Monday, June 30, 2014

My Heart Belongs to the Sea

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea." - Isak Dinesen 

When I told my parents that I couldn't live anywhere but near the sea, they called me a spoiled brat and laughed at me. I suppose they are right. 

Photos taken with my wee Sony Xperia Z over the last couple months :) 

- Matilda

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chocolate and Lime

I haven't spent much time at health food stores such as Mrs Flannerys. However, the first time I went, there were desserts and savoury cakes out to try and recipe leaflets to take home. It is possible that I bought something at the time, but the recipe for this chocolate lime pie/cake/tart is the only thing I remember from that first trip. I made it for my mum's work colleagues once and I think it went down ok - it certainly tasted pretty good to me. At any rate, the only one who voiced any complaint was a middle-aged perpetually-angry American man so I hardly think that should count. 

It's been a long time since I've made a raw chocolate dessert and finding the photos for this while clearing up some files on my laptop has made me want to get back into the kitchen. Uni hours have been a bit longer this year, and the workload that little bit more onerous. Although if I stopped procrastinating as much as I do and just knuckled down to work, I would probably have plenty of time to potter around in the kitchen! 

Chocolate Lime Ganache Tart (adapted from Mrs Flannerys)
 Makes one ~8” pie


For the crust
2 cups raw pecans
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder

For the filling (A)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
½ cup coconut oil
2 vanilla beans, scraped
½ cup filtered water
½ cup raw honey or agave nectar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lime (zest and juice)
½ tsp ground nutmeg

For the filling (B)
½ cup dates soaked in 1 Tbsp water for an hour, blended to form a paste
¼ cup tahina
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ cup raw cacao powder
¼ to ½ cup filtered water


For the crust: Grease an 8”/20cm spring form pan with the coconut oil. Blend all other ingredients together in a food processor and press it evenly into the pan. Place in the fridge while making the filling.

For the filling: Blend all of the ingredients in list A in a food processor until smooth, then add the ingredients from list B until it has a smooth and creamy texture. Pour the filling into the tart crust and place the pie in the fridge or freezer overnight to set.

Serve, garnished with shaved dark chocolate or berries, and eat! 
- Matilda 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Study Break: Raw Banoffee Pie

On Wednesday I completed the dreaded "Brain, Mind, and Body" block at uni. I'm still not sure as to whether or not I passed, but that's something to worry about when the marks com out.  For now I am enjoying not having to study and the freedom of being able to read novels and watch mindless tv shows.

Three weeks ago however, I was a total stress ball. Thankfully I have my friends to keep me sane and one day, when one of my dearest friends came over for a study session, we took a break and made ourselves some banoffee pie. Unfortunately we didn’t realise we needed to chill the coconut cream in the fridge overnight so we struggled a bit to whip it up but it was still deeeee-licious. We halved the recipe so we could have one mini pie each, of which we nearly managed to demolish. The fact that it was raw and therefore healthy was used as justification for this display of pigging out… the full richness of the caramel only really hits you after a half hour or so, so I would recommend not eating a main meal beforehand if you’re planning on going all out like we did. It’s definitely worth it. 

No-Bake Vegan Banoffe Pie (recipe from Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl)
Makes one 10″ pie


For the crust 
1 ½ cup raw cashews
1 ½ cup raw walnuts (or almonds)
1 cup pitted dates
Pinch maldon salt

For the caramel filling
3 cups pitted dates
1 cup coconut water or almond/soy milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch maldon salt

For the cream filling
4 small bananas
2 cans coconut cream
1 tsp lemon juice
Cacao powder, for dusting


To make the crust: Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add the dates one by one and continue processing until the dough is sticky. Add in up to ½ cup of additional dates if necessary to get the dough sticky enough. Press the dough into a spring-form pan and store in the fridge while making the caramel layer.

To make the caramel layer: Puree all the ingredients for the caramel filling in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Spread the filling over the crust using a spatula and transfer into the freezer and leave overnight.

To make the cream filling: Place the cans of coconut cream in the fridge overnight to allow it to thicken. Whip the cream in a bowl and slice the bananas. Fold half of the bananas into the whipped cream and spoon over the caramel filing. Cover the remaining bananas with lemon juice (to prevent them from browning) and use them to decorate the top of the pie. Dust the pie with cacao and serve immediately.

Other notes: Left-overs can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days but ours was gone within 24 hours… however it of course tastes better on the day.


- Matilda

Monday, February 3, 2014

Turkish Fig Frozen Yoghurt

One of my childhood foodie dreams was to eat sweet fresh figs. As strange as that may sound, access to fresh figs has been limited by price alone. And that's not to mention that, even when you do get your hands on some reasonably priced figs, they taste like rubbish. It was not until I visited Japan in their summer of 2011 that I was able to enjoy for the first time, the soft and succulent flesh of a sweet fresh fig. It was morning tea I will never forget. 

To compensate for the lack of fresh figs in my life, my mother would buy me dried figs from the supermarket. Despite not being as jaw-dropping amazing as their fresh counterparts, they are absolutely incredible slathered in peanut butter. I used to think that was all that could be done with them (apart from eating them straight out of the packet) until I came across this recipe for froyo with poached figs. Clearly poached figs was simply something I just hadn't heard of before, but I was surprised to learn that it's done using whole dried figs; The whole idea of continuing to blog was to help me learn so I guess it's doing its job! 

The original recipe calls for almonds and pistachios to be used as a garnish  but I didn't have either so I pan-fried some pumpkin seeds instead - it worked out great! And for those of you who are curious: yes, this recipe tastes even better than half-price froyo on Tuesday nights ;) 

Yoghurt ice cream with poached dried figs (adapted from a magazine cutout, the source of which I can't locate)
Serves 4-6


1kg good quality plain yoghurt
8 Tbsp caster sugar 

For the syrup
1 cup water 
1 cup sugar
1 cardamon pod
12 Iranian dired figs/apricots/peaches 

To serve
4 Tbsp slivered almonds 
4 Tbsp pistachios
1 Tbsp caster sugar 


Making the 'ice cream': Place the yoghurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk together. Either place this in an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions, or place in a container in the freezer until the yoghurt is half frozen. If you opt for the latter, whisk the mixture again (or pulse briefly in a food processor) to break up any lumps and then put it back in the freezer until firm. 

Making the syrup: Place the water, sugar and cardamon in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add your dried fruit of choice, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the dried fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Return the syrup to the heat and cook until the syrup thickens, then remove from the heat.

Serving: Mix the nuts/seeds and 1 Tbsp sugar together  until well combined. Spoon the ice cream into bowls, add the fruit, and drizzle the syrup over the top. Sprinkle the ice cream with the nut mixture. Eat. 

- Matilda

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pushing Daisies: Perfect Pear Pie

Some time in the last two years, I managed to get myself addicted to binge-watching television programmes. I think it starts out with some Japanese tv dramas, then rewatching the first four seasons of the new Doctor Who because I hate the last two seasons so much, and then to other things. I hate to even think about how many hours I have spent in front of my computer screen, watching television. Grey's Anatomy, House, Game of Thrones, Scrubs, the list goes on. Some, like Grey's and GOT, I won't finish - Grey's because it is over-the-top dramatic  and GOT because I've read the A Song of Ice and Fire books and they are just so much better than the television version. In fact, I would go as far as to say the television adaptation is awful in comparison. George RR Martin, you sir are a literary genius. 

On the other hand, there are programmes that are worth continuing watching. House and Scrubs I will put in that category, more for their relevance (however inaccurate) to my chosen career than anything else. The first four seasons of Doctor Who also make it (I can't resist David Tennant), as does Broadchurch for its heart-wrenching brilliance. Even among these, one stands out: Pushing Daisies. A comedy-drama that revolves Ned the pie maker who has the ability to wake the dead, it is the most unassuming and hilarious work I have ever watched. The bright colours and playful acting make it seem like it should be a programme for children, but the sexual innuendos and underlying darker themes of life/love/death (the usual) make it both heartwarming and thought-provoking for adults.  

GIFs from Tumblr

Despite having been cancelled at the end of the second season, Pushing Daisies made such an impact that one of the pies made by Chuck (Ned's one and only with whom he has an extremely unconventional relationship) for her aunts has been accounted for by none other than Martha Stuart. It was as delicious as they made it look on the show and I have now found my go-to pastry crust, as well as a go-to filling should I wish to make a pie. I suppose I just said  I have a go-to pie, which is true. MAKE THIS. And WATCH ALL TWO SEASONS of Pushing Daisies. You will not regret either one.  Especially the latter - Lee Pace's eyebrows are amazing. 

I got in trouble for not wiping down the table before taking this photo... sorry. We don't usually live and eat in filfth. 

Ned and Chuck's Perfect Pear Pie (inspired by Pushing Daisies; recipe from Martha Stewart)


For the crust 

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
225g chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces

¼ to ½ cup ice water

For the filling
1 pie dough for 2 crusts (as per above)
1 cup pecan pieces, toasted
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup packed dark-brown sugar
½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ pounds pears, peeled, cored, cut into medium pieces
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, in pieces
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 large egg
sanding sugar (optional)


To make the crust: Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water slowly while mixing, just until the dough holds together (do not over-mix). Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten, and form two discs. Wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make the pie: On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough into a 30cm circle, brush off excess flour, and fit the dough to a 23cm pie dish (obviously mine was a bit smaller than this - I halved the recipe). Press the edges down around the inside, trim the dough to 1-1.5cm over the dish. Roll out remaining half of dough and transfer it to a baking sheet. Chill the pie shell and disk of dough. 

In a large bowl, combine the pecans, cinnamon, salt, sugar, cranberries, pears, butter, and corn starch. Mix well and transfer the mixture to the cold pie shell.

Whisk the egg with 2 teaspoons of water and brush the egg glaze around the rim of the dough. Transfer the cold disk of dough on top, press down gently, and press the top and bottom pieces of dough together, around the rim (you can either do this or do what I did and cut strips of dough to make a lattice pattern). Trim the top dough with scissors to about 1.5cm and fold it under. Crimp the edge of the pie as desired. Brush the surface of the pie with the egg wash. If going for the solid topp, make 3 slits in the top for steam to escape. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the top if desired. Freeze the pie for 30 minutes to firm up the butter and heat the oven to 200
°C, with a rack in the lower third. (I didn't freeze the pie so instead heated up the oven before I started assembling the pie - time is money!). 

Bake the pie for around 20 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown. Reduce the heat to 180
°C and continue to bake until the crust is richly golden brown, rotating as needed, for 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire cooling rack to cool.

Serving: Cut pie and serve warm with ice cream (this step is mandatory).

- Matilda

P.S. Basically, the facts are these: I need to stop watching television. Well, stop binge-watching it at the very least. Somehow the desire to do such things deserted me during the holidays but I am more than certain that the itch will return come semester one, i.e. today, when this post is published. Here is a public declaration and promise to myself that I will not let myself get sucked into television as I did in 2013!