Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Zucchini Cheesecake/Slice

A couple of months ago, I found myself browsing the book section of a department store one day when I picked up 'I Quit Sugar' by Sarah Wilson. While I am not one in favour of giving up sugar in all its forms, I am definitely in favour of consuming good things in moderation. For me, it's all about less and best. I am a conscientious eater, but when it comes to special occasions, I believe we should all be able to have a little cake. And if you know that that cake was made from scratch with love and the very best ingredients, then all the more reason to enjoy it guilt-free!

So why would I get the book then? While I love making cakes, coming up with new flavours, and so on.. I do have to be careful. If I were to eat cake all the time not only would I be the size of a house, but I wouldn't feel too crash hot either. 'I Quit Sugar' offers lots of useful advice about how we can cut back on sugar in everyday eating, plus it has loads of great healthy recipes. There are lots of high-protein recipes too, which as we all know goes a long way in keeping us full longer and keeps us from raiding the cookie jar at 3pm. And as a vegetarian, I'm always thinking about my protein intake!

In the book this dish is called a zucchini cheesecake, but I prefer to call it a 'slice' as in my mind a anything ending in 'cake' ought to be sweet. Hrmmm... but then again, I suppose banana bread really ought to be banana cake, because there's nothing savoury or bread like about it, is there?! This slice is listed in the breakfast section of the book. When we have this at breakfast I love it with some thyme roasted tomatoes and wilted spinach. I have enjoyed this at lunch and dinner too. It's great alongside a salad with a zingy lemony dressing. Ricotta is a good source of calcium and protein, so not only is this yum, but it's good for you too!

After making this a few times myself, I suggest you to opt for a good quality full fat ricotta from a proper deli rather than a supermarket. It really does make the difference for this recipe. For those of you in Brisbane, try New Farm Deli, Ingredients Deli in Kenmore, or Fruity Capers Deli in Toowong Village. All three are purveyors of quality cheeses.

Zucchini Cheesecake
Recipe from 'I Quit Sugar' by Sarah Wilson. Serves 8

coconut oil, butter or ghee for greasing
2-3 large zucchini
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
550g ricotta
1/3 cup grated parmesan*
2 green shallots (or 'green salad onions' as they are called in supermarkets here in Australia), chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped dill
zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup crumbled fetta**

* Original recipe calls for a whopping 3/4 cup of parmesan, but I found this much too salty.
** I think Dodoni or Bulgarian work well

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius and grease a 23cm cake tin or medium sized baking dish.
2. Grate the zucchini - you need 2 cups grated zucchini. Combine the zucchini and salt in a colander or sturdy sieve and let sit for 15 minutes, then use your fingers or a spoon to press out as much moisture as you can.
3. Combine the ricotta, parmesan, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest, then stir in the eggs and zucchini.
4. Pour into the dish and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle with the fetta then return to the oven for 25 minutes or until the cheese has melted. The slice is est when left to cool completely so that it sets properly. Serve at room temperature.

If you end up making this I hope you enjoy it! I look forward to bringing you some more of my favourite recipes from this wonderful book. Kudos, Sarah Wilson!


Friday, 25 October 2013

Edible dirt

A very brief post from me this evening to share my latest order - this wonderful little dump truck and dirt cake!

The idea for this cake came from a dump truck t-shirt my son wears... for months now I have looked at it time and time again and thought, I really would love to make a dump truck cake one of these days. And so it was added to my never-ending list of things to do should I ever find the time! It seemed Lady Luck was on my side this week when a Brisbane mum got in touch with me to request a last-minute cake request for her son Max's second birthday. The cake needed to be egg and gluten free due to dietary requirements. She didn't have a specific design in mind, but wanted something small for an intimate celebration, and perhaps something truck related. Piece of cake!

As you can see from the below shot, the cake was split into three layers and filled with creamy ganache. I then did an outer layer of ganache as I normally do before I would typically cover with fondant. Not this time! Instead, I created a scrumptious salted chocolate crumb to resemble dirt and used this on the exterior of the cake. I love the overall effect, and as I was lucky enough to be invited to share a piece, I can tell you that the crunchiness of the crumb against the moist cake and creamy ganache was really lovely.

Max was one delighted little boy. And for once his mum was happy to let him eat dirt! ;) Haha

Bye for now!


Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Emperor's second birthday

Last weekend we celebrated our little man's second birthday. He is a boy completely fascinated by anything on wheels, but fire engines are quite special for him, so we went with a fire engine theme.

I had been looking for some nice invitations for a while without much success. Then one day I was browsing one of my favourite websites, Etsy, when I came across a fantastic party printables store called Ledingham Shop. In less than 24 hours, Jane Ledingham had emailed me the file with my personalised party invitations ready to take to the printers. They looked brilliant! I also did matching buffet labels, a happy birthday banner and thank you tags for the party favours through Ledingham Shop.

With a little baby and toddler in my care, we made the decision to have the party catered for to save on the hassle and stress of preparing the food ourselves. So, we got in touch with Vegerama here in Brisbane and arranged for them to cater the party. They did a great job, and the food was well received by our guests, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike! We had samosas and dhokla, as well as two salads - Pad Thai and Chickpea and Pesto. The Pad Thai salad was a real winner for me. With such beautiful fruit available at the moment, I made up a big fruit salad as well. And for the little people I made some readymade Quorn sausage rolls and our favourite savoury muffins as extras.

I make these muffins at least once a week. We love them in our house because they are a great breakfast on the run, lunch or just a nutritious snack. They freeze well too, which is great in a busy household. Here is the recipe!

Carrot, spinach and cumin muffins
An adapted Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe


80g salted butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp olive oil
half large onion, finely diced
2 tsp ground cumin
150g spinach, tough stalks removed and very finely shredded (silverbeet is a good substitute)
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 eggs
275g whole milk yoghurt
150g carrots, grated
40g pumpkin seeds, toasted


1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Alternatively, you can line with muffin papers.

2. Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, stir for a minute, then add the spinach and stir until wilted and soft. Cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, whisk the melted butter, eggs and yoghurt. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour and stir with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the cooled onions and spinach, the carrots and seeds.

4. Spoon into the cases and bake for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Note - these also work very well as mini-muffins, in which case they require much less time in the oven. The toothpick or skewer test is the best way to check.

Now onto the sweet side of the food! Of course, the cake and cupcakes were made by me! It was the first big cake I had done since little A's arrival, and it was such a joy creating something befitting of the fire engine theme and matching the invitation.

Hiding this creation from my little boy was very very difficult, but I managed to keep it hidden from him until it was time to cut the cake at the party. When we brought it out there was a hilarious moment when he went to grab the fire engine and play with it before we had a chance to sing happy birthday. This photo captures it perfectly.. hahaha!

But the real icing on the cake for the day was this surprise... a REAL fire engine! We were so lucky to have a friendly visit from our local fire station. The Emperor and his little friends had so much fun checking out a real life fire engine up close. It was a real delight, and what a wonderful story we will have to tell him when he is older!

All in all one seriously fun day for our little man! He was utterly exhausted by the end of the day (as was I), but it was worth it, and I can't wait for next year's party!

Til next time, dear readers


Friday, 18 October 2013

A long overdue update

How. Time. FLIES!

I can't believe it has almost been one year since my last post telling you all about my little boy's first birthday! There is so much to catch up on I don't even know where to begin... There have been many many changes in the past year, and consequently my once well loved blog has fallen by the wayside. I apologise, dear followers, and will do my utmost best to bring it back to life with attempted regular care and attention!

Ahh, so where shall I start? Well, my family and I moved to Brisbane at the end of last year. We miss Sydney terribly, but the wonderful thing about being in Queensland is that I have family support here. As those of you with little ones will understand, sometimes having that kind of support is utterly precious! We have settled into life here in Brisbane's western suburbs, and although we do not eat out as much as we once did, have discovered some nice places for food and coffee here (which of course I have been meaning to, and most certainly will, now share with you through this blog!)

The second major change in my life, has been this beautiful little addition to our family - Ananya. The name 'Ananya' comes from Sanskrit and means 'one without equal'.

She was born at the Wesley Hospital in July. I developed a serious condition in my final trimester which posed a significant risk to her wellbeing, and so I need to be induced. Little Ananya arrived 3 weeks early but without any major issues. The care at the hospital was outstanding, and my obstetrician Dr Pauline Joubert was amazing both throughout my prenatal care and at the delivery. I can't believe our little girl is already three months old! She grows more and more beautiful by the day. 

The above photo was part of the newborn shoot we did with her when she was 7 days old. The photos are breathtaking... We had them done by Luisa Dunn Photography here is Brisbane. Luisa is one very talented lady, I highly recommend her if you are looking for someone to capture precious portraits of little ones.

Our other little person, Roman, is now two years old! We celebrated his birthday last weekend and I look forward to posting about that soon. He has grown into the most beautiful little boy. Very gregarious, inquisitive and loving, and so far a pretty good elder brother too!

So with an interstate move, a rambunctious two year old, and a new baby, there has not been a great deal of time left for myself, my blog or my cake work. However, where there is a will there IS a way, and I am determined to find a balance for myself. My two little ones will always be my first priority, but now more than ever I feel it is important to reserve some 'me time' for things that I am passionate about. Whether it be taking a long walk, cooking a healthy meal, or creating a beautiful cake for a client - these acts all feed the soul and give me the energy I need! Many of my followers are regular bloggers in their own right as well as mothers and working women - I take my hat off to you, ladies!

Please stay tuned for my next post with lots from Roman's second birthday party - it was a blast!

Anna x
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