Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

Happy Mardi Gras Day!

Happy Carnival!

Happy International Pancake Day!

For 2015, I’m celebrating International Pancake Day; mostly because I love pancakes, and maybe a little because I ran out of time and didn’t make king cake or crostoli. Soon…

Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

I’ve always loved pancakes, and I would have them quite regularly if those I lived with liked them more. How can people not be fans of pancakes??? Although, even they have to admit that they did like the cinnamon apple pancakes that I made recently. And they loved the hazelnut and banana dutch baby pancake I made to celebrate the most important pancake day of the year.

Dutch baby pancakes, also known as a German pancake or a puffed pancake, are a larger, sweet and tasty breakfast version of popovers or Yorkshire puddings that have the consistency of a think pancake. Don’t be put off by the description… they have been around since the early half of the 1900s and they are a lovely and theatrical morning treat in the way that they rise and puff up in the frying pan.

Today may be International Pancake Day, but this whole week is Pancake Week, so make sure you get your fair share of pancakes, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

  • Servings: 2 large to 4 small serves
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Hazelnut and Banana Dutch Baby Pancake

Ingredients

  • 20g butter (coarsely chopped)
  • 3 eggs
  • 185ml milk
  • 90g plain flour
  • 20g hazelnut meal
  • 3 teaspoons caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

For Dusting

  • Icing sugar

To Serve

  • 1 banana (thickly sliced)
  • 2 scoops honey-malt, caramel, toffee or vanilla ice cream
  • Honey or maple syrup to taste (optional)
  • Coarsely chopped roasted hazelnuts (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place butter in a 22cm-diameter ovenproof frying pan and place in oven until butter melts and pan is very hot, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix eggs, milk, flour, hazelnut meal, sugar, nutmeg and lemon rind with a whisk, immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth and combined.
  3. Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan and immediately return the pan to the oven. Bake until puffed and golden, around 20 to 25 minutes. The pancake is ready when the sides have risen and the centre is firm but springy to the touch.
  4. Serve hot, dusted with icing sugar and topped with banana, honey-malt, caramel, toffee or vanilla ice-cream, and honey if using, and then scatter with roasted hazelnuts.

Recipe from the Australian Gourmet Traveller website.

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Homemade Croissants

It’s croissant day, everyone!

I finally tackled croissants. They have been on my baking bucket list for a while now.

A long, long while.

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I have always loved croissants. I remember my family trying to entice me to try other bakery goodies when I was a kid, but I was always happiest biting into a crunchy croissant. Ecstatic even when there was time or the ability to toast them. Other than a bowl of mac and cheese on a stormy day, nothing is more comforting than a toasted cheese and tomato croissant…

Well, nothing was.

Biting into a homemade, fresh-from-the-oven croissant, where the outer crunch gives way to a still-warm, fluffy centre was quite a profound experience.

I recommend that every croissant lover makes them at least once in their lives.

Sure, you’ll be rolling and folding, and rolling and folding, and rolling and folding dough for a quite a while, maybe even days, but it’s worth the effort and the waiting.

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For my first foray into the world of croissants, I chose to go with David Lebovitz’s Whole Wheat Croissants recipe, mainly because you could not have a better teacher when it comes to pastry techniques, and partly because the recipe make 6 croissants, which is plenty for just me. However, I didn’t want my first croissant baking experience to be whole wheat, and since David’s notes mentioned that the recipe would work using all white flour, that is the only time I deviated from the recipe. Croissants are not difficult to make, they are just time consuming, and David has some beautiful instructional photos on his website of the rolling and folding steps.

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With the weekend fast approaching, why not extend croissant day and bake some fresh this weekend?

And we all know that croissants can be turned into delectable desserts, yes? We’re all nodding? If you need proof, just take a look at the caramel croissant pudding that’s up over at the New Recipe Night blog… You’re all in furious agreement now, aren’t you? Yes? I thought so…

So I humbly present these dessert-in-the-making offerings to Angie at The Novice Gardener and to all her co-hosts who help put together our Fiesta Friday parties.

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Happy Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 everyone!

 

Homemade Croissants

  • Servings: makes 6 pastries
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David says: ‘Making croissants isn’t hard; one just needs to follow the steps, which are 1) Make the yeasted dough day in advance and let it sit overnight, 2) The next day, make 3 “turns” of the pastry at various intervals, then 3) Shape, proof, and bake the croissants. The most important thing is not to let the butter get too soft. So when rolling and folding the dough, work quickly to get it back in the refrigerator’.

Ingredients

  • 280g white bread flour (preferably) or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 160ml whole or low-fat milk, very slightly warmed
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 160g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

Method

Day 1

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the white and whole wheat flours. Prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with the milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or stir it together in a large bowl. Stir in about one-third of the flour mixture and let the mixture stand until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt, and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop a few times, just enough to bring it together into a cohesive ball, but do not over-knead. 10-15 seconds should do it.
  3. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. (Or for at least 6 hours.)

Day 2

  1. Put the cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until there are no lumps in the butter, about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, whack the butter with a rolling pin, turning it a few times, until it’s a cold paste.) Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the butter in the middle. Enclose the butter and shape it into a 10 by 8cm rectangle. Chill the butter for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured countertop, so it forms a diamond shape with four flaps – two on top, two on the bottom, leaving the dough raised a bit in the centre.
  3. Unwrap the chilled rectangle of butter and place it in the centre. Fold the flaps over the butter, sealing the butter completely, and whack the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the dough into a 30 by 22cm rectangle.
  4. Lift up one-third of the left side of the dough and fold it over the centre. Then lift the right side of the dough over the centre, to create a rectangle. Take the rolling pin and press down on the dough two times, making an X across it. Mark the dough with one dimple with your finger to remind you that you’ve made one ‘turn’, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Do the next turn of the dough the same way, rolling and folding the dough again, making 2 dimples with your finger in the dough, then chill it for another 45 to 60 minutes.

(The resting period between steps #4 and #5 can be longer in case you have other things to do. Feel free to let it rest a couple of hours between each turn. It’ll be fine.)

  1. Do the last turn and folding of the dough and let it chill for an hour. (The dough can be chilled overnight at this point, or frozen.)
  2. To shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop until it’s a 30 by 22cm rectangle. Trim the edges off with a sharp chef’s knife and cut the dough into 3 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 6 triangles. Take one triangle and roll to lengthen it to 28cm long. Starting at the wide end, roll the croissant up toward the point, not too-tightly. Set it point-side-up on the baking sheet and roll the rest of the croissants the same way.
  3. Cover the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), close it, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which will take 1 ½ to 2 hours. (If you wish, you can chill the rolled croissants overnight. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place, as indicated.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake the croissants for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. Some butter may seep out during baking, which is normal.

Recipe very, very slightly altered from David Lebovitz’s blog.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Have you noticed that there is a negative side to food trends? Where the oh so last year dish that was raved about and declared divine is discarded for the new trend, fad, ingredient or flavour?

I recently overheard someone in a café complaining how smashed avocado is so passé, and yes, they used the word passé. Okay, so you can pretty much get a version of smashed avocado from any café these days, but so what? If it tastes good and you like it, why can’t you order it? Whatever happened to each to their own? Maybe loudly opinionated food snob whingers should become passé…

Smashed Avocados

And just the other day I read an article that argued that sourdough is so overused, and that our obsession with it is a fad that’s going to pass when ‘foodies’ decided it’s time to worship a new type of bread. There was no sense that the author had done any research on sourdough in the midst of the sweeping generalisations, otherwise they may have noticed that sourdough can be traced back to the California gold rush of 1849, if not back even further… 165 years is hardly ‘temporary’…

But how are bloggers different to hoity-toity café goers and reporters who tell you what you should and shouldn’t be eating? Isn’t one of the main ‘reasons’ for blogging to get your opinions out there?

Sure.

But as a general rule, food bloggers offer their opinions in quite an unassuming way, and usually by sharing their stories. They very rarely annoyingly parade their opinions about, loudly shoving them in your face and belittling you if you don’t automatically bow down and agree…

So, if there are past food trends that you still eat, even though they seem to have fallen out of favour, then more power to you and your culinary tastes!

Now onto more important things… like smashed avocado… This recipe is the basic starting block. Get the base mix to your liking and you can build the toppings from there, from a simple garnish of fresh herbs, chilli or dukkah, to basil and lemon juice-topped cherry tomatoes, to fried or poached eggs, with or without smoked salmon.

Oh, and in case sourdough just doesn’t do it for you, or you can’t get your hands on some, rye bread is a fantastic substitute for smashed avocado toasties.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Smashed Avocados

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe but firm avocados
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 100g Danish fetta
  • 4 slices of sourdough or light rye bread
  • 1 tablespoon of dukkah

Method

  1. Slice and halve the avocados, remove the pits and scoop the avocado flesh out into a medium bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, crumble in half of the fetta and mash roughly with a fork until just combined. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown.
  4. When ready, scoop ¼ of the avocado mixture onto each slice of toast. Top with the remaining crumbled fetta and scatter with dukkah. Serve with lemon wedges.

Leek and Cheese Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpes – Parcels of Cheesy Goodness

Have you noticed how most crêpe recipes make A LOT of crêpes?

I live in a very small household, and well, I don’t want to stand in front of the stove for ages making way more crêpes than I need. Yeah, yeah, I know they freeze well, but I can guarantee you that I will forget that they’re there and then they’ll have to be thrown out.

Both buckwheat crêpe recipes that I had flagged would have made between 16 and 20 crêpes. I also noticed that they both combine buckwheat flour with regular flour. Enter Gluten-Free-Girl and the Chef. Not only do they provide the ratios for perfect crêpe batter, so you can make as many as you want, they offer up a cute little how-to video and their recipe uses only buckwheat flour.

The filling takes a bit more work than the standard ham and cheese, but I promise it’s worth it. The caramelised leeks and the smoked cheddar combine to create such a sweet but smoky flavour that even carnivores won’t miss the ham or bacon in these crêpes.

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Speaking of, smoked cheese is this month’s Cheese, Please! Blog Challenge over at Fromage Homage. If you haven’t visited this awesome blog yet, you are missing out!

Fromage Homage

Leek and Cheese Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpes

Buckwheat crêpe recipe from Gluten-Free-Girl and the Chef. Depending upon the size of your frying/crêpe pan, this recipe will make 4 to 6 crêpes.

Notes about crêpe making: The first one is usually crap and full of oil. But don’t get discouraged, crêpes are really easy to make once you find your own knack for making them. Also, depending on the size of the pan, you may need to add more or less crêpe batter in order to coat the entire surface of the pan – start with a 1/3 cup and add more if needed.

Ingredients

  • 240ml milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 113g buckwheat flour
  • Good pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can also use butter or olive oil)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 leek (white and pale green parts only, halved and sliced thinly)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
  • Good pinch sea salt
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 2 heaped tablespoons ricotta
  • 100g smoked cheddar (grated)

Method

  1. First, prepare the buckwheat crêpe batter. Whisk together the milk and eggs. Add the buckwheat flour and salt. Whisk together fully. Set aside for the flavours to mingle fully at room temperature while you make the filling.
  2. In a large, heavy-based frying pan, heat the butter over medium-low heat. When the butter just begins to sizzle, add the sliced leek, thyme, sage and salt and stir to coat. Allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the frozen peas and the ricotta and stir to combine. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes or so, or until both the peas and the ricotta have heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Quickly re-whisk the crêpe batter. The starches in buckwheat flour tend to sink to the bottom so the batter must be whisked before cooking each crêpe.
  5. Set a cast-iron skillet or crêpe pan over low heat and slowly bring it up to medium-high heat. Add some of the coconut oil.
  6. When the oil has melted, add a 1/3 cup of the crêpe batter and immediately swirl the pan until the batter covers the entire surface.
  7. When the edges are set and starting to curl up from the pan, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, run a metal spatula under all the edges of the crêpe. Flip the crêpe. Cook for 30 seconds then turn the crêpe out onto a baking paper covered surface.
  8. Repeat with the remaining crêpe batter, making sure to separate each crêpe with baking paper.
  9. When all the crêpes are cooked, add about a ¼ cup of the filling to the middle of each crêpe, top with a generous portion of smoked cheddar and fold into rolls or quarters.

Scrambled Eggs with Fetta on Parmesan Toast – Fluffy, Cheesy Goodness

Excuse the long post… There seems to be quite a bit to cover for a dish that many of us consider to be elementary. The amount of scrambled eggs that are served rubbery, watery, tasteless and frankly, inedible, is quite shocking. This is why I never order scrambled eggs when having breakfast out.

There is a lot of conflicting information about something as simple as scrambled eggs. Everyone seems to have their own preferred way of making scrambled eggs, the feelings and opinions run strong and deep, just like with cooking rice. The only common denominators are that scrambled eggs so indeed require eggs and butter, and that there is some sort of stirring involved.

Two of the biggest arguments appear to be when to season and whether or not to add milk or cream. To see what some of the biggest names in the culinary world have to say on the matter, click the links: Maggie Beer; Alton Brown; Auguste Escoffier; Bill Granger; Gordon Ramsey; Delia Smith.

The main points to consider when cooking scrambled eggs:

Preparation – Have everything ready to go before you start. Butter in the pan (but no heat yet), eggs in a bowl (but not whisked yet), and additional ingredients you are going to add at the ready.

Heat – Scrambled eggs should be ‘scrambled’ over low heat. This enables you to control the consistency of your eggs, as well as reducing the risk of overcooking.

Whisking – Whisking is key to making perfect scrambled eggs every time. Whether you use an actual whisk or a fork doesn’t matter. What matters is that you whisk the eggs for long enough to completely incorporate the egg yolks and whites. Your mixture should not have streaks of egg whites. And the more you whisk, the more air you create, leading to fluffier scrambled eggs.

Timing – The eggs should be whisked just before you add them to the pan. If you whisk them and then leave them standing while you find the right pan and melt the butter, you’ll lose all of the air you incorporated into the mixture.

Cooking – Scrambled eggs should never be left in the pan long enough to brown. If they’ve reached this stage, they are burnt and will be quite flavourless and very chewy. Not a great combination… Eggs continue to cook after they have been removed from heat; this means that scrambled eggs are ready when they are still soft and a little wet looking, but not runny.

Additions – If you want to add cream, milk, ricotta, fetta, cottage cheese, crème fraiche, cheddar etc. do so just before the eggs are ready. This will allow enough time for additional ingredients to heat up, but not enough time for them to allow the eggs to separate from the excess liquid and overcook.

Seasoning – Salt especially can cause eggs to break down and turn watery, which once again leads to overcooking. It is best to season scrambled eggs while they are still a tad runny, just before they set and are ready to be removed. This includes seasoning with fresh herbs as well.

So why am I sharing a recipe about scrambled eggs? Well, if you’ve never had scrambled eggs with fetta, I’d like to encourage you to do so. You won’t be sorry! And the parmesan toast is just a bonus.

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Scrambled Eggs with Fetta on Parmesan Toast

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 50g fetta (crumbled)*
  • Pinch or two of garlic or sea salt*
  • 85g butter (divided into 10g and 75g)
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 90g parmesan cheese (preferably freshly grated or pre-packaged shaved parmesan, NOT the pre-packaged grated variety)

Method

  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Soften but don’t melt 75g of butter and combine with the minced garlic, mixing well.
  3. Place the bread slices under the grill and toast one side until golden, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over low heat.
  5. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk for at least two minutes or until the mixture is hemogenous. Pour mixture into the pan and allow to sit for a minute or two.
  6. Remove the bread from under the grill. Flip them over, lather them with the garlic butter, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and put back under the grill for another 2 to four minutes, or until they are golden brown and the parmesan has melted.
  7. With a flat spatula or wooden spoon (your personal preference) begin to gently scrape and fold the eggs. Do not break them though; you just want to move them around as they cook. (The more you stir the smaller curds you will have. If you’d like longer curds, you can stir less frequently.)
  8. Remove the parmesan toast from the grill and set aside.
  9. When the eggs are only slightly runny, add the crumbled fetta and fold gently to incorporate and then season with garlic or sea salt.
  10. Once the eggs are no longer runny but still wet, remove the pan from the heat, divide the scrambled eggs between each piece of parmesan toast and serve immediately.

* Depending on the saltiness of the fetta used, you may not need to use any additional salt.

English Muffins with Peanut Butter, Ricotta, Banana and Honey

I love breakfast food! From eggy goodness to pancakes, from yogurt with granola and fruit to toast lathered with a favourite spread. Oh, and don’t forget French toast!

Weekend breakfasts are the best though, when you have more time to make something a little more elaborate or time consuming.

These tasty English muffins topped with peanut butter, ricotta, banana and honey are ideal for a weekday breakfast as they offer a yummy alternative to cereal, are really quick to put together and they are deceptively filling. Just don’t try to eat them on the run, as the honey has a tendency to get everywhere, especially if you add more than just a drizzle…

English Muffins with Peanut Butter, Ricotta, Banana and Honey

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Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 English Muffins (split and toasted)
  • 4 Teaspoons Peanut Butter
  • 50g Fresh Ricotta
  • 1 Banana (sliced on a diagonal)
  • Honey to drizzle over the top

Method

  1. Spread one teaspoon of peanut butter onto each toasted English muffin slice.
  2. Quarter the fresh ricotta and then add it to each of the muffin halves.
  3. Place three to four slices of banana to each muffin.
  4. Drizzle as much or as little honey as you like over the top.

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