Banana pikelets

I was surprised how easy it was to make pikelets; there really is no reason is buy those limp, bland-tasting supermarket versions. These freeze amazingly well, and you can reheat them in the toaster or microwave whenever the craving hits you.

The recipe came from Cath, my manager, who got it from the Rally Cookbook (Every Boys and Every Girls Rallies). This is the perfect way to use up that last banana that has gotten just a bit too soft for the lunchbox. Luckily, I always have a stash of bananas in the freezer; I never manage to get to the last of the bunch before they over ripen. Continue reading


Blueberry and orange muffins

I’m drawn to blueberry muffins at bakeries or cafés. Next to the triple chocolate and apricot cream cheese muffins, they look the healthy choice; all those antioxidants must be good for you. I like blueberries; blue is such an unusual colour for fruit (delphinidin, the anthocyanin, which gives plants their blue/purple colour is less common in the edible species), and the soft berry flesh makes a great complement to the cake-like texture of muffins.

This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess (becoming my go-to cookbook for easy basics). It horrified me that the size of a standard muffin is half of the ones you get from the bakery or café, – that’s where all the extra calories are coming from! Continue reading

Banana and walnut bread

I have an awful habit of purchasing fruit I don’t end up eating. I just like the virtuous feeling, pretending that I’ve one of those healthy people who actually eat their 5-a-day. The only silver lining is that overripe bananas can be chucked into the freezer for future baking.

After another mediocre muffin from the work cafeteria, I realised that with the money I was paying for a single muffin, I could bake an entire loaf, which would taste exponentially better.

This recipe is slightly modified from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. I have taken out the rum-soaked sultanas. I can’t deal with petrified grapes and currants in any dessert but a Christmas fruitcake. It’s one of those irrational quirks. Nigella calls this ‘fabulously easy’, and boy is she right. Continue reading

Storing tomatoes – the flavour issue

Many of us purchase tomatoes from the supermarket or greengrocer, take them home and promptly shove them in the refrigerator without a second thought. Recently, a postharvest scientist told me that you should listen to your grandmother when she said to store your tomatoes at room temperature (mine didn’t cook with tomatoes or had a refrigerator for a very long time, so that point is moot). It may surprise you that all horticultural services state that you should never store tomatoes in the fridge. It certainly surprised me.

Tomatoes are sensitive to chilling, and low temperatures will destroy both the flavour and texture of ripe tomatoes.

Horticulture NZ advises that tomatoes should be stored at around 10-12°C, never in the fridge and away from sunlight. BUT, this is somewhat different from the scientific literature, which says to never store tomatoes below 13°C, or even 15°C. Continue reading

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

This delectable apple cake recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around my French Kitchen. Dorie is a culinary doyenne and author of very highly regarded cookbooks, some with chefs (Julia Childs, Pierre Hermé), so her recipes are without a doubt, impeccable.

This recipe has also been tested, reviewed and lauded on Epicurious, so you can be assured it works.

It’s a very forgiving recipe, – you don’t need to be exact with measurements. It’s simple, – you’re really making a batter and adding sliced apples to it. And most people would have all the ingredients on hand. Except me. I had to make a dash to the liquor store for some rum. My hip flask of Coruba will still be here in 10 years’ time, unless I find more recipes requiring rum, or make this another 8 times. Continue reading

Plum cake

This recipe comes from Feast Maniototo, a charity cookbook compiled of recipes from residents of the Maniototo Plain in Central Otago to benefit the Maniototo Kindergarten. Many thanks to Tracey who gave me this, among the other yummy treats when she came to visit.

This cake is not overly sweet, and looks fantastic.

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Feijoa Almond Cake

Feijoas are native to the east coast of South America, but grow incredibly well in the temperate climes of Auckland. I am fortunate to live on a property with 2 feijoa trees in the garden. Everyone in Auckland knows that autumn is feijoa season, because people with feijoa trees suddenly are your friends and try to foist bags of green fruit on you.

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Pineapple tarts

This takes a while to make, but tastes way better than anything you can buy. I always make twice the recipe for the pineapple jam, – this keeps for a very long time in the fridge. I suggest you make the jam in advance, – it takes a while (~3 hrs) but takes very little actual effort.

You will need a pineapple tart mold to make the shapes, – readily available in Malaysia (~RM$3.50) or online.

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