Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.


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The World’s Most Healthiest Birthday Cake

Watermelon Cake

Watermelon Cake

Birthday parties for kids are generally speaking synonymous with one thing – sugar, sugar and more sugar.  I shudder thinking of years gone by, gracing the lolly aisle of the supermarket investing in giant-size bags of all things equivalent to zero nutritional value and great expense resulting in short-lived sugar hit highs for all and added reasons to visit the dentist.  I once jokingly informed my daughter one particular year, we were going to have vegetable bags instead of lolly bags – cut up pieces of celery and carrot in shapes of lollies, and also broccoli chips. This idea was met with a very disappointed expression and the irony was lost on her, so it was back to the lolly aisle once again.

A decorated birthday cake can be a virtual work of art. Over the years I have occasionally splurged and ordered gorgeous custom-made and individually decorated cakes as am simply not skilled enough to make such a creation and there’s one less thing to think about on the day of the party. Additionally to the lolly bags, the actual birthday cake can also be an extra vessel for all things sugar and fat. Besides being visually attractive, cake batters are traditionally all butter, sugar and flour and then loaded with frosting which is also just more butter and icing sugar. Not to mention all of the other sugary trimmings on top of the icing, like crushed up Tim-Tams or shredded Mars-Bars with individual slices topped with scoops of Ben and Jerry’s Choc-Chip Cookie Dough – not something you’d want to consume everyday, once a year is enough.  Yes, there are many versions of ‘healthy’ cakes whether they be gluten-free, flour-less, sugar-free, fat-free, made out of vegetables even, falling short of putting a cauliflower head on a plate with some candles stuck in it, there can’t be anything healthier than the Watermelon Cake.

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Whoever invented this idea is a genius. Really, it’s just a fruit salad but is in cake form as opposed to chopped up little pieces in a bowl. But trust me, when it comes to assembly and decoration of  a watermelon cake,  I really can’t remember having this much fun in the kitchen, ever.  And, with the knowledge that you are creating something that is also extremely healthy – fat-free, gluten-free, wheat-free (not sugar-free because of the high fruit-sugar level but it’s not the dreaded refined variety) this is most certainly a win-win situation.

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The trickiest part about making a watermelon cake, is getting the desired shape. Topping and tailing a watermelon is potentially a perilous exercise without the aid of a very good quality razor-sharp kitchen knife. After each end of the watermelon has been removed, it’s then just a matter of carefully trimming off the skin and all the white melon part so that all that is left is the juicy vibrant red bit, sculpting as best you are able into a ‘cake base’ shape.  Once you are happy with the shape, it’s time to start decorating and creating your work of  ‘fruit art’.

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Using tooth-picks, secure the fruit to the outside of the cake like pictured. I started with peeled and thinly sliced kiwi-fruit, and slithers of oranges. Next it’s time for the berries to work their visual magic – raspberries, strawberries, blueberries arranged in whatever creative way imaginable. Blackberries and Mulberries and pomegranate could also be used. And a very useful tool is a melon-baller – use this to scoop out cute little melon ball shapes out of the discarded watermelon tops, and some rockmelon then pile on top of the cake between the berries. I was slightly naughty at the end and added a dusting of vanilla sugar all over.

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The kids were mightily impressed, demolishing this creation within seconds, and of course you slice it up like a normal birthday cake and remember to remove the toothpicks 🙂

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This cake isn’t just for kids, an adult-only version can also be made. We all know how wonderful Hendrick’s Gin and cucumber is, well there’s no surprise it also pairs extremely well with watermelon. You go about making the cake exactly the same way except prior to starting the decoration, pour a generous drenching of Hendrick’s over the cake base and let infuse for a few hours in the fridge.  Then get creative with a fancy mandolin slicer and use cucumber as decoration instead of or as well as berries.

Happy Daze indeed.

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Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb Baby :-)

Rhubarb

When it comes to fruit and vegetable selection, I like to follow their seasonal habits so they are at their absolute best. This way you are getting them in their full glory, they taste better and are also cheaper. For instance, I wouldn’t attempt a Jamie Oliver Thai Mango Salad in the middle of winter, firstly because you won’t find a mango then (unless you’ve been diligent enough to freeze some pulp from the previous Summers’ abundant supply, who does that anyhow?) And secondly, it’s not really a Winter dish, it’s more appropriate to be slicing up mango and cucumber into slithers while wearing Havaianas in the kitchen rather than Ugg Boots – that just doesn’t seem right.

There are a few perennial vegetables and lucky for us, one of them is Rhubarb. While having a chat with my neighbour the other day about food, she mentioned Rhubarb and the fact that she had always thought it to be a fruit but had recently discovered it is actually a vegetable. This got me thinking about Rhubarb and the fact that I had never really considered making a dish with it. I’ve certainly sampled some lovely baked apple and rhubarb crumble with cream from country cafes during my travels but never thought to do something with it in my kitchen. That same day, I spotted a huge bunch of it in my local IGA and promptly purchased it. It was meant to be.

Now, what to make with it. After trimming the leaves and roots off as these contain poisonous oxalic acid and leaving only the edible stalks, I try a piece, raw.  This is a mistake as Raw Rhubarb is definitely an acquired taste, not something I could get used to or have any desire to either. It won’t hurt you to eat it like this and is certainly loaded with many vitamins and minerals this way, but the good news is that apparently these are retained in cooked form, a much wiser choice 🙂

Quinoa, Rhubarb and Apple

Quinoa, Rhubarb and Apple

Stewing Rhubarb seems to be the tried and tested way of preparing this vegetable, so I cook it up with some apple, coconut sugar, a few spices and serve it on a bed of white Quinoa (the new black) with Greek Yoghurt, strawberries, toasted sesame seeds and a splash of Maple Syrup. Turns out to be a wonderful dessert, as well as a great alternative to rolled oats for breakfast if you are trying to take it easy on the grains. If you are also trying to take it easy on the sugar, leave it out along with the Maple syrup and use a bit more cinnamon instead, but it won’t be anywhere near as delectable 🙂

Quinoa with Stewed Apple and Rhubarb:

4 Rhubarb Stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into 2cm diagonal slices

1 Large Red Apple, peeled, cored and sliced (get yourself one of those super-duper apple-peeler corer machines – gets this job done in seconds)

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup Water

1 Tsp of Cinnamon

1 Star Anise

Pinch of Nutmeg

Prepared Quinoa

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Method:

1) In a fry-pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil

2) Add rhubarb, apple, sugar, water and all spices.

3) Fry gently, stirring often till rhubarb breaks down and apples are softened. About 20 mins.

4) Top Quinoa with stewed rhubarb mixture, Greek Yoghurt, sliced strawberries, sesame seeds then drizzle the Maple Syrup over.

Oh yes, thank you Rhubarb.