At the Home by the Sea, I am always looking to incorporate more vegetables in our diet.
If you have read this blog before you might be aware of my penchant for sweet treats. Especially those with brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon, such as the Danish Spice Cake, or Walnut Streusal Cake.
Fellow blogger Sandy just had to go and post a delicious recipe of Chocolate and Zucchini cake with just those aforementioned ingredients that I love so much.
Clear the hallway! I said when I read the post.
“I am headed for the kitchen.” No sooner had I read the post then the cake was in the mixing bowl.
Here is the result:
Sandy’s Chocolate and Zucchini Cake
Health Benefits of Zucchini or Squash to your Diet
Zucchini is low in calories, fat, and sugar and is a great source of antioxidants and Folate. It also contains Vitamins (A, E and C) that improve skin integrity, alleviate puffiness, build collagen and fight damage from free radicals. So Zucchini make us look younger!
I reduced the zucchini – I use 2- 3 zucchini amounting to about 500 ml shredded – squeezed it out a little then added a 2- 3 tablespoons of extra flour to Sandy’s recipe.
Never buy a packet cookie or cake mix again! Many of them are just flour, sugar and dehydrated egg or fat.
You can easily make good quality cake mixes on your own in a food processor, or by hand, if you relish manually rubbing in butter to flour; (I don’t). But it does save you money and assist in building a zero waste household!
Buying larger bags of flour and sugar, in order to make up a few batches of cake mix will save money in the long run, as you can access cheaper prices for buying in bulk. Think how much each individual box of cake mix costs. I estimate you could save at least 2/3 of the retail price. So in effect, 3 for the price of 1!
These pre-made mixes can be made up immediately they’re removed from the fridge, but it will take a little longer than if the ingredients are at room temperature when you make them up. Use this time well by preparing pans, trays etc. whilst waiting for the mix to acclimatize.
Hints on Making Your own Baking Mixes:
Measure ingredients accurately.
Place mixes into sealable plastic bags: large zip lock bags are great.
Mark down the date prepared and the contents: eg.Chocolate cake/ orange cake, on the label. You might even want to add some simple directions on preparing or baking and give these mixes as gifts to friends. A marble cake pre made mix is welcomed by my friends.
Sealed well these mixes will store in the freezer for 3 months.
Foundation Cake Pre-Mix
*NB: Self raising flour is the equivalent of 1 cup of plain or all purpose flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of Baking powder sifted and mixed thoroughly.
Cake Mix Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Self-raising Flour*
3/4 cup (180 g) castor sugar
2 tablespoons skim milk powder
125 g (4oz) butter, straight from fridge and chopped into small cubes
Combine sifted flour, sugar and milk powder in the bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade for blending the butter.
Blitz dry ingredients for 2- 3 seconds to mix.
Add the chopped cold butter.
Process 10 to 20 seconds until butter is evenly distributed in dry ingredients.
Seal and store or continue to make a completed cake.
Making up the Cake from the Pre-Mix
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin Sugar
1/2 cup water
Prepare Foundation Cake Mix in a mixer bowl as instructed above.
Add the eggs, vanilla and water.
Beat on low speed until ingredients are combined.
Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for three minutes or until mixture changes in colour and is smooth. (There should not be any lumps in the mixture; if there are, beat til they’ve disappeared).
Spread mixture evenly into well-greased 20 cm Round, Bundt, Ring, or a 28 x 18 cm, (11x 7 in) lamington tin.
Bake in moderate oven 30 minutes and leave for 10 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.
Add 2 teaspoons grated orange rind with the water and eggs and omit vanilla.
Top cake with Orange glace icing when cold.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant coffee with 1/4 cup boiling water, and make up to 1/2 cup with cold water but leave to cool before using. Use this in place of the 1/2 cup water in original recipe.
Top with glace icing of your choice, or coffee icing.
Sift 1/3 cup Cocoa into a small basin, gradually blend in 2/3 cup water, stir till smooth. Use in place of water in original recipe. (The extra water is needed in this recipe to absorb the cocoa.)
Top with chocolate icing.
Cooking times vary so here is a guide to tin sizes and cooking times:
20 cm (8 inch) ring tin – 35 minutes
2 x 25 x 8 cm (10 in x 3 in) bar tins – 30 minutes
20 x 10 cm (8in x 4 in) loaf tin – 50 minutes
23 x 12 cm (9in x 5 in) loaf tin – 50 minutes
25 x 15 cm (10in x 6 in) – 45 minutes
Basic Cake Icing
Vanilla Glace Icing
1 1/2 cups Icing or Confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons Butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin sugar
2 tablespoons Milk, approximately
Stir Icing sugar into small heatproof bowl
Stir in butter, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick paste.
Stand basin over hot water, stir constantly until icing is of spreading consistency.
Spread over cold cake with spatula.
Orange Glace Icing: Use 2 tablespoons strained orange juice in place of milk and omit vanilla.
Salmon is low in fat and high in protein. Not to mention it is a good source of B12, potassium, iron and vitamin D. No wonder the Scandinavians enjoy it.
Making pastry can be a pain but it’s a breeze with this recipe as the kitchen food processor blends and forms a delicious, cheesy pastry shell.
This recipe is substantial and makes a filling pie great for serving the family or group. The pie cuts easily and holding its form brilliantly on the day of cooking as well as the next day for a summer lunch.
Salmon Pie Recipe
Preheat Oven to 180 C (350F)
Cheesy Pastry Crust Ingredients
1.5 cups Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
125 g Butter
1 cup grated Cheddar or firm Cheese (substitutes are fine as long as it isn’t a cheese that melts too much such as mozzarella)
Rub the butter into the flour using a Food Processor but not so much that it turns into a ball (keep it crumbly)
Add the grated cheese and mix through the pastry.
Set aside 1/4 of the mix to reserve for the pie topping
Press the remainder into an 8-9 inch pottery, or glass, pie dish until it covers the base and sides to form the pastry shell.
220 gram (around 8 oz) can cooked Red or Pink Salmon, preferably boneless
375 grams Sour cream (13 oz)
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Chives
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
1/2 cup grated Cheese (extra)
Drain and flake salmon and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients
Place the combined mix into the pastry shell
Crumb the reserved portion of the pastry crumbs on top
Bake 40 – 50 minutes at 180 C (350 F) or until golden brown on top
Delicious served hot or cold the next day with a green salad.
You know your own children’s preferences, but when they become adults and bring home partners, you might have to face the prospect that the partners has different dietary preferences that need to be accomodated at festive occasions, like Christmas.
I am rather late in planning this Gluten free Christmas menu and it is not Vegan, nor vegetarian so that is a heads up. But it is highly nutritious.
Entree or Nibbles
First off we have a Prawn, snow pea and Capsicum Entree, I used the following Prawn dish idea but made it a kind of tasting nibbles board, rather than a whole dish. I will add some nice cheeses, home made Knekkerbrød (Norwegian crackers) and nuts to accompany this.
Fresh is best for this opener. Given that all prawns are frozen at the point of capture, fresh is a loose term these days. But we are Australian, so we have to have some kind of shellfish option to start the hot meal.
Assortment of oven-roasted, gluten-free meats – without stuffing and preferably organic in nature
Potatoes roasted with garlic, thyme and dill
Pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots (all roasted with rosemary sprigs)
Red capsicum drizzled with olive oil and roasted lightly
Cauliflower butter beans and Pumpkin Hommus
Chickpea Spinach and Eggplant Salad
Broccoli, Quinoa and Edamame Vegetables (served warm for the Moth)
Smashed Pavlova with seasonal stone fruits – there is just a little teaspoon of cornflour in this Pavlova recipe but when there is a coeliac visitor, one has to be extra careful. This is not just Gluten intolerance, but allergy!
Gluten-free Option – Chocolate Brownie
For the Moth: Warm Plum Pudding served with custard and ice cream
What kind of different dishes are you cooking this Christmas?
Are you breaking from preparing traditional foods?
I have always been reluctant to use yeast in the kitchen. I have had bad experiences with dry yeast sachets.
Either I heat the yeast granules far too much in my anxiety to make the dough rise, or the resulting dish tastes of something that I really can’t describe. It’s not an awful flavour but a slight kind of aftertaste. It is not sweet. I am not sure if this is yeast or something else.
The taste of cinnamon scrolls takes me back to Denmark and Finland, but generally all of Scandinavia. In Denmark, you see these rolls and pastries everywhere, from 7/11 stores (which surprisingly are some of the best), to small cafes and even gas stations kiosks. They are both ubiquitous and synonymous with Scandinavian traditions. Whether they be soft sweet bread or the flaky Danish style pastry, cinnamon is the main theme.
The first thing my daughter wanted to do on our return to Denmark was to eat a Cinnamon ‘snail’ or ‘Kanelsnegle.’ This is the kind of flaky pastry that is thin and wound round and round similar to the shape of a snail’s shell.
Eating various kinds of cinnamon pastries is some kind of birthright in Denmark, and I have it. No question. I enjoyed a huge cinnamon bun in Helsinki one year. I didn’t eat anything else until dinner that day.
Cooking with Yeast
It is not that I have not cooked with yeast before. I have. I used to make my own bread but that was using baker’s fresh compressed yeast and it was brilliant. A never-fail kind of yeast that was guaranteed to make bread products rise beautifully. Not so the sad results of my experiences with the dried variety of yeast.
Nevertheless after 38 years, I decided it was too time to try again or hang up the dried yeast forever. And Cinnamon buns was the perfect tester. Ju-Lyn’s Cinnamon bun photographs looked perfect and the texture was soft and bouncy.
Furthermore, Cinnamon is so good for you. Packed with Antioxidants, cinnamon may lower blood sugar as well as assist in managing heart disease and inflammation in the body.
The Result of Cooking Cinnamon Buns with Dry Yeast
This was the moment of truth. Would they be hard as rocks or soft and bouncy?
I can reveal that I was over the moon with the result.
No aftertaste and a nice even texture on the rolls. They rose as the recipe suggested and Ju-Lyn’s clear recipe tips helped enormously. One minor adjustment would be to substitute water instead of milk but that is only personal preference.
Here they are:
If I can convince you to make them or at least experiment and you would like the recipe, you can find it at the blog: purplepumpernickel.
Having a home by the sea has many advantages, however, one disadvantage, is the poor quality of the soils for gardens and the difficulty in growing plants that thrive in coastal areas.
Coastal soils are often sandy and have poor water retention ability but might also be heavy, salty and highly alkaline. This means their PH level is about 7 or above, which makes growing plants quite tricky.
If I wanted to grow Azaleas, Camellias, Magnolias or my favourite flowering shrub: Gardenias, for example, the coastal soils would need organic and chemical* help.
*Please note growing azaleas, camellias, magnolia and gardenias will require a specific fertilizer or may wither or develop yellowing leaves, without the right conditions.
As some of my garden had already been established, adding large quantities of peat moss, compost or organic matter wasn’t going to be a viable option, so in order to change the PH of the soil, I needed to look at other options.
It’s always best to test the soil’s pH level and follow instructions to the “T” when using anything to change soil pH.
If your soil is highly alkaline, adding sulphur, peat moss, sawdust, or aluminium sulfate can help neutralize it.
The first warning sign that the plants in my garden were suffering from a high Ph level was leaves turning yellow with a green midvein, evident firstly with the alkaline sensitive Gardenias and later, the Murraya, or Mock Orange, and some of the small Cupheas bordering the garden.
My next step in remediation was to stabilize the Gardenia, in situ, with an appropriate chemical fertilizer suitable for the sensitive likes of those plants and plant out more alkaline-tolerant species, as well as add organic matter where possible.
Within a few weeks of applying the fertilizer, the Gardenias and Magnolia had shiny new green growth. I applied a general fertilizer to the Murraya and the Cupheas and although slower, they are responding with new buds.
Growing Lavender in Coastal Areas
Lavender plants are a sound choice for coastal areas as they relish well-drained sandy soils and don’t mind wind. The ones I planted thrived in soil that had an upper layer of very sandy alkaline loam with an underlying, also alkaline, clay. They are especially beautiful now, in full bloom. No fertilizer needed, or signs of alkaline damage, so far.
Lavender plants make spectacular borders and vary in height: Lavender dentata, for example, grows to a height of 60 cm and can be pruned to a ball shape lightly after flowering.
Growing Your Own Lavender Plants
Lavender blossoms make excellent cut flowers,or can be used in dried flowers arrangements or potpourri. After flowering, I remove the lavender flowers from the stems and pot up the trimmed down leaf tips and place them in potting mix after first dipping the ends in rooting powder and then seal them with a plastic bag for several months. After that, you should have some established new Lavender plants.
It’s really a plant that keep on giving.
Lavender is known for its therapeutic properties.
Growing Olive Trees in Coastal Areas
Contrary to popular belief, Olive trees do not really have troublesome root systems, and as they do like coastal conditions they can also tolerate alkaline soil, well, provided it is free draining. A great choice for a coastal garden particularly with their grey-green foliage.
Olive trees take about 7 years to produce fruit. Sadly, we had to leave a beautiful olive tree at our former location, when we moved to the ‘Home by the sea,’ one that was close to flowering and producing olives.
The tree was about five years old and about 3 metres tall. It was not in a position of full sun, but we do live in the sub-tropics, so the sun is stronger here. Olive trees seem resilient to pests, so are a great choice for coastal and Mediterranean-style climates.
Plants suitable for Alkaline soils:
Some other plants that cope well in Alkaline soil types are listed below.
Herbs/Vegetables for Alkaline Soils
Sweet Potato – my plants are thriving. Just pop them in and watch them grow.
Parsley can be used as an edible border plant as it is a splash of greenery and handy for use in making Tabouli or salads in the kitchen. It is a herb that does like alkaline soils.
Shrubs and Treesfor Alkaline Soils
Olive Trees – as long as the soil is free draining.
The cake for this week is a bread that is really a cake.
Blueberries are in season here at the Home by the Sea. Blueberries the so-called Superfood packed with antioxidants means this bread-like cake can legitimately claim the label of a healthy home-baked food.
You will find it especially delightful served warm with a cuppa.
Recipe for Lemon Blueberry Bread
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light or low-fat milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350° F or 175° C
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon zest.
Transfer to a greased 8×4-in. loaf pan.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread.
Because of its lemon base you can replace the blueberries with raspberries or any other bey in season. Or you could turn this into an orange cranberry bread by using orange juice and cranberries. Cherries and almonds also pair beautifully with either lemon or orange.
Using full fat milk, will mean the bread will keep moist for longer.
This week’s Cake at the Home by the Sea is delicious served with tea or coffee or can be versatile enough for a dessert treat if served with some vanilla yoghurt, cream or ice cream drizzled with Raspberry Coulis.
Raspberry Buttermilk Cake Recipe
130g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
55g unsalted butter, at room temperature
145g sugar, plus a further 1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup (approx 140g) fresh or frozen raspberries
1 dessertspoon butter, (melted)
1 tablespoon cinnamon (sprinkled over the top)
Preheat oven to 205°C/400°F
Butter and flour a 20cm round cake pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
Beat the butter and first measure of sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Add the egg and beat well.
Switching the mixer to a low speed, mix in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Ensure that each time you only mix until just combined.
Transfer the batter into the cake pan and gently spread to fill the pan. Scatter the raspberries over the top and sprinkle with the final 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, which should take between 30-35 minutes.
Cool the cake for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely, then brush melted butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Variation: Add 100g white chocolate buds to the mix prior to adding the raspberries.