School’s back today. We’re on the homestretch to Christmas people. We’re in for a scorching couple of days which somehow seems appropriate.
But let’s take a moment to talk about lunchboxes. There are parts of the world where you don’t need to pack your kids a lunch. CAN YOU IMAGINE!? I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns.
The worst part is trying to not become pray to food brand marketing but once you say no to the snack packs, back off to the muesli bars and no way jose to anything with sugar you’re basically sending your kids to school with twigs and bark.
I know more virtuous people than I who make up batches of things on the weekend, freeze them then pop them in lunchboxes but whenever I’ve done that the kids never eat it. WHAT IS WITH THAT?
Anyway, I made this Smitten Kitchen recipe the other day and three of the four of them ate them. Into high rotation they go!
OK, so this household is having a complete rejuvenated love affair with Jamie Oliver, the likes it has not seen since his Naked Chef days. I think it was seeing his hard slog in the US and how it knocked the wind out of his sails a bit that did it. It was cemented with his 20 Minute Meal iPhone app. Man I love that. Then there was his Christmas series which was just so quirky and lovely. And now, well now there is his 30 minute meal series (I’m gagging for the book because yeah, I really need another cookbook) and the whole household, well, me and Felix, are hooked.
The other night he made this awesome looking number involving salmon fillets, prawns and asparagus. Salmon fillets normally make me gag but I was all YUM about that. And then, THEN he made a quick banoffee pie.
Cue Felix badgering me for the last two days to go to the shops to buy the ingredients. And can I tell you – if you do use a store-bought pie crust, which we totally broke my religion and did, then this comes together in an absolute snap.
The filling is delightful – far less tooth-achingly sweet than pure pie-caramel and not over-powering in the banana department. An absolute winner.
Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meal Banoffee Pie
1 store bought pie crust
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp camp coffee
2 bananas, extra
100g block of dark chocolate
Blitz the two bananas with the milk until well combined and smooth
In a pan over high heat melt the caster sugar. Don’t stir it, just gently tilt as it melts to a dark caramel colour
Add the banana milk mixture to the toffee, stirring until the toffee melts back into the bananas
Pour into the pie case and freeze for 20 minutes (we didn’t need it to be within 30 minutes so just put it in the fridge)
Whip the cream and then fold through the camp coffee essence so it leaves pretty swirls in the cream
Slice the bananas and arrange over the pie filling, then spoon the cream over the top
Place the chocolate bar on the benchtop, smooth side up. Scrape a sharp chef’s knife on a 45 degree angle across the chocolate towards you, making chocolate curls. Arrange over the top of the cream.
As a kid I could devour a whole packet of these. No wonder there were weight issues. My kids also adore them but several years ago I looked at the ingredients and added them to the list of foods thought of as a healthy snack but in reality offered maximum fat and sugar in as small an item as possible.
Fast forward to a few months back and I saw a homemade recipe for them over at Inner Pickle. Of course, my ‘I have to make that right now’ took a few weeks but what a rollicking success. They come together in a snap, they are tasty, nutritious and not too sweet. Talk about a winner.
The recipe makes about 26-28 balls. Next time going to just double recipe so they last a few days longer than an afternoon (in this house anyway).
Apricot and Peach balls
From Inner Pickle
(who got it from the book Feeding Fussy Kids, Julie Maree Wood where they’re called Iron Booster Balls)
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried peaches
2 tbsp boiling water
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp wheatgerm
1/4 cup skim milk powder
1/2 cup desiccated coconut – extra
Pulse the dried fruits in a processor until finely chopped
Add boiling water and soak for 10 minutes
Add the almond meal, coconut, wheatgerm, milk powder and orange juice
Blend until a firm dough forms
Add extra water if needed
Roll into balls and toss in the extra coconut and then store in the fridge.
Pip at Meet me at Mike’s said this was the best banana cake ever. I clicked through and saw the picture of it and just had to make it. Now that is quite a call for me because I despise banana bread, particularly that cake-called-bread you get in nearly every single cafe in Sydney and banana cake is not far behind.
But make it I did and ZOMG, best.cake.ever. When Felix, who is not a cake lover, devoured it, mumbling, ‘this is one of the best cakes you’ve ever made’, you know it has to be good.
So, if any of you are sitting there biting fingernails as the election results come in, go do some baking instead.
Banana and Coconut Cake real living magazine The cake
150g butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
½ cup light sour cream
2 cups self-raising flour
½ cup desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease and line 22cm square cake tin with baking paper.
In a mixer beat the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
Add vanilla, mashed bananas and sour cream and beat to combine
Beat in flour and coconut and mix until well combined
Pour into tin and bake for 60 mins or until a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean
Remove from oven and let cool slightly in tin, then turn onto wire rack to cool completely
Coconut cream cheese icing
125g butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar mixture, sieved
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp coconut essence, to taste
2/3 cup shredded coconut
Whip butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy
Add icing sugar, vanilla and coconut essence and beat for a further few minutes
When cake has cooled, cut in half horizontally
Spread one-third of icing over bottom half of cake and top with remaining half
Ice top and sides with remaining icing and cover in shredded coconut.
Store in an airtight container. (I kept it in the fridge as leaving a cream cheese icing at room temperature makes me skeevy.)
In the crazy day that was yesterday I seemed to relocate my cooking mojo. It had seriously been lost for the better part of gee, the last two months?
The highlight were these delectable balls of sugary appley lemony cinnamony goodness. Emma Knowles, you have so much to answer for, particularly the kilos I gained by vacuuming these down until my head right near fell off. Into the bowl of cinnamon sugar. Which, you know, if your head was going to randomly fall off, a bowl of cinnamon sugar strikes me as a mighty good place to fall.
Apple and Buttermilk Fritters Emma Knowles, Australian Gourmet Traveller, June 2010
250g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Finely grated rind of one lemon
2 eggs, separated
2 apples, coarsely grated
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Maple syrup (optional – we didn’t use it)
330g caster sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and lemon rind in a bowl
Add the buttermilk and egg yolks and stir until smooth (it will be a thick batter)
Stir through the grated apple then leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes
For the cinnamon sugar, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and then spread onto a tray (I didn’t do this bit, just tossing the donuts in the bowl as they were done)
Whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks form then fold 1/3 of them into the apple mixture to lighten. The fold in remaining whites
Heat the oil to 180C
Spoon rough quenelles (pfft, as if I did this, just dropping teaspoons of the mix instead – in varying sizes depending on my mood) into the hot oil, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (about 2-3 minutes)
Drain with a metal sieve, toss in cinnamon sugar and if you are an Elf serve with maple syrup.
Proceed to eat until your pants don’t fit or your head falls off.