Easy Coconut Custard – Low Carb, Paleo, Dairy-Free

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“I hope there’s pudding!”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

This is a simple, satisfying and yummy dessert. It makes a firm custard, which would be very suitable as a pie crust filling. Coconut Custard is dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free, and high in protein and good fats. Plus it tastes delicious!

This custard can be served straight from the oven for a warming treat, or it can be easily sliced into squares when cold. If you’re on a restricted diet, diabetic, or following a low carb or paleo way of eating it is lovely to be able to have dessert that fits your eating guidelines.

If you prefer a softer custard, omit two eggs.

Ingredients

6 eggs, 2 x 270ml cans of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of Natvia or if you are fine with sugar use a sweetener of your choice up to 2/3 cup (I’ve used maple syrup, palm sugar and caster sugar – all work well), 1 teaspoon of vanilla, nutmeg (freshly grated if possible), a little vegetable or coconut oil for greasing your dish.

Method

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Break the eggs into a large bowl, add the coconut milk, vanilla and sweetener and whisk together well until combined.

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Grease a 4 cup capacity serving bowl. Pour the custard mixture into the bowl and then sprinkle or grate some nutmeg over the top. Place the bowl into a baking tray with high sides. Pour hot water into the baking tray to come half-way up the side of the custard bowl.

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Place in oven for 30 minutes or until set and golden brown on top.

Serve on it’s own, or with fresh or canned fruit. We used tinned lychees with fresh blueberries – a very delectable combination!

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Traditional Christmas Cake – Make and Mature

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“I love the Christmas-tide, and yet,
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!”
~ Carolyn Wells

 

I have so many fruit cake recipes, but if you have the time this one delivers a perfect Christmas Cake that is moist, dense and flavoursome. This one’s called a ‘make and mature’ because it needs to be made at least a few weeks before Christmas for the flavours to develop, and so that you can ‘feed’ the cake extra alcohol (or tea if you prefer) to make your Christmas just a little extra special. In fact, if you’re organised you can make this cake up to six months in advance. But hey, it’s only early November and you can go get the ingredients and have this knocked up over the weekend.

I’ve already made several of these cakes as gifts, and I still have a few more left to make. I’m sure Santa will also appreciate you leaving a generous slice out for him on Christmas Eve. It’s not a difficult recipe at all – it just needs a little time and care and you’ll end up with great results too! 🙂

Ben’s also glad that I’m blogging this recipe, because he insisted that we must cut one cake early for ‘quality control and photo opportunities’. It was delicious, eaten with a cup of tea on the veranda during last night’s storm!

Ingredients:

  • 1.2kg of mixed fruit of your choice ( good combinations include raisins, currants, sultanas, mixed peel, glace cherries, cranberries, prunes and dates – but use what you prefer. I often buy a kilogram bag of mixed dried fruit and then add a 200g bag of glace cherries.)
  • 1/2 cup of your choice of either dark rum, brandy, sherry, whiskey or very strong brewed tea
  • zest and juice of two oranges
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • 3 teaspoons of mixed spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (add 1/2 if you really like cloves!)
  • 250g salted butter, softened to room temperature (*See note below)
  • a little extra soft butter to grease the cake tin
  • 200g of soft brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of treacle (if you can’t get treacle use 250g of brown sugar)
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 100g of flaked almonds or your choice of chopped pecans, walnuts or macadamias (you can also omit if you don’t like nuts)
  • extra rum, brandy, sherry, tea or whiskey (you might like a little, or a lot!)
  • optional – glace fruit such as cherries and blanched whole almonds to decorate top of cake

*If you live in Australia or somewhere tropical where the ambient temperature is quite warm as we get closer to Christmas, don’t let the butter get too soft. While you don’t want your butter hard as a rock, because it won’t beat up to a nice cream with the sugar, if it’s too soft it will all end up like soup. 

Method

Soaking the fruit:

Sort through dried fruit and remove any stalks, stones or other debris. This is worth doing as I have, on occasion, found small stones, stem and seed fragments in my fruit. If you are using glace cherries or other larger fruit chop them into smaller pieces.

Place the dried fruit in a large bowl. Grate the zest of the oranges, and then juice them. Add the zest, juice and alcohol or tea to the fruit. Stir well and then cover. Leave to soak for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to a week. Stir now and again so that everything is well soaked and plumped. If all the liquid has been absorbed feel free to add another slug every so often.

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On the day of baking:

Prepare your tin or tins by double lining them with baking paper, letting the paper come five centimetres or more above the top of the tin to prevent the top of the cake browning too fast. I like to trace the shape of the bottom of the tin and cut two liners, and then make a collar from a double folded piece of brown paper or baking paper – cutting a small frill of 2cm cuts on the bottom edge to help the paper fit neatly into the pan. Grease your tin, place the first liner, then the collar, carefully pushing it into place so that the frilled edge overlaps the bottom liner, and then place the top liner in the tin to help hold everything together. It might seem like extra effort, but double lining your tin helps stop your cake from burning or drying out. If you’re making one big cake, use two sheets of brown paper or newspaper, wrap then around the outside of the tin and secure with string. Don’t use tape as the heat will cause it to fail!

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Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius  (300 degrees fahrenheit or gas mark 2) or 130 degrees celcius (275 degrees fahrenheit or gas mark 1) if you have a fan forced oven.

I have given cooking times for a range of tins  in case you choose to divide the mixture and make smaller cakes for gifts. I’ve also made Christmas cakes in cupcake papers (use 2 for a double liner) and these are just lovely as cakes for one!

Place your cake in the oven and follow the baking times below, using a skewer to test of the cake is done about ten minutes before the time is up.  Poke the skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, if mixture still adheres to the skewer bake a little longer.

3 x 8cm by 25cm tins – bake for one hour and twenty minutes

2 x 12cm x 23cm loaf tins – bake for 2 hours

1 large round or square tin – bake for 3 hours

Individual cupcake size cakes – bake for one hour

Method for Cake:

Make sure that you have a bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients for mixing.

Beat the butter using an electric mixer until it is soft. Then add the treacle and brown sugar and beat until it is creamy and lighter in colour. Add the vanilla, and beat again, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture may look a little curdled by the end, but I promise it’s fine, so don’t panic.

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Tip in the fruit and any dregs of liquid from the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle in your spices. Then tip in your nuts if you are using them.

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Sift the flour over the top and using a large spoon or a clean hand gently fold it all together until it is well mixed.

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Carefully spoon the mixture into your prepared tin/tins.

Lift each tin about three inches from the bench and then drop it down. Do this a couple of times to get out any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the cake with the back of a spoon or your clean wet hand. If you are using cherries, nuts or other glace fruit place them on the cake now and press down slightly so that they don’t dislodge after baking.

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Bake cake for appropriate time or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven. Tip a generous tablespoon of alcohol or tea over the cake straightaway. (Two tablespoons if it is one big cake.) It will fizzle and sizzle, but that’s fine. Cover with a clean tea towel. Let the cake cool in the tin. This will take several hours. Then feed the cake just a little more alcohol, and leave for an hour to let that soak in.

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Carefully remove from tin, and take away lining papers. Wrap cake in greaseproof paper and foil, or cling wrap. Store in a dark place and feed a little drizzle more alcohol every week to two weeks until Christmas.

Serve and share!

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Melt ‘n’ Mix Sultana Slice Recipe – Easy!

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Yes, I DID sneak a bite out of one before I took the photo! Verdict? Yum!

“When I observe Gram, I see how fragile the notion of tradition can be. If I take my eyes off the way she kneads her Easter bread, or if I fail to study the way she sews a seam in suede, or if I lose the mental image I have of her when she negotiates a better deal with a button salesman, somehow, the very essence of her will be lost. When she goes, the responsibility for carrying on will fall to me. My mother says I’m the keeper of the flame, because I work here, and because I choose to live here. A flame is a very fragile thing, too, and there are times when I wonder if I’m the one who can keep it going.”
~ Adriana Trigiani

 

We have a farm full of men here today! Ben and his mates are trenching and laying cable for underground power and water to our outlying sheds (including the one that will become my office!) and big generator before summer storm season.

I know I’m still supposed to be on bed rest til the end of this week, and honestly I AM taking things quietly, but I can’t let them all go hungry. And also, I miss you and I miss blogging. 🙂

I’ve whipped this very easy slice up for morning tea. It is so simple to make, and it takes about five minutes to throw together.

The recipe originally came from my paternal great-grandmother, Ada Cody (nee Nelson) who lived from 1887 to 1956. She passed this recipe to my grandmother because my pa (her son) liked a piece of slice or two with his afternoon cuppa. It’s a tasty slice – quite plain with a crunchy top and a moist, slightly chewy texture underneath. Lovely with a glass of milk or your favourite hot beverage. My nana used to make this for us as an after-school treat. It’s great for lunchboxes, and it’s so simple that children or beginner cooks can make it with good results every time. Sadly, we kids used to call this classic ‘dead fly slice’ or ‘fly cemetery slice’. Sorry, Nana!

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Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour (self rising for my USA friends!) , 1 cup of desiccated coconut (unsweetened), 1 generous cup of sultanas, 1/2 cup  soft brown sugar, 1/4 cup (60 grams) butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1 egg lightly beaten, 2 tablespoons golden syrup

I like this recipe because it’s a very versatile slice. You could use chopped dates or mixed dried fruit instead of the sultanas. From time to time I’ve jazzed it up with half a cup of chopped nuts, glace ginger, or a little candied citrus peel. You can substitute honey for the golden syrup, or castor sugar for the brown sugar. Served with warm custard or a little ice-cream or pouring cream it is also a yummy simple dessert.

This also bakes up well using gluten-free flour, although you may need to add an extra tablespoon of butter to stop it being too dry.

Method:

Use baking paper to line a 20cm by 30cm slab tin ( 8 inch by 12 inch). Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

In a small saucepan heat golden syrup and butter until melted. Allow to cool.

Combine dry ingredients and mix well together. Add beaten egg and cooled butter mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon until all of the ingredients are moistened and looking like big crumbs.

Tip into the paper-lined tray and press down with a  clean hand.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Cool completely in tin before slicing.

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Chilled Coconut Soup with Tapioca and Rockmelon

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“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
~ Ruth Reichl

 

Many years ago, when my sister and I were sharing a house, we’d sometimes venture out for dinner to a little Asian Restaurant in Market Square at Sunnybank. Our restaurant of choice was called Gourmet Court – a cheerful and cheap eating place, which was good because neither of us had any money back then! None of the staff spoke English, and the menu was all in Mandarin, but it did have a helpful photo for each dish. We would always point to what we wanted, smile profusely, and then mime drinking tea. Somehow, this crazy system always seemed to work for us. The tables were covered in red and white checked plastic tablecloths and little vases of fake flowers which was the only decor beside the lucky cat at the till.

Simone and I were always the only Caucasians in the place, and we looked out of place with our pale skin and long blonde hair. At first that felt uncomfortable but we were treated so well that we came to love going there. After we became regulars the owners would usually bring us a complimentary dessert at the end of our meal. In winter it was a plate of sliced fresh fruit, but when the temperature warmed up they brought out this unusual dish – a cold, sweet coconut ‘soup’ with tapioca pearls (made from a form of root vegetable called cassava) and freshly diced rockmelon. It was our complete favourite; cool, refreshing and delicious.

Gourmet Court no longer exists, but I’ve found a way to recreate our old favourite dish! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. An added bonus is that it’s gluten-free,  and dairy-free. I also make mine sugar-free now too, using a sugar substitute. The tapioca/coconut milk mixture will keep in the fridge for five days, if it lasts that long.

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Ingredients:

1 x cup of small tapioca pearls, 2 x cups of coconut cream, 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar or equivalent (I use natvia!), one rockmelon (cantaloupe)

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Method:

Add the coconut cream, water, salt and sugar to a saucepan and stir well over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Soak the tapioca for twenty minutes in cold water, then drain in a colander. Bring two litres (8 cups) of water to the boil in a large pot, and add the drained tapioca pearls. Stir well so nothing sticks to the bottom, and keep stirring every so often. Bring back to the boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for another fifteen minutes. Then rinse well under cold water to stop the cooking process. The pearls should be mostly translucent and jelly-like with perhaps a few white spots still in the middle. Be careful not to overcook, or the tapioca will turn to mush.

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Add the tapioca pearls to the cooled coconut mixture and refrigerate until needed. The pearls will swell a little more with the coconut milk, and will provide a nice chewy texture.

To serve ladle the ‘soup’ and pearls into a serving bowl and then add a generous portion of freshly diced rockmelon to the top. I served mine to Ben and the workmen here at the farm as a post-lunch treat, after they’d spent the morning slaving away repairing fences in the heat. It was soon devoured!

The rest became breakfast this morning. 🙂

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Note – this is also delicious served with freshly sliced banana, mango or strawberries.

Blueberry Coconut Pots with Chocolate Sauce and Toasted Almonds

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 “Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.” ~  Marilyn Wann

 

I held an impromptu dinner for friends last night. Roast lamb with baked pumpkin and garden vegetables, and then for dessert these little pots of joy. The pots of joy idea arose from me looking in the pantry and wondering what I could whip up in five minutes flat that would be yummy and reasonably healthy.

This dessert ticks the boxes if you are following a high fat low carb diet, and it can be made gluten-free using dark Lindt chocolate. If you are dairy free substitute coconut cream any time I mention dairy cream! Want to be completely sugar-free? Use stevia or natvia instead of maple syrup. Use a 70% chocolate or above for your chocolate sauce.

On the bottom of each pot is a firm coconut and maple syrup jelly. The jelly is then topped with fresh blueberries, a warm chocolate sauce, a drizzle of thick fresh cream, and some toasted almonds. Result? Happiness in your mouth.

These pots are stupidly easy to make. Here’s how to create some of that happiness for yourself…

Ingredients to serve 4:

1 x 270ml can of coconut milk (I love Ayam brand!) 2 x heaped teaspoons of gelatin powder, 2 x tablespoons of maple syrup, pinch of salt, 1 x cup of fresh blueberries, 2 tablespoons of warm chocolate sauce per person (that’s 8! – you can use a good commercial brand or simply combine 2/3 good chocolate and 1/3 fresh cream over low heat and stir until combined and smooth), 4 tablespoons of cream, 4 tablespoons of toasted almonds.

Method:

Place the contents of the can of coconut cream in a bowl. Then 1/2 fill the tin with boiling water and add the gelatin powder. Stir well until combined and then pour over coconut milk. Add the salt and maple syrup, stir well and pour into 4 small ramekins or teacups. Refrigerate for two hours or until set.

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To Assemble:

Toast your almonds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. This will take just a few minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool.

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Make or warm your chocolate sauce. Don’t make it boiling hot. You should still be able to comfortably stick your finger in it. (Yum!) Too hot and it will melt your jelly!

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Divide the blueberries between the pots.

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Pour a couple of tablespoons of warm chocolate sauce over the blueberries.

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Now drizzle some fresh cream.

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Top with toasted almonds.

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Share with friends!

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Hot Buttered Apples with Tumeric and Ginger

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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
~ Desmond Tutu

 

This sounds like a tasty and warming dessert, right?

Well, it is, and if that’s how you want to enjoy it, go right ahead, It’s yummy and good for you.

But then again, this recipe is so much more…

Ever suffered from drug-induced nausea, morning sickness, adrenal exhaustion, upset tummy, chemo mouth or a complete lack of appetite when you need to be taking medicine with food?

These apples contain spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves – that quell nausea, reduce inflammation  boost circulation and your immune system, fight candida and chemo mouth, and aid digestion. The fat from the butter will let you absorb all of the benefit from the turmeric, plus it gives the apples a lovely silky texture. It’s low in sugar, and soft to eat. When you’re sick it’s supreme comfort food that works to help you feel better too.

I usually make a big batch, but you could halve the recipe, or even double it! You can eat it on its own, with breakfast cereal or porridge, or turn it into a crumble. It’s delicious hot or cold, but if you’re not well, warm apples will be easier on your body.

I’ve made two batches today – some for a friend who is going through chemo right now, and some for us to enjoy at home.

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Ingredients:

12 large Granny Smith apples – peeled and sliced, 1 cinnamon quill, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 8 whole cloves, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1 inch of root ginger – peeled and cut into fine matchsticks, 1 heaped tablespoon of butter (grassfed if possible), 4 medjool dates – seeded and chopped, natvia or other sweetener of your choice if desired.

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Place the apples in a large saucepan with about 2 centimetres of water in the bottom of the pot. Add the spices, and dates, and bring to the boil. Then lower heat.

Now add the butter to the apples, and stir through until it melts. Add sweetener if using. I used about a tablespoon of natvia for these apples. Place lid on pot and simmer on lowest heat for ten minutes or until apples are soft.

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Remove cinnamon quill and cloves before serving.

Serve on its own, or with a dollop of yoghurt, coconut cream (my favourite!) or cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Nana’s Delicious Ginger Cake Recipe

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“And I had but one penny in the world. Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.” ~ William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost

 

This was my Pa’s favourite cake. It is a heavy, moist old-fashioned ginger cake and it has very good keeping qualities. Teamed with an afternoon cup of tea or an early morning breakfast coffee and you have happiness on a plate. It has that heavenly gingerbread taste. Need I say more?

Pa would often have this cake, un-iced (that’s without frosting, for my American friends) and generously buttered as a pre-breakfast fortification with strong tea before heading out into the yard for early morning chores, or downstairs into his man-cave to paint and tinker and so on, while Nana slept in.

The cake freezes well. I’ve used gluten-free flours very successfully with this recipe, and have also used it to make cupcakes, slab cakes and bar cakes.

Nana’s Ginger Cake is a picnic and mustering favourite because it doesn’t go to crumbs in your basket, saddlebag or rucksack. This is a big cake and it will easily feed a crowd.

Whenever I make it I am taken back to Nana’s kitchen, and my grandparents’ tiny neat war-service home on Marlene Street at Mount Gravatt. How I miss them!

This is my Nana , Pa and Dad just before Pa signed up for World War Two. Pa's mother gave Nana the ginger cake recipe so she would know how to make his favourite cake.

This is my Nana , Pa and Dad in 1940, just before Pa signed up for World War Two. Pa’s mother gave Nana the ginger cake recipe so she would know how to make his favourite cake.

Excuse the mess in my kitchen. I have crystals everywhere, getting ready for my next retreat in just over a week’s time!

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Ingredients:

2 and 1/2 cups self raising flour (self rising), 1 and 1/2 cups plain flour, a generous pinch of salt, 1 generous tablespoon of ground ginger, a heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 cup glace ginger – finely chopped, 1 egg, 1 cup of treacle (you can substitute golden syrup but the flavour won’t be as strong), 2 lightly packed cups of brown sugar, 3/4 cup of butter (6oz or 185g), 1 cup of milk.

Note: This bakes well using gluten-free flours

Method:

Line a 23cm round, deep tin with baking paper. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Place the butter, syrup and sugar over low heat and melt until thick and combined. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Then add the cup of milk, stirring well.

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While the sugar mixture is cooling sift the flours into a large bowl with the ginger, salt, bicarb and cinnamon. Then add the glace ginger and stir so that the pieces become covered in flour, This prevents them sinking to the bottom of the cake! Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture.

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Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Starting in the middle, stir well with a wooden spoon, slowly incorporating the dry mixture from the edges of the bowl.

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When all the ingredients are combined add the egg and stir thoroughly. Pour into the paper lined tin and bake for one hour.

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Cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre, or a skewer inserted in middle of cake will come out clean with no mixture sticking to it. If not quite done cook a little more.

Cool in tin. Remove paper and place on platter.

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Serving Ideas:

You can serve the cake on its own, or with butter or ice-cream. It is also tasty when iced with a lemon icing. Here are a couple of simple recipes for that. Beat butter and sugar together on low speed if using an electric mixer, and then increase speed to medium. Of course if you are doing by hand, then just beat like crazy. Gradually add enough lemon juice to make a thick but fluffy mixture. Spread on top of cooled cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting: 250 grams (1 cup) cream cheese, 2 cups of icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

Butter Cream Icing: 1/2 cup softened butter, 2 cups of icing sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

However, I think this cake goes best with friends!

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