how good are pancakes?

I love pancakes- how could you not?  

But I do have a confession, waffles get a higher rotation in our house.  Not because I have anything against pancakes but generally the failure rate is much lower in the waffle category.  Pancakes can be tricky territory, too thick, not cooked well enough, too heavy, more than one bowl required etc…

Whilst waffles always have a strong foothold in my heart I’ve had a hankering for fluffy pancakes, bacon and maple syrup lately and Saturday morning certainly delivered.

I’d purchased the bacon, had a flagon of maple syrup in the fridge (thank you costco) and just needed a solid pancake recipe. This is where the buckwheat pancakes make an entrance, I’d had a recipe in my favourites for a while and they had always delivered, but when I visited it from my favourites I’d found that the recipe was no longer online.  *insert tears* Lesson here, if there’s something that you love online, take a copy because you never know when it will disappear.  But if I want to disappear into a metaphor when one door closes another one opens.  In this case an even better pancake recipe.

Why buckwheat?  I’m not a gluten free for any dietary reasons but I’ve always loved buckwheat pancakes and crepes.  The name is deceiving whilst called buckwheat it’s actually not from wheat it’s actually a seed.  And I’ve found after eating them they are much lighter and you don’t feel heavy and full after eating them- more room for bacon!

So in google land I stumbled accross this great recipe for buttermilk buckwheat pancakes.  Soooooo good. Light, fluffy and delicious and even better it’s a one bowl recipe, winning! 

Buckwheat is really interesting when you mix it up for the first time, initially it’s like it’s almost impervious to liquid, it just skims accross the flour and doesn’t really take until you mix it up really well.  Because it has not only buttermilk but baking soda and baking powder the batter bubbles up beautifully…

Once mixed up it’s ready to cook time- Try to find the heaviest pan you can, you want it to conduct the heat nicely so you can have it on a low heat and not cook it too quickly.  I cooked them one at a time in my heavy based crepe pan just using a 1/4 cup measure, brushing the base with butter every now and again.  I kept them in the oven warming whilst working my way through the remaining batter.

When cooking they puffed up beautifully, delicious and golden on the outside and lovely and fluffy on the inside… You know that they are ready to flip when the bubbles appear and split on the surface and the edges of the pancake look set and slightly dry.

So keep working your way through the batter one by one by one.  Once I’d worked my way through the batter I cooked up the bacon on the stove and pulled the maple syrup out of the fridge to come to room temperature.  

Stack them up and then marvel in their beauty…

Serve it up with whatever your sides are, either au naturale with maple syrup and/or butter,  a berry compote or some bacon which I did in this case, and then just stare at it again, particularly if you use maple syrup and watch the syrup just slowly dripping down the sides…. droool……

I know that these were really good because it’s Monday and I’m still thinking about them.  I’ve got the rest of the buttermilk left (it lasts in the fridge for like forever!) so I think that these are going to make another appearance this weekend.

Monkey and I don’t do brunch out really, it’s so much nicer at home, no queues, no need to wear activewear in fact you can just sit there in your bathrobe (which we generally are!) and enjoy a delicious breakfast, coffee and the paper without feeling like you’re being rushed out of your seat.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think- it’s pretty much failure free!

And for me?  I can’t wait until next weekend because we’re having pancakes xxx

yolky goodness

When it comes to eggs there can be two kinds of people, those who insist on on only ever a hard boiled yolk and those who prefer to ride the rainbow of runny to not to runny.

I see the role of the hard boiled egg mainly relegated to sandwiches and salads- everything else is fair game for some runny yolky goodness.

So this brings me to the 5:10 egg- such a revelation! I’d had this recipe lurking in my bookshelves for years and years but it wasn’t until just before the last new year that I had discovered it.  We had friends over for New Years dinner and I had earmarked a delicious recipe from David Changs book Momofuku (lucky peach).  The recipe sounded (and once cooked) tasted sublime.  Soft runny egg served with a herb salad, home made potato crisps, caviar (or any form of fish egg)  and a slow cooked onion soubise (very very very slow cooked onions in butter).  Sooooo good.

Back to the egg- it’s called a 5:10 egg and that’s because it’s cooked for… well you guessed it 5 minutes and 10 seconds- and it’s super simple…

1.  Bring eggs to room temputerature

2.  Bring water to a gentle boil

3.  Gently drop eggs into the boiling water

4.  Set timer for 5 minutes and 10 seconds

5.  Whilst eggs are cooking set up a bowl suitable for the number of eggs that you have and fill with cold water and ice cubes

6.  The moment the timer dings and says it’s go time pop the eggs into the ice water

7.  Wait for the eggs to cool – crack on a hard surface and peel and peel in the water (or out if that’s what you prefer- having it in the water makes it a little easier)

From this point you can leave the eggs in the fridge until you want to use them (can probably sit for a day or 2 max).  Then when ready to use just pop in some warm water either on or off the stove and gently warm them through and serve.

Now… here’s the most glorious bit- cut into the egg and feel free to video in slow motion- it’s the most breathtaking sight- soft soft egg whites and the most delightful runny yolk….

I’ve made these several times- over salads, by themselves or one of the best yet over instant ramen noodles (the yolk just combines with the noodles in a way that it’s like a second sauce).

I will make the dish with the herbs, crisps and onions again because it was really good- but these eggs…. seriously the best- and even better they are something you can prepare in advance- I prepped some last night and rewarmed this morning to serve with latkes and gravlax.

Try it- it’s a keeper- trust me…

not a make again ep1

I haven’t got many pictures for this post because I wasn’t originally planning on sharing it.  However given how terrible it was I feel obligated to. 
So here was dinner on Friday evening, pumpkin gnocchi with sage & pinenut burnt butter- looks good right?

Beautifully plump gnocchi covered in burnt butter, crispy sage, toasty pine nuts and then sprinkled with Parmesan- heavenly… well that’s how it should have been.

Making gnocchi from what I’ve found is a fickle beast (apart from ricotta gnocchi it’s super simple and really hard to muck up) and I respect that, there’s a certain art to it.  

So how did this start?  I could blame costco and wonder why I purchased a whole pumpkin when I just needed about half but I thought no no I’ll put it to good use.  I pondered for a couple of days and then thought, huzzah pumpkin gnocchi what a great idea! So of course naturally you start googling recipes.  

Before I get into the pumpkin version here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt from plain old mr potato gnocchi….

* Keep the potato as dry as possible, any liquid is the devil.  Hence why baking (and then ricing the potato) is a preferred method.

* Keep use of flour to a minimum otherwise it ends up in rubbery bullet like gnocchi.

Two simple and very sensible guidelines, two guidelines I knew about and completely ignored on Friday.

I looked for a few recipes and they advised minimal flour, yes I thought make sense keep them light and delightful.  Another recipe roasted the pumpkin and then squeezed the flesh in a tea towel to remove the excess liquid, again I thought how smart, yes this will keep the pumpkin nice and dry and pull together a nice dough.

Did I listen to any of this?  No. I decided to go with another recipe which used heaps of flour (wrong) and kept the pumpkin wet (wrong again) and why did I do this?  Because this recipe added ricotta as well so I thought that made it different, and that it would be different and end up amazing, even though deep down I knew that wasn’t quite going to happen.  

Wrong wrong wrong, in hindsight I knew they would suck but I thought hey this is different, it’s a recipe from a respected (sort of) publication and maybe just maybe the ricotta makes a difference?!

So granted when rolled out (after roasting pumpkin, pureeing it and mixing with Parmesan, ricotta and a crapload of flour) you end up with fairly decent looking gnocchi…

These were boiled until floating, panfried in olive oil and tossed in burnt butter, sage and pinenuts, drizzled with lemon and sprinkled with Parmesan.

Let me just say that the sauce was great, to be honest you can’t ever really go wrong with butter so that was a delight.

But.. on the first bite I just had to say to monkey out loud- ‘this is shit’ and he wasn’t quick to disagree… I didn’t finish all of my diner and that rarely happens….. seriously. As a judgement of nice food it should be possible to open your mouth whilst chewing, your food shouldn’t stick to your mouth in that way…

But these things happen, not every meal is going to be amazing, and I’m not upset at all that these could have ended up being deadly weapons when dried and thrown at people (we also thought it might make a makeshift wall putty due to the nice gluey consistency) but what I’m actually annoyed about is not listening to myself.  I knew that these were wet, and I knew that it used too much flour but for some reason I had convinced myself that because it was a recipe it must be right.

Recipes are great in particular for things like cakes (always need precision) but when you think something isnt’t right change it and try something different, because seriously it couldnt’ be anything worse than what we had on Friday.

Always trust yourself- and it’s ok if it doesn’t go to plan, just hope you can figure out why it didn’t…

PS used packet spaghettini for dinner tonight tossed with white anchovies, tomoto, butter and crispy garlic breadcrumbs for dinner it was delicious- so all is well in the world again.

PPS- I’ve titled this ep1 because I know that in the future there will be a need for further episodes.

PPPS- I’m sorry costco it wasn’t your fault, I’ll visit you again next weekend xxx

grilled shiitake with some umami

Umami- it’s one of those words that tends to get thrown about on menu’s.  This one I am ok with.  

Don’t get me started on things like ‘hand cut chips’ or ‘fresh salad’ or ‘deconstructed’…. Umami I understand- it’s the fifth flavour after sweet, sour, salty and bitter.  We don’t have an English equivalent of the word but essentially umami is a ‘savoury’ flavour- and I love it! Salt added to some proteins, fish sauce, Parmesan, mushrooms and so many more exhibit an ‘umami’ flavour.

Pinned to my Pinterest board for a while I had Peter Gilmore’s (think Quay and the famous snow egg- Sydney) grilled shiitake mushrooms with umami butter.  This week I decided it was happening.

Super simple recipe– grilled shiitake mushrooms topped with an umami butter.  This butter is filled with glorious things. You start with softened butter and mix in some dried shiitake and dried seaweed that have been blitzed in a spice grinder, toasted sesame seeds, white miso, lemon rind and fish sauce- mmmmmm UMAMI!

Firstly- don’t get distracted by Netflix and forget about the sesame seeds in the oven otherwise you end up with this…

That’s a little tooooo toasty- I gave it a second go and actually paid attention the second time.  Dump all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together and you end up with this delightful combination…

It’s not pretty I’ll grant you that but it’s really really tasty.

Next- take the stems off the mushrooms- on shiitakes they aren’t that lovely (when grilled) so slice them off and then coat with olive oil and salt..

Then it’s time to grill them- the recipe used a wood/coal bbq but I just used my cast iron grill pan over the gas- suitable alternative in my opinion.

I then topped these with the butter and put the in a low oven while I got together the rest of dinner.

Once they are warm the beautiful butter just melts into the mushrooms…

These were really good- I served them alongside a nice steak, baby spinach salad and a nice sourdough- these will be a make again and I think that this butter would go really nicely along with other veggies or even fish or chicken.

Give it a go- may sound strange ingredient wise but the flavour makes up for it.


make mine tropical

I think that world can become divided when it comes to the humble pineapple.  In our house rarely is Hawaiian pizza ordered because monkey doesn’t believe in hot pineapple, whilst I think it’s delicious.

A whole pineapple can also be a bit of a minefield sometimes- what if it’s too sour?  What if I leave it to ripen for too long and it just ends up brown inside?  What if I don’t cut off the skin properly and I barb my tongue with a prickly bit?  It’s a fraught world we live in hey?

The pineapple also seemed to take quite a bashing in the 70’s- I’ve had the absoloute pleasure of seeing some horrendous ‘cuisine’ from a golden circle cookbook.  Tropical bolognese?  Hollowed out pineapple half with a dipping sauce? (Much classier than the classic Cobb loaf with spinach dip) or even just whack some delightful crushed pineapple over a nice fish mould… eeeeek!

I think that one thing that most people can agree on is a toasted sandwich- how awesome are they?  Well this recipe brings the best of both worlds together, it’s like a Hawaiian pizza in a toasted sandwich.

This recipe had been waiting in the wings for some time and it was first cracked out when monkey was out one friday evening, I figured that he may not potentially like it given the hot pineapple situation so it was much easier to make it for myself and enjoy the deliciousness of the hot pineapple without judgement.

Surprise surprise this recipe came from gourmet traveller.  It’s from Analiese Gregory who is a chef at Bar Brose in Sydney- I absolutely must go there to eat one day- their bar food looks amazing and they have picked up a swag of awards of late- cheese gougere as big as your fist?  Yes please!

So nothing too crazy here- it follows your standard toasted sammich format- butter the bread on the outside ( i consider it a crime if you don’t), filled with cheese, ham, a slick of Dijon and in this edition a delightful pineapple relish.  There are two things that make this something more than a humble sandwich- firstly the butter on the outside is a spiced butter mix and secondly the pineapple relish- so so good.

First step- make your pineapple relish- what makes this really good is the coarsely crushed coriander seeds and the fresh chilli- it doesn’t make the relish spicy, just nice and warming.  It’s not hard to make- sauté the chilli, onion and garlic til soft then stir in the coriander seeds until fragrant, add in pineapple, water, vinegar and sugar and cook until jammy. This is where my version (it’s happened 2/2 times now) veers off the recipe- this one suggests 10-12 minutes- there was no way that was happening for me, so I just put my patient pants on and cooked it down until I thought it was ready (about 30 mins)- i also crush up the pineapple with the back of the spoon to make it a little smaller and a bit more spreadable. It is also something you can make ahead of time- it will sit quite happily in the fridge. 

How good does it look? It’s also pretty hard to stop taste testing it whilst you make the rest of the sandwich…

I probably should have mentioned that you should get the butter out of the fridge before you make the relish to let it start softening up.

The spiced butter is the easiest bit of all- get butter, mix in smoked paprika and cayenne (I skipped this bit), season to taste, stir- done- winner.

Assembly time… hold onto your hats!

Gather your bread- this recipe uses rye bread which I could get the first time I made this but the second time it was just a straight sourdough- both are great- preference is the rye but it was a close race.  Next cheese- recipe asks for gruyere- I just used the good old sliced Swiss cheese from the supermarket and ham.  This one asks for thick slices but I just used a shaved ham- best you can get of course- nothing too salty and with a nice smoke. Lastly Dijon- I have the old faithful jumbo jar of Dijon from Costco that’s been living in the fridge for a while- mustard has a long long shelf life! 

Butter the outside, Dijon the inside, cheese, ham, relish, cheese and pop the lid on- butter side out!

Then it’s cooking time- I’ve just done these in the sandwich press but I think that they would also pan fry up pretty nicely- cook until the cheese has melted and its nice and golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Try it- especially now it’s summer and the pineapple is sweet and delicious- once you’ve tried it I know you’ll want it again.  Toasted sandwiches are generally a quick fix and this one does take a little longer because of the relish but I think it’s totally worth it.

Because seriously look at it? How could you not want to eat this?

Make your next toasted sandwich a tropical one- I’m fairly certain it will be coming back up on the sandwich rotation again very soon….

snot blocks

So I’ve knocked another item off ‘the list’- if you haven’t read my last post I’ve got a list of items/recipes that I will make, one day, when the time is right.

Vanilla slice, snot block, custard slice whatever you want to call it they are all fairly similar and it wasn’t until I decided I wanted to make it the other night I realised why I’d put it off for so long.

Let’s start with the puff pastry- you cook it before you assemble but how to cook (and slice) it really varies.  Some recipes cook it weighted with another tray down on top, other recipes let it puff up and then compress afterwards, or others let it puff up and then get you to slice it horizontally to make two sheets (that was never going to happen!)

Then it’s the filing, some are made like a custard cooking it with eggs, others are more cornflower based still cooked and thickened up with eggs at a later point.

And assembly…. some just use 2 sheets of pastry and others use more, some use icing and some don’t- so many bloody variations!

Looking through the myriad of recipes I decided on a passionfruit version– it was summer so good timing to give it a go. I didn’t realise unti I purchased said passionfruit how the pressure would really be on for it not to be a failure because in total it was $12 worth of passionfruit alone!

Additionally my biggest fear was slicing the damned thing when it was done so I also purchased an electric knife (wanted one for a while anyway so it seemed like a good excuse!)

After dinner I set out for a late night baking session, and read the recipe properly… and read it again, and again and got quite confused.  After conferring with monkey I realised this recipe wanted you to have the pastry to puff up and slice through horizontally so using 2 pieces you end up with 4 to layer with. It was almost like a cross between a vanilla slice and a mille feuille,  I really didn’t like my chances of precision slicing there so I opted to use 4 slices of pastry and cooked them between 2 pans layered with baking paper and pressed down occasionally and they ended up beautifully golden and crisp…

To trim to pan size I just used a serrated edged knife and it cut really easily (may have sampled some of the off cuts)- now onto the filling.

This recipe was a cornflour thickened passionfruit cream cooked until thick and then egg yolks and butter stirred through afterwards- took a while to get to a beautiful state but it was lump free.  To make the passionfruit juice which is in the cream you scooped out about 6 passionfruit, whizzed in a blender and then strained- smelt just like summer.

Before you start to assemble make sure you line the pan really really well with either baking paper or glad wrap- you need enough to grip onto when you need to lift it out of the pan to slice.

Assembly was easy- pastry, cream, pastry cream, pastry, cream and then pastry- set for a while and then get started on the icing.  

I’m always amazed at how little liquid you need to mix with icing sugar to get it to a spreadable state- 150g of icing sugar and 2 passionfruit left you with a beautiful yellow icing that smelt so so good- spread a thick layer on top and all you need now is a little more patience for it to fully set.

I let mine set in the fridge overnight- and because I was worried it might be a little wobbly I popped in the freezer for about 30 minutes before slicing.

It lifted out of the pan easily thanks to the substantial amount of glad wrap used and I fired up the newly purchased electric knife.  Best purchase EVER! This just sliced through it like a breeze and I have a feeling I might just have a need to use it on everything now.

So the end result?  Pretty good- still needed a knife and fork to eat it properly (sacrilege I know!) but taste wise it did the job- thank goodness you could taste the passionfruit! I think next time I make it I’ll do the traditional 2 slices of pastry and may also look for more of a custardy recipe for the filling.

I still have some more left in the fridge which I am more than fine with- I think it was even better tonight than it was yesterday so logically speaking tomorrow’s should be the best yet!

Probably not something I would make often but definitely will be making (and improving on) in the future.  Although if I want to make more passionfruit ones may need to consider growing my own passionfruit…

compost cookies

I have a long list of recipes that I want to make, one day… just not at the point in time when I read it.  It’s either start this recipe 24 hours (min) beforehand (when I want it that day), too complicated a method to deal with and I’m reading the recipe late in the afternoon or a range of ingredients I just don’t have the time to go and source.  So this list is a long one, it’s not one central list, it’s scattered over Pinterest boards, ear marked in magazines and I know where they all sit in my cookbooks.  But every now and again I do knock them off one by one.

On the weekend I made compost cookies– the recipe is by Christina Tosi who originally started out at Momofuku and makes amazing things like cereal milk soft serve and crack pie (also on the list).  Compost cookies have been on the list for a long time…. in 2012 I first read about it in Gourmet Traveller where they featured Christina because she’d just released her Milkbar cookbook.  What I loved about it was the crazy combination of ingredients, a range of chocolate chips, pretzels, coffee, potato chips and a graham cracker crumb.

This brings me to Sunday- poor Monkey had to work that day so I decided I’d make him cookies.  My Pinterest page has a cookie/biscuit board so I went there for inspiration and landed on the Compost cookie recipe.  I read through it and thought that’s a few steps but that seems do-able today let’s do it.  So I headed to good old Safeway and picked up the stuff I didn’t have in the cupboard; glucose syrup, chocolate chips, potato chips, McVitee’s digestive biscuits (in lieu of graham crackers) and pretzels.  The one thing I couldn’t find from the shops which wasn’t surprising were butterscotch chips and I think that’s the reason why I’d put this recipe off for so many years because I just didn’t know where I would source them from.  I have gradually learnt that’s it’s ok if you don’t always have exactly the ingredients you need in some cases, so this time I supplemented the butterscotch chips with half white chocolate chips and half Reece’s pieces chips (so good!)

You first start with making the graham cracker crumb- whizz up the biscuits to crumbs and mix through sugar, milk powder, cream and melted butter and stir until it forms small clumps- these are mixed through the biscuit batter later- in hindsight I think that they mooshed into the mixture and became lost so I think next time I might crumble it over a baking sheet and bake until slightly crispy and then mix through.

Then it’s onto making the basic biscuit base, cream butter with sugars, add egg, flours etc.  Then came the fun bit, very carefully mixing through the choc chips, graham cracker crumbs, pretzels and potato chips- the kitchen aid did minimal rotations because i didn’t want to decimate the chips!

The mixture needs to be shaped and chilled before baking- they call for using a 70ml icecream scoop but I just used a 60ml cup measure- I am so glad I used something slightly smaller because the cookies are HUGE! Stack on a tray and chill for at least an hour.

When baking them make sure you give yourself plenty of room between each one, don’t try to cram more on, just be patient and be prepared to bake several batches of cookies. The first lot I cooked for too long but then for the next ones I took them out when the edges were just golden, middle still pale and puffed up, and when it cooled it deflated and all the nice chunky bits started to stick out.

So- do I think you would you eat these and go- oh my goodness I can totally taste the pretzels, chips, coffee etc!? No,but I think that what you do end up with is a beautiful salty sweet flavour and a great texture of crunchy and soft- so this recipe will move from the make one day list to the make again list.
Do you have a ‘to make one day list’? What’s on yours?

Additionally- do you know where you can buy butterscotch chips in Australia?