Rainy Day Blueberry Pancakes

August is supposed to be the hottest part of summer here, but I think the weather is trying to remind me of back home in Oz, because it’s been cold and rainy and really Melbourne-ish weather here for the last week or so. Bad weather makes me hungry, so on Sunday morning I decided that gorging on pancakes was the way to go.

on a plate with condiments behind

grey sky

Summer?

We’d been to a little farmer roadside fruit and veg stand the day before, hoping to find fresh strawberries, but they were out. And we got caught in a sudden freezing downpour. But on the upside, we got half a kilo of fresh delicious blueberries. And so of course they had to be incorporated into breakfast on Sunday!

all fruity

Basic pancake mix is: 

1 egg

1 cup self-raising flour

1 cup milk

pinch salt

That’s it! But I embellished on this mix and added:

about half a cup of blueberries

1 tablespoon icing sugar (or castor sugar, I just used what  had)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Mix ingredients (minus berries) thoroughly, adding milk if it’s too thick and making sure to get out any big lumps. Once mixed, add the blueberries and stir through.

Add a little butter to a medium-hot pan. Ladle some batter mix onto the pan and tilt the pan back and forth a little, until you get a fairly even spread of mix. Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip. I keep my pancakes on a plate in a 50 degree oven until all are done, so they stay warm.

To serve, my absolute favourite topping is maple syrup with whipped cream, and adding any leftover blueberries (or any fruit, we had some raspberries in the fridge so they go in on the pancake love too). A squeeze of lemon juice and a little sugar sprinkled over is pretty yum-o as well. Here’s a gratuitous condiment shot:

kinda arty

So enjoy, I know I did!

Sorry for not posting last week by the way. Never fear, I’m not going anywhere. Scheduling is back to normal 🙂

Cheers,

Luci

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Addictive Chocolate Fudge Brownies.

fudge

Hi there! It’s been months since my last post so this is just a short-ish one to try to get me back in the habit of writing. My plan is to try for weekly posts so bear with me, and as a thanks for those who do, here’s the most delicious, addictive (seems that way anyway!), easy chocolate fudge recipe that I know.

Ingredients:

500g dark cooking chocolate
75g butter
400mL sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of each cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

Method:
In a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, melt butter, chocolate and condensed milk.
When melted, remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and spices. Pour into a lined baking tray, and put in the fridge to cool.
Cut into squares (it’s extremely rich so small squares will be best!) and serve.

It’s really that easy. Enjoy!

I’m really hoping to get back to creating and blogging again and I hope you’ll join me 🙂

Cheers,

Luci

Wild Garlic Pesto.

The weather this weekend has been spectacular. Sun shining and birds singing and a lovely puff of breeze. It’s what Nick Cave referred to once as ‘the dirty end of winter’, but the snow doesn’t seem to think so – it snowed for a week in mid-January and since then it’s been getting a little more like spring every week. Last week I saw the first wildflowers of the season!

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Something else that happens at the start of the spring is that the wild garlic (in German: Bärlauch, pronounced bear-lock) starts to grow in the forest, which means when I go for a run through there I come home ravenous because it smells so good. So today I finally went and collected some. I got a few good handfuls and brought them home.

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After a good rinse, I dried the leaves and used my stick blender to mush them up. I then got some cashews for the mix but decided to crush them a bit before using the stick blender on them. Like so:

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Ta-da!

So I poured about three quarters of these in and blended them well, then poured the rest in and added a bit of lemon juice and a good bit of olive oil, blended a little more (not too much, I like a little bit of crunchy cashews in my pesto), added salt and pepper, and that’s it! 

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This stuff is a bit hot when raw, so cooked is probably best unless you like the taste of raw garlic. Mix it through cooked pasta with some grated parmesan, or however you like your pesto.

So to summarise, here’s the recipe:

2-3 good handfuls wild garlic leaves

about 1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

cashews

salt and pepper, to taste.

Blend and eat!

The great thing about wild garlic leaves is that they taste like yummy garlicky goodness but don’t leave you with garlic breath!

Hope you had a great weekend, 

Cheers,

Luci

Apple Sauce.

I bought some apples recently and while they looked and smelled apple-y and wonderful, when I bit into one it was soft and squishy and just the wrong texture. There’s nothing worse than a Disappointment Apple. Well, as far as apples go, anyway. So I decided to cook the apples up, because they still had such a wonderful flavour and aroma. I peeled them because the internet recommended it, but actually I think next time I wouldn’t. I’m lazy, and anyway there’s tons of goodness in the peel.

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So I chopped up the peeled, cored apples (I used three), put them in a saucepan and added a little water, maybe 5mm in the bottom of the pan. It’s better to add less and top it up than to make it too watery. The recipe goes something like this:

3 apples, cored and peeled (optional)

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)

a good few shakes of cinnamon

about half as much nutmeg

a little dash of salt

Put everything in a saucepan, cover and heat on low to medium, so the water gently simmers. Don’t let it dry out too much, add more water as needed but only a little at a time. Stir regularly and when the apples squish when pressed lightly with the back of a spoon, you’re done. Mash with a fork, masher, back of spoon, whatever. Taste and enjoy! I ate some of it with greek yogurt as a snack, and some more with the roast pork I made. Yum. 

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I love simple warming winter recipes! Do you have any favourites?

Cheers,

Luci

Pho Bo – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup.

AKA completing my New Year’s Resolution on January 4th! Maybe I should have set a larger resolution, but this one sure was tasty.

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This is a recipe I made once, years ago, when I was living with someone who only ate cheese and bread and fried potato. This meant I was the only one who tasted it and so I wasn’t sure if it was any good. Being that I used beef broth from a packet, it wasn’t as authentic as this version, that’s for sure. This time I made the broth myself, boiling bones and all that fun stuff. I worked using a combination of the recipe I had stored in my head from last time, and this recipe I found through my trusty friend Google. 

There are two main stages to this recipe: making the broth and assembling the soup. I say assembling because once you have your broth there’s no cooking to speak of, just adding all the fresh items to the bowls (OK, you have to cook the noodles first, unless you’ve bought them fresh), and pouring the broth over. Then adding a few fresh items on top and yumming it up with a combination of chopsticks and a spoon.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the ingredients. If you’re making this please scroll all the way down to get the other ingredients sections so you don’t have to go to the shops twice!

Broth Ingredients:
2 large brown onions

10cm piece ginger

2.5kg beef soup bones (including marrow, that’s where most of the flavour comes from!)

5 whole star anise

6 cloves

1 cinnamon stick, ~10cm

500g beef chuck steak

1.5 tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons fish sauce

Palm sugar – I used 2x 2cm cubes

Making the Broth:

Put the bones in a large pot (I used my largest pot which is about 6 litres, but if you’ve got bigger use that! I had to add extra water at the end to get the concentration right).

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Cover with water and bring to the boil. Allow to boil only a minute or two then dump all into the sink, scrub the pot clean and return the bones to it. This step removes impurities from the bones.

While water is heating in the above step, cut the onion and ginger in half (lengthways for ginger). Put under the grill on the highest setting and as close to the heat as possible without touching it. Let roast for 15 minutes then pull out, remove blackened parts under cool running water, skin the ginger carefully and set aside. 

Add 6 litres of water to the bones (I could only add 4 so I put two litres in later once the bones were removed). Bring to the boil them reduce heat and simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add other broth ingredients and simmer for 1.5 hours.

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(assembled broth ingredients)

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(scum on surface. Skim off with a spoon and discard, being careful not to scoop up any cloves or star anise when you do!)

After 1.5 hours, remove the chuck steak pieces, put in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes, drain and put in fridge. This will go into out soup at the end and the cooling with water stops the meat drying out and becoming discoloured.

Let remaining soup simmer for a further 1.5 hours (3 hours total cooking time). 

Strain the pho broth through fine strainer. If desired, remove any bits of gelatinous tendon from bones to add to your pho bowl. Store tendon with cooked beef. Discard bones and other solids. At this point I added the two extra litres of water that didn’t fit in the pot at the start.

Use ladle to skim as much fat from top of the pho broth as you like – I removed some but by no means all – fat is where the flavour is! (Cool it and refrigerate it overnight to make this task easier; reheat befofe continuing.) Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. 

You will end up with about 4-5 litres of soup stock. 

Bowls Ingredients:

(this was to make enough for two hungry people, not to use up all the broth. Adjust quantities as needed!)

About half a pack of rice stick noodles, fresh or dried.

100g raw beef filet. I used sirloin. Use anything good enough quality that it will taste good when served very rare.

Spring onions, white and green sections, cut very thinly. I used about two whole stalks.

Sliced fresh bok choy.

A handful of fresh coriander leaves.

Ground black pepper to taste.

Preparing the bowls:

The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go.

Cook noodles if using dried. Set aside and keep warm while preparing the other ingredients. 

Slice the filet very thinly. Slice cooked beef and tendons (if using), also thinly. 

Add a scoop of noodles to each bowl. Add slices spring onions and bok choy. Arrange a mixture of cooked and raw beef and tendons on top of the greens. Pour boiling hot broth over the top, carefully. It is important that the broth is boiling hot at this stage as it slightly cooks the raw beef. This looks cool as it’s happening, by the way. Sprinkle coriander leaves and black pepper over the top. 

Optional ingredients, to be arranged on a plate and placed at the table:

(I used all of these!)

Sprigs of spearmint and/or Thai basil 

Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)

Red hot chillies, thinly sliced

Lime wedges

Serving and eating:

Add as much of the above optional items as desired. The chillies we bought were pretty fiery so we didn’t need too much! Squeeze the lime wedges over the top and enjoy. Dom was super-impressed with this one and I think it will be oft-requested 🙂

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and have also had a successful start to the new year, or at least a happy start!

Cheers,

Luci

Nourishing Body Butter.

It’s only December, and everyone reassures me that the worst of winter is still to come. My skin was fine in the summer with just coconut oil as a moisturiser, but since the cold weather has kicked in I’ve discovered that I needed to step things up a bit. 

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I’d experimented a little with shea butter, almond oil and beeswax combinations, but this time I decided to actually write down my quantities and keep mixing things up until I got it right.

First, I gathered some ingredients:

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I won’t go into details about all the back-and-forth, weighing out ingredients, testing, adding more this or that that I went through. Long story short is that I ended up with about 200ml of body butter, the main ingredient of which is shea butter. The ingredients go like this:

150g Pure Unrefined Shea Butter

70g Virgin Coconut Oil

45g Sweet Almond Oil

1g Vitamin E Oil

5g Lanoline

20g Beeswax Pellets

30 Drops Sweet Orange Oil

60 Drops Vanilla Extract Oil

Bring a small pot of water to simmer. Add a heatproof bowl over the top, and add all ingredients except for the vanilla, orange and vitamin E oils. Let melt (it takes a few minutes). Once melted, take the bowl off the heat and set aside. When it starts to cool a little and looks clouded, add the oils. Mix well and continue to mix as the mixture cools. Take a drop and test it on your skin, and add more scented oil if you wish. You could also make this unscented, or with other flavours like lavender or rosemary.

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Pour into airtight jars and use on freshly-showered skin – or whenever you like! I have a little jar at my desk at work to put on my hands whenever they feel dry, as well as my at-home stash. I find it perfect on my hands and face as well as as a general body moisturiser.

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Let me know what you think! Do you have any other tricks to keep winter out of your skin? 

Cheers,

Luci

White Chocolate and Nutella Pralines.

This is a recipe I found over at A Beautiful Mess recently, and I decided to take them along to my work Christmas party. Long story short: They were gone in record time. 

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I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth (I also made and brought some Rosemary Crispbread to the party) but I know that many of the lovely ladies at work do indeed like the sweet stuff. The recipe goes thus:

200g dark chocolate

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Nutella

200g White Chocolate

chocolate sprinkles (optional) 

Melt dark chocolate, butter, cream and Nutella in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Let cool to room temperature (pop it in the fridge to speed things up a bit if needs be). Once it’s fairly solid but still soft enough to shape, roll little bite-sized balls of the mixture. Spread on a tray and put in the freezer for about half an hour. 

While those are getting nicely solid, melt the white chocolate over simmering water. Spoon the white chocolate over the balls (or roll them in the white chocolate – but you might end up with little melty bits of dark chic in with your white like I did…). Add sprinkles to the top as you go, before the white chocolate has time to set. Put your pralines in the fridge to really set the chocolate, and eat at will! They’re really rich so you might only need one, or two. Or more. 

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I ran out of white chocolate on the last few so that’s why there’s a brown one in the middle. They’re yummy like that, too.

Cheers,

Luci