Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coconut banana pikelets

No two bananas are ever alike.

Some are large, some small, some sweet, some bland. The rate at which they ripen also differs. Some of the more impatient ones arrive green in your fruit bowl, and overnight they have barely a fleck of yellow skin left beneath their dark brown coats. Others prefer to take their sweet time, remaining in their green pyjamas for over a week before gradually allowing a yellow fleck here and there to show. I prefer the ones who get comfy and after a few days have a nice mellow yellow glow with a couple of brown spots thrown in for good measure.

It took my bananas 7 days before I could use them to make these pikelets. And although they were decent, they were still a touch too firm under their grassy-tinged skins.

ease: 5/5.

prep time:
cooking time: 3mins per pancake.
total: 10mins to make 8 pancakes.

taste: 3.5/5. I love coconut but the essence gave it an artificial taste - perhaps some coconut milk in place of the evaporated milk would give a more genuine coconut flavour. I would also add a few more banana slices next time.

would I make it again: Yes - super easy and very fast to make - but definitely needs some tweaking.

recipe: Coconut Banana Pikelets

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rhubarb and mascarpone French toast

I cannot start this post before mentioning the passing of my absolute favourite artist, Michael Jackson. From the age of three I was dancing around our living room to Billie Jean and shedding tears when the villains in Moonwalker 'hurt Michael'. Michael Jackson's music has stayed with me throughout my entire life; even at our wedding, all of our guests were dancing to his songs. I know my children will also grow up listening to his music. RIP.

Sadness aside, Winter has subsided for one day, allowing the sun full reign over the sky - not a single gloomy cloud in sight. There really is nothing like sunshine to lift the spirits.

Feeling rosily perky, I wanted to pass on some of my positive energy to my husband and my brother, and what better way than to make them something a little more special for lunch.

As you may have read in my previous posts, Rhubarb and I have a new but blossoming friendship. Determined to increase our relationship to 'good friends' I found a recipe that I was sure would showcase it's vibrancy in both looks and taste.

ease: 3.5/5. You cook the rhubarb two different ways, and you also cook the bread two different ways.
prep time: 15mins.
cooking time: 20mins.
total: 35mins.

taste: 4/5. I really loved this but the boys didn't. The mascarpone became like a sweet, vanilla custard, with a really gorgeous consistency. The rhubarb jam was tartly sweet with hints of fragrant cardamom finishing with sharp, robust citrus from the orange. I think you could do without the roasted rhubarb as it only adds some extra sweetness from the honey, which you could just drizzle on top. I loved the sweet/tartness but the boys felt like they were eating 'fruit on toast' - and not in a good way. I made the following modifications:
  • I halved the recipe except for the cardamom.
  • I used 1 tsp vanilla seed paste.
  • I had thinly sliced sourdough.
would I make it again: No - unfortunately no one else would want it again.

recipe: Rhubarb and mascarpone French toast

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cinnamon & banana cookies

A radiant cerulean blue sky peeking through sauntering watercolour grey clouds drapes a cool calmness around me.

If I had to chose one thing about my new home that I am most grateful for, it would be the windows. In my lounge room there are seven large windows that overlook my dew-ladden green garden, a bounty of large trees with a plethora of leaves, and the beautiful sky. I am closet to tranquility when I am sitting comfortably on my couch, cuddling a cushion, whilst I gaze through glass and watch clouds drift across the 'wild blue yonder'.

In Winter I like to substitute the pillow for a mug of hot tea and a cookie...or three.

ease: 5/5.

prep time:
cooking time: 18mins.
total: 33mins.

taste: 3/5. I felt as though these cookies were aspiring to be cakes, but with little hope of doing so. The fresh banana became mushy and tasted out of place against the crumbly oat and crunchy banana chip. Perhaps baked into mini cakes these would have been nicer, but as a cookie they just didn't cut it. The cinnamon is also barely noticeable. I made 24 small cookies.

would I make it again: No. Everyone thought they were average - 'nothing special'.

recipe: cinnamon and banana cookies

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peach & sage pork belly ribs

I am not accustomed to being cold nor do I care for it.

Whilst lavishing in the sun's skin-tingling rays during my honeymoon, it had completely slipped my mind that upon returning home I would be greeted by the Winter I had so deftly avoided. Upon arriving home I was slayed by stories of extreme frost and freezing temperatures, all of which made my toes curl and my nose ice over. For the most part, my home keeps me comfortably cosy, however I cannot avoid trips outside as eventually we do run out of both clothes and food.

The one thing I do not begrudge Winter, is its harvest of winter fruits and veg. It also provides an opportunity for large, frostbite-deterrent roasts. I always find roasts a little tricky and have sometimes ended up with underdone lamb or overdone beef.
During one of my Winter-time activities, consisting of flipping through magazines, blanket across my legs, hot tea in one hand, I stumbled upon an intriguing roast that tickled my culinary curiosity. Pork ribs with peaches. It had been 15 years since I last tasted pork, so I was completely clueless as to whether peaches would work. After about 30 seconds thought I decided it was worth a shot, after all, Ryan would be the one eating it.

Peach & sage pork belly ribs
from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue #45

1kg pork belly, bone in
seas salt
6 sage sprigs
1x 825g can peach slices in juice
1/2cup white wine vinegar
1tbs brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 180C. Score the pork skin with a sharp knife. Rub salt onto the skin and press sage into the scores.
Drain peaches, reserving 1cup of liquid.
Place the juice, vinegar, sugar and garlic in a bowl, whisk to combine. Pace the pork skin side down in a baking dish and pour over juice mixture. Cover with foil and roast for 1hour & 30mins. Uncover and roast for another 1hour and 10mins. Add peach slices and turn pork over and roast for 15mins. Serves 4-6.

*I halved the recipe to cater for one.

ease: 5/5.
prep time: 5mins.
cooking time: 2hours & 5mins.
total: 2hours & 10mins.

taste: 4/5. Ryan actually enjoyed this. He didn't eat much of the skin as he prefers it as crispy crackling, but he did say that the meat was tender. He managed to eat a whole 500g of ribs and the peaches strewn aside - and pork is his least favourite of the 4 top heavyweights (chicken, beef, lamb and pork).

would I make it again: Yes - it was super easy, hardly any clean up or prep.

Monday, June 22, 2009

French toast with bacon & maple syrup

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home; A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there, Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere. Home, home, sweet, sweet home! There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

by John Howard

I had forgotten how much I love being home, and how much space there is in which to roam. After 12days of small hotel rooms and even more absurdly cramped and suffocating airplane seats, walking through my front door, with my dog waiting, I felt like I had been let out of a cage. I'm not sure how long my new-found appreciation for my house will last, but I am enjoying myself in the mean time.

The honeymoon was short but sweet; we relaxed on the Greek Islands of Mykonos and Santorini for 5 days before we set off to Malta to meet my husbands rather large family over the span of 4. I have never before crammed so much exploring and gatherings into 10days - as much as I enjoyed it I was also exhausted by the end. Traveling also means I tend to put aside daily routines, such as exfoliating, cleaning and more enjoyable activities such as cooking.

14 days is the longest I have ever gone without even making some toasted bread (I preferred the sweet pastries at the buffet breakfast - pain au chocolats, sooo good).

Jet lag has had me sleeping right through lunch, but today I was able to stay bright eyed and bushy tailed whilst making something to eat. Today's photo was taken by Ryan - out of 3 quick snaps on his way out to photograph his new car I was lucky enough to get one in focus. Thanks honey.

ease: 5/5.
prep time:
cooking time: 15mins.
total: 20mins.

taste: 3.5/5. Some liked the sweetness of the maple syrup whilst others did not. I roasted my tomatoes which gave them a beautiful tart sweetness, the boys on the other hand did not want their tomatoes cooked which I think contributed to them not liking the maple syrup. The french toast was lovely and I think the salty bacon would have went well with the sweet tomatoes and syrup. My egg batter was enough to coat 5 pieces of toast - it depends on the size of your eggs.

would I make it again: Yes - once I get the boys to like roasted tomatoes.

recipe: French toast with bacon and maple syrup

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coffee-Chocolate layer cake with mocha-mascarpone frosting

This will be my last post for 2 weeks - as I will be leaving for my honeymoon tonight.

ease: 3.5/5. Time consuming.
prep time:
30mins for cake batter and frosting.
cooking time: 40mins baking and 2hours & 10mins chilling time.
total: 3hours & 10mins.

taste: 3/5. The texture was dense, moist yet light whilst the frosting was super airy and it also looked lovely when cut. Everyone liked it to a point but felt the coffee flavour actually detracted from it. Perhaps using a coffee made from ground coffee beans would yield a richer, less 'cheap' taste than instant coffee granules.

would I make it again: No.

recipe: Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha-Mascarpone Frosting