Saturday, October 30, 2010

Total Greek Yoghurt and the perfect Afternoon Cake

There are a handful of great food magazines available at the moment, but one of my favourites is Australian Gourmet Traveller. I've been a devoted reader for a number if years and I must admit I cant help but get excited every time I collect a new edition. It’s a great magazine, glossy, inspirational, totally indulgent and while I admit that the recipes aren’t always practical, every now and again when you have the time and the desire to be impractical you’ll find it’s well worth the effort!

I recently discovered a fantastic recipe from the January 2010 edition: Yoghurt and Almond cake. This recipe was an attractive option as Greek yoghurt and ground almonds are two things always found in my shopping trolley. The Greek Yoghurt used in this cake provides a substantial and velvety finish that when combined with caramel nectarines makes the perfect ending to an Autumnal mid-day feast with friends!    

I chose to use Total Greek Yoghurt. Its been a favourite for a while, the appeal being that it has many variants - Full Fat, 2% or even 0% - so its perfect if you love the decadence of Greek Yoghurt yet don't want the guilt of full fat!!

Yoghurt and Almond Cake

140 grams Self-raising flour
4 eggs, separated
110 grams white sugar
210 grams Total Greek Yoghurt (I used full fat)
80 mls Olive Oil
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
70 grams of ground Almonds
110 grams of caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Sift flour into a bowl and set aside. Whisk yolks and white sugar in an electric mixer until pale and creamy (5-7 minutes). Add yoghurt, olive oil, rind and juice, stir to combine, then fold in flour and ground almonds and set aside. Whisk eggwhite in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (2-4 minutes), then gradually add caster sugar and whisk until firm peaks form (1-2 minutes). Fold eggwhite mixture through yoghurt mixture, pour into a buttered, floured and base-lined 23cm-diameter springform cake tin and bake until golden and a skewer withdraws clean (35-40 minutes). Cool in tin on a wire rack. 

Caramel Nectarines*

3 Nectaries, cut in wedges and stones discarded
200 grams white sugar
juice of 1 orange

Place nectarines in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove sugar crystals, then cook until caramel (8-10 minutes). Add orange juice (be careful as mixture may spit), stir to dissolve. Pour over nectarines stir to combine and set aside for 1 hour, then spoon over cake, scatter with shaved almonds and serve with vanilla ice cream ... or more Greek yoghurt


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Discover the Origin
I have never been much of a port fan. Currants, sultanas and raisins are about the only foods I don't eat, and all the ports I've tasted in the past seem to have had a definite 'curranty' flavour. However recently I discovered a gem in the port world... Ruby (or pink) Port. Served chilled and accompanied by nuts,chunks of parmigiano or green and blacks dark ginger chocolate, Ruby Port is a stunning alternative ending to any meal.

The Douro region of Portugal has been producing port, including the Ruby variety, for 2000 years. Yet I had never heard of it. In fact I went to Portugal a few years ago and I am ashamed to admit that I only realised Portugal had such a proud heritage of Port production, because so much of it was for sale in the Duty Free section of the airport! 

I never would have found Ruby Port (let alone fallen in love with it), had it not been for Discover the Origin - a campaign designed to raise awareness around five key European products:
  • Parma Ham
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • Burgundy Wines
  • Douro Valley Wines
  • Port
The concept of the campaign is one that I feel I can really get behind. Its all about knowing where the food and drink you consume comes from. Its about understanding the rich cultural backgrounds of some of Europe's oldest food and wine producing areas, and crediting these regions for giving birth to these products. 

This is especially important when you live in a city that imports products from all over the world through-out the year. In our superstore dependant state its possible to forget that food has a point of origin beyond Sainsburys or Tescos!

The campaign promotes good eating and sociable living by encouraging consumers to shop for specialist products, where possible, and enjoy well prepared foods matched with exceptional wine. Doing so with friends and family, despite the hectic pace of modern life!   

This was demonstrated perfectly when Discover the Origin hosted an event at La Cucina Caldesi. Watching reputable London Restaurateur Katie Caldesi effortlessly prepare and cook white bean crostini, pasta al forno and pan fried duck breast with blackberry sauce was a treat in itself. Getting to taste wines and ports from the above mentioned region while Katie cooked was truly the cherry on top. The evening was proof that it really is worth the effort to Discover the Origin of what we eat!

For more information on Discover the Origin see: 

Picture credits - My encouraging South African supporter and Chief Recipe taster!