With Victoria Day upcoming, my thoughts turned to what Queen Victoria might have eaten in the 1800s, since it’s her birthday we’re celebrating by taking a holiday May 21.
Then I thought it would be interesting to look at some old classics and what we’ve been doing to them to bring them up to date.
For instance, adding carrots to cakes has been going on for centuries, because they’re a great natural sweetener and they add moistness and flavour.
But, until I went to make my first carrot cake many years ago, I didn’t realize how much additional sugar and oil went into that richly-flavoured cake, and frankly, I was appalled.
So, I found myself making a few little changes, substituting most of the oil with a little of the healthier olive oil and a lot of fat-free, plain yogurt, for instance.
Instead of white sugar, I used less than half the amount of more-flavourful brown sugar. And, instead of white flour, I used half whole wheat and added a little oat bran, which offers both extra fibre and nutrition. Instead of dried ginger, I used finely-grated fresh for a nice perky flavour.
But, following the Victoria Day holiday, then the Earth, Wind and Fire extravaganza of fine food and wine—a fund-raiser June 1 for the Nature Trust of B.C., is the Okanagan’s second annual Spot Prawn Festival on June 2, at the Cove Resort in West Kelowna. For details, go to: www.wildbcspotprawns.com
Spot prawns that are sustainably-caught are in season now off the coast of B.C. and available fresh locally during the short season, which began in May. They’re delectable in flavour and texture.
There are lots more prawn recipes amongst the 200 or so in my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is organized by the seasons so you can be inspired by what’s available fresh, locally, in season, in your cooking. It’s available at local bookstores and wine shops and includes many wine pairings by renowned wine writer John Schreiner.
Herb-topped Lemony Spot Prawns
There’s nothing quite like fresh herbs to ramp up the flavour of anything, and lemon and garlic are a match made in heaven, whether that’s with lamb or prawns. Pair these with the Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve 2010 Riesling, which also has a zesty citrus finish, with lots of smooth fruit flavours as well.
1 lb. (454 g) spot prawns
1 lemon, zested
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. (30 ml) parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh parsley
2 tsp. (10 ml) fresh mint
2 tsp. (10 ml) fresh tarragon
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
1 tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice
Shell and de-vein prawns.
Mince lemon zest and garlic into a medium bowl. Finely grate parmesan and mince fresh herbs on top.
Add oil and combine well, with about a teaspoon of the lemon juice, to make a paste.
Add prawns to the mix and marinate for 15 minutes or so before threading them onto skewers, ready to barbecue.
Barbecue over medium heat for about five minutes a side.
Serve with fresh local asparagus and a nice brown rice or bulgur side dish.
Lower Fat Carrot Cake
Carrot cake, despite the fact it has lots of nice, healthy carrots, (which are loaded with Vitamin A as well as being a good source of potassium), normally also has a lot of fat and sugar added to it, but I’ve reduced both considerably in this version and added some whole grains—and it’s still delicious.
3/4 c. (175 ml) white flour
3/4 c. (175 ml) whole wheat flour
1/4 c. (60 ml) oat bran
3/4 c. (175 ml) brown sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) baking powder
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp. (5 ml) fresh, finely-grated ginger
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) salt
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) nutmeg
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) allspice
1/2 c. (125 ml) chopped pecans
3/4 c. (175 ml) plain, fat-free yogurt
1/4 c. (60 ml) olive oil
2 c. (500 ml) grated carrots
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan, or line with parchment paper.
Combine all the dry ingredients with the chopped pecans in a large bowl and whisk together to combine thoroughly.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs and add the yogurt and olive oil, combining until nice and smooth.
Grate the carrots, about four large ones, and core the apple and grate it.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and briefly stir until completely combined, then fold in the carrots and apple.
Scrape batter into the pan and smooth out.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
Let cool on a wire rack and ice with a cream cheese icing, or just dust with icing sugar.