Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Low sugar high fiber rusks

I love rusks, but after you have made them a few times and realise how much sugar and fat go into them, you feel more and more guilty about eating them. I have experimented with many so called ‘healthy’ recipes and in my experience if you drop the fat content too much the rusks end up super hard. But I have successfully reduced the sugar in this recipe by 80% and added lots of fibre rich ingredients making it tummy friendly. And there is no compromise in flavour! The whole family will love them.

Low sugar high fiber rusks

2 cups cake flour
2 cups nutty wheat or brown flour
2 cups bran flakes
2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup oats
½ cup of toasted seeds (breakfast mix; omega mix; ultimate mix)
15 ml bicarbonate of soda
15 ml baking powder
15 ml cream of tarter
150g brown sugar
2tsp cinnamon
10ml vanilla essence
100g honey
Non nutritive sweetner (the equivalent of 20 spoons of sugar)
5ml salt
400g butter, just melted
2 large eggs, beaten
800ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Sift together all the flowers and add the remaining dry ingredients.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, honey, buttermilk and eggs.
Mix to form a thick dough.
Spread into a greased baking tin and bake until risen and golden brown, about 45 mins to an hour. Allow to cool completely before cutting into long thin pieces. You can speed up the cooling process by putting it into the fridge or freezer.
Arrange spaced out on a baking tray or wire rack and dry out in the oven at 80˚C, for a couple of hours until crisp and dry.

PS - if you want this recipe in a nice printable word format, please e-mail me at and I will gladly mail it to you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quick, Easy and Healthy Chicken Curry

I can make this curry in the time it takes me to steam the rice I serve with it! It is full of flavour but still light enough to enjoy a gulit free second helping.

Chicken Curry
Serves 4

80mls of olive oil
3 medium onions
75grams of ground almonds
400grms plain yoghurt or can of coconut cream (if going for a non diary option)
6 Medium chicken breasts or one pack of Fry’s vegetarian chicken style strips
3 tsps (15mls) cumin
2 tsps (10mls) coriander
2 tsps (10mls) garam marsala
2 tsp (5mls) turmeric
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) black pepper (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) salt (or to taste)
Chopped fresh coriander to serve

Chop up and fry the onions in half the olive oil until golden brown. Combine with the ground almonds and yoghurt and blend until smooth. It will still be slightly grainy in texture, not 100% smooth. Set aside.

Cut the chicken up into small cubes. Gently fry the spices in the remaining oil until flavours are released (1 or 2 minutes) and then add the chicken, frying until just cooked. Do not over cook the chicken.

Add the yoghurt sauce to the chicken along with the salt and stir gently until all the flavours have combined and curry has just begun to gently simmer. Remove from heat and allow flavours to develop. Heat through just before serving.

This dish is ideally served with sambals and topped with fresh chopped coriander. Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, rotti’s or naan are the ideal starches to serve with it.

If cooking for dinner party this dish is perfect to prepare the day before as flavours only improve over night.

For those of you who would prefer a lower fat option, use fat free yoghurt and cut down the almonds and the oil a bit. It won’t be as creamy but will still be very yummy.

For those of you who don’t care – double cream Greek yoghurt is awesome!

Christmas Mince Pies

I created this recipe as I am usually not a big mince pie fan, feeling that the pastry is too floury and there’s too much of it. The fruit mince is often too intense in flavour. Both the recipes for the dough and the fruit mince have been adjusted to create a much lighter more subtle but still hugely flavoursome combination. It really is a winner.

It is great to make with kids as there is some easy grating and mixing and the fiddly making of the pies is suitable for slightly older kids. The pastry can be pretty tricky to work with but kids certainly can help with cutting out the rounds.

for the dough:
2 ½ cups of flour
2 pinchs of salt
100g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 egg yolk
½ cup castor sugar
Rind of half a lemon
Squeeze of lemon juice
200g butter
2 - 3 Tbsp ice water

Sift your flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt, ground almonds, vanilla essence, egg yolks, sugar, lemon rind, squeeze of lemon juice and cold butter cut into cubes. Combine the ingredients by rubbing it between your fingers until well mixed and has formed rough crumbs. Add the iced water to the crumbs to form a dough like mixture. Roll this into two balls and refrigerate for an hour or two until the dough is cold.

For the filling:
½ a jar (200g) of Christmas fruit mince
½ a cup of grated apple
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp rum/brandy essence
50g of finely chopped nuts, I usually use pecan nuts but almonds, macadamia, hazel nuts etc will also be good.

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pre heat your oven to 160°C. Place your rack in the centre of the oven.
Find an appropriate surface for rolling out your dough. Make sure it is clean and dry. Liberally flour the surface, a rolling pin (if you don’t have one a wine bottle works well) and your hands. Using the first dough ball, start flattening it by gently squashing it down with your hand. Where it begins to crap, squeeze these cracks together. Keep flipping the dough and re-flouring it on both sides. Gently flatten the dough with rolling pin. Keep re-flouring so that the dough does not stick to the rolling pin or to the surface. Get the dough to about 2 – 3 mm thick before cutting out rounds. If you have cookie cutters, chose medium sized one. If you don’t, a tea cup or mug with a think edge also work. Use a spatula to loosen and lift your rounds. If you have rounds of varying thickness, use the thinnest ones as bases and the thicker ones as tops. Roll the scrap dough into a ball and put it back into the fridge.

To assemble the pies get a cup or bowl of water ready, place a disc on a baking tray and with your finger tips lightly wet the edges of the disc. Using a teaspoon scoop out a small amount of fruit mince into the centre of the pie. Flatten this with your finger tips, taking care to keep the filling well away from the edges of the dough. Take a second disc of dough and cover the filling gently pressing along the edges to seal the pie. Continue this process until all your discs have been used. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake the pies for 15 - 20 minutes. While the first set is baking repeat the process with the second ball of dough and again until all your dough has been used.

Allow the mince pies to cool and dust with sifted icing sugar.


Christstollen is the German version of Christmas cake and has well deservedly been adopted by many other cultures. The traditional recipe for Stollen uses a yeast dough which can be rather complicated and time consuming. This recipe is based on a recipe I got from my step Dad’s mother, who was a superb baker and cook. I have been baking it every year since I was 13... it is easy and seriously rewarding.

This is the recipe my Mom copied for us from step Granny - as you can see it's been well used!

(my adaptation)

250g cake fruit mix
250g currants

200g butter
2 large eggs
100g ground almonds
250g smooth cream cheese
1 tsp of lemon zest, finely grated
3 Tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup castor sugar
1 ½ tsp of vanilla essence
1 ½ tsp of rum or brandy essence

3 cups of cake flour
3 tsp of baking powder½ tsp of salt
4 tsp mixed spice
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger spice

100g marzipan (optional)
50g butter, melted
Lots of icing sugar for dusting

Put your cake fruit mix and currants in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. I often add some brandy or rum essence to the water to add flavour. Soak the fruit for a few hours or if you don’t have the time, put them in the microwave for about 5 minutes to speed up the absorption process. Before using the fruit you need to drain it thoroughly and even pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. The extra moisture can cause the cake mixture to be too runny and not hold it’s shape.

Get all your ingredients laid out and read for use. Keep your butter, cream cheese, eggs and lemon in the fridge until just before using. 

Get your oven preheated to 160°C, place the rack in the middle of the oven.

In a mixing bowl and working quickly cut the butter into chunks, add the cream cheese, eggs, rind and juice of the lemon, add the essences and the castor sugar and blend with an electric beater until light and fluffy. 

Sift your dry ingredients in three parts stopping to blend in between. The mixture will be very stiff. This will help the cake to keep it’s shape. Add the soaked fruit and mix together with a wooden spoon.

This recipe can make two small loaves or one big loaf. 

For a traditional look, shape the dough into an oval loaf shape with floured hands on a baking tray. For an easy fix bake it in a bread tin.

If you are adding marzipan, roll it into a sausage just shorter than your loaf. Scoop out two thirds of your mixture onto the baking tray, lay the marzipan sausage in the middle and cover with the remaining mixture. Then shape it with floured hands ensuring the marzipan is well covered.

Bake at 160°C for 45 - 60 minutes. If you are making the two small loves bake, check them at 45 mins to see if they are ready. If not bake for a further 10 minutes and check again. The large loaf should take the full 60 minutes but I always check it at about 50 minutes.

When baked leave the Stollen to cool completely before brushing it generously with melted butter and dust a thick layer of icing sugar all over it.

Stollen can be sliced and eaten just like that or spread with salted butter. I always add butter to mine...

Cup Cakes for Cuma

Recently it was the birthday of my nephew's best friend, Cuma. I decided that some cup cake baking was in order. I used a Vanilla Sponge recipe I found at my Mom's house the other day in this divine Italian cook book. I'm not really a sponge cake gal myself but this one is dense, moist and super quick and easy. I served it for guests the other night (as a cake) filled with macerated berries and soft whipped cream... mmm...

Vanilla Sponge Cake

250g Butter, just melted but not oily, plus extra to grease the pan

250g (1 ¼ cups) castor sugar

4 large eggs, beaten

1tsp vanilla extract

225g (1 ½ cups) cake flour

25g (2 Tbsp) corn flour

2 tsp baking powder

Squeeze of lemon juice

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Butter a 25cm shallow round cake tin. Whisk the melted butter and sugar until light and fluffy, slowly beat in the eggs, vanilla and lemon. Gradually sift in the flour, corn flour and baking powder. Pour into the tin and bake until golden and springy for about 20 – 25 minutes.

This mixture is also ideal for cup cakes. I makes about 20 cup cakes and needs to bake for 10 – 15 minute.

Remove from tin when cooled. You can serve this plain, dusted with icing sugar. I like to fill this cake with sugared mashed up berries, soft whipped cream and dusted with icing sugar.

Let the kids have fun with different coloured butter icings and decorations if using this recipe for cup cakes.

Carrot and Cabbage Salad

This salad kinda just happened, as I always have cabbage and carrots in my fridge and frozen sweet corn in the freezer. I never expected this salad to be anything more than an end of the month salty cracks dish for me but every time I make it meets with rave response and I have sent the recipe to more people than any of my other recipes. So, it seems fitting that it should be the first post in my blog site! So here goes...

Carrot and Cabbage Salad
Serves 4

4 Carrots grated
¼ - 1/8 Cabbage very thinly sliced and soaked in boiling water
½ a cup of Miracle mix seeds – mixture of flax, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (lightly toasted with a little oil and some spices)
1 cm Ginger, pealed and cut into tiny cubes
1 clove of Garlic, pealed and cut into tiny cubes
Juice of half a Lemon / 2 tbsp vinegar a combination of the two is nice, adds to the taste
2 tbsp Olive Oil (optional)
Fresh Coriander, chopped (about 2 - 4 tbs)
1 cup Frozen sweet corn (defrosted)
½ cup Feta Crumbled (optional)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Cumin to taste
Chilli to taste
1 tbsp of Sugar to neutralize the acidity (add more if it’s still to sour)

Very thinly slice the cabbage and set aside in a bowl covered with boiling water. After a few minutes you can add the frozen sweet corn to defrost it. Leave this for about 5 – 10 minutes then drain well and add remain ingredients to this. For the seeds - shallow fry over medium heat with a mixture of spices (ie cumin, turmeric, chilli, garam marsala) salt and a little oil. Toss the ingredients together and let this stand for 10 – 15 minutes, tossing when ever you think about it in between. Check the seasoning as it will develop over time. Toss before serving.

This salad can also be served as a main course with steamed rice. It tastes great the second day too.