Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ricotta Cream

Sweetened and whipped low-fat ricotta cheese is a good substitute for cream as a topping for desserts such as fresh or poached fruits, sweet pancakes or a slice of cheesecake. Recipe serves 4-5.


8 ounce (250 g) tub smooth low-fat ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk with an electric beater until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Refrigerate until required, and serve cold.

Tip: Ricotta cheese is noted for its sweet 'eggy' flavor. It is excellent as a sweet filling, and as a savory filling for pasta such as cannelloni.

Easy Strawberry Tea Bread

Fresh strawberries give this light and fruity tea bread the subtle taste of summer. Recipe makes 1 loaf.


6 1/2 ounces (200 g) strawberries, hulled
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces (175 g) polyunsaturated margarine spread
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
8 teaspoons marmalade


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 2 pound (1 kg) loaf tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
2. Put the hulled strawberries into a food processor or blender with the lemon juice. Mix for 30 seconds, or until the fruit is just pureed. Alternatively, put the berries and lemon juice into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the margarine, sugar, eggs and marmalade. Beat well with a wooden spoon to a smooth, soft consistency. Lightly stir in the strawberry puree with a metal spoon or plastic spatula, being careful not to beat the mixture.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 1 hour, or until a warm skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
5. Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve plain or with strawberry, or any other berry conserve.

Tip: Make sure the strawberries are ripe and juicy as under-ripe strawberries have less flavor and sweetness. For a stronger strawberry flavor, add 8 teaspoons of strawberry conserve at Step 3.

Cucumber and Tomato Salsa

This fresh and spicy cucumber and tomato salsa is delicious served with chicken, poached or grilled fish, or with homemade pita chips. Recipe serves 4.


1 small cucumber, peeled and finely diced
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
1 small Spanish (red) onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1 small red chili (seeds discarded), chopped finely
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


1. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, coriander and chili together.
2. Pour the lemon juice over.
3. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2-1 hour.
4. Stir the salsa before serving.

Variation: Substitute 1/2 small capsicum, diced, for the hot chili; or add 1-2 tablespoons of corn kernels.

Tip: To peel one tomato, remove the core and slash the skin vertically in three or four places. Place the tomato on a microwave-safe roasting rack, and cook on High (100%) for 45 seconds. Allow to stand to cool slightly (1-2 minutes), then peel.

Cauliflower and Pepper Pickles

Made from fresh whole cauliflower, onions and red pepper, these quick and easy to make spicy vegetable pickles will keep for a year if stored in a cool, dark place. Recipe makes about 4 cups.


1 medium cauliflower
2 medium onions
1 medium red pepper (capsicum)
1 tablespoon coarse cooking salt
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 cup white vinegar, extra


1. Cut cauliflower into small florets, chop onions and pepper into similar sized pieces. Place all vegetables in large bowl, sprinkle with salt, mix well, cover, stand overnight.
2. Next day, rinse well under cold water; drain well. Combine vinegar, sugar, allspice, cloves and bay leaves in large pan, bring to boil, add vegetables, cover, simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables are just tender; stir occasionally.
3. Blend remaining ingredients in bowl with extra vinegar, stir into vegetable mixture, stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Pour into hot sterilized jars; seal while hot.