Do you remember when BLT’s were all the rage?
Despite its documented existence since the early 1900’s, the BLT really only made an appearance in the Australian food scene in the 70’s. Like its American cousin, the club sandwich, the BLT sandwich contains bacon, lettuce and tomato with lashings of mayonnaise on toasted white bread. The difference being, the club often has an extra layer of toast and chicken included too. The “A” in BLAT includes my favourite fat: avocado!
My first experience with a BLT was as a teenager in a local Dennys restaurant in the 80’s. The chain has since gone bust in Australia but thrives in America and Canada. It was the first 24 hour restaurant in Melbourne and had a keen nocturnal following – especially with hospitality staff, who now had a place to hobnob after work.
Contrary to the sandwiches in my school lunch-box, the BLT is FAT – there are several layers of bacon, chunky tomato and copious amounts of shredded iceberg lettuce. All glued together with a generous slathering of mayonnaise. My lunch box favourite as a kid was ham, cheese & tomato. My brothers favourite was strasburg (fritz, polony) & tomato sauce!!
This version is made in a wrap. As much as I love the odd slice of toasted paleo bread or even gluten-free bread I could never sit down to a sandwich made of the stuff! My previous recipe for tortillas would fill me up too much too, although they’re great with a BBQ sausage.
These wraps are vegetable based and RAW! They last for ages in the fridge and freeze well too. Depending on the extent that you dehydrate them, they stay lovely and pliable without cracking or drying out. I stored mine, wrapped in baking paper, sealed in a plastic container, in the fridge and they were good for 2 weeks.
100g raw almonds
400g chopped carrots
40g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained*
150g red capsicum
2 cloves garlic
A handful of fresh herbs, (I used parsley, basil & a little rosemary)
20g apple cider vinegar
1 heaped teas salt
cracked black pepper, turmeric to taste (optional)
Shredded iceberg lettuce or baby spinach
1 fresh tomato, sliced
1 ripe avocado
Eggplant bacon or the real deal
Mill the linseeds and nuts on SP 10 for 15 seconds. Add the carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, herbs, and vinegar & salt. Blend on SP 8 for about a minute, or as long as it takes to become a thick smooth paste – add the water to help, if required.
Using wet hands, turn out onto a board and divide into 6 pieces. you will need 6 silpat mats, dehydrator sheets or baking paper.
Again with wet hands, form each piece into a ball and flatten out using the palm of your hand in a circular motion until the paste is about 2mm thick. I find it much easier to do it in this way rather than trying to spread with a spatula.
Dehydrate for 3.5 hours at 45ºC (112°F). Check if you can peel the sheet away by flipping the wrap over. If the sheet comes away cleanly, peel off and dehydrate for another 45 minutes to give the other side an airing. If the sheet doesn’t peel away cleanly, leave for another 30 minutes and check.
The finished wraps will be dry but pliable, do not let them dry at the edges as they will crack. You could do these in a very slow oven (65°C) but they will have to be closely monitored.
To assemble the BLAT, take a wrap and layer with a good handful of lettuce, sliced tomato, sour cream and bacon. Roll up and secure with kitchen string or a baking paper collar. I find that 1 filled wrap will make 2 serves easily. They are very filling.
Store the remainder wrapped in baking paper, sealed in a plastic container, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
* Or just sun-dried, but then soak in warm water for 20 minutes & drain. Do not use semi-dried tomatoes – the mix will be too wet.
After my amazing holiday over Christmas, have been a little lax in getting back on the dairy-free wagon. I indulged over the break and was pleasantly surprised to have no immediate digestive repercussions!
Read immediate! Hmmm, it is now halfway through February and I have continued to enjoy a bit of dairy here & there but now I’m facing the consequences of my actions!
A bit of bloating, skin break outs, lethargy……(blow raspberry here)…
My recent food allergy test confirmed that yes, I still have a strong intolerance to dairy – or particularly that of, Aussie cows versus Japanese cows! Boo Hoo, the milk and cream was so good in Hokkaido!
So here is a pretend version of sour cream. Based on cashews, it will get me past the line convincingly. Well, almost!!
300g cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours
1 clove garlic
1 rounded teas salt
200g coconut cream
Juice of 2 lemons
60g apple cider vinegar
1 probiotic capsule (optional)
Rinse the cashews and blend with the remaining ingredients on SP 9 for 1 minute. Taste and scrape down and blend for another 30 seconds until smooth. Stir in the probiotic at the end.
Cream will thicken on standing.
I don’t know if you have been watching the latest MKR lately, I haven’t been a regular viewer, but I chanced upon an episode recently where they were making a chocolate fondant for dessert.
Oh, the drama of it all! So much attention was given to the herculean difficulty in getting the recipe right. And served on time. And cooked perfectly….
Arghh! So I write this post to allay your fears and reassure you that it is really quite easy and straight forward.
The best thing about this dessert is that you can pre-make it and freeze the uncooked mix, way ahead of time. You can make this a week ahead of your visitors arriving – or more – in fact, that’s how the restaurants do it!
Whether you are serving a dinner for 6 or 12 or 20, as long as you dedicate yourself to some time keeping, you can’t go wrong. I think that 20 minutes (or even 30) is a fair break between main course and dessert, so you won’t be distracted with juggling other components of your dinner party, except for maybe breaking out the dessert wine.
This here, is a Paleo version of course! Grain-free, sugar-free, it won’t weigh you down, but beware – it is very rich!!
Give MKR a bit of home competition – I encourage you to have a go!
120g dark chocolate, chopped
A few drops stevia (optional)
2 teas cacao + 1 teas for dredging
30g almond flour
2 egg yolks
Melt the butter and chocolate on SP 2 for 2 minutes at 50°C.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix on SP 5 for 20 seconds until smooth.
Butter 4 ramekins well and dredge with cacao powder. Divide the mix between the ramekins and freeze for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, take the ramekins out of the freezer while waiting for the oven to heat up to 170°C (10 minutes).
Place on a tray in the oven and bake for exactly 17 minutes. (Set a timer) Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Dust with a little cacao powder and serve with cream!
It’s nearly Valentines day! Do you partake? Or do you think it’s a lot of commercial hoo ha?
Well, yes; no & yes….but,
I am blessed to have a wonderful man in my life; a fabulous supportive partner and best friend who makes my life feel like Valentines day everyday! Yes, I know… it’s sappy but true! But in his mind, Valentines Day is all about chocolate, and chocolate and lets face it, it’s only about chocolate! It’s his training session for the imminent visit from the Easter bunny, who brings……more chocolate!!
But what happens if you don’t like chocolate? Or you love chocolate and it doesn’t love you?
Move over chocolate, mud cake, chocolate brownies, chocolate mousse and chocolate sponge, try this light & tasty caramel cake that won’t weigh you down after your oysters and salmon – after all, love needs to get a look in too doesn’t it?!
Gluten-free, nut-free and lactose-free, this recipe uses a little butter, but you could substitute ghee if you prefer. I have also used maca powder, predominantly for its caramelly malty flavour, but it also seems an apt ingredient for this lovers cake!
Maca is universally known as an aphrodisiac. It is widely used to promote sexual function of both men and women and is known to be a good hormone balancer. This is especially good for menstrual issues and menopause. (But avoid it if you are pregnant). It is rich in vitamins B, C, and E, and has calcium, zinc and iron and is also known to be a good mood balancer. If you find yourself overcome with anxiety, stress, depression or mood swings, maca may help alleviate these symptoms, though most of the evidence is anecdotal.
Either way, maca has a lovely nutty malty flavour which enhances the caramel of the dates, that I use to sweeten this cake. The tea also gives it an interesting dimension, I used Earl Grey because it is subtly fragrant. Use any tea you wish.
And to my husband, my lover and friend:
Happy Valentines Day!
80g cacao butter
100g coconut sugar
70g cold strong brewed tea
vanilla to taste
50g butter or ghee
1 teas bicarb soda
1 teas baking powder
60g coconut flour
1 tab tapioca flour
30g maca powder
Grind the cacao butter with the dates and sugar on SP 9 for 5 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend on SP 5 for 20 seconds. Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then blend again for 10 seconds. Pour into cupcake tins and bake in a 170°C oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Do not over bake as they can dry out. Cool and then top with 3 ingredient caramel frosting.
3 Ingredient Caramel Frosting
70g cacao butter
40g butter or ghee
Chop ingredients on SP 9 for 5 seconds. Add 30g water and cook on SP 3 for 3 minutes at 37°C. Blend for 15 seconds on SP 8 to ensure it’s nice and smooth and thick. Set aside to cool so that you can dollop it on your cakes.
WARNING!! This post has sugar and dairy in it!!! But read on…..
Recently, I travelled to Hokkaido, the dairy capital of Japan. Did you know there was a dairy capital of Japan?
The consumption of dairy in Asia seems erroneous to me , but there is in fact, a burgeoning dairy business in Asia.
Cheese and milks’ introduction to mainstream Japanese dining came only recently during the late 1800’s when meat was formally accepted into the Japanese diet. Prior to this, raising and serving meat had been banned for centuries by Buddhist edict and meat consumption was considered unclean. Ignorantly, whales were considered a fish and whale meat consumption proliferated…
It was apparent to modern Japanese leaders, from their dealings with Europe, that western people had robust, bigger bodies, which were a result of their diets of dairy and meat. So in line with the encouragement of meat consumption, the government established several national dairies to produce milk and cheese. These dairies were established in Hokkaido in about 1876, and now Hokkaido is the dairy capital of Japan!
To me, cheese and milk do not lend themselves well to Japanese cuisine, but the Japanese love their cheese on everything from ramen to okonomiyaki and stews. I admit I steered clear of cheese in a savoury sense but I was completely enamoured by the creamy sweet delights in the form of custard tarts, ice-cream and cheesecake!
As you know, I normally steer clear of dairy,
but when in Rome…..! I anticipated a seriously unhappy tummy as a result. But… I survived! Memories of that cheesecake are held dear! Not too sweet, silky smooth, almost cake like and light. In the north, you will see Hokkaido cheesecake everywhere, it’s touted as the local export. In contrast to a baked New York cheesecake, which is heavy and dense with cream cheese, Hokkaido cheesecake is light and fluffy and uses a much smaller percentage of cream cheese. This is my version, I’m really excited with it.
*I have called for raw sugar in this recipe as rapadura or coconut sugar is too dark in colour and makes the cake look brown. Personally, I used 50/50 mix of raw sugar and natvia. By all means use the sugar that you prefer, but note that honey does not work.
60g raw sugar*
70g Natvia (or raw sugar)
6 eggs, separated
250g cream cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teas vanilla extract
60g GF flour, pre-sifted (I use this one)
1/4 teas salt
1/2 teas cream of tartar
First prepare your pan. This is a bit fiddly but makes quite a difference to the cake. Grease a 22cm (or 24cm) spring-form pan well and dredge with some extra GF flour. Shake out the excess flour and line the base with baking paper. Wrap the pan in 2 layers of tin foil, making sure that there are no tears. This cake needs to be cooked in a water bath in the oven so the pan needs to be watertight! Find a baking tray that the pan can comfortably sit in with an inch or so “moat” for hot water. Set the oven to 190°C.
In a clean dry TM bowl, whisk the egg whites & cream of tartar with the butterfly until foamy, then add the 60g sugar and whisk on SP 4 until soft peaks form. You do not want stiff peaks, just a gentle meringue. This will take about 2 – 3 minutes, but will vary depending on the temperature of the eggs. Set aside in a large bowl. **
Without cleaning the TM bowl, add the cream cheese, butter, egg yolks, milk, 70g sugar and water and mix on SP 6 for 5 seconds to combine. Cook at 37°C for 2 minutes on SP 3. Add the sifted flour & salt & lemon juice and mix for another 5 seconds on SP 4.
Gently fold in the cheese mixture to the egg whites and mix well. It will be of pouring consistency but foamy. Pour into a pre-prepared pan and fill the water bath with hot water. Bake on the lower shelf of the oven for 25 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 160°C and bake for a further 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave in the hot oven for a further 15 minutes, then remove. Total 65 minutes. The cake will puff up a bit and then fall, but should not crack. If it looks like it is cracking, turn the oven down a bit.
Allow to cool before removing from tin and serve cold or at room temperature. Don’t be put off with the baking part of this recipe – it is really worth it!!
** I admit that I prefer to do this step in my stand mixer as I get much more volume but there’s less washing up if you do it all in the TM!
I started this post talking about my recent trip to Japan and how fabulous the cheesecake was there. As I was writing, I’m thinking: who am I kidding?? This recipe does not do justice to the wonderful cheesy delight I had over there. This cake is like chalk to that Japanese cakes cheese!!
Happy New 2015!
It has been a very different start to my new year with a snowy holiday in Japan. I have come back refreshed, revitalised and ready for a busy year filled with exciting new recipes to blog and more cooking classes. And all of my bones intact!
Typically of the new year, I have restocked my fridge with loads of healthy vegetables and fruit and have been madly replenishing my depleted stores of vege crackers, activated nuts & seeds and my favourite paleo bread.
My pre-Christmas cooking involved lots of egg yolks so I find my freezer full of egg whites which I’m thinking I need to find a use for, and what better way but to make some healthy friands for the weekend.
A friand is a small French cake, most often based on almonds, egg whites, butter, and sugar. The French word friand, means dainty or a gourmet who delights in delicate tastes, and friands are usually small and rich due to the high nut content. In keeping with a healthy bent, my recipe is a lot lighter than the traditional friand. I use honey instead of sugar and have omitted the butter completely although you may add a tablespoon of melted butter if you want to add some richness.
One of my favourite flavours is cardamom, which has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. You only need to use a little, because too much can be overpowering.
I buy both the green pods, black pods and the seeds from the Asian grocer. I use the pods in curries and chai blends and use the seeds, which I mill, in cakes and desserts. It is best to mill the seeds as you use them, because as they are ground, they quickly lose their flavour. The seeds can be bought in packets and look very much like mouse poo!
Apart from Indian and Thai cuisine, cardamom is often used in baking in Sweden, Finland, and the Middle East. I tend to discover the spice for a while, OD on it and then forget about it for a while!
From a medicinal perspective, cardamom is broadly used to treat infections in the mouth and upper respiratory tract. It is also great for digestion and the gall bladder, which might be handy for our post-Christmas reboot! If you are averse to cardamom, feel free to replace with nutmeg or allspice.
4 egg whites
1/4 teas cream of tartar
1/4 teas cardamom seeds
140g raw almonds
1 tab melted butter (optional)
1 teas vanilla extract
1 1/2 teas baking powder
Warm the clean empty TM bowl on 60°C for 1 minute on SP 3.
Add the egg whites and tartar and insert the butterfly and whip on SP 4 for 2 minutes at 37°C until light & fluffy. Set aside in another wide bowl. Rinse & dry the TM bowl and add the cardamom seeds. Mill on SP 9 for 20 seconds, then add the almonds and grind on SP 9 for 5 seconds. Add the walnuts & salt and grind for a further 5 seconds on SP 8.
Add the honey, vanilla, butter (if using) and baking powder and mix on SP 4 to combine well.
Fold the nut mixture into the egg whites gently and pour into silicone friand or cupcake molds to bake for 15 minutes at 170°C. Serve warm or at room temperature. These also freeze very well.