I have been making crumpets this week. They are such a great breakfast staple and a lovely afternoon tea treat.
I used my buttermilk crumpets recipe as I had some beautiful buttermilk from Pepe Saya, the Australian experts on all things dairy cultured! The link to their website is here.
So I thought I would revisit that recipe as well as my sourdough crumpets recipe. The buttermilk recipe is very easy to do as it uses commercial yeast. The sourdough recipe is fantastic, but you do need a sourdough starter on hand.
If you’re in need of making something indulgent this weekend – waffles may be the answer! And particularly if you’re in a part of Australia that’s in lockdown, I hope this might cheer you up.
I found a good recipe by the inimitable Martha Stewart for buttermilk waffles. Very easy and very quick. However, I must fess up and explain that the first waffles were rather flat and a bit disappointing. So I added spoonful or so of extra flour and anothter 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the remaining mixture. This did the trick and the the rest of the waffles were thick and fluffy! However, I hope that if you followed the inimitable Martha’s recipe as is, it will work out fine for you.
I included my recipe troubleshooting as I always like to be as accurate as possible as I describe my cooking experiences.
I served the waffles with some cookie crumbs – I crushed up a couple of cookies I had left over. Add a good drizzle of golden syrup, some whipped cream and a few raspberries and strawberries and you’re in the waffle breakfast business!
2 cups plain (all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 free-range eggs
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, bi-carbonate of soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs, then add the flour mixture, and mix until batter is just combined.
Heat the waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and brush with a little oil. Pour batter onto the grid, spread batter if necessary, but make sure you don’t overfill the grid. Close the waffle maker and cook until the waffles are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
The waffles will be cooked but maybe a little soft. At least mine were. Put them in the preheated oven for a couple of minutes to crisp up and also to keep them warm.
Make the rest of the waffles in the same way. Serve with golden or maple syrup, whipped cream or yoghurt and fresh fruit – berries are great! And cookie crumbs for some extra luxe!
Breakfast. The best meal of the day as far as I’m concerned. Whether eating out or making it at home, breakfast is a joyous occasion, each and every day. So I do tend to go out for breakfast…a lot.
I have some advice: if you want to remain anonymous, don’t post your latest drool worthy restaurant dishes on Facebook or Instagram, as you are giving your friends – and stalkers – a GPS map of your daily movements! Certainly my nearest and dearest are able to track me down via my breakfast posts. Kind of doing away for the need for any personal contact… it’s a weird world we live in.
So I visit Melbourne fairly frequently, mostly to see theatre, as reviews soon to be published on this blog will attest, but I also go there to eat. Fitzroy, Carlton, Brunswick, all great destinations for the curious diner.
Back to breakfast. As a regular visitor to Melbourne I do admit to being unfaithful to my home city of Sydney on the important matter of breakfast.
Melbourne cafes just do it better than Sydney. That is my belief. With one notable exception – a charming and hipster-esque cafe, located on a quiet suburban street in Marrickville, doing the very best breakfasts in Sydney.
You could be in Fitzroy. The urban terrain is similar. The quaintly named TwoChaps has all the right credentials to be a breakfast icon – officially vegetarian but caters for vegans, uses sustainable and ethically sourced produce, artistically designed and Insta worthy dishes, and saving the very best to last – they make everything in house! Slow proved sourdough loaves, rustic and full of deep flavour, flaky croissants with artful toppings (think torched meringue) and oh so sinful donuts! Yummy, really chocolatey house made notella – not to be confused with that commercial choc hazelnut spread – plus jams, preserves, honey and pickles. All artfully displayed as you enter the space, and then there are those donuts!
Timing is a consideration to visiting Two Chaps. Saturdays and Sundays are buzzing, and a 20 minute wait is the norm, but worth it, and also rather fun, standing or sitting on the pavement where the vibe is cheerful and coffee can be ordered while you wait. But weekdays there’s usually no wait, though the cafe is always lively. So it’s up to you whether you want the to join the #Marrickville-on-Sunday-morning #justoutofbed #Ineedmycoffeefix crowd, or enjoy a leisurely weekday breakfast sans millennials but with a few yummy mummys and maybe a mamil or two. Up to you, I like either vibe!
As a baker of all things yeasty I often go for the crumpets, always on the menu. I am in awe of their sourdough crumpets, which are light as a feather, and fabulous in either their savoury or sweet incarnations. I have eaten them lots in both forms.
Here are “Sourdough crumpets, spicy green tahini, deep fried cauliflower, harissa oil, pistachio and pink peppercorn dukkah + poached egg”, and a sweet offering “Chocolate sourdough crumpets with buttermilk ricotta, rhubarb jam, beetroot poached pear and candied pecans”:
Even with my sweet tooth I don’t always have to have a sweet fix, and to prove it, here is a tasty savoury concoction: “Hash browns, sautéed medley of beans and rainbow chard, poached eggs and green goddess sauce”.
I’m saving the (current) best to last! Just last week – Friday 12 April – I was in breakfast heaven, had reached Nirvana, and whatever other purple prose I can get away with to describe the experience…
Visiting on a whim with one of my breakfast partners in crime – Quirky Sister the Elder – we both ordered something that rightly should have been dessert, but hey, I can do all kinds of sweetness and claim it as a nutritious experience!
We had “Passionfruit curd brioche, Kristen Allen’s labneh, torched Italian meringue, banana, house made notella, hazelnuts”. Here it is, smashed into, already half eaten. Completely and utterly delicious.
There are a few recipes that I make on a regular basis, and I love to post new versions on the blog to show you what I’ve been making. Soon I’ll be getting ready to make hot cross buns. I’ll probably wait till March, even though I was shocked to find hot cross buns already in the supermarket after Christmas!
One of my favourite things to make is granola. I make a batch every couple of weeks, as I really need my cereal fix every morning. I’ve posted the recipe a few times already here.
I thought I would add this version as I’m particularly keen on it. But it may not be to everyone’s taste. As the title implies there is salt in this recipe. Quite by accident, I bought salted nuts instead of unsalted for the granola. They were delicious! I love the combination of the sweetness from the dried fruit and honey, with the saltiness of the nuts. And hey, first it was salted caramel and, then salted chocolate, so why not sweet and salty granola?
2 cups of rolled oats 1 cup of bran flakes or similar 1/2 cup of salted nuts like macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts A handful of mixed seeds like pepita, linseed, sesame 1/3 cup of honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave 1/2 cup of any dried fruit – sultanas, raisins, apricots, cranberries, sour cherries.
Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees C. You could try 160 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out so that all the mix is exposed to the heat.
Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively.
Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!
Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!
You can serve this granola in so many different ways. Milk and Greek yoghurt are favourites with me. I will always have fresh fruit on hand to add to the granola. In high summer in January in Sydney, berries are plentiful and so cheap! Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, all amazing, all wonderful, and I eat them by the punetful. And stone fruit too, is really coming into its own this month. Yellow and white peaches, apricots and nectarines, all delicious. And passionfruit is delicious any time of the year.
If summer fruit is plentiful, then I’m making jam. I’ve made lots of jam in this last week – apricot, blackberry, strawberry, mixed berry, and my new find mango! I will be posting recipes for these shortly.
I’ve been eating my sweet and salty granola with Greek yoghurt and lots of fresh fruit and a dollop of mango jam. A fabulous addition to breakfast! Just delicious! But eat your granola with whatever takes your fancy.
PANCAKES! Always a great breakfast option, unless it’s hotcakes, waffles or crumpets! I really love a home made version of any one of these griddle cooked goods.
So Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts makes thick luscious and surprisingly healthy pancakes – they could even be described as hotcakes.
I’m re-blogging this gorgeous recipe that comes from Jamie’s book Everyday SuperFood.
Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.
320g blueberries or raspberries
1 ripe banana
170ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large free-range egg
250g wholemeal self raising flour
4 tbs natural yoghurt
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped
Drizzle of honey
Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.
You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey.
Irish soda bread – the quick and easy bread you can make and eat in a matter of an hour. Which is exactly what I do on weekend mornings when I want freshly baked bread to go with my morning coffee!
My version has a spoonful of treacle to give it a malty flavour, alhtough it’s still quite a plain bread. You can zhush it up into a sweeter, more fancy bread by adding dried fruit – I like adding cranberries or sour cherries.
And baking soda bread in individual flowerpots is fantastic for making great little individual loaves. I love serving winter warming stews and casseroles with baby flowerpot loaves. Very rustic!
Of course, if you don’t have (clean) flowerpots on hand, you could just as easily make these loaves in muffins molds or even as free form loaves.
Here is the recipe for treacle flowerpot loaves and the fruity flowerpot variation.
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbls black treacle
For fruity flowerpots, add a couple of good handfuls or to taste, of dried fruit. For my bake, I made half plain loaves, half fruity.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly spray terracotta flower pots with cooking spray. Put a little flour into each pot, shaking the pot to make sure the flour coats the inside of the pot. Shake out any excess. You don’t need to be too precise – the main thing is to roughly coat the flower pot to allow easy removal of the loaf once baked.
Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the treacle to the buttermilk, stirring it well.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk/treacle mixture, mixing quickly to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.) Add the dried fruit if using.
Mix well, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. You can even skip the kneading and pile the mix straight into the pots.
Put handfuls of the dough into the pots, filing to about 3/4 full, to allow for the bread to rise. Place the pots on a baking sheet.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the loaves are risen and deep brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the flowerpots. The way to do this is to gently run a knife round the edge of the bread in the pot to loosen it, then turn out.
Waffles! I always thought they were hard to make until I started using a waffle maker, a present from years ago, that I found at the back of a kitchen cupboard. Et voila! From batter to plate in 15 minutes. So yummy, and they look pretty groovy too!
I made these last weekend and served them with a drizzle of golden syrup, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and good dollop of sour cream to undercut the sweetness. Magic breakfast!
110g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbls dark brown sugar or muscavado sugar
30ml vegetable oil
1 free-range egg separated
Golden syrup, cinnamon sugar, sour cream or creme fraiche
Heat an electric waffle maker for a few minutes. Put the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix by hand to combine. Add the buttermilk, oil and egg yolk and whisk until smooth.
Put the egg white into another bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whisked egg white into the flour mixture. Carefully ladle 2 tablespoons of batter (or enough to cover the waffle plate) into the waffle maker. Cook until the waffle is a nice dark golden brown – my waffle maker lets me check the state of doneness simply by opening up and having a look. Carefully remove the cooked waffle to a warm plate and continue making.
Serve with golden syrup, cinnamon sugar and sour cream or creme fraiche. Makes about 6 waffles.
Here’s another muffin recipe – I’m always experimenting with ingredients and tweaking recipes to create new taste and texture sensations.
Figs are plentiful in early autumn in Sydney, and a colleague brought me some beautiful bounty from the Southern Highlands from her very own fig tree. Lucky Ms L to have a tree bearing such luscious treats!
This recipe is based on one from Mike McKenearney’s “Kitchen by Mike” see here for details – with a bit of method thrown in from Matt Stone’s Greenhouse Muffins and my own flavour combo of fresh figs, stem ginger and frangipane.
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of sea salt
80g butter, softened
65ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
75ml buttermilk (or ordinary milk with a good squeeze of lemon juice added)
6 fresh figs
6 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped
1/2 quantity of frangipane
A couple of teaspoonfuls of a good jam – apricot works well
Handful of flaked almonds, toasted
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 free-range egg
These quantities make 6 big muffins. You could probably get 8 or so daintier muffins from the mixture.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a six-hole muffin tin with baking paper or paper cases.
In an electric mixer, whisk the butter, oil and sugar until smooth, and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should look creamy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the buttermilk or lemon-soured milk.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into another bowl and then add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and whisk on a low speeed until smooth. Be careful not to overmix and this will toughen the muffins.
Fold in the remaining flour mixture, again being careful not to overmix.
Chop 4 of the figs into quarters and then half each quarter. Carefully fold the chopped figs and the chopped stem ginger into the muffin mixture and then spoon evenly into the baking papers or muffin cases.
To make the frangipane, cream the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the egg and ground almonds and process until smooth. (You will only need 1/2 this quantity, if that).
Mix a good teaspoonful of the frangipane into each muffin. It doesn’t matter if it’s not mixed in too well – it’s nice to have an almond surprise in the centre of the muffin!
Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
When the muffins are cool, brush the top of each muffin with jam, then sprinkle on some toasted flaked almonds.
I decorated with slices of the remaining 2 figs. It would be nice too, to bake some fig slices on the top of the muffins. My track record of having baked fruit pieces stay on top of muffins and cakes is not good! They always sink. So I content myself with decorating the baked goods with fresh fruit.
Serve on their own or maybe with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.
Recently I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Adelaide, South Australia. I was attending a conference over three days, a perfect amount of time to sample some of the delights of Adelaide food. The trip fulfilled its promise: a really good conference with some great papers presented, and the opportunity to indulge in some lovely food experiences.
So what is the significance of the title of this post? Well there was fine dining, and then there was THE FREAKSHAKE. As a lover of all things sweet and creamy, this writer, having discovered this truly weird drink/food, has been keen to try one. Freakshakes, sadly most probably an ephemeral food trend, are milkshakes with all sorts of edible goodies piled on top and lots of syrup and sauce flowing over the top of the glass jar.
Somehow they are quite hard to find in Sydney, so when researching dining in Adelaide, I googled freakshakes and discovered St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream and Dessert http://st-louis.com.au/. As you can see from the photo I was not disappointed!
I had the Peanut Butter Brownie Shake – Peanut Butter Nutella milkshake, topped with a warm chocolate brownie and chocolate coated wafer balls. Drizzled with pure melted milk chocolate. My partner in culinary crime and academic adventure, the quirky Ms R, had the Salted Caramel Waffle Shake – Salted Caramel milkshake, topped with warm Belgian Waffle, dulce de leche and sweet ’n salty popcorn.
But the highlights of the stay were discovering some really good restaurants, from chic to adventurous, all within a walk or an Uber drive from our city hotel. And there were a couple of great breakfast cafes, one – Stumps Bar and Kitchen, that looked like its name, ie a bar – but which produced an amazingly beautiful plate of ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, lemon curd and cream with edible flowers… the photo at the top of the post says it all! Here is the link: http://stumpsbar.com.au/
Press* food and wine, where we had our first dinner, is aptly named as the restaurant is situated in the old printing works of the newspaper The Adelaide Advertiser. A huge industrial space which suits the down to earth yet inventive cooking style. The restaurant specializes in offal. That option was not for us – we stuck with some great vegetarian options. A salad of ricotta balls and radicchio was fresh and pungent and a truffled mushroom & taleggio pithivier with cauliflower purée was unusual and delicious. However the Bombe Alaska with a peanut brittle and banana ice creamfrozen centre was amazing…and it came to the table alight! Here is the link to the restaurant: http://pressfoodandwine.com.au/
Next, tucked in a laneway reminiscent of Melbourne’s well known city lanes, was Peel St. The dining space is casual, with an open kitchen and bar side dining. That’s where we sat, watching the kitchen action and the prep of the beautiful dishes. The food was great, some of the best dishes we ate in Adelaide. There were two standouts. Banana blossom chicken, chilli jam and coconut salad with peanuts and crispy shallot was an Asian inspired dish of deliciousness, with contrasting textures and intricate flavours. My photo, unfortunately, is not included as the low lighting didn’t do the dish justice. Dessert, which I did photograph, was a peanut parfait with chocolate mousse, brulee toffee banana and meringue cigars. It tasted as good as it looks! This is the Peel St link: http://www.peelst.com.au/.
On the last night we visited Africola, a very cool eaterie with the focus on African food. As their website says “compact, simple restaurant with a western soundtrack, for African-inspired vegetables, grilled and smoked meats, flatbreads, pickles and natural wine.” We sat at the bar here too, literally a metre or so from the cooking and prep stations. We watched them cooking our flatbreads on the flame grill, which came to us with some smoky dips. A half cauliflower – cooked on the grill – came seasoned and dressed. A nice way to eat a sometimes predictable vegetable. This is the link: http://www.africola.com.au/
Another tasty breakfast was Cafe Troppo, where sustainability, community and environment are key themes. Ms R had a traditional breakfast of seasoned scrambled eggs and gourmet bacon on local, hand-made sourdough. I was keen to try the stone-milled whole grain flour waffles, pressed to order, with Paris Creek whipped cream, bacon and thyme honey. Delicious waffles, but I’m not convinced about sweetened whipped cream with bacon… Link here: http://cafetroppoadelaide.com/
Another nice foodie experience to mention in passing – the fabulous Adelaide Central Market – where one particular patesserie counter caught my eye with their salted caramel doughnuts. Ms R and I had to share one, of course!
And on the third and last day of our conference, our hosts took us on a cultural tour to the Adelaide Hills, where we had lunch at Deviation Road Winery, which specializes in paellas cooked in enormous paella pans shown in the photo. Here is the link: http://www.deviationroad.com/
My short sojurn in Adelaide was rewarded with some memorable dining experiences. It’s clearly a city with an exciting and varied food scene, relaxed vibe, and very friendly and knowledgeable service. Go visit!
Quirky Niece No 1 gave me a really easy recipe for Crostata, or Italian jam tart. She acquired the recipe on a recent trip to Italy. She tells a lovely story, below in this post, of her time in Italy with Companion to Quirky Niece.
“So, as part of our spontaneous European holiday, we decided to hire a car and drive around Tuscany for 5 days. After a hairy hour or so battling peak-hour Florence traffic due to a GPS mayhap, we finally found ourselves out in the countryside and at our first airbnb accommodation, a sprawling country house on an agriturismo near Montepulciano. In the warm summer evenings we sat on the balcony, looking out at the glittering lights of the ancient city, and every morning, we ate a sumptuous breakfast prepared by our beautiful hosts, which included fresh cheeses, sliced meats and a wonderful jam tart. We could never finish it, so we took it with us on our adventures, only to find another one freshly baked the next day! On our final day, I asked our friendly host which baker she bought it from. Highly amused, she responded that she was a terrible cook, but this was her special foolproof recipe. In an instant, she quickly set her baby down and wrote up the ingredients on a post-it. And now, it has become my go-to entertaining recipe as well! I use all kinds of jam, so long as they have delicious chunks of fruit, and I remember our host’s exhortations to prick the base thoroughly with a fork before spooning in the jam.”
I made the crostata recently using this recipe. I made a quick strawberry jam for the filling, but any good quality store bought jam would do. In hindsight, my pastry was too thick – I would use a larger baking mold next time, for a more manageable pastry base.
Quantity of any good jam for the filling ( I used strawberry here)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a tart mold with baking paper or you could simply grease a baking tray if you want a true rustic crostata.
Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a food processor and pulse till the mixture just comes together.
Make a well in the centre and add the butter and egg and egg yolks and mix in gently until combined but not overworked.
Roll out the dough roughly – remember this is not a precise tart – and line the tart mold. Or gently shape the dough into a round with a pastry rim on the baking tray. And prick the base – something I forgot to do this time!
Fill the tart with the jam and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam bubbling.