Aaron’s famous wholemeal blueberry buttermilk pancakes

Today’s Meatless Monday post is a guest post from Aaron. He makes this almost every weekend for me because he knows they’re my favorite, but sometimes it’ll even be made for dinner if that’s what I’m in the mood for and I ask him nicely. =)

These pancakes are really quite easy to make, and with our new electric grill plate I can cook all three at the same time so Jen gets her brekky quicker.

Ingredients:

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour

1 tspn baking powder (2 tspn if using plain wholemeal flour)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup skim milk (plus a bit extra if required)

1 egg

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

Blueberry jam (we use St. Dalfour’s spreadable fruit)

Spray cream

Method:

Preheat pan/grill/whatever you’re using to cook the pancakes on medium-high. Use a bit of olive oil if cooking them in a pan. On our non-stick grill I don’t use any oil.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl until combined well. Add buttermilk and skim milk and stir until well combined. Add egg and stir until fully incorporated. Add more milk if the batter is too thick (i.e. doesn’t flow by itself, but you don’t want it too runny – add a little more flour if it’s too runny after adding more milk).

Pour/spoon the batter to about 10 cm (4 inch) diameter, then straight away spoon about 10 blueberries onto each pancake. (You can add the blueberries to the batter if you like – it colors the pancakes a little differently, and/or the blueberries can stick together which makes them a little harder to work with when pouring).

When the top of the pancake starts to get covered in bubbles, it’s time to flip them. They usually take 2-3 minutes for the first side, then 1-2 minutes more after you flip them. You can test if they’re ready by lightly pressing on the top of them near a blueberry and seeing if (uncooked) batter comes out. If they are springy and no batter comes out, they’re done.

Place the cooked blueberry pancake on a plate, spread the topside with blueberry jam. Repeat this twice to make a three stack, then add cream on top, and serve with freshly made coffee.

Happy wife, happy life!

Whipped banana porridge with berries

Given this is a regular feature of my morning eats on What I Ate Wednesdays, I thought it was about time I share how I make my bowl of porridge. I have been known to eat this at any time of day if I don’t feel like cooking for myself, and it is always filling and satisfying.

While it can be made in a saucepan on the cooktop, I tend to just do it in the microwave. I use a red decor microwave bowl and then transfer it to a nicer bowl if I’m feeling fancy, but often I just guzzle it straight from the microwave one to save on washing up.

To make it I put 1/2 cup of rolled oats, a sprinkling of cinnamon, 1 cup of water, and a broken up banana (I don’t even bother to cut it up) into a bowl and microwave it for 2 minutes. I give it a really good stir and microwave it for a further 2 minutes. Then I put a spoonful of peanut butter in, give it another really good stir to make it nice and creamy and finish it by topping it with 1/4 cup each of blueberries and raspberries straight from the freezer (the hot porridge defrosts them really quickly). The berries and banana offer sweetness without the need for sugar or honey and the peanut butter ups the protein content to keep you feeling full.

And that’s it – one bowl of deliciousness that will keep me going for hours – just what a busy mother needs!

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

When it’s Monday, you’ve been cleaning all day and have to taxi people around and need a quick vegetarian dinner that’s filling and comforting, pancakes are the answer!

Zucchini was on sale yesterday when I grocery shopped so I bought a bunch so that I could make up a big batch of these pancakes for Miss 6’s breakfasts for the week. Well, I didn’t get around to it because I was too exhausted from a big weekend (more on that later) so it became dinner!

The recipe is taken straight from Smitten Kitchen’s website. We went with zucchini today but often we’ll change it up and use carrots or apples (I reckon it could work with banana as well). I love the healthy “icing” that she uses – just some Greek yogurt with a little bit of maple syrup. It feels incredibly indulgent but really is less maple syrup than I’d use if that’s all I was dressing them with.

We have been using this recipe for years now and it definitely a family favorite. And we won’t mention that there’s a stack of veggies hidden inside…

Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns

This is not my normal Meatless Monday post because next Sunday is Easter and that means it’s time to make hot cross buns. So today I thought I’d share with you my favourite homemade version.

On a whim two years ago I decided it was time to try making these, and I’m not sure how I came across this particular recipe by Paul Hollywood. But there has been no need to venture further – these are amazing!

If you’re familiar with bread baking these really aren’t too big a deal to throw together, they’ve certainly gotten easier each time I’ve made them. I do make one change to the recipe, because the very first time I made them I didn’t have mixed peel in the house so I substituted chopped apricots. I liked it so much more than I normally do that I’ve not switched back.

I don’t mix the dough by hand, I used the dough hook and my mixer, and I’m super grateful for that option cos this dough is VERY sticky. After it’s doubled in size, you add the fruit and the cinnamon and you let it double again, before shaping it into 15 rolls. Then you let them rise a 3rd time before piping a flour/water paste into crosses on the top (I did this under duress as I had a cranky toddler wrapped around my legs asking to be picked up). They bake in 20 minutes and then you glaze them with some warmed up apricot jam and see how long you can resist burning your fingers before tearing one open, slathering it in butter and devouring.

We loved having these for afternoon tea today – my daughter was especially surprising as last year she turned her nose up at them for store bought instead while this year she was trying to steal her baby brother’s!  Not that you’d ever have any reason to buy an ordinary hot cross bun from the store if you make these – and they’ll make you super popular with your family and friends.

Daily Garnish’s four bean chilli & pumpkin cornbread

I couldn’t get this dish out of my head as I was menu planning this week. I first made it during vegetarian week 3 or 4 years ago, and while I’ll make it once, eating the leftovers daily until they’re gone, I tend not to put it into regular rotation because we often have beans in other dishes and this dish is ALL about the beans. So for me, this is a super special meal.

Yet it is so simple. The recipe can be found on Daily Garnish’s website. The first thing I made was the cornbread, and I set my darling daughter the task of kitchen hand. It’s a simple mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, fold to combine and then bake in the oven. There’s no need to elaborate other than to tell you that it is delicious!!! I could eat the whole thing on my own. If you used flax eggs instead of the 2 eggs in the recipe, it could even be vegan, which is something I definitely want to try when I buy some more flaxseeds.

Once that’s in the oven baking, I set to getting the chilli made. I do alter the recipe a bit here, mainly due to our access to ingredients. I fry off a diced onion in some olive oil, add a diced green chilli (seeded to make it kid friendly), 1 teaspoon of garlic and 2 diced red capsicums. Once that’s cooked, I add 4 tins of beans – black, red kidney beans, cannellini beans and butter beans. Then I add 2 tins of diced tomatoes, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper. Last I add 2 cups of vegetable stock, and then let that simmer in order for the stock to reduce and the flavors to meld together. This of course is vegan, but we always like to serve it with some cheese and sour cream. I was actually thinking this would be wonderful over potato wedges, but realized it too late to do anything about it for dinner tonight.

This is warm and comforting and just what I needed after a long hard day.

Black Bean Burgers

This is a guest post by Aaron, who so generously freed me up from cooking dinner tonight so I could get some work done.

It’s been more than a year or two since we’ve made black bean burgers, and I’m not sure why it’s been so long, because they are so nice!

The burgers are quite easy to make, and you can top them with any of your favourite extras (we used burger cheese, tomato, lettuce and ketchup).

The recipe is easily doubled to make 6 generously sized burgers. Instead of using a fork to mash the pre-rinsed beans, I usually use a stick blender, although in the double batch today I fear I nearly overheated the motor…you need to regularly clear the blade so it can keep spinning freely and not make the motor work too hard, especially if you’re working with a nearly 17 year old appliance!

I added a little salt into the mix as I whizzed the beans, then mixed all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, stirred in the eggs and added the onion, then finally added the mashed beans, and mixed it all together thoroughly.

I separated the mixture into 6 roughly even sized balls, then, using a small sheet of baking paper, squashed the balls into patties. This part you need to be careful so the patties stay together. I was mostly successful with this. I then gave a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper to the top side of the burgers. I placed the top (seasoned) side down on our nice hot grill to cook the burgers on a high heat, with a little olive oil to help things along. While they cooked I seasoned the ‘new’ top side of the burgers.

After a few minutes I flipped the burgers and waited another couple of minutes before putting some burger cheese on them for the last minute or two of cooking.

These burgers are delicious and our kids (well, the older two) LOVE them, so everyone was happy to have bigger portions than we’ve had before. It was definitely worthwhile doubling the size of them to feed our growing family!

 

My Paris Kitchen: Parisian Gnocchi

Today was definitely a manic Monday! Disaster after disaster, and I was rethinking dinner because I didn’t think we had time to try anything new tonight, but then I thought about the comfort food I was craving and the bottle of wine that needed to be finished and I reverted back to our original plan. And boy oh boy was it worth it!

David Lebovitz continues to impress me with his amazing cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. Seriously there hasn’t been a bad recipe thus far and we’ve made quite a few of them. And every one is worth repeating. I’d never heard of gnocchi made without potato, and when I saw it was made with choux pastry I just thought it sounded so weird! But after I read all the rave reviews on Facebook and after thinking about dumplings sitting in a cheesy bechamel sauce, I knew that this was definitely something worth trying.

So to make the choux pastry you need to melt some butter with salt and water and then as soon as it’s melted stir in some flour until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Put the dough ball in your stand mixer and stir in some eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Then you stir in some dry mustard. Using an ice cream scoop you drop in scoops of dough in boiled salted water and poach the gnocchi for 2 minutes before placing them in a baking dish with parmesan and a melty Swiss cheese and bechamel sauce that you’ve seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Bake it for 30 minutes and watch the magic happen!

The one criticism I have of David’s recipes has been that he doesn’t really give cues for multitasking. I’d read through the recipe and so had worked out to have the boiling water ready and was working on the bechamel at the same time as I made the choux pastry. I also started preheating the oven at the very beginning and not as I was putting the dish together. It took us about an hour from start to finish, but I reckon if you’d done the recipe step by step it would’ve probably taken twice as long!

David suggests pairing this with a green salad, but we took it one step further and used leftover vegetables from last week and made another chopped salad. It was truly a match made in heaven – the vinegar dressing and the bitter radicchio and the peppery rocket went perfectly with the rich, cheesy deliciousness that was this gnocchi. What a way to end a hectic day!

Food52 Genius Recipes: “Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad

We were invited to a BBQ over the weekend and they asked us to bring a salad – for months now I’ve been wanting to try the chopped salad from Food52 Genius Recipes (the book the Cookbook Club went through in December) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. So off I went in search of all the ingredients and once I found them (it took me 3 different shops thanks to the scarcity at the moment of Savoy cabbage and radicchio) I set Aaron to the task of constructing this gorgeous and colorful salad.

It’s made by quick pickling some vegetables (celery and carrots and red capsicum), then once they’re ready, draining them and combining them with the remaining vegetables (cucumber, radicchio, rocket and cabbage) and apple and making a sauce from some of the leftover vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you finish the salad with goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds.

I’m usually opposed to eating radicchio but in this salad the bitter notes balance so well with the other flavours that I actually liked it. Aaron similarly is not a huge fan of rocket but enjoyed it in this salad. It was the perfect salad for the summer night bbq and we will definitely make this again. The only warning I feel is necessary: the vinegar smell wafts through the whole house during the pickling stage. It actually made me worry that the whole salad was just going to taste like vinegar. But it didn’t and the smell passes. And now to devour the leftovers!

Made in India: Vegetarian Curries and Naan

Tonight we feasted! And I really do mean feasted. It’s been a while since I’ve had my hands on Made in India, I checked it out from our local library in October when Cookbook Club was working through it, but haven’t been able to get it back out since. Now that it’s finally come back around to me at the library, it seemed appropriate that I do a bit of cooking from it, and what better way to start than a vegetarian curry feast.

What we made:

Junjaro – this is a kidney bean curry and when I saw how simple it was to make it seemed like a no brainer, especially since my daughter loves chilli con carne, especially because of the kidney beans. But of course she wouldn’t try it…she’s contrary like that…but the rest of us really enjoyed it. You fry an onion with some cumin seed and a cinnamon stick, and some garlic, ginger, chilli and spices, tomato paste, the kidney beans (I used cans) and some water and let it get saucy.

Inda nu shaak – this is a coconut milk egg curry and it was the most complex of the 3 curries we made because we had to hard boil eggs. Yeah, it was really that hard. You fry off some onions, add garlic, tamarind paste and some spices, dilute it with coconut milk and water (I used a 400 mL tin of lite coconut milk rather than 300 mL of coconut milk and 100 mL water) and add the eggs when they’re boiled and peeled and sliced. The sauce in this one was lovely and sweet and was so nice to soak up with a piece of naan or a spoonful of rice.

Chana Masala – chickpea and tomato curry. Similarly you fry off onions, add garlic, ginger and chilli, this time a can of tomatoes and tomato paste, the spices and then the chickpeas (again from cans). This was probably my least favourite of the 3 curries, but I think that’s because it wasn’t very saucy.

Aunty Harsha’s Naan – the naan, oh my goodness, the naan. So when I got home from picking the kids up from school, I mixed the dough which is a basic bread dough in terms of ingredients, but with yogurt and milk in it, and then after it was kneaded I put it in a covered oiled container to rise until doubled. Then we just split it into 12 portions, flattened it with our hands and used our flat electric grill to cook them. I was so shocked that it actually worked and was distinctly naan bread. Aaron asked if we’re planning to make naan everyday when he found out that the prep time before cooking was only about 5 minutes.

We served everything with plain basmati rice and still have plenty of leftovers for Aaron to take to work for lunch over the next few days. I’m so glad we powered through to make this meal, because to be honest today was an exhausting one, but when you look at everything we made, the hands on time was really not that long at all. This book continues to impress me and next time I think I’d really like to try some meat curries and some of the chutneys…oh and did you know there are some really interesting sounding desserts in there, too?!!

The Food Lab: Eggs Florentine

Today’s Meatless Monday post is from my husband Aaron. Just FYI there will be a lot of Throwback recipes this month as it’s the 1 year anniversary of Food52 Cookbook Club.

There is a confession I need to make – I absolutely LOVE The Food Lab, and everything Kenji does, so I am biased. But I’m biased because his recipes (and ideas behind them) make good sense. There are a bunch of videos of his on YouTube for various things, including one that talks all about eggs. Just ask Jen. After watching said video, I spent the next hour or so telling her all about what Kenji had to say about eggs!

Eggs Florentine is basically a poached egg with cooked spinach instead of ham or smoked salmon on an English muffin covered in Hollandaise sauce. Kenji shows you how to ensure your mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce doesn’t split. It is probably the easiest Hollandaise I’ve made (and one of, if not THE tastiest). And out of the kindness of his own heart, Kenji gives you two methods to make the sauce – one for if you have an immersion blender, and another for the rest of us with standard blenders/food processors. Basically, you blend egg yolks, lemon juice and hot water, then slowly add melted butter to the blender/food processor to mix all the ingredients, and then season with salt and cayenne (optional). So easy and so nice!  The spinach for the Florentine was cooked with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper – nice and easy, and nice and quick…and again, very tasty.

As an aside, an awesome tip I got from Kenji on poaching eggs is, if you’re having more than a few friends over for brekky, you can poach the eggs the day before (he may have even said up to 5 days before, but I’d check that before trying it!), put them in iced water and keep them in the fridge, then on the following morning, pop them back into the simmering water for about 30 seconds and they will be right to go! Very handy instead of trying to evenly poach a dozen eggs at the same time.

I’d highly recommend The Food Lab’s Eggs Florentine for a very nice brekky, or in our case, for brinner (breakfast for dinner), as it was fairly quick, easy and VERY tasty.

Two Eggs Florentine