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!


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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