Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To Try Tuesday - Mixed Berry Buckle



When I first saw the recipe for a Blueberry Buckle over at Tracey's Culinary Adventures I knew that I had to make it soon.  Like Tracey I had never made a buckle before, and her cake just looked so enticingly full of blueberries. In the fridge there was a punnet of blueberries, but I also had some raspberries so I decided to make a mixed berry buckle.  I am so glad I pushed it to the top of my To Try list.

A buckle is a is a type of rich, dense cake with a moist crumb which is sometimes compared to coffee cake.  It is made in a single layer with berries added to the batter and has a topping that is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.




In a world where there is a huge emphasis on perfection there is something comforting about a cake that has a crumpled appearance.  It makes no apologies and is happy just the way it is, and so it should be.  Both warm from the oven, and cold the next day this cake was delicious.  The tartness of the berries played so well against the sweetness of the cake, that everyone kept going back for just another small piece.  

Growing up, coffee cakes were not very popular in my household.  We tended to have more loaf or pound cake, and sometimes, pie.  When I moved to the United States I was amazed that donuts, waffles, pancakes, and even coffee cake were also considered breakfast items.  My mind could hardly comprehend that the very things I had always though of as dessert could also be breakfast.  A whole new world opened up for me.  I am looking forward to making this buckle again soon, and maybe this time there will actually be some left for breakfast the next morning.





This buckle is not the only thing that I have enjoyed from Tracey's site.  She has so many good things going on over there - including her latest posts for Southwestern Black Bean Salad, Margarita Cupcakes, and Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette.  If you aren't familiar with her site, Tracey's Culinary Adventures, I highly recommend that you check it out soon.


Mixed Berry Buckle
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients
Streusel
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces & softened
Cake
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries 
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries

Preparation
Streusel
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, both sugar, cinnamon and salt on low to combine and break up any brown sugar lumps.
  2. With the mixer still on low, add the butter and beat until it is completely incorporated into the dry ingredients, about 2-3 minutes - the mixture will resemble wet sand.
  3. Transfer the streusel to another bowl and set aside.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round pan with a round of parchment, then spray the parchment and the pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together then set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. Beat in the vanilla. 
  6. Add the eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just about incorporated.
  8. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish stirring - the batter will be very thick. Gently fold in the blueberries and raspberries. 
  9. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan; spread in an even layer.
  10. To top with the streusel - pick up a handful of streusel and squeeze to form a clump. Break this large clump into smaller pieces and sprinkle over the batter. Continue until you've used all of the streusel.
  11. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool for 15-20 minutes.
  13. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake then invert it onto the rack.
  14. Remove the parchment then turn the cake streusel side up and let cool on the wire rack. 
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated via Tracey's Culinary Adventures.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Caprese Beet Salad with Balsamic Glaze




Happy Memorial Day!

Although I am a big fan of beets I have never cooked them myself.  When I saw both red and golden beets at the Farmer's Market I knew that the golden beets would be going home with me.  I decided to go for a simple preparation and use them in a salad.  I had already planned a Caprese Salad, so it was an easy decision to add the beets to it.

The Caprese Salad was created in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo. The salad usually takes the form of tomato, mozzarella and basil.  The traditional dressing is a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil as vinegar would destroy the delicate flavor of the cheese and is never used - except in my household.  I love this salad drizzled with a little balsamic glaze.  A balsamic glaze is a reduction made from balsamic vinegar, that results in a beautiful thick syrup that has a little sweetness to it.  I guess it is also very non-traditional to add beets to your Caprese Salad - what can I say, I'm a rebel.





This salad is something that we enjoy quite often as it is so easy to prepare.  I usually slice and layer the main ingredients on a platter and then cover it and place in the refrigerator until we are ready to serve.  All it needs is the basil, a little freshly ground salt and pepper, a quick drizzle of balsamic glaze and it is good to go.  I have also served it over a bed of arugula and this is great too.


Caprese Beet Salad with Balsamic Glaze
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1-1lb log mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices (I always use the one from Costco)
  • 2 medium cooked beets, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • balsamic glaze, to drizzle
Preparation
  1. Layer the mozzarella, beet, and tomato.
  2. Arrange basil on top.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.
Recipe by All That's Left Are The Crumbs



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Try Tuesday - Chocolate Chip - Chip Cookies





I know that chip - chip looks like a typo in the title but these cookies really do have chips x 2 - chocolate chips and potato chips.  Sweet and salty goodness all rolled into one yummy cookie.

When my daughter asked me to make cookies for her sleepover at a friend's house the idea of a cookie that incorporated potato chips was at the top of my to-try list.  After doing a quick search I found three recipes that sounded great at Vanilla Sugar Blog, Country Living, and The Capitol Baker and decided to combine them into one recipe.  The hardest part about making these cookies was waiting for them to chill in the refrigerator for an hour before I could bake them.  I was really happy with the end result and I loved the combination of sweet chocolate and salty potato chips.  My girls have already put in a request for another batch so we can make ice cream sandwiches from them.  Some of the other sites mentioned above suggested experimenting with different flavors of potato chips and I think this would be fun to do too.


So don't throw out those crushed chips in the bottom of a packet - use them to make these cookies.




Chocolate Chip - Chip Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups lightly crushed original potato chips
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt - stir to combine.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. Turn mixer speed to low, and slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed sugar mixture - mix well. 
  6. Gently stir in the crushed potato chips and chocolate chips.
  7. Place in the refrigerator and let chill for at least one hour.
  8. Using a cookie scoop drop 1-inch balls onto an ungreased baking sheet a few inches apart to allow for spreading (I did use a Silpat and mine did not spread very much). 
  9. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes on the tray before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe is a combination from the sites mentioned above.




Friday, May 20, 2011

The Cake Slice May 2011 - Orange Almond Caramel Upside-Down Cake




OK, is it just me or has the last month flown by?  I can't believe that this time last month I was in Australia visiting my eldest daughter.  I really would like time to slow down just a little bit so that it actually seems like there are 24 hours in a day.  Thankfully next week school is out for the summer and we can start to relax a little.

I can tell you, after a world-wide vote by the Cake Slice Baker's, the numbers are in - the results after the break.  Sorry, a little too much American Idol (even though I swore I would never watch again after my favorite didn't win a few years ago).  We are continuing to bake from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman, and this month it is an Orange Almond Caramel Upside-Down Cake.




Since we have a Costco-size bag of Cara Cara Oranges I decided to zest and juice a couple for the batter, and also cut a few very thin slices for the top of the cake. I thought the slices on top of the cake would be a nice complement to the orange-flavored cake. 

Our verdict was two thumbs up.   My husband especially liked the contrast between the soft cake, the crunchy toffee-like almonds, and the tangy slices of orange.  I think this will be yet another cake that I won't need the cake keeper for.


I am looking forward to seeing all of the other Cake Slice members cakes.  Join me in checking out their blogs by clicking on this link.




Orange Almond Caramel Upside-Down Cake
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

 
Ingredients

Topping
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 5 thin slices orange, rind removed 
Cake
  • 1½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
Preparation
Topping
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 9 inch round non stick cake pan and line the base with parchment paper, then dust with flour.
  3. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and toast until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming.
  5. Whisk in the brown sugar, turn the heat to low, and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes.
  6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.
  7. Drizzle over the honey, lay orange slices on top, and scatter over the toasted nuts.
Cake
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the sour cream, eggs, orange juice and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and beat lightly.
  3. Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Stir in the orange zest.
  4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.
  5. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Then mix of 30 seconds on medium speed.
  6. Pour the batter over the almonds, gently spreading it into an even layer.
  7. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
  9. Holding the pan and a plate together firmly with oven mitts, invert the hot cake onto the plate.
  10. Peel away the parchment paper. If necessary, replace any almonds stuck to the base of the pan.
  11. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
  12. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  13. Makes one 9 inch round cake.
Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To Try Tuesday - Poppy Seed Pound Cake For Monet



Sometimes we get a reminder of how fragile life is and realize that we should never miss the opportunity to tell someone that they mean the world to us.  If you have someone special to you, go and tell them right now how much you love them.  Go on, I'll still be here when you get back.

Recently, someone in our blogging family lost a sister and a nephew in an accident.  In that single moment everything changed and life would never be the same again for her or her family.  I have never met Monet in person, but I feel like I know her through her blog.  I don't know how to explain how it feels to read her blog except that it makes you feel like a member of her family.  She has a serenity to her writing and the love she has for her family shines through, and you can almost reach out and touch the closeness she shares with them.  When we read about this terrible tragedy we all wanted to help in any way that we could.  How do you go on after something like this happens?  Why did something like this happen to such a lovely person?  Where do we start to help her healing begin?  It turns out that for many people Monet was the one who helped us deal with these difficult questions.  In her own gentle way she knew what she needed to do and she took time for herself and her family as they came to terms with this horrible accident.





From her posts you could feel the closeness that Monet and her three sisters - Pam, Susanne, and Noelle  - felt for each other.  You can see it radiate from the pictures that Monet shared with us.  I know this look and feel because I see it in my four daughters, and I pray they never lose it. 

In her recent post for Mandarin Spice Shortbread Monet has one line in the post that reads "quite simply: we lived".  This line really struck me because when all is said and done that is all we can do in the face of tragedy.  Take one day at a time and recognize it for the gift that it is.






I made this pound cake today in honor of Monet's family.  It is a beautiful pound cake with tiny black poppy seeds, and just a hint of almond.  As I mixed it together I thought of those I love and those who have been lost to us.  As soon as the cake was cool enough to remove from the pan I cut that first piece, split it into smaller pieces, and shared it with my husband and my daughters.  Tomorrow, it will be shared with our friends.

I encourage everyone reading this post to visit Monet's blog, anecdotes and apple cores.  It is beautifully written and there are some amazing recipes. Monet has faced an incredibly difficult year with grace and determination and I think we can all learn something from her. 
 




Classic Poppy Seed Pound Cake
(Printer Friendly Recipe) 

Ingredients
  • 16 Tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
  • 1¾ cups cake flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup poppy seeds
  • 1¼ cups sugar
Preparation
  1. Cut butter into one tablespoon pieces and place in bowl of standing mixer. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes to soften slightly (around 60 degrees). 
  2. Using fork, beat together eggs and egg yolks in a liquid measuring cup. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to use.
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and generously grease and flour a 9x5 inch baking pan. 
  4. Using standing mixer, beat together butter and salt at high speed until shiny and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and with mixer running, pour in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat mixture until light and fluffy, 5-8 minutes.
  5. With mixer running at medium speed, gradually add egg mixture in a slow and steady stream. Beat mixture until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl, combine your flour and poppy seeds. In three additions, add flour into butter/egg mixture, folding gently with a rubber spatula.
  7. Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth surface and bake until golden brown, 60-75 minutes.
  8. Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto wire rack. Turn cake right side up and allow to cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

* Adapted by Monet from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Guest Post by Little Crumb - Banana Empanadas




Little Crumb is my youngest daughter.  Not only is she my biggest helper in the kitchen and the sounding board for my blog, but she makes a mean Banana Empanada.  I thought it was time for her to do a guest post for me.  She was so proud to make the empanadas, taking photos as she went along, and then she wrote up the text. All I did was help her attach some links and edit her photos.  Enjoy!

I have been making banana empanadas for quite a while now. It all happened when I was watching TV early in the morning, I had skipped through the channels and then I came upon the Food Network. As I was watching Quick Fix the host, Robin Miller, was making banana empanadas, which sounded really good. So I ran into my moms bedroom, woke her up and told her that I wanted to bake something for her. But we needed to get the ingredients so we went to the grocery store. After that it was time to start baking.



This recipe is so easy to make that a cave man could do it. As I waited for it to bake in the oven, it smelled so good I was drooling. We could hardly wait for them to cool, and one bite after another, soon all that was left were some crumbs!


Just because I am young it doesn’t mean that I don’t have mad skills in the kitchen. When I am helping my mom in the kitchen it makes me feel like a real chef, and that I mean something to the dish. I really love to cook but the worst part in the whole process is probably waiting for it to bake or cleaning up after words. 

I had a lot of fun doing this guest post for my mom.  I hope she will invite me to do another one soon, or I might have to start my own blog!


Banana Empanadas

Ingredients
  • cooking spray (Little Crumb uses a Silpat)
  • 1 large banana, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
  • additional cinnamon sugar or raw sugar for sprinkling.
  • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust
  • Ice cream or powdered sugar, if desired
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or a Silpat.  
  3. In a large bowl, combine bananas, brown sugar and cinnamon sugar. Mix well and set aside.  
  4. Unroll pie crust onto a flat surface.  
  5. Using a ring mold, make circles in the dough. 
  6. Put the banana mixture on the pie dough and fold it over to make a moon shape.  
  7. Pinch around the edges to seal (Little Crumb uses a fork).
  8. Transfer the empanadas to the prepared baking sheet and make slits in the top of each to allow steam to escape.
  9. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar, or raw sugar - your choice.
  10. Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake until crust is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  11. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the empanadas on a platter.
  12. Serve with ice cream or sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using. 

Recipe makes 12 empanadas and was adapted by Ashleigh from one by Robin Miller.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Malasada Bread Pudding - and my 100th Post Giveaway!




Malasadas just seem to call my name. I know that they are not good for me but I am helpless to resist.  Here in Hawaii these little bundles of yeasty goodness are rolled in plain sugar, cinnamon sugar, or li hing sugar.  They are also available filled with coconut (haupia) custard, chocolate custard, vanilla custard, or the flavor of the month - which at the moment is banana custard.  I like mine plain and rolled in regular (white) sugar and my favorites come from Leonard's Bakery on Kapahulu Avenue, just a short drive from Waikiki.  In Hawaii Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Tuesday and sales more than triple on this day.  They are also a staple at school fairs, and some schools are quite famous for their individual recipes.




Malasadas are also know as Portuguese donuts. They are made from a yeast dough, have no hole in the middle, and are deep-fried in oil. Tradionally they are rolled in granulated sugar, but variety is the spice of life and there are many different routes you can go with these. They are at their most delicious whilst fresh and still hot.  On the rare occasion when you have leftovers, do what I do and make Malasada Bread Pudding.  I based my recipe on one that I found here, but I do not put in any raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate and I make my custard with a combination of cream and milk.  I really would love to try making Malasadas myself.  I have a few different recipes that I can try, so when I find one I like I will post about it.  Until then I will keep lining up at Leonard's for my treats.  If you do not have somewhere nearby that sells malasada's then you can definitely make this recipe using regular sugar donuts.


And a Giveaway!
As this is my 100th post I wanted it to be something special.  On my recent visit to Australia I purchased a few items that I thought would make a fun giveaway and also give the winner a little taste of Australia.  The items I am including are:

1x190g bar of Cadbury Crunchie Dairy Milk Chocolate
1x150g jar of Vegemite
1x52g bar Cherry Ripe
1x200g packet of Buderim Naked (uncrystallized) Ginger
1x165g packet Tim Tams - Dark Chocolate Mint
1x175g packet Tim Tams - Dark Chocolate Rum & Raisin
1x200g tin Milo
1x200g packet Minties
1x350g Foster Clark's Custard Powder
1x85g packet Aeroplane Jelly - Port Wine Flavor
Delicious magazine - June 2011
Australian Good Food magazine - June 2011 issue

I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my blog, leaves me comments, and sends me emails but since this giveaway is sponsored just by me I have to limit it to the United States only.  I promise I will try to do an international giveaway soon with similar items.  To enter the giveaway simply leave me a comment.  Of course I would love if you started following my blog or liked me on Facebook, but this is more about me saying thank you, so leave me a comment and you are in the draw.  I will close the entries at 9:00pm on Friday, May 20.  I am using the number generator at Random.org to choose a winner, and I will have the box in the mail the next morning.

We have a winner!
The winner of the box of goodies from Australia - as well as a couple of bonus items from Hawaii - was The Kitchenarian.  Congratulations!  Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by my blog.  As previously mentioned I will try and do another giveaway in a few months with either Hawaiian or Aussie goodies and this one will be worldwide.


Malasada Bread Pudding
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients
  • 6 day-old malasadas
  • ½ cup raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup white sugar, plus more to sprinkle
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • a pinch of nutmeg, plus more to sprinkle
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break malasadas into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan or individual ramekins. 
  3. Sprinkle with raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (optional).
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs, add cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. 
  5. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until malasadas are covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  6. Sprinkle with additional sugar and nutmeg.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.
Based an a recipe found here.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To Try Tuesday - Honey Buttermilk Bread


I made a pact with myself that I would try to use my bread maker more often after the recent success I had with a challah recipe.  I went searching for bread machine recipes and found today's To Try recipe for Honey Buttermilk Bread on the About.com website.  It seemed nice and straightforward, and I was definitely tempted by the combination of buttermilk and honey.

There is something magical about the smell of bread baking.  I don't think have I ever met one person who isn't enticed by the smell.  This recipe was no different.  Sometimes I think there is a decadence about almost throwing the ingredients into a machine and having a beautiful loaf of bread emerge after a few hours, but it is a decadence that I can definitely live with.

The only changes I made were to use on a teaspoon of salt (rather than the 1½ suggested), I melted my butter, and I used warm water. A steady rain falling outside, warm bread with a little butter on top, a cup of Ka'u coffee makes for a rather nice afternoon.  I'd like to know how this bread is after being toasted for breakfast but I can tell it is not going to last beyond dinner.  I may just have to make another loaf for the morning.



Honey Buttermilk Bread
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons yeast (I used 1 packet)
  • 3 cups bread flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • ¾ cup buttermilk 
  • 3 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey 
  • ½ cup warm water

Preparation
  1. Put all ingredients in bread machine, in order suggested by bread machine manufacturer.
  2. Choose basic or white bread and light or medium crust setting (I chose basic and light and it was perfect). 

Recipe from About.com - Southern Food 




    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Mark's Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb-Crunchie® Butter





    Well, I was totally spoiled by my amazing husband for Mother's Day.  Not only did he bring me a piping hot mug of my favorite Ka'u coffee and the newspaper in bed, but he also made me ricotta hotcakes a la Bill Granger - but better, so much better.

    I went to Bill's on my recent trip to Australia.  It is always a dilemma trying to decide what to order because everything sounds (and tastes!) so good.  Both my daughter and I settled upon the ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter.  It is one of those dishes that, if no one was looking, you totally want to lick the plate clean.  The honeycomb is not the usual comb you would find in honey, but rather a confection made from sugar, golden syrup, water, and baking soda.  It is also the basis for two iconic candies from Australia - the Violet Crumble and the Crunchie.  The Violet Crumble is available in some parts of the U.S., but I have never seen a Crunchie bar here.

    Upon my return I told my husband about the restaurant visit, mentioning that we would have to try making them sometime.  Little did I know that he absorbed this little request and put a plan in place to make them for me on Mother's Day.  This is a huge deal because my husband does not cook very often.

    Not only did he make hotcakes that totally rival Bill's, but he also had to overcome the obstacle of not having access to honeycomb here in the U.S.  His solution was to use a candy bar from Australia called a Crunchie when making the butter.  I am gob-smacked at how resourceful he was.  This butter melted over the top of the hotcakes and was a chocolate-honeycomb dream.  I realize that Crunchies are not readily available here, so to make this butter you have a few choices - make honeycomb from scratch, buy a Violet Crumble bar if they are available in your area, or lastly I think a SKOR bar would work well in this too.

    Along with the ricotta hotcakes, he and my daughters also made some french toast from Punalu'u Sweatbread and a beautiful platter of tropical fruits.  The cherry on top was a glass of pink champagne and guava juice.  What an truly wonderful Mother's Day.


    I barely had time to grab my camera and take a quick photo before they were devoured.



    Ricotta Hot Cakes With Honeycomb Butter
    (Printer Friendly Recipe)

    Ingredients
    Hotcakes
    1 ⅓ cups ricotta
    ¾ cup Milk
    4 eggs separated
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 pinch of salt
    50 g butter
    fresh strawberries halved (I prefer banana)
    icing sugar for dusting

    Honeycomb Butter
    250 g unsalted butter softened
    100 g sugar honeycomb crushed with a rolling pin or a Crunchie bar
    2 tablespoons honey

    Preparation
    Hotcakes  
    1. Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix to combine.
    2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
    3. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined.
    4. Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.
    5. Fold egg whites through batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.
    6. Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of the butter and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (don't cook more than 3 per batch).
    7. Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides.
    8. Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through.
    9. Transfer to a plate and quickly assemble with other ingredients.
    10. Stack 3 hotcakes on a plate and top with strawberries and a slice of honeycomb butter.
    11. Dust with icing sugar.
    Honeycomb Butter
    1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
    2. Shape into a log on plastic wrap, roll, seal and chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours.
    3. Store leftover honeycomb butter in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or in the freezer - it's great on toast.
    Recipe from Bill's Sydney Food by Bill Granger.

    I thought I would also include some photos from my trip to Bill's in Surry Hills.





    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    I'm Back from the Land Down Under

    Actually I have been back for a few days but jet-lag always hits me on the trip back, so I have been sleeping a lot and getting gradually getting back on track.  I had a wonderful time and got to visit with my eldest daughter who is attending university in Sydney, and catch up with other family members too, including my two wonderful sisters-in-law.

    I thought I would share a couple of photos from our trip to the mountains before getting back into the regular recipes.  It is Autumn (Fall) in Australia and the weather is starting to get colder.  Although it can get down to the low 30's in the morning during winter, it does not snow in Sydney.  Growing up I did not have central heating in my house so it was a mad dash in the morning to get into a warm shower and get some winter clothes on.  It was a sad day if someone had beaten you to the shower.

    Some of the teapots at Bygone Beautys


    On a cold, rainy day there is nothing better to warm you up than to have a Devonshire Tea by a fireplace.  To achieve this my daughter and I headed to the Blue Mountains, which are located about 90 minutes west of Sydney by car, to a wonderful tearoom located in Leura.  Bygone Beautys not only serves a wonderful Devonshire Tea, but also boasts the world’s largest private collection of teapots.  We started with the Soup of the Day, which was a sweet potato-pumpkin soup, and followed it with a Devonshire Tea - home made scones with jam and whipped cream, served with tea or coffee.




    As you can see the grounds are beautiful, but the star is the scones, jam, and cream.




    The leaves changing color was quite stunning too.  I had forgotten how beautiful they are since I don't see them very often.




    We also visited a wonderful old hotel called The Carrington which was opened in 1882.



    And a final few photos.  There was a fine rain falling for most of the day and I was amazed at how it delicately clung to the flowers, and even a spider's web.



    And the spider's web.