Happy New Year #2022 #NY2022 #cheesecake

Happy new year from Sydney and thank you all for following and supporting freespiritfood.net since I started my blog so many years ago.

Mini baked cheesecake with hints of ginger

How the world has changed in the last two years? Rather than being able to travel the world, or even go to restaurants and places in Australia, I have been relying on my foodie memories and experiences to inspire my cooking at home.

I hope you have enjoyed my attempts to try new recipes and create different dishes. As with the rest of life, some ideas have worked better than others!

To finish the year for desert tonight I created these mini baked cheesecakes, made in a muffin tin, with a ginger biscuit base and shavings of uncrystallised ginger on top. Made in just 3 hours from start to finish, they have been given a tick of approval by our family.

I will post the full recipe but wanted to share a small foodie experience with you from the last day of 2021!!

Jimmy Buffett might say “there’s a little bit of fruitcake in all of us”, but I prefer “a little bit of this cheesecake”!! 😀

#Puff Pastry #Pissaladiere #goatscheese #onionjam #anchovies #olives

Through this week, it came to our attention that we had an over abundance of soft goats cheese.

This brought on visions of onion and goats cheese tarts, and memories of the traditional French Pissaladiere which we had first enjoyed in Nice. Decided they would be great with goats cheese as well.

The original Pissaladiere: a much more structured version without goats cheese like the ones we enjoyed in Nice, France

Rummaged through our very well stocked holiday home pantry and found olives and a tin of Ortiz anchovies! Bingo!

Made 2 versions …both a lot more “unstructured” …both first smothered in store bought good quality onion jam. One version just onion jam and goats cheese, one with anchovies and olives. Both sprinkled with fresh rosemary and thyme. Both delicious with some fresh rocket.

These would be great to take on a picnic too once cooled to room temperature. We enjoyed them with our leftover couscous salad and some bbq sausages for a relaxed summer lunch.

Prep time: 30 minutes incl defrosting pastry cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Small can anchovies
  • 6 pitted green or black olives
  • 4 tablespoons soft goats cheese
  • 6 tablespoons onion jam
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh thyme and/or Rosemary

Method

1. Defrost puff pastry according to packet instructions

2.Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius

3. Cut pastry into half to make 6-8 lengths, crimp edges to form shallow rectangular cases

4. Brush bottoms and edges with beaten egg

5. Prick bottoms of cases with a fork to stop them puffing up.

6. Spread onion jam across the base of each case, then add anchovies and olives to half the cases. Crumble goats cheese on all the cases, then sprinkle thyme and/or rosemary and black pepper.

7. Bake in hot oven for 10 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp.

8. Slice as you like and serve hot or at room temperature.

Relaxed summer lunch

#Christmas #pavlova

In my book, the best pavlova has a crispy, crunchy outer and a pillowy soft marshmallows centre.

Our Christmas Pavlova this year ticked all those boxes and more with delicious ripe mango, berries, juicy passionfruit, and a topping made of sweet whipped cream and marscapone .

Absolutely delicious, thank you Ashley!

Christmas Pavlova 2021
Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside:Christmas Pavlova

#Poached Side of #Salmon with asparagus salad #christmaseve

We thought a light dinner on a Christmas Eve would be nice ahead of a day of planned feasting today.

I have never actually poached a whole side of Salmon before but I certainly will be in future.

I bought this 1.5kg side from Peninsula Seafood’s Processing Plant outlet in Dromana on our way down to the Mornington Peninsula last Monday. They cryovacced the salmon for me which meant I could keep it in the fridge rather than have to freeze it and defrost it.

The recipe I used is based on Mary Berry’s Poached Salmon with shrimps and asparagus which looks delicious, but I really wanted to keep dinner simple so we had it with asparagus a d feta salad in the side.

Ingredients:

  • Side of salmon – 1.5kg
  • Butter
  • Foil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Dill – 2-3 stalks
  • Salt and pepper
  • Asparagus – 2 bunches
  • Feta to crumble over asparagus
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Foil

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

2. Lay 2 long foil sheets across a large roasting pan, fold over does in middle to join together into one sheet, grease foil with butter.

3. Lay dill in middle of sheet. Season salmon with salt and pepper on the cut side and place face down (skin side up) on the dill. Put a few dabs of butter across top of salmon for good measure.

4. Pour wine and lemon juice around the salmon and fold over long edges of foil to create a packet, then fold over short edges, rolling and scrunching to seal.

5. Bake salmon for 25 minutes. While salmon is baking, blanch asparagus until bright green and tender.

6 remove salmon from from oven, undo package and remove skin which will easily peel off. Using a teaspoon or palette knife, gently scrape off the grey coloured meat/fatty layer under the skin to reveal the pink layer of flesh.

7. Carefully flip salmon and juices onto a serving platter, surround with Baby spinach, asparagus, sprinkle with feta. Dress salad with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

8. Serve with other salads or roast potatoes. We had a tomato, basil, bocconcini salad which went well with it too.

Poached side of salmon with asparagus, baby spinach and feta salad

Walnut Banana Loaf #coconutflour

This is a very more-some banana loaf with a crunchy maple syrup walnut crust.

Banana walnut coconut flour cake with walnut crust

Organic Coconut Flour is a delicious, low carbohydrate, high-fibre, grain-free alternative to wheat flour. It is made from fresh organic coconut flesh. This cake also uses the natural sugar of maple syrup rather than sugar. So you can enjoy it almost guilt free!

It just involves a bit of hand whisking and mixing so is fuss-free and doesn’t require beaters or mixers.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup and another 2 tablespoons for walnut crust
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large or 3 smaller overripe bananas mashed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1.5 cups coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (1/2 for cake mixture and 1/2 for crust)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius

2. Coat a loaf pan (22cm long) with oil, then line with baking powder. The oil sticks the paper to the pan.

3. In one large bowl whisk eggs, oil and maple syrup until well combined.

4. In another bowl mash bananas with vanilla essence. then add to egg mixture and mix well.

5. In a third large bowl, mix together dry ingredients: coconut flour, desiccated coconut, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, salt, 1;2 the chopped walnuts, baking soda and baking powder.

6.Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour egg mixture into the centre, mix well until combined. It will have the consistency of a thick dough almost.

7. In another bowl mix the rest of the walnuts (about half a cup) with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and 2 tablespoons or so of maple syrup.

8. Put the cake mixture into the loaf tin and then spread walnuts over the top, pressing the walnut mixture firmly into the top.

9. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

10. Allow to cool then remove from pan, slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake #almostketo

I have been discovering almond flour and coconut flour to make low carb/no carb cakes through lockdown here in Sydney. We’re pretty much out now, but I like them so much I’m going to stick with them .

Coconut flour chocolate cake

Not only do they taste great and are much lighter, they are easy to make. This coconut flour chocolate cake is moist and delicious. It’s almost totally carb free and is lactose free.

Here’s a link to BBC Good Food on Health benefits of Coconut Flour.

If you want to be super-conscientious you can use sugar substitutes and no sugar chocolate, I made it using normal caster sugar and real chocolate chips for the ganache. Use the best quality natural cacao powder for the best taste.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 400ml can coconut cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • For ganache: 1/3 can coconut cream, 4 tablespoons or thereabouts of small chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons icing sugar. Additional desiccated coconut for decoration.

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 9 inch baking tin of your choice. I used a small ring cake tin with butter or oil.

2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together coconut flour, cacao powder, desiccated coconut and baking powder until well mixed.

3. In a seperate bowl whisk together just the eggs and sugar for 1 minute until well combined and sugar has dissolved.

4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour egg mixture in, then add coconut cream and vanilla. Whisk together all the ingredients to form a smooth, lump free, silky batter. It will seem a bit runnier than normal cake batter but don’t worry about that.

5. Bake in oven for 50 minutes, check to see skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes.

6. Allow to cool completely before icing with ganache.

7. Make ganache by heating coconut cream in small pan over low heat, add chocolate chips stirring to make sure they don’t stick or burn, add icing sugar half a tablespoon at a time, stirring until glossy until adding next heap.

8. Scoop ganache over the cake or use a squeeze bottle if you want to be more precise. Spread evenly, allowing to drip over sides, sprinkle with desiccated coconut.

Store cake in fridge. Just buzz quilled in microwave if you want it moister. Not too long though.