double chocolate banana bread

breadcut

I’ve recently been in a rather lamentable blogging slump. The kind of slump that results in persistent lack of motivation to create, write and photograph, other than a quick snap via Instagram (I must both thank and berate Sam, Jemima and Matt for convincing me to join that bewitching time-waster. I think I’m in love).

Not that I haven’t cooked anything in the interim. I’ve been cooking daily, but more for nourishment than blogging purposes. We’ve eaten warming kale and chickpea stew in a spiced coconut broth, spelt-crusted quiche filled with walnut pesto, bitter greens and Meredith Dairy goats cheese, cumin roasted carrots with crushed toasted pepitas and a fragrant orange syrup cake with dollops of thick Greek yoghurt. Everything was delicious, but no notes were taken. No photographs were snapped. It was just one of those weeks.

measure

sugarsyrup sugarsyrup2

Now, I know for a fact that I’m not alone in the ‘slump experience’. I’ve read similar posts from blogging friends (particularly those with day jobs like myself) who have echoed the same sentiment. But shared experience doesn’t lessen my personal frustration, particularly when speaking of diminished enthusiasm and productivity. Let’s just hope the cloud passes soon.

bananasend sunskin

Now, back to today’s post for double chocolate banana bread. I’ll say from the outset that the recipe isn’t mine, it was the result of three ripe bananas and a visit to Deb’s beautiful blog, Smitten Kitchen.

After playing around with the idea of ‘healthying up’ the recipe with coconut oil, cacao powder, agave and different wheat-free flours, I decided to bake it almost exactly as-is: with pure butter, granulated sugar, white all-purpose flour and Dutch-process cocoa.

floursugarmix

The result is a beautifully rich, moist and intensely chocolatey loaf that serves beautifully as a dessert (a la mode, with ice cream) or an indulgent afternoon tea (toasted and spread with smooth, rich peanut butter or Mayver’s tahini honey spread. You can thank me later).

In the true sense of a word it’s more of a ‘cake’ than a healthy ‘banana bread’… but you know what? On this dreary, grey, demotivated day, I don’t care. A cup of tea and cake was the therapy I needed.

Some days, you just need cake.

bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Barely adapted from this recipe by Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

  • 3 large, ripe bananas (equivalent to just over 1 cup of mashed banana)
  • 115g organic butter, melted
  • 145g dark molasses sugar (substitute any other brown sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa (don’t substitute unprocessed cocoa here, it will give you a different result)
  • 170g (about 1 cup) chopped 70% cocoa dark chocolate (use chocolate chips if you have them)

Heat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan, then set it aside.

mash

Mash the bananas, then place into a large bowl. Whisk in the melted butter, brown sugar (as my molasses sugar was very lumpy, I sieved it first and added a little water to make a paste), egg and vanilla extract.

rawmix

Sift over the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder, then stir to combine. Add in the chocolate and mix well.

flourcocoacocoa mix

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.

loafprebake

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a cooling rack.

loaf

Serve warm or at room temperature (or preferably, toasted and spread with peanut butter or Mayver’s tahini honey spread. Yes, I’ve said it twice now. Need further convincing? See below).

bite bite2

This banana bread will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator, wrapped in foil or plastic wrap. It also freezes well for up to 2 months (make sure that you wrap it well to prevent freezer burn).

tahinibananas

Advertisements

bread in common, fremantle

restaurant

Over the past few weeks, I seem to have embraced my uncoordinated, klutzy alter ego. It’s been a painful experience, and… well, let’s just say that I’m hoping it’s a phase.

For example, exactly thirteen hours ago I arrived at my local church, hazy and bleary eyed from the week-that-was. Whilst setting up some microphones (I sing as part of the music team every three weeks), I managed to drop a heavy wooden lectern on my foot. Yes, a lectern. I’m not even going to attempt an explanation, but let’s just say that it hurt. Possibly like childbirth or appendicitis, but as I’ve had neither I can’t compare (I promise to revise this statement postpartum if my opinion changes). Straight afterwards, I felt very, very stupid.

Luckily, I managed to hobble around wincing for the next five hours with only one person questioning my uncharacteristic slow gait. After the service ended, I removed my shoe to inspect some swollen, purple toes. I have no idea if there’s a fracture but hey, it’s Sunday. I can readdress that question tomorrow.

Speaking of questions, you’re probably wondering what on earth this introduction has to do with a restaurant review. Well, let’s just say that another klutzy incident occurred on the same day that I visited Bread in Common. It involved my head and a suspended boat rudder attached to a sculpture on Fremantle Dock. See the picture below? Well, the incident occurred about five minutes after it was taken (in other news, do you think I look like a horse? I thought so). And again, I felt very, very stupid.

horse

The only good thing about my semi-concussion was the fact that it occurred straight after a rather satisfying breakfast at the above-named restaurant on Pakenham Street. Amidst the throbbing pain, plates of soft eggs and chewy sourdough swam before my eyes like small roadrunners around the Wile E Coyote. Okay, so that’s a slight embellishment, but… well, the breakfast stayed down. And it was good. That’s success, in my opinion.

kitchen2

Our visit to Bread in Common took place on a quiet Friday morning. Being a public holiday, we expected large crowds by 10:30am but thankfully, the late opening time (of 10:00am) seemed to have averted a portion of the breakfast crowd. As our visit had been months in the planning, it was a great pleasure to actually sit down within the stripped-back, converted warehouse space. Our coffee orders were taken immediately and we were left to peruse the ‘brunch and dinner’ menu.

Bread in Common is the brainchild of Nic Trimboli (whom Perthians might recognise as the restauranteur behind Gordon Street Garage, Duende and Balthazar) and his partner, baker Gotthard Bauer (from the famous Yallingup Woodfired Bakery that I’ve raved about here and here). As the name might suggest, this place is all about communal tables, generosity and arguably the best woodfired bread this side of Yallingup. At $2 per person, nonetheless.

drinksguy2

Being a creature of habit, I immediately scanned the menu for smashed avocado on toast. Instead, I found share plates, house-churned butter, savoury spreads, toasted sandwiches and mouse traps (uh, it turns out that these are little pieces of toasted bread spread with Vegemite and cheese).

Needless to say, momentary disappointment melted into to excitement over the prospect of eating scrambled organic eggs with dukkah ($14), mixed mushrooms with toasted macadamias, thyme and bitter greens ($15), smoked zucchini spread ($3.50) and garlic sausage. Did I forget something? Oh, and bread. Beautiful, organic loaves baked with small-batch milled local wheat-belt flour.

roof

Soon after placing our food orders, the coffees mercifully arrived. I had reasonable expectations, seeing as Bread in Common uses Mano a Mano specialty coffee which is roasted in small batches at its sister restaurant, Gordon Street Garage.

Strangely, both Aaron and I found the coffee to be well-made but largely lacklustre. I sipped thoughtfully for at least ten minutes before deciding that it bore no resemblance to the signature blend at Gordon Street. Why? I have no idea. There was no bitterness, no body, just… milk. Brown milk. Rather disappointing.

coffee

Thankfully, redemption was found in a plate of warm bread with our chosen dips: smoked zucchini and garlicky sausage. Despite our two bread selection (common loaf and wholemeal sourdough) bearing only one half-piece of the wholemeal sourdough (that’s 16%, people), we ate it appreciatively, generously slathered in the accompanying spreads.

breadIf I had to pick a favourite food item from the day, it’d probably be the smoked zucchini spread with toasted black sesame seeds. It was beautifully creamy with hints of woodsmoke and toasted nuts… absolutely delicious. I could’ve eaten just smoked zucchini spread on toast and been rather happy (but of course, I didn’t).

Our next two dishes, mixed mushrooms and scrambled eggs with dukkah on toast, arrived together. My first thought was that servings were both rustic and rather generous. Thumbs up in my book. The eggs were soft and creamy, pale golden against lightly toasted sourdough. The smattering of toasted dukkah was rather delicious with the delicate eggs and bitter fresh rocket (arugula).

eggs

The mushrooms. Oh, the mushrooms. Juicy and caramelized with perfect amounts of acidity. The wilted greens added some wonderful bitterness and colour contrast whilst the toasted macadamias were buttery, crunchy and delicious. If I wasn’t stuffed to the brim, I would’ve mopped up the mushroom juices with more perfectly chewy sourdough. It was that good.

mushroomsBut no. After polishing off the last mushroom, Aaron and I were both in a blissful state of brunch satisfaction. We sat quietly, mesmerized by an apron-clad baker transferring loaves of dusty sourdough onto a wheeled trolley. Perfectly slow-fermented sourdough loaves, golden and crusty, spattered with organic flour.

These loaves are available for wholesale purchase or for hungry customers to take-home from the bakery. I would’ve done just that if not for the fear of devouring the entire loaf in the car. Or at home, slathered in organic butter and sea salt with an accompanying glass of red.

breadrack

In hindsight, it might have been tangible comfort for my head injury. Butter and carbohydrate therapy? I’m sure that’s been documented in a medical journal somewhere.

Or my foot injury. In fact, maybe I should hobble there now…

kitchenbreadrack2

Bread in Common

43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle WA 6160

(08) 9336 1032

Sun – Thurs: 10am – 10pm

Friday – Saturday: 10am – late

globes

mary street bakery, highgate

flourlogo

I’m a little late to the hype that surrounds the Mary Street Bakery. Since it replaced the now-defunct Soto Espresso on the Beaufort Street cafe strip in mid-2013, it’s proved to be hugely popular with locals and visitors alike.

We visited for breakfast on a sunny Wednesday morning in the middle of the Easter/Anzac Day holiday period. Walking towards the Bakery’s prominent pink neon sign, it was immediately apparent that the venue was bustling. Luckily, we snagged a recently-vacated table near the front window, softly illuminated by the mid-morning sun.

lstill

Despite the demands of many customers, service was prompt and courteous. A staff member was quick to clear the table, taking our coffee orders before leaving us to quietly peruse the menu.

Something that immediately impressed was the Bakery’s commitment to using locally sourced, quality Western Australian produce such as stone-milled Eden Valley Biodynamic Flour from Dumbleyung, small-batch roasted Pound Coffee from Justin and Irene in O’Connor and Margaret River Free-Range Eggs from Jan and Kim Harwood’s farm in the beautiful south-west.

It’s a beautiful embodiment of the locavore policy, though I’d expect nothing less from a business owned by the creative minds behind Cantina 663, El Publico and ACE Pizza (full credit to them for their innovation, amazing food and general commitment to the local community).

kitchen

coffeeAfter toying over options such as baked eggs and custard-filled doughnuts, we finally agreed on boiled eggs with buttered soldiers and corn relish ($11), poached seasonal fruits with coconut yoghurt and granola ($13) and wholegrain porridge with fresh banana, toasted pepitas and honey ($14).

Whilst waiting for our food to arrive, Aaron ventured up to the bakery counter whilst my mother and I guessed the weight of a giant staghorn mounted above our table (that thing was big). The room’s soft conversational hum provided a soothing soundtrack as we sipped upon mellow, creamy coffee from Pound.

staghorn

coffeemachine

Our food arrived in a timely fashion, elegantly presented and reasonably portioned. I was immediately absorbed by the vibrant hue of my poached fruit with thick, creamy coconut yoghurt. The rhubarb was a little on the crunchy, fibrous side but I was otherwise satisfied by the mix of grains, toasted nuts and soft, subtly sweet fruit. The mint leaves were both a colourful and refreshing touch.

granolayoghurt

eggssoldiers

The soft-boiled eggs arrived slightly on the firmer side, possibly due to the demands of the holiday period. However, the bright free-range yolks were a wonderful accompaniment to crisp fingers of the Bakery’s organic stone ground bread and good French butter. My mother particularly enjoyed the dollop of house-made corn relish and flaked sea salt.

porridgeThe last dish that we sampled was the Bakery’s soft, creamy oat porridge with banana, freeze-dried raspberries, toasted pepitas and a drizzle of honey.

Unfortunately for Aaron, embedded in the creamy deliciousness were fragments of a particular food nemesis: banana chips. Now, speaking personally, I have nothing against crisp pieces of banana that have been dried in coconut oil. But for Aaron? Hatred would be an appropriate word. After some fleeting annoyance, he amiably scraped out the undeclared offenders before enjoying the rest of his rather beautiful porridge and fresh, sweet banana.

porridgehand

As you may expect, the bakery items at Mary Street are rather exceptional. If you’re after the full experience, grab something to-go from their beautiful range of organic loaves, filled fresh doughnuts, pastries, meat pies and tarts (take a look at their Instagram feed for some samples). They also sell their house-made gluten free granola in 500g bags.

rack

All in all, Mary Street Bakery is an earthy, well-designed venue that caters for takeaway work lunches, relaxing Saturday brunch and afternoon tea with friends. Its friendly adaptability will likely make it a welcome fixture on the Beaufort Street strip for years to come.

signls

Mary Street Bakery

507 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003

0499 509 300

Open: Mon – Sun, 7am – 4pm

 

wholemeal pumpkin scones with maple pecan butter

sconesls

I was given a pumpkin last week. An organic, home grown butternut, with white sap still oozing from its freshly cut stem. Now, in regular circumstances, gift acceptance isn’t permitted in my line of work. However, at the tail-end of a poignant home visit in the late afternoon, I’m less likely to object. Particularly if the said gift is from the garden.

pumpkinraw2

This particular pumpkin was grown by the husband of a woman with whom I’ve been working for over six months. He passed away last week, completely unexpectedly. He was his wife’s main carer; a strong, coarse man of eighty three who spent his career working as a truck driver. In his later years, he developed a passion for home-grown produce, cooking and preserving; in part, to nourish the health of his languishing wife.

Now she is here, and he is not. All that remains is a pile of matter, an empty ache, memories and a nourished garden. His name was John.

pumpkinroasted

roastedscoope

On Wednesday afternoon, I arrived home with John’s pumpkin in my worn leather handbag. I felt a certain amount of responsibility to do it ‘justice’, seeing as it was the last of his beloved crop. I ran my hands over the smooth exterior, removing clumps of dirt with sentimental fingers before placing it in my vegetable box. There it stayed for my remaining day of work before the long weekend.

On Good Friday morning, I woke early. I poured a bowl of oats and sat, notepad in hand, as the sun illuminated the plant pots on our balcony. I chewed reflectively, jotting down baking ideas, herb combinations and general recipe thoughts. Upon emptying my bowl, I felt settled on a combination of mashed pumpkin, coconut sugar, pecans and maple, tumbled in a bowl of wholemeal flour. Scones it would be.

flour

bussoeggs2The following recipe was created according to my personal preference for nourishing, whole wheat baked goods* that can later be slathered in smooth nut butter. The extra pinch of baking powder ensures a sufficient, gentle rise and a fluffy, moist crumb.

If you prefer the more traditional flavour of Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s pumpkin scones (for those overseas, Lady Flo was the wife of a Queensland parliamentarian who was famous for her home baking), exchange the wholemeal flour for refined white self-raising and substitute the coconut sugar for white sugar. Those with a sweet tooth might also appreciate a drizzle of raw honey upon the subtly sweet, nutty maple pecan butter.

sconescu

It’s the kind of deliciousness that takes me back to my childhood days in the sunshine. I like to think that John would have approved.

*I probably would have used spelt flour if I had it, so feel free to exchange quantities if you have some residing in your cupboard (150g spelt flour is equivalent to 1 cup wheat flour; add 2 tsp baking powder per 150g).

tray

Wholemeal Pumpkin Scones

Makes approximately 18 round 6-cm diameter scones

  • 2 1/2 + 1 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin (preferably roasted rather than boiled, cool before using)
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • good pinch of baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond, soy or dairy all work well)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Lightly dust two flat baking trays with plain flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg, milk and mashed pumpkin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, spices (if using) and salt together into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add your liquid ingredients.

milkflour

Mix together with your hands, adding a little more flour if required (from the extra cup listed in the ingredients) until you have a soft but workable dough.

dough

Turn out onto a floured surface, knead until smooth. Flour your rolling pin, then roll the dough out to a 2cm thickness. Cut into squares or rounds (I used a 6-cm diameter glass), re-rolling your dough as required.

cutting

Place the scones onto your prepared baking trays, 1cm apart. Sprinkle tops with a little plain flour. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and slightly golden. Serve hot with a generous slather of maple pecan butter (recipe to follow).

pecans

butter

Maple Pecan Butter

I personally use 2-3 tsp maple syrup in my maple pecan butter for a gentle hint of sweetness, however during taste tests several commented that they’d like it a bit sweeter. Taste, contemplate and add a little more maple syrup if it’s your preference.

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 tsp pure maple syrup (to taste)
  • 1 cup toasted organic pecans
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional

Blend 3/4 cup pecans into a fine ground using a food processor. Add the butter, blend again until smooth and fragrant. Add the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon to taste (start with 2 tsp maple syrup, taste and work your way up – I was happy with 2 tsp but most thought otherwise!). Crush the remaining pecan nuts in a mortar and pestle into a coarse ground, add to the butter mixture.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to using. Wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for a month.

sconesaerial2 bite

bib & tucker, north fremantle

boardwalkI love breakfast. It’s probably my favourite meal of the day, to the point where I often lie awake at night thinking about what I’ll eat in the morning. Steel cut oats, seeded toast with lemon-drenched avocado, crunchy macadamia muesli, fresh crumpets with Lescure butter and raw organic honey… I love it all. I’m one of those people who could very easy eat brinner every night of the week. But then again, where would that leave tacos and braised pork belly? Oh, the dilemmas!

A few months ago, a friend of mine mentioned a little cafe in North Fremantle called Bib & Tucker. Described as the ‘next best thing in breakfast’, I naturally wanted to visit… mostly as a comparison to my favourite breakfast destination of the moment, Harvest Espresso in Victoria Park (a place that actually solves my pork belly dilemma. They serve it for breakfast. Really).

signage

We arrived mid-morning last Saturday. The sky was pale blue, slightly overcast, with thick clouds wafting like a scattered blanket. By the time we pried open the front doors, sweat started to bead on our foreheads in a sticky sheen.

Luckily, we were ushered to an outside table where the reliable Fremantle Doctor was blowing. Cool, salty air gently lapped at our skin as we perused the breakfast menu.

menu

There’s something beautifully balanced about Bib & Tucker. Old favourites such as pancakes, eggs and crispy bacon sit snugly alongside redemptive kale, green lentils, chia seeds and almond milk. If would be fair to say that as a patron, you can be as virtuous or indulgent as you want to be. My favourite kind of place.

coffeebandt hatAfter ordering our coffees, we selected three dishes from the breakfast menu: fig chia pudding ($15), smashed avocado on cornbread ($19) and house-smoked ocean trout tartare ($24). Despite various criticisms on Urbanspoon about the ‘terrible service’ at Bib & Tucker, we met a wonderful brunette waitress who delivered our food within 15 short minutes. Nothing wrong with that.

As for the food? Well, it’s safe to say that we were three happy campers on this Saturday morning. Everything that arrived was fresh, generous, beautifully presented and suitably nourishing. My selection was (typically) chunky seasoned avocado atop thick, toasted cornbread with fresh greens, quinoa and vibrant chive oil. Aaron chose (typically) the smoked ocean trout, which was deliciously salty, soft and delicate against robust fried capers, fresh asparagus, croutons and lemon mascarpone.

oceantrout2 chiaavo

My lovely mother (atypically) selected the chia pudding, mostly out of ‘curiosity’. The dish arrived in a mason jar crowned with fresh wedges of fragrant fig, pomegranate arils and toasted almonds.

For a woman who habitually chooses ‘eggs any way with toast’ (a.k.a poached eggs with wholemeal bread), she enjoyed the breakfast variation. The chia seeds carried a slight creaminess from the organic almond milk, beautifully complimented by the sweet figs, acidic pomegranate and toasted nuts.

chiabandt insideoutside

From scanning the crowd, it would be fair to say that Bib & Tucker is a beautiful embodiment of the Fremantle subculture: eclectic, relaxed, slightly hippy (as opposed to hipster; these guys were growing kale in loamy soil far before the first hipster discovered plaid) artistic and entirely wonderful. As an ‘artsy’ type myself, I felt right at home.

It’s a place to contemplate, breathe and feel nourished within 100 metres of the Indian Ocean. A place I definitely want to revisit. Soon.

beach docks

Bib & Tucker

18 Leighton Beach Blvd, North Fremantle WA 6159

(08) 9433 2147

Coffee: Tues – Sun, 6am – 4pm

Breakfast: Tues – Sun, 7am – 11am

Lunch: Tues – Sun, 12pm – 3pm

Dinner: Wed – Sun, 6pm – 9pm

prosciutto and roast sweetcorn muffins

muffinplate4

This coming Sunday, my beautiful friend Elissa (doctor and haiku writer extraordinaire) is moving to the port city of Bunbury from Perth, Western Australia. That’s 175 kilometres away; a great chunk of bitumen framed by dirt, trees and a kangaroo if you’re lucky.

No, it’s not the end of the world, or even the end of Western Australia. But it’s far enough to mean no last minute coffee dates, weeknight dinners or Rage-a-thons on Friday nights. For the next six-or-so months, our ‘dates’ will require a full tank of fuel and a sizeable drive. And a packed lunch (if you’re a Hobbit like me).

herbs

parsley

Understandably, the past fortnight has been a series of goodbye events for those of us in Elissa’s friendship group; particularly her beautiful bestie Deanne and… well, me (also known as ‘sisterling’, as we’ve been happily mistaken for sisters more than once).

The first of these goodbye events was two weeks ago; an afternoon tea at Elissa’s apartment for a small group of girlfriends. We drank tea from pretty cups whilst feasting on anecdotes, crudites, taramasalata, soft cheese and corn muffins with Parmesan and smoky paprika.

The latter were made by myself and Deanne with occasional help from a spotty-socked Kelpie named Lucy (below; she smiles for pig’s ears).

lucy2

lucy3

lucy1Throughout the course of an afternoon, Deanne and I chatted, laughed, baked and cried. Somehow in the midst of that, these muffins emerged from the oven.

Despite the fact that I met Deanne through our mutual friendship with Elissa, I feel very blessed to have her in my life. She’s one of the most genuine, transparent, loving and generous hearts I have ever met on this earth. Her second blog Gratitude, All the Time is testament to that.

prosciutto

But back to the muffins: these were real crowd-pleasers. Moist, soft, sweet with blackened corn and salty with crisp prosciutto. They also had some added kick from the fragrant smoked paprika (Elissa referred to it as the ‘secret ingredient’ and I’d have to agree).

As for the recipe, Dea found it here via Good Food. We made a few edits, including the addition of dried parsley (there wasn’t enough of the fresh herb in the pot) and the substitution of whole milk for buttermilk (as Dea doesn’t believe in buttermilk. I think. Or something like that).

smokedpaprikaI’ve included an edited but unabridged version of the recipe below in case you’d like to try them. They’re simple and very forgiving (trust me, we interrupted the process multiple times).

Dea and I also feel that the muffins would be highly adaptable for those who prefer to exercise some artistic license. Chipotle and lime butter, anyone?

rack

Prosciutto and Roast Sweetcorn Muffins

Adapted from this recipe by Good Food.

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

  • 200g canned corn kernels, drained (or fresh kernels from 2-3 cobs, removed)
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 225g self-raising flour, sifted
  • tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp castor sugar
  • tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 80g butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C (374 degrees f). Drain your canned corn and scatter it over a lined oven tray.

corntrayBake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly blackened around the edges. Leave to cool.

Add the flour, paprika, cumin, sugar and sea salt to a large mixing bowl.

flours

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Add in the parsley and all but one tablespoon of the corn, mixing well.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then add in the egg and milk. Combine very lightly with a fork until thick and clumpy. Do not overmix.

Lightly oil twelve regular-sized muffin holes. Line the sides of each hole with a slice of prosciutto.

tin

Divide the mixture between the muffin holes, filling right to the top. Scatter over the remaining corn kernels and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden (an inserted skewer should come out clean).

rack2

Serve these muffins warm with butter, cream cheese and/or tomato chutney. They are best consumed on the day they were made.

muffinplatemuffintops

Elissa: thanks for being the genuinely beautiful friend that you are. Have a safe trip down to Bunno and know that we’re coming to visit you very, very soon (in fact, you’d better put the kettle on. You may never get rid of us).

Deanne: you’re amazing. You deserve to be treasured for the incredibly generous and wise person that you are. I look forward to our next cook-up very soon!

asparagus with soft-poached eggs, broad beans, lemon and chilli

yolklsFresh local asparagus is a wonderful thing; sweet, earthy, crisp and succulent. During peak season, it needs little more than a quick toss on the grill, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a speckling of flaked sea salt. Perfect in its simplicity.

For most of the year, Western Australians like myself only have access to imported asparagus; namely, cultivated crops from China, Thailand and Peru. Despite my commitment to locally grown food, I reluctantly admit that the short Western Australian asparagus season (from September to November) has led to desperate purchases of imported asparagus on a number of occasions this year. It feels terrible; the only redeeming thought is that I’ve possibly contributed towards a peasant’s wage somewhere in rural Asia. Idealism, I know.

asparagus1

However, this week marked the arrival of fresh Torbay asparagus at my local farmer’s market. When I saw the fat green spears amongst the locally grown kale and lettuces this morning, my heart jumped in locavore joy. Grown near the port city of Albany in the state’s south west, this asparagus is sweet, robust and earthy in flavour.

I squirreled home a bucketful, with fresh broad bean pods, shiny aubergines and a dozen of Ellah’s fresh, free-range eggs.

broadbeans

shellingbeans2

As per usual, my stomach rumbles as soon as I’ve visited the markets. After podding the broad beans, I trimmed the asparagus and quickly grilled the spears with a splash of good olive oil, some sea salt and chilli flakes. Topped with a runny, soft-poached egg, fragrant lemon zest and some grated Parmesan, we were soon in fresh asparagus heaven.

This dish is almost too simple for a ‘recipe’, however I’ve included a few of my cooking notes below for your reference. For a more substantial breakfast or lunch, I’d suggest adding some buttered, wholegrain toast and a sprinkling of hot-smoked salmon.

header

Asparagus with Soft-poached Eggs, Broad Beans, Lemon and Chilli

Serves 2

  • 8-12 asparagus spears (4-6 per person, depending upon size)
  • 1/4 cup podded, shelled broad beans
  • 2 free-range eggs (or 4, if you’d like 2 each)
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • finely grated rind of one lemon
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian flat-leaf parsley to serve, if desired
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (for poaching the eggs)

Fill a medium saucepan with cold water. Cover, and place over medium heat whilst you prepare your vegetables.

Wash the asparagus spears, then snap off any woody ends (you will feel the shoot naturally ‘bend’ at the point where the spear is tender). Discard the ends, then scrape the outer surface near the end of the spear slightly to ensure that it cooks evenly.

bits

Heat a fry or grill pan over medium heat. Add in a splash of good olive oil, then toss in your asparagus spears. Agitate the pan, ensuring that the spears rotate, until their colour becomes vibrant green. Add in the shelled broad beans, some chilli flakes and sea salt. Fry or grill until the vegetables are tender and bright green with the slightest of grill marks from the pan.

Plate your asparagus and broad beans as desired, season with some salt and sprinkle over a little of the lemon zest. Set aside whilst you poach your eggs.

eggs

By now, your water should be boiling rapidly. Add in the 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (this helps hold the protein in the egg white together), then carefully lower each egg into the water, one at a time (Note: I don’t bother with the ‘whirlpool’ technique as I find it ineffective; if you’re concerned about poaching eggs and require a visual reference, you can follow Curtis Stone’s instructions on YouTube). The eggs will probably take about 2 minutes to cook with a perfectly runny yolk.

sandp ls

Carefully place your eggs upon the asparagus and broad bean mix. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over your remaining lemon zest, a little Italian parsley (if desired) and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Optional extras: as above, this dish would go beautifully with some toasted wholegrain bread, hot smoked salmon, cured gravlax (yum!) or free-range bacon. You can also add some toasted flaked almonds or hazelnuts.

cheese

eggyolk

buttermilk corn fritters

imagelikefritters

I’m listening to the breeze. It’s whisper-soft and gentle, fragrant with the smell of nearby eucalyptus trees, dust and fresh rainfall. The sun is high in the sky, casting patches of shadow on grass as a nearby emu ambles along a wire fence.

As you may have guessed, this post hasn’t been written from the common confines of our shoebox apartment (contrary to popular belief, emus and kangaroos don’t wander free in Australian capital cities). Two days ago, my husband and I packed our bags for a weekender in Dunsborough, a quiet town 254km south of Perth on the shores of Geographe Bay.   leaflandscape

Dunsborough is a beautiful place, known for its white sand, artisan food stores, aged timber and quality wines. It’s a popular weekend escape for Sandgropers of all ages, particularly due to its close proximity to Margaret River, a premium wine region surrounded by world-class surf beaches and rugged timber forests.

We were lucky enough to score a last minute invitation to a friend’s farm stay property, five minutes from Dunsborough town centre and one minute away from the famous Simmo’s ice creamery. We arrived late on Friday night in a flash of headlights and immediately felt… different. All the troubles of the week faded into a fragrant tumble of eucalyptus, scratching happy chickens and fresh figs from the tree, the latter eaten with local honey and foraged sprigs of mint.

fignutnature

Over the past two days, we’ve spent hours at the beach, sunbathing and searching for tiny crabs before barbecuing fresh-caught fish on a gas camp stove. We’ve played the guitar in the moonlight, swirling glasses of wine whilst singing along to the chirp of crickets in nearby grass and the boom of the local emu.

After sleeping on creaking mattresses we’ve woken to natural light before eating fresh farmyard eggs and bacon cooked on an outdoor barbecue. It’s been perfection, in holiday form, made better by the presence of lifelong friends who in my opinion are some of the best people on the planet.

lau&melcrab

I’m writing this last paragraph two days after our return to Perth. It’s 7.00am, the sun is casting a warm glow through the window and my mind is flickering towards my office and the growing pile of paperwork requiring my attention. However, I can’t finish this post without the addition of a recipe, so below you’ll find a breakfast dish that was developed, cooked and devoured in the fresh air during our weekend in Dunsborough.

fritmont

These corn fritters are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and flaked with juicy nuggets of golden sweetcorn. They’re deliciously versatile, made even better during our time away by the addition of fresh organic eggs, hand-picked garlic chives and dried chillies (the latter were grown and harvested by my friends Patti and Mel). We enjoyed our fritters with smoked salmon, fried eggs (I attempted poaching over a camp stove but failed dismally), tomato chutney, lemon-infused sour cream, spinach and avocado. I’ve included some recipe additions and variations under ‘notes’ below if you’re feeling adventurous.

However you try them, I hope you enjoy these corn fritters as much as we did. Oh, and if you’re a Perth city slicker, I’d highly recommend a trip to the country. It’s refreshing for the body, mind and spirit… the way nature intended.

plate

Buttermilk Corn Fritters

Makes approximately 12, 6-8cm diameter fritters

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 315g creamed corn
  • 400g sweetcorn kernels (equivalent to 1 large sweetcorn cob, kernels removed, or 420g can corn kernels, drained)
  • ¼ cup chopped garlic chives
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • unsalted butter and olive oil, to fry

Sift flour into a large bowl, then make a well in the centre. Fold in your liquid ingredients: buttermilk, eggs and creamed corn. Taste, then season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. mixmont

Add in your corn kernels, chives and parmesan, then fold until just combined. Your mix is now ready to fry.

Warm a heavy-based, non-stick frypan over medium heat. When hot, remove from heat before adding a tablespoon of unsalted butter and some good quality olive oil. When the butter has melted, return the pan to the heat and add heaped tablespoons of the mixture, three at a time. Use the back of a spoon to shape the fritter mixture into 6-8cm diameter rounds.

forks

Cook your fritters until the edges begin to crisp up and small bubbles start appearing in the mixture. Flip them over carefully with a slotted spatula. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the fritters are crisp on both sides, lightly browned and firm to the touch. If it’s a cold day, I’d recommend placing your cooked fritters in a slow oven (150 degrees C/300 degrees f) to keep warm whilst you begin your next batch.

Drain on paper towels before serving 2-3 fritters per person. Great accompaniments include lemon-infused sour cream, crème fraiche, smoked salmon or crispy bacon, poached eggs, fresh herbs, sliced avocado and tomato chutney.

split

Notes:

  • Corn is a great source of dietary fibre whilst being low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It also contains beneficial amounts of thiamin, niacin (B vitamins), vitamin C, potassium and folate. However, being high in starch and natural sugars, it’s definitely not a low carbohydrate food (which is why it’s used to make sweet corn syrup). Watch your intake if you enjoy being sedentary!
  • If you’re feeling inventive, these fritters are very open to adaptation. Great additions to the basic fritter mixture include small pieces of crispy bacon, extra cheese (crumbled feta is fantastic), finely chopped herbs (try parsley or coriander), spices (try some cumin and coriander seeds for a deliciously Middle Eastern twist) or for extra nutritional value, grated carrot.
  • For a Southern American version, omit the chilli, pepper and chives from your mixture and mix in 1 tsp caster sugar before frying. Serve with crispy bacon and maple syrup or honey for a classic sweet-and-salty hit. Yum. Oh, and please don’t deep-fry them. It’s not necessary (repeat after me: you are not Elvis).
  • If you’re a vegan, I’ve found a deliciously suitable corn fritter recipe just for you. It’s by Nancy at The Sensitive Pantry and utilises an egg replacer alongside coconut milk and sorghum flour. I haven’t test-driven it yet, but I have absolute faith in this woman’s abilities. She is the queen of cooks for those with food allergies and intolerances.  forkplate

morning thoughts

brekkycloseGood morning beautiful people. Just a very quick post this morning to apologise for the recent changes in layout, menus and user-friendliness here at Laura’s Mess. I’ve been experimenting, in the hope that I’ll find something perfectly fitting to my individual blog, but alas… at present I’m settling with the best of many not-quite-right options. I think this is the point where I let out a big sigh whilst lamenting my inadequate knowledge of HTML. It’s ridiculously complicated, and I’ve concluded that I have no hope of actually designing my own web page. I’ve spent a few hours learning the basics via HTML Dog and I still feel like my knowledge represents a pea in a giant communal pan of paella.

Anyway, moving on. To make this post remotely food-related, I’ve added in a few pictures of my first breakfast. By ‘first’, I mean that I’m actually going out for breakfast this morning at the civilized time of 9.00am. Being me, I was too hungry to wait, so straight to my default ‘yoghurt mess’.

brekmont

This little concoction has become my go-to combination for breakfasts, snacks and mid-afternoon energy boosts. It contains natural yoghurt (my favourite brands are currently Gippsland Natural Organic Yoghurt and Mundella Natural Greek Yoghurt), berries (I love strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and redcurrants), chopped raw almonds, white Chia seeds, chopped Medjool dates and puffed Amaranth. I sometimes add in some wholegrain oats or quinoa seeds if I’m extra hungry. I’ve already talked about the nutritional benefits of many of these ingredients in previous posts (for instance, take a look at Honey Chia Muesli Slice or my Banana Bread recipes for information on Chia seeds and quinoa), so all I’m going to say this morning is that it’s wonderful that something so delicious can actually be good for you.

To end, I’m just going to add in the most recent photo we’ve taken of our little bean-birds. These days, they actually have no resemblance to beans whatsoever – they’re miniature versions of fully grown Willie Wagtails – and their fat little bodies are having trouble fitting into their tiny nest. Their poor parents have now been relegated to nearby tree branches, but I don’t think they mind. They’re too busy trying to fight off neighbourhood cats, pigeons and unsuspecting apartment dwellers.

beanstacklsI love these beautiful little creatures. I’ll be sad to eventually see them go. As always, thanks for reading, and I promise that next time I’ll have a complete recipe for you!

With The Grains

Whole Grains and Wanderings

Cashew Kitchen

vibrant food. quiet soul. wild at heart.

Brooklyn Homemaker

modern classic recipes, story telling, and a little bit of history. Oh yeah, and schnauzers.

better than a bought one

as homemade should be

My Sweet Precision

Where flour, butter, and sugar collide

Chompchomp

Perth Food Blog | Restaurant Reviews | Food & Travel Blog | Gluten Free

The Veggy Side Of Me

Deliciousy Green...