A lot of food bloggers dream of compiling all their recipes into a published book. Alice Phillips from Ally’s Kitchen is one blogger who has turned that dream into a reality. Recently launched, her cookbook, Ally’s Cookbook – A Passport for Adventurous Palates is currently being reviewed by food bloggers all around the world.
I was introduced to Ally’s cookbook by my cyber friend, Kim Bultman who has a blog I’ve been following for a few years now, A Little Lunch. Kim edited Ally’s cookbook and has done an amazing job especially considering during that time she tragically lost her home in a devastating fire.
Editing isn’t an easy job and despite the battles of her own personal circumstances, Kim has done an outstanding job. Ally has said to Kim in her tributes and acknowledgements, ‘for your many imaginative ideas and creative contributions to this cookbook far beyond the editing process, I’m eternally grateful’.
Ally, (Alice) and her husband are keen travellers and a lot of the reason they love to travel is so they can experience the cuisines of the countries they visit. This love for travel and food has become the theme behind the cookbook with the index being organised into global regions.
What I love about the cookbook is Ally’s kitchen philosophy. She says, ‘Dive in and get your hands dirty and let there be splatters, spills, and glorious smudges of goodness! Food, like life, isn’t perfect ~ it’s about encouraging your inner child to play in the kitchen and not being afraid to take chances with flavours, textures, and unexpected combinations’. What a great philosophy for your kitchen.
Ally’s cookbook is not a lightweight book; it’s 240 pages and for me, it hasn’t been a cookbook I’ve taken straight to the kitchen. Along with the recipes and the gorgeous photography there are mentions of Ally’s travel adventures and I found this is a book I’ve enjoyed reading while reclining on a comfy lounge chair.
One of the chapters that interested me greatly is the chapter, ‘Middle Eastern Allure’. I loved the story of how Ally came to be given the recipe for the Lemon and Almond Basbousa Cake. An Algerian woman named Nanou started commenting on Ally’s recipes when they were posted on her facebook page and from there a friendship developed. Nanou was commenting all the way from Europe where she now lives with her Italian husband.
Apparently this basbousa is a dessert that is served throughout the Middle East and there are a number of variations. I really wanted to make this using lavender water however I wasn’t able to source a drop of it. I substituted rose water and Ally says you can also use almond or vanilla extract.
The other ingredient I couldn’t find was lemon flavoured Greek yoghurt. Not something I’ve ever seen in Oz. I used plain Greek yoghurt but added a little extra lemon oil to the cake batter.
The cake is very simple to make and is mixed by hand in just one bowl so there’s no equipment to clean and put away and very little mess as well – excellent!
Because of the high volume of yoghurt, the cake has a very moist and creamy texture. It makes a wonderful dessert cake as it is a little like eating a light ricotta cheesecake. The lemon and rosewater flavours are very pronounced and I enjoyed the texture and crunch from the toasted flaked almonds.
I know there are people who don’t like rosewater but I don’t mind it and the rosewater syrup is wonderful poured over this cake. An alternative to adding rosewater to the syrup is to use almond extract or vanilla essence.
I served each slice of cake with a dollop of double cream mixed with equal amounts of creme fraiche and a little sprinkle of lavender petals.
- cooking spray
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1 (6-oz.) container lemon Greek yogurt (170mls)
- 1¼ cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1 beaten egg
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup melted butter
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- 3 tsp. lavender water or rose water (or substitute vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp. pure lemon extract
- 1⁄3 cup milk
- 2⁄3 cup sliced almond
- For the Syrup:
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp. rose or lavender water (or substitute vanilla or almond extract)
- Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F).
- Grease and line a 22cm round spring-form pan with baking paper.
- Combine rice flour, lemon yogurt, egg, plain yogurt, sugar, butter, baking powder, baking soda, lavender or rose water (or vanilla extract), lemon extract, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together gently and thoroughly. The batter will be relatively thick, like the consistency of prepackaged spreadable icing or whipped cream cheese.
- Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle the sliced almonds on top. Gently pat the almonds onto the batter with a spatula. Bake 40–45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the simple syrup.
- Combine the sugar, water, and rose or lavender water (or vanilla or almond extract) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will gradually thicken. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour some of the warm syrup on each piece of cake before serving.
If you would like to read additional reviews of Ally’s cookbook, click here.
Here’s Ally’s promotional video for her cookbook, A Passport for Adventurous Palates.