Simple Carrot Cake

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Carrot cake is a perennial favourite. It’s super moist, full of nutty goodness and topped with cream cheese icing…the world’s best type of icing! And the fact that it’s full of carrots makes you feel like you’re being vaguely healthy, right? My grandma used to make this when we my sister and I were little, and although her baking repertoire was not broad (she only really ever baked me this and banana cake) her carrot cake was always a winner. I think this is one of those desserts where everyone has their own recipe that’s been passed down. I remember a while back, a male widower wrote into a newspaper asking if anyone had a good recipe for a carrot cake as his late wife would bake him one as long as he grated the carrots. The response to the article was so overwhelming that the paper decided to have a bake-off to select the best recipe. I remember thinking that it was a such a sweet idea, but it also made me realise that EVERYONE has their own carrot cake variation, so hopefully you will enjoy my version of this classic which does not include sultanas, for those who (like me) can’t stand them🙂 Izzy

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Simple Carrot Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 cups finely grated carrot
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ¾ cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 ½ tbs walnut oil
  • 6 tbs vegetable oil
  • 6 tbs sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Icing:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 125g mascarpone
  • 60g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: Preheat oven to 180C. Mix together flour, sugar and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs and oils. Stir together until just combined and then add in the carrots and walnuts, stirring again until just combined. Pour the batter into a greased 18cm spring form tin and bake for about an hour. It might take a little less or a little more, so be sure to check it using a skewer to see if it comes out clean.

For the icing: beat all the ingredients in a food processor until combined. Ice cake with icing once cake is fully cooled.

Middle Eastern Barbecued Eggplant with Tahini Dressing and Pomegranates

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Our oven broke last week and it forced me to get a bit experimental in my cooking. I’m confident in my normal domain – the oven and stove. But when you take the oven out of the equation, your choice become considerably more limited. Sure, you can get creative and there are countless dishes you can make that require solely a stove-top. But when you get home from work the first dish that creeps into your head will undoubtedly be pasta. And after a while, or my third night consecutively chowing down on the delicious carb-loaded aforementioned meal, I had reached my limit. I needed something baked. Then I remembered we had a barbeque. That foreign object that sits outside in the garden. To me, the barbeque is the domain of steaks and sausages, not the domain of slow roasted meat, or caramelized vegetables. However, I decided that I needed to break-free from my comforting inside-oven domain and brave the grey, rainy weather to use the barbeque. Under the careful prowess of my boyfriend who helped me turn it on (yes, you read the correctly) I started to get acquainted with the big, scary barbeque. And I can tell any of you other non-barbecue-users that it’s not as a scary as you may think.

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My barbeque has a temperature dial, which helped when trying to figure out how long and what temperature to cook things at. However, a barbeque cannot be treated in the same way as an oven as the heat is not regulated in the same way and may not cook things as evenly as you might be used to. Do not despair. Just keep an eye on what your cooking, move it around to a different part of the barbeque and play with the temperature dials a bit until you get a feel for it. You will get there, I promise and the results will be worth it!

While the barbeque does produce a decidedly more smoky flavoured result, this can be absolutely perfect for some recipes. This recipe for middle eastern braised eggplant being one of them. I have made this dish before in the oven but I was pleasantly surprised that the barbeque produced a far more flavorsome meal. The smoky, charred flavour that finds its way into the eggplant means that the eggplant is soft and tender inside, with a crisp, crunchy skin. Pair this with a tangy, creamy tahini dressing and a fresh hit of pomegranates and I promise you’ll be grateful that you ventured outside.

Middle Eastern Barbequed Eggplant with Tahini Dressing and Pomegranates

Serves 6 as side

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized eggplants, sliced into 1cm thick discs
  • ½ bunch chopped coriander
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds

Marinade

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp dukkah
  • Sea salt to season

Dressing

  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs water
  • Juice from 1½ lemons
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Sea salt to season

 

Method: 

  • Preheat the barbeque to 200°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl.
  • Place the eggplant discs flat on the baking trays and spread out evenly.
  • Using a pastry brush, dip it into the marinade and baste each disc with the marinade. Repeat on all the discs, turning each over to coat each side.
  • Put the eggplant into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. Be sure to turn the eggplant discs over so they cook evenly about half way through cooking.
  • While the eggplant is cooking you can make the dressing. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. The tahini will absorb a lot of the liquid so if it looks a little thick, add a bit more oil, lemon juice or water and taste.
  • Remove the eggplant from the barbeque and place onto a serving tray. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with pomegranates and top with coriander. Serve warm.