Monday, 27 January 2014

Hummingbird Cake Smoothie

Sainsbury’s recently asked if I would like to come up with a recipe using bananas, for Fairtrade Fortnight. Did you know all of Sainsbury’s bananas are Fairtrade?

I set about making another of my cake-based smoothies. These have been very popular and something I will continue, even after healthy January is over.  I recently made a hummingbird cake for a special occasion ( I decorated it like a watermelon, see below) and thought turning that into a healthy smoothie would be perfect.

Hummingbird cakes are packed with bananas, pineapple, (occasionally) coconut, pecans and cinnamon. That sounded like a perfect combination for a smoothie and I set about devising how to get all of that into a delicious smoothie.


2 bananas
100 grams pineapple (any form)
350 ml coconut water
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
25 grams pecans

Place all of the ingredients into a blender or smoothie maker and blitz until smooth. Pour over ice into a favourite glass and plunge in a straw.

This is a very tropical drink with the fruit on offer. The cinnamon spice gives the drink a nice kick too. And the vanilla, I find, is what makes the difference between a fruit smoothie and cake-flavoured smoothie.

I could have sworn I’d made a hummingbird cake here on Cakeyboi before, but I haven’t. I shall rectify that in the future!

Enjoy the smoothie in the meantime...

Disclosure Statement: I received gift vouchers to cover the cost of the ingredients in this recipe. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Healthier Cranachan for Burn's Night

It’s Burn’s Day today – a big day in Scotland. It commemorates Rabbie Burns, ‘Scotland’s Poet’. Many people will be having a Burn’s Supper tonight – plenty of haggis, neeps and tatties on the menu.

I thought I would indulge in a Scottish dessert for the occasion. Cranachan is mixture of whipped cream, toasted oats, honey, whisky and raspberries.

But being January, I wanted to make it a healthier version of this famous celtic sweet. It wasn’t too difficult to ‘healthify’, I turned to my old favourite 0% fat-free Greek yoghurt. I used this instead of the cream. The oats and raspberries are fine and the only sweetness comes from honey. I should have used heather honey, which is traditional but I had some runny honey in the cupboard that I substituted it for. 

Lastly, the whiskey. I am not a whiskey fan, but keep a wee bottle on hand for occasions such as Cranachan making. I only used a teaspoonful in my recipe, but you could add as much or as little as you prefer. It’s really the only sinful part of this dessert.

Yield: 4 smaller portions, or two large

350 grams 0% fat-free Greek yoghurt
85 grams porridge oats
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon whiskey
150 grams fresh raspberries

For a few hours, strain the Greek yoghurt, by placing it in a sieve lined with two sheets of kitchen paper, over a bowl. Keep it in the fridge whilst you do this. Toast the oats in a frying pan. Keep stirring and when they smell nutty remove from the heat. Let them cool.

Get rid of the excess liquid in the bowl, and put the thick strained yoghurt in the bowl. Mix through the honey and whiskey.

In a separate bowl, mash the raspberries with a fork, keeping some aside for garnish.

Add the cooled oats and mushed raspberries to the yoghurt and gently stir through so it looks rippled.

Place into chilled glasses and garnish with the remaining rasps. And there you have
a very simple and healthier Cranachan. Serve this straight away to prevent the toasted oats turning soggy and enjoy with some shortbread on the side, which is traditional. 

Happy Burns Night everyone!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Chocolate Angel Food Cake and Cake Club Time

It was Clandestine Cake Club time again. It seemed like ages since our last, so I was really looking forward to seeing everyone. Becca was organising this month and the theme was 'New' – new ingredients or new recipes which hadn’t been tried before.

As I am having a 'healthier' January I decide to make an Angel Food Cake, flavoured with cocoa. Angel Food cakes contain no fat, the rising of the cake comes from the fluffy egg whites which are combined with flour and in this case cocoa powder. It took a LOT of egg whites. I can sometimes be a bit cack-handed when it comes to separating eggs, but separated a dozen I did (not counting the one that just seemed to collapse in my hand!).

The cake does require an Angel Food Cake Tin. Perhaps you maybe saw them on the Bake Off last year? They have a tube in the middle, which helps the cake cling and rise. The tins also have little feet. When the cake is baked it is turned upside down and left to cool in that position, raised off the surface. Not doing this means that the cake could implode on itself. The cake tins can be bought online.

The cake itself tasted light, and airy, almost bread-like in its consistency. I dusted some icing sugar over the top and garnished with some berries as I didn’t want to add anything else to it. But a dollop of fresh cream would have complimented it very well.

Yield: 1 10-inch Cake

12 large egg whites (room temperature)
300 grams caster sugar (divided in half)
100 grams plain flour – minus one tablespoon
1 tablespoon cornflour
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Adapted from the Joy of Baking

Sift together the flour, cornflour, salt and 150 grams of the sugar and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. At this point, keep beating and slowly add the last 150 grams of sugar until it all incorporated and stiff peaks have formed.

Carefully add the flour mix into the egg whites and fold through gently with a metal spoon or whisk. Try not to knock out too much air doing this.

Spoon the cake batter into the ungreased angel food cake tin and place into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake will rise, have cracks on top, and is ready when a skewer comes out clean from the centre.

Take out of the oven and immediately turn upside down, balancing on some upturned drinking glasses is good here. Allow the cake to cool and sit like this for 1 ½ hours.

To remove the cake from the tin, take a sharp knife and run this around the outside and inside edges of the tin. The cake won’t be smooth but will have a distinctive ‘shaggy’ look on the outside. Dust with icing sugar and you are ready to enjoy!

The cakes brought to the January cake club were delicious, as they always are. We had a tomato soup cake, a delicious mojito cake and a lemon, parsnip and hazelnut cake. The flavour of the parsnip did come through but was delicious!

There was also a lime cheesecake made in a bundt tin, a dark chocolate and pear torte and a huge heaven and hell cake – filled with peanut butter! There were many others which we devoured our way through.

This month’s venue was the Burgh Coffee House in Dundee’s Commercial Street. It’s a two level coffee shop, where you can enjoy a handcrafted drink made by the baristas, and browse through the in-house books and magazines or play a board game. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Tropical Porridge Pancake 'Cookies'

Firstly, I must apologise for the picture. I’m finding it tricky to find natural daylight at the moment to take the photos in.

But that aside – you may be intrigued by the title. I was recently watching an episode of Anna Olson on the Food Network channel and saw her make little ‘what she calls’ griddle cookies. Anna’s cookies were a mixture of milk, oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, almonds and peaches all fried into little mini pancakes. Anna insisted they were just as delicious cooled down and eaten like a cookie at any time.

I love the idea. I love pancakes and porridge oats, so combining the two and eating them at different times of the day other than breakfast sounded like a win-win to me. Plus they are healthy with no added sugar and only a small amount of fat. I wanted to jiggy the recipe about though,  to put my own Cakeyboi spin on things and so came up with my tropical version.

These are full of tropical fruit, rather than peaches, there is honey instead of maple syrup. Instead of cinnamon I used ground ginger and I replaced the almonds with desiccated coconut. For the tropical fruit, I bought a prepared pot, in juice, from the supermarket, making life much easier. The fruits in question were pineapple and papaya, but different brands will vary.

I fried up the batch and tried a few when warm. They were so delicious. I took the remainders into the office the next day and my colleagues loved them cold. So good at anytime , as Anna said.

Here’s how I made mine:

Yield: Approx 30 ‘cookies’

120 grams porridge oats
315 ml milk (any type, I used Almond)
2 medium eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
80 ml runny honey
35 grams plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
250 grams diced tropical fruit, drained
45 grams desiccated coconut

Heat the milk in a saucepan to just below a boil. Add this to the oats, in a large bowl and let them soak for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger and set aside.

In a jug, whisk together the eggs, oil, honey and coconut. Pour this into the flour mix and combine. Transfer this mix to the oats, add the fruit and combine everything.

Place a griddle on your hob, or use a frying pan and lightly oil the base. I used the 1 cal butter flavour spray. Bring to a medium even heat.

Taking a tablespoon, measure a heaped amount of the mixture and place on to the hot surface, spreading out a little. Allow the ‘pancake’ to cook for a couple of minutes then carefully flip over and cook for a further minute or so on the other side. They should be equally browned on either side.

Transfer to a plate with kitchen paper on it, to cool. Make as many as you can at the same time in your pan or griddle.

I preferred them, personally, when they were warm. But everyone else enjoyed them cool. They are like having porridge in cake form. The flavour of honey doesn’t really come through, other than give sweetness. And the ginger is very subtle which some folk could taste and others couldn’t.

But overall, these were a big hit and something I plan to make more of! Enjoy…

Saturday, 18 January 2014

My Interview with Chef Paul Rankin

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to put some questions to Chef Paul Rankin. Paul was a regular on Ready Steady Cook back in the day and recently starred with Nick Nairn in ‘Paul and Nick’s Big Food Trip’.

How did you start out in the culinary world Paul? I read you were classically trained.

I was first introduced to the culinary world by my wife Jeanne when we were travelling in the early 1980’s. I bought my first cookbook in Kathmandu during our time in Nepal and then we moved on to Canada. When we arrived in Canada, I took a crash course in how to make it as a successful waiter and that was the start of my love affair with the business.

As I started working my way around better and better establishments, I became more interested in food. I started helping the chefs prepare the food and I really enjoyed it, so I wrote a letter to the Roux brothers to ask if I could train with them.

To my surprise, Albert Roux wrote back and offered to take us out for dinner and during our meal, he offered me a job as a waiter in his three-star Michelin restaurant. After learning the ropes, I began training under Albert in London and after completing my training, I worked in the US before returning home to Belfast to open Roscoff in 1989.

In your TV show 'Paul and Nick's Big Food Trip' you travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland on a culinary journey. How do the foods of both countries compare and contrast?

The series was inspired the Ulster Scots agency – an organisation that helps raise awareness of the Ulster Scots heritage. Both myself and Nick learned a lot about the heritage during filming – particularly around the movement of people between Ulster and Scotland through the years.

It’s this movement, which included people in the small village of Glenarm in Northern Ireland travelling by boat to Scotland for their food shopping that helped force a huge amalgamation of the food served in both countries.

This amalgamation of food means there are actually more similarities than differences. For example, in Northern Ireland we have the soda farl, which is almost identical to Scotland’s soda scone. There are regional variations, of course, but generally speaking the food of both nations is based on lots of potatoes, oatmeal and local ingredients – basic, agricultural food.

These similarities often caused arguments between myself and Nick during filming, with both of us having different names for what is essentially the same dish!

A lot of people first remember seeing you on TV show Ready Steady Cook. Was the show as fun as it looked to make?

It was always a lot of fun to make and I had a great time on the show. But it was also a lot of pressure – not many people know this, but we honestly didn’t know what ingredients were in the bag until the contestants revealed them on the show.

There was no pre-planning – we had to think on our feet and we only had 20 minutes to cook the dish. People might think that the cameras stopped rolling and we had longer than 20 minutes to prepare everything but that’s not the case – it was all done in one take!

Another popular myth about the show was how the winner was decided – on TV, it looks like Fern Britton or Ainsley Harriott roughly counted the number of each card in the audience and decided the winner. That wasn’t the case – the producers carefully counted each audience member’s vote so the outcome was always fair.

To be successful on Ready Steady Cook, you needed to be able to talk to the presenter, entertain your guest and cook the dish – not as easy as it may seem. However, I really loved my time on the show and always finished filming with a real rush of adrenaline. It was great to go up against other chefs – we’re all a competitive bunch so it was a lot of fun.

I've heard you referred to as the godfather of modern Northern Irish cuisine. How would you like to think you've influenced the culinary world?

First of all, I’m very appreciative of what people say and thank them for their kind words.

With regards to my influence on cooking, I think I was at the front of a sea of change that was happening in the food industry in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

When I first started cooking in Belfast, I’d just returned from a period of working in the United States and I brought with me a mixture of Michelin star training and the looseness of working with American food.

This combination helped me experiment with ingredients and flavours in a way that hadn’t been done before. I’d be questioned often by other chefs who didn’t understand why I was doing things in a different way and I think it’s this experimentation and trying new things that helped both me and the industry break new ground over the last 25 years.

I suppose that by getting a Michelin star for Roscoff and being on TV means you’re bound to have an influence on cooking and it’s been an honour and a pleasure to play a part in helping shape the industry and inspire the next generation of chefs who are all doing some fantastic things in kitchens across the world today.

You have your own food range the Rankin Selection available in supermarkets. I love your bread range in particular. What do you think is responsible for the nation’s current love affair with baking?

I’d say it’s the perfect mixture of nostalgia and the family-friend nature and sense of togetherness that comes with baking.

The success of the Great British Bake Off is the catalyst that makes it a national love at the moment. I think the show is great – it’s a very clever format built on a platform made famous by MasterChef that highlights the joy, fun, simplicity and pressure that comes with baking.

The guys involved with the show help make it what it is – Mel and Sue are very funny, warm hosts, Paul Hollywood is very charming and Mary Berry is a legend in the baking world.

I think baking is particularly satisfying for the public right now because it’s accessible, features lots of basic, magical ingredients with the end result of a treat for the family.

What has been your proudest achievement to date?

It would have to be getting the Michelin star in 1991. It came out of the blue – we really weren’t expecting it. I’d only started cooking in 1984! This may sound a little strange, but at that point I still wasn’t really calling myself a proper chef so it was hugely surprising.

Just before we were awarded the Michelin star, I had the insecurities faced by anyone who runs their own business. I worried about making enough of a success from Roscoff to provide for my family, so when we found out we’d been awarded the star, it felt very much like the stamp of approval for my career.

It was also a great joy for the staff at Roscoff – it was a fantastic recognition for all of their hard work. It also helped set many of them on their own journeys through the food industry, with many of the members of that original staff and front of house staff now running their own successful restaurants across the world.

Lastly, a fun question I like to ask my interviewees - Who is your favourite cartoon character?

Robin Hood from the animated Walt Disney film. When we lived in California, Jeanne was a pastry chef in the restaurant where we worked, which meant she was busy early in the mornings.

When she was at the restaurant, I looked after our daughter Claire, who was about two years old at the time. Robin Hood was her favourite film and she loved the character of Maid Marian. In fact, she loved the movie so much that she called me Robin instead of dad when she was little for about a year and a half!

I would like to thank Paul for taking the time to answer my questions. Why not try Paul’s selection of bread, as well as many other foods, from The Rankin Selection, now available in supermarkets?

Disclosure Statement:  I was not paid or sponsored to carry out this interview.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Healthier Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding

This recipe is for all of you peanut butter nutter’s out there! It’s a delicious peanut butter and chocolate flavoured pudding. It’s quite healthy too – with no sugar and the fat comes from reduced-fat pb, so it’s not too bad if you are trying to cut back.

The main ingredient is actually silken tofu. I got this in my local Chinese supermarket. It’s thinner than the usual firm type but still packed with protein and minerals. It’s texture lends itself well to desserts.

The recipe, I had actually made before was from the Food Network magazine, but I decided to change it up a little. The original was only peanut butter flavour and had icing sugar in it to sweeten things up.

I decide to add cocoa powder to the recipe and sweeten it with granulated sweetener instead.

It’s delicious and very simple to make.

Yield: 4 portions

350 grams silken tofu
125 grams reduced-fat smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Granulated Sweetener, to taste (I used Truvia)
Chocolate Shavings as garnish (optional)
Adapted from Food Network

In a bowl with a mixer beat together the tofu, peanut butter and cocoa powder for 2 minutes, until smooth. Taste it to see how sweet you like it. I added two teaspoons of sweetener, but you might prefer more, or less.

Pour the mouse into 4 serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle on some chocolate shavings as a garnish, if you wish,  and you have a very peanut buttery, chocolaty dessert to devour.

Nice and simple and on the healthier side too. Enjoy…

Monday, 13 January 2014

Healthier Cupcakes and Frosting

These little bite-size cupcakes look delicious with their mound of fluffy frosting on top, don’t they?

Would you be surprised that no butter or sugar were involved in the making of these? Well, it’s true! The cupcakes are made with low-fat spread and my latest kitchen find 'Truvia'. Have you tried it yet? It’s the natural sweetener made from the Stevia plant. I bought some sachets of the stuff and used that to sweeten my little cakes.

The frosting on top is actually thick fat-free Greek yoghurt with more Truvia sweetener and some blueberries mashed into it. The yoghurt was drained of it’s liquid overnight, making it thicker and better to hold it’s shape on top of the cakes.

I’m not sure how many calories are in these, but with low-fat spread and no sugar they will be much better than eating a full-sized cupcake, if you are trying to cut back.

Yield: 12 mini-cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
125 grams self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 sachets of sweetener (I used Truvia)
125 grams low-fat spread (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
1 tbsp of any milk (I used almond milk)
Adapted from Splenda website

Frosting Ingredients:
250 grams 0% Fat Greek yoghurt
75 grams ripe blueberries
2 sachets of sweetener

Cupcake Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a mini cupcake tray with liners. Sieve together the flour, sweetener and baking powder and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer mix the spread until it is soft and add the eggs. The mixture will look curdled, but keep beating for a few minutes. Add the extracts and beat in. Add the dry ingredients and mix through. At this stage the mix will come together and no longer look curdled. Add the milk and stir through. Spoon the mix into the prepared cupcake tray and bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until browned on top. They won’t have risen too much. Allow them to cool completely.

The night before making the cakes, line a sieve with paper towel and place the yoghurt in this, over a bowl. Overnight, excess liquid will have drained from the yoghurt leaving you with a thicker consistency to work with.

With a fork, mash the blueberries in a bowl and add in the yoghurt and sweetener. Mix together with a spoon and transfer to a piping bag, or food bag with the corner cut off. Pipe the yoghurt frosting on to each cake.

And there you have much healthier cupcakes to savour. They have a slightly denser consistency to ‘normal’ cupcakes but are still delicious, and the mound of sweet berry-swirled frosting on top compliments the vanilla and subtle almond flavours. Not bad for being so good! Enjoy…

I am entering these into this month's Alphabakes - hosted alternately by Caroline at Caroline Makes and this month Ros over at The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter this month is Y. Y is for yoghurt. I know the frosting is a 'garnish', but I think it makes up for more than 50% of the recipe, so I'm hoping they will let me off with this one!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie Smoothie

The carrot cake smoothie I made a couple of weeks ago went down a storm. You may remember it had all the taste of carrot cake, with none of the guilt.

So, I thought I might try and rustle up another cake based smoothie and this time it’s a lemon meringue pie flavoured drink. Okay, there is no wispy meringue topping, but there is the delicious taste of vanilla and lemon, plus a slight biscuit crunch going on if you want to add that.

The main liquid in the drink is coconut water, easily available in the UK – it’s very healthy, packed with electrolytes, high potassium levels and minerals. Also in the drink are bananas, stuffed with potassium too and of course lemons are in there. Lemons have numerous health benefits, too many to mention here.

I added vanilla extract; agave syrup to sweeten it up a touch and that was basically it. If you want to you, can add some crushed biscuit on top. I used a crushed up Biscoff biscuit sprinkled on top. A whole biscuit is 38 calories, and seeing as I didn’t use the whole one, it’s not too bad is it? Tasting the biscuit pieces with the lemon gives you the true taste of the pie!

Juice of 2 lemons
250 ml coconut water
2 bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 crushed Biscoff biscuit for garnish (optional)
Adapted from Crunchy Living

Place the lemon juice, coconut water, bananas, vanilla and agave into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a couple of glasses filled with ice and sprinkle on some crushed biscuit.

All the flavours of lemon, vanilla and biscuit works together to make you think you are actually drinking a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie.

Remember, you can have your cake and drink it too! Enjoy…