Blueberry and ricotta, buttermilk hotcakes

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There was a period there, about 10 (or more) years ago, where I spent entire weekends cooking ricotta hotcakes. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re working in a cafe, but there’s a limit to how many hotcakes one can make and still think of them as a food one might want to eat. I could possibly blame Bill Granger for introducing Sydney siders to hotcakes. His tiny Darlinghurst cafe, Bills popularised this weekend breakfast dish so every other cafe, including the one I worked in, followed suit and had a version on their menu. Mind you, he was obviously on to something, as 20 years on, hotcakes still feature on Bill’s menus across his now SEVEN cafes! Cafe work certainly offered a more social life style, even if we did cook hundreds upon hundreds of hotcakes each week. The bonus was obvious, the work hours were during the day (nights off) and we only worked 9 hours as opposed to the 16 i’d been doing in restaurants.

 

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It’s been six or seven years since I’ve made ricotta hotcakes. Seriously! You think I’m joking? I’m not!

Last weekend, I suddenly and whole heartedly knew I was ready to cook them again. Making a small batch of ricotta hotcakes at home was enjoyable. It was not stressful, sweaty, or tiring as it had been in the past. They deserved a second chance and they have redeemed themselves. Ricotta hotcakes have returned to my repertoire – yippee! I hope they find a place in yours too.

Adding fruit to a hotcake mix adds a level of sophistication that is amiss from the plain variety.

The cafe I worked at had several ways of serving hotcakes depending on the season. There was caramalised banana – every bodies favourite, sour cherries made an appearance, poached rhubarb was popular, and when in season raspberries always made a show.

But blueberries work a treat with ricotta. And that’s how I made them last weekend. I’ve tweaked my old recipe and replaced the white flour with wholemeal, and added almond meal to the mix too. This makes them a little healthier and these days that’s preferred.

 

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These blueberry and ricotta buttermilk hotcakes will have weekend brunch taken care of. Smother them in pure maple syrup, and serve them with double cream or yoghurt.

 

Blueberry and ricotta buttermilk hotcakes 

Ingredients

150g (1 cup) wholemeal self raising flour

25g (3 tbsp) almond meal

1 tsp bi carb soda

2 tbsp brown sugar

25g melted butter, plus extra for cooking

2 eggs, yolks and whites separated

190ml (3/4 cup) buttermilk – see note

150g fresh ricotta

1 punnet blueberries

Olive oil for cooking

 

Place the flour and almond meal in a medium bowl, sift in the bi carb, add brown sugar and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre of the flour.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, egg yolks and buttermilk, whisk till combined and pour this in the middle of the flour. Stir lightly, add the ricotta and fold and stir till well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Add to the hotcake mix and fold gently till combined. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a non stick fry pan with oil and butter (about 1 tbsp of each), when the butter sizzles spoon 4 or 5 hotcakes into the pan, immediately scatter each hotcake with 4-5 blueberries, cook on a medium to low heat till golden on both sides. Continue to cook hotcakes using more oil and more butter till the mix is used up.

Serve blueberry hotcakes with maple syrup, and double cream or yoghurt.

Note – you can make buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp lemon juice to regular milk.

 

 

 

 

 

Dukkah – The King of Spice Blends

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There are days where the craving for freshly made dukkah is so strong that I find no satisfaction till a batch is roasted, pounded, and then eaten whilst still warm. 

It has to be said, possibly the best way to enjoy duukah is with bread and extra virgin olive oil. It certainly is the way I most often consume it. But I also value dukkah for its versatility. Once I have a batch made the remainder stores well and can be sprinkled on vegetables before roasting, used as a seasoning to salads, dusted on to meat or fish before cooking, it can be used in dressings, added to yoghurt… I find it such a useful flavouring for so many things that is a staple in my kitchen.

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I prefer my dukkah made with hazelnuts. Added to the roasted spices of coriander, cumin, sesame, and black pepper, I add dry roasted hazelnuts (this saves roasting and peeling them). You can swap the hazelnuts for pistachios, or for a less authentic offering, macadamia nuts also makes a nice blend.

I’ve used a mix of black sesame and white sesame seeds because I like the contrast. Plus, I had them in the cupboard – they needed using up. But generally white sesame seeds are the go. The remaining, and just as important ingredient, is sea salt. And it should be sea salt, don’t swap this for any thing else.

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The recipe has deliberately been kept to a smallish amount so you use the dukkah up while it’s fresh. It’s so simple to make and really takes no time at all, and can and should be made regularly.

Egyptian dukkah 

Ingredients 

1/4 cup dry roasted hazelnuts

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

1tbsp black sesame seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the sesame seeds, spices and peppercorns into a fry pan. Roast them on a medium heat till the spices begin to sizzle and pop – don’t walk away at this stage as it won’t take long.

Roughly chop the dry roasted hazelnuts and place in a mortar and pestle with the roasted spices and sea salt; alternatively use a spice grinder. Pound or grind to a coarse consistency – remember to keep it chunky. Check seasoning.

Serve with fresh Lebanese bread and extra virgin olive oil. Store remaining dukkah in an air tight container in the pantry for 2 weeks.

(C) Copy right: Food From Michelle’s Kitchen 2016 Egyptian dukkah

Lime and coconut cheesecake slice

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You might mistake me for being obsessed with sugar if you were to know I have SEVEN different types of it in my pantry at home! How this has come to be, I’m not entirely sure.

I obviously do a lot of baking and need caster sugar, and brown sugar as a standard. My husband buys coffee sugar, though it’s so similar to the demerara sugar we also have in the cupboard, I wonder why he bothers. Then there’s the cane sugar, I think that was given to me as a gift. I use raw sugar in my tea, and just recently, I bought some coconut sugar, because, there’s obviously a shortage here!

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Coconut sugar is different. It’s not as sweet as processed white sugars and it has a lower GI, 35 compared with white sugars 60 something.  It’s extracted from the sap of blossom buds from the coconut palm.

You’d expect the flavour to taste of coconut but it doesn’t! It has hints of caramel that are subtle and earthy and it’s dark colouring adds a soft brown tinge to any thing it’s baked in. It’s in the base for this coconut and lime cheesecake and in the cream cheese filling too. Although I’m a sucker for dessert, I hate overly sweet ones. What I liked about using the coconut sugar was it didn’t make the cheesecake too sweet. You could still taste the lime AND the cream cheese.

For those who can’t get their hands on coconut sugar you can substitute it in both parts of the recipe with brown sugar (a favourite of mine in baking). But if you like to experiment, I highly suggest giving the coconut sugar a try.

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The zest and juice of any citrus fruit will serve you well when flavouring a baked cheesecake.  I’ve used lime in this one but you could just as easily use lemons, or tangellos, mandarins, or grapefruit. Just recently, I wrote a recipe for the magazine that used tangellos in the cheesecake filling and it was a huge success.

Success also comes with not over cooking your cheesecake. Any cheesecake I bake generally gets 45 minutes in the oven at 150C. You get perfect cheesecake every time – with no cracks! A slight wobble to a cheesecake is a good sign – remember it will firm up as it’s left to cool.

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 Lime and coconut cheesecake 

Ingredients 

For the base

1/4 cup coconut sugar

3/4 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup almond meal

100g butter, melted

For the filling

500g cream cheese

1/3 cup coconut sugar, plus 1 tbsp for garnish

2 limes – zest and juice

1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt

4 eggs

To garnish 

3 tbsp toasted coconut

 

Pre heat oven to 150C. Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper. Place all the dry  ingredients for the base in a medium sized bowl, add the melted butter and stir till well combined. Press the mixture into the lined tin. Use your hand to press the base and make an even surface. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove base and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, chop the cream cheese into pieces, place in a food processor with coconut sugar, lime zest and juice and yoghurt, blitz till mix is smooth. Add one egg at a time and blitz between additions till all eggs are incorporated.  Pour the cheesecake mix onto the baked base, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp coconut sugar and bake for 45 minutes.

Set cheese cake aside to cool completely. To garnish, sprinkle cheesecake with 3tbsp toasted shredded coconut (optional). Slice cheesecake into squares. Serve as is or with double cream.