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Ingredients

Cake

1 1/2 Cups Plain Flour

1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt or Greek yogurt (whatever is available, I used Skyr)

1/2 Cup Canola Oil (You may use any light oil, I used Rice Bran Oil)

1 Cup caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs

2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

Zest, from 1 Medium Lemon

1/4 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Topping

2 ripe pears – peeled and sliced thickly

1 tbsp melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp mixed spice

Method

Then…

1 Preheat the oven to 170c fan forced

2. Line a baking tin with baking paper. Lay out the pears evenly. Mix the honey and butter together and pour it over the pears. Scatter the spices over the top.

3 Sift together flour, baking powder, salt in a large bowl.

4 Whisk together, yogurt, sugar, and eggs, to form a batter.

5 Add oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and whisk again to form a frothy batter.

6 Fold the dry ingredients slowly into wet ingredients and form a smooth (lump-free batter).

7 Pour the batter into prepared pan.

8 Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.

9 Cool cake on a wire rack for at least 60 minutes; then turn it out of the pan onto the rack with a tea towel underneath to catch the dripping honey.

10 Once the cake has completely cooled, serve and enjoy.

Serving suggestion

I cut nice big squares.

I popped each serve in the microwave for 30secs to make it warm and fluffy on a cold winter’s night.

I mixed cream and yogurt together with some vanilla bean paste and a hint of lemon zest. A generous dollop on the top of the cake and then tumbled over some fresh berries.

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Pesto (nut free)

2 large bunches of basil, stalks and all.

75g Parmigiano Reggiano.

Juice of one lemon.

Salt and pepper.

4 tablespoons of olive oil.

4 large garlic cloves.

Blend until silky and vibrant.

Store with a layer of oil to keep it fresh.

I had this for lunch at a friend’s place and it was delish! She was kind and gracious enough to share the recipe with me. It is inspired by a Donna Hay recipe but I chose to use lamb shoulder instead of lamb shanks….. and made the few minor alterations as follows…

Last night I cooked this for friends with food intolerances so I used gluten free pasta sheets and no wine (I used beef stock instead) and a heaped teaspoon of tomato paste. I also added fresh dried oregano and rosemary as well as the thyme that the recipe actually calls for. (I also added a few whole cloves of garlic and the juice of one lemon to the pesto)

The dish is rich and delicious – serve in a massive bowl and let people help themselves. You need a nice bright salad to go with. The hostess, Miss Rachel, did radicchio with Parmesan and pine nuts. I did a cucumber and frisée salad with dill.

The left overs are pretty tasty too!

SLOW COOKED LAMB

2 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL

1.2KG LAMB SHOULDER, BONED

1 BROWN ONION, CHOPPED

2 CLOVES GARLIC, CRUSHED

1 CUP (250ML) DRY WHITE WINE / OR STOCK

2 X 400G CANS CHOPPED TOMATOES

4 SPRIGS THYME (and rosemary and oregano)

1 CUP (250ML) WATER

375G DRIED LASAGNE SHEETS

125G BUFFALO MOZZARELLA, TORN

PESTO

3 CUPS BASIL LEAVES

½ CUP (125ML) OLIVE OIL

⅓ CUP (25G) FINELY GRATED PARMESAN

(4 peeled cloves of garlic and the juice of one lemon)

SEA SALT AND CRACKED BLACK PEPPER

METHOD

1 To make the pesto, place the basil, oil, parmesan, (and garlic and the juice of 1 lemon) salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Set aside.

2 Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the lamb and cook for 1–2 minutes each side or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3 Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes or until softened. Add the wine/stock, tomato, thyme and water and stir to combine. Add the lamb back to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the lamb is tender and falling apart. Remove the lamb from the pan and shred the meat from the bones with a fork.

4 Break the lasagne sheets into rough pieces and cook in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and return to the pan. Add the shredded lamb and sauce and toss to combine. Top with the buffalo mozzarella and spoon over the pesto to serve. Serves 4–6.

I’m not much of a baker, but this turned out quite well. Shame I didn’t grease the pan well enough! A few bits stuck but it wasn’t the end of the world. I didn’t have any icing sugar so I made a quick lemon glaze instead.

Ingredients:

The cake

75g unsalted butter, softened

125g caster sugar

3 eggs, separated

1 tbs finely grated lemon zest

2 tbs lemon juice, plus extra dash (2 tsp) lemon juice

1/2 cup cake flour (self raising)

1/2 cup natural yoghurt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tbsp poppyseeds

The glaze

1/2 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup water

* I also finely shredded some lemon zest. Put in a cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Then strained and added to my glaze when it has cooled.

Method:

Preheat oven to 170c fanforced.

Grease your tin well!

Beat butter and sugar with electric beaters until pale and fluffy.

Add yolks one at a time, beating well.

Beat in zest and juice.

Sift flour.

Add poppyseeds.

Add the yogurt and oil and beat mixture till well combined.

Whisk eggwhites in a clean bowl to firm peaks, then fold into mix.

Fill the tin gently and smooth with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack.

While it’s cooling, make your glaze.

When the cake is cool, poke all over with a skewer.

Slowly spoon over the glaze.

Allow at least an hour for the glaze to be absorbed before serving.

Enjoy!

My dad loves this old English boarding school style of dessert, so it was the perfect end to the birthday meal. (Even if it exploded out of it’s casing in the steamer!)

Ingredients:

1 cup self-raising flour

pinch of salt

125g shredded suet

1/3 cup dried currants

1/4 cup caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup whole milk

custard, to serve

Method:

Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the suet, currants, sugar, lemon and orange zest.

Pour in 150ml milk and mix to a firm but moist dough, adding the extra milk if necessary.

Shape into a fat roll about 20cm long. Place on a large rectangle of baking parchment. Wrap loosely to allow for the pudding to rise and tie the ends with string like a Christmas cracker.

Place a steamer over a large pan of boiling water, add the pudding to the steamer, cover and steam for 1 1/2 hours. Top up the pan with water from time to time.

Mine exploded from the paper being too short!

(But it was heart shaped, which was nice)

Remove from the steamer and allow to cool slightly before unwrapping. Serve sliced with custard.

Pimped Up Couscous

Ingredients:

25g butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 small zucchinis or 4 baby zucchinis, thinly sliced

1 small French shallot, finely sliced

1/2 teaspoon freshly minced garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 beef stock cube

2 cups boiling water

1/3 cup peas

2 cups instant couscous

100g crumbles feta

1/4 cup finely shredded mint leaves

2 tomatoes – de-seed and retain the seeds, finely dice the tomato cheeks

Method:

In a large frying pan, melt half the butter and add the oil on a medium heat.

Sauté the zucchini and shallot until golden and tender.

Remove from the heat and place in a large serving dish. Add the chopped tomato cheeks, mint, feta. Set aside.

Add the remaining butter, garlic, tomato Centers/seeds and spices and mix through gently.

Dissolve the stock cube in 2 cups of boiling water, add to the pan to collect all the spice mix. Add the peas.

In a medium bowl pour in your couscous then pour the spice/stock mixture over the couscous, place a plate over the top of the bowl and leave for 5 minutes before fluffing the grains with a fork.

Gently transfer the couscous to the salad dish and fold through to evenly disperse all the ingredients.

Enjoy!

Trust me!

Ingredients:

25g butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

500g premium mince (beef or pork or veal or a mixture)

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon of freshly minced garlic (never preserved from a jar!)

1/4 cup finely chopped stalks of fresh parsley

800g tin diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/3 cup red wine – I used Chianti

4 anchovies (trust me!)

1 tablespoon dried mushrooms – powder them in a blender or mortar and pestle

1/2 cup finely shredded fresh parsley leaves

Parmesan and black pepper to serve

Method:

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the olive oil.

Brown the mince.

Add the herbs, garlic, parsley stalks and stir through.

Add the tomatoes, garlic paste, wine – stir through.

Add the anchovies and the powdered mushrooms, stirring through.

Reduce the heat, to the lowest flame. Simmer for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

When it is thick, rich, and all the liquid has reduced – add the parsley and a generous amount of black pepper before serving.

Use on pasta or in your lasagna.

Remember – if you’re adding pasta to your sauce, add about 1/4 cup of the water you cooked the pasta in to your sauce before you stir through your pasta.

Enjoy!