Or La La Banana Bread (Paleo) from Clean Living Cookbook

We have talked before about my cookbook fascination.  You very sweetly didn’t judge me when I revealed that I own many more cookbooks than I actually use.  I recently had a glimpse of what lay in my future when I visited the home of a friend of a friend whose cookbook collection put mine to shame.  “Let me show you something” She said as she slid open her wardrobe doors to reveal a wall of cookbooks.  An entire wall.  Vintage tomes, the pages yellowed and slightly fragile sat alongside crisp, contemporary recipe collections adorned with breathtaking photography.  It was not quite heaven but pretty darn close.

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One of the latest additions to my collection (and one step closer to the coveted cookbook wall), is the Clean Living Cookbook (Hachette, Australia), by My Kitchen Rules alumni Luke Hines and Scott Gooding.  I cooked from it no less than six times in the last two weeks, and I think it’s a safe assumption that this is one member of my cookery book army that will soon be thoroughly covered with ingredient stains, a sure sign of affection.  It is packed with uncomplicated recipes for wholesome, moreish dishes that your body as well as your taste buds will thank you for.

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Deciding which recipe to share with you wasn’t easy, but in the end, this one was an obvious choice.  You see, I used to make banana bread with such frequency that I have been accused of buying bananas and deliberately ignoring them until they are ready for the banana retirement village that is banana bread.

When I decided to cut down on sugar, I reluctantly gave up my habit due to the sugar content of most banana bread recipes.  Scott and Luke’s recipe on the other hand, is Paleo friendly, which makes it free of refined sugars as well as gluten.  This is not the cakey, oversweet slice you get in cafes.  No, this Or La La Banana Bread is a much more healthful loaf, dense with the chew that coconut offers and the rich, tight crumb that almond meal brings.  I tweaked it very slightly, adding a little more oil for a more moist outcome.  If you don’t have coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil would also work.

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It is best straight out of the oven, still hot slices tossed gingerly between fingertips, or toasted and slathered with your favourite spread.  Soon after I made it for the first time, I happened to discover some ripe mango flesh in the freezer, a welcome remnant of the summer just gone.  So then there was a mango version, which was equally lovely and disappeared just as fast.

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Or La La Banana Bread

Very minutely modified from Clean Living Cookbook

Makes 1 loaf

Get:

2 cups almond meal
3 eggs
2 tbsp nut butter (I used peanut)
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 large ripe to overripe bananas (or 1 cup ripe mango flesh for mango bread), mashed
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (walnuts, cashews or pistachios work well)
A small handful of shredded coconut, pepitas or sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top (optional)

Make:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a loaf tin (the boys recommend 10 x 20 cm) with baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the almond meal, eggs, nut butter and oil into a thick batter.  Add the coconut, banana (or mango), cinnamon, chia seeds and nuts, and combine well.

Pour the batter into the tin and level out the top using a knife or spatula.  Sprinkle coconut or seeds (if desired) over the top.  Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 mins, or until a knife passed into the centre comes out fairly clean.  Allow to cool completely before turning out (if you can wait that long!).

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Eight Little Women

It was a time when rounded verandahs were all the fashion, and the two girls who were old enough to know this convinced their father that a rounded verandah was the thing to have.  The little ones looked on in awe as the teak doors were painstakingly carved by hand.  Eventually, curiosity would get the better of them and they would play with the sharp wood fragments, only to be shooed away by the old carpenter.  The same teak doors still separate the rooms of the fifty-something year old house, their carved patterns intact, their hue slightly darkened with age.

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My mother is the fifth of the eight, all girls. The older ones cared for and scolded their younger sisters, in equal measure.  Over the years, the solid brick walls absorbed the gleeful chatter, melodious singing and silly squabbles of eight little women.  Clothes were bought or home sewn, handed down, fought over and innovatively re-sewn.  Nothing was wasted or carelessly tossed away. Pleasures were simple and always shared.  A pretty piece of fabric, a small bag of sweets, a new song.

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Education was deemed important beyond almost anything else. Nooks were claimed for study and the safe-keeping of books.  The table, a staircase landing, the stone used to wash clothes upon and the tiny attic above the third bedroom all became valuable study areas where books were devoured and exams were fretted over.  As the older girls graduated, their spaces were relinquished to be occupied by younger sisters.  Etched into the door of a small cupboard with a knife sharpened with procrastination, is the name of one of the sisters, the surrounding wood worn smooth by the years.

My grandparents saw no reason for eight daughters to be any less academically accomplished than if they had been eight sons.  Their thinking was progressive for their time and as a result, the house churned out an assortment of doctors, scientists, accountants and teachers.  Brass plaques that were nailed into the front door bearing names and once shiny new qualifications still adorn the dark wood.  Among the plaques sits the two oldest of them, one bearing my grandfathers name and the other bearing the name of the house.

Jyothi

A brilliant light.

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Stairs along the side of the house led up to the open terrace, a common feature of houses of that time.  This wide open space was for daytime yoga sessions, afternoon naps on summer days and a makeshift salon where wet hair was dried before it was braided.  My grandmother would venture up there to dry chillies and tamarind on large blankets weighed down by rocks.  Diwali saw that terrace bathed in a glorious display of light when all the girls would race up there to set off firecrackers.  Later, the wrappers would be proudly carried down and piled in front of the house, lest the neighbourhood kids think that eight little girls couldn’t set off their share of explosions.

Marriages were arranged or beaus were found, kept secret, breathlessly whispered about and finally disclosed.  Weddings were organised, the youngest still giggly schoolgirls excitedly watching their akkas (older sisters) move away with the men they chose.

Later, there were grandchildren.  Small, sprightly offspring who would climb the bars surrounding that rounded verandah.  Quieter little ones who would curl into those same nooks with story books.  Aunty Jyothi, the very daughter for whom the house was named, lives in that house now with her family and so two more daughters have been raised between the solid walls, fed from the same kitchen and have crammed for exams in the same rooms.

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During my recent visit, my cousin Chaitra and I spent a morning cooking in the kitchen of the house our mothers grew up in.  It was apt, and terribly exciting that she taught me to how to cook one of my favourite vegetables.  Thondekaye (Ivy Gourd), resembling tiny cucumbers, is available only in frozen form in Australia, although those in the UK can find it fresh in Indian stores.  My love of it is widely known amongst my mum’s side of the family, meaning that many of my aunts will indulge me by cooking me a thondekaye dish whenever I visit India.  So when Chaitra, who has flourished into quite the cook, offered to teach me how to make this Manglorean Thondekaye Sukha (dry stir-fry), I was in.

It is important to cut the whole thondekaye lengthwise, into quarters or sixths.  What happens is that each piece curls lovingly around the spiced coconut matrix, the flavours settling nicely between the internal ribbing.  The sharpness of chilli, hint of jaggery sweetness and sour notes of the tamarind are offset by the freshness of the coconut, and the tiny thondekaye wedges are the perfect vehicle for this intricate mixture.

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That morning, my cousin and I cooked, giggled, chatted and cooked some more.  I chopped as Chaitra grated fresh coconut.  She roasted spices to fragrant perfection while I soaked tamarind.  Each step was patiently explained to me while I madly scribbled it all down.

So it was that we added new memories to the fifty-something year old kitchen.  And the gleeful chatter of two more women mingled and were absorbed into the walls of the house with the rounded verandah.

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Thondekaye Sukha (Ivy Gourd and Coconut Stir-fry)

Get:
600 grams of fresh or frozen thondekaye (ivy gourd)
Ball of dried tamarind the size of a small lime
Boiling water
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
2 tsp grated or powdered jaggery
Salt
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional)

For the Spice Mix
1/4 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
4-5 black peppercorns
4 dried red chillies, broken into pieces
Generous pinch asofoetida
1/2 tsp urad dhal
10-12 dried curry leaves

For Tempering:
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dhal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
6-8 fresh or dried curry leaves
2 small garlic cloves, slightly crushed

Make:
Break up the tamarind and soak in 1/2 cup of boiling water in a medium sized bowl. Mash with a fork and leave to soak until the water is cool enough to touch.  Then, with clean hands, squish the tamarind in the water until the water thickens.  Strain the water into another bowl.  The tamarind flesh can be discarded or stored in the fridge and used again within a few days.

Slice the thondekaye lengthwise into quarters or sixths, depending on how thick they are.  Frozen thondekaye usually comes pre sliced.  Immerse in salted boiling water and bring to the boil again.  Simmer on low-medium heat until the insides are tender but the skin still has a bite.  This will take 5-7 mins for frozen thondekaye, and longer for fresh.

In a large non-stick pan, warm 1/4 tsp coconut oil.  Add all the spice mix ingredients except the curry leaves.  Roast on low heat until fragrant and until the red chillies become brittle between the fingers.  Transfer the mixture to your mortar and pestle or spice grinder.  In the same pan, roast the dried curry leaves for a minute or so and add to the other spices.  Grind to a fine or slightly coarse powder.

In the same large pan, heat 2 tbsp coconut oil.  Lower the heat to medium and add the mustard seeds.  Take care not to burn them! When they have popped, add urad dhal, turmeric, curry leaves and garlic.  Stir-fry for a minute or so on low-medium heat until the dhal has gained a little colour.  Add the spice mixture and stir-fry for about 2 mins.  Then, add the diced onion and saute until translucent.  Add the coconut and toss to mix.  Pour in the tamarind water and sprinkle in the jaggery and 2 tsp salt.  Mix well and cook for a further minute.  Drain the thondekaye and add to the pan. Stir-fry for another 5 minutes.  Taste and add more salt if neccessary.  If the thondekaye is still a little undercooked, cover and cook, stirring intermittently, for a further 5-10 mins.  The thondekaye should be tender and yielding but not mushy.

Sprinkle with coriander, if desired, and serve with chapatis or mixed into rice with a little more coconut oil.

Notes:

Jaggery is unrefined Indian sugar and can be found at Indian grocery stores along with frozen thondekaye, coconut, the spices, urad dhal and dried tamarind.  Jaggery has a unique flavour but if you can’t get it, soft brown sugar should work.

You can of course use powdered spices instead of whole, but believe me when I say that when you start powdering your own spices, you will never want to go back to pre-powdered ones.

 

 

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Click the Month: March 2014

It has been a colossal month over here at OSP headquarters.  Last week, this wee blogski here had the good fortune of being Freshly_Pressed in WordPress’ daily showcase of posts.  I will admit that both myself and the blog have been on a bit of a shameless high from this all week.

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Being on vacation for the first half of March ensured that it got off to a good start.  After eating, laughing and dancing at a dear cousin’s wedding, I visited my friends Subo and Chris in England.  The pair have an eight month old daughter who is quite possibly the cutest thing north of the Equator.  I spent a few days in the big smoke of London, to feed my nostalgia more than anything else.  But mostly, we stuck to the countryside, going on road trips between quaint little towns and meandering walks in the lush, spring-kissed woods.

OSP Ahrani3

 

So today, on what is my precious friend Subo’s first Mothers Day, I shall leave you with some photos I took of her gorgeous family.  I hope your March was fruitful, and I wish all the mums in Europe a Happy Mothers Day.
See ya’ll in April!

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Orecchiette with Zucchini

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A holiday on the other side of the world is all well and good, but then there’s the jetlag to contend with.  Currently, sleeping through the night is somewhat of a challenge and staying awake at work is only achieved with multiple cups of coffee and not allowing myself to sit down for too long, anywhere.  These are the times that I am thankful that I do not have a desk job.

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Gradually, my brain is convincing my baffled body that night is day and day is night.  Is it just my imagination that this transition gets more challenging the older I get?

The plus side to being wide awake against my will at some unearthly time is that it gives me a few unaccounted for hours with which to do things.  My hunger pangs led me to trawl through the pantry before the sun was even up and in the midst of cramming everything that was remotely edible into my mouth, I came across some lovely pasta from the good people of Barilla.  One pasta bible, a quick scramble for herbs around the still-dark garden, and half an hour later, there was a tasty, nutritious lunch to look forward to on my first bleary-eyed day back at work.

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You use the zucchini raw but the thin slices get partially cooked by the acidic lemon juice.  Cool, right?  I am quite partial to Orecchiette but you can, of course, use any short pasta that takes your fancy. For more pasta-related shenanigans, try out one of the classes at Casa Barilla in Sydney.Orchiette2

Orecchiette with Zucchini

Serves 3-4

Slightly modified from Pasta by Carla Bardi (page 134)

Get:
2 medium zucchini (courgette)
1 or 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
Small handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

250g good quality dried Orecchiette Pasta (I used Barilla)

Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese to serve

Make:

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini lengthwise into strips.  In a large bowl, toss the zucchini strips with the chillies, mint, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.  Leave for 20-30 min.

Cook the pasta in salted water according to packet instructions until al dente.  Drain and toss the pasta with the zucchini.  Taste and add more salt or pepper as neccessary.

Serve with a generous amount of parmesan or pecorino grated over the top.

This is NOT a sponsored post, however the pasta was kindly supplied by Barilla.

Orchiette5

Dessert Wontons with Sweet Dipping Sauce

Dessert Wontons 1

It’s not quite a recipe, really.  More like an assembling of things to be steamed, dipped and devoured.  It all started when I was invited to a Chinese themed High Tea at Four Friends, and I started to wonder what I could contribute given my very limited Asian dessert repertoire.  The thought that lingered in my mind was one of dessert wontons.

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You see, us Indians make a steamed rice parcel stuffed with coconut and jaggery that if done right, will fall apart in the mouth leaving behind a puddle of seductively melted brown sugar and chewy coconut.  How I went from contemplating modakam, and onto deciding to stuff my wontons with peanut butter, chocolate and coconut is probably a function of my ever tangental mind.

If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you could use a metal colander sprayed with a little oil or lined with grease-proof paper, in a large covered pot with water in the bottom of it.  However you make them, they are best eaten fresh and dipped generously in the sauce.

Oh! And speaking of sweets…..if you live in Sydney and are of a sugary inclination, don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win tickets to the Cake Bake and Sweets Show March 21 – 23 here.

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Nutty, Chocolatey Dessert Wontons with Coconut Dipping Sauce

Makes about 15

Get:
75 g dark chocolate
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1-2 tbsp rice syrup or honey

Wonton Wrappers

For the dipping sauce:
1/3 cup coconut cream
2 tsp rice syrup
Few strands saffron (optional)

Make:

Blitz the filling ingredients together in a food processor until a coarse paste forms.  Start with 1 tbsp syrup and add more if you prefer it sweeter.

Fill the wonton wrappers.  I used about a tsp of mixture per wrapper, placed it in the centre and folded the edges together.  I used a little water around the edges to make them stick.

Sprinkle the wontons with water and steam them for about 20-25 mins, or until the wrappers are cooked.

Make the dipping sauce by whisking the ingredients together well.

Serve the wontons with dipping sauce for dessert.

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Another Year and a Giveaway

That day has come around again.  We all have one, happens every year.  That day that is all about you and you find yourself another year older, and if you are lucky, somewhat wiser.  Yes, today is my birthday.  So while I enjoy high tea in what is probably the poshest place I’ve set foot in, I have an equally delicious giveaway for one lucky reader.
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I have 2 tickets to the Cake Bake and Sweets Show at Sydney’s Olympic Park on the weekend of March 21-23, 2014.  This show will be pure sugar heaven, with useful resources for any enthusiastic baker and bustling with culinary celebrities to boot!  Think the gorgeous Eric Lanlard, the genius who is Adriano Zumbo and many Masterchef/GABO alumni.

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Brush up on your skills with live demonstrations and classes, and sample or buy some decadent products in the marketplace.  The competition is open to Australian residents only and please only enter if you will be in Sydney and available that weekend.  Both tickets will be awarded to one winner, and they cover entry to the show on one of the three days.
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To enter, please complete BOTH steps in the two step process:

1. Subscribe to onesmallpot by entering your email address in the ‘Follow’ box (scroll to the bottom of the home page).

2. Let me know in the comment box below the flavours you would choose for your dream cake.  The sky’s the limit on your answer and I will choose the most delicious and creative sounding entry to win.

Good luck and I can’t wait to drool over your answers!!

Entries close Thursday 13th March at midnight Sydney time and the winner will be informed by Monday 17th March.

Tickets are kindly provided by the shows’ organisers. Winner will be chosen by me based on satisfaction of the first criteria as well as what I deem to be the most intriguing answer.

*Update: The winner of the tickets is Louise Wallis! Her idea for Salted Caramel and Mango Cheesecake had me at hello :-) Enjoy the show Louise!

Click the Month: February 2014

I have for you more pictures of apples from my day trip to Bilpin with Aussie Apples.

Aren’t apples the cutest?

Meanwhile, I am on a much needed vaycay, split between a cousin’s wedding in India and some serious chill time (both literally and figuratively) at a friends’ place in the UK.

See you all in March!!Saliba 1

Apple tree 1

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Apple, Coconut and Jaggery Hand Pies for SABH

This month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop theme is Childhood Favourites, hosted by Sophie from the Sticky and the Sweet. The theme set my mind racing.  After all, aren’t we all spoilt for choice when it comes to the sweets we were introduced to as kids? For me as a small child in India, there were gems (Indian equivalent of Smarties), 5-Star Chocolate bars, Amul Pista ice-cream and countless traditional Indian sweets.  When I moved to Australia, there was even more sugary goodness to be discovered and toffee apples, Chupa Chups, push pops, Buffalo Bill ice-creams and Jelly Pythons came into the picture.

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It is a special quality of childhood enjoyments that often when we try them as adults, we either don’t quite enjoy them as much, or we do but are old enough to know how appallingly lacking in nutrition they are (I’m talking to you, sherbies and redskins!).

So I decided to choose something that I would happily indulge in even now, and not just for the sake of nostalgia.  Two things, to be precise.  The first is that bubbly pastry pocket of lava-hot goodness, the McDonalds Apple Pie.

The second is a South Indian dessert that my mum has made for as long as I can remember.  It is mostly made as a religious offering on festival days a few times a year, making it all the more appealing.  Sliced bananas are tossed in jaggery (unrefined Indian brown sugar), cardamom and fresh grated coconut.  Sometimes a little saffron or a handful of raisins and cashews are sprinkled in.  It is good fresh, amazing half an hour later and a sludgy, syrupy mess the day after, if it even makes it that far.

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I used apples instead of bananas for two reasons.  They stand up better when baked in pastry than do bananas, and I had an abundance of them after going apple picking in Bilpin last week.  So it was that two desserts from my two worlds came together in these hand pies.

The pastry was the trusty sour cream pastry from Smitten Kitchen that I have now used several times because it is so good.  In hindsight though, a traditional, thinner shortcrust pastry may have suited these pies better, although I’m certainly not complaining abut the outcome.  The apple pie filling was enhanced by the coconut and almost caramel-like jaggery, with a bite of cardamom just to remind me exactly where I’m from.

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Apple, Coconut and Jaggery Hand Pies

Makes 12-15

Get:

Filling:
5 or 6 small red apples, diced (I used Aussie Royal Galas)
1 ½ cups (about 300g) of firm Jaggery
The insides of 15-18 cardamom pods, powdered
Generous pinch saffron strands

3 quantities of this pastry (leave out the ajwain and cumin seeds and only use 1/2 the amount of salt)

Make:

Toss the filling ingredients together in a bowl and allow to sit for 10-20 mins.

Roll out the pastry to 4-5mm thickness.  Cut out shapes of your choice.  I went for squares, so I cut strips of pastry that were about 25 cm x 10cm.  I spooned the filling into the middle of one side of the pastry, leaving the edges clear.  I then folded the pastry over to cover the filling.

Use your fingers, then a fork to press around the edges.  Place the pastries in the fridge again for about 20 mins.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 C.

Place the tray of pastries in the oven and bake for about 20-25 mins or until the pastry is crisp and cooked.

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Aussie Apple, Berry and Yoghurt Breakfast Jars

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What I forgot to mention in my first blogiversary post is the lovely, warm community of bloggers that this little hobby-whatsit has opened up to me.  And what I deliberately left out, partly because I’m only just getting a taste of it and it seems almost too good to be true, and partly because they really are just a bonus, are the experiences I have been opened up to in the world of food.

Last weekend was a perfect combination of both if these fringe benefits, as I and a few other food bloggers headed off on a day trip to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.  There, in a town called Bilpin, we got to visit some beautiful apple orchards and meet the growers who bring some of the sweetest, juiciest apples to our fruit bowls.

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There is a joy in being able to trace the food we eat from its beginnings, through its journey and finally onto the table.  At Saliba Fruits, second generation farmers Joe and Lily Saliba welcomed us warmly and took us through the process of apple farming.  We first meandered a little through the orchards, admiring the squat, fruit-laden trees in their fruit-bat proof netting like babies in a nursery.  What got us all a little bit excited was what we dubbed the ‘apple day spa’, a conveyor belt system where the crisp red globes were first washed, dried, polished, hand-sorted and packed into baskets for market.  And when we found out that the little guys actually get their own sunscreen to protect them from the harsh Aussie sun?  Well, we were positively gushing!

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From there, we visited Bilpin Springs Orchard, a pick-your-own farm.  Cedric greeted us and led us around more apple trees, as well as trees laden with lemons, peaches and navel oranges.  He told us about the farm’s preference for organic farming methods whenever possible.  He explained to us how to choose a good apple and what to avoid.  He then set us loose among the trees and armed with baskets, we set about picking to our heart’s content.

Around us, families were doing exactly the same.  Parents filled baskets while their city-slicker kids revelled delightedly in the fresh air and wide open spaces interrupted only by trees whose branches were weighed down by things you could eat.  It was good, clean, safe and inexpensive fun and something I would recommend to anyone.

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A satisfying day in all, and made even more so by the armfuls of apples that we all went home with.  It turns out an apple a day really could…you know, do what they say, as the little guys are packed with vitamins and minerals that help lower the risk of some chronic diseases.  Their skin especially is rich in poly-phenols and antioxidants, which we all know is a good thing.  Aussies, look for the Aussie Apples sticker as not only are they home-grown, but they are seriously delicious fruit.

Breakfast is an important meal for me and not only does it have to be filling, but also tasty and transportable, given my tendency to be running late at all times, to everything!  These breakfast jars incorporate apples, berries and yoghurt, making them an anti-oxidant and protein party in a jar.

I was a guest of Aussie Apples, Saliba Fruits and Bilpin Springs Orchard.  This is not a sponsored post and my opinions are my own.

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Apple, Berry and Yoghurt Breakfast Jars

Makes 2 generous serves

Get:

2 small Aussie Apples, diced small
1 tsp coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup frozen berries of your choice
1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rice syrup or honey
Greek yoghurt (about a cup)
Small handful pepitas
Small handful shredded coconut

Make:

Preheat the oven to 160 C.  Place the pepitas on a tray and toast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until they have swelled.  Add the coconut and bake for a further minute or so until it has browned slightly.  Toss both in a bowl with 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

In a non-stick sauce-pan, warm the coconut oil.  Add the apples and cook for about 5 mins.  Add the berries, syrup, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and vanilla extract.  Stir and cook on low-medium heat, covered for 5-7 mins or until the apples are tender.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

In jars or glasses, layer first the fruit layer, then the yoghurt, then fruit again, then yoghurt.  Top with the toasted pepita and coconut mixture and drizzle with any leftover sauce from the fruit mixture.  Remember to take a spoon and eat in the car whilst stuck in traffic.

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Quick Mango Pickle

“It’s a bit industrial”

My Irish friend said, spoon in one hand, plate piled high with rice, rasam and pickle in the other.

“But I like it!” 

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The first taste of Indian pickle to the unaccustomed palate must be akin to the initial experience of India to the first time visitor.  A little too much of everything, all at once.  A cacophony of noise, each note seemingly competing with the other.  Car horns, and auto-rickshaw toots. The cries of hawkers, beggars and babies. Bollywood music and giggling school girls. Smells……the hunger inducing ones like fresh pakoras fried at a roadside stand mingling with that of diesel fumes from passing trucks and dung from more slowly passing cows.  Dust clinging to skin with the cloying humidity.   The sun’s unrelenting blaze reflected from every metallic surface.

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It is the saltiness that registers first, which goes some way to balance the tartness that follows.  The spices sing their soprano notes and for a moment the tongue is seized up with the too muchness of it all.  A soft, yielding flesh made so by its’ weeks to months of steeping in acidic juices.  The liquid gold gravy with its’ many-layered flavours.

An assault to the senses and chaos to a first-timer but one where everything, somehow, just works.

This is a cheat’s mango pickle, but one that delivers all of the palate stimulation that properly pickled pickles do.  A chop and stir fry later, you have in your hands a spicy, sour condiment that can be eaten traditionally with rice, spread onto a sandwich or relished however you please.

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Quick Mango Pickle

Makes about a cup

Get:

2 raw green mangoes, flesh diced into 1-1 1/2 cm pieces
3 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or canola oil
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 1/2 tsp rasam powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2-3 tsp salt

Make:

In a large, non-stick fry pan, heat the oil.  Add the mustard seeds and reduce the heat to low.  Once they have popped, add all the other spices except for the salt.  Stir gently and fry on low heat for about 1 to 2 mins.

Add the diced mangoes, then 2 tsp salt and toss to coat the mango pieces in the spices.  Cook on medium heat for 1 minute.  Taste and add a little more salt if the pickle is still very tart.  Toss and cook for another few seconds or until the mango pieces are tender, but not falling apart.

Store in clean, dry, airtight jars and refrigerate for up to a month.

Notes:
Raw green mangoes and the spices, including rasam mix are available at Indian grocers.  The more green and tart the mangoes are, the better.
You could probably use coconut oil if you wish, but that will impart its own flavour to the pickle.

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