Saturday, August 8, 2009


Breakfast is beloved over here, so on the weekends we brunch and forego lunch. The morning starts with a strong freshly brewed coffee, then the cooking starts. Popular choices for brunch include

*Porridge with spiced fruit compote, crushed almonds, Greek yoghurt or a splash of cream
*Ricotta pancakes with yoghurt, banana and honey or stewed rhubarb and extra ricotta
*Conventional pancakes with banana and maple syrup
*The fry up, comprised of some combination of fried eggs, baked beans, bacon, pork sausages and some wholemeal toast
*Potato hash (boil the potatoes skin-on the night before) with bacon and eggs fried sunny-side up
*Smoothies made with bananas, seasonal soft fruit (berries, mangoes, apricots), honey, yoghurt, bran cereal soaked in milk and cinnamon
*Bill Granger's sweetcorn fritters with avocado salsa
*Herb omelette with cheddar or smoked salmon served on an English muffin
*Huevos motuleños

Since I'm currently mad for pink lady apples, I have been experimenting with the dramatically deformed Dutch baby pancake

Apple Dutch Baby
Serves 2 to 4

30 g unsalted butter
2 pink lady apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
3/4 cup milk
100 g plain flour
4 eggs
60 g white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Yoghurt or vanilla icecream to serve

Peconfigure your oven so that there is one shelf in the middle and preheat oven to 230°C. Melt the butter in a 28 centimetre cast iron skillet over moderate heat. Add apple wedges and cook until they soften and begin to caramelise, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the apple is cooking, mix milk, flour, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Pour the batter over the apples and transfer the skillet to the oven, bake until the pancake in golden and puffy, 20-25 minutes. Dust with cinnamon and serve with yoghurt or vanilla icecream.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July Leftovers

*I inherited an unnatural affection for soup from my Dutch grandfather, as a result we eat soup weekly year round. Curried black-eyed pea soup has been in my bookmarks for a while. I withheld the bacon, doubled the spices using sambar masala instead of madras powder, after puréeing 3/4 of the bean mix I added a box of fresh baby spinach that I had chopped roughly. I added fried bacon to bowls just before serving. This soup was nice enough to add to my big mental list of soups, I'll be making it again.

*Continuing with soup experimentation I made a pot of spicy cashew tomato soup. I puréed the lot as recommended by the Culinate editors and only added the optional cayenne. Delicious and very filling, Afghan bread makes a nice accompaniment.

*I got a specific request for black bean quesadillas for dinner this month, I use this NYT recipe for simmered black beans. I like that the beans in this recipe are not heavily seasoned during cooking. The beans are great over Spanish rice with sour cream, avocado, and hot sauce or puréed and smeared in a tortilla with cheese, jalapeños, and fresh coriander, or served in huevos motuleños.

*With a recent yum cha meal on my mind, I made steamed spare ribs with black bean sauce. The marinade does not need the a tablespoon of salt in addition to all the other salty condiments. Easy to prepare and it didn't taste bad, but there was too much sauce and the flavour was too generic.

*I wanted a rice pudding recipe that serves two, I found on on Simply Recipes. The Archivist loved it, I though the egg yolk gave the pudding an unpleasant grainy texture.

*It seems July was the month of orange cakes, since I had a whole three kilogram bag of oranges to use up. Milk and Cookies' orange and yoghurt cake was the first cake of the month. It is dense and tasty as written and great smeared with raspberry jam, cut into batons and covered in hot custard, if you're in to that sort of thing. With some oranges still lingering in the fruit bowl I made this orange cake. I thought the cake tasted far too greasy. I also made a jaffa drizzle loaf from the BBCs Good Food. It sunk so I didn't bother with the drizzle, I suspect is was over-leavened since I finally got an oven thermometer and used the right size tin. The orange and yoghurt cake is the only recipe of the three that I'd make again.