Monday, March 8, 2010

Pikelets - Masterchef Style

There are some recipes where repetition, or longevity, mean that they achieve “off by heart” status, no longer requiring reference to the cookbook – in this case I think it was the ubiquitous Good, Cheap Cookbook that has now sadly fallen apart.

In the olden days – when the kids were all at school and I was a stay-at-home mum this was one of those great recipes that I could whip up when they came home from school and let me feel like some sort of freakish super-mum.

These days it’s morphed into flapjack style pancakes for lazy weekend mornings, (now made by Rick) achieving new heights when I made them whilst we were camping for Nick’s birthday, served with the requested raspberry butter (a la Fireworks CafĂ©).

But, in my capacity as an assistant leader for Saints Plus (our church’s Sunday School group for kids in Year 6 – Year 8), I thought it would be fun to have a Masterchef style pikelet cook-off. Fortunately on the night, there were 6 kids – three girls and three boys. They were separated into two groups, strictly by gender of course.

After encouraging the boys by informing them that all the best chefs in the world were men, both teams managed to be quiet long enough for me to tell them the ingredients. The boys started well, but perhaps slightly overshot the mark with a giant pikelet, which then turned into something resembling “The Blob”.

The girls meanwhile were fashioning piping bags out of foil (all they could find), creating perfect circles and cute heart shapes and plating up their pikelets like something from, well… MasterChef.

So the winners were (taking into consideration team work, cleanliness & tidiness of work space, presentation and above all taste) Team Girl!

Of course, the winner on the night was the pikelet with lashings of jam and before I could stop BOTH teams, some extra sugar sprinkled on top!

So what’s your favourite “off-by-heart” recipe? If you send me the recipe, I’ll try it out and let others know all about it!

Recipe for never-fail pikelets:
2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup sugar (caster if you have it)
2 eggs
½ cup milk (add more if necessary)
30 g melted butter (optional – makes the surface of the pikelets softer)
Extra butter for frying

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Leave to rest if you have the time.
Heat a frypan until the butter sizzles (but does not brown). Add spoonfuls of mix to the frypan, well spaced.
Turn over when bubbles burst on the top.
Remove when golden brown and repeat until all the mixture is used up.

Serve with: jam, cream, maple syrup, lemon juice and sugar or my personal favourite, fresh seasonal fruit (think mango, strawberries, banana, passionfruit) and yoghurt.

Add frozen blueberries to the mix just before cooking for blueberry pikelets.
Add grated apple to the mix or, finely slice apple, fry slightly in the butter, then pour the batter over the top. Serve with maple syrup.
For a savoury variation, omit the sugar and add corn (tinned or fresh), diced spring onion, grated zucchini and grated cheese. The mixture should still be able to hold together. Serve these fritters with bacon, caramelised onion or tomato relish – good enough for breakfast or dinner!

Raspberry Butter
This was an experimental venture, and I was camping at the time, so measurements are a little flexible. When I added the raspberries, it looked like brains as the butter/ sugar mix separated, now that I beat the butter/sugar/ raspberries with the conveniences of a modern kitchen, this doesn’t happen!

125g butter – unsalted is best if you have it
100g caster sugar
150g frozen raspberries

Beat butter & sugar until light & fluffy, then beat in defrosted, drained raspberries. Adjust raspberries & sugar to taste. Serve dollops on warm pancakes.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm baaaacckk....

Ok, after desperate entreaties (polite enquiries) from many of my followers (two cousins and a friend from church) I have decided to jump back on the blogging band-wagon. I'm not quite sure how I fell off, because there is plenty to talk/ photograph/ eat/ cook/ write about. I guess I am busy, but no more than pretty much every other person I know. I'm actually surprised that when I went back to my blog, the last post was in December, I feel that I have plenty of things to write about that according to my diary (in my head only...and trolling through old emails) actually happened in November.

And I think that is the crux of the matter - that there is just SO much to write about. And where to begin. Do I start from now and keep going? Or do I look back at my list and try and re-hash (get it? the foodie reference??) the events/ dinners/ circumstances.

I think I will try a combination of the two, and to keep me honest I will put a list here of blog topics that I want to write about (from the recent past).

Cooking for 20+ for a weekend at craft camp - not just the cooking, but the fun of talking it over with my co-conspirator Michelle, the planning and the shopping.
GingerBread House Decorating - too much fun...and also a little too serious....
Austi Women's Night Out: Food for body and soul - recent cooking demonstration at my church.
Christmas - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Week before Christmas family Christmas celebration - you get the drift.
An amazing Champagne Hour Champagne Tasting - 4 bottles of top notch champagne, 5 thirsty girls...

So many new restaurants/ cafes opened in the northern suburbs of Wollongong towards the end of last year! All are still open! And there is not really anyone else writing (good) restaurant reviews. Some of the places we've been to:
The Point - new cafe on Point St Bulli - rough review: good
Sea Salt - where Ruby's used to be - rr: not good
Flanagan's - at Thirroul. Have blogged a work lunch but have since been there for dinner and lunch again - rr: great
New sushi place in Woonona (the name escapes me right now...aahh thank you google - it's Sushi Moon) - rr: good with reservations
Gone Burgers - hip & funky beer and burger place in a Woonona laneway (who would have thought Woonona was NSW's answer to Melbourne?) - rr: good
The Bar Next Door to Samuels - aka TBNDS. Where the cool kids go - rr:great
Chedo's - at Coledale. An oldie, but a goodie. rr: good
One on Park at Woonona. Dan's workplace, but it would be good anyway. rr: good
Bon Aroma - had a lovely Christmas get-together with "the girls" with an absolutely hilarious meal. rr: interesting
Berry Sourdough Bakery - on the way to camping - rr: great
The Gelati Clinic, Bermagui - holiday time - rr: fantastic
Mimosa Winery, near Bermagui - luxury lunch - rr: good
Cream, Bermagui - great cakes, great coffee, always the first place we head to - rr:great
Montague Cafe, Bermagui - and I wonder why my nephew-in-law calls us "cafe campers" - rr: good

Cookbook and books about cooks reviews:
I gave, received, read and even compiled some great cookbooks since Christmas, mainly:
The Songs of Sapa- Luke Nguyen
Food Safari - Maeve O'Mara

Camping - we had some fantastic meals while we were camping. Including:
A seafood extravaganza for Nick's birthday
Yum Cha - yes, whilst camping, then repeated a fortnight later...
A birthday breakfast extravaganza

The cooking roster also continues, pretty much without fuss (from me that is). Everyone is starting to get their specialities, which I will let you know about.

Onions vs Shallots vs Spring onions - I think this is what did my head in and made me stop blogging - way too much research...
New Year's Eve on Cockatoo Island- the food was good, but the experience was fantastic

And if you've read this far, my most ambitious idea for the year ahead is a Cookbook Swap. I'm still working on the logistics and the fine print, but I hope to go ahead with it soon. I'm thinking along the same lines as a clothes swap, but am still working on it. Any suggestions gratefully received...

So, sorry there's no photos this time around, I'm on the wrong computer. Please let me know what you would like to hear about first, plus I'll be keeping current - the aim is to blog at least twice a week.