Friday, March 30, 2012

What I've enjoyed this month: March 2012

Another month (nearly) over and another review post to honour the occasion. March has been a bit easier going than February, thank goodness, and I'm hoping our trip north can provide a nice finish and transition to April. Poor Mr Bite has now come down with a cold though - separate, it would seem, to my chest infection! - so we are doing a tag team of sub-optimal health. Fingers crossed he feels better for our planned departure tomorrow.

Illness aside, there have been some positives to March. Quite a few in fact.

I enjoyed a run of Mexican dishes, starting with the dinner for Mr Bite's mother and ending with this lunch:

A rare yellow capsicum (rare that I buy them, not rare per se) with four-bean mix, salsa, nutritional yeast and a side of barbecue-flavoured rice crackers.

I'm not sure why I stopped this run of Mexican actually.

I also enjoyed pineapple, lemon and ginger tea that my Mum brought back for me from Queensland.

Her trip to Queensland actually deserves note in its own right - my Dad has travelled for business semi-regularly for the duration of my life, but this was the first time my Mum went away for work. I think she had a good time, but heard via my sister that home meals were a bit odd in her absence!

Yes, my tea strainer for loose leaf teas is a duck. I like it very much.

I took my camera around the local neighbourhood.

There's something really fun about taking a different perspective on things nearby.

I rediscovered pikelets...

No further explanation required.

We went to Sculptures by the Sea...

We also enjoyed watching Season One of MisfitsHas anyone else seen this English science fiction comedy drama on ABC 2? We watched Season Two last year and it was one of those rare shows that we both really liked, to the extent that I actually looked forward to watching it (there are few TV shows in that category for me).

Our local library had Season One and we finally reached the top of the reserve queue this month. I think it was even better than the second season, but I'm now slightly worried that the show is on a downhill slide...I'm not liking Season Three as much. We've only watched the first episode of it though, so I should probably give it more time.

Finally, on a blog note, I updated my Recipes page. It's now streamlined with new sub-headers, and I like it much better.

Tomorrow, to Exmouth! Or at least, to Geraldton, on route to Exmouth. There may be some picture heavy posts over the next week :-) (my laptop is coming with us).

What has your March involved?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter recipes: A round up

Mr Bite and I are heading up to Exmouth this Saturday, to spend nearly a week there before returning over the Easter long weekend. Although we don't exactly need more warm weather after the Summer we've had, I'm really looking forward to the break and to going further north in Western Australia than I've been before. It should be a relaxed week, with opportunities for exploring both on land and underwater (there are lots of snorkeling spots).

With the timing of our trip, I expect to do less Easter baking this year than usual. I may dive into some things on our return, or I may let this year slide a little - I'll see how it pans out. Usually I make some Easter-themed things and some baked goods that are just enjoyable to have around. After all, a 4-day long weekend is pretty much an excuse to bake, in my mind!

Last year I had just bought my food processor and had fun with raw fruit and nut ballsberry-oat squares and lemon pie bars, and Hannah's chocolate coconut hazelnut fudge from Wayfaring Chocolate.

Vegan lemon pie bars - with terrible photography

Most years I also make Easter chocolates in some rabbit-shaped chocolate moulds I bought many years ago. I like being able to choose what chocolate goes in, and to combine flavours or add in ingredients if I'm feeling creative. Some examples of the sorts of shapes you can make are in this Easter chocolates post on

If you're looking for some other ideas for Easter this year, here are some of the things I might have made if we weren't going away...and which I may yet make later in April.

Sweet / baked goods

Blueberry lemon squares from Baked by Rachel - Almost a hybrid of my two Easter baking efforts last year.

Blueberry rye sourdough from cityhippyfarmgirl - Amazing looking bread.

Chilli chocolate egg lollies on BBC Good Food - Dark chocolate with chilli, on a stick.

Chocolate, blueberry and ginger scones from Green Gourmet Giraffe - These have been sitting in my 'to make' bookmark folder for 9 months now (!) and Easter seems like a good time to finally get to them.

Coconut peanut butter Easter eggs at The Baking Pan - Chocolate and peanut butter with coconut. What's not to love?

Easter bunny biscuits on - Flavoured with cinnamon and lemon.

Gingerbread flax muffins from Post Punk Kitchen - Ginger, cinnamon, cloves...good flavours.

Honeycomb Hokey Pokey from Hotly Spiced - This recipe almost looks too good to be true, with 3 ingredients but incredibly crispy honeycomb results.

Hot cross muffin buns on BBC Good Food - A fun variation on standard hot cross buns (mine, of course, would have no peel).

Lemon drizzle cake on BBC Good Food - This ingredient list includes polenta and yoghurt.

Lemon and rosemary cupcakes from Delicious Magazine - Rosemary in cupcakes has me captivated.

Simnel cupcakes from Baking Mad - Cupcakes flavoured with treacle, mixed spice and raisins.

Warm choc-chip pikelets with caramelised pears and chocolate sauce on - This would take my pikelet obsession to a whole new (dangerous!) level.

Welsh cakes from Eating for England - Traditional spiced Welsh cakes with currants.

Savoury / meals

Anything with berbere spice, from The Tropical Vegan - An Ethiopian spice mix with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, paprika and coriander, among other things.

Bliss salad from Peas and Thank You - A cabbage-based salad with lots of added flavour.

Fried rice with cuttlefish, pineapple and dill on SBS Food - Probably without the cuttlefish, in my case.

Mango fried rice from Post Punk Kitchen - A tropical twist on fried rice.

Rhubarb and lentil curry from Allotment 2 Kitchen - An intriguing recipe adapted from Celia Brooks Brown 'New Urban Farmer'

Tofu bacon from Veganise This - Granted, this has nothing to do with Easter. But by all accounts it deserves to be made and, again, Easter seems as good a time as any!

And that's exactly one savoury recipe to two sweet recipes, which sounds about right to me :-)

What do you like to make at Easter? Do you have any plans yet for this year?

Also, thank you for all the well wishes regarding my coughing woes - I'm very pleased to report I'm nearly back to my usual cough-free self. I think going to work on Monday was a bit of a mistake all up (albeit a necessary one given what I had on), and a day at home yesterday worked wonders! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Strawberry, quinoa and oat pikelets

The bugs in my lungs still seem to be hanging on. (Gosh that is a disgusting phrase. I'm sorry.) I had a few coughing fits at work today that really can't have sounded good, and I'm not sure that my croaked "I'm not contagious! Honest!" phrases would have made up for them.

Fortunately, I can work from home tomorrow if needed - which probably means I'll make a full recovery and be fully fit to go in to work!

Also fortunately, some things don't need full health, or even a voice, to be enjoyable. Strawberry pikelets go in that category.

In fact, these strawberry pikelets might even help you feel better if you're not quite sitting at 100%. If nothing else, you'll get a warm snack with sweet chunks of fruit, and protein-containing, slow release carbohydrates to boot. Plus, you can make them in under 20 minutes.

They're a direct adaptation of the apple and sultana pikelets with quinoa I made the other week, and equally simple to make. I am really becoming quite pikelet obsessed. They're my new muffins, except they don't seem to last as long as a muffin batch does...

So light. So fluffy. So fruity. 

This batch also included a few chocolate strawberry pikelets, when I added a teaspoon or so of cocoa to the last bit of batter.

In truth, I preferred the non-chocolate ones (the chocolate sort of detracted from the strawberry) but the chocolate did pair well with almond butter.

So very well indeed.

Strawberry, quinoa and oat pikelets
Makes 16 small pikelets
Vegan and low fat

1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 flax or chia egg, or 1 real egg
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
3/4 cup milk (I used soy)
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1/3 cup strawberries, chopped

Oil spray for pan

Optional:1 - 2 tsp cocoa powder

Combine the flour, quinoa flakes, oats and bicarbonate soda in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, prepare your flax / chia egg or egg. Add to the dry mixture along with the milk, and stir well to combine. Mix through the diced apple and strawberries.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and drop dessertspoonfuls of mixture onto the pan. I did 3 pikelets at a time. Cook until bubbles start to appear (~1 minute) and then flip and repeat, so both sides are browned. Repeat for the other pikelets.

Optionally, add cocoa powder to the last quarter or so of batter, to make 4 or 5 chocolate pikelets.

Enjoy plain, spread with strawberry jam, or spread with nut butter.

Store out of sight, or they may disappear surprisingly quickly!

Do you have a favourite strawberry product? I dislike strawberry ice cream but enjoy most other strawberry things, especially when  fresh strawberries are involved.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thai fish cakes, vegetarian style

Some years ago, I regularly received free mini magazines from the Nestle food company. I don't know how I got on their mailing list, but the magazines would arrive in my letterbox every month or two and I loved getting them. Thinking about it now, I also don't know why I stopped receiving them, and can't help but wish they still found their way to my letterbox today.

The magazines were, of course, really an advertising system. They talked about existing and new Nestle products, and provided recipes for things you could make with the Nestle range. I didn't mind. New products make me happy and I'll take recipe ideas in most forms.

One of the recipes I tucked away was for Sweet chilli Thai fish cakes. Of course, the recipe called for Nestle-owned Maggi sweet chilli sauce, as well as Maggi coconut milk powder. My version has never included coconut milk powder, for the simple reason that I never buy it, and has always involved the Trident brand of sweet chilli sauce, for the simple reason that I always buy that.

I may not have been the follow-the-recipe-exactly customer that Nestle was hoping for.

Nonetheless, my version of the Thai fish cakes became an occasional stand-by meal, and when Mr Bite entered the picture, I found that he enjoyed them too.

Prior to last year, I always made them with tuna and an egg, as per the ingredient list. Last year I found that commercial egg replacer works well instead of real egg. And last week I found that beans work well instead of tuna.

Very well in fact.

Even though I still eat fish sometimes, I do like to keep my intake occasional, and if there are vegetarian alternatives they are generally my first preference. I was thus quite delighted to discover that making these with tuna and with beans is easy (yet another two-way meal!), and the product is equally enjoyable both ways.

The sweet chilli and coriander (cilantro) flavours are part of what makes this recipe so appealing to me. The cakes are light and fresh, and can be served just with salad or with slightly denser sides; bread rolls, potato wedges, or even in wraps.

Thai fish cakes; tuna and vegetarian varieties
Adapted from a Nestle recipe for sweet chilli Thai fish cakes
Makes 16 - 20 cakes
Vegan if using the vegetarian ingredients and egg replacer

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 pieces slightly old bread, crusts removed and crumbled into crumbs (or ~1/4 cup + 1 tbsp commercial bread crumbs)
Egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg, or 1 egg 
1 celery stick, sliced
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp lemon rind or lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
Pepper, to taste

For tuna: 425g can tuna in springwater, drained

For vegetarian: 425g can butter beans (or beans of choice), drained and roughly crushed

Oil spray for the pan

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and mash roughly with a fork. Allow to cool slightly.

Add all ingredients except the tuna or beans to the potato. Mix well to combine. Add the tuna or beans. You can make half of each.

Refrigerate the mixture for an hour.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and spray with oil spray. Use a spoon or your hands to roughly shape small patties, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until lightly golden.

 (I tend to cook 3 - 4 patties in the pan at once, and then keep them warm in an oven that's been pre-heated to 100'C whilst I cook the rest.)

Vegetarian on the top; tuna at the bottom
These are fairly soft fish cakes, but you could make them crispier by using more oil and semi-frying them. I like them slightly soft, and the mixture of flavours allows for a slight sweetness that is perfectly offset by the hints of lemon and pepper, the coriander, and the chilli component of the sweet chilli sauce.

The bean version didn't taste identical to the tuna, of course, but the texture was remarkably similar. I didn't do a great job of crushing my beans (as evidenced by whole beans being visible in my cakes!) but that didn't seem to matter. The bean version was also lighter than the tuna cakes, and perhaps slightly less sweet.

Chickpeas or cannelloni beans would work well as alternative bean choices, and I only chose butter beans because I had the greatest number of tins of those in the pantry. I suspect I will be making these again quite a few times, so I should have opportunities to experiment with the full range of options.

Now, in other news - remember those bugs I inhaled when running on Wednesday? On Thursday, I developed a cough. On Friday, my lungs hurt. Over the last 24 hours, I've found my voice to stop working in any reliable manner. It seems I have a chest infection.

The idea of bugs in my lungs makes me very unhappy indeed and I am rather looking forward to completing my course of antibiotics so I can have some assurance that they are gone!

Have you hit on any good recipes from free recipe brochures or magazines?
Have you ever had problems result from inhaling or otherwise being attacked by flies or bugs?!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Le Bakehouse: Macarons with my sister

Today I'd like to share with you my Wednesday.

It started early. My week days generally do. Yesterday, though, my car was going in to receive a new timing belt (? still a mystery to me), so I went for an early run before dropping it off. Our weather has finally hit autumn and it was cool and only just light as I went out the door at 5.50am. Perfect weather for running.

I visited Lake Monger, one of my favourite nearby running spots, which has a 3.5km path around the lake. The picture on the top left of my header is taken over a bridge connecting into the Lake Monger area. Normally, the lake is tranquil and a perfect morning setting.

Not taken yesterday...

Yesterday, it was completely overtaken by bugs. Lots and lots and lots of small midge bugs, in swarms, everywhere I tried to run. I tried out-running them. I tried veering off the path. I tried returning to the path. They got in my hair, down my shirt, on my legs and arms, and worst of all - at least 4 of them were ultimately swallowed when I gave in to the urge to open my mouth for some air.


At least I should have provided entertainment of anyone driving around the area. I can only imagine that I looked like someone who has completely lost their mind and decided to celebrate by doing a wild, flailing dance with intermittent coughing.

After making it home (who knew that would be so hard?) and getting ready for the day, I dropped off the car a pleasingly short distance away. I have recently discovered a new car servicing option, and it is located between my house and my 2-days-per-week work location. Given that the distance between my house and this 2-days-per-week work location is a 10 minute walk, this is quite impressively convenient.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. Lunch not so much.

At lunch, you see, I decided to try those quinoa flakes in porridge form.

They were to be mixed with cocoa and sultanas and provide a sort of lunch dessert. I was quite looking forward to it.

I had visions of this being a new work 'thing', and something easy to throw together in the morning and then cook at work.

Something that would provide protein as well as carbohydrate, and be nice and warm on cold winter days (presuming we get some).

It could have been all of those things. But I didn't count on a porridge explosion when I wasn't looking.

The mess was quite impressive.

I may have learnt a lesson about making quinoa porridge in a mug in a microwaves with unknown power levels.

And about leaving said porridge in said microwave alone for even 10 seconds.

I did at least manage to enjoy some of the quinoa porridge mix. No bitterness, nice and creamy, sweet sultana bites on occasion, and definitely something to try again, albeit with microwave caution. Very good.

Fast forward to 4pm. I made an early work exit and met my sister at a bakery-cafe nearby.  A cafe that was down the road from where my car was sitting, 5 minutes from work, and 5 minutes from home. In other words, a delightful opportunity to not only meet my sister, but to stay in my neighbourhood all day long whilst also experiencing a new-ish cafe that I had only been in once before.

Le Bakehouse is on Railway Parade in West Leederville, very near the West Leederville train station, and replaced a franchise bakery (Michel's Patisserie) last year. It captivated me from day one with signs for various sourdough breads, fruit loafs, and other bread products that I love the idea of but actually rarely buy (thus my single previous visit).

They also have a full range of bakery and patisserie products, do coffees, and, as the title of this post would suggest, make and sell macarons.

Macarons have been intriguing me for months. I see them all around the blogosphere, and in an increasing number of patisseries. I read The Cake Mistress's tutorial on how to make your own.

These delicate looking creations are effectively two meringue shells with slight almond flavouring, sandwiched with buttercream or ganache. They are clearly not vegan. They were clearly going to be sweet. I figured they were something I had to try at least once.

My sister seemed happy to make our catch-up macaron based. Her last macarons were in Paris, on her travels last year, so I think it was kind of her to join me in what was never going to be quite the same sort of experience.

She ordered a chai latte (not in the above picture) with a 'pink' macaron, whilst I ordered a soy cappuccino with a 'purple' macaron. The macarons were delivered to us with the phrasing 'strawberry' and 'blueberry', and I may have ordered a different colour if I'd thought about the possible flavour links (green, for instance - apple? or green tea?).

As it was, I couldn't taste blueberry so perhaps it wouldn't have mattered. The shell was crisp. Light and delicate and airy in the way that meringues are meant to be. The shell was sweet, and the centre sweeter. There was a slight nuttiness in the cream centre, reminiscent of a noisette truffle filling.

Did I like it? Yes. Is it likely to become a standard order? Probably not. It was fun to eat, very much so in fact, but a bit too sweet and a bit too airy for regular consumption.

My coffee deserves a mention for the chocolate sauce drizzled across the top. This was quite a nice touch at afternoon tea but I did wonder if they do it at breakfast time too; I would probably enjoy it less at that time of day!

All in all, this was a fun and frivolous end to a day that started with bugs and had a quinoa diaster in the middle and all happened within about a 5km radius of my house. And as the green macaron has got under my skin, I sense there may be at least one more macaron in my future too...

What did your Wednesday involve?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Product reviews: Leda rum balls and Vitarium sugar free drinking chocolate

Do you ever see supermarket products that you really don't want to buy, but you know you will?

A new product, perhaps, that is over-priced or unnecessary or a marketing gimmick...but one that is aimed so perfectly at your weaknesses that it niggles you each time you see it, until you ultimately give in?

I certainly do.

Cases in point:

The Leda vegan chocolate rum balls haunted me for months last year, calling my name as I passed them in the health food section of the supermarket. I finally gave in about 6 months ago. The sugar free drinking chocolate is a more recent find, crossing my path for the first time earlier in 2012. I didn't last long before succumbing.

In fairness to these products, there is nothing wrong with them. I enjoy most of the Leda products and the rum balls proved to be no different, but at $6.95 for a pack of 8, they are an expensive treat. Plus, I am sure I could make my own if I tried. The sugar free drinking chocolate was also on the pricey side - about the same cost in fact - but it was the marketing that put me off. The packet refers to a 'guilt free' indulgence and that is a phrase guaranteed to make me cringe!

But let's take each in turn.

The Leda chocolate rum balls are free of wheat, dairy, egg and gluten, but are nonetheless decadent in the way you expect truffles to be. The mix includes tapioca and besan flours, cocoa, various sweeteners (including golden syrup), raisins, macadamia nuts, rum, and coconut. One rum ball provides over 100 calories so they are appropriately rich!

When I opened the packet, there was a deep chocolate-rum aroma. The smell was promising. The look was also promising. These are picture-perfect and would be easy to serve to guests...or at least, they would be if you could afford to do so.

The texture of the rum balls is also impressive. They are firm enough to hold together and can withstand being at warm room temperature, but the inside is soft enough to sink into.

The taste? Really quite divine. Rich, as I said. Chocolatey, but with a depth of flavour that differs from the few rum balls I have tasted previously. The golden syrup comes through. The coconut sets off the other flavours. The occasional hit of raisin is surprisingly pleasing. The rum is very subtle, but just detectable.

I did love these. I still don't think they require regular purchase, but I was, in the end, glad I tried them. In my mind, they are also similar to Mel's rum balls. However, as most of my own truffle ball creations seem to go the straightforward fruit and nut way, I haven't yet tried Mel's version and thus can't say whether my imagination is correct!

The rum balls appealed to me because they were vegan and looked delicious. The Vitarium sugar free drinking chocolate appealed to me because it looked like a possible replacement for the artificially sweetened, dried milk containing, sachet hot chocolates that I used to drink but don't any longer.

Since stopping my fairly regular consumption of them, I haven't actually had hot chocolate, sticking instead with tea or coffee, and the occasional chai latte. This looked like it could allow me to bring hot chocolate back.

The ingredients in this mix are simple - effectively just natvia (a natural sweetener based on stevia and erythritol, the latter being a nectar that occurs in some fruits) and cocoa. The reason I didn't want to buy it is because I could just combine stevia and cocoa, or even regular sugar and cocoa, at home. Such is the power of pre-mixed packaging, and my demented reasoning around 'I could take it to work!'.

Fortunately, as with the rum balls, this product also proved to be enjoyable.

The drinking chocolate powder was pleasingly chocolatey. I ate some off a spoon to test it plain, and the flavours were enjoyable on their own. I find that to be a necessary component of a good hot chocolate base,  so the powder was off to a good start.

You do need to mix this with milk - it's not the sort of hot chocolate that works with water alone - and I found the recommended 2 tsp to 200ml milk to be a little weak in terms of chocolate flavour. I could taste my soy milk, and I don't like that. A little extra powder to milk worked fine though, and made for an easy hot chocolate drink.

I would prefer to just mix my own ingredients along with adding the milk, but given I made the purchase - well, it worked well. I liked it and the powder can of course be used for other means as well (I have tried it with yoghurt, which I didn't like - I missed the yoghurt's natural tartness - and on top of vanilla soy ice cream, which I did like). It could be used for iced chocolate too, or added to smoothies, or whatever took your fancy.

So all in all, two unnecessary purchases, but two quite good outcomes. I suspect that won't help me out next time I'm trying to resist buying something I don't require!

Your turn - please tell me I'm not alone in these sorts of whimsical buys! 
What have you bought that you really didn't want to buy? Did you enjoy it in the end?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Apple and sultana quinoa pikelets

I always love reading comments, but those left on my green ice cream post were particularly entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of you were enthusiastic about the idea, but had to smile at some of you clearly being more horrified than intrigued...but in a very polite way :-)

It's probably for the best that today's post is green-free and a little more traditional in its focus. Traditional with a twist, mind you, but traditional nonetheless.

The background to this comes from my discovery of quinoa flakes last week:

Quinoa in its standard grain form has become a normal part of my pantry, but I hadn't seen it sold as flakes before. When purchasing it, I had high hopes for using the flakes as I would oats.

Such as, for instance, mixed in with yoghurt:

Quinoa flakes, plan natural yoghurt, plum, apple

However, I had forgotten that quinoa has a slight bitter note to it, whereas oats do not. I also later discovered that quinoa flakes are best cooked before use. Thus, it probably isn't surprising that I didn't really enjoy them raw in unflavoured yoghurt!

I imagine that cooking the flakes into porridge would work much better, but I need cool mornings for porridge and there aren't any on the horizon here just yet. Quinoa flakes can also be cooked into a rice-type dish, as per the more standard quinoa preparation, but I have quinoa for that purpose already.

So. What to do with the near-full box of flakes?

The box itself included a serving suggestion / recipe for quinoa pancakes, and this led me to think of quinoa pikelets. To provide sweetness, apple and sultanas entered the equation. Fruit was something my Mum routinely added to pikelets when she made them for us as children, and I always enjoyed the contrast in texture and flavour.

I had in mind that pikelets were an English creation, and thought I might need to explain their nature to Americans. However, some brief research on the origins of pikelets turned up a few things that I didn't know. Most notably, they are actually unique to Australia and New Zealand, a discovery that took me by surprise.

Australian  pikelets are effectively a small American pancake, with similar ingredients, texture and flavour, but they typically have some sugar or sweetness added to the batter, along with raising agents, whereas pancakes may not.

In contrast, in some parts of England the term pikelet is applied to a variation of crumpets or drop scones, and English pikelets are more like those products than the small pancakes typical in Australia.

How did Australian pikelets go with the addition of quinoa flakes? Well, even better than I had hoped. I certainly don't think I'll be having any trouble finishing off the fact, the only problem I had with this recipe was the resulting challenge of not eating all of the pikelets in one go!

Apple and sultana quinoa pikelets
Makes 16 pikelets
Vegan and low in fat
Best served warm, and most enjoyable straight after cooking; however, can be stored in an airtight container for several days

Print recipe

3/4 cup self-raising flour (see note below regarding gluten-free alternatives)
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
Egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg, or 1 egg (I fully intended to use a chia egg here, but ended up using commercial egg replacer without thinking)
3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup sultanas (small raisins)

Oil spray for coating the pan

Combine the flour, quinoa flakes and bicarbonate soda in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, prepare your egg replacer or egg. Add to the dry mixture along with the milk, and stir well to combine. Mix through the diced apple and sultanas.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and drop dessertspoonfuls of mixture onto the pan. I did 3 pikelets at a time. Cook until bubbles start to appear (1 - 2 minutes) and then flip and repeat, so both sides are browned. Repeat for the other pikelets.

You could serve these with jam or honey, but I loved them plain. Really, really loved them in fact - the quinoa added a depth of flavour and slight nuttiness, as is typically of the grain, whilst the apple and sultanas provided sufficient but not excessive sweetness. They were fluffy and light, but also slightly thicker than standard pikelets, I imagine due to the quinoa. 

As a final benefit? These take about 20 minutes to prepare and cook.

Which is good, because I can see myself making them on a very regular basis.

If you prefer or require gluten-free recipes, these would also be an easy product to adapt to that purpose. I'm quite keen to try them again with 1/2 cup self-raising flour and a 1/4 cup each of quinoa flakes and oats. I think using oat flour or spelt flour in place of the wheat would work well if desired, but you would need to add 1/4 - 1/2 tsp baking powder to allow them to rise.

Now, are you familiar with pikelets in the above form? Or even an alternative, English version of the product?
Have you tried quinoa flakes in any other ways?

Friday, March 16, 2012

A green bowl

Any idea what this might be?

Something with avocado?

You could be forgiven for thinking that, given my recent avocado dessert experiments.

But no, no avocado involved.

Basil perhaps? A creamy-looking pesto?

Nope, no basil either.


Yes, spinach.

But not spinach dip.

Welcome to green ice cream!

I'm not sure it will take off in ice creameries, but it was a fun twist on my banana soft serve playing...

Green spinach ice cream
Probably not something to serve to guests...but an enjoyable way to eat a vegetable serve
Makes 1 bowl

Combine ~100g frozen spinach, partially defrosted (equivalent to about 200g fresh),
1 1/2 medium frozen bananas,
1 tsp good quality cocoa,
~1/2 tsp agave, honey or other liquid sweetener (just a drizzle really),
and process until smooth, adding milk or yoghurt if needed.

The taste experience was, it must be said, slightly odd. I have never jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon as I don't really have a suitable blender, but I imagine this would be similar to a green smoothie only in ice cream form. My brain didn't expect to taste spinach mixed in with a sweet (ish), ice cream (ish) dish, but once  I got over that it was enjoyable.

If you wanted vegetable ice cream but not the spinach taste, I imagine that halving the spinach quantity would achieve that. You could also add more sweetener or other flavours. There wasn't a detectable cocoa taste here so I'm not sure how much the cocoa added; I may have noticed if it wasn't there though.

I think it's likely that I'll be sticking to fruit-based combinations for when I want a 'real' ice cream experience, but this may just appear again...

Have you added vegetables to anything 'odd' lately?
What was the last green dish you ate?