Monthly Archives: September 2014

Passionfruit Melting Moments

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Though it rarely makes my resume these days, I’m a qualified barista. I honed my skills for 2.5 years in a tiny Gloria Jeans kiosk. It was a great job. You met plenty of people, developed some pretty useful skills and there was a nearly endless supply of caffeine, especially when the boss wasn’t looking.

I really do have Gloria Jeans to thank for my first forays into baking that extended outside of butter cake and cupcakes. Every morning as I stacked the pastry cabinet full of banana bread, cheesecakes and puddings my culinary curiosities were awakened. Often, when it came time to refresh the cabinet and get rid of old stock I’d sample a small piece of the stale cake just to get my head around a new flavour. It was here I discovered my love for banana bread and perfected the recipe, where sticky date pudding became my go to restaurant dessert and where I finally understood why a tiny melting moment biscuit cost upwards of 2 dollars.

I’ve been making this recipe ever since then, often because I couldn’t justify the exorbitant price tags. Last year my friends even got these as an edible Christmas present. Nowadays I love the simplicity of it. It’s quick, requires such few ingredients and goes perfectly with tea. If you’re not lucky enough to have fresh summer passionfruit, even tinned pulp will work. Just taste as you go as the tinned variety already has added sugar. This recipe also works well with a gluten free flour blend, I tend to prefer a blend that’s more rice/potato flour  based.

To see the full recipe click here

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Brown Butter and Berry Tea Cake

HP1B0177A couple of months ago we were at another baby’s birthday party at a park. Mr C was in his element, running around, terrorising adults and children, and being the centre of attention. Come cake time, he was nowhere to be found. I was getting a little worried when I spied a curly head peering out from under the massive cake table. There he was, staring intently at the baby’s mother cutting the cake. Mouth open and agape.When I approached him he looked me in the eye and said “cake”. I think he might just be his mother’s son. Of course, there was no denying him cake after that.

Nowadays he can identify the difference between a muffin “mussin” and cake. A muffin comes in a wrapper and a cake needs to be sliced. At afternoon tea-time when he sees me opening the freezer to grab a muffin, many an excited squeal can be heard.

The long and short of this is that I need to make sure that the baking I do is Mr C  friendly and generally on the healthier side of things. This means recipes with lots of fruit and veg, as little sugar as I can get away with and added bonuses like oats and nuts. Mr C is also very into helping at the moments so unless I bake during nap time, the recipe has to be simple enough that he can help with “missing”. Admittedly this results in about  three times the mess, but the kids loves it!

This recipe originally called for 1 cup of sugar, but I decided to halve it and substitute it with apple sauce, following the guidelines here.

I also added some nuts to the crumble topping for some extra crunch.

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Crumble topping

  • 1/4 cup butter cubed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Cake

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries

Preparation

Inspired by the Brown Butter Blueberry Coffee Cake by Ambitious Kitchen

In small bowl mix together the crumble ingredients, except the pecans, gently with your finger tips until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the pecans and refrigerate while you make the cake.

Preheat your oven to 350F or 180C and line an 8 X 8 tray with baking paper.

In a small saucepan place the stick of butter and slowly melt over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and watch the butter foam. After a few minutes you’ll notice some brown appearing at the bottom, remove from the heat at this point and leave to cool. The butter should be lovely and nutty in flavour at this point.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the frozen berries and coat well with the flour mixture.

In a second bowl mix together the egg, egg yolk, apple sauce, milk and cooled butter.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together before pouring into the prepared tin. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

This recipe is suitable to freeze!

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Bandakka (Okra) Curry

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Okra is a very divisive vegetable. I feel you either love the slimy texture or you don’t. I’m a fan. Always have been. So when I saw some fresh, green okra at our local Saturday farmer’s market I grabbed a handful straight away.

It was only when I got home that I thought about Mr Firehouse. You see, he is a hater of all things slimy. So the okra sat unloved, in my fridge, for nearly a week before I decided to tackle it.

During last years trip to Sri Lanka we had stayed at a new beach side resort. One of my favourite things about Asian hotels are the buffets! Love! This one was no different. They served all kinds of impressive Western fare; cold cuts and salads in tiny shot glasses. However, my  eyes and plate never strayed far from the big traditional earthenware pots that had real, homestyle, Sri Lankan food. Breadfruit curry glistening with black curry powder, Kalu Pork curry with tender, spicy pork and the okra curry teeming with dried chillis. I served myself all of the above and was surprised to find that the okra wasn’t its usual slimy self. It tasted the same and had the soft almost gelatinous texture, but the sliminess that offends most people was strangely absent. On closer inspection and a quick chat to the chefs the secret was revealed, the okra was deep fried prior to cooking!

This is exactly what I did to tackle my stash of okra. The extra step made this dish much more Mr Firehouse friendly and I must say, I enjoyed the change too! If you’re not fussed about the okra’s slimy tendencies, just skip the deep frying part.

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Ingredients

  •  200-250 g okra (about 1/2 a pound) sliced on an angle
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3-4 dried red chillis
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1/2tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. vegetable curry powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream

Preparation

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In a small frypan heat the oil for deep frying and deep fry the okra in batches until they have a little colour. Drain well

In a medium saucepan or pot place a little oil and add the onion and garlic. Fry until the onions and garlic and soft and aromatic.

To the same pot add all of the dried spices and fry for 2-3 minutes until the spices are lightly toasted.

Finally add the fried okra and mix thoroughly coating all the okra in the lovely toasted spices.

Once the okra is well coated add the coconut cream and a little water to cover the okra.

Let the curry simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens. Add salt to taste and serve warm with plenty of fluffy white rice.

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Filed under Sri Lankan Food, Vegetarian Curries