What I Ate This Week – April School Holidays, part 1

Since it’s school holidays, it was way too hectic on Wednesday to do a What I Ate Wednesday post, so instead I thought I’d share a few local finds that I’ve enjoyed this week with a special Saturday post. =)

First, I tried this Patissez doughie a few weeks ago and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. So we did an obligatory trip to Patissez for doughnuts and/or Freak Shakes for the family. It’s peanut butter and jam – the peanut butter is a peanut butter creme patisserie that is soooo glorious and the jam – well, it’s housemade blackberry jam and it is to die for. I’m now on a mad hunt for blackberry jam to try making these PB&J cupcakes that have been on my hit list for years!

And then there’s this awesome dinner we had last night – Florey takeaway burgers and sweet potato chips with a couple local pale ales from Capital Brewing Co and BentSpoke Brewing Co that Aaron and I shared. I thought the flavor was more developed in the BentSpoke beer so it’s the one I preferred. Aaron thought the Capital Brewing Co version was better.

I love the burgers from Florey takeaway – they are definitely beef, not mystery meat with a bunch of flavorings to disguise it. And the fact that they sell sweet potato chips and it’s all so reasonably priced, it has been a game changer for us. We had been years between eating takeaway burgers, but now we might go get this meal once every couple months when it’s a Friday night and we don’t feel like cooking. I usually only eat half the burger if we get sweet potato chips, but it never goes to waste with my 2 older boys and Aaron around to happily finish it off.

So there you have it – a few shout outs to some local treasures. If you find yourself in Canberra, be sure to try ’em!

Bravetart: Homemade Lofthouse-Style Cookies

These have surpassed my famously popular chocolate chip cookies to become my daughter’s favorite cookie. If she’s particularly upset about school, the thought of coming home to one of these cookies freshly baked for her will snap her out of it every time.

The recipe comes from Bravetart’s cookbook, which Food52 Baking Club went through in November last year, but it’s also been published on the Serious Eats website if you don’t have access to the book. They remind me of my childhood and since we can’t get the store bought packaged Lofthouse cookies here, these were a must bake.

I won’t go into the details of the process of making them at all, but I will point out two interesting things that make this cookie recipe different from others. First, it uses egg whites rather than whole eggs – but you don’t have to whip them or anything before incorporating into the dough – instead, you whisk them with some cream and vanilla. That’s the second thing, cream – I’ve used buttermilk in cookie recipes before, but never cream. It only uses 2 Tablespoons which is kind of inconvenient if you don’t normally have cream in your fridge, but it also uses 1/3 cup in the icing so I suppose it isn’t too bad. I try to plan it that I’ll have something in mind to use the remainder so it doesn’t go to waste (the egg yolks can be a problem in that regard too).

I use a cookie scoop to portion them out, they bake perfectly every time and I always use a bit of blue food coloring in the icing because that’s what I used the first time I made them and now that’s what my darling daughter expects! I put whatever sprinkles I have on hand on top of the icing – it’s been a great way to finish off leftovers from various projects but it’s quickly run down my supplies because I make these so often. (I’m trying to make my own sprinkles next week!) These cookies are definitely going to be handed down from generation to generation because they will forever be associated with cheering my girl up on a bad day.

Throwback Thursday: Chicken with Indian Spices, Mango & Coconut from Simple

Here’s yet another throwback to Simple by Diana Henry. We’ve been making a STACK of the recipes from Made in India over the last couple months (and yet I’ve still only posted about the book once!), but I just had to try this Mango Chicken Curry recipe from Simple because it’s one of my favorite Indian curries.

It was super easy to throw together as all the recipes from this book have been. You cook some chicken thighs in butter and oil then set them aside while you make the sauce – by cooking onions and garlic, adding chopped tomatoes, curry paste, ginger and stock then boiling to reduce the sauce by half. Then you add coconut cream, brown sugar and return the chicken to the pan for another 15 minutes. You add the mango at the last minute so it doesn’t overcook and then finish it with some cream and some lemon or lime juice. We served it with basmati rice and naan and topped it with some fresh coriander.

Sadly, I was disappointed with the end result. The mango flavour was just too muted. It was a really nice curry, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I’m tempted to try it again since we still have a stack of the Patak’s vindaloo curry paste we bought especially for this recipe and adding extra mango or maybe even some mango nectar in addition to the stock. I’m determined to perfect this favourite meal!

 

 

Sweet: Blackberry and star anise friands

I’m so excited to report I’ve finally acquired Sweet on Kindle. I’ve been waiting for it to be on sale as it’s a hot commodity at the library and you are literally on the waiting list for months between borrows. And while we have made something new this week from the book, I thought I’d finally get around to posting about the blackberry and star anise friands we made a while back.

The blackberries we used were foraged…our first time foraging for blackberries that grow like a weed here in Canberra…and they were really worth the time as they were super cute and juicy and delicious. That being said, I’m a bit disappointed with the result of these friands. =(

I loved the flavor of the star anise, which I ground using my mortar and pestle, and it paired nicely with the blackberries. It’s just that the glaze is too dark and it doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as the picture in the book which has a beautiful light pink glaze. How did they do that?!! I followed the directions exactly, but I got this dark purple glaze which I think makes them look not nearly as appetizing. I tried to cover it up by sprinkling on some icing sugar, but that hasn’t helped. Seriously, disappointing.

I won’t go over the process – the recipe can be found on Ottolenghi’s website – it’s a typical friand where you brown the butter and whisk the egg whites and mix in the dry ingredients which is made up of flour and almond meal. I don’t know if it would be worth trying this recipe again to see if I can get a lighter glaze – as I said, the flavor was good, it’s just the appearance that’s disappointing – there are a lot of other recipes I think I’d like to try first. Am I still glad I made them?! Sure, but this is my least favorite of the recipes I’ve made from Sweet thus far. Guess you can’t win them all.

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!

Almond Puff Loaf Bakealong

Quite possibly this is one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten. Choux pastry is one of those desserts that is never overly sweet, given the lack of sugar in the dough, and it’s very versatile and also very moreish. So no surprise that my first bite of this I was transported into dessert heaven. At first glance I wasn’t took thrilled with this month’s Bakealong challenge as I thought I was looking at puff pastry, and quite frankly, I’m sick of the flaky texture of it. And then when I noticed that it was choux on top of what looked to be shortcrust pastry, and that it didn’t take all day to make, I got out my mixer and my saucepans and set to work.

So like I said, the pastry is comprised of a shortcrust pastry that is topped with a choux pastry and they box take minutes to put together. The shortcrust is flour, water, butter and salt and you split it into two and shape it with wet fingers into a rough 10×3 inch log. Then you make the choux of virtually the same ingredients, but this time the salt, butter and water are brought to a boil, the flour is added and cooked until it congeals into a ball and starts to steam, then you cool it off in the mixer while adding 3 eggs and some almond extract. You spoon this over the top of the shortcrust and then using the wet fingers again you spread it evenly over the top of the first layer. Chuck it in the oven for about an hour and Bob’s your uncle.

You top the puff with some jam of your choosing (I had an open raspberry jam to use up so that’s what we have used) and then some toasted almonds and a simple icing made from icing sugar, milk and either vanilla or more almond extract (which I opted for). Slice it up and most definitely serve it with a cup of tea. I reckon the almonds would pair really nicely with some cherry jam and I’m keen to buy a jar just to try this again.

This is another dessert that I think would sit nicely on a high tea platter…maybe for the mothers in your life on a holiday that is coming up next month…hear that Aaron?!!

Throwback Thursday: Sour Cherry Streusel Cake from Classic German Baking

Throwback to June 2017 when Food52 Baking Club was going through Luisa Weiss’s book Classic German Baking. Sooo many delicious looking desserts that just had to be baked ASAP.

Her Sour Cherry Streusel Cake or Kirschstreuselkuchen very quickly became one of my favourite recipes and I’ve probably made it half a dozen times over the last 9 months. The recipe can be found online, so there’s no excuse not to try it for yourself. And as long as you keep a jar of tart cherries in your cupboard and have basic baking ingredients on hand, this is a cake you can whip up in a jiffy if you suddenly find yourself in need of a cake.

There’s 3 basic components in this recipe: the streusel, the cherries and the batter. The streusel you mix by hand and is made of flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt. The cherries are really interesting as you drain the juice and bring it to a boil with a bit set aside to create a slurry with some cornflour and then whisked in to make it get thick and syrupy. Then you reincorporate the cherries and set it aside to cool while you make the batter. And the batter is a dead simple basic butter cake – where you cream butter and sugar and some eggs and vanilla then add your dry ingredients and a little milk (I usually use buttermilk). Then you layer it up in a 9×13 inch pan and bake in a moderate oven for 45-50 minutes.

It turns out great every time, and while I’m actually a little disappointed with the lack of color in the streusel this time around, it still tasted fabulous. I used a new type of gluten free flour and it behaved a little differently. This is another thing of interest, how adaptable this recipe is to gluten free. We regularly bake for a gluten free guest and so this is an easy recipe for me to make for her by simply replacing the plain flour with gluten free and everything else remains the same. The cake is not overly sweet making it easy to eat more than one slice and the red color on the cherries is so elegant that it would sit very nicely on a high tea platter.

I’m really surprised this is the first time I’ve posted about this book because it is one of my absolute favorites. I look forward to sharing more from this book soon!

What I Ate Wednesday (11/4/18)

Today was a real empty the fridge day…

Its started by enjoying an almond milk latte made by my 14 year old…

…then 2 pieces of wholemeal raisin toast ends with vegan butter and a cup of tea and 2 glasses of water…

…lunch was similarly 2 pieces of wholemeal toast ends with peanut butter and the remains of the strawberry rhubarb jam with another almond milk latte and another glass of water.

…for afternoon tea I had another glass of water and 2 plums (I ate 1 before I took the photo)…

Dinner was my mangled piece of meatloaf with some bourbon glazed carrots, buttered peas and mashed potatoes…all kinds of deliciousness. 1 more glass of water!

Dessert was leftover Easter chocolates a final glass of water and a rooibos tea.