Monthly Archives: October 2013

Koththu Roti

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It’s really hard to imitate koththu roti outside Sri Lanka. The speed and clang of the metal blades can be heard far and wide and when I’m on the streets of Lanka it’s hard to ignore.  Koththu is a dish composed traditionally of chopped up godamba roti, meat curry and vegetables. Since godamba roti can be hard to find in Australia and virtually impossible here there are a lot of substitutes out there. I’ve seen koththu made with lebanese or pita bread (way too dry) and paratha (can be a bit oily). While these are passable substitutes, koththu always tastes better with the real deal. While eating some left-over curry with tortillas I commented to Mr Firehouse that I thought tortilla’s would be a good substitute.

We were feeling a bit sick and sorry after a big night (by our standards) last week and decided to have the traditional Lankan hangover cure, almost as a good at dirty 3am Kebab.

I already had the chicken curry made up and I used half the quantity. Without the extra reserved gravy on top, Callum was able to eat this. If you have the time and inclination why not try this with the real godamba roti?

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Here’s how the professionals do it!

Ingredients

  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • oil
  • 1/2 a large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 2-3 carrots shredded
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 a quantity of chicken curry meat shredded, bones removed and gravy reserved.
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce

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Preparation

 

Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with oil. Place them in a large frypan over a medium heat until both sides are browned and lightly crispy.  Leave to cool and then chop into small fingers.

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In a large wok or frying pan add 3-4 tablespoons of oil and the onions, garlic, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a few minutes until the onions are browned and then add the leaks. I like to cook the leeks a little bit longer as raw leeks can be a bit like raw onion. Add the tomato and carrot and fry until just soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and extra chilli flakes if you want more spice.

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Finally add the chicken and pour over the egg. Mix the egg through and just as it’s starting to cook add the chopped tortillas. Mix and warm the whole mixture through.

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The tortilla pieces should soak up the  sauce and any water at the bottom of the wok. They’ll turn a lovely brown and be very flavoursome.     Warm the gravy from the chicken curry and serve the koththu with the gravy poured on top.

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Spicy Sauteed Vegetables

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My mum looks after kids at home, she’s a family day care mum. About 10 years ago (wow) she looked after these too angelic boys who we’ll call J and L. The were absolutely beautiful and came from an absolutely beautiful family. Anyway, for Christmas one year J and L’s lovely mum bought my mum a spice box from a lovely little boutique. Inside were some Indian curry mixtures but a special blend of whole spices, panch phoron, was my favourite. A blend of mustard, fennel, cumin, and fenugreek seeds in equal parts. The label suggested adding it when sauteeing vegetables and we loved it so much we used up the whole packet quite quickly. Thankfully we had all the spices on hand and we quickly made up our own mixture with less of the bitter fenugreek and more mustard seeds to match our tastes.

I used 3 cups of mixed frozen and fresh vegetables. You can just as easily use green peas, chopped capsicum (pepper), parboiled diced potatoes or even sliced snowpeas. The idea is to make sure that all the vegetables are chopped to the same size and will cook at around the same time. Back in Australia I would often make this out of the frozen packet of chopped veges that had diced carrot, peas and potato. So easy and quick!

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Ingredients

  •  3 cups chopped vegetables (I used sliced baby carrots, green beans and corn)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. fennel
  • 1/2. tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 a red onion slices
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • a few curry leaves
  • 2-3 dried red chillies chopped
  • salt to taste

Preparation

In a large frypan melt the butter and oil together. The oil helps keep the butter from burning. Add the mustard seeds, fennel, cumin and fenugreek. Once the mustard seeds start popping add, the cinnamon, curry leaves and chilli. Fry these off for a few minutes letting the oil absorb the flavours.

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Now add the sliced onion and garlic and let the onion soften for a few minutes. When the garlic and onion have picked up a bit of colour add the mixed vegetables.

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Once the vegetables are in add a cm of water and let the vegetables cook. You want them to retain some crunch but not be raw. When the water has evaporated stir the mixture and let the vegetables get some colour on them. Add salt to taste and serve with rice.

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Banana Cake with a Maple Glaze and Pecans


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Me and measuring cups have a checkered past. When Nuwan and I were getting ready for our wedding, we went to Myer (big Aussie department store) and registered. That’s the fun part where they give you scanners and you can walk around the store scanning items that your guests will hopefully buy for you. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen and home wares section. When we were selecting measuring cups I went for form over function. There were pretty white OXO ones that matched the spoons and kitchen tools I’d gotten. I decided to go for those over some of the more industrial looking (read ugly) ones. Now, I bake A LOT! Like 2-3 times a week a lot. A few months into using these cups I discovered that the paper stickers that denoted which cup measured what was rubbing off. I had to get out the whole set to make sure I was measuring a 1/3 over 1/4. It was a pain.

On a trip to home wares store I convinced Nuwan I really needed the $25 metal bakers secret set that had the measurements engraved on. He was easily convinced and I placed them triumphantly into the cupboard, relegating the plastic set to the Vinnie’s pile. No more labels rubbing off! About a week into using them I dropped the 1/4 cup measure, this isn’t unusual I’m constantly droppings things. Unfortunately, the handle broke off! I was super angry. I immediately emailed the complaints department at Baker’s Secret and told them of my predicament. Surely it wasn’t normal. They responded quickly and I got a new set in the mail. A week later I dropped the 1/4 cup again and alas, the handle snapped straight off. I now have 2 sets of measuring cups, which do actually come in handy but the quarter cup is sadly still missing.

It’s because of this I hardly use a quarter cup measure in my recipes. Today as I was making this cake I was certain it needed 1/4 cup of sugar so I hunted around the house for the remaining cup. It was still there, thank goodness, buried in my collection of metal cutters.

Be warned this isn’t a sweet cake. If you like your cakes sweet you can easily up the sugar to 1/2 cup and not affect the consistency of the cake. Likewise, cutting out the sugar altogether should work fine too.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3/4 cup banana (mashed)
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup millk
  • 2 cups flour (I used ½ cup wholemeal and 1 1/2 cups plain)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1 tbsp. of cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cool water
  • pinch of salt to taste

Topping

  • 1/3 cup of chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180C. Grease and line a  8 inch round tin (I used a 6 inch and used the overflow cake mix to make some cupcakes for Mister C). I use the butter wrapper to grease my tin.

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In a medium sized bowl mix together the mashed bananas, softened butter, brown sugar and milk. Crack the eggs into a seperate bowl and beat until a little frothy. Add to the banana mixture and set aside.

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In a second bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the flour to the banana and egg mixture and stir. It will be lumpy so don’t stress too much about getting it smooth.

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Pour into your greased pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin.

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In a small saucepan combine the butter, salt and maple syrup over a low heat and stir until the butter is melted.   When the butter has melted add the cornflour mixture and keep stirring until the glaze thickens slightly. Sorry no photos of this one. You want it to be thick enough to pour on the cake and not have it run down the sides a little.

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When the glaze has thickened enough to pour, use the same testing skewer to make a few holes in the top of your cake. This will allow some of the glaze to soak into the cake and make it even better.

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Pour on the glaze and add a handful of chopped pecans on top for extra crunch and yumminess!

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Pol Sambol

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  When Nuwan and I were visiting his grandmother (Achcho) after our wedding she wanted to cook us everything under the sun. She suggested crabs and prawns and fish but every time she asked we’d say  “just pol sambol, parrippu (dhal) and bread please”.  I think if we were given the opportunity we’d have had that combination with fresh, crusty Sri Lankan bread every day. Poor Achcho on the other hand, was very exasperated! The truth is the taste of a real Sri Lankan pol sambol, made with freshly grated coconut, ground on a miris gala and seasoned with fresh lime from the garden can’t be beaten. This is a fixture on most tables in Sri Lanka and locals and tourists alike come to love it’s zing and spice. In fact a friend, who had spent time in Sri Lanka and desperately missed the food, once confessed that when she found a local Sri Lankan restaurant that made pol sambol she bought some home and ate it with everything, including spaghetti bolognese! 

My dad usually made the pol sambol at home, especially when it was needed in large quantities. He’d often use the blender and if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, a blender or food processor would also work.

Ingredients

  • 100g of dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 small red onion diced
  • 1 tbsp. chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 black pepper corns
  • 1/4 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 a small tomato chopped (I used about 4 cherry tomatoes quartered)

Preparation

In a bowl mix together the coconut, coconut milk and hot water. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds and let it cool. This helps rehydrate the coconut and get back some of the coconut flavour that is lost in the dessication process. If you’re lucky to have fresh or frozen coconut, ignore the first step.

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In a mortar and pestle pound the onion, salt, peper, garlic and chilli until you’ve got a fine paste.

Akki's_Kitchen-4Slowly add the coconut, 1-2 tbsp. at a time until you’ve used up all the coconut. I usually add the tomatoes at the last minute and give a quick pounds to mix it up. I don’t want to pulverize the tomatoes. If you’re using a food processor, hold off on doing this. Empty the coconut mixture into a bowl and then add the tomatoes.  

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With the coconut mixture in the bowl, squeeze over the lime juice and using your hands give the whole thing a good mix and scrunch. The colour should be uniform.

Serve with fresh crusty bread or as a condiment with rice and curry.

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Dairy-free Chocolate Cupcakes

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A few weeks ago someone in my mother’s group suggested going to a pumpkin patch. I was all in, it sounded fun and exciting and so quintessentially American! We found a good time and decided to go before the weather “turned”. A few days before the event when Mr Firehouse asked “what exactly is a pumpkin patch?” I was stumped! Thankfully, like all good tourist attractions Stocker Farms had a website and it told me that for a 10 dollar entry free there were hay rides, tractor rides, corn mazes and even a petting zoo amongst other things. The pumpkin patch part, was actually a patch of pumpkins (har har). A large plot of land, full of pumpkins that patrons take a wagon into and “pick” pumpkins for the upcoming carving madness that accompanies halloween.  It was awesome!

We spent the day there and even though Mister C and his friends were a little young to appreciate the fun activities on offer, they had a blast taking in all the attractions and I’m sure him and his buddies will be wreaking havoc there this time next year.

The best activity was by far the hammering station. A set of logs, arranged in a circle with a few buckets of real nails on the floor. The young children who frequented this activity were handed real metal hammers and encouraged to hammer the nails into the wood. There was a young girl supervising and a few parents keeping an eye on the proceedings but it was mainly young kids, using real hammers and real sharp nails (really real!!!). Litigation be damned! It was refreshing. We watched a young boy, no more than 4, hammering away and he of course accidentally hammered his finger. I could tell it hurt by the grimace on his face, but he didn’t cry, he barely flinched. He quickly sucked his finger and went back to hammering. There was no way he was giving his mum, who was standing by and watching, any reason to take him away from the fun.

I feel like “allergen free” cooking  a good thing to have in your tool bag these day. I seem to be meeting more and more people that can’t eat a huge variety of things. I myself was dairy free and soy free for a time to try and curtail dear Mister C’s spewiness. These cupcakes were made dairy free to  cater for a breastfeeding mum whose bub is on a dairy free diet. I made them to take with us to the pumpkin patch. I’ve used this recipe countless times as an egg free recipe too. Simply replace each egg with 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu. I iced mine with royal icing, which melted at room temperature (bleh), so I’d eat these plain with a  dusting of cocoa powder or make a dairy free buttercream with dairy free spread.

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one must clap, when one is at a pumpkin patch

Ingredients (makes about 30 small cupcakes or 2 8 inch cakes) 

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao because I couldn’t be sure of the ingredients in my cocoa powder as I’d lost the label…oops)
  • 1  cups sugar (granulated or caster if you’re in Australia)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 unsweetened apple sauce (apple puree) or another 1/2 cup oil .
  • 1 cup boiling water & 1 1/4 tsp. instant coffee mixed together and cooled
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (or dairy free margarine like Nuttelex or Earth Balance)
  • 2 2/3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

And cocoa in the following amounts…

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for light)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for medium)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for dark rich)

Preparation

Preheat an oven to 350F or 180C and line 3 cupcakes trays with liners.

Mix the first 6, dry ingredients together in a large bowl using a whisk. This helps aerate and Martha Stewart once told me (via her cooking show) that whisking briskly does much the same thing as sifting.

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In a second, smaller bowl mix all the wet ingredients and whisk together until the eggs are broken up.

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Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk it all together until you have a smooth mixture. It’s a very wet batter so don’t be alarmed if it’s not thick like most cake mixes.

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Pour about 1/4 of a cup eat into your cupcake tray and bake for 25 minutes in the oven. Remember to rotate the trays if your oven isn’t fan forced.

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For the buttercream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated – air = fluffiness).
Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar and cocoa powder. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.
When the sugar is combined, add the vanilla and  turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the milk a little at time until the icing is of spreading consistency.
Pipe/spread onto the cooled cupcakes and serve straightaway or place in the fridge for later.

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Chicken Wing Casserole/Sauce

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My mother taught me many important things. One of the great fears she instilled in me was a fear of pressure cookers. I don’t think they have a name for that one yet.

The story goes that when she was younger and living in Sri Lanka she was cooking something in the pressure cooker in her family’s kitchen. The pressure cooker got a bit hot under the lid, accumulated a bit too much pressure and as she puts it, kind of exploded. So the family pressure cooker sat in my mum’s kitchen cupboard for years, untouched. One day she decided to slay the proverbial dragon and revive the pressure cooker once again. Of course, these were the days before internet, and the instruction manuals were long gone. There was no useful busy body on ehow.com telling us how to work the thing. Ammi guessed and we waited with baited breath as it let out one long, drawn out, pressurized whistle. Then two, then three until finally we decided to turn the cooker off. We’d tempted fate enough already. Unfortunately, the fear that was instilled in regards to pressure cookers remains with me, to this day. Nowadays when I turn it on, I make sure Mister C is far, far away. I always plan to wait for three whistles and then chicken out at about two.

When Mr Firehouse and I were living in Homebush, we’d make this recipe (or half the quantity) in our little pressure cooker. It was a quick, cheap and easy meal and oft requested at that. Whenever I pull chicken wings out of the freezer and ask, “what should I make?  ” the answer is usually “Chicken Wing Pasta”. I can’t remember where I got the original idea from but I think it was Better Home & Gardens, years ago.

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Ingredients

  • 1kg (a little over 2 pounds) chicken wings
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans of tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (or dried herbs of your choice)
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 2 red chillis (optional)

Preparation

In a heavy based saucepan, place your chicken wings in a single layer, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat on. Move the wings around so that they get some colour and they do not stick to the bottom. Do in two batches if you don’t have the room.

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Once the wings have some brown, add the garlic, herbs and the red wine. Make sure you use the wine to help deglaze the pan and get all the good quality stuff off the bottom.

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Add the tinned tomatoes and chillis (if using) and add enough water to cover the wings. Bring the whole mix to the boil and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Place the lid back on and leave to cook for an hour and fifteen minutes. That is, until your sauce resembles the following;

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While the sauce remains on the heat, fish out all the chicken wings which should be just falling apart. Shred the meat when it’s cool enough to touch and discard the bones, cartilage and any other nasty bits you don’t love.

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Place the shredded chicken back into the sauce, season to taste and serve over long pasta or quinoa.

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Super Simple Tomato Sauce

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One of Mister C’s favourite foods is pasta with tomato sauce. Of course, when my high-alert new mummy radar saw how much salt was in tinned tomatoes, I flipped out. Seriously? Ever since then I’ve been buying the ‘no salt added’ and much more expensive tin or making my own sauce.

This is one of those recipes that takes 5 minutes at the beginning, 5 minutes at the end and a lot of waiting in between. Do it on a day that’s not too hot as the oven will be on for a while. I popped these in the oven and went for a walk around the neighbourhood because my oven has a stop time where I can tell it when the oven should turn off. Roasting the tomatoes makes them lovely and unctuous and sweet. Even the slightly sad, end of summer tomatoes we have now taste pretty good this way. I find that this sauce really doesn’t need anything added to it except some lovely fresh pasta and maybe some cheese and Mister C certainly agrees.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 egg (roma) tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. dried herbs (italian, rosemary, thyme)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a small red onion sliced

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit (180 celsius)

Place the tomatoes on an oiled or lined oven tray and sprinkle the oil, garlic and herbs on top.

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Bake in the oven for 1 and a half hours until the tomatoes are soft and juicy

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Place tomatoes, garlic and onions in a bowl and blend using a stick (or immerision) blender blitz them up. You can also place the tomatoes in a food processor and blender and blitz that way.

Serve as is over cooked pasta or freeze in ice-cube trays to serve later.

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Kiri Kos (young jackfruit) Curry

 

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Disclaimer: I have never cooked fresh young jackfruit. I’ve eaten it. I’ve enjoyed it but this isn’t a recipe for fresh jackfruit because up here in the Pacific North-West it’s not something we get very often. Instead, we enjoy the fried chips cooked in a curry at least until we can get back to Sri Lanka to enjoy the good stuff.

I’ve tried a few brands of the chips that my folks have bought from Australia and they range in quality. I find rinsing them in hot water helps get rid of some of the oiliness and the smell of the coconut oil it’s been fried in. Due to their being deep fried I also avoid the tempering in oil, onions, chilli and mustard seeds that often happens with this curry.

      Ingredients

  • I packet Jackfruit Chips
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 1 green chilli sliced
  • 1 tsp. raw curry powder
  • 1tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish
  • a few curry leaves
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 2 dried red chillis
  • 1 tsp. seeded mustard
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

Place the jackfruit chips in a medium sized bowl and pour enough boiling water in to cover it. This will soften the chips and also help get rid of some of the oiliness that comes from the chips having been previously deep fried. Leave for five minutes and then drain.

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In a medium sized saucepan combine the jackfruit, garlic, onion, green chilli, red chilli, curry powder, turmeric powder, pandan leaf, curry leaves and maldive fish. Give the mixture a stir and pour in enough water to cover the fruit. Place on a medium heat with the lid off.

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Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes until about 1/2 of the water has evaporated. Now add the coconut milk and mustard and give the curry a stir.

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Simmer the mixture for 10 more minutes until the coconut milk has thickened and the curry is nice and creamy.

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Coffee & Toffee Cupcakes

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Years ago I used to be a Barista at Gloria Jeans (like Starbucks Australia) and since I went to Uni during the days I often worked the Thursday night shift. In Australia, malls open late on Thursday for what we call ‘late night shopping’. I think it’s supposed to coincide with pay day and pension day. On my Thursday night shift, about once a month, a Vietnamese couple who owned a local restaurant would come and order a bag of ground coffee beans in GJ’s butter-toffee flavour. I loved those nights. Once you finished grinding the coffee, the whole kiosk would smell of butter, toffee and coffee. We always got more customers on those nights too, drawn in by the smell of this flavoured, ground coffee.
The taste was always a bit of a disappointment though, it just tasted like coffee with a butter-toffee smell. I could never taste the toffee or the butter in the coffee. I always figured it would taste amazing in a cupcake. So when Mr Firehouse asked for some co-worker treats, I decided to make a butter-toffee cupcake, or the far more fun to say ‘coffee & toffee’ cupcake.  
This cupcake only has a mild coffee flavour, you could easily add 1-2 tsp. of coffee over what’s written here for a more robust coffee flavour. Even better, a shot of espresso would work just as well, just add enough water to make it 1/3 of a cup of liquid.
The cake is based on the butter cake from Exclusively Food. 

 

Coffee Cupcakes (makes about 22)

Ingredients

  • 150g butter, chopped and softened (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt with the butter)
  • 1 cup sugar (caster or if you want a more caramelly flavour in your cupcakes, brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp. of instant coffee

Toffee (butterscotch) Buttercream

  • 250g of butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar ( or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch toffee sauce (using the recipe at the bottom of this page)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 180C or 350 F  and line 2 12 hole cupcakes tins with liners. Combine self-raising flour and plain flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the hot water and coffee until it is dissolved. Then add the milk.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together in the bowl of your stand-mixer. Increase speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated. Stop the machine once or twice during beating to scrape down the side and base of the bowl with a spatula. Beat the mixture until it is pale and creamy (about five minutes).
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Add eggs one at a time, beating about a minute between each addition. Don’t rush the addition of the eggs as the mixture will be more likely to separate and look ‘curdled’ in appearance. Always crack the eggs into a bowl first. The last thing you want is a bunch of eggshells camouflaged in your cake-mix or worse, a rotten egg!
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Add the sour cream and beat until just combined. Make sure you’re scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Sift half the combined flours over the butter mixture. Add half the milk mixture and, with the machine on very low speed, beat for about 10 seconds until just incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix using a spatula to get any bits stuck to the bottom.

Add the remaining milk and sift in the remaining flour and beat on a very low speed for 5-10 seconds to combine the ingredients. Stop beating as soon as the ingredients are combined as over-beating the mixture may cause the cupcakes to be tough.

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Place about 1/4- 1/3 a cup of mixture in each cupcakes case. I’ve found that cup cake cases vary greatly in size, I use some that take 1/3 a cup and some that only need closer to 1/4 cup. Ideally you want the cases to be 2/3 full at most.
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Bake for 25-30 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. The cakes should be golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre. My oven isn’t fan forced so I set my timer for 15 and then swap the two trays. I also turn the trays from front to back to avoid the hot-spots making some cakes look browner than others.
Cool the cupcakes on a wire-rack to cool completely before icing.
For the buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated – air = fluffiness).
Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.
When the sugar is combined, add the vanilla and  turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the toffee sauce and beat for 2 minutes to mix all the toffee in.
Pipe/spread onto the cooled cupcakes and serve straightaway or place in the fridge for later. The addition of the toffee sauce will make the buttercream less solid than usual so be mindful of keeping it cool if you’re not planning on gobbling these babies up immediately.
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Butterscotch Sauce

  • 25g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients  in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch for the sugar to dissolve and then reduce the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Cool completely before using in the buttercream.

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Spinach Curry

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Sometimes all you have in your house are frozen and canned vegetables, and sometimes I like to pretend we’re in a zombie apocalypse and cook as if all we have are frozen vegetables. This is a curry my mum used to cook all the time. It’s full of goodness and flavour and super easy to put together on a night when curry is in order but full-on, complicated, Sri Lankan fare might be a bridge too far.

Ingredients

  •  250g frozen spinach
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 small tomato chopped ( or 3 tbsp. chopped tinned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1 small red chilli sliced
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 can of coconut milk

Preparation

In a medium saucepan place all the ingredients except the coconut milk. Add a centimetre (1/2 an inch or so) of water and place on a medium heat.

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When the mixture has come to the boil let it simmer for a few minutes before adding the coconut milk.

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Simmer the curry for five minutes, season to taste and serve!

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Filed under Curries, Sri Lankan Food, Vegetable Dishes