggs
1 egg yolk
125g caster sugar (very fine sugar)
125g cold, unsalted butter, cut small squares
Pastry: Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease 10 mini tart pans. Roll the pastry out to between 2 and 3mm thick, and cut into 10cm diameter discs. Place a disc in each pan and press the pastry into the pan.
Cover with baking paper, fill with pie weights (or rice if you don’t have pie weights). Bake for 18 minutes. Remove the baking paper and pie weights and bake for a further 2 minutes.
Remove the pastry shells from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Filling: Chose a sauce pan and large metal mixing bowl which fit together well (without the mixing bowl falling into the sauce pan). Bring water to a simmer in the sauce pan.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in the mixing bowl with a balloon whisk. Add the lemon juice.
Place the mixing bowl over the simmering water and gently stir the mixture with a spoon until it thickens.
Once the mixture has thickened remove it from the heat, add the butter and mix until all the butter has melted and the mixture becomes glossy.
Fill each pastry shell with the lemon curd.
Pour the remaining curd into a clean jar and allow to cool in the fridge. Lemon curd on toast is amazing.
White Chocolate and Coconut Truffles (with lemon and macadamia)
Having a chocolatier for a father meant that by the age of nine I was a deft hand at the art of truffle making. Below is the recipe of one of my favourite types of truffles (admittedly my father refuses to acknowledge it as a true truffle, because it doesn’t use cream, nor does it use real chocolate in his opinion):
Makes approx. 20
125ml coconut milk
400g Lindt white chocolatezest of one lemon
100g macadamia nuts
150g desiccated coconut
1. Heat water in a large pot on the stove. Place the coconut milk and white chocolate into a large glass/stainless steel bowl.
2. Place this over the pot with the hot, not boiling, water. Stir the chocolate until it has melted and formed a smooth mixture. Allow to cool.
3. Add the lemon zest and a few drops of lemon juice to taste.
4. Refrigerate the mixture for 30-60 minutes. Once the mixture is firm to touch and workable it is ready to be rolled.
5. Roll one macadamia into the center of the truffle, form a ball and then roll the truffle in the desiccated coconut.
6. Return to the fridge for another hour.
Note: Never melt your chocolate in a microwave, the risk of burning it is much too high. Rather use the technique of a glass bowl over some hot water, but make sure that the water isn’t boiling and that NO water comes in contact with the chocolate. Boiling water causes steam which then condenses into water droplets. One drop will ruin melting chocolate (although chocolate can safely be melted in water, one drop will cause the cocoa solids and fats to separate and the chocolate to tighten)
Caramelised Leek tartlets with a Sour Cream Crust
I baked these over the weekend as a favour to my mother. Although they’re delicious, creating your own pastry takes some time so make sure you’re not in a hurry.
Sour Cream Pastry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
120g chilled butter
5 tbsp Sour cream
1 1/2 eggs
pinch of salt
Caramelised Leek Filling
1 large leek
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp dry white wine
3 tbsp vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp cream
1/2 cup soft goats cheese, roughly crumbled
1. For the pastry, rub butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs, add sour cream, salt and eggs. Mixture should create a firm ball, if not add more flour (or sour cream if it is too dry). Divide into 6 balls and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 mins. Roll each ball to 3mm thick then gently press into prepared tart cases. Prick the bases with a fork and rest in the fridge for a further 30 mins. Trim any excess from the edges, cover with grease proof paper. Fill with rice and blind bake for 10 mins.
2. For the filling, cut leeks in half lengthways and wash. Finely slice into half moons. Heat butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced leek, garlic and salt. Cook for 10 mins, until tender and golden. Add the wine and simmer for 2 mins. Add the stock and simmer for another 2 mins. Add pepper, remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Whisk eggs, yolk and cream in a separate bowl, add the leeks.
3. Evenly spoon the mixture into each baked pie case, scatter the goat’s cheese over and bake for 20mins.
Cheat’s Chocolate Fondant
This delicious chocolate pud has a naughty secret: it’s gooey center is guaranteed! Using a trick I learned from What Katie Ate I’ve created these decadent desserts.
140gms softened butter
250gms caster sugar
300gms (2 cups) plain/pastry flour
1 small tub of Nutella
15ml medium dry sherry
5ml baking powder
Preheat the oven to 170C. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add the eggs. Beat to combine. Sift over dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in milk and sherry.
Lightly butter 6 ramekins. Spoon one large tbsp of batter into each of the ramekins, add a tbsp of Nutella to the center of each and spoon over the rest of the batter.
Bake for approx. 12-15 minutes (until the tops crack and a skewer comes out of the pudding clean. Remember the Nutella center and avoid it with the skewer).
Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.
Light and refreshing, this is possibly the easiest and cheapest dessert in existence, and it’s absolutely delicious. You don’t even need an ice cream maker.
1 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
400ml Coconut milk
Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan, over a low to medium heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Add the coconut milk and transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer.
Stir the sorbet once during the first and second hours in the freezer to ensure an even texture.
Crispy bacon, baby pea, mushroom and tomato pasta
One of those easy, thrown together recipes.
10 slices bacon or pancetta
150g Parmesan cheese
400g dried Rigatoni pasta
300g frozen peas
2 heaped tablespoons crème fraîche
1/2 punnet mushrooms, sliced
1/2 punnet Rosa tomatoes, halved
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions
Get a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Add sliced bacon to the pan, sprinkle a little pepper over and fry until golden and crisp
As soon as the bacon is golden, add your frozen peas, mushrooms, and tomatoes and give the pan a good shake.
After a couple of minutes, add the crème fraîche.
Drain the pasta in a colander, and add to the frying pan.
When it’s all bubbling away nicely, remove from the heat. The sauce should be creamy and delicious.
Add the grated Parmesan and give the pan a shake to mix it in.
Home-made Vanilla Marshmallows
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Home-made marshmallows are not only easy to make, they set as perfectly almost every time: puffed and lightweight, bouncing off one another.
Makes about 30 large marshmallows
About 1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 packets (35g) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups plain white sugar
1/2 cup glucose syrup (I have also made this recipe by replacing the glucose syrup with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp cream of tartar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean
Butter the bottom and sides of a metal baking pan and dust with some powdered sugar.
In a large glass or metal bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, and let stand to soften.
In a heavy saucepan mix the sugar, glucose syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, not stirring, but occasionally swilling the mixture, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy 116°C/240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With an electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 10 minutes.
In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Mix whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out. Sift 1/4 cup powdered sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours.
Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into large cubes. Sift remaining powdered sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Rhubarb & Red Berry Crumble
adapted from Mowielicious
Makes 4-5 ramekins
180g mixed raspberries, cherries, blueberries and strawberries; fresh or frozen
3 tbsp unrefined sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
80g plain flour
60g jumbo oats
40g unrefined sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
80g cold unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Wash, peel and slice the rhubarb into small chunks. Place in a bowl and mix with the red berries, add the sugar and mixed spice. Mix well and distribute equally into the ramekins.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the oats, and sugar. Add the vanilla paste and butter. Mix well with your hands until crumbly.
Spread the crumble over the fruit mixture in the ramekins. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the red fruit juices start to bubble under the crumble topping.
Serve hot topped with vanilla ice cream.
Milk tart (melktert)
This is absolutely delicious! A traditional South African cinnamon and vanilla tart from my grandmother and mother’s recipe journals.
1 egg, beaten
275g cake flour
10ml baking powder
1. Grease 2 tart tins. Preheat the oven 180C
2. Combine butter, sugar and egg.
3. Sieve the dry ingredients and mix into the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
4. Press thinly into the tart tin (it is essential to make this very thin)
5. Bake for 15-20min or until golden brown.
1l + 125ml milk
200g white sugar
60ml cake flour
4 eggs, separated
5ml vanilla essence/1 vanilla pod
1. Combine the milk, butter, sugar and salt in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
2. Mix the flour and cornflour together with the 125ml cold milk until it forms a smooth paste.
3. Beat the egg yolks and add to the paste.
4. Add a little bit of the hot milk mixture to the paste and mix well. Add to the hot milk mixture in the sauce pan and stir well.
5. Continue stirring the mixture over a medium heat until cooked.
6. Remove from heat and add the vanilla essence.
7. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and fold into the milk mixture.
8. Spoon the mixture into the shell and sprinkle with cinnamon.
9. Bake for a further 20mins.