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Like banana bread, but better.

When it comes to recipes, there are a few words which are guaranteed to make our ears perk up: plain, simple, and no-frills. Maryanna Cabrera from The Little Epicurean describes this peanut butter-frosted banana cake in those exact terms. Plus, she sweetens the deal by assuring us we can make it all on a regular ol’ weeknight – the way all cake recipes should be. If you're keen to tuck into a few layers of banana goodness, fire up the oven and check out the recipe here.

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    Much more than just the poor man’s smashed avo, this fancy toast is a zesty hit.

    Finding new and inventive ways to eat toast is a minor hobby of ours, not just because piling ingredients on a slice of bread is the quickest, least taxing way to feed ourselves after a long day, but because it’s also one of the most delicious meals you can whip up (yes, toast is a meal). We’re glad to know that Gena from The Full Helping is as on board with a decked-out toast as we are, and we’re itching to cook her recipe for smashed garlic, tahini and white bean on toast. The long version of Gena’s recipe involves boiling dried beans and slow roasting garlic, but the shortcut, as she happily notes, involves canned beans and pan fried/raw garlic. It's the trifecta of cheap, easy and delish! Ready your blender and check out Gena’s instructions here.

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      Mouths are for eating. Eyes are for reading. These books bring together the best of both worlds.

      Mouths are for eating. Eyes are for reading. Somewhere along the way the message got tangled and we were told we eat with our eyes. Sure, it’s an expression and not intended for literal translation but we think we’ve found the middle ground: books about food (after all, words are food for our eyes). Here’s our list of favourites that go beyond the cookbook format and can be enjoyed while you’re hypothetically planning your next meal and the one after that and the one after that. OK, you can see where this is going.


      image from the National Science and Media Museum.

      Cake – Maira Kalman and Barbara Scott-Goodman
      Everyone loves cake. So there’s no substantiated empirical evidence to support this claim but we have a good hunch. Someone else who also really, really enjoys jamming a fork into a fluffy slice of cake is much-loved New York illustrator and author Maira Kalman. In Cake, Maira collaborates with cookbook writer Barbara Scott-Goodman to create a part memoir, part recipe book that is a colourful ode to their favourite dessert. Through personal illustrated anecdotes, Maira shares her lifelong obsession, from eating cake as a child on her aunty’s balcony in Tel Aviv to eating it alone as a woman in her late 60s in New York. Barbara interprets these stories into delicious cake recipes that you’ll promptly text to friends with a casual reminder that it’s also your birthday soon. (Well, in eight months and 12 days precisely.)

      Midnight Chicken – Ella Risbridger
      Sometimes life is terrible. You feel daunted by the unknown and your chest swells. How will you get through it? Is sitting in the dark and binge watching all 20 seasons of Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU making things better or worse? For writer Ella Risbridger, the answer to making life a little easier was roasting a chicken at midnight. Suffering from a severe anxiety disorder, the world became too overwhelming for Ella, but the simple act of cooking in a moment of despair offered her a way out of the darkness. She found the process therapeutic and started cooking more and more, realising this kitchen ritual made her feel anchored in the world again. Her first book Midnight Chicken is a collection of personal essays and the recipes that Ella deems are “worth living for”.

      You and I Eat the Same – Chris Ying
      We spend a lot of time eating food and spilling it on our clothes (thank you bicarbonate soda for your loyal service to stain removal). But how much time do we spend thinking about where our food comes from? In You and I Eat the Same, former co-founder and editor of Lucky Peach, Chris Ying, and chef and co-founder of Noma, Rene Redzepi, want us to think before we eat. Together they’ve collaborated on MAD Dispatches, a book series that looks at connected communities through food, and the first volume is You and I Eat The Same. The book features long-form essays exploring how immigration is integral to good food and uniting us all.

      Heartburn – Nora Ephron
      Nora Ephon was a writer who distilled the experience of womanhood like no other. Her fictional novel Heartburn grippingly tells of one woman’s marriage breakdown in a way that is so forthright and compelling – largely because it’s loosely based on her own lived experience. The book follows food writer, Rachel Samstat, who discovers at seven month’s pregnant with her second child, that her husband is having an affair with another woman. Devastated, Rachel’s mood swings from wanting to woo him back to wanting slam a cream pie in his face. In-between these uncertain moments she turns to food for comfort and notes her recipes for respite throughout the novel. Try Rachel’s Linguine alla cecca – a hot pasta with cold tomato and basil sauce – then wipe your mouth and thanks us.

      Coming to My Senses – Alice Waters
      Alice Waters is a food hero to many and for good reason. She’s a chef, writer, author and activist who pioneered the slow food movement in California (and consequentially, globally) in the 1970s and continues to do so today. Her restaurant Chez Panisse is one of the most popular in the world and in 1995 she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project – a classroom-to-garden-to-kitchen educational program. Sorry. Anyone got a glass of water? Because we’re out of breath and not even half way through what this woman’s achieved. Actually, on second thoughts, you should just read her critically acclaimed memoir Coming to My Senses. But, hey, if you are walking in the direction of the kitchen, we’ll still take that glass of water.

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        Red noses! Antlers! Smiley faces! This bad boy has it all.

        There is something so satisfying about the act of eating a pull-apart loaf: maybe it’s the fact you choose your own portion, maybe it’s the texture of the soft bread in your hungry little fists, maybe it’s the communal aspect? Regardless, it’s fun and tasty - the two best things. Not that we need an excuse to eat any, but with the festive season upon us why not try baking your own loaf? I Am A Food Blog has created a super-easy recipe to whip up, with the added bonus of being incredibly cute. Red noses! Antlers! Smiley faces! This bad boy has it all. Pre-heat your oven and check it out on the blog.

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        • pull apart reindeer rolls
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          Hoo boy, just look at these cheesy herb and ricotta delights.

          We just want to preface this by saying there is no 30-minute shortcut to making your own ravioli. If you choose to make pasta, you’ll do what the nonnas of the world expect of you and dedicate a full afternoon to rolling enough dough to feed your family twice over. With that out of the way, please enjoy this delish and oh-so-pretty recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon. Did we mention these ravioli are stuffed with three different kinds of cheese? Mhmm, dreamy.

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            Someone need cheering up? These bikkies are sure to put a smile on their dial.

            Someone need cheering up? Bringing together biscuits, jam, icing and lollies, these bikkies are sure to put a smile on their dial.

            INGREDIENTS

            Makes: 14 biscuits

            For the biscuits:
            125g softened butter
            1/2 cup caster sugar
            2 tsp cocoa
            1 egg
            2 cups plain flour
            1 tsp baking powder
            1 tsp cinnamon
            1/4 tsp salt

            For the filling and topping:
            1/3 cup jam (raspberry or plum are good here)
            1 cup icing sugar
            1 tbsp glucose syrup
            1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
            2-3 tsp hot water
            lollies of your choice to make the faces

            HOW TO
            1. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy (you can also do this in a food processor, or in a freestanding mixer). Add the cocoa and egg, and beat again until all combined.

            2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt over the top, and mix together until it forms a firm dough. Flatten the dough into a disc shape, then cover with cling wrap and leave in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

            3. While you’re waiting, heat the oven to 180C, and line two trays with baking paper.

            4. Remove the dough from the fridge and put it between two large pieces of baking paper or plastic wrap. Roll out until it’s about 3mm thick (the baking paper stops the dough from sticking to the rolling
            pin or the bench top), then cut into rounds with a 7cm cookie cutter. You should get about 28 rounds.

            5. Transfer the cut-out cookies to the prepared trays, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until they’re light golden brown and dry to touch. Remove from the trays and leave on a rack to cool completely.

            6. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the vanilla, glucose syrup and one teaspoon of hot water, then mix well, adding a tiny drop more water to make a thick, shiny mixture.

            7. To assemble the biscuits, spread a little jam on the underside of half the batch, then top with the remaining pieces. Dollop some icing on top of each double-decker biscuit, then arrange the lollies
            to make smiley faces (or sad faces, or cranky faces – it’s up to you!).

            8. Set aside until the icing has set, then store in an airtight container.

            This recipe comes straight from our special one-off publication, frankie food. Pick up a copy via our online store, or through one of our wonderful stockists.

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              Yummy biscuits that look like nostalgic nanna op shop craft? We’re into that.

              Feel free to swoon with the prettiness and simultaneously drool, because there’s a lot to digest on Lori Stern’s Instagram. The Southern California-based chef, caterer and artist specialises in using edible flowers in a lot of her stuff, from baked goodies to roast chicken to spring rolls and beyond. We’re especially excited by Lori’s pressed flower cookies, and might be taking a few notes for our next baking session. Yummy biscuits that look like nostalgic nanna op shop craft? We’re into that.

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                There’s no going past a good sausage roll, especially when you’ve put it together from your butcher’s best bangers and bought puff pastry.

                There’s no going past a good sausage roll, especially when you’ve put it together from your butcher’s best bangers and bought puff pastry. Whip it out of the oven, plop some tomato sauce on it and you’re set.

                INGREDIENTS

                500g good quality pork or beef sausages
                1 small onion, grated
                3 tbsp spicy tomato chutney or sauce
                500g all-butter flaky puff pastry
                salt and pepper
                1 egg, beaten

                HOW TO

                Heat the oven to 210C and line a tray with baking paper.

                Squeeze the sausage meat from the casing into a bowl. Add the onion and tomato chutney and mix together, using your hands. Season with salt and pepper.

                Unroll the pastry onto the lined tray. Take about a third of the sausage mixture and form into a roll as long as the short edge of the pastry. Place it on the pastry, about 3cm from the edge, then roll the pastry up and over it until the meat is encased.

                Cut along the edge with a sharp knife, then press the pastry edges together. Repeat with the remaining meat and pastry.

                Make small scores along each pastry tube, then cut the tubes into short lengths. Space the sausage rolls around the tray, brushing each one with beaten egg.

                Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden and fluffy, and the sausage filling is cooked through (cut one open to check). Serve immediately, with lashings of tomato sauce. (Makes 6-12 sausage rolls, depending on size)

                Note: these also freeze well. Let them cool completely, then wrap in foil and freeze in an airtight container. To eat them, thaw, then reheat thoroughly in a 180C oven until piping hot.

                This recipe comes straight from our special one-off publication, frankie food. Pick up a copy via our online store, or through one of our wonderful stockists.

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                  Feeling thirsty, frankie friends?

                  Feeling thirsty, frankie friends? Well, you should probably have a sip of water, stat. Keeping hydrated is very important, after all. Also important? Glugging that precious liquid from an environmentally friendly receptacle, like these swish new JOCO flasks. They’re light, rather leak-proof, and easy to clean, plus – most crucially – Mother Nature will thank you for it. We can even hook you up with a flask, if you fancy – we happen to have five up for grabs. Just pop over to our frankie competition page and enter your details, then cross your fingers nice and tight. With any luck, you’ll be guzzling beverages from an artisan-blown glass bottle in no time.

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                    This cake joins coffee and banana in a blessed union of happiness.

                    Some people are a bit fussy about banana cake, claiming it should only ever be served with chocolate icing. Some people should forget their cake prejudices and try this one, which joins coffee and banana in a blessed union of happiness.

                    INGREDIENTS

                    125g soft butter
                    1 cup caster sugar
                    1/2 cup soft brown sugar
                    1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
                    1 cup very strong coffee, cooled (2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 cup boiling water, or three double espressos)
                    2 eggs
                    3 large bananas, mashed to a smooth puree (you need about 1 generous cup of mashed banana)
                    1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt
                    1 1/2 cups flour
                    2 tsp baking powder
                    1/2 tsp baking soda
                    3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

                    HOW TO

                    Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a round 23cm cake tin and grease the sides. Make the coffee and set it aside to cool.

                    Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and 2 tsp of the cooled coffee (reserve the rest of the coffee mixture for the icing). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

                    Beat in the mashed banana, a little at a time, until it is all well combined. Stir in the yoghurt. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together, then stir it into the banana mixture, along with the walnuts (if you’re using them).

                    Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer plunged into the cake comes out cleanly. Let cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. When the cake is cold, ice with coffee cream cheese icing. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

                    COFFEE CREAM CHEESE ICING

                    100g soft butter
                    3 cups icing sugar, sifted
                    200g cream cheese, at room temperature
                    3/4 tbsp of the cooled strong coffee
                    about 1 cup walnuts, optional

                    HOW TO 

                    Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the cream cheese.

                    Add the cooled coffee, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired level of coffee flavour and a soft, spreadable consistency.

                    Spread on the cold cake, then decorate with walnuts.

                    This recipe comes straight from our special one-off publication, frankie food. Pick up a copy via our online store, or through one of our wonderful stockists.

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