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Archive for the ‘eating in’ Category

banana smoothie with maple syrup & nutmeg

In drinks, eating in, gluten free, year-round on 9 April, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Really, really quick post for today, because I’m in the middle of cooking dinner (well, I’m not physically in the kitchen right now – I’m waiting on some beef cheeks I’m braising, so I’ve got this window of time) and I really want to share this recipe for the smoothies I’ve been drinking all Easter weekend long, and I’m pretty sure if I don’t write this now it’ll never happen, because I’ll stuff myself full of tacos and do the dishes and put the sheets on the bed and then it’ll be time to collapse into the deepest sleep I can manage before throwing myself into the (thankfully short) week ahead. So.

The Easter holiday has gone by in a flash and I don’t even think I’ve eaten a single chocolate egg all weekend, though I have had more than my share of hot cross buns. I came into the weekend with a hangover and a list of about eighty-five things to do and this idea that since the weekend was twice as long I was going to get ten times as much done. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess that I was wrong.

But what I did do this weekend was far better than what I’d planned: I sat in the sun with a beer and a book, went for a walk in the woods, ate too much cake at an afternoon tea-party which culminated in the type of Easter egg hunt where you do half-assed looking because you’ve already eaten far too much to even think about putting chocolate in your mouth, watched David Attenborough narrate the South African sardine run and then, appropriately, cooked some salt-crusted whole sardines the next day. Fixed my car. Went for a drive around the south coast. Visited the ever-generous Sue‘s garden and had a bit of garden-envy at… EVERYTHING. Went home with my arms full of beautiful produce.

And, for once, I didn’t even care that it was Easter and everything was closed* because I’m not eating out this month** and so there was no chance I’d be visiting any of my favourite cafes anyway.

So instead of brunch at a cafe (and to fortify myself before leaving the house, just in case a growling stomach led me astray) I made myself one of these smoothies one morning. It was so good, I had it the next day. And the next. And I probably won’t forget about this one anytime soon.

Banana is such an obvious smoothie flavour that it’s almost silly posting a recipe. And I wouldn’t normally think to make a smoothie from a recipe. But hear me out: this particular combination of ingredients is good. It’s like a banana-tinged eggnog, or a creamy, slightly tangy version of a banana ice cream mixture. And despite how good it tastes, it’s actually pretty good for you – just banana, yoghurt/buttermilk, egg yolks (protein!), as much maple syrup as you like.

And, the most important part? It worked. I was full for ages, didn’t get any weird cravings, managed to stay awake despite not having had coffee. I didn’t even miss my cafe brunches. (Er, okay, maybe just a little bit.) But on a sunny weekend morning it was pretty hard to beat a nice, cold, sweet smoothie. This is a recipe I’m holding onto.

(Right. Now I’ve told you about these smoothies, and just in time, because my beef cheeks should be ready just about now. Back to taco-making!)

*though I did do some Easter-closure-induced panic buying at Moore Wilson’s that was probably wholly unnecessary.

**For whatever reason I’ve set myself this challenge of not eating out this month (you can read all about it here!) and so far it’s been a bit of a challenge, but mostly okay.

BANANA SMOOTHIE WITH MAPLE SYRUP & NUTMEG

(adapted slightly from this book*) 

1 banana
2 egg yolks**
1 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp maple syrup
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
a handful of ice

Chuck everything in a blender*** and blend until smooth. Taste, adjust spices/sweetness to taste, pour and serve. Makes enough for two tallish glasses.

*It’s by Sally Fallon Morell, who recently gave a series of talks in New Zealand – rather interesting stuff about the benefits of raw milk and butter and that sort of thing.

**Fresh is good. Now if you’re a bit squeamish about the egg yolk you can leave it out, but if you’re at all the type of person who eats raw cake batter or sneaks spoonfuls of custard before you’ve cooked it or if you like eggnog or, heck, I dunno, if you like your smoothies a little bit richer and, well, smoother, and if you want that little extra protein to keep you going for longer, just do it. Trust me. I was uncertain about it at first, but it really is delicious, and as long as your eggs are from a good source and they’re reasonably fresh you’ll be fine.

***I find it helps if you have the ice towards the bottom of the blender (put it in first!).

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hazelnut & blueberry buckwheat pancakes

In breakfast, eating in, gluten free, year-round on 26 March, 2012 at 8:15 am

This is actually Pancake #5 out of the little Pancake Project I’ve been doing this year (here are parts one and two) but I’m blogging this out of order for a couple of reasons. First, Pancake #3 was a bit of a flop and I’m going to have to rework the recipe, and pancake #4 was delicious but I’ve lost the bit of paper I wrote the recipe down on and I’m going to have to try making them again before I can confidently post it on my blog. But more importantly, I wanted to blog these pancakes I made over the weekend in the hopes that you try this recipe before fresh blueberries disappear off supermarket shelves until next summer. (I mean, you can always use frozen – I actually did – but there’s nothing quite like using fresh, seasonal produce!)

I got to thinking about blueberry pancakes the other day while having a coffee and a scone at Nikau Cafe, one of my favourite pre-work breakfast spots. This isn’t a post about Nikau so I won’t go on too much about how much I love that place, but they do make the most excellent scones: cheese scones for the savoury option, and for those with a sweet tooth, date scones, or blueberry in the summertime.*

The other morning I was eating one of these blueberry scones and thinking about how astoundingly delicious they are: served warm, they’re a bit crispy at the edges, soft and airy on the inside, generously studded with big, bursting blueberries that get their purple juices all over your lips and fingers and the plate.

I was trying to think what they reminded me of, and finally I got it: when I was a kid, my mum would make, occasionally enough for it to be special, the best blueberry muffins. In my mind she only made them in the summertime when blueberries were fresh and ripe** and my brothers and I would wake up to the smell of fresh muffins and the sun would be shining through the windows in that summer-holiday angle (the angle we’d only see at home on the weekends during the rest of the year, since we’d be at school by 9am) and as soon as the muffins hit the cooling rack we’d be at them, the blueberry juices burning our tongues and staining our lips, and then we’d be back for more.

And then there were the mornings where we’d have blueberry pancakes, cooked on the big, flat electric griddle that only came out of the cupboard for such occasions. In my (now-probably distorted, blueberry-shaped) memory the pancakes were most often blueberry pancakes, leaking dark purple juices all over our plates and forks and mixing with the maple syrup we drenched the pancakes in, despite our mother’s protestations.

I can’t remember my mum’s blueberry pancakes being made with buckwheat, but I’ve been wanting to make buckwheat pancakes ever since I bought some buckwheat flour a while ago. Not having made them before, I looked up a few recipes online and settled on this one from Simply Recipes which happened to only include ingredients I already had at home that morning. I only made a couple of changes: using all buckwheat flour instead of a mix, adding blueberries (of course) and chucking in some chopped up hazelnut left over from some other baking venture. 

These behave exactly like normal pancakes made with wheat flour do, and taste incredibly similar, but with a hint of the gritty nuttiness of buckwheat and the subtly sweet crunch of hazelnut. It makes them taste a bit more wholesome, and it also makes them gluten-free, which is great if you or a loved one can’t eat regular pancakes. And even if you’re not bound by dietary restrictions they’re delicious, which makes this recipe an all-around winner.

I wanted to make these pancakes with fresh blueberries, like I remember my mum doing years ago, and certainly there are still plenty of blueberries to be had at a time when it feels like most summer fruit is some distant memory. (Actually, I feel like this year there have been more blueberries than in other summers, though maybe I’ve just noticed them more… does anyone know? Has there been a blueberry glut this summer?) I ended up using some blueberries I’d frozen myself, after getting overexcited and buying a few too many punnets of berries a few weeks ago, far more than I could eat. And you know what? The result was just as I’d hoped I’d get from fresh blueberries: juicy, bursting with flavour and colour, utterly delicious.

*I think.

**Although I’m sure she must have made them during the rest of the year, either using frozen or out-of-season berries shipped from somewhere far away.

HAZELNUT & BLUEBERRY BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES (gluten free!)
(adapted from this recipe from Simply Recipes)
Makes enough for 3 or 4 people, depending how hungry you are.

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp (about 45g) melted butter
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk*

Heat a skillet (or griddle, or non-stick pan) on medium heat, until a drop of water bounces around on the surface.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix together a cup of buttermilk and the egg. Slowly whisk in the melted butter, and pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix together really gently, adding the rest of the buttermilk as needed** to get a nice, smooth, ladle-able batter.

Butter or oil the skillet and wipe with a paper towel so that the surface is well-greased but there’s no excess oil bubbling around. Ladle the batter onto the skillet in whatever quantity you desire, depending on how big you want your pancakes. I made two at a time using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.

Resist the temptation to turn the pancakes over too early; give it about 3-4 minutes at least, until the underside is nice and brown and the top is starting to look almost-dry. Flip them over and cook another couple of minutes or so, until browned on both sides.

Top with butter and maple syrup, or golden syrup, or some blueberry sauce*** Serve at once, or if you want to be civilised and serve everyone at the same time you can keep them warm on a plate in the oven. Up to you.

*Although buttermilk is awesome and something you should definitely try to keep around the house, don’t fret if you don’t have it: in a pinch you can substitute milk topped up with a little vinegar.

**The original recipe says you may not need all the buttermilk; I ended up using it all. Your results may differ depending on what kind of buckwheat flour you’re using.

***Sometimes I’ll make up a big batch by cooking down some blueberries with some sugar and a bit of water in a pot on the stove, but this time I cheated and took a handful of berries, a teaspoon of icing sugar and a bit of water and zapped it in the microwave. Easy!

 

spiced peach pie

In baking, desserts, eating in, fruit, late summer, summer on 21 March, 2012 at 11:08 am

As a person who lives in an upstairs flat where the only outdoor space is a balcony just big enough for a couple pots of herbs (and maybe a tomato plant or two), I often find myself getting uncontrollably envious of people who have fruit trees in their gardens. 

It’s a heartbreaking feeling. Like the kid who really wants a puppy but whose brother is allergic: it just ain’t gonna happen. And while feeling this way might be a little irrational – there’s nothing really stopping me from moving to a place with, you know, maybe a lemon tree or feijoas or even nectarines or figs (I can dream!) – there is just no way, in the foreseeable future, that I’ll be able to stroll outside and pick a bagful of plums, or apples or whatever.*

A couple weeks ago, I visited my friend Harriet’s flat in Auckland, and though I didn’t get a chance to stroll around her garden – a combination of terrible weather and an incredibly full stomach after stuffing my face at Barilla Dumpling on Dominion Rd meant that all I wanted to do was stay inside and sit very, very still – I did get a chance to stroll into her kitchen and get smacked in the face by the sweet, heady aroma of vanilla and peach coming from a big pan of vanilla-flecked stewed peaches on the stove. Not just any peaches, mind you: peaches from the peach tree. In the garden. Just outside the window.

 

I couldn’t turn down the chance to sample some, despite the protestations of my full-to-bursting stomach (too many dumplings!). Jealousy sometimes makes you do funny things… or perhaps it was just a fear of missing out: how many of my friends have peach trees in their gardens, after all? In any case, I’m glad I gave in: they were meltingly tender, with that soft, mellow, vanilla-y sweetness that was faintly reminiscent (though a hundred times better) than the canned peach memories of my childhood.

 

And when I returned to Wellington, I couldn’t get those peaches off my mind. What also came to mind was the addition of some spices – Harriet and her flatmate had been talking about adding cloves to the mix, though they didn’t in the end – and in the end, I dreamed up this somewhat-rustic pie, with a sugar-studded golden crust and filled with sweet, cardamom- and clove-spiced stewed peaches.

It’s a little bit more complex than standing over the kitchen sink eating a summer peach (juices dripping down your chin, arm, elbow, of course), a bit more grounded and earthier than, say, this or this. This is a peach pie for autumn.

So, before the peach window closes for the season I’d recommend you go and pick up some of the last of the early-autumn harvest and make this pie. And if you’re getting your peaches off a tree in your garden, please, don’t tell me about it. I’ll be too jealous!

 —

*Though thanks to my happy little herb garden I have lots and lots of sage, and mint, and thyme, and I have a couple pots of vegetables here and there which means I never have to buy spring onions, for instance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty pleased about that.

 

SPICED PEACH PIE

First, prepare the pastry*:

280g flour
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
225g butter, very cold and cut into little pieces
4 – 8 Tbsp ice cold water, as needed

Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour using your fingers until the mixture is a grainy, pebbly consistency.

Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture, a couple tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together but is not too sticky (you probably won’t need to use all 8 tablespoons). If you’ve added too much water, just add more flour. Divide the dough in half, roll into balls and cover with plastic wrap.

Chill for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling:

Cut up 8 peaches and put in a biggish pan with about 3/4 cup sugar (more or less to taste), a few cloves and cardamom pods (if you’re fussy about removing these you could to tie them up in a muslin cloth or something so you can take them out before filling the pie) and about a teaspoon of vanilla paste (a vanilla pod would also work well here, or even real vanilla extract, but if you only have the artificial stuff please leave it out – it’ll still be fine, I promise). Add a little bit of water – 1/2 cup or so should do – and bring to a simmer. Cook over a gentle heat until the fruit is soft and tender and your kitchen smells amazing.

Preheat the oven to 350C.

Roll out the two balls of pastry on a floured surface so that they’re big enough to fit into a pie dish. Line the pie dish with one of the pastry rounds and prick some holes in it with a fork. Bake for 10-15 minutes or so until it’s set a little and turns a pale golden colour.

Fill the pie with the stewed peaches (I added a couple teaspoons of cornflour/cornstarch to hold the fruit mixture together, as it was quite juicy) and top with the other rolled-out bit of pastry. Cut some holes in the top so the steam can escape. If you like, you can glaze the top with a bit of beaten egg and sprinkle some demerara sugar on top.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. Let cool before serving.

*this is the same recipe I’ve used for the pear & feijoa crostata I made last year, and pretty much my go-to pie crust recipe – it’s adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book via this Serious Eats post.

grilled corn with miso butter

In eating in, sides, snacks, summer, vegetarian on 13 February, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Tonight I was actually going to get back to the next instalment of the pancake project (Parts 1 and 2 are here and here), and I’m sorry if you think it’s a bit repetitive of me to feature miso in two consecutive blog posts (sesame-miso cookies here!), but I couldn’t not share this, the most delicious of ways to eat corn on the cob.

The last couple days have been brilliantly sunny and for once I haven’t been moaning about the weather (er, sorry about that) but have been revelling in its gloriousness, running around outside at night bare-legged and bare-shouldered*, drinking cold beer and cider and eating salads and tacos and all the sweetcorn I can get my hands on. Doesn’t take much to make me ridiculously happy, apparently.

You know when corn is so fresh and sweet you can just bite into it raw, straight from the cob, each kernel bursting milky-sweet, slightly starchy juices into your mouth as you bite? The kind where you nearly eat the whole ear without bothering to cook it, only popping it in a pot of boiling water as an afterthought, “oh I bet this would taste pretty good cooked too”? This was that kind of corn.

Growing up I loved corn in the summertime. I mean, who doesn’t? But I never had it anything other than cooked until a few years ago, when I was back home in the States, and there was this guy at the local farmers’ market handing out raw sweetcorn for free. It’s so fresh and sweet, he was saying, just picked yesterday in Michigan, drove down this morning. I wasn’t sure whether the picked-yesterday bit was just a sales pitch but it worked; I was drawn in.** I didn’t know what was about to hit me but that first bite was a revelatory moment: cool, sweet, refreshing. If I could have drunk a glass of that juice, I would have; instead, I did the second-best thing I could think of and bought a half dozen ears of corn. I think I may have eaten one on the way home, peeling the husks off like a banana skin, though that could just be my imagination.

Ever since then, when summertime rolls around and sweetcorn starts getting cheaper and cheaper I’m always tempted to take a couple bites out of each ear, just in case it’s as sweet as that first bite. This summer, they’ve been pretty close. But I’m happy to cook corn, too.

In Japan in the summertime you often get 焼きとうもろこし (yaki-toumorokoshi) or just simply 焼きもろこし (yaki-morokoshi), sweetcorn usually flavoured with soy sauce and sometimes butter. The flavour’s so distinct that you can find chips, pretzels, even Kit Kats with yaki-morokoshi flavour. It’s got that addictive combination of saltiness and butteriness and the sweet, almost-caramelised crunch of the corn, the kernels just starting to crisp up at the edges. At summertime festivals when others would be headed for the takoyaki or shaved ice stalls I’d be on the lookout for some grilled corn. And in my own kitchen more recently, when I just need a snack, I’ll melt some butter on an ear of corn, drizzle some soy sauce over it, and savour that memory.

But I’ve discovered a new thing. Something even more glorious than soy sauce and butter: miso butter. I’d seen it mentioned in a couple forms in some Japanese cooking magazines (good old Lettuce Club and Orange Page again). I first tried it out a couple weeks ago on some corn I’d just boiled. I didn’t get the miso:butter ratio quite right, and I didn’t bother grilling the corn, but it was pretty damn good, an umami party on my tongue. I was sold on miso butter.***

This time I got it right. One part miso to two parts butter. Make sure the butter’s soft so the miso blends in nicely, but not melted, or it won’t blend in at all. Grill the corn, brushing miso butter over it from time to time so it melts right into the cracks and the surface gets all blistered and almost-charred and then, when you’re ready to serve, melt some more miso butter over the top and bite in and holy crap, YES.

*Who would’ve thought? In summer? My goodness.

**Actually, never mind, I’m drawn in by most samples, regardless of whether they’re accompanied by a tempting sales pitch…

***And, the next morning when I spread some on toast with a bit of honey? That was the reminder for me to make those miso cookies I’d been dreaming of. With great success.

MISO BUTTER

Mix 1 tbsp miso into 2 tbsp softened* butter, stirring well until all the miso is blended in and it’s a nice smooth consistency. You can make the quantity greater or less; just use the 1:2 miso:butter ratio – easy enough to remember! Keep stored in the fridge where it will firm up a bit.

This is great on sweetcorn, but also anywhere you might want something buttery and rather salty. I can think of a few:

  • on toast, with honey
  • on French toast, with maple syrup**
  • to brush over some fish before baking/grilling
  • with green beans, or asparagus when it’s in season, or brussels sprouts
  • tossed through hot pasta or some boiled new potatoes

*room-temperature or slightly softer, but not melted

**I actually think I’m going to try this tomorrow morning. Will update with the results…

GRILLED CORN WITH MISO BUTTER

Grill your corn how you like, but slather some miso butter all over it before you do so it gets in the crevices and makes everything all salty and buttery. Here’s my lazy/non-BBQ-owning method:

First, slice up the cob into halves or thirds (or just leave it whole). Bring some water to the boil and add the corn, cook for a minute or two until it’s an eyepopping sunflower yellow. Remove from the pot.

Preheat the grill/broiler in your oven. Heat a ridged grill pan* until nice and hot, almost smoking. Coat the corn with miso butter (a pastry brush works great here) and place on the grill pan. Let it start to sear a bit on the bottom, then rotate it a bit, brush with more miso butter, and stick under the hot grill in the oven. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, giving it a turn every now and then and brushing with a bit more miso butter. When it’s nice and golden brown, almost-burnt in places and the miso stuck between the kernels is beginning to caramelise, pull the pan out from the oven.

Brush with more miso butter if you like. Go on, do it.

*a cast-iron one that can go in the oven is ideal. If you don’t have one, just heat the grill in your oven, skip this step and chuck your corn in there on a baking tray, making sure to rotate and brush with extra butter.