I’m in the process of losing some weight, but I’ve been stuck in a bit of a plateau lately. I’m planning on sticking to a keto diet (low carb, high fat) for two weeks, maybe longer, to get back into making mindful food choices, and hopefully quell the worst of my carb cravings!
This is a little bit of a cheat meal. I use stevia to sweeten the pancakes, which you really need because the almond meal makes the pancakes quite savoury. I also drenched them in sugar free maple syrup because pancakes WITHOUT maple syrup are not something I want to experience in this lifetime.
This recipe made six mini pancakes. I ate three which was totally filling.
30 grams almond meal
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 sleeves of stevia
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp butter (for serving and cooking)
Sugar free maple syrup (optional)
Measure almond meal, stevia and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine
Add the egg and whisk well to combine, before adding the vanilla and milk. This should create a batter that is pourable but not too liquid
Over a low-medium heat, melt half the butter in a nonstick pan
Add one tablespoon of batter to the pan and cook for three minutes over low heat. Flip carefully and cook for one minute
Repeat with the remaining mixture and enjoy!!!
I find it difficult to flip the pancakes neatly as they’re naturally gluten free and are a little more delicate. I tend to use a fork to gently lift up the edge of the pancake to help get the spatula underneath.
I’ve longed to make choux pastry for a while, partially because I’d never eaten it before! I attempted it a while ago, but my chouxquettes didn’t rise at all, and the insides were soggy, even though the outsides were bordering on over cooked.
Anyway, I’ve managed to overcome that, because LOOK AT THIS PUFF!!!
I’m still ecstatic about it! Anyway, I used a Mary Berry choux pastry recipe as a basis, although I did add a small pinch of sugar and needed an extra egg. We had lots of cream and some pre-made custard left over from Christmas, so I used them to make a very simple filling. These don’t keep well – they go soft if they are refrigerated, so they’re best eaten within hours of filling them.
75 grams plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
60 grams butter
2-3 eggs, beaten
350ml whipping cream
5 tbsp premade thin custard
5 tbsp sifted icing sugar
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Measure the flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt together and set aside.
Put the butter and water together in a medium saucepan on a medium heat and bring to a full boil, with the butter fully melted, stirring occasionally to ensure it heats evenly.
Once the water mix is at full boil, add all the flour in one go, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mix forms a rough ball. Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook the mixture fora further 5 minutes, to cook the flour out. (Sorry for the quality, my camera died and my iPod camera steamed up!)
Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for about 10-15 minutes, until it is still warm to touch, but not hot enough that it would cook the eggs.
Prepare your baking sheet, using baking/parchment paper to securely line it. If you have a spray bottle, spray the surface of the baking sheet with water until there are small droplets all over the sheet. If you don’t have a spray bottle, just wait until after the profiteroles are on the sheet, and sprinkle a few droplets of water around them before baking.
Add the eggs to the mixture a little at a time, stirring very rigorously until it is incorporated before adding more egg. It will seem as though it has curdled at first, but keep mixing and it will come together. After adding two eggs, and the mixture is too stiff, beat a third egg, and add some more about a teaspoon at a time. I needed all but approximately one teaspoon of that third egg. It should be glossy and thick, but should still fall easily from a spoon if you give it a little shake.
Pipe or spoon the choux pastry onto the prepared baking sheet at about half the size you want your profiteroles to be, leaving plenty of space between each one.
Place in the oven for 10 minutes at 220 degrees, and resisting the temptation to open the oven, reduce the temperature to 180 and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Take one profiterole out of the oven and set it aside for a minute. If it deflates or you are unhappy with the colour, leave the choux pastry in the oven for a further 5-8 minutes.
Remove the profiteroles from the oven and use a metal skewer or toothpick to make a small hole in the side of each profiterole to let the steam escape and avoid the pastry from going soggy.
Return to the oven for another 5 minutes to allow the profiteroles to dry out. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the custard cream, simple use an electric mixer to whisk together the icing sugar and cream until you have soft peaks, before adding the custard and whipping until the mix is very stiff. I used vanilla custard and it was late in the day, so I didn’t choose to add any other flavouring, but go nuts with the flavourings if you want!
Using a small piping bag, fill the cooled profiteroles with the cream and eat them straightaway!
These are similar to arancini, but they are in a more traditional croquette shape, and minus the mozzarella centre. I assure you that nevertheless, they are as cheesy and decadent as can possibly be, simply without the hassle of locating fresh mozzarella. These are definitely a guilty pleasure, and enjoyed by everyone I’ve made them for thus far; every time I’ve made them, no matter how big the batch, they very rarely live to see the second day! These do take a while to make, simply because I like to cool the risotto completely before I shape it, but you can just make it the night before, or wait until it’s cool enough to handle before shaping it.
My family has a recipe of rice croquettes that has essentially the same ingredients (plus eggs and breadcrumbs for binding), and is quite delicious, but it the result is harder and not quite as oozy. And of course, in my eyes – the cheesier, the better! I much prefer this method, as the mixture is more stable and easy to shape, and you can taste test for seasoning, which is a crucial part of making any savoury food! I chose to deep fry these, but shallow frying works just as well – I’m simply too lazy, and I find I get a darker crust when deep frying.
1 1/2 cups arborio (or other short grain) rice
1-2 litres vegetable stock
1 medium brown onion
1 large garlic clove
About a glass of white wine
1 packed cup of fresh parsley
1/4-1/2 cup of fresh basil
40 grams of butter
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups of sharp grated cheese – something that melts easily, like tasty or cheddar
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Put the stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once it is heated, reduce to the lowest heat possible, to keep warm. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and garlic. If you don’t like to multitask, you should also chop the herbs very finely and grate the cheese and set them aside for later.
Heat the oil in a medium/large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic on medium heat with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
Add the rice and stir for one minute to coat the rice. Add the wine and stir, letting it cook for another minute, until the wine has reduced and absorbed into the rice. Take note of the time when you add the rice.
Add the stock to the rice a ladle (roughly half a cup) at a time. Stir regularly and vigorously, taking care to scrape the sides of the saucepan. Continue stirring until the stock is absorbed. Only when the stock you’d previously added is fully absorbed should you add more stock- you should be able to drag the wooden spoon across the bottom of the saucepan and leave a clear trail, without the rice oozing back into the space too quickly.
Repeat this process, tasting the rice after 18 minutes to check if the rice is cooked. The rice should be soft, but not mushy. If it’s not cooked, continue cooking for another 3 or so minutes. Towards the end of cooking, stir vigorously to release the starches of the rice to allow the risotto to be more creamy. The rice should have swelled to double its size, and the risotto should be thick, but should fall from the spoon easily.
When the rice is cooked, turn the stove off. Now add the butter, herbs, cheese, and plenty of black pepper. Stir them through and cover the saucepan for two minutes, until the cheese has melted. Give the mixture another stir and taste for seasoning. It may need salt, and it may not, so be sure to always taste the risotto before adding any.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool, uncovered, in the fridge until cool.
Mix the ingredients for the breadcrumbs together on a shallow bowl or plate. Take the cool risotto out of the fridge, and with wet hands, scoop small handfuls out and shape into ovalish croquettes. Roll in the breadcrumbs and set aside on a larger plate. Repeat until all you have a plate full of gorgeous little uncooked croquettes!
At this point, you can cover the plate with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until you want to cook them. They keep well overnight like this, which is great since it’s the holidays and I know I’ll be making several batches this month!
In a deep fryer, heat the oil to 190 degrees Celsius and cook the croquettes four or five at a time for 3-4 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Keep an eye on them, because they do colour quickly. Alternatively, heat a large frying pan and fry the croquettes, turning them until each side is golden brown.
Eat them up! And since you’ll be the one cooking them, make sure to eat a few before you let anyone else get to them.
There’s not a lot better than the delicious fragrance of something roasting in the oven. This is a really simple lunch or dinner, that provides all the comfort of a roast dinner, while being light enough that I can eat it without feeling guilty not choosing a salad instead! The natural flavours of whatever vegetables you may choose are really amplified in the roasting process, and are accentuated by a light touch of spices and herbs. AND it even makes for a fairly healthy meal. I listed the ones I prefer to use, but almost whatever veggies you have will work perfectly. My recipe is for one (or two as a side dish), but as with any roast, it’s quite simple to add more of whatever you want. If you’re not a vegetarian and are looking to add some meat, chopped chorizo or chicken thighs would work well, although this dish is certainly not lacking without them!
One washed potato
One large carrot
1/4 whole eggplant/aubergine
Half a brown onion
One garlic clove
Half a red capsicum
1/4 head of broccoli
Two tablespoons smoked paprika
One tsp dried oregano
Three tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
50g salt-reduced feta (optional)
Half an hour before starting to prep the rest of the veggies, chop the eggplant into two cm thick slices and place on paper towel. Heavily sprinkle salt on one side of the eggplant and leave for 15 minutes, until the eggplant has started to sweat. Pat the eggplant dry, turn the slices over and repeat on the other side of the eggplant. Wash the salt off, and it’s ready to use!
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Wash and chop the veggies into medium-large chunks, and cut the garlic clove in half.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and mix the oil, paprika, salt, pepper, and oregano in the bottom of the tray.
Add the vegetables to the tray, and toss until they’re coated evenly in oil and spice.
Place in the oven and reduce temperature to 180 degrees. Bake for one hour, stirring gently occasionally throughout the cooking time.
After an hour, check that the vegetables are cooked to your liking, and allow to cool for ten minutes. Transfer to serving bowls/plates, and if using, sprinkle liberally with the feta. Enjoy!
This is one of my favourite recipes when I’m looking for a lighter indulgence than something of the typical bread/cake/biscuit variety. There’s simply nothing tastier on a hot Spring day than a delectably light and creamy cheesecake with a lemony tang and a buttery cookie crust. Particularly since I love to smooth a large dollop of whipped cream on top! As with may recipes, the level of acidity and sweetness to this is to taste, so you may find that you need to adjust slightly depending on your personal tastes. If you are anything like me, you may wish to add a drop or two of yellow food colouring to amp up the sunshine cheerfulness of this dessert, however I did manage to stop myself this time as I made this especially for my Dad in celebration of his favourite rugby team winning the Grand Final for the first time since 1971! There is also no added gelatin, so this recipe is suitable for vegetarians.
500 grams cream cheese (low-fat or otherwise)
250 grams mascarpone
250 grams Nice biscuits (or whatever flavour you choose, but these are a family tradition)
120 grams butter, melted
Juice of 1-2 lemons
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
150 ml pure/single cream (optional)
Allow the cream cheese to sit at room temperature for about an hour – it should still be cold, but will be softened enough that it will be easy to work with.
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they are reduced to fine crumbs, ensuring there are no clumps. Alternately, wrap the packet securely in a freezer bag and tea towel, and bash with a rolling pin or meat cleaver until the biscuits are obliterated into fine, sugary cookie dust.
Mix in the melted butter a little at a time until the biscuit crumb is the consistency of wet sand, and you can form semi-compact little handfuls with it. Press it out into the base of your tin, forming a wall up the sides to encase the cheese filling. Ensure that the crumbs are pressed out evenly and thinly. Place in the fridge to firm up while you make the cream cheese filling.
Break apart the blocks of cream cheese apart in a large bowl, add the mascarpone and mix until well combined and fluffy. Add one cup of the icing sugar and mix though.
Add the juice of the first lemon and mix very well until it is well incorporated, and the mix is light and creamy. TASTE.
I then added the rest of the icing sugar, and the juice of the lemon in two parts. As I mentioned above, this is very to taste, so you may need less lemon juice. or more icing sugar Do not use more than the juice of two lemons, however, or the mix will be too runny and will not set correctly.
When your cream cheese filling is to the taste of your liking (and please attempt to refrain from tasting too much of it), smooth it in the pan over the top of your biscuit crust.
If topping with cream, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks and spread over the top of the cream cheese.
Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, preferrably overnight before cutting a slice and enjoying! This is a good match for berries, which are currently in season, but is utterly decadent on its own.
Following the recent release of the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (which I shall covet until it’s finally mine), I decided to have a bit of a Twin Peaks marathon! Which, of course, I decided to supplement with vast amounts of coffee – black as the sky on a moonless night – aaaaand one of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s favourite fares, doughnuts! I usually make cake donuts – they’re quicker to make, and my mum prefers them. However, I am of the staunch opinion that nothing beats a good yeasted doughnut. They’re well worth the extra effort! Mine are a little on the flat side, as I didn’t grease the baking sheet the donuts proofed on the second time, so they deflated when I took them off. So make sure you spray the baking sheet with some cooking spray to prevent that from happening! Unpictured are the donut holes which I filled with jam before glazing… I’m sure a certain Special Agent would approve! I also had a red coffee icing that I was going to drizzle over the donuts, however an overenthusiastic puppy dog of mine knocked the bowl over in his quest for food. Nevertheless, they were delicious.
2/12 cups plain flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 sachet (or 2 tsp) dried yeast
3/4 cup milk
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
Up to four tbsp warm water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the butter and milk together in a small saucepan or a heatproof bowl in the microwave (warming together prevents melted butter solidifying when the milk is added). The mixture should not be too hot to touch comfortably – leave to cool if it is too warm. When at a tolerable temperature, whisk in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, caster sugar, and yeast.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the milk mix into it. Gently mix together with a wooden spoon before adding the salt. Mix until well combined, and the dough appears malleable.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a large floured bowl, and cover with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to proof for 1-2 hours, until the dough has at least doubled in size.
When the dough has risen sufficiently, knead for one minute to redistribute the gases. Roll out on a floured surface until 1/2 cm thick, turning the dough occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick.
Using whatever cutters you wish (I used the rim of a glass, and a Coke bottle cap) cut out as many donuts as you can! It’s up to you whether to reserve the donut holes for mini donuts, or use the excess dough to roll out another batch.
Place the donuts on a baking sheet sprayed with canola oil (an important step, or they’ll stick when you go to fry them). Cover, and leave to rise for 30 minutes to an hour, until they are well risen and look like donuts!
Heat a saucepan of oil (or use a deep fryer without the basket) to 180 degrees Celsius. Using an egg lifter, gently place the donuts into oil in manageable batches. Fry for 1 1/2 minutes per side (or until golden brown) before transferring to a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
To make the glaze, put the icing sugar in a small bowl with the vanilla extract and add water a tablespoon at a time, until you have your desired consistency. It should be thick enough to coat the donut, but should still be fluid.
When the donuts are cool enough to handle, dip the top of the donut into the glaze and allow the excess to drizzle off. I rested them on a wire rack until the glaze had set enough for the donuts to be stacked.
Enjoy! This made about 24 donuts, but the size of your batch will vary depending on how your rolled out your dough.
Apples are, without a doubt my favourite fruit to cook with, whether they’re in a delicious tarte tatin, poached quickly in lemonade and served with ice cream (a favourite of mine), or in this delicious apple cake. I call it a breakfast cake because it is baked in a loaf tin, and a slice of this lightly toasted is a perfect way of starting off the day. It also doesn’t require the use of noisy mixers, and only takes a little effort to make. And it has fruit in it… totally healthy, right?! I do prefer this with apple, but peaches, plums, or even pears would work well with this, too.
This recipe is adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker’s apple cinnamon bread recipe, though I’ve made my own changes. Just a little honey for depth of flavour, and brown sugar for a caramelly flavour – apples + caramel are a match made in heaven!
As with any sweet recipe with spices that I’ll post, my spice measurements are approximations. I prefer a lot of cinnamon, etc, in my cakes, so simply adjust however much you add to your own preferences.
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
2 apples, peeled and chopped into medium chunks
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 cup canola/vegetable/light olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt or applesauce
2 tbsp honey
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 180 (160 fan-forced) degrees Celsius and grease your loaf tin well.
Mix the flour, spices and salt together in a large bowl
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until slightly frothy, and add the yogurt/applesauce, honey, oil and vanilla. Whisk until combined.
Add the sugar to the egg mixture and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until JUST mixed – there should be no dry streaks. Mixture should be thick.
Fold in the apples until evenly distributed through the mix, and pour into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth mixture the the edges of the tin if needed.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden, and a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before slicing – or, try to! My little sister lasted until the cake had been out of the oven for a full 20 minutes before stealing a slice!
Risotto is one of my favourite comfort meals to cook. It’s comforting, cheesy, and positively therapeutic to make. Don’t get me wrong, it’s anything but healthy, but since I add a decent amount of spinach, basil, and broccoli, I can almost fool myself into thinking that it’s slightly healthy! Blanching the spinach and broccoli beforehand (I reserve the liquid and dissolve a stock cube in it to reserve the nutrients and colour leached into that water), and stirring the veggies into the risotto in the final minutes of cooking will turn the risotto a deliciously lurid green – no food dye necessary!
I think this is a perfect meal to serve to kids on Halloween or another spooky occasion – I find the colour reminds me a little of Shrek, though I think this is much more appetising than anything Shrek put together in any of the films! The colour also appeals to my adoration of kitschy colours, and the delectably gooey cheesy texture makes this meal one of my favourite comfort foods. I simply chopped the spinach, but if you’re serving this to particularly picky children, nix the broccoli and puree the wilted spinach and the basil, and add alongside the butter and parmesan.
Risotto has a bad rep for being notoriously difficult to make, but it’s extremely easy. Simply make sure to do all of your prep beforehand, so you don’t have to run around the kitchen, as risotto takes a lot of constant stirring to get the desired creamy texture. It takes 20 minutes to cook, but since I let it sit in the pot to become more creamy, I generally turn off the stove after about 18 minutes, as the rice will continue to cook in the residual heat.
My general rule is 1/4 cup of rice per person, or 1/2 cup for a generous portion. It may not seem like enough, but the rice swells gloriously throughout the cooking process, so there will be plenty! Obviously you may need slightly more stock if you are making large portions of risotto, but you will generally need the same amount. I tend to use stock cubes/powder instead of the premade stuff as it’s cheaper and simpler to make a little extra, if necessary.
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 bunch spinach
1/4 head of broccoli
Large handful fresh basil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 glass of white wine (optional)
1 stock cube (or alternatively, 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock)
1 tbsp butter
A few generous handfuls of grated parmesan
Seasoning – salt, pepper, a small amount of chili powder
Heat a small pot of water until boiling. While this is heating, chop the spinach and broccoli finely and blanch in the water for 4 minutes. Remove the veggies from the water and set aside. Reserve the water, and dissolve a stock cube in it. If using packaged stock, now allow this to heat in the saucepan.
In a larger pot (which will be used to make the risotto), sweat the garlic and onion in a few tablespoons of oil until fragrant. On a medium heat, toast the rice lightly in the mixture for 1-2 minutes.
(Optional) Pour in the glass of wine, and allow the alcohol to burn off, and the liquid to absorb into the rice.
Pour in a ladleful of stock, and stir until it is absorbed. You will know it is time to pour in more stock when you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, and it leaves its trail (the rice/stock does not instantly ooze into the trail left by the spoon)
Continue to add stock and repeat the above process until the risotto has been cooking for 14 minutes. Add the spinach and broccoli along with a large ladle of stock, and continue to cook, stirring rapidly, for a further two minutes.
Ensure that the stock is fully absorbed before turning off the heat. Stir in the chopped basil, a large handful of parmesan, and the butter. Cover the pot and allow to stand for two minutes, which will allow the risotto to become more creamy.
Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper (I also like to add a teensy amount of chili powder) as the stock can make the risotto salty enough that id does not need additional seasoning. Scoop into bowls and scatter with some extra parmesan and enjoy!
Baking sadly isn’t my strongest point… Particularly with cakes. I’m terrible at using the creaming method – my batter ALWAYS splits when I add the eggs. So vegan recipes for cakes are probably my favourite… and it’s incredibly simple! It’s a runny mixture, and might look a little lumpy – but make sure that the lumps aren’t bubbles before you keep mixing! I decided to test out my icing skills… needless to say, they need A LOT of work!
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup light-flavoured oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vinegar
Preheat the oven to to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a cake tin.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl using a whisk.
Mix together the oil, water, vinegar and vanilla in a separate bowl or jug.
Carefully whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Because of the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar (which helps keep the cake moist), there may be some bubbles in the mixture.
Carefully pour into the cake tin, and get into the oven as soon as possible.
Bake for 35-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be lightly springy.
Cool for ten minutes in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Ice when cool, and enjoy!
This is one of my favourite lunches, mostly because it uses up whatever’s leftover in the fridge. It’s fairly quick and easy, and is also a great side dish. I tend to use low-fat ricotta as the base for the filling, but couscous, quinoa, oats, scrambled eggs – all of these would work equally well. I usually shove whatever veggies I can find into the filling, but I kept it simple and used the leftovers from the spinach and ricotta ravioli that I made earlier in the week. I can only eat half a capsicum at a time, as it’s very filling. This mixture has enough for roughly one-two and a half capsicums, but it’s very simple to make more filling where necessary.
200-300 grams ricotta
Half an onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
5-8 spinach leaves, roughly chopped
A few basil leaves
1/2 tsp chili powder
Parmesan or tasty cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200 Celsius. Fry onion, garlic and spinach in a tablespoon of oil until spinach is wilted and the mixture is fragrant.
Transfer to a cool bowl and mix in the ricotta, basil, chili powder, and a handful of cheese. Season to taste.
Half the capsicums lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Wash and dry if necessary to remove loose seeds. Make sure to leave the stalk on to ensure the filling does not spill out during cooking.
Spoon mixture into the capsicum halves, making sure it is packed into the corners. Move to a lined baking tray and sprinkle the tops with extra cheese.
Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes. By the end, the top should be a nice golden brown, and the sides of the capsicum should be tender, but not overdone. If the top browns too quickly, reduce the heat to 180 degrees.