Full disclosure I am writing this sans coffee, recovering from a night of drunken drunkenness...please forgive.
Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes. Why? Because its the weekend. And a darling friend came to visit. And she deserve pancakes. And because my housemate, who claims to be the pancake god, has disappeared this weekend.
But really, I don't mind.
I am traditionally of the crepe school of Breakfast-dom. But sometimes thin whispy crepes just do not cut it. Sometimes a girl just needs fluff and sugar and cakey morning goodness drowning in syrup and blueberries.
BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK PANCAKESINGREDIENTS
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Large pinch of kosher salt
1 ¼ cup buttermilk, shaken (Or 1 ¼ Cup milk with 1 tsp of vinegar mixed in for cheats buttermilk)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
A whole bunch of blueberries. Like handfuls, or punnets or however many blueberries as you can handle.
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract; whisk until thoroughly combined.
3. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and gently whisk until just combined, be careful not to over mix. (or your pancakes will be flat and sad which is as bad as no pancakes)
4. Heat up your cast iron frypan (or griddle pan or whatever the flip you normally cook pancakes on) over medium heat and brush with small knob (hehe knob) of butter. Scoop 1/4 cup batter onto the warm skillet. Drop some berries on top of each pancake. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancake, and then flip to cook on opposite side for about 1 minute, or until golden brown.
5. Transfer cooked pancakes to a heatproof dish and place in low temp oven to keep warm. Proceed with the rest of the batter until you’re done. Serve with maple syrup. and more blueberries because its the freaking weekend and you flipping deserve them berries.
Adapted from who knows where- Ive had this recipe in my collection since I began cooking.
The name for these wee lemony puds is pretty accurate actually. They are made of lemons and they are delicious. What more do you want in a dessert? Well if you have never had the pleasure of eating one, they are more of a fluffy cloud like sponge atop a smooth and creamy lemony custard/curd-like concoction. I guess they are a form of self-saucing pudding. They are excellent served chilled (a delight in summer) or served warm with a dollop of cream (just what you need in winter).
The first time I set about making these was as a student in Dunedin New Zealand with my flatmate George. He spotted the recipe in one of our few cookbooks (I forget which) and suggested them over breakfast one morning. Everything about them surprised us, mostly just how easy and delicious (and cheap!) they were to make. They became a staple dessert in our flat for second and third year. I still whip them up when cooking for parents or friends when dessert is craved. Epitome of a crowd pleasing dessert.
The puddings in these photos are from back home, I made them one sunny winter afternoon using the lemons off our trees. Trying to disconnect myself from a (very) small bout of homesickness I started cooking a few homey recipes in the hostel I am currently staying in on the Isle of Skye. Being winter, a lot of places on Skye are closed (and choice was limited to begin with). I seem to have hit hostel kitchen jackpot here though. It is super clean and they have an oven! Hostel kitchens often only come with a stove, a microwave and a grotty fridge with an assortment of fluffy moulds you end up naming like pets. I made a batch of these puds last night using an odd assortments of coffee mugs, rice bowls and ramekins. Whatever was to hand really.
Preheat oven to 170ºC. Grease 4-6 ramekins or a 3-4 cup capacity ovenproof dish.
Beat the butter, sugar, lemon rind and egg yolks together until light and fluffy. Gently stir in the flour, milk and lemon juice.
Put the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat until they form stiff peaks but are not dry.
Fold the egg whites through the lemon batter in two batches (whisk to remove any lumps). It may look separated but this is fine. Pour mix into the prepared baking dishes.
Place the ramekins inside a large baking dish. Create a water bath by pouring enough boiling water into the large baking dish to come halfway up the sides of your ramekins.
Bake for 30-35 minutes in a water-bath until the top is golden and springs back to the touch. Serve warm or chilled dusted with icing sugar and accompanied with cream and blueberries for a delicious dessert.
40g soft butter
¾ cup/150g fine sugar (caster or finely ground raw)
A very happy belated New Years to all of you! I spent the last of 2017 and the first week of 2018 mostly in solitude falling head over heels for the Scottish landscapes. I spent New Years up at John O Groats, the most northerly point of the Uk mainland, stuffing my face with rhubarb and ginger cake and walking up and down sprawling muddy hillsides whilst getting a good battering from the wind. It certainly felt at times like I was standing on a precipice at the very edge of the world. A few times here and there I thought I might even fall off but decided I still had much too much left to see. The landscape this far north changes dramatically. Nordic rather than Celtic, battered by fierce winds and wild seas there isn't a tree to be seen just gorse, peat bogs and hardy Scottish wildlife. Vikings hacked and hewed and bled along these coastlines. Some might call it desolate. The guidebooks call it a tourist trap. I don't use a guide book so I don't know what I would call this place.
The second and third week of this new year I spent very much sick and in bed with a raging fever and aching bones. I could have been made of glass. Travelling while sick is not a fun time. Rest was needed, so I listened to my screaming body, not that I could have refused it and I stayed in bed. Self care is just about the only resolution made this year and I intend to keep it. Combating the feelings of guilt at doing nothing when your mind is rearing to get out and explore is hard work though. I am working on recipes and city guides and posts about my travels when I have a spare moment but have nothing much of any value to share with you just yet. Just this wee photo collection from John o'Groats.
Happy Day 19 of Christmas Month!!! How are the Christmas preparations coming along?
I am making some progress in my christmas baking in dodgy hostel kitchens. After failed attempts at a figgy swirl ice cream and between a couple of butchered custards I have far too many egg whites than I know what to do with. Which brings us to these little fluffy meringues. Cloud Fluffers as I used to call them. Sweet meringue cookies stuffed with chocolate and nuts.
CHOCOLATE & ALMOND MERINGUE CLOUDSINGREDIENTS:
4 Egg Whites
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
1/4 tsp salt, heaped
250 gram caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
300 g toasted, slivered almonds
300 g dark chocolate, chopped
1. Combine the egg whites, vinegar and salt in large bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
2. Add the sugar, gradually, beating continuously until the mixture is a stiff glossy meringue. Gently fold in vanilla, almonds and chocolate.
3. Using a soup spoon, drop mix onto baking tray lined with baking paper. Drop approx 3 cm apart.
4. Bake in a 120 C oven oven for about 45 minutes, rotating trays very 15 minutes to ensure even baking until very lightly coloured and firm.
5. Cool on sheets, then store in an airtight container.
It's December! Which means it is time for advent calendars, decorations, tinsels and fairy lights and chocolate everything. I love December! I love the Christmas Season!! Christmas this year is very very different. For one, I am not sweltering in a Southern hemisphere summer. Its all twinkling christmas lights and mulled wine and snow flurries on this end. Which for once, just feels so right. For another I am spending it alone. And will probably feel insanely homesick from time to time. No cooking for an army of seventy. No backgammon games with dad. No turkey. No tree. Its just me and my suitcase wandering from hostel to hostel. I don't even know where I will be for Christmas at this stage.
So lettuce begin! Day 1 of Merry Christmas month is surprise surprise a cookie recipe. A really good cookie recipe. I use this recipe every year. They are a cross between a brownie and a cookie. They are rich, chocolatey, crispy on the outside and fudgy awesomeness on the inside. Chocolate upon chocolate. I think they are best straight out of the oven. so i usually tend to double the mixture, roll into balls and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer so I can pull them out and bake small batches whenever a cookie urge hits me, which lets be honest is frequently. I eat them while I watch my cheesey christmas movies, while I write blogposts and while I wrap presents.
fudgy brownie cookies METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 165°C/320°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream the butter with the sugars and vanilla essence until pale and creamy.
Add the egg and beat well
Add the melted chocolate and beat well
Fold in flour and cocoa powder then fold in chocolate chips.
Use a tablepsoon to measure out cookie dough balls. Place on tray, allowing room for cookies to spread and flatten only slightly.
Bake for 12 minutes, rest 2 minutes on the tray and push back of a spoon onto cookies to spread out. The eat!
I leave for Scotland on Sunday. One way ticket, bags packed, visa processed. I am out of here. If you asked me what my plans were I honestly could not articulate them at all. I am not a forward planner. I'm all spontaneity and dreams. Half baked considerations and what-ifs. The instability of it all leaves me both animated and apprehensive - the mind seething with possibility. New faces, new loves, new spaces, new adventures. I am greedy for them. I don't know how long I will be away. Part of me hopes forever.
I hope to continue blogging while I am away. I say this every time but usually get caught up having to let this blog just idle for a bit. Although kitchen-less there may be more travel snaps and less recipes until I am settled somewhere with a functioning oven.
I have to say I am a bit excited to be fleeing an Australian summer - bring me all the winters! All the woollens and hot drinks please. Although I will miss plum and peach season. Our trees are laden once again with kilos and kilos of fruit begging to be turned into galettes, jams and jellies. With me not around they will likely be portioned off to neighbours in exchange for fresh eggs or punnets of tomatoes, maybe the odd bag of zucchinis. Or they will be left to the birds. Either way I feel a strange pang of regret at not being able to indulge in this annual ritual of ours.
Our lemon harvest was bountiful again. I made bottles of limoncello (sadly will miss out on taste testing these), jars and jars of lemon curd, lemon tarts upon lemon tarts. And these. Fluffy little lemon and poppy seed baby bundts, soaked in a tart lemon syrup. I had made them to have with a cup of tea, a judicious little treat. However, one was never enough. We found ourselves popping three or four at a time.
Some days you can keep your extravagant layers of chocolate cake enrobed in swiss-meringue buttercream with a seductive drizzle and plethora of flowers and junk on top. Some days a simple wedge of haphazardly frosted cake or a tangy lemon poppyseed morsel is all you crave.
There is not much to this recipe, beat some ingredients, fold in others, pipe it, bake it, drizzle it and pop it in your mouth. Repeat. Easy. Delicious. The recipe is large enough to make a 20cm cake or roughly 28 mini bundts. I opted for the mini option thinking we would have cakes for days but these were seriously so delicious i think they only lasted maybe a day and a half?
Lemon, Poppyseed & Yoghurt Syrup CakeINGREDIENTS:
3 large free range eggs
1 Cup/ 220 grams sugar
3 lemons juiced
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Cups/ 300grams Self Raising Flour
1 Cup/300 grams unsweetened Greek Yoghurt
½ Cup All bran oil (Vegetable or Canola will work fine too)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
For the Syrup:
¾ Cup Lemon Juice (extra - for the syrup) freshly squeezed
¾ Cup Water
¾ Cup Caster sugar
Grease and line with baking paper a 20 cm/ 8-inch square cake pan or grease a 2 x 12 Cup capacity mini bundt pan. Preheat the oven to 180 (C) / 375 (F).
Beat together the eggs and sugar, until thick, pale and creamy. Add lemon juice and zest. Beat to combine. Fold in the flour, yoghurt, oil and poppy seeds. Spoon into prepared pan(s) and bake until cake springs back lightly when pressed. For a large cake this will take approximately 50 minutes. For the mini cakes it will take approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
While the cake is baking prepare the syrup by combining all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer for three minutes or until thickened slightly. Pour syrup over the still warm cakes.
I am off to Singapore on Monday which should serve as an interesting break for this very dry winter. As a general rule I will always choose ice and snow over sun and humidity but this winter has been a challenge - my lungs haven't coped well at all, I have a persistant cold that won't seem to break - I have been carrying it in my chest for well over a month now. It leaves me listless and tired. Tis the season of flu I guess. I am subsisting on bowls of spiced bone broth and mugs of strange lemon turmeric concoctions. All I want though are thick wedges of this glorious tart I had made for a yuletide dinner several weeks ago (for all my northern hemisphere readers, we celebrate Yulefest up here in my Mountain home every July so we can try and emmulate a European Christmas kind of vibe).
Pears have been simply divine this winter. Pears, sauteed in a butter caramel and set in thick chocolate - what could be make this winter dessert better? A decent hit of whiskey. Thats what. This tart is a glorious treat - comforting and sweet, rich but not cloying.
Chocolate & Pear Tart With a Whiskey CaramelMethod:
1. Make the Pastry: Place the cocoa, flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and iced water, while the motor is running. Process until a dough forms. Place dough between two sheets of non stick baking paper and roll out to a 3 mm thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Remove the dough from the paper and use it to line a fluted pie tin. Trim the edges and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.
3. Heat a large fry pan over high heat. Add the first measure of brown sugar and butter and stir to combine Add the pear slices and cook for 10-15 minutes basting continuously in the sauce until caramelised. Remove the pears and set aside to cool slightly. Reserve the caramel.
4. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Place the chocolate and extra butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted. Allow to cool slightly and place in a bowl with the second measure of brown sugar, golden syrup, eggs, whiskey and cream. Whisk to combine.
5. Place the tart pan on a baking tray. Arrange the pear slices in the pan and pour the chocolate filling over the pears.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate for several hours before serving.
7. For serving, reheat the caramel (add a splash of whiskey) and bring to a simmer. Reduce caramel until it is a thick syrupy consistency. Pour over pear slices.
*If you are outside of New Zealand or Australia Golden syrup can be hard to come by so substitute for honey or treacle
**If you are using a deep set flan tin you may want to double the chocolate filling ingredients.
I found Dublin to be downright fascinating. The city holds a kind a lot of historical beauty and angst and when the weather is grey it feels grim and dark - but it is the kind of place that breeds so much artistic and musical creativity it seems to be bursting at the seams. Much of the street art were homages to authors like Wilde and Beckett, and to Dublin's musical icons like Sinead O'Connor
Our oven has died. Mid roast chicken. Dead dead deadski. Fucking finally. I have been willing it to give up with every inch of my being for the last five years ever since it crapped out on me, Christmas eve 2012 (while I was trying to roast the turkey). From its broken thermostat to its disintegrating seal to its twelve unusable settings, every time I had to use it I would silently curse it and in its own vindictive way it would curse me right back by burning whatever I had put in there. On occasion it became my scapegoat - if something didn't turn out how I envisioned it was automatically the oven's fault - but mostly it was just a bastard and I am so so so happy it is dead.
Now I have a big beautiful three door, cast iron, matte black beauty coming my way which I am ecstatic about. When we bought it, I kept hoping from one foot to the other clutching my hands together trying to repress my glee – the sales woman must have thought me quite deranged. But whatever. New oven!
Getting this beautiful big oven installed has been quite the protracted saga. It would have been nice if the sales lady or the installers had told us that we might have to rewire the entire kitchen to accommodate a new oven. It would be nicer still if the installers would turn up when they say they will. It is currently sitting in our dining room teasing me. Curse you Harvey Norman and your rubbish customer service! Unfortunately this means I have no way to cook anything. No baking, no roasting, no steaming or boiling. I am under a enforced cooking holiday. And I hate it. My poor blog is suffering for it too. I hope to be back up and running by the end of the month. But who can tell really.
I made these cookies a day or two before the oven died. One of the last things I ever cooked in it. I was looking for a vegan chocolate chip cookie to say thank you to a friend experimenting with veganism. Trendy veganism. That is too say she still eats chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, chocolate and honey when no one is looking but will tell everyone at every opportunity that she is a vegan. I tease her about this relentlessly. It is good for her. The chocolate chips are wonderful and melty. I found them on sale down the healthfood aisle at my supermarket. They don’t carry any of that nasty carob flavour and they melt just the way a chocolate chip should. By using a dark cacao powder you can achieve more of that rich chocolatey flavour with a slight bitter hit. The butter substitute is a vegan butter. Which by the way is wonderful. But expensive. I have made these using a olive oil spread before and they were just as good. The end result is softer than the cookies I am typically used to but I am partial to soft doughy cookies. You could substitute the sugars for the lower GI sugars but I wanted brown sugar, which is another reason I think they were so soft. If you want them to maintain that gorgeous fudgy brownie consistency the key is to ever so slightly under cook them. Be careful they will collapse as soon as you bite into one.
VEGAN TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIESINGREDIENTS
110g / ½ cup Vegan butter (e.g. Earth Balance or Nuttlex)
200g / 1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g / 1⅓ cup + 1 tbsp plain flour
Pinch of salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp cocoa powder
100g (1/2 cup) mix of dairy-free milk and dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
100g (1/2 cup) dairy-free white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
Cream the vegan butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add the cornflour mixture and mix in.
Add the flour, pinch of salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder and mix until thoroughly combined.
Fold in the chocolate so it's evenly distributed in the dough.
Roll the dough into approximately 16 balls, about the size of a golf ball. If the dough is too soft or sticky to roll in your hands, refrigerate it for half an hour first.
Place on the baking trays with plenty of space between them then flatten the balls slightly with your palm.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will appear very soft but do not be tempted to overcook them.
Once the cookies are baked, allow to cool on the trays for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
The solstice has come and gone. We celebrated it as we always have; a festival, a parade, a roaring fire and a collection of our own traditions.We spit into a cauldron, list what we want to change bury it in the frostbitten earth and jump over broom sticks for fertility. We roast pumpkins, bake chocolate cakes, brew Glühwein and wrap ourselves in woollens whilst praying for a flurry of snow to justify how cold we feel. Hot chocolate scalds your throat on the way down and you breath in the woodsmoke off your clothes. We all believe in something.
I was born on the solstice, I am a child of fog and mountains. Of crisp air, sideways rain and wind so biting if feels almost personal. I love the cool months. Autumn turning into winter. Winter morphing into spring. A return to longer daylight hours and bluer skies. Months of transition and change. This cake is the ideal food for devotees of winter, like myself. Or those who worship at an alter of chocolate. Or for Queen Bees, Beekeepers and apiculturists alike.
HONEY CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CALVADOS ALMONDS AND BEESFOR THE CAKE
100 grams dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
275 grams light brown sugar
225 grams soft butter
125 ml runny honey
2 large eggs
200 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
250 ml boiling water
FOR THE GLAZE
60 ml water
125 ml runny honey
175 grams dark chocolate
75 grams icing sugar
FOR THE BEES
25 grams yellow marzipan
12 flaked almonds
FOR THE CALVADOS ALMONDS
100g flaked almonds
2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 Tbsp Calvados
Let all the ingredients can come to room temperature. While that's happening, melt the chocolate from the cake part of the ingredients list in a good-sized bowl, either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform cake tin.
Beat together the sugar and soft butter until airy and creamy. Add the honey, mix well. Add one of the eggs, beating it in with a tablespoon of the flour. Do the same with the other egg. Fold in the melted chocolate, and then the rest of the flour and the bicarbonate of soda. Sift in the cocoa and beat in the boiling water. (Can be done in a mixer all at once) Mix everything well to make a smooth batter and pour into the prepared tin. Cook for up to an hour and a half, though check the cake after 45 minutes and if it is catching cover the top lightly with foil and check every 15 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely in the tin on a rack.
While cooling make the glaze; bring the water and honey to a boil in a saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate swirling it around to melt in the hot liquid. Leave it for a few minutes then whisk together. Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk again until smooth.
For the almonds, set the oven to 170°C. Mix the nuts, sugar and Calvados together in a bowl then spread them out onto a lined baking tray. Toast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them to ensure they brown evenly. When cool enough to touch, separate any clusters of almond and set aside to cool completely.
Choose your plate or stand and cut out four strips of baking paper and form a square outline on the plate. This is so catch runoff icing. Unclip the tin and sit the thoroughly cooled cake on the prepared plate. Pour the icing over the cold chocolate cake and smooth it down the sides. While the glaze is still tacky but not fully set scatter almonds around the sides.
Once the glaze is set, very gently slide out the strips of baking paper to reveal a clean plate. Keep the pan of icing, and don't wash it up, as you will need it to make the stripes on the bees.
Divide the marzipan into six even pieces and shape them into fat, sausage-like bees' bodies, slightly tapered at the ends.
Using a wooden skewer, paint stripes (and eyes if you want them to emote) with the leftover glaze. Very carefully attach the flaked almonds at an angle to make the bees' wings. Place onto the top of the cake.