Treat me: Banana granola

Has it ever occurred to you that bananas are like buses? There’s never any when you want one (or at least, one in the right state of ripeness or heading to the right destination), then a whole bunch turn up (or turn from green to extra-ripe) at once.

I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but come on, it’s Friday. And while I am well aware of the joys of freezing overripe bananas, not least because they’re great in smoothies like this apple crumble one, there’s only so many containers of frozen bananas that our tiny freezer can take. And there’s only so much banana cake a small family can eat in a week too (really, there is!)

How To Make Banana Granola Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

So it is with great pride I present to you my latest way to use up all the bananas that are no longer fit for eating in their natural state: banana granola. It’s genius, even if I do say so myself.

Banana Granola
This makes the house smell like banana cake, but it’s much more virtuous. The buckwheat gives it an extra crunch, but if you can’t lay your hands on any try quinoa or another cup of seeds.

4 cups whole or jumbo oats
1 cup seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, linseed – or a mixture of all of them
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup buckwheat or quinoa
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp neutral, flavourless oil
2 Tbsp honey
3 very ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, optional

Heat the oven to 160C and line a large baking dish with baking paper. Put the oats, seeds, coconut, buckwheat or quinoa and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well to mix.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas to a smooth puree with the oil and honey. Stir this mixture through the dry ingredients – don’t be afraid to use your hands to really mix it in.
Spread in an even layer on the prepared tray and bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If it starts to look a little dark towards the end of the cooking time, just switch the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar, but leave the granola tray in the oven until it has cooled down. This will ensure it dries thoroughly.
Stir through some dried fruit if you like – I reckon sultanas and banana chips are a good combo – and store in an airtight container.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Treat me: Coconut Crumble

I’ve never understood why people get cross when recipe writers in magazines or newspapers advocate the use of new or ‘fancy’ ingredients. Why? Surely, if you love food, then shouldn’t you love hearing about new things, and figuring out things you can do with them? Maybe I’m strange like that.

Coconut Sugar, Coconut Flour, Coconut Oil And Desiccated Coconut Image

Anyway, ever since I discovered coconut sugar I’ve been going a bit mad with it. Partly this is to stop myself eating it out of the jar or sprinkled on my yoghurt, but mostly because it’s fun. And delicious! And even if all that stuff about it being super-good for you isn’t wholly true, we can’t be saints all the time, can we?

Fruit Crumble Vegan Gluten-Free Photo Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Coconut Crumble
I could tell you that I love this for its so-hot-right-now coconutty-ness, but the reason I am really hooked on it is that it takes less than 20 minutes to make – and cook. That means you can even make it for breakfast and still not be late for work. Do you need any more encouragement? Ok then, it’s also vegan and gluten-free. Happy now?

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut sugar
about 2 cups fruit – I favour frozen berries for the speed factor, but you could use any cooked fruit. Poached pears would be nice…

Heat the oven to 200C. Grease a shallow sided pie dish or similar with a bit of coconut oil, then tip in the fruit. Stir the coconut flour, sugar and desiccated coconut together, then mash in the coconut oil until it is reasonably evenly distributed. Taste – if you have a very sweet tooth you may want to up the sugar to 1/2 a cup. Tip this mixture evenly on top of the fruit, then put the dish in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the fruit is hot and the crumble is golden brown. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped coconut cream or Greek yoghurt. Serves four.

Have a great weekend everyone x

Treat me: Raw raspberry lamingtons

You might think I married my husband for his wit, good looks and charm, but there’s more to it than that. What sealed the deal is was that his mother makes the best lamingtons in the world. Once I realised he was the heir to a freezer full of chocolate-dipped, cream-filled spongy delights, there was no turning back. 

Raw Raspberry Lamingtons

More than a decade down the track though, I’ve come to realise that there are other lamington-makers out there. In fact, there are hordes of them, all of them making exotic lamingtons like there’s no tomorrow. They’ve been whipped into a coconut-dusted frenzy by an adorable English flight attendant by the name of Peter, who is no slouch himself in the lamington department.

Peter is such a champion of lamingtons that for the last four years he has devoted himself to reinventing them every February. Don’t tell my MIL, but I think he could give her a good run for her money. In the meantime, he’s thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of us. And so without any further ado, I bring you my raw raspberry lamingtons…

Raw Chocolate Gluten Free Lamingtons

Raw raspberry lamingtons

These are not your ordinary lamingtons – there’s no sponge, no eggs, no sugar and – gasp – no cream. These are lamingtons, 2014 style. They’re raw, gluten and dairy-free, and contain no refined sugar. But there’s plenty of coconut, chocolate AND raspberries – for those of you who can’t decide whether a lamington should be brown or pink. I was inspired by this recipe, but took it in a completely different direction. The ultimate test was when I asked my brother-in-law to try one. “These,” he said, “are dangerous. Is the recipe going on your blog?”

100g ground almonds

120g dessicated coconut

4 Tbsp coconut oil

3 Tbsp real maple syrup or honey

60g (about half a cup) frozen raspberries

Line a small plastic container (like a takeaway container) with plastic wrap and set aside.

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it clumps. Press this mixture into the prepared container and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, until firm. You can leave it for a day or so if you like, it won’t come to any harm, though you may accidentally eat some of it.

When you are ready for stage two, remove the coconut mixture from the fridge and cut into small bars. Gently melt 120g dark chocolate with 1 tsp of coconut oil (I do this in a heatproof bowl in a warming oven, but you can use a microwave on low or a double boiler) and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and line a tray with baking paper.

Dip the bars into the chocolate, then roll them carefully in the coconut. When you have finished, put them in a lined, lidded container and put them in the fridge before someone comes by and gobbles the lot. Makes about 12-15, depending how much gets eaten along the way.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Good things: February 2014

Ice creams. Fish and chips. Sand castles. Sand in everything. February has turned out to be the month that January should have been. And boy, am I glad about it.

Fish And Chips From The Waimarama Store, Hawkes Bay

Very early readers of this blog might recall the summer holiday we took three (THREE!) years ago. We had such rose-tinted memories of that stay (despite the fact that it rained a lot) that we went back for a few days at the beginning of the month.

Waimarama Beach Hawkes Bay

We shopped at New Zealand’s best Farmer’s Market, ate New Zealand’s best fish and chips, went for swims and made a lot of sandcastles. It was a proper, old-fashioned summer holiday.

Even better, my sister came to stay and brought with her a shiny new ice cream machine and a batch of this ice cream. I’ve thought about it often ever since.

Emma Galloway's Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Back home, we harvested our own tomatoes, which have thrived despite inclement weather and neglect. I listened to this completely charming interview with Wellington’s best French patissier and made a mental note to visit his little shop more often.

Homegrown Tomatoes

The pantry is in – and filled – but I’ve decided to wait for the big reveal until the painters have finished, because the rest of the kitchen is such a tip I can’t bear to show it. I’m sure you can wait a little longer.
In the meantime I have more cupboards to clean, more dust to vacuum, and an urgent appointment with a glass of wine in my garden while the cicadas chorus around me.

What have you been up to this month?

Treat me: Chocolate Cornflake Roughs

Some things are made for each other. Salt and caramel. Champagne and oysters. Walnuts and blue cheese. Chocolate and coconut. Then there’s Random Recipes and We Should Cocoa – a match so perfect I can’t believe they haven’t joined forces before.

For this month’s Random-Recipes-Meets-We-Should-Cocoa mash-up I had a very limited selection of books to choose from thanks to our ongoing renovations (it’s hard to access the main part of one’s cookbook collection when it’s hidden behind a king-sized bed, two radiators and a mirror, don’t you think?). Anyway, one of the few books I could reach was this handsome tome: a 1971 edition of The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly Cookbook, edited by the incomparable Tui Flower.

The New Zealand Woman's Weekly Cookbook, 1971 Hardback

Like Random Recipes maestro Dominic, and We Should Cocoa founder Choclette, Tui Flower is a force to be reckoned with. She ruled New Zealand food writing from her test kitchen at the NZ Woman’s Weekly for more than 20 years. At the NZ Guild of Food Writers‘ Conference last November she was spoken of with the utmost awe, if not a slight touch of fear.

This book, though a little dated in parts, is a brilliant snapshot of New Zealand households in the 70s (and beyond). I rescued my copy from an charity shop and – while I’m unlikely to make Tui’s recipe for ‘Picnic Loaf’ using a tin of spaghetti and sausages, among other things – I think it’s a fine piece of culinary heritage. The recipe I ended up with here is another local icon. Chocolate Cornflake Roughs, or their close cousins, made with rice bubbles, were THE party food of choice when I was a child. They are very sweet, crunchy and best served very cold (ideally, without any children to share them with).

Chocolate Cornflake Roughs In Cupcake Cases

Chocolate Cornflake Roughs
As much as I respect and admire the work of Tui Flower, I’ve updated her 1971 recipe to reflect the contents of a slightly more modern pantry. The original recipe specifies ‘crushed coconut biscuits’ – in New Zealand that can only mean the delectable Krispies (which now even come in a chocolate-dipped form). If you don’t have a similar biscuit, I suggest something like a digestive or chocolate wheaten. Hey, you could even use these. If you’re not a fan of coconut oil, any light, neutral oil will work. Don’t forget to use the best cocoa you can for an especially rich flavour. For that birthday party touch, use cupcake cases instead of a lined tray.

1/2 cup icing sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
90ml coconut oil, melted
a drop or two of almond essence
1 cup cornflakes
9 coconut biscuits (as described above), crushed to make about 1 cup of crumbs.

Line a tray or a large platter with baking paper and set aside.
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa together into a bowl. Beat in the coconut oil and almond essence, then add the cornflakes and biscuit crumbs and stir until well combined. Drop spooonfuls of the mixture on the lined tray and leave in a cool place to set. Makes about 12.

Have a great weekend, everyone!