Wheat & dairy free almond cake

This simple cake is made with just five ingredients, it’s delicious, gluten-free, dairy free ( unless you choose to eat it with cream of course) and low on sugar. Most commonly it is made with ground almonds but I have made it with various nuts – almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, either on their own or a combination – and it is really delicious.

Ingredients:

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

200 grams ground almonds (or other ground nuts)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (Regulo mark 4).  Grease a 9-inch spring-form tin and line with baking paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tbsp. sugar until the yolks become thick and pale in colour, (appr. 1 minute). Add the vanilla extract, and set aside. Beat egg whites on medium speed until they become opaque – again about 1 minute.  Gradually add the rest of the sugar, and continue to beat until the egg whites hold medium peaks. With a rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture (no need to be gentle).  Scrape the remaining egg whites and about half of the ground nuts over the yolks, and partially fold them in.  While there are still a few streaks of white left, fold in the remaining ground nuts until the mixture is smooth, but be gentle so that it remains nice and airy!  Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and shake gently until the batter is level.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges of the cake pan to release the cake.

I like mine with fresh berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but ice cream, sorbet and/or cream work just as well.

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Lemon & Pine nut cookies/ Recipe & image by Yael Minkoff

Citrus season is here again. The credit for this recipe goes to Yael Gerti, an Israeli ‘foodie’ with many user-friendly and delicious recipes.  Personally, I love the combination of  lemon, butter and pine nuts, in sweet and in savory dishes (Try it with rice and/or chicken).

Ingredients
150 gr. cold butter. cut into cubes
100 gr. powdered sugar
grated peel of one large lemon
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups (210 gr.) white flour (I add 1/2 tsp Baking Powder)
1/4 cup (25 gr.) pine nuts.

To prepare:
Heat oven to 170° centigrade,  gas mark 5 (medium heat).
Beat together (in food processor or mixer) butter, sugar, lemon peel and lemon juice.
When smooth, beat in egg yolk.
Add and mix in flour (and BP if you are using it).
cover in cling-wrap and put in refrigerator for about 20 mins.
Prepare small balls of dough, press lightly onto baking sheet. sprinkle pine nuts onto cookies and press in gently.
Bake for appr. 15-20 minutes till slightly brown around edges.

I recommend preparing a double batch – they seem to vanish very quickly; and by the way, you can try them with orange instead of lemon – it also works very well.

Lemon bars

This dessert looks absolutely perfect on a Michael Minkoff plate, be it blue, green or white.  It  is low on eggs and butter, unlike most lemon-bar recipes, delicious, and well worth the effort!
Makes 16 bars; takes 45 minutes
Crust:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup semolina ,if you don’t have semolina use all-purpose flour (or very fine breadcrumbs) to give the crust texture
¼ cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp. butter at room temperature
Lemon curd:
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
¾ cup strained lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 190⁰c, line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Combine flours, sugar and salt, add the butter and mix with a processor or by hand to form clumps the size of peas. Flatten onto the baking tray as evenly as possible. Bake 15-20 mins. until golden. Remove from oven but keep the oven on.
Make the curd whilst the crust is baking:
In a medium saucepan whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolk together. Whisk in the lemon juice. Set over medium/low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5-10 minutes just till it thickens (not too much or it will curdle). Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in the butter and zest until amalgamated. Pour onto the baked crust and return to the oven for about 20 minutes until the sides are slightly raised and the centre is set. Cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Move, with baking paper, onto a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife, wiping the blade clean in between cuts. Dust with a little powdered sugar. Will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
[Served with fresh berries on the side, this makes a lovely colourful dessert)

Seed ,dried fruit & oat cookies

These lovely cookies (which can also be gluten and wheat free) are packed with goodness.  They are an ideal way to start the day, perfect for lunch boxes ( kids and adults that is) and.. you can have them soft and chewy or crisp and crumbly!

125g wholemeal or spelt flour

150g porridge oats

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

a pinch of sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

100g dark or light brown sugar

4 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar

1 large carrot coarsely grated

100ml olive or coconut oil

100g chopped dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots, figs)

100g chopped nuts or seeds

Grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C . Mix the flour ( or spelt), oats, baking soda and salt in a big bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix everything together. Scoop by the tablespoon and press into rounds on an oiled baking sheet, approx a dozen per tray. Bake for 10 mins, or till just starting to set and just picking up a little colour. They’ll set to be soft and chewy like this. If you’d prefer them crisp, flip the cookies over and return to the oven for a further 3-5 mins to crisp up the bottoms.

Apple cheesecake with citrus compote

Crust:
2 cups ground nuts (I use a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts)
1 tbs. sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180⁰c/gas mark 5. Grease tin or line with greaseproof paper.
Grind nuts, sugar and salt together in a food processor.  Mix with the melted butter. Press mixture evenly onto the base of the tin. Bake 12 – 15 minutes or until browned (it will firm up as it cools) and smells like roasted nuts. Cool while preparing filling.

Filling:
250 grams cream cheese at room temp. ( I use the Philadelphia light)
45 grams butter at room temp.
100 grams sugar
2.5 tbs. natural yoghurt
2 eggs at room temp.
1 tbs. cornstarch
1/3 tsp. cinnamon
1.5 tsp. lemon juice

Topping:
1-2 apples
3 tbs. apricot or strawberry jam mixed with a little water

Beat butter, cream cheese and yoghurt until light and fluffy, add sugar slowly, mix well and beat in the eggs. Add flour, cinnamon and mix thoroughly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the lemon juice.
Pour into the prepared cooled crust
Slice apples thinly and arrange on top of the filling
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160⁰c/gas mark 3 for 25 minutes, then increase temp. to 180⁰c/gas mark 5 and bake for another 35-40 minutes, let cake cool at room temperature. Meanwhile heat the apricot jam ( or any other jam you have) with a little water until it is spreadable. Brush it on top of the apples and let it cool. Serve with Citrus compote

Citrus Compote
1 red or pink grapefruit, washed well
1 orange, washed well
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla essence
Juice of ½ an orange, sieved

Grate finely a little of the orange and grapefruit zest and set aside.
Peel the orange and the grapefruit, separate the fruit into segments, remove the white membrane and set aside.
Boil the water, sugar , vanilla and grated zest over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, add the orange juice, pinch of salt Cook for 2 minutes. Set aside and when completely cool, add the fruit segments.

Dina’s mother’s fruit cake/ intro & image by Yael Minkoff

Once a week I go painting . Mid-morning is break time, where everyone brings something nice to eat and we all share.  One of my favorites is Dina’s fruit cake. Moist inside, crispy outside, and full of brandy.
I use Mike’s baking ‘hole in the middle’ dish for this cake.
The lovely Dina sent me the recipe by mail, in her own handwriting – she says recipes should be handwritten, and full of baking marks – there is a thought for us. Nowadays we open the computer, very clean. I still have a book full of handwritten recipes from friends all around the world – and believe me they are priceless, food stains and all. Now I have Dina’s recipe to add to my collection. Dina wrote a note attached to the recipe, telling me that her mother was an amazing baker, but there was always a huge mess around her, and often flour on her face and all around. Maybe we should all go back to handwritten recipes instead of cooking off the internet?
Ingredients:
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup brandy
4 cups of sliced apples,
6 tbs brandy
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp soda (I used a mixture of Baking Powder and Soda)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt (I used a bit less)
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

Important:
A day before baking the cake, soak raisins in brandy.

To Make:
1.  Cut apples, pour brandy over the apples. Set aside.
2.  Beat together eggs, oil and sugar.
3.  Mix Dry ingredents together, add to mixed eggs oil and sugar.
4.  Add raisins, apples, walnuts  and left over brandy.
5.  Pour into greased baking dish (fairly thick mixture)
5.  Bake preheated oven 170 degrees centigrade, about 45 mins to 1 hr.