Showing posts with label cornmeal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cornmeal. Show all posts

Monday, July 6, 2015

Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing

Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing

I feel so blessed to be food allergy free. I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Makes eating out and just cooking in general so easy. I have quite a few family members and friends who aren’t so lucky. Whilst there is a variety of allergies I sometimes have to cater for, the most common one is gluten. Unfortunately for those friends, the gluten intolerance and allergy generates fairly full-on, sometimes hospital inducing reactions. It’s a little more serious for them than the discomfort that some gluten-avoiders get, so every single ingredient needs to be gluten free.

At a recent cousins catch-up Lance and I hosted, I needed to make a gluten-free cake. Now, because I am fine to eat everything, I don’t buy gluten-free flour, and I didn’t want to buy some especially for the occasion. Which led to a decision – make my own gluten-free flour out of things I do buy, like buckwheat flour, rice flour, chick pea flour, or go flourless? I decided to go flourless. This cake does call for gluten free baking powder, which I have as a default. You can leave it out altogether if you need it gluten free and don’t want to buy new baking powder. The cake is already a dense style, so it’s not especially missed, just make sure the whole thing is well beaten whilst mixing.

The pink grapefruit that we planted when we first moved in has had it’s first fruit-bearing season, and I wanted to make a citrusy cake to celebrate this fact. I love pink grapefruit so much! Tart and tangy and refreshing. So good! And seeing as our basil plant clearly hasn’t been informed that it’s actually winter now, and is still growing like crazy and given the success of a previous lime and basil cake (for a cousins catch-up on my side of the family), my flavour profile was decided. I didn’t have enough almonds to make an almond meal cake, so I adapted Nigella’s Lemon Polenta Cake, which uses a mixture of polenta and almonds, and is drizzled with a lemon syrup to make a wonderfully moist cake.

Just because I wanted to show off, I added a toasted meringue icing, also grapefruit and basil flavoured. The cake doesn’t really need the icing – but I figure, if you’re making a cake for an event, you might as well go all out, right? Go big, or go home!

Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing

Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue


200g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
6 large basil leaves
2 cups almond meal
¾ cup fine polenta (cornmeal)
3 eggs
Zest 1 pink grapefruit


Juice of the pink grapefruit above
½ cup icing sugar
6 large basil leaves

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray the sides of a 23cm springform cake tin with cooking spray and line the base with baking paper. I like to allow a little overhang, then clip the base into the ring to secure it.

In a coffee/spice grinder, finely grind the basil leaves with half of the caster sugar. Add the basil sugar, remaining sugar and butter into the bowl of a standmixer and beat on high until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the almond meal, polenta and baking powder. Turn the mixer down to low/medium and add 1 egg, then 1/3 of the dry mixture. Alternate the egg and dry mixture for the remaining 2 eggs and polenta. When this is fully combined, beat in the grapefruit zest.

Scrape the mixture into the cake tin, and bake for around 40 minutes. The top will be a little golden, and will be pulling away from the edges a little. Place the cake tin on a cooling rack. Don’t remove the cake yet.

Just before the cake is done baking, bring the icing sugar and grapefruit juice to the boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the basil leaves. Stir well, then set aside to infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the leaves

When the cake is out, prick all over the top gently with a cake tester (or thin toothpick). Pour the warm syrup over the cake. Leave it to soak in and cool in the tin.

Whilst the cake cools, make the meringue icing

Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing

Pink Grapefruit and Basil Toasted Meringue Icing

2 egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar
Pinch cream of tartar
Juice of 1 grapefruit
Handful of basil leaves

Get ready by wetting a pastry brush and placing the eggwhites in a clean bowl of your standmixer, and attaching the whisk attachment. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of a pot large enough that the end will be submerged in the liquid, but not touching the bottom of the pan.

Place the grapefruit juice in a measuring cup and add water to make it up to 100mL. Add this, the sugar and the basil leaves to a medium pot and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully remove the basil leaves.

Brush down sugar crystals with the wet brush. Continue heating the syrup until it reaches 115C, this will take around 10 minutes. Leave it on the heat, but start whisking the eggwhites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

Keep an eye on the thermometer, and when it reaches 120C, take it off the heat, increase the speed of the mixer to high and slowly pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream down the side (avoid it touching the whisk). When all of the syrup is incorporated, lower the speed to medium and continue beating until it’s cooled to room temperature and the meringue is thick and glossy.

Spread the meringue over the cake with a spatula, deliberately creating peaks and swirls. Fire up your mini-blow torch and gently brown the edges of the meringue swirls, being careful not to let it burn.


Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing
Entertaining without Gluten - Flourless Grapefruit and Basil Cake with Toasted Meringue Icing

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Satisfying Cravings and (Late) New Year's Resolutions - Basic Cornbread

At the end of the first month of 2014 worked out that my new year’s resolution is to eat more cornbread. I love it so much, but it’s one of those things I forget about. It’s not often on menus in Perth, so it tends to go off my radar as eating it usually equals cooking it myself. But I went to Miss Kitty’s Saloon in Inglewood for brunch with my husband and sister-in-law a few weekends back and the stand-out dish from what we ordered was the steak benedict. Ignoring for a second the delicious jerk potatoes that it came with, the steak benedict was perfectly created. It was a thin marinated skirt steak, with a tart pink peppercorn hollandaise sauce on top of sweet and juicy caramelised onions all on top of the most melt-in-your-mouth buttery cornbread I’ve ever tasted.

I have a recipe for cornbread floating around somewhere that includes bacon and Cajun spices. I’ll try dig that out again now that it’s my new year’s resolution. But in the meantime, I wanted just your basic cornbread. Given that I’ve spent the last month drooling over the Treme cook book I got for Christmas, I thought that’d be the perfect resource for finding cornbread. And I wasn’t wrong. I’ve only made two small adjustments to their recipe. I used buttermilk instead of normal milk – because shouldn’t that always be a thing in southern style baking? I halved the salt and replaced it with a Creole spice mix. And I used olive oil instead of canola oil. Just because I like olive oil.

I served this as a base for the wonderful mushroom sauce that Alejandra from Always Order Dessert posted last year. And voila! Dinner. Just me and my baby.

There’s a recipe for jalapeno cornbread that might need to be tried now.

Oh, and they included Cane Syrup Butter in their cookbook as an accompaniment. Personally, I’m all for Maple Butter. Just whip a tablespoon or so of maple syrup into 50g or so of some delicious room temperature salted butter. I served this with my lemon and olive focaccia and it did not take long to be eaten!

Basic Cornbread
adapted from Treme
1 cup cornmeal plus 2 tbsps
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp. raw sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Creole spice mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C

Grease a skillet or dish that can go in the oven, and place in the oven to warm.

In a large bowl, whisk the 1 cup cornmeal, flour, baking powder, Creole spice mix, salt and sugar. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just well mixed and smooth. Do not overmix.

Remove the hot casserole dish from the oven, sprinkle the extra 2 tbsp. cornmeal over the bottom and cook in the oven for 2 minutes.

Remove from the oven an gently pour the batter over the top of the baked cornmeal. Cook for around 20 minutes until golden on top. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Experimenting with Tofu - Almond Butter and Dukkah Crumbed Tofu

I love meat. A lot. But I’ve been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our average weeknights. Both because it’s cheaper to not have meat every day, and also because it’s good health-wise to be meat-free occasionally. Most frequently my vegetarian meals use tinned beans, because they’re already a pantry staple. Or some form of stir-fry or salad with every vegetable under the sun in them. I don’t tend to buy anything specific like tofu or tempeh to make a vegetarian dish – I tend to just omit the meat. In fact, the last time I cooked with tofu was about this time last year. And I included bacon. I don’t even tend to eat tofu out unless it is in miso soup. But for some reason, shopping the other day I swung past the aisle that has tofu and added a packet to my trolley.

So when I didn’t get meat out to defrost today (the usual motivation behind what day is now vegetarian day), I was going to hit the shops on the way home from work to buy some. I have been feeling fairly run down the last few days and wanted a high protein meal. When I remembered the tofu. Hello protein! The rest of the idea came from my current favourite snack. Carrot sticks, dipped in almond butter, dipped in dukkah. Seriously good. So addictive. To make the almond butter suitable for coating, you need to thin it out – I used water but almond milk would be better to prevent the flavour diluting too much. I also added salt as my nut butter didn’t have any, and the dukkah I used didn’t have a great deal of salt either. You should check both of these things before adding salt to yours. You can substitute the cornmeal for dry breadcrumbs (panko), I just thought I’d make it gluten-free as per a reader request! And realising this was also vegan up to this point, I decided to leave out the pecorino I was planning on adding. You can choose whether or not to add that.

The salad I’ve served with it was decided on the colours of the vegetables (purple cauliflower!), and then a bright lime and maple dressing because I find that tofu can verge on a little dry. You could also serve these as a vegetarian version of chicken nuggets and serve with a dipping sauce. And whilst I really enjoyed this dish, I do think that I’m still not the hugest fan of tofu. So this will probably be my last tofu dish on this site for another 12 months!

Do you have a recipe that will change my mind? Send me an email!


Almond Butter and Dukkah Crumbed Tofu
3 heaped tbsp. almond butter
¼ cup water (almond milk would be better)
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup fine cornmeal
¼ cup dukkah
300g firm tofu
Grapeseed oil or similar for frying
Lime wedges, maple for serving.

Put the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels. Add more paper towels on top, put a second plate on top of this, then something heavy on top of this to squeeze the packaging water out of the tofu. Leave it for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add almond butter and water to a blender and blend until completely homogenised, if needed, add the salt and blend this in too. You want the almond butter to be a sauce-like consistency.

If the tofu is in one big block, cut in half to make two thinner rectangles, then each of those into 3 strips.

Grab two shallow bowls and a plate. Pour the thinned almond butter into the first one. Mix the cornmeal and dukkah together in the second. Coat each slice of tofu in almond butter, then the dukkah mix, then put on the plate ready for frying.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a frypan to medium-high. Working in two batches, cook the tofu for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towel and keep warm while you do the second layer.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, a lime wedge and salad.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recreating Deliciousness - Coppelia Calamari with Tamarind Dressing

On my recent holiday, I ate a lot of Cuban. A lot. It started at Bar Pulpo at the Melbourne Airport. And it was good. So rare to get good food at an airport! But I was really impressed. It made the 5 hour plane delay bearable! Then in the states, I went to a restaurant in New York that was recommended to me - Coppelia. And even though it's been two or so months since I've been there, I still consider it one of my favourite restaurants. It's a funky Latin diner style restaurant with ridiculously good, well-priced food. We went to another 4 Cuban restaurants in our trip and loved every single dish. So I came back and wishlisted a few Cuban cooking books on bookdepository (but if you have any recommendations for other good Latin and Cuban cookbooks to add to the list, I'd love to hear). So you can look forward to Skamp's versions of other Latin dishes!
Lance and I both fell in love with Coppelia's blue cornmeal crusted calamari with tamarind vinaigrette. We are haunted by it, so I am trying to create an "at-home" version. We don't get plantains in WA (or if you know of a place they're available, please, please, please let me know!!!) so I substituted bananas. Here's a photo of their version:

I couldn't find blue cornmeal, but I already had some blue corn flour (blue masa), which I used for the flour for the dusting as well as in the coating cornmeal. I get mine from one of my favourite shops in Perth - Kakulas. Using masa for the whole dish makes it naturally gluten free, if that's an issue for you.
To make the tamarind dressing, firstly you have to make tamarind syrup. There's a recipe here on my Kale Tamarind Salad recipe. You'll see in the pictures of my version, that it wasn't nearly saucy enough compared to theirs. When I heated the sauce, it reduced right down, so this recipe is double.

My verdict on it's similarity? Well, it's not quite the same, but it's still delicious. But my memory might also be failing me. I think the best thing to do would be to go back to New York to re-acquaint myself with the original!
200g squid rings
1 cup rice bran oil for frying
2 firm but ripe bananas, cut into 3cm chunks

Flour mix
1/4 cup blue corn flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 beaten eggs

Cornmeal mix
1/4 cup blue corn flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp ancho chilli powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder

Tamarind Dressing
16 tbsp tamarind syrup
8 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp cachaca
salt & pepper to taste

Have the flour mix, egg wash and cornmeal mix in three separate bowls, ready to go. Then an empty plate for the coated ring.

Dip each calamari ring in flour mix, shake to remove excess. Then the egg wash, shake to remove excess. Lastly coat with the cornmeal mix. Then coat the banana pieces in the same way.

Heat the rice bran oil in a wok or frypan - enough to create a shallow layer. Carefully splash a drop of water into the hot oil. If it sizzles, it's hot enough. Without crowding the pan, fry the calamari rings a few at a time, allowing to crispen and darken before turning over. It'll take a few minutes per side.

Place on paper towel lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with all rings until they're all cooked, then do the banana pieces, cooking each side until crispy.

In a separate pan, add all of the dressing ingredients and heat the pan to medium. Stir as it cooks for a minute or two until it reduces into a sticky sauce. carefully put the calamari and bananas in the sauce and stir to coat. Plate up, the drizzle the remaining sauce over the top.

Served here with a bean sprout, coriander, ginger and peanut salad.