22 November 2012

bacon & caramelised bananas on oat pancakes

These photos (and about 40+ others of the same) have been sitting in a folder called 'WIP' since September.  'WIP' for those who don't know, means work-in-progress.  So it's been in a very looong progress, but hey, many of you who blog will understand this.  I figured that any time is a good time to blog about pancakes, bacon and bananas.  Not necessarily always together, but when these three meet, it's a no brainer!

I dunno about you but pancakes is something I very rarely order.  In fact I can't remember the last time I did so!  (although I did get some cutest pikelets at Ti Kouka Cafe some time ago and they were pretty spesh)  Pancakes in cafes are always disappointing - they're either too stodgy, too floury, too thick, too bland, too sweet, too much...etc, etc.  Making them at home allows me to make them exactly as I like them to be - topped with bacon that hasn't been fried to an inch of it's life and definitely more than just two miserable rashers, bananas that are well caramelised and lashings of syrup.

Once bubbles appear, it's time to flip!  Except my cast iron pan is so damn heavy that I couldn't do the one hand flick of the wrist flip.  Using a spatula just isn't the same - no?

See that butter container?  It's heavy and cool to the touch.  It was also really cheap.   I love it.  But it doesn't fit the usual 500g block of butter.  Dammit!

Monitor the heat of your pan as you cook, adjusting the heat accordingly so that your pancakes don't burn.  A few of my pancakes were just a little more 'golden brown' than needed.

Remember that uproar not so long ago in the news about Dole bananas using a sticker that misleads people into believing that their bananas are Fairtrade?  Well, I have to admit that I was one of them.  Now I only buy All Good Fairtrade bananas.  I'm not saying that you're an evil person if you don't - 'cos it may be more than you want to spend on bananas and you have a mortgage and kids and all that.  But if you can, you should.

My masterpiece plated.  It was a good Sunday on that day.

"But these are so unhealthy"!  I hear you mutter.  I posted a photo up on Facebook and a friend commented that it was "...asking for a coronary...".  Maybe it is...if you ate like this weekly!!!

Make these as a treat for breakfast in bed with your honey or save it for a awfully cold, grey and rainy weekend, or on a gloriously sunny day eaten al fresco on the deck.  It'll put a smile on your face and everyone else's whom you've made it for. :-)

Bacon & Caramelised Bananas on Oat Pancakes
Pancake recipe from Chelsea Sugar, tweaked with the addition of spice

4 eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal or rolled oats
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
Bacon - I used streaky but use whatever you prefer
Bananas - ripe but not too soft - use Fair Trade ones if you can find and afford them
Butter for cooking the pancakes, bacon and bananas - or use a light cooking oil like rice bran or canola if you prefer
Golden syrup or maple syrup

  1. Preheat oven to keep cooked pancakes warm, around 120-150C.
  2. Sift the cinnamon and flour - I do this so that the ground cinnamon is evenly distributed in the wet mixture later.
  3. Mix the eggs, milk, flour, cinnamon, oats and brown sugar in a large bowl until you get a smooth-ish batter.  If you have a food processor, use it as it'll be so much faster and less effort.
  4. Pre-heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat and grease with a tiny bit of butter.
  5. Drop couple tablespoons of batter into the pan and cook for couple of minutes or until you see bubbles forming on the top of the pancake.  Flip the pancake over and cook until golden brown.
  6. Repeat numbers 4 and 5 until all the batter is used up.  Tip: Adjust the heat accordingly as you cook so that your pancakes don't burn
  7. Place each cooked pancake on a oven-proof plate and into the pre-heated oven to keep warm as you finish cooking the rest of the pancakes.  Leave them in the oven whilst you move on with cooking the bacon and bananas.
  8. In the same fry pan, melt a tiny bit of butter over medium heat and fry the bacon until cooked to your liking (I don't like mine crispy but you might).  Place cooked bacon in the oven to keep warm.
  9. Leave the bacon fat in the fry pan and add a little bit more butter if you need to to cook the bananas.  Your caramelised bananas will be sweet and slightly salty from this.
  10. Cut each banana into half, lengthwise.  And then peel the skin off each piece.
  11. Place bananas pieces, flat side down into the pan and cook until brown and caramelised.
  12. Turn the banana pieces (carefully) over and cook until brown and caramelised.
  13. To plate - stack 2-3 pancakes, then arrange a couple rashers of bacon, and then top with caramlised bananas.  Drizzle with golden or maple syrup.  Serve!

14 November 2012

indian goat curry with peppers & potato

[Walking through the Blogosphere door]  "Hi honey I'm home"!

Yes, after a four-month hiatus, I'm back.  I would've liked to be back here blogging much earlier, but as it was, the longer I left it, the harder it became to be inspired.  It's kinda crazy how hard it is to piece 2-3 lines together to start a post when your mind is otherwise majorly occupied with other stuff.  I had so many false starts and bunny hops that there are no less than 12 posts sitting in draft, most of which have not gone past the title and some photos.  Although it had been easier on social media, so you would've still seen some tweets and instagrammed photos from me.

Since I've been away for so long, god only knows who many of you are still reading this blog.  But hey, people do say that your real friends stick around at the worst of times.  Perhaps maybe blog readers are the same?

Anway, just so I don't over-share and take the tone of this post down to shades of purgatory, let's just summarise the reasons for my absence as such:

I was totally over-blogged and over-foodied after August's activities of Wellington on a Plate and organising the NZ Food Bloggers Conference.  It was like coming on a major down after a crazy month-long high.  Then life kinda crapped out a bit for the next couple of months and got a bit unbearable.  The kind of need-to-hide-away-from-the-world kind of unbearable.

But I'm back.  I've taken a deep breath and making an effort to start enjoying the things I used to - like blogging about food and being a foodie.  And what does a foodie share when she makes a return?

Why this packed full of big flavours, out of this world, mean-as goat curry of course!

As much as Summer is just around the corner, it is also fact that living in Wellington also means that Spring time weather and temperatures is a tease.  A handful of sunny warm-ish days full of the promises of Summer and then...kapow!  Gale winds, southerlies, rain, 6 degrees during the night, the whole sh-bang.  And it was on such a miserable cold SPRING day a few days ago that I peered into my freezer and was reminded that I had a tray of goat meat waiting to be glorified into some big memorable dish - 'cos it's not like we eat goat everyday and it needed special treatment right?

So came the age old question.  To curry or not to curry.  All my spidey instincts....or wait, I mean foodie instincts said "CURRY!!!!!!"  Yep, it all but shouted it.  Therefore the multiple exclamation marks.  And capitals.  Deal with it.

Having grown up in Singapore eating goat curry and soup kambing (Indian mutton soup - although called mutton, goat meat is used), it's a meat I do enjoy eating.  Although, I've actually not eaten goat in all the 15 years living in NZ.  It wasn't a meat you could buy at the supermarket in the early days.  These days you can get trays of goat meat easily, probably due to the increase in migrant population.

This goat curry leans a little more to a Northern Indian style curry - but my variation.  But I wouldn't say it's 100% authentic Indian, but it's a curry base I've used before which is particularly good for pork, lamb and beef.  It's a bit more fiddly than some other curry recipes in that there are 2 stages and what would seem to be a pretty long list of ingredients.  But I wouldn't advise substituting all the individual spices with a generic pre-mixed curry powder as I'm not sure you'll get the same flavour if you did that.

The recipe calls for a handful of ground spices like cumin, coriander and garam masala.  If you haven't got any, I'd recommend investing in a small box of each from the supermarket.  The Gregg's boxes are small enough.  You'll be surprised how often the same spices are called for across a range of different types of dishes, from all sorts of Mediterranean dishes to South East Asian and Central Asian dishes.  It would be a good investment to have these spices in your pantry.

You can cook this curry entirely on stove top or in the oven for stage 2.  I did mine in the oven as it took a shorter time to cook and I didn't have the patience to keep checking and stirring to prevent burning.  Use a heavy bottomed oven proof pot with a lid (like an enamel coated cast iron pot), you can cook stage 1 and stage 2 in the one same pot  and serve from the pot as well - saves on washing up!

Indian Goat Curry with Peppers & Potato
Word of advice is - this is spicy. It's got quite a kick. Not as numbing as say a vindaloo but definitely a heck more than a 'medium-hot'. If you would still like to give this recipe a go but can't take the heat, just cut back (maybe go half) on the chilli powder and fresh chilli.

INGREDIENTS - for Stage 1:
2 onions (or 1 large) roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
Large piece of ginger, roughly the length of your middle finger, roughly chopped

Place these in a bowl and mix - you'll need half of the mixture for stage 1 or the other half for stage 2.  If you have a food processor to chop these, use it instead.  I do!

1/2 cup oil (canola or rice bran oil) + another 1/4 cup oil for Stage 2
2 bay leaves
600g-700g goat meat, cubed or leave as is if it's small chops (don't trim the fat as it'll go a long way to making a beautiful tasting curry)
Juice of 1 lemon

In small dish:
1 tsp chilli powder + 1/2 tsp tumeric + 1 1/4 tbsp ground cumin + 2 tsp ground coriander + 1/2 tsp garam masala

INGREDIENTS - for Stage 2:
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 green chillis, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 tsp paprika
2 medium red capsicums (peppers), sliced into roughly 2cm pieces
2 medium green capsicums, sliced into pieces
1 tsp each salt and black pepper
4 medium waxy potatoes, roughly 500g, cut into 2cm cubes
10 curry leaves* 
1 tsp garam masala

In another small dish:
1/4 tbsp ground cumin + 1 tbsp ground coriander + 4 dried chillis + 1 tsp mustard powder

* You'll have more curry leaves than you need, so with dry hands, pluck the leaves from the stalks and store them in an air-tight container and freeze them.  Just take as much out as you need each time and use straight from frozen.

Stage 1
  1. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large heavy bottom oven-proof pot over medium heat.
  2. Fry the bay leaves and 1/2 the onion, garlic and ginger mixture until the onions are soft.
  3. Increase the heat, add the meat and fry until well browned and about 1/4 cooked.
  4. Take the pot off the heat and transfer everything into a large bowl.
  5. Add the spices from the first dish and the juice of one lemon.  Stir until the meat is well coated and set aside.
Stage 2
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Put the oven-proof pot back on medium heat with 1/4 cup oil.
  3. Fry remaining 1/2 of onion, garlic and ginger until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the spices from the 2nd small dish and fry until fragrant.  Don't worry if the mixture sticks a little to the bottom and looks/smells like it's burnt.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for about 1 minute, and then lower the heat and cook until any liquid has been reduced.  Scrap the bottom every now and again and stir.
  6. Add the meat, green chillis and paprika, and increase the heat back up to medium.
  7. Cook until the reduced sauce is thick and the meat is coated in the sauce.  Probably a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the capsicum, potatoes, salt and pepper and 1 cup of water. Stir to mix well.
  9. Cover the pot, place in oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  At the 1 hour mark, remove the pot carefully from the oven and stir the mixture.  Then put it back in the oven to finish off cooking.
  10. After 1 1/2 hours, check to see if the meat is tender.  If not cook it for another 15 mins.
  11. Once the meat is tender, add the curry leaves and put the pot back into the oven without the lid and cook for another 15 mins.  The meat should be nicely coated in a thick, slightly lumpy looking sauce.  This is not a soupy, gravy-ish curry.
  12. Finally stir in the garam masala and if required, a little more salt.  Stir to mix thoroughly.
  13. Best eaten with basmati rice or warmed wholemeal pita bread.  If you can get your hands on or wholemeal paratha bread from your local curry restaurant, they would be fantastic with this curry.