Friday 29 March 2019

Peppermint crisp slice and St Patrick's Day Fete

This St Patrick's Day I really went green.  Green food, green clothes and a fete where green abounded.  (And you only have to look at the name of my blog to know I love green!)  Today I will share some of the lesser green food I made (a peppermint crisp slice) and some photos of the fete.

Let's start with the Peppermint Crisp Slice.  I was inspired by my sister in law's Aero mint slice.  However Peppermint crisp is a sentimental favourite.  My mum has been putting it on pavolvas since I was a kid and still does to this day.  Whereas Aero is a johnny-come-lately in my world of chocolate bars.  I think it became a joke to me when I travelled to Europe and found it sold as Bros bars.  And if you had a sister who loved the band called Bros then it would amuse you too to find a bar called Bros which is advertised "it's the bubble of nothing that make it really something"!  'Nuff said.

I have been told that Peppermint Crisp is an Australian speciality.  So for those who aren't familiar with it, it is a bar of flaky peppermint covered in "dark" chocolate.  I don't eat it as a chocolate bar ever but love it crumbled up.  And mixed with condensed milk, coconut and chocolate ripple biscuits it sounded heavenly.  Chocolate ripple biscuits are another Australian speciality that we bought to make chocolate ripple cake but as it involved cream and I don't like cream, they just lingered.

I made the Peppermint Crisp Slice to take a school cake sale on the eve of St Patrick's Day.  Hence the token greenness of the peppermint and my decision to make the coconut on top a little green.  I was in such a rush to get it to the cake stall on time that I forgot to photograph it a home or even save a piece.  So I suddenly remembered when there were only two pieces left at the cake stall.  After taking the photo I purchased a piece so I could taste it.  And it was so good that I regretted not leaving a stash at home.  But it was also so rich and decadent that perhaps it was better to have it out of the house.

At the same cake stall I made some shamrock cupcakes and offered to take some to my niece's school fete.  You can see this in the picture of some of the cakes in the Kilarney Cafe at the fete.  I was amused that my niece went there twice: once for one of my cupcakes and once for her mum's choc chip cookies.  They had heaps of food but sometimes eating what you know is comfort.

I got to the Irish Folk Festival early and had quick wander around the fete. It meant getting to the jams and cake when they were still in huge piles, having my pick of Granny's O'Reilly's jumble stall, walking through the creative market when it was quiet.  I bought a plum relish, some peppermint slice (yes I know it was a little ironic) and an unused cactus water dispenser.  I was very tempted by the Live Eco stall with lots of reuseable products such as bread bags and straws but was happy to see they have a store on nearby pako street.

When my family arrived we watched some of the music.  My brother played with his band and got my niece up to sing "Baby Shark".  I admired her bravery in getting up on stage.  (The photo above is the band warming up when it was I could get a clear view.)

While we sat watching the band, we also watched the queue grow at the bbq stall.  It was only later I saw they had baked potatoes nearby.

The kids were not hungry yet.  They were more interested in the Kingdom of Magical Slime.  There were a few purchases there and then some disappointed looks once it sold out.

And then quite a few of my family left and we stayed on with my sister and niece.  Sylvia and her cousin had a great time on the jumping (dinosaur) castle, the tea cup ride and the flying swings.  Only my niece went into the petting zoo while Sylvia and I stayed outside to try and catch an escapee guinea pig (luckily the idea of us catching him was scary enough to send him back to captivity).

They also had great fun doing crafts and cupcake decorating.  The craft room had a make-your-own-squihy.  Sylvia and her cousin had great fun.  Though it was a bit of a challenge when my niece asked me to hack a unicorn shape out of a chunk of foam.  She was pretty happy with my attempt.

While they were painting their squishies, my sister ran out to get us potato twists for lunch.  Then it was time to cover some cupcakes with icing, sprinkles and lollies.  Then we tried to wait for the cupcakes and squishies to dry!  The joys of crafting at a fete.  Sylvia was very pleased with her watermelon slices.

It was a warm day and the girls wanted something sweet.  They bypassed the ice cream and pancake stalls for the snow cones at Molly's Lollies.  We took them to some shaded seating and sat enjoying watching the crowds.  Best fun was watching the dunk-the-teacher game where kids threw a ball at a target and if they hit, their teacher got dunked in the water.  Thank goodness it was a warm day but I still admired the good nature of the teachers in participating.

Finally it was time to leave.  We had a lovely time spending time with my niece.  She showed us where her classroom was and we went with her to the Art Show (below) where they had some really lovely artworks.  I particularly liked the printed tea towels.

Finally I leave you with the recipe I used for the peppermint crisp slice.  I found it hard to find exactly what I wanted.  It has to be simple in the way of old fashioned CWA slices.  My slice was delicious but it was quite soft, even with adding some coconut.  But it tasted great and could be made with any sort of chocolate bars.

More old fashioned Aussie slices for fetes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apricot condensed milk slice
Coconut ice (gf)
Jeanette's coconut date slice (gf, v)
Lemon slice
Marshmallow weetbix slice
Pooh bear honey slice
White Christmas 

Peppermint Crisp Slice
Adapted from Best Recipes

250g packet of choc ripple biscuits
3 peppermint crisps
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
400g tin of condensed milk

225g dark chocolate melts
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
green food dye (optional)

Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper (I used a slice tin but it was a bit big so I would use a 20cm square tin next time).

Crush the chocolate ripple biscuits to coarse crumbles and chop the peppermint crisps.  Mix with coconut and condensed milk.  Scrape into prepared tin.  Chill in freezer for an hour or so.

Put a drop or two into the coconut and rub it in to make the coconut green if you want to colour it.  Melt chocolate and butter together.  Spread over chilled slice and then sprinkle with coconut.  Chill in the fridge.  (I did this overnight but I think 4-6 hours should firm it up.)

Eat cold and firm or at room temperature and soft depending on your preference.

On the Stereo:
Discrete Music: Brian Eno

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Slow cooked smoky chickpeas with tacos

On the weekend, I had been to a few places where we had seen friends and was queuing for burgers at Lord of the Fries.  I noticed one foot seemed higher than the other.  When I looked down I was wearing odd sandals.  That about sums up life at the moment.  Some highs - swimming 1 km for the first time in years, meeting the author at bookclub, and Sylvia trying more foods.  Some lows - lots of unsettling staff changes at work, a dysfunctional worm farm, and hearing about the death of Scott Walker.  And lots of surprises.  Like a recipe for slow cooker chickpeas that turns out to be a good meal to see me through a week, even without a slow cooker.

I made these chickpeas during the day while chatting to my mum.  They are incredible easy as long as there is some time to let them while away at their own pace.  Then after gymnastics we could come home to easy dinner.

I had decided to serve the chickpeas in soft tacos.  They were really good.  And so simple to heat the stew and chop some vegies and cheese.  It is a nice social sort of meal to sit around the table and everyone can take what they like.  And I got to use up some sour cream and packet salsa.

I think one of the reason this recipe works so well is adding just a little water and keeping the sauce thick so the flavour is intense.  I tried to make the recipe this week with half a pumpkin.  It was still nice but I had to add more seasoning and it was quite watery.  Not the lovely thickly coated chickpeas of my first attempt.  However it still worked really well to serve it with gnocchi, grated cheese and baby spinach.  Or it works with sourdough toast.  I think this is a very versatile dish.

As for my odd sandals, you might wonder why E and Sylvia had not mentioned them to me, given they were there the whole morning.  Seems they think I am quite a trendsetter.  But I don't recommend it myself.  If you want to follow my lead, I suggest making these delicious chickpeas rather than wearing odd sandals.

I am sending these chickpeas to Shaheen of Allotment to Kitchen who is hosting My Lovely Legume Affair this month on behalf of Lisa's Kitchen who took over from The Well Seasoned Cook who started this event celebrating legume recipes of all kinds.

More chickpea recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chickpea hummus scramble (gf, v) 
Chickpea, peach and pumpkin curry (gf, v) 
Chickpea pilaf (gf, v) 
Chickpea, potato and tomato stew (gf, v) 
Mock tuna (chickpea) salad (gf, v)
One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini (v)

Slow cooked smoky chickpeas 
Adapted from Backyard Lemon Tree
Serves 6-8

olive oil, a drizzle
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp seeded mustard
shake of dried herbs
good pinch of salt and pepper
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1x 400g tin diced tomatoes
water as required

Cook onion and carrots in olive oil in a heavy bottomed stockpot until golden (about 5 or 10 minutes over medium heat).  Add garlic, smoked paprika, mustard, herbs and seasoning.  Cook for a minute and then add chickpeas, tomatoes and about half a cup of water.  Bring to boil and the reduce heat to low.  Slowly cook for 30 to 60 minutes, adding a little boiling water from time to time until tomato sauce thickened.  (NB only a small amount of water at a time so it does not get watery and have to cook a lot to thicken.)

On the stereo:
Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel

Wednesday 20 March 2019

St Patrick's Day Shamrock Cupcakes

St Patrick's Day was lovely this year.  I made lots of green food, including two batches of green shamrock cupcakes.  I went to a St Patrick's Day fete where green ruled.  Today I am going to share how I made the cupcakes and the fondant shamrocks.

While I am a newcomer to fondant decoration, I am no stranger to green food on St Patrick's Day.  I used to love green beer on the day when I was a student and once made a wonderful cake with a friend of St Patrick sending the snakes of Ireland into the sea.  (You can see a picture of the cake here but bear in mind it was taken long before digital cameras or blogs graced our lives.)

I've done quite a few green cakes since.  This year I decided to do green cupcakes for a school bake sale.  It was easier to do because Sylvia was on a sleepover at a friend's house.  It gave me time to bake cakes and shape shamrocks on the Friday night and then make buttercream and pipe it before taking them to the bake sale at 9am.  And to make a peppermint crisp slice that I will share another time.  (And to watch the tv news in horror as the Christchurch mosque killings were reported.  So sad to see such hatred fuelling all that death and grief.  So heartening to see Jacinda Ahern's compassionate and brave response.)

I am very new to decorating with fondant.  I don't like eating it and so I don't tend to use it.  However, we decided to use it for Sylvia's birthday cupcakes (in a post soon) and had heaps leftover.  I gave some away for friends doing a party cake (who reported back it was too sweet but looked good).  I liked the idea of just a little fondant to decorate the cupcakes.  When it came to making shamrocks, I was pretty unsure and made it up myself.  Once I got a system going it was easier to make them all.

I made most of my shamrocks while watching tv.  (As an aside I highly recommend the coming of age movie, Submarine, written and directed by Richard Ayoade.)  Fiddly work like that is easier when there is something else to concentrate on, whether a podcast, tv show or chatting with a friend.  I kept the piece of fondant whole rather than trying to piece together little bits of fondant.  I also made some fondant dots to use as sprinkles but didn't have enough time to use them.  Maybe I will experiment with them at at later date.

I took my dozen cupcakes to the bake sale and was glad to have bought the slice as well because there wasn't much there.  I think the last few bake sales have had so much baking that people probably thought someone else would bake.  I was pleased to see that they sold well.  Honestly I was happy to see others eating them because these are not my sort of cupcakes at all.  They are too plain and too much icing.  But I had fun making them.

In fact, I was so pleased with my shamrock cupcakes that I offered to take some to my niece's school fete the next day.  Making them with Sylvia was a bigger challenge.  Especially as before I began my brother rang to ask us to come down Saturday night rather than Sunday morning to have a family dinner.

We made the cupcakes, buttercream and shamrocks at home on Saturday and put them together on Sunday morning.  There were slightly more sprinkles and only a tiny bit more time than on the previous day.  Sylvia got to use her St Pat's Day sign.  And they were appreciated at the school fete, even though there was lots of good food.

More St Patrick's Day green food links on Green Gourmet Giraffe 

More St Patrick's Day recipes on blogs elsewhere:
Colcannon casserole - VegHog
Irish goldrush cupcakes - Laws of the Kitchen
Shamrock cookies - Allotment to Kitchen
St Patrick's Day healthy snack board - Eating by Elaine
Vegan Guinness triple chocolate brownies - Wallflower Kitchen

St Patrick's Day Shamrock Cupcakes

Green cupcakes
Buttercream icing
Fondant shamrock
Green sprinkles

Cupcakes, buttercream and fondant shamrocks can all be made the day before.  Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes to make a small swirl that still leaves some of the green cupcake visible.  Place a shamrock on top.  Sprinkle with green sprinkles.  I tried making some small green dots with fondant to place in the buttercream but never had time to experiment with placing them neatly.

Green cupcakes
Adapted from Kidspot via Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 12-16

125g butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp green food dye (I used Queens)
1 cup milk
2 cups self-raising flour

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla and green food dye.  Beat until smooth.  Fold in half the milk and half the flour and then repeat with remaining milk and flour.  Spoon into pattypan cups or a greased pattypan (or muffin or cupcake) tray.  Bake at 180 C for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.


250g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

Using electric beaters, beat butter til creamy.  Gradually beat in icing sugar.  By the time I added all icing sugar, it was like tiny pebbles.  Beat in a tablespoon of milk at a time until the mixture is creamy.

Fondant Shamrocks

White fondant
Green food colouring (the good thick stuff)
Icing sugar for rolling out and shaping

Take a chunk of white fondant about 8 x 5 x 5cm.  I dabbed on a good thick green food dye (because I did not want to dilute the fondant too much) and kneaded it to make the fondant green.

Lightly dust a board with icing sugar.  Roll out the fondant to be 2-3mm thick, turning it over once or twice while you roll so it does not get too sticky.

Cut out a circle of fondant.  (My cutters are about 2-3cm in diameter.)  Put the remaining fondant in an airtight container to prevent it drying out while you shape each shamrock.  Have a little icing sugar at hand to rub on hands if fondant is at all sticky but only use a little to avoid having it all over fondant and leaving white spots.

Cut four lines equally spaced from near the middle.  Cut three of the quarters into thinner wedges by shaving off a little either side.  Shape each of the three wedges into a shamrock leaf shape.  I did some of these with making a small dint with my round cutter and the using my hands but found it easier to find a wavy cutter (a mini gingerbread man cutter worked as in the step by step photos) and use to cut some shape to found the corners as well as make a little dent in the middle before final shaping with my hands.  Then cut the fourth quarter to be a stem a little thinner at the top than the bottom.

These can be air dried overnight.  It will make them a bit sturdier for handling but still soft enough to eat.

On the Stereo:
Irish pub classics

Sunday 17 March 2019

St Patrick's Day Green Pizza

Happy St Patrick's Day.  I think I have had the greenest St Pat's Day for years.  Those who are regular readers and those who have just read the name of my blog will all know that I love green.  Today has been full of green pizza, green cupcakes and a St Pat's fete.  It has been a pretty busy weekend so I will just quickly tell you about the pizza and save the rest for another day.

I have tried green pizza before but this is my most successful to date.  Before it has been a matter of piling it under cheese.  Today I had the epiphany that I could add greens after the pizza was cooked.  I was inspired by this vegan greens pizza.  I think this one would work with cashew cream but for now I have only tried cheese.  I baked the pizza with cheese on top, then spread it with cream cheese and pesto and topped it with greens.  Delicious.

E said it was like a shoot out in a grocers shop.  I told him that if my brother could sing Baby Shark to a crowd (nicely accompanied by my 6 year old niece) than anything goes with pizza too.  Actually, as well as wanting to create a green pizza for St Patrick's day, I wanted to get some vegetables into us.  It is easy to just do a Margherita pizza if we are tired.

After a day of eating chips and cakes at the fete, it was really lovely to eat a pizza loaded with green vegetables.  It was possible not the easiest pizza to cut and eat but mostly it was fine.  I also chose vegetables that would reheat because we often have pizza leftover for the next day.  I am hoping I might heat up a slice of this pizza for my lunch tomorrow.

Check out more St Patrick's Day green food if you are into green or more pizza toppings.

And I am hoping that Shaheen will accept this for to Allotment to Kitchen and Veg Hog for Eat Your Greens.

Healthy Greens Pizza
Serves 2-4

1 batch of dough for a large pizza (we used half this recipe)
Olive oil
Grated cheddar cheese
Cream cheese (about 2 dessertspoons)
Pesto (about a dessertspoon)
Baby spinach (a handful or two)
Broccoli, cooked and chopped (about 1/2 to 1 cup)
Peas, cooked

Press out dough into large pizza tray (I line mine with baking paper but you could use polenta to line the tray).  Drizzle with oil and cover with grated cheddar cheese on top.  Bake until cooked but not too golden.  I baked mine at 220 C for about 15 minutes on the middle tray of the oven so it did not crisp too much.

Mix approximately a couple of dessertspoons of cream cheese with a dessertspoon of pesto.  Add a bit more pesto if you want a greener colour.  (NB my pesto was home made and had been the in the freezer.)  Spread over cooked pizza.  Don't worry if it melts slightly. 

Arrange baby spinach, chopped broccoli and cooked peas over cream cheese spread.  Cut into wedges and eat hot.  It should also taste good at room temperature or reheated but I haven't tried it.

On the Stereo:
No Need to Argue: the Cranberries

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Cherry chocolate cheesecake

The alternate title of the post might well be Confessions of a Failed Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake.

Before Christmas, I saw this Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake in a supermarket magazine.  I was determined to make it.  Christmas came and went.  Cherries season is often over in a flash.  I decided to make it for a birthday lunch with my family.  It seemed a good opportunity to use up some chocolate ripple biscuits and try the fancy cherry swirl in the photos.  Then I made it gluten free for my sister and failed at the cherry swirl.  At least I got to enjoy some seasonal cherries.

It was quite late in the season so I had to buy Tasmanian cherries.  They were wonderful.  I thought they would make a wonderful pink cheesecake with a gorgeous swirl.  But when I mixed in the cherry puree, I got a light beige colour and the puree sank in the thin cheesecake filling rather than swirling.  It was disappointing.  More fortunate was that I did not have a 20cm springform tin so I used a 22cm tin.  The mixture came to the top of the tin and I wondered how it would have fared in a smaller one.

I started baking it too late and it was finished at midnight.  I had to bake it longer and hotter than the Taste recipe suggested because it was still so wobbly in the middle.  I am not very experienced at cheesecakes and not sure if this was meant to set as it cooled.  But I was taking no chances, even though there was a little singe.  Even cooling the cake seemed a little challenging on a hot summer day when it was a minimum of 22 C.

It was a tired night trying to make the cheesecake.  I tried to pile the dishes in the sink like a poorly performed jenga and then take the dishcloth from under the stack.  I tipped water all over myself.  And Sylvia wanted to be involved in the baking, even though she had had a sleepover the night before and she was too curious to go to bed.  By the time the cake was cooled, I opened the oven door slightly and went to bed. 

The next morning I packed it in the car with frozen bottles of water to keep cool in the heat and drove over an hour to my parents in Geelong.  My mum is more experienced with cheesecakes and recommended sitting the cheesecake on a bowl to separate the springform side from the bottom (as in photo above).

At my parents we had cooling drinks.  I think this drink was ginger beer with berries and mint.  My mum made a Mexican meal to suit everyone included vegetarians and coeliacs.  Then we had a lot of desserts - pavlova, aero mint slice, salted caramel ice cream with churro spiced nuts and my cheesecake with extra cherries.  Lots of desserts because there were lots of birthdays to celebrate in the family once everyone was returned from summer trips.  After dessert, we went to the pool with some nieces and my mum.  It was a lovely swim on a hot day.

When Sylvia tasted the cheesecake mixture she said it tasted like cheese.  It did not seem like high praise.  But when I asked her highlight of the day, she said cheesecake.  Everyone enjoyed the cheesecake.  However it felt like it needed some tweaking.

I was very attracted to the ideal of chocolate and cherries in a cheesecake but this was not what I had in mind.  So my notes for when and if I try again are (some of which I have incorporated into the recipe below):

- I reduced the butter because I used chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with a cream filling but it was too dry.  I overcompensated and it was too much butter - I knew because it came out of the cheesecake and the outside of the tin was greasy.  I recommend baking with a tray underneath in case.  150g butter was too much.  I would take this back to 125g.  However, there was too much biscuit base.  Just having it on the bottom, rather than the sides and bottom, would be better.
- The cheesecake did not taste enough of cherries.  My mum suggested putting in whole cherries but I was worried they would sink like the puree did.  I wondered about spreading cherry puree on the cheesecake midway through baking when it would sit on top but am not sure if it would work.  Would bottled morello cherries be more intense or pink?
- I have mused on whether food dye was added to the Taste photo to make it so pink.  The colour was really disappointing.
- I reduced the sugar in the cheesecake filling from 1/2 cup to 1 tbsp.  It wasn't that sweet.  I think I would take it back up to 1/4 cup.
- I really wanted to do chocolate curls rather than little scraps of grated chocolate but this is not my area of expertise either.  And it is not great in hot weather when cherries are in season.

I still feel a novice at cheesecakes and have a lot to learn.  As I don't make them very often, I hope my notes will help next time.

More cheesecakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Baked lemon cheesecake (gf)
Berry ricotta cheesecake (gf)
Caramel chocolate cheesecakes 
Chocolate pumpkin mini cheesecakes (gf)
Vegan peach cheesecake (gf, v) 

Cherry chocolate cheesecake (work in progress)
Adapted from

360g gluten free "oreo" style biscuits
60g chocolate covered rice cakes
150g butter melted, 125g probably enough
250g cherries, halved, pitted
2 tbsp caster sugar
500g cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp caster sugar, extra
3 eggs
180g white chocolate, melted, cooled slightly
1 cup vanilla-flavoured yoghurt
1/2 cup sour cream
Cherries, extra, to serve
Grated chocolate, to serve

Grease and line a 22cm spring form tin.  Preheat oven to 150 C.

Blend biscuits, rice cakes and melted butter in food processor.  It should clump together when pinched together.  Press into prepared tin.  To line the side of the tin with biscuit crumb, use a straight edged glass to press into the corners and up the sides.  Chill for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Mix cherries, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp water in small saucepan.  Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat until sugar has melted and then 5 minutes over high heat until syrupy.  Cool slightly (ie while you make cream cheese mixture) and blend into a puree.

Blend cream cheese and sugar, then add eggs and then melted white chocolate melted, yoghurt and sour cream. Scrape down blender sides when needed.  My liquid was very thin.  Blend in half the cherry puree.  Pour into chilled base and dollop with remaining sauce and swirl through.  (I wanted the swirl to work but the puree sunk to the bottom.)

I baked it 60 minutes at 150 C and then 20 minutes at 170 until the edges started to singe. Cool in oven and then chill.  I cooled mine with the oven door open but maybe should have just cooked it a bit less and cooled it in the oven.

Chill before serving.  To serve, arrange cherries and grated chocolate on top.

On the stereo:
Little Eve: Kate Miller Heidke

Saturday 9 March 2019

Potato, chickpea and cauliflower pancakes

Shrove Tuesday and sweet pancakes are intertwined in my memory.  No wonder when it heralded 40 dessert free days of Lent in my childhood.  But we are more ad hoc about desserts in our household so I had a hankering for a savoury stuffed pancake when Shrove Tuesday rolled around last week.

I give some credit to my worms for inspiring the recipe.  My worms in my work farm are unsettled lately so I wanted to give them lots of scraps.  The whole cauliflowers in the supermarket have lots of leaves around them that I can feed the worms.  In fact when a few leaves fell off at the checkout and the check out woman put them aside I asked her to put them in my bag.  She checked I really wanted them and then was happy to do this.  Probably relieved at one less thing to do, though maybe also too aware of what the supermarket does with food scraps.

I put together the filling during the day.  Roasting cauliflower, frying onion and boiling potatoes are easy tasks to be done around chatting to my mum and pruning roses and sorting out forms for school.  Then I mixed it all together before picking up Sylvia from school.  After taking her to gymnastics, I just needed to fry up some pancakes.

I haven't made these thin unleavened pancakes for some time.  We usually have fat fluffy ones for breakfast and they are often egg free.  I still hold my childhood sense of wonder at the amazing thick fluffy Pancake Parlour pancakes, even though I don't think my mum's pancakes were really thin.  But every now and I again I fancy some thin British style pancakes that can wrap around a filling. 

In fact, now that I have made a few flat breads such as Tortillas, yoghurt flatbreads and Staffordshire oatcakes, I find these pancakes more like a flatbread than a cake.  However these pancakes don't have bubbles - no big bubble like a flatbread and no tiny bubbles like baking powder pancakes.

The pancakes seemed to take forever when everyone was hungry.  The first one I did, I was overenthusiastic about swirling it around the pan and when I tipped the pan up too high, the uncooked pancake peeled off the pan and rolled up into a soggy roll of batter.  I was more careful after that.

Sylvia did not like the look of the stew we had in the pancakes so she had a special cheesy mashed potato filling.  By the time she had hers she was so hungry she had to take a bite before I took a photo.  Fair enough after a day of school and 90 minutes of gymnastics.

We kept our pancakes vegan with some hummus and baby spinach to complete the filling.  It would have worked just as well in a tortilla or a flatbread wrap but it was just right to wrap everything around a pancake on Shrove Tuesday.

These pancakes were pretty filling but we also had chocolate pancakes for dessert at Sylvia's insistence.  You can see a photo of her pancake here.  I did not take photos of half eaten pancakes and stacks of uneaten pancakes.  We were so full from our main course.  And I had a lot of stew to last the rest of the week because we made far more stew than pancakes.

I am sending these pancakes to Allotment to Kitchen and Veg Hog for Eat Your Greens.

More savoury pancake recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Aquafaba crepes with haggis (v)
Corn pancakes and salsa
Pancakes filled with potato and lentils
Spinach pancakes  (gf, v)
Pea pancakes with sun-dried tomato pesto

Potato, chickpea and cauliflower pancakes
Adapted from Sarah Brown via Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes about 7-8
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • Butter, margarine or oil, for frying

Potato, Chickpea and Cauliflower Filling:
Serves 4-6
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • dried herbs 
  • 1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • olive oil and seasoning

To serve:
  • Hummus
  • Baby spinach

To make filling:

Break cauliflower into florets and roast about 30 minutes at 220 C or until it is soft when a knife goes through it.  Once cauli is cooked chop the florets.  Dice potatoes and simmer in salted water for about 10 minutes or until just cooked.  Fry onion in about 2 tsp of olive oil (or a generous drizzle) for 20-30 minutes or until soft and golden brown.  Add garlic and herb mix and stir for about a minute.  Add tomato, chickpeas, potato and cauliflower.  Cook about 5 minutes or until tomato is starting to wilt.  Check and adjust seasoning.

To make pancakes:

Heat a non-stick frypan over medium head and lightly oil the frypan either with a little oil and some kitchen towel to wipe it over the frypan or using butter or margarine. Pour about 1/4 cup of mixture, or a little more, into the frypan and swirl around a little to cover as much of pan as possible. Fry the pancakes for a couple of minutes (a minute for the batter to dry out slightly and look cooked and another minute for the batter to fry golden brown) Flip and check the underside is golden brown.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes on the other side until light brown spots on the other side. (NB these are thin pancakes and don't bubble up when ready to flip unlike the thicker ones.) Keep pancakes in a stack on a plate covered with a clean teatowel until you are ready to assemble with stuffing.

To serve:

Lay a pancake on the plate.  Spread a spoonful of hummus on the pancake.  Scatter 2-3 spoonfuls of filling along middle of the pancake.  Top with some baby spinach leaves.  Roll up and eat.

NOTES: The stew is vegan.  If you want a vegan pancake, you could use these Aquafaba crepes.  And I made far more stew than pancakes so you could easily make more pancakes.  Or if you preferred a baked pancake, you could wrap these around the filling and bake with some tomato sauce, bread crumbs and some cheese (vegan or dairy as you prefer) and bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes.

On the stereo:
Dua Lipa - self titled album

Tuesday 5 March 2019

In My Kitchen - March 2019

Here comes March with the change of season.  Last week I had a day when I waited for half an hour for a tram because it was too hot to cycle but the trams were so full of footballs fans that I couldn't get on them.  Yes the heat comes to an end as the football ramps up.  Now I am looking forward to cooler weather, pancakes and apples in March.

Above is one of Sylvia's lunchboxes with some cheese stars, a strawberry from the garden, some apple quarters and a piece of packet strawberry cake that Sylvia insisted on baking.  She added food dye as the mixture looked white.  In the second layer of the lunchbox is a sourdough bread roll with vegemite.

We bought some roasting potatoes before Christmas, full of plans.  However it was too hot for roasting and so I didn't open the bag of potatoes to use until February.  By then the spouting was quite impressive.  I roasted the potatoes but they were beyond their best.  I am looking forward to the nice potato woman being back at the farmers market soon.

I have written about the creamy apricot and chickpea soup that I recently made.  The above photo was taken while trialling the vegan yoghurt that ended up in the soup.  I am sharing it to show you a new set of kitchen scales I bought just before.  I really loved the colourful pattern and that the scales were a bit bigger for my bread bowl.  My old scales seem to seize up regularly when I try to put a large bowl on them but these new scales work better.

Above is the purchases from Cake Deco in Flinders St when we went to buy some items for Sylvia's birthday.  Of course, when in a specialist cake decorating store, it is hard to resist temptation.  I bought a 20cm springform cake tin, lots of edible eyes, a set of round cookie cutters, marshmallow and apple flavouring, an Easter egg cookie cutter, an edible marker as well as quite a lot of fondant.  We also bought a few green items for St Patricks Day.  There is so much in the shop to spark joy.

Sylvia wanted to decorate cupcakes for her birthday.  So we had a play with decorating cupcakes with fondant.  This made it much easier to guide a group of girls in fondant decoration at her party.  And it was quite fun.  Can you see a bear theme emerging?  Stay tuned ....

I remember when the Kit Kat Chocolatory opened a year or two ago and there were queues coming out of the store.  These days it is quieter, so we went to have a look.  And we created our own kit kat: popcorn, fudge and freeze dried raspberries on rose pink chocolate.  It was delicious - and so you would expect for $20.  Too expensive to be anything but a rare treat.

A few weeks back I was looking for silken tofu in a supermarket I don't usually visit.  I stopped a guy in uniform with dreadlocks and a nose ring to ask.  He informed me I was lucky to have found the only vegan worker in the store.  I was pleased because it can be so hard to find the vegetarian/vegan section.  We found these vegan ravioli here.  They were really good though came in quite a small serving.  I guess some vegans don't want huge servings.

Another new vegan product in the supermarkets is the vegan Magnum ice creams.  Actually they aren't technically ice creams as I think the dairy industry protects that term.  They were really good and I would have them again if I ate these ice creams regularly.

And one for the non-vegans are these Smiths Mac 'n' Cheese chips.  We discovered them in a Coles Express but have not have much luck finding them in the big supermarkets around us but then found them in a small supermarket in Geelong.  It is a mystery as to why they are not more widely available, given how amazingly good they are.  One of my favourite ever chips.  For now!  Even the packaging is beautiful.

My only quibble would be that in Australia we traditionally say macaroni cheese not mac 'n' cheese but I can let it go by as I understand it is another Americanism sneaking into our lexicon.  And I think macaroni cheese comes from the UK anyway.  As a friend used to tell me, "everything is derivative".

And today is Shrove Tuesday so we had a double whammy of savoury and sweet pancakes.  I really wanted to do some stuffed savoury pancakes (which I will post soon) and Sylvia was set on having chocolate pancakes.  We have a stack of leftover pancakes that might have to go to the freezer (I added cocoa to these fluffy pancakes).  However her is Sylvia's nicely styled chocolate pancakes with berries, ice cream and extra chocolate.  I hope you are enjoying your Shrove Tuesday.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.