Birthday cake

Yesterday was my husband's birthday and I could think of no better way of making him happy then by surprising him with a cake. Well it wasn't exactly a cake but more a pancake (as a dutchman he appreciates pancakes). But these were not simple plain pancakes - these were my spectacular chocolate orange millet cakes.

The pancakes were light, moist and chocolatey with the slightest aroma of orange (the orange also added a little layer of sophistication much needed for impressing people in the morning).  I served the pancakes with a few orange segments, a dusting of cocoa and some syrup (being Canadian this should be maple but Australians might use golden syrup...not nearly as amazing) One more exciting thing is that they’re gluten free. Eat up and celebrate.

chocolate-orange millet cakes
Recipe for 2

2 whole organic eggs
½ cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla bean (paste or extract)
1-2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder (unprocessed) – the more chocolate the better but it’s up to you
2 tsp orange zest (a little juice too)
½ - ¾ cup of millet flour (I used something in between these amounts)
pinch of baking powder
pinch of baking soda 

To make the pancakes, first beat the eggs and soy milk together, add in vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients - make sure with the flour that you add a little at a time so that you can ensure the consistency stays like a wet batter (should be loose/ pouring consistency).

Get a pan and heat to medium-high heat, use a little oil or butter and cook your cakes. When bubbles appear flip over and cook for another minute or so. Now you have your delicious chocolate orange millet cakes - perfect for a birthday or any other kind of day...

Salmon and soba

salmon and soba with leek salsa
serves 4 (this is an easy dish to cook for a larger number of people as well)

4 fillets of salmon (with skin on - remember it's full of omega fatty acids)
1 package of soba noodles (buckwheat)
fresh or frozen peas
1/2 large leek
1 red capsicum
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 2 inch knob of ginger (grated)
2 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp tamari (or soy/ponzu sauce)
1/2 bunch fresh dill
1/2 lemon (juiced)
fresh red chili (dried is fine)
olive oil
sesame oil (for adding to salsa at end)
white wine (something dry like chardonnay - and some that you would drink)

To start with the salsa use a saucepan or small pot. Slice or dice the leeks and fry in olive oil on medium heat. You want to sweat the leeks and not burn them (add a little salt to prevent them burning). Once the leeks have become a little soft, add in ginger and garlic, cook 1-2 minutes. While this happening, add some hot water to dissolve miso paste (start with 1 cup). Once dissolved, add into the pot. Add in tamari, diced chilis, 1 tbsp chopped dill and lemon juice. Once mixed take off heat and keep aside. Add just 1-2 drops of sesame oil (really just a little goes a very long way)

For the soba, follow instructions on package (very easy!) and make sure not to overcook as they'll turn to mush and lose their great texture. Strain and keep aside at room temperature.

For the salmon, in a large pan - pan fry skin side down in a little olive oil. Make sure pan is hot to ensure crispy skin. Cook for a few minutes on each side. A way to tell if salmon is just cooked and not overcooked is you will see the sides emit a whitish colour. Keep side once cooked.  In same pan, add a little white wine to deglaze and add chopped capsicum and peas (and any other vegetables you might have). To assemble, mix soba with peas and capscium and white wine reduction. Put salmon on top and pour a little of the leek salsa on top. Garnish with dill sprig and there you have it...a little gourmet meal for a regular night at home. So good.

A perfect coupling

So I’m back with another recipe! Sorry for the delay (I will try my best to post 1 recipe a week) but here is one my favourites. For those of you who love fish but hate the hassle of finding a good recipe/method that can impart enough flavour this recipe will help. Fish is one of those foods that can be tricky to cook the right way – most people overcook their fish and it becomes grey and rough, and trust me you cannot cover this up with any sauce no matter how tasty.  It’s always best to use delicate methods of cooking for fish, unless the texture is firm and meaty, in which case you can grill or fry without worry.  For this dish I used salmon fillets (here in Sydney I’m lucky to get to speak to the people at the fish market – they know a lot (a lot) about fish, how it’s caught and sold). I get wild atlantic salmon as it’s not farm raised. It tastes better and is generally a better environmental choice.

In addition to the salmon, I’ve used soba noodles. For those who don’t know soba is a Japanese buckwheat noodle (make sure to check the ingredients for those who don’t eat wheat as some cheaper soba add it in as a filler). It's healthy and has a great wholegrain taste. Unlike many noodles (egg based or other) that are heavy and simply carriers of sauce, soba has it's own distinct flavour and texture.  It’s colour is almost like a cloudy and gloomy day. When cooked it becomes the perfect friend to asian type flavours – salt, sweet, spicy and tangy. It's also just perfectly coupled with salmon. Try this recipe (with a glass of chardonnay like I have) and you'll see.