Passionfruit cupcakes

passionfruit cakes

Another delightfully simple Lois recipe; the kind you might glance at on a page and not give too much thought to. It’s another matter entirely when a plate of these little passionfruit bejeweled beauties is in front of you at afternoon teatime. Even when you’ve just eaten a couple of cheese scones, eh Lily and Ollie.

Passionfruit cupcakes (Lois Daish, A Good Year, p. 36).

110g butter, softened

110g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

120g plain flour

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons milk

To finish:

3 passionfruit

Icing:

1 tablespoon butter, softened

3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted

pulp of 1 small passionfruit

Preheat oven to 190°C and thoroughly grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper patty pans. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together and beat into the mixture together with the milk. Spoon into the tins and bake for about 15 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and when lightly pressed with a finger, the cakes spring back. Remove cakes from the tray and cool on a rack.

Once the cakes are cool, use a small sharp knife to cut a cone-shaped plug out of the middle of each cake. Cut the passionfruit in half and scoop out the pulp and spoon a little into the hole in each cake and then replace the plugs.

Make the icing by beating the soft butter and icing sugar together until smooth, then adding the passionfruit pulp. Spread a little of the icing over each cake to cover the plug. Eat within a day (you won’t have any trouble with this last part, I promise you).

 

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Zucchini frittata

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Lois’ zucchini frittata is the perfect thing to take on a summer picnic; it’s pretty good for midweek ‘picnics’ at your desk, too. Frittata is best eaten at room temperature or cold, with a dollop of good chutney on the side.

Zucchini frittata (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 14)

2 medium onions, sliced

4 zucchini

4 tablespoons oil and/or butter

6 free-range eggs

50g freshly grated parmesan

handful of parsley or basil, chopped

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice the onions thinly and cook in 2 tablespoons of oil until golden in a large frying pan with a heatproof handle. Meanwhile top and tail and zucchini and slice into thin rounds. Add the zucchini to the pan and stir to coat in oil. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and take off the heat.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat until combined. Add the parmesan, herbs and zucchini mixture and stir. Preheat the grill of your oven. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil/butter in the frying pan and pour in the frittata mixture and give the pan a shake to evenly distribute the contents. Cook over a low heat for about 5-10 minutes until you can see the sides of the frittata beginning to set. Place under a hot grill until the top is golden brown.

 

Blueberry & yoghurt scones

 

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Baking morning tea for Lois Daish using one of her own recipes sounds like a challenge round in The Great New Zealand Bake Off (which doesn’t exist, but it should and it needs to be hosted by Jaquie Brown and feature Lois Daish and Dean Brettschneider as the baking pros; I’ve clearly given this some thought before!). Rather than top-quality reality television, this is actually how I spent last Sunday morning, baking blueberry and yoghurt scones to take around to Lois’ place for morning tea.

I am very lucky to have met Lois through her daughter, Mary, a talented architect (and lovely friend of mine) who designed the fit-out for Little, a cafe which I set-up and now manage in Lower Hutt. Lois has been out to visit me at Little a number of times and we have become friends. We spent a very nice time together on Sunday morning eating scones, drinking expertly-made Supreme coffee from her little Rocket espresso machine and talking about recipes, books and her restaurants. I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday morning.

Blueberry & yoghurt scones (Lois’ recipe as published in A Treasury of New Zealand Baking, ed. Lauraine Jacobs, 2009)

2 cups plain flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons caster sugar

80g butter, cubed

1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup natural yoghurt

3/4 cup full-cream milk, more if needed

milk and sugar for the topping

Preheat oven to 200°c and cover a flat tray with baking paper. Using a food processor or stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs – it’s fine if there are flakes of butter visible. Tip into a large mixing bowl and stir through the blueberries.

Put the yoghurt in a small bowl, add the milk and whisk together. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and use a knife to mix into a soft, slightly sticky dough. Add more milk if needed.

Lightly flour a bench and tip out the dough. Pat into log about 2-3 cm thick and cut into 9 pieces. Pop the scones onto the prepared tray, brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.

Caribbean pilau

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This is risotto meets tropical heat. It has the lovely comforting feel of a risotto, but the coconut milk and spices keep it nice and light. The fish is marinated in lime juice and added right at the end so is cooked only lightly. I’ve tweaked Lois’ recipe slightly by adding fresh coriander and extra lime at the end.

A sad reminder that this recipe was published in the 1980s is the fish Lois suggests to use; orange roughy is now at the very bottom of the Forest & Bird Best Fish Guide. Choose a firm-fleshed fish with a bit of flavour as there is lots going on in this dish for it to compete with; I used warehou.

Caribbean pilau (Good Food, p. 26)

500gm firm-fleshed fresh fish

juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 red pepper, cored, seeded and finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 fresh green or red chilli, chopped (remove seeds if you want to ease the spiciness)

3 teaspoons toasted coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle

1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 bay leaf

1 and 1/2 cups long grain rice (I used basmati)

2 and 1/2 cups coconut milk 

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

sliced spring onions, chopped fresh coriander, and wedges of lime to finish

Cut the fish into 2cm cubes, squeeze over lime juice and set aside in fridge.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan (for which you have a lid) and add the onions, red pepper, garlic and chilli and sauté for a few minutes but do not brown. Stir in the spices and bay leaf and cook for another couple of minutes. Add rice and stir until grains are incorporated with the other ingredients.

Pour in the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and simmer gently until rice is almost cooked. Keep checking it and if you find that the liquid has evaporated but the rice isn’t cooked yet, add a half cup of water. Do this as many times as you need to.

Once the rice is almost cooked but still has a little bite to it, add the fish and juices and cover and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the spring onion and chopped coriander and serve with a wedge of lime on the side for squeezing. Good served with some lightly steamed broccoli or green beans.

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Stuffed aubergine en papillote

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Stuffed aubergine en papillote is the perfect thing for vegetarians at a meaty barbecue. Rather than having to hover nearby the barbecue to ensure that your halloumi and zucchini aren’t chucked on the hot plate next to the sausages, here your dinner is sealed in a delightful little parcel, which can happily co-exist on a barbie with any meaty mates.

Stuffed summer vegetables immediately makes me think of marrow: over-inflated and forgotten-about zucchini that have grown into gigantic logs. I have a horror of stuffed marrows, which are so often watery and bland and the only redeeming feature is the stuffing. Eat the stuffing and chuck the marrow into the compost is my advice.

The vital difference between these stuffed aubergine and stuffed marrow is the container is equally as delicious as the filling. I’ve tinkered with Lois’ original recipe here. She stuffed hers with rice, with a footnote saying that the half of the rice could be substituted for chickpeas. I did half and half (but next time would just use entirely chickpeas) and added in loads more mint, sumac and chilli flakes. When I discussed this recipe with Lois she said that if sumac had been available when the recipe was published, it was something she would have definitely added herself.

Stuffed aubergine en papillote with cucumber & yoghurt sauce (Good Food, p.10)

3 medium-sized aubergine

1 onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon sumac

1/2 teaspoon allspice

3 cups cooked chickpeas

3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons golden sultanas, soaked in boiling water for couple of minutes and drained 

bunch of fresh mint, chopped

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Leaving the stems on, cut each aubergine in half length-wise. Brush the cut-side with oil and sprinkle with a little salt and put cut-side down into a large frying pan for which you have a lid. Cook for a couple of minutes until starting to brown, then place the lid on top. You may need to do this in one of two batches if your pan isn’t large enough.

Cook until the eggplant is soft enough to scoop out; you can test it as it cooks by inserting a skewer. Once cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the inside of the aubergine, leaving enough of the flesh intact so that the eggplant can act as a sturdy-ish container for the filling. Roughly chop the scooped-out eggplant and set aside.

Sauté the onion in a splash of oil until it is soft. Add the spices and chickpeas and continue cooking over a low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, soaked sultanas, chopped eggplant, mint, and season well with salt & pepper. Stir well and cook for a couple more minutes.

Place each aubergine half on a square of aluminium foil large enough to wrap it in a secure package. Divide the filling between the six aubergine halves and fold the packages. When ready to heat and serve, place the packages on the outer edges of the barbecue for 15 minutes (these packages can also be baked in a 180°C oven). Serve the eggplant with dollops of cucumber and yoghurt sauce on top.

Cucumber & yoghurt sauce

half of a telegraph cucumber

thick Greek style yoghurt (I used The Collective unsweetened culinary yoghurt)

handful of fresh mint, chopped

sea salt & pepper

Chop the cucumber in half lengthwise, then into thirds lengthwise, and then slice across the width to get small cubes. Mix with the yoghurt, chopped mint and season with salt and pepper.

Fresh cherry cake

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It’s a miracle that there were any cherries for this cake at all. The cherries that  I bought to use in this cake were particularly good: large, glossy and so tasty to eat just as they were. Lois’ fresh cherry cake seemed like a worthy cause for the remainder of the cherries (or simply as a way to stop me from scoffing the entire punnet).

Similar to a torte in that it is made with largely just eggs, sugar, and ground almonds, I imagine that this cake could be made gluten-free by using some fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Lois’ fresh cherry cake has a sense of elegance to it and could be served as a dessert cake with whipped cream or mascarpone, or as a cake to have with coffee.

Fresh cherry cake (Good Food, p. 35)

6 free-range eggs

120g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

50g dark chocolate, grated

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

1-2 cups of fresh pitted cherries

icing sugar to dust on top

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Separate the eggs. Using an electric beater, mix together the yolks and caster sugar until it turns thick, pale and has expanded in volume quite a bit. Fold in the almonds, chocolate, and breadcrumbs.

Clean the beaters thoroughly and then use them to whip the egg whites in a large clean bowl until stiff. Fold the egg whites through the mixture. Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin and arrange half of the cherries over the top; cover with the remaining mixture and arrange the rest of the cherries on top.

Bake for 55 minutes until the top has turned a lovely golden colour. Allow to cool before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar before you serve it.

Summer fritters

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Making Lois’ summer vegetable fritter recipes gave me an unexpected sense of nostalgia, as I remembered that mum had made these fritters for us when I was young. Corn fritters, made with freshly shucked corn off the cob in a light batter, and zucchini fritters with a little mint and some feta. Lois keeps both recipes simple so that the flavour and texture of each vegetable stays the central focus.

I like to serve both fritters with a refreshing salad of raw summer vegetables cut into small cubes; cucumber, corn, fresh green beans, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum, mixed with chopped mint, Italian parsley, or coriander, a squeeze of lemon, a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grind of pepper and sea salt. Serve each person a small pile of fritters, with some salad and dollop of thick Greek yoghurt.

Zucchini fritters (Good Food, p.13)

4 zucchini, grated

2 spring onions, finely chopped

handful of fresh mint, chopped

50g feta, crumbled

1/2 cup flour

4 free-range eggs, beaten

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

In a large mixing bowl, place the grated zucchini, spring onion, mint and feta and grind lots of black pepper over and sprinkle with sea salt. Add the flour and stir until the flour is evenly coating the other ingredients. Pour in the eggs and stir until thoroughly combined. Heat a wide frying pan over a medium heat and add enough oil to make the surface slick. Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan and cook until golden brown on each side.

Fluffy corn fritters (Good Food, p. 16)

4 medium-sized corn cobs

4 free-range eggs, separated

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon sugar

couple of hot sauce

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

oil for frying (I used avocado oil)

Husk the corn cobs, taking care to remove as much of the corn husk threads as you can. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs using a small serrated edged knife. Chop half of the kernels roughly, leaving the rest whole. Put all of the kernels into a large bowl with the egg yolks, flour, sugar, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well. Put the egg whites into a medium-sized bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites through the corn mixture.

Take a large, heavy bottomed frying pan and add a good slosh of oil, to cover the base of the pan and heat the pan to medium-high. Drop in spoonfuls of the batter and fry until the edges of the fritters are firm and the bottoms golden-brown. Flip over and cook the other side. Serve the fritters while they are still hot.