Apricot Balls

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
  1. Pulse the dried fruits in a processor until finely chopped
  2. Add boiling water and soak for 10 minutes
  3. Add the almond meal, coconut, wheatgerm, milk powder and orange juice
  4. Blend until a firm dough forms
  5. Add extra water if needed
  6. Roll into balls and toss in the extra coconut and then store in the fridge.

Banana and Coconut Cake

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
  • 3 eggs 
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease and line 22cm square cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a mixer beat the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. Add vanilla, mashed bananas and sour cream and beat to combine 
  5. Beat in flour and coconut and mix until well combined 
  6. Pour into tin and bake for 60 mins or until a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean
  7. 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
  1. Whip butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy
  2. Add icing sugar, vanilla and coconut essence and beat for a further few minutes 
  3. When cake has cooled, cut in half horizontally
  4. Spread one-third of icing over bottom half of cake and top with remaining half
  5. Ice top and sides with remaining icing and cover in shredded coconut. 
  6. Store in an airtight container. (I kept it in the fridge as leaving a cream cheese icing at room temperature makes me skeevy.) 

Apple and Buttermilk Fritters

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
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 apples, coarsely grated
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Maple syrup (optional – we didn’t use it)

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 330g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and lemon rind in a bowl
  2. Add the buttermilk and egg yolks and stir until smooth (it will be a thick batter)
  3. Stir through the grated apple then leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes
  4. 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)
  5. 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
  6. Heat the oil to 180C 
  7. 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)
  8. Drain with a metal sieve, toss in cinnamon sugar and if you are an Elf serve with maple syrup. 
  9. Proceed to eat until your pants don’t fit or your head falls off. 

Ricotta Tart with Poached Nectarines

So I bought these nectarines to make jam with but just knew I wasn’t going to get to it in time, so I just poached them in a simple sugar syrup with a vanilla bean instead, thinking they’d be good for brekkie w/ yoghurt. But I haven’t been in a yoghurt frame of mind for a few days and they’ve just been sitting in our fucking small tiny fridge taking up space.

So I thought, use them in a cake. But all the recipes I could find called for raw nectarines and I was worried they would be too wet.

Combine all that with a hankering I’ve had to make a ricotta pudding or tart of some sort and who should come up with a solution but the trusty Allan Campion and Michele Curtis in their most recent tome, In The Kitchen. It gave all manner of possibilities in terms of combinations, one of which was roasted nectarines – so while mine were poached, it worked a treat.

It tastes fantastic and looks very sophisticated which, you know, for me is quite a feat indeed.

Ricotta Tart with Poached Nectarines
Adapted from Campion and Curtis, In the Kitchen

  • 1 x 25 cm sweetcrust pastry shell
    (I used my shortcrust recipe, blind baked it until golden then proceeded as per recipe)
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6-8 poached nectarines (see ‘recipe’ below)
  • ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. In a bowl whisk together the ricotta, caster sugar, eggs, vanilla, cream and flour with the grated zest and lemon juice
  3. Line the pastry case with the nectarines then pour over the ricotta mix
  4. Sprinkle w/ cinnamon and bake for 40 minutes or until firm.

The nectarines
Guys look, I can’t really call this a recipe. I dumped a bag of nectarines in a saucepan, covered with water, poured over some sugar and added a vanilla bean. I brought it to the boil, turned it down and cooked until the liquid was vaguely syrupy and the nectarines soft.

Ode to Nigella 14 – heaven and earth mash

Seriously, I think the name of this dish is even OTT for Nigella. The nutmeg was also a really good idea and lifted the dish to a new level. With the zest I just put bit shaved bits of zest in and pulled them out when I was mashing the rest, the recipe was a bit unclear if that was right or if it was meant to be finely grated. I didn’t have time to dwell on it. In fact, I’d probably add another apple. The amount of butter and cream is just ridiculous and yes, it did taste lovely, but I’m not one for saturated fat just for the sake of saturated fat. Would I make this again? Most definitely. But I would at least halve the amount of butter and cream. At least.

Heaven and earth mash

  • 2.5kg floury potatoes
  • 3 eating apples (Nigella used Pink Ladies, I used Granny Smiths)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g butter
  • 175ml double cream
  • 1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Peel and halve (or quarter if they’re really large) potatoes and cook in salted boiling water for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the peeled, cored and quartered apples and lemon ride and cook for another 20 minutes or until soft.
  3. Drain and put through a ricer or mash back into the hot pan in which you have let the butter melt with the cream while you are draining the apples and potatoes.
  4. Add the nutmeg and season with some salt
  5. Beat everything together and serve.

In the recipe Nigella talks about the two critical components to good mash – one is to puree them and the second is to aerate them. So, even though it’s all been mashed, you have to give it a good beating with a wooden spoon before serving.

She talks about how never ever make mash in a processor as it does something to the potato starch that means you end up with glue. I went through a phase of making mash in the processor because I liked that claggy glue silken smooth mash that you got, so there you go. Take from that what you will.

This serves 10 – and I’d believe it.