We are hurtling officially towards summer down here (ie tomorrow) and to be frank I am not pleased. I do not do hot weather and even moreso, humidity. I was truly born in the wrong country although Tasmania would probably do quite nicely. Beautiful countryside, lower temps, less humidity and a great food culture. Let’s sit with that for a moment shall we?
The only redeeming feature for me in these hotter months, apart from washing drying on the line in an hour rather than a day, is the food. Stone fruits, mangos, papaya, crisp Asian salads loaded with lime, mint, coriander and chilli and cooking outside.
Actually Sydney’s climate means I could/should use the BBQ year round but I always tend to forget it’s there once the heater is in action. The main reason I like cooking outside is I don’t have to clean down the cooktop. Yes, I am that lazy.
This dessert is fairly and squarely placed in my summer repertoire and all the boys love it. Along with the black sticky rice it sits in relatively high rotation, topped with mango or other summer fruits, drizzled with a palm sugar syrup, extra coconut cream and lime to give it zing.
Some people call it sago, some call it tapioca, we call it frogs eggs. There are myriad recipes for its use but this is my go-to.
So I finally recently bought Smitten Kitchen‘s cookbook which is as good as I had hoped. I have followed her blog for as long as I can remember and have never ever had a recipe of hers fail. In the cookbook is a version of this using cranberries for the festive season.
This slice is divine, plain and simple. A basic shortbread base that is also scattered over the top of the blueberries. I’ve made this with apple and rhubarb (that I’d stewed previously) and blackberries and every time it turns out a treat.
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.