Black and white. OK, green and white. It’s balance, it’s harmony, it’s almost meant to be.
I’m all for avocado and all the variations it can take on. This will be a short one, because I’m aching to get the directions out; it’s ridiculously easy and delicious. Plop everything into your blender or food processor and you’re in the groove. Chocolate avocado mousse has been done before, aka the wholesome take on a classic chocolate pudding. Look, I love the green stuff, but I still think a good chocolate pudding deserves to be just that– sinfully chocolatey, donned in cream and your normal sugar. But wait! Let’s think thick, rich, glorious breakfast toast spreads here. Maybe a snack, or something along those lines. With dark chocolate done, why not experiment with white? This one here incorporates both dark and white chocolate, with a few different ingredients thrown in here and there to enhance the chocolate theme, simultaneously complementing the natural richness and creaminess of avocado.
I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the white chocolate variant in particular. The incorporation of the special ingredient –tahini– is what made it lush, thick and deliciously spreadable. No graininess, nothing. Just ease. Smoothness, a slight hint of salt, the childlike sweetness from melted white chocolate. That’s what I love about white chocolate. It appears to lack dimension and sophistication, but it’s the perfect medium for so many other things.
Avocado Yin Yang Mousse
For the dark chocolate take:
half an avocado
2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
1 tbsp honey/ maple syrup
1 tsp milk of choice
For the white chocolate take:
half an avocado
30g white chocolate, melted in the microwave
2 tbsp milk of choice
1 tbsp tahini (optional, but highly, highly recommended)
Blend the ingredients for the respective versions together in a food processor or blender. If you wish to make both (of course!), start with the white chocolate take first so that you won’t have to wash out your blender or processor after dealing with the cocoa/cacao powder. Spread on toast or eat on its own, maybe with a couple of dark chocolate truffles, mmm. This will keep for a week in the fridge.
When the going gets tough, it’s easy to give up on a lot. But fret not, for you’ll have a slice of toast that will get you over that hump.
It’s the perfect little snack, or breakfast if you have a birdy appetite, like me on some days. I can attest to its pre-yoga workout effectiveness. Energy boosting, almost wholesome. Here is a slice of whole wheat toast, half slathered in tahini, maple syrup and salt, half with a generous coat of butter and marmalade.
The second bit is a classic, the sort of thing you might fall back on at an endless breakfast buffet (or if you’re a plain old novice). I love love love butter and jam on most days, and some days it’s good old almond/peanut butter, honey and a pinch of maldon salt. Today demanded a switch in routine, and so this was born.
Directions (because the ‘Ingredients’ bit isn’t necessary, right?)
Take one slice of any sort of bread you like (preferable whole wheat, sourdough or a dark rye), and toast in your toaster. Cut in half any which way, then top half with butter and marmalade (or jam, if you don’t have any marmalade, but marmalade is still the best option!), and the other half with tahini, maple syrup, and apinch of coarse salt (Maldon). Eat the halves separately or, for optimal pleasure, sandwich together and bite. Savour that crunch, then the nuttiness mixing with the sweet jammy middle. A tick of salt at the end. Savour, swallow, maybe repeat.
Time has unleashed a spawn of ideas and fresh inspiration.
Though I’m happy to finally get back into the groove of food photography and recipe development, the past couple of weeks were much needed respite. The days fuelled anticipation for Fall in London, and although I know I won’t ever be able to bake or create anything much after that time, I feel as if this blog has really grown to become a part of me, a part I can’t and never will forsake. It’s shed new meaning upon my life; I don’t feel more alive or myself when in the kitchen, fiddling with and tweaking jottings in my notebook. I have my other passions, but this will always be an inherent part of me, like a child I must help grow and nurture. Therefore, I have keenly decided that I will continue updates here, though of course much less frequently!
The plan now will be to post once or twice a week, and the focus will be shifted to creating more breakfast-type recipes. I’ve always had an inappropriate obsession with breakfast culture, and adore that combination of simple, sweet and healthy. No, my recipes are not always the healthiest, but that’s only because I don’t believe in any modern fad. Go gluten-free if you have coeliac disease, by all means, or maybe even just for fun, but don’t impose the juicing monster (which is, literally, quite green) on anyone who doesn’t feel as if tip-top wellness is a necessary factor for emotional, spiritual or intellectual growth. Or for life in general, for that matter. I recently read this article which I readily relate to and agree with, discussing the modern health obsession and its ironic correspondence with young ‘health foodies’ found everywhere online and on social media (go on, read it!). The mixing of health and science must be monitored, and diet cannot be wholly dictated by a few paragraphs you may read online written by a young pretty lady in a sports bra. Let’s just be real. One will not die eating pancakes every Sunday, and some choose not to, which is totally ok. We all know we need ‘balance’, but the point of middle ground is different for everyone, is it not?
Anyways. Despite my passion for eating and making French pastry, some varieties of which I have yet to attempt (but shall do so in due time!), I know that doing so isn’t feasible in the near future. Sometimes, practicality is sacrifice, but it’s also a means for exposure and pushing creative boundaries.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pancake time.
A few days ago in London, I came across the most charming café in Islington, and my good friend (hey Celeste!) and I simply couldn’t resist strolling in even after our heavy brunch (now that I recall, we had pancakes, which is so de rigueur… Then again, when is it not?). Nut butters, pre-made sandwiches and bottles of tahini lined the shelves, alongside other bits and bobs of artisan produce. I felt it a bit of a sin if I didn’t walk out with something, so tahini it was, and tahini I’m glad. A short aside here–we also enjoyed delicious coffee, tea, and the best lemon pistachio cake slice ever. I’m thinking of it now, and the thinking is pain.
Having never properly experimented with the mildly salty sesame paste before, I decided to incorporate it into my favourite base pancake recipe, which yields the fluffiest, moreish, pillow-like texture ever. Thick and fluffy aside, a soft and tender surface may be easily broken with a fork to reveal a pale interior studded with oats. The mildly salty tahini lends perfect contrast to the sweet batter, and it also means no additional salt is needed in the recipe. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy.
Tahini Oat Pancakes (makes 8 3-inch pancakes)
125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour, or half whole wheat and half all-purpose
40g (1/2 cup) whole rolled oats
3/4 cup milk of choice (I played with soy this time round)
10g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp white sugar
splash vanilla extract
Preheat a medium saucepan on low-medium heat, and ready some butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients– flour, two leavening agents and sugar. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, honey, tahini, melted butter and vanilla extract. Pour most of the ingredients into the dry mix; I say most because you may not need all the liquid. I used all of mine and yielded a nice, thick batter, but just exercise a teensy bit of caution. You want it to be thick and slightly lumpy after mixing briefly with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Butter the preheated pan. There should be a sizzle when you flick a bit of water onto the pan. Using a tablespoon measurement (for 3-inch pancakes), ladle the batter into the pan. Once you see a few bubbles spread throughout the surface, go ahead and flip to cook the other side. Serve a couple warm on a plate, topped with more tahini, maple syrup, and whatever else your heart desires.
Skepticism hits hard when I see ‘best’ and ‘ultimate’ and ‘crazy-good-scrumptious’. Really? How good does good have to be before the ultimate (haha) mainstream adjective succumbs to usage?
…Well, I guess it’s just that good then.
There’s not much to it, yet there’s everything to it.
One simple base recipe accompanied by a myriad very suitable toppings, some of which you may feel free to leave out. It’s a quickie-breakfast-morning kind of thing, the best excuse to chuck a couple of things into your blender and emerge from the kitchen triumphant. No sweat. I’ll keep this one short and sweet, so you can indulge in something short and sweet, yes?
Mango Almond Smoothie (serves 1)
half a frozen banana
160g frozen mango
60ml almond milk (or any milk of choice)
one tablespoon almond butter (or any nut butter)
In a blender, blend the above listed ingredients. Top with creme fraiche, frozen raspberries, more almond butter, and, in my case, granola and matcha powder (!!) That part is unorthodox and optional, but if you have those lying around, then give it a shot. The bitter and fragrant powder elevates the sophistication of this otherwise simple (and obviously healthy) breakfast. Or leave it out!
– Plexin D1, a gene which plays a part in body fat distribution. Apple? Pear? Somewhere in between? This may be the reason why. Scientists carried out their experiments on zebrafish, and those genetically engineered to lack the gene showed less abdominal (visceral) fat. Interestingly enough, humans with Type 2 diabetes have more Plexin D1. The beer belly syndrome is a highly underrated danger; those with more of a paunch have a much higher chance of contracting heart disease. Evidently, the implications of the exercise are pretty mammoth. The experiments were carried out on zebrafish because they have transparent bodies. Imagine being a zebrafish! That’s really taking the phrase ‘I can see right through you’ to the next level.
– The burning sensation you get when you hold a mouthful of coke on your tongue
– The Myers-Briggs test (ENTJ, anyone?)
– The fact that one can turn anything, anything into French toast.
I had the urge to make my favourite breakfast dish ever yesterday morning because my dear mom always returns home on the weekends after running errands with bags full of junk snacks (I’ll pass on a few) and fresh bread from the bakery (yes!!!). I was actually planning to make my own loaf, with some exotic fillings or less-touched flour type (hey, spelt or rye), but the chocolate swirl brioche was just screaming to be dunked in a lush, eggy bath, after being stuffed silly with fruit, and in the case of this particular morning, an almond butter cream. More on that a little later. It’s a pity I forgot to take a shot of this cream, but I guess imagination can right a wrong.
Fruit combinations are always a problem for me; my relationship with these mature divine ovaries is like that between monkeys and bananas– any type and degree of ripeness works fine with me. I go with flow, peel a few random things and throw em together. It’s a fruity party here all the time. Yesterday morning, I grabbed half a banana and fresh raspberries which I bought to use a little later in the week, ignoring my initial plan to mix a bit of blue and gold, for I did acknowledge the existence of some frozen berries and mangoes the day before. Sometimes, things demand spontaneity. The sweet banana of medium ripeness played up the pleasant sourness of fresh raspberry, the aftertaste of flowers bursting like the dawn of summer in my mouth. The almond cream is definitely optional, but I love how it adds a earthy flavour component whilst binding the fruit and stodge together nicely on the inside, especially if the batter only penetrated the surface of day(s)-old bread. You get a wonderful, slightly gooey plate of eggy bread, moist and saturated all the way through.
Banana and Raspberry Stuffed Buttermilk French Toast (serves 1)
half a banana, sliced into coins
handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
knob of butter
splash of buttermilk and one tsp vanilla extract
1 thick slice (2 inches is perfect) of brioche/challah, can be 1-2 days old
*almond butter cream: mix together a tablespoon of almond butter and a teaspoon of almond milk (or any milk, really)
Preheat your pan on a medium heat, and ready some butter. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and vanilla with a fork. Take your bread and, with a knife, cut a deep horizontal pocket into one of the the 4 2-inch sides of the french toast. You could cut your slice horizontally all the way so you end up with 2 thinner slices of bread to sandwich the filling, but I like the cute idea of a pocket holding everything in nicely together. Once you’ve cut a pocket, stuff the inside with the almond butter cream, then fill to the brim with the banana coins (you can mash the banana, if you wish, but I prefer cutting/biting into the gooey chunks) and raspberries.
Butter the pan and let it sizzle. The pan should be hot when you hold your hand a few inches above the surface of the pan. Dunk one side of the bread into the buttermilk-egg mixture and let the bread soak for 5-10 seconds. Flip and let the other side soak for a little while less. Lift the slice and let any excess batter drip off. Lay the slice on the hot pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. You should hear a sizzle once it hits the pan, else it’s not hot enough. Fret not. Simply wait a little while longer and take a peek at the doneness with your spatula. Once browned, flip and hear the sizzle once more.
To serve, place on a plate (may cut in half however which way you want, and this step is highly recommended for visual pleasure– watch that goo!), then top with whipped cream and maple syrup or honey.