Kitchen Therapy


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Flour Free Banana and Coconut Pancakes

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Along with Banana Bread, I went through a phase where I tried many Banana Pancakes of the healthy variety. These were my favourite. I make them often because they are gluten free and nut free. The ingredients are few and the recipe from the The Green Kitchen Cookbook is simple and can be found easily on the internet or you can see it below. I’m keeping this post simple because everything about this dish is quick and easy. Best of all they are delicious!

FLOUR FREE BANANA & COCONUT PANCAKES
adapted from THE GREEN KITCHEN Cookbook by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl

3 ripe bananas
6 eggs lightly beaten
50g or 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
150g or 1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon coconut oil for frying
maple syrup or yoghurt for topping

1. Mash the bananas with a fork.
2. Place in a medium sized bowl and whisk together with the eggs and coconut.
3. Add the blueberries and stir well.
4. Heat the coconut oil in a non stick frying pan over medium heat.
5. Add 2-3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake.
6. Use a spatula to carefully flip the pancakes when they have set and the bottom is golden (roughly 2 minutes).
7. Serve with extra blueberries, maple syrup, yogurt and an extra sprinkle of coconut.


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Crack Pie

fullsizeoutput_112e.jpegThis is what I love about cooking.
You can bring the world home.
I don’t have plans to visit New York any time soon, so to be able to open a cookbook and recreate an iconic recipe, from a chef I admire so much, is such a wonderful thing.
I have wanted to make Crack Pie for a long time now and watching Chef’s Table: Pastry gave me the push I needed.
I found freeze dried sweetcorn powder online from the Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot and as soon as it arrived on my door step I was ready!

The recipe, other than sourcing that one ingredient, has a few steps. However, every step is simple and the entire thing can be made over a few days (I really liked that Tosi gave instructions on how to store each step as well).

I wasn’t sure if I would like this. When there are rave reviews and hype, I think expectations rise and then I never know if I genuinely don’t like the thing in question or if I have built it up to such huge proportions in my mind that nothing could ever live up to what it has now become! So going into this I was cautious to not get too excited.

I also wondered what on earth I was going to do with TWO pies!

The family were confused about what was in the pie. I think in their minds they were thinking apple pie has apples, meat pie has meat… crack pie has…crack???

They were not keen to try it. I had to force them. It took one bite for them to finish off the entire pie in a few hours. So now we all understand why Crack Pie is called Crack Pie 🙂

And I am glad there was a second pie in the freezer to eat at a more leisurely pace, once we calmed down from the frenzy that surrounded our first experience with this pie.
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How lucky am I to be able to experience a treat from the other side of the world in my own kitchen.

Crack Pie by Christina Tosi from the Milk Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook
This recipe makes 2 pies (which you think you don’t need but in hindsight you realise was genius!). The recipe can be found easily on the internet so I’ve added it here with slightly modified wording.
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1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)

15g or 1 Tablespoon tightly packed light brown sugar
1g or 1/4 teaspoon salt

55g butter, melted

1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)

Icing sugar for dusting

1. Heat the oven to 180C.
2. Put the oat cookie, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand.
3. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball.
4. Divide the oat crust evenly between two 25cm pie tins. Using your fingers and palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are even covered. Use the pie shells immediately or wrap well in cling film and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
5. Put both pie shells on a baking tray. Divide the crack pie filling evenly between the crusts. The filling should fill them 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly.
6. Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 170C. Depending on your oven, it may take 5mins or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reaches 170C close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s eye centre but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.
*In hindsight I should have left mine for another 5 minutes, I only realised this once I cut into them. As my slices sat there they slowly turned into a puddle. But who cares! The taste was still there.
7.Gently take the tray of crack ones int if the Ives and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours or overnight to condense the filling for a dense final product – freezing is the signature technique  and result of a perfectly executed crack pie.
8. If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in cling film. In the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days. In the freezer they will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pies from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost for a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.
9. Serve your crack pie cold!
Decorate your pies with icing sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.
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Oat Cookie Recipe 
115g butter at room temperature
75g light brown sugar
40g granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

80g bread flour
120g porridge oats
0.5g or 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
0.25g or a pinch bicarbonate soda
2g or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Non stick cooking spray

1. Heat the oven to 180C.
2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a free standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle or flat beater attachment and cream together on medium high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy an duple yellow in colour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium high land beat for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white. 3. On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix for a minute until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Spray a 25x31cm baking tray and line with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the tray and with a spatula, spread it out until it is 5mm thick. The dough won’t cover the entire tray and this is OK.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie – caramelised on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. Wrapped well in cling film, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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Crack Pie Filling
* Tosi states for this recipe you must use a free standing electric mixer with a paddle or flat beater attachment. Also the mixer is to be kept on low speed through the entire mixing process. If you mix at a higher speed you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey – which is the essence of crack pie.
300g granulated sugar
180g light brown sugar
20g milk powder
24g freeze dried sweetcorn powder
6g or 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

225g butter, melted

160g or 180ml whipping or double cream
2g or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 egg yolks

1. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, sweetcorn powder and salt in the bowl of a free standing electric mixture fitted with the paddle or flat beater attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.
2. Add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.
3. Add the cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
4. Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine. Be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. Mix on low speed until it is.
5. Use the filling right away or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


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French Cheesecake or Torteau Fromager

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French Cheesecake or Torteau Fromager from David Lebovitz’s cookbook, My Paris Kitchen and this week’s Cook the Books Fridays recipe.
The last few weeks have been busy. We moved into the house we have been building and while the outside of the house is still looking like a construction site, the inside (especially the kitchen) is ready! I took a photo of the sky last night and it shows the state of our yard 🙂
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Cooking in the new kitchen has been wonderful. It’s spurred me into a bit of a cooking frenzy! And what a week to return to Cook the Book Fridays. This French Cheesecake was amazing. David Lebovitz says “the blackened crust hides a cake with the unique flavour of a dense American cheesecake, but with the light sponginess of a Japanese cheesecake.” And that pretty much says it all.
If a light, white, sponge cake and a cheesecake had a baby, then this would be it.
I really liked the taste and texture of this cake, my 18yr old who has always stood by his dislike for cheesecake, actually liked this cake and asked for more.
I wish I left it in the oven just a few more minutes, there was a section in the centre that was a bit under done. It still tasted good though, so no one cared!
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I probably would have steered clear of this recipe had it not been for this group, the burnt coloured top would have left me feeling sceptical enough to not try this. So it’s a good reminder of how good it is to push myself out of my comfort zone, thanks to the Cook the Book Fridays group 🙂

 


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Cowgirl Cornmeal Pecan Finaciers

IMG_7110Cowgirl Cornmeal Pecan Financiers from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook, are simple, honest and I think I ate an entire tray of 12 mini muffin sized bites all by myself.
I loved these!
There are some nuts my nut allergic children can tolerate and luckily, pecans are one of them! I loved eating the pecans straight off the tray as they came out of the oven, toasty, fragrant and warm. And I loved the strong pecan flavour that builds in your mouth as you bite into the financiers.
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They were simple to make and easy to eat 🙂
Eaten warm, their texture is light and airy. Once they are cold, the texture becomes heavier and more dense however the flavour is not compromised. I am waiting for the kids to come home from school so I can bake another tray of 12. Or maybe 24…
I love having the batter in the fridge ready to cook, makes me feel very domestic goddess like (laughing).
Looking forward to reading about the thoughts of the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group!


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Chocolate, Prune and Whiskey Cake

IMG_7035.JPGThis cake is for grown ups.
It is rich, decadent and alcohol infused.
There is something about soaking dry fruit in liquor, and then having to wait until it becomes plump and moist, that excites me!
I’m not a big drinker, however my husband has an every growing scotch and whiskey collection that I’ve grown to enjoy the smell of.
The Macallan Edition No.2 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey caught my eye for this recipe as it was a limited edition release by Macallan Master Whiskey Blender Bob Dalgarno and the chefs behind El Celler de Can Roca, the 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Spain.
I can smell the fruity and even chocolatey notes in the alcohol and thought they would be wonderful paired with prunes in this cake.
(Having said that, the recipe calls for Irish whiskey so I’ve already strayed!)

The cake has almond flour so I decided to experiment (which I enjoy) and make a nut free version using plain flour, however I added my favourite bourbon for cooking, Maker’s Mark in this second version making it a Chocolate, Prune and Bourbon Cake.

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I think the psychologist in me revels when there’s any form of experimentation happening. I found it interesting that with time, the Macallan seemed to absorb the flavours of the prunes and they melded together to make me think of a Christmas Pudding. However the prunes with the Maker’s Mark smelled consistently of just the bourbon.
Both cakes came out of the oven at the 35 minute mark (which was the high end of the recommended cooking time) and in hindsight I think it would have been perfect to remove them 5 minutes earlier to get an even more gooey centre.
The result was a beautiful cake.
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Rich, dense, moist, decadent yet not overly sweet, in fact, most of the sweetness came from the alcohol infused prunes. Surprisingly, while the cake was definitely luscious and satisfying, it still left you wanting more, looking for another hit of sweetness and whiskey from the succulent prunes.

*I used Macallan Edition No.2 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey instead of the Irish Whiskey called for in the recipe.
*I made a second nut free version substituting plain flour for the almond flour, using the same amount of plain flour as almond flour.
*The second version I also used Maker’s Mark Bourbon to soak the prunes in, so technically making this a Chocolate, Prune and Bourbon Cake
*I’m including the recipe with my findings and my thoughts on the nut free version.

CHOCOLATE, PRUNE AND WHISKEY CAKE
from THE VIOLET BAKERY COOKBOOK by CLAIRE PTAK

125g prunes
40ml Irish whiskey (I used scotch whiskey in one version and bourbon in another)
240g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
200g unsalted butter
5 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
150g almonds, ground (or 150g plain flour if making nut free version)
butter, for greasing the tin

1. Soak the prunes in whiskey, if you can do this the night before, all the better.
2. Peheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan).
3. Butter a 20-23cm cake tin and line with baking paper (I used a 21cm tin).
4. Put the dark chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl or it may spoil the chocolate. Once the chocolate has melted, take the pan off the heat to cool slightly but keep away from any draughts.
5. Put the whites and yolks into two separate bowls and, starting with the yolk, add half of the caster sugar and whisk to thicken.
6. Fold the thickened yolk into the melted chocolate and set aside.
7. Chope the prunes into eighths and add to the chocolate mixture along with the ground almonds (or plain flour if making a nut free version).
8. Beat the egg whites with the remaining caster sugar and the sea salt until soft peaks form.
9. Fold into the chocolate mixture until just incorporated.
10. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. The cake will be slightly soft in the middle but do not overtake it or the gooeyness will be lost. (I cooked my 21cm pans for 35 minutes and the gooeyness was barely there so I recommend 30 minutes).
Serve warm or at room temperature.

CONCLUSION:
Straight from the oven, I was drawn to the nut free version as it seemed to be slightly sweeter. Both cakes are very rich and you are a left looking for some sweetness from the prunes to give you a break from the almost bitter richness of the chocolate.

The original almond version has more moisture and lushness on the tongue, and you can taste the ingredients individually. The almonds, the prunes and the alcohol hold their own integrity and can be tasted in each mouthful.

The nut free version has a more muddled taste. The texture is more dense and as it hits the mouth, it feels almost sticky. The flavours of the cake come next and they are more mild than the almond version and I think more child friendly. There is more sweetness and less of a hit from the alcohol. It’s as if the strong flavours in the cake have fused together and have taken the edge of each individual ingredient and melded into a very pleasant mouthful that is easier to eat than the almond cake that is more intense and has more of a slap to your face intensity!


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The Violet Bakery Cookbook Banana Buttermilk Bread

 

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I have a lot of cookbooks and while I may not cook from them as often as I’d like, I can confidently say that if a book has a recipe for Banana Bread, there’s a good chance I’ve made it! Paleo, Vegan, Choc-Chip, alcohol infused… I’ve made them all. Probably in the same recipe at some point.

This banana bread has been voted by the family as their all time favourite.
And they’ve eaten the many variations I’ve made… so they do speak with some authority!
It comes from the Violet Bakery Cookbook.
The bakery that made the cake for the recent Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan. It’s a book I’ve had for a while and never cooked from. However, the bunch of browning bananas sitting on my kitchen bench made this the perfect opportunity to get up and experiment.
With yet another banana bread recipe….

I made this bread twice. The first time with greek yoghurt and olive oil.
I did not have the 25cmx10cm loaf asked for in the recipe so I used a smaller tin, 23cmx10cm. The smaller tin added more height to the bread and even though I cooked it longer there was still some raw-ish texture under the bananas I had laid on top.

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The second time I made the recipe with buttermilk and vegetable oil.
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I bought a longer tin that the recipe calls for this time.
I followed the recipe and (obviously) the mixture spread more and cooked perfectly in the time stated in the book. Having said “obviously” I do need to add that sometimes even though the recipe is followed precisely, it still doesn’t work as it should! So it was great to see that this recipe did turn out as described in the book!

I loved the delicate, crispy layer of skin on the bread. The extra sprinkle of sugar before adding it the oven is no effort at all for great reward. It adds just as much to the aesthetics of the bread as it does the taste.

Verdict:
I have already made this recipe twice this week and I know I will make it again. I will definitely use the larger tin and having tried both versions, I think from now I will make it with the delicate extra virgin olive oil I buy for baking and cooking.
(Also, I can tell myself it is healthier by using the olive oil! I don’t care if I’m wrong 🙂 It makes me feel better so I’m sticking with it!)

*Also I need to add that I did not have dark rum in the house so I used my favourite Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey. I’m not a drinker however I love the smell of this bourbon!
*The recipe calls for 6 very ripe bananas, the rest of the ingredients are all measured in weight (which I absolutely loved) however the bananas are not and they come in such varying sizes, so this step does my head in!
Having said that… the first time I used 5 bananas and the second time I used 3. I think the lack of banana weight inclusion as well as the change in alcohol is testament to the flexibility of the recipe.
*I’m adding the recipe here only because it is readily available on the internet and will include the small changes I have made.

RECIPE from the THE VIOLET BAKERY COOKBOOK
In her introduction to the recipe, Claire Ptak the author, talks about her initial resistance to add banana bread to her bakery menu. Now, some years down the track, this recipe has proven itself to be one of the most popular items in the store. 
BANANA BUTTERMILK BREAD

6 very ripe bananas
150g vegetable oil (I preferred light extra virgin olive oil)
200g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark rum (I used bourbon)
2 eggs
75g cultured buttermilk or plain yoghurt (I used greek plain greek yogurt)
210g plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons caste sugar
butter, for greasing the tin

1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C (fan).
2. Butter a 25cmx10cm loaf tin and line with parchment paper.
3. Reserve half a banana for the top of the cake and mash the remaining banana well.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, vanilla, rum, eggs and buttermilk or yoghurt. Add the mashed banana and set aside.
5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Fold this into the banana mixture until just combined, then pour into your prepared tin.
6. Smooth the top with a palette knife or spatula and place the reserved banana half, cut lengthways, on top. Sprinkle with the caster sugar.
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake has set and starts to caramelise.
(The author states she sometimes uses a kitchen blowtorch to help this process along).
8. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Finally… and most importantly…
enjoy the most incredibly moist, yet delicate, banana bread you’ve ever eaten!
Just as I am doing as I write this x


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Cocoa Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunches

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We moved house and have been living on take away food for a while now. The tradesmen have practically moved in with us. Every day I buy them pies for lunch and we sit together eating and chatting. The builder has connected my television, my washing machine, dishwasher and he brings me cakes from the Italian pastry shop near his home. My husband knows that I now refer to the builder as my other husband 🙂
We have been relying on Sara Lee (and the builder) for something sweet!

Finally the inside of the house is kind of, almost, pretty much finished.
And the weekend was cold, wet and extremely windy.
Perfect baking weather to try out my new kitchen (it’s a little empty at the moment!)
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I checked the Tuesdays with Dorie baking schedule and knew I had to make these cookies. I love sesame and tahini. I grew up eating halva and often dollop a spoonful (or two or three) of tahini on an apple or just straight into my mouth.

Making the Sesame Crunch was simple, the second time around. Amazing how quickly the sugar goes from light brown to bitter and burnt!
The rest of the cookie was quick and simple. I had all the ingredients I needed on hand.

The family loved these! I have to admit I was a little disappointed I couldn’t taste the sesame as much as I would have liked. They tasted like a chocolate biscuit with a bit of crunch. A very good chocolate biscuit. However I had my heart set on the nutty tahini flavour I loved and I was a little disappointed. The rest of the family were not! They loved the cookies. Maybe next time I will use less cocoa powder…

So good to back in the kitchen! My kitchen 🙂
Can’t wait to see what everyone from the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought of these!