Baked Lemon Icebox Pie – bake and chill

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After spending a day trying to escape Sydney’s heatwave, pull open your freezer drawer to this sweet and delicious ice cold pie.

Make the pie the day before you want to serve it, as it needs to cool down for an hour after baking, then it needs to freeze for at least 4 hours in your icebox or freezer. 

Recipe for Baked Lemon Icebox Pie:

You’ll need a 25 cm (9 1/2”) pie dish

18 Digestive Wholemeal biscuits (Australia), or Graham Crackers (USA)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (60g) of unsalted butter, melted
2 x 395g (14 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 level dessertspoon of finely grated lemon zest from two lemons
3/4 cup (3 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 large eggs, yolks only

Preheat your oven to 160°C (325°F).Rinse lemons and grate off the yellow zest.

In a food processor, pulse the biscuits/crackers until coarsely ground, but not a fine powder. Crumble any large pieces between your fingers.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and use a fork to mix it through the biscuit crumb mixture. Add batches to a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds or less, just to mix the butter through.

Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the pie dish with butter, then tap-and-press the biscuit mix firmly into the base of the pie dish. I use a pestle or the handle of a knife to gently tap it flat. Then use your fingers to firmly press the crumb mixture up the sides of the pie dish, making them at least 3 cm (1 1/4”) high.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the condensed milk and lemon juice. Separate the eggs and place the egg yolks into a large bowl.

You won’t need the egg whites for this dish, so reserve them to use for another recipe, like meringues. Add the lemon zest to the egg yolks, and beat together until egg yolks look pale and frothy.

Use a spatula to combine the condensed milk mixture with the egg mixture, then mix thoroughly using an electric handheld mixer.

Pour the mixture into the cracker-biscuit shell. Bake for 25 minutes or until the middle of the pie filling is springy. Let the pie stand for an hour, then loosely cover with plastic cling wrap and place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours.

When cool, place the cooled pie into a cake tin or plastic box, and wrap the top with foil, piercing several air holes into the foil to stop moisture condensation dripping onto the pie.

Remove from freezer an hour before serving so pie is cold but not frozen.

Serve with cream, ice-cream, or frozen yoghurt.

Recipe from my cookbook SOULICIOUS

 

Chicken and Groundnut Stew

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It’s already the first week of 2017, and as I didn’t get to eat any black eyed peas or collard greens at New Year I’ll have to make my own luck.

This week – recipe-wise – I’m taking a swing by Jamaica, via West Africa.

For this recipe post I’m ‘cooking the book’ and adapting a recipe from the cookbook ‘Jamaican cooking: 140 roadside and homestyle recipes’ (1997) by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

If you have a peanut allergy of any type then sadly this recipe isn’t for you.

Groundnut stew is common in much of West Africa. It originates from the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali. In Wolof it’s called Maafe.

Recipes for the stew vary, but can include chicken, tomato, onion, garlic, cabbage, and leaf or root vegetables. Other versions include okra, corn, carrots, cinnamon, hot peppers, paprika, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, and other spices. Maafe is traditionally served with white rice, fonio or millet porridge in Mali, couscous, or fufu and sweet potatoes.

The African continent is the home of many ingredients now widely available in the African diaspora — from peanuts to yam, corn and pumpkin.

The use of peanuts in Jamaican cooking comes from a West African tradition. Most Jamaicans are familiar with the word pinda from a line in a children’s game, “Pop-si kai-si go pinda (peanut) shell.” 

You can add diced sweet potato instead of green beans to this recipe while the stew is cooking, or serve the chicken with a side of mixed greens, salad, and/or rice.

Although this recipe uses supermarket products – peanut butter and ketchup – those flavours blend together beautifully into a rich, semi-sweet sauce.

If you like you can use a whole chicken and cut it into 8 pieces yourself, but I’ve chosen to to adapt the original recipe and make the meal prep faster so I used pre-cut chicken thigh fillets and I’ve simplified the cooking style.

Chicken and Groundnut (Peanut) Stew

Makes 4 servings

6 chicken thigh fillets, skinless, each cut in half
1 small white onion, peeled, and diced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
2 1/2 cups water
2 T peanut oil
3/4 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or preferably, 1/2 a Scotch bonnet chilli seeded and minced – I couldn’t locate any scotch bonnet chillies, which add a sweet smokey heat, so I instead I used half a red habanero chilli. Be careful using fresh hot chillis and don’t touch your eyes!
A good handful of green beans, cut into pieces 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thigh fillet pieces (keep them loosely rolled up) and cook until lightly browned on each side.

Add the chopped onion, and ginger, and stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cook 3 mins more. Blend in the peanut butter, and stir in the water, salt and chilli pieces (or cayenne pepper).

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook uncovered until the chicken for 15-20 mins, or until the chicken pieces are tender and cooked through.

If using green beans, add them half way through the cooking time.

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Serve your Groundnut stew with a side of steamed rice, vegetables, or salad.

This stew can be cooked in advance and gently reheated with a little water.

Recipe adapted from ‘Jamaican cooking: 140 roadside and homestyle recipes’ (1997) by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

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Summer sips: Sweet Iced Tea

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Being in a heatwave and south of the equator, I think Sydney qualifies as southern. And there’s nothing more ‘Southern’ and simple to make than sweet iced tea! And it’s so refreshing on a hot day.

You’ll be my sugar baby, I’ll be your sweet iced tea
You’ll be my honeysuckle . I’ll be your honey bee
-Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee”

This recipe makes a medium-sweet tea. Everyone has a personal preference for how sweet is sweet enough. Add more sugar or honey, to taste.

You can make this tea in a saucepan at home, but if you’re in an office without a kitchen stove, use a teapot and let the teabags drawn for a full 5 minutes.

Sweet Iced Tea

Makes 7 teacups of iced tea

You’ll need:

3-cup capacity glass serving jug – glass if possible
3 cups of filtered water
2 teabags, regular black tea
¾ cup caster sugar or ½ cup of honey
7 cups of chilled water
Ice cubes, several trays
Lemon wedges
Orange wedges (optional)
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Cool the jug in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until needed.

Then, in a medium size saucepan bring the 3 cups of water to the boil. Add the teabags and keep on the boil for 1 minute.

Remove and discard tea bags. Add the sugar (or honey), stirring constantly until dissolved, then let the mixture cool down to room temperature.

Don’t place the tea mixture in the refrigerator as it will go cloud. Leave on your stove top to cool.

When cooled, pour half the sweet tea mixture into a 3-cup glass jug.

Top up with 1 ½ cups of cold water and stir well.

Add the lemon and orange wedges and mint.

Pour into individual glasses or teacups half filled with ice.
Slip a lemon wedge onto the side of the glass, and serve immediately.

(recipe from SOULICIOUS Soul Food cookbook, Awia Markey)

Homemade donuts? Yes, please

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NOV 5 is National DONUT DAY in the USA, so with a nod to New Orleans, here is my recipe for homemade donut-beignets – doughnets? This is my first attempt at donuts and as usual, I like to add a little spice.

I warn you, they are delicious! 

DONUT~BEIGNETS
Makes 18-20 (4cm round)

Oil or candy thermometer
Metal tongs or metal slotted spoon

T=tablespoon

1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 large beaten egg
1/4 cup caster sugar
3 T melted unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups Sunflower oil, for frying

Sugar-spice coating: Mix together 3 T caster sugar with a generous pinch of ground Cinnamon and a pinch of Allspice.

Let’s get started…

Melt butter in a small saucepan on low heat and allow to cool. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, sugar, egg, and cooled melted butter.

Sprinkle flour into the egg mixture bit by bit. Use a mixer on low speed until all the flour has been combined.

Preheat oil over medium heat in a medium size saucepan or deep non-stick fry-pan (keeping an eye on the oil it as it is heating up).

Once the oil has reached 350 degrees, use a tablespoon or plastic coffee scoop to carefully plop the batter into the oil.

Cook 5-6 donut balls at a time, keeping a close watch on the oil temperature, adjusting down if necessary to keep the temperature consistent and not skyrocketing up in temperature.

Fry the donut balls about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. Carefully remove with metal tongs or slotted spoon and turn off the heat. Drain donut-beignets onto a plate lined with paper towels.

When hot enough to handle, roll the donuts in the sugar-spice mixture.

These are perfect with a cup of fresh coffee. Take some to work to share. Enjoy!

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Chilli-Choc Bliss Balls

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‘Baby it’s cold out there’

For my chilli-loving friends like me, I decided to revisit my original Bliss Balls Sugar Hack recipe and add some heat.

This is my first batch. It has a lingering warm chilli flavour. It’s subtle, not rocket-heat, as I wanted to experiment with a bottle of Chilli Choc Sauce I had in the cupboard.

You can add more or less sauce, and I plan on working through my cupboard of other hot sauces and spices and moving UP the heat scale with this recipe – health AND heat. Win-win!

(makes approx. 20)

30 pitted dates (from a 250 g pack)
1 tspn vanilla extract (not essence)
1 1/2 level Tbspn very finely ground espresso coffee
3 rounded Tbspn organic cacao powder
3/4 cup walnuts (buy whole or walnut pieces)
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1 Tbspn melted coconut oil
2 Tbspn Cranky Croc Choc Chilli Chocolate Sauce (made by The Chilli Factory)
3/4 cup dried dessicated coconut

Cut dates in half, and place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 10 mins, then drain and place the dates, vanilla, coffee, and cacao into the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the mixture starts to blend together.

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Add the walnuts and hazelnuts to the mixture, and process again until the nuts are chopped into smaller pieces and the mixture starts to form a sticky ball.

Then drizzle in the melted coconut oil and pulse until incorporated.
Use a teaspoon to scoop out mixture and use your hands to roll the mixture into 1″ (2cm) round balls. Keep them small so they are just one or two bites.

Scatter coconut across a dinner plate, and roll the balls across to coat them.
Store in a sealed container, in the fridge or freezer.

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The Chilli Factory’s Cranky Croc Chilli Chocolate Sauce

Guilt-free ‘nutella’ recipe #2

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Here’s the follow up to my previous ‘alternative nutella’ post – Recipe #2.
And my personal favourite!

The original recipes were created and posted online by Natasha Longo, a certified fitness and nutritional counsellor, in response to an article …http://www.realfarmacy.com/need-know-nutella/ …which outlines undesirable chemical additives, and commercial practices involved in producing the current version of Nutella hazelnut spread.

I wanted to test-drive these recipes and see how they shape up as a substitute.

This recipe uses dates and cacao instead of hazelnuts.

If like me you are tired of coconut oil being used in everything and overpowering other flavours, you might prefer my version using virgin olive instead.

I’ve halved the amount of maple syrup, making the recipes even lower in sugar. And for simplicity I’ve replaced the Almond Butter in Natasha’s original recipe, with a commercial Almond Spread.

RAW CHOC-DATE ‘nutella’ – Recipe #2

(Makes about 1.5 cups)

Taste: has a definite chocolate taste – my favourite of the two – I rate it 9/10
Texture: dense, sticky texture, like a firm paste – use a little more oil and/or maple syrup for a smoother texture.

10 dried, pitted dates (3 oz.)
1/2 cup almond spread (or almond butter)
2T maple syrup
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 tspn extra virgin olive oil

Rehydrate the dates in hot water for about 10 minutes (or 2 hours in cold water).
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure the spread is smooth.

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At the end add a little olive oil. Spread over waffles, hot-buttered toast, croissants.

Note: Because this recipe contains no preservatives, keep in air-tight container and refrigerate. Treat as you would fresh foods, and use within a few days.

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If you find the texture too stiff to spread, simple heat the required amount for 10 sec in the microwave before serving.

‘Have a DELiCiOUS day’

Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen or Pimp My Plate   or tweet me @pimpmyplate  @awiaskitchen

Rose Petal Ice Cream

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(Yields: approx. 3 cups / 600 ml)

Serve ice cream with a panna cotta, waffles, pancakes, or similar neutral flavoured dessert.

I like to leave the petals in the ice cream, as they don’t get caught in your teeth, but you can strain them out if you like.

Flavour: a definite rose flavour with honey undertones that lingers on the back of your tongue.

INGREDIENTS:

8 oz. (200 ml) full cream milk
1T dried rose petals (available from delicatessens or Persian food stores)
2.5 oz. (62 ml) cold full cream milk
1 tsp. rose water
1T pomegranate juice (optional)
Red or Pink Americolor food colouring gel
3 egg yolks
100g coconut sugar
1T thin honey
7 oz. (175 ml) thick pouring cream

RECIPE:

Pour 8 oz. milk into a small saucepan, add the rose petals, and put on a very low heat. Heat the milk very gently, stirring continuously for 4-5 mins. Don’t let the milk come to a simmer or a boil. Keep the milk warm – with a little steam rising – but not hot.

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Pour the warm milk into a jug or bowl, add the remaining cold milk and put into the fridge to cool off, approx. 15 mins.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and honey until well mixed and fluffy.

Take the milk mixture out of the fridge, and add the rose water. [At this stage you can strain out the rose petals, but I leave them in for texture and appearance.]

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Add the pomegranate juice and mix through. Then add a few drops of red or pink food colour and stir thoroughly to mix through.

Originally I was going for a very soft delicate pink, but I decided the ice cream colour needed a little more attitude to match the flavour, more of a statement. So … I’ve gone for a more intense shade of ‘strawberry milk’.

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Add the milk to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly.

In another medium size bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture, and whisk until well mixed.

Switch on your ice cream machine and add the mixture and start churning, to the manufacturer’s instructions (approx. 40 mins).

ENJOY! And have a delicious day…

 

 

 

 

Lemon Syrup and Clove mini Cakes

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The tang of fresh lemon flavour is best served with thickened cream. Serve these as a dessert or breakfast!

Delicately spiced with cloves, these lemon cakes taste best eaten straight after you cook them, but you can make these ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge – they will keep up to 2 days. Remove from fridge, pour over some of the syrup then microwave for 25 seconds.

 

Tools – 12 muffin baking tray; skewer or fork; pastry brush; wooden spoon; electric mixer;

Cake ingredients
(Makes 12)

1½ cups almond flour or almond meal
½ cup semolina flour
¾ tspn baking powder
½ tspn salt
1 level tspn ground cloves
Pinch of dried turmeric
¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 cup caster sugar
4 heaped tspn coconut sugar (optional)
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Syrup ingredients

Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
6 T fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup caster sugar

 

Making the cakes

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Generously grease muffin tin with butter. Mix together almond flour, semolina flour, baking powder, salt, turmeric, and cloves, in a medium bowl.

In a separate large bowl beat together butter, sugar, and lemon zest until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If the butter isn’t really soft, start mixing the butter into the sugar with a wooden spoon.

Then, using an electric mixer on high speed, gradually add eggs and beat until glossy, about 1 minute. Then add dry ingredients and lemon juice and beat to combine for 1-2 minutes.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups and bake cakes until they are golden brown – about 25 minutes. Test with a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes. If it comes out clean the cakes are ready.

Making the Lemon Syrup

Make the syrup while the cakes are baking. In a small saucepan, bring lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, constantly stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let the syrup come to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

As soon as cakes come out of the oven, use a skewer to 4 or 5 poke holes into the top of the cakes. Brush the syrup over top of the cakes using about 2/3 of the syrup.

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Set tray aside to cool down completely before removing cakes. Serve with clotted cream and drizzle a little more syrup over the cake.

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Enjoy!

 

Pimp My Plate #14 – Bondi, NSW

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $18 or less.

‘The good, the bad, the OMG that’s good!’

Sādhanā Kitchen 

Sādhanā Kitchen is an organic, raw, vegan café dedicated to vegan, plant-based meals that offer health and wellness.

After relocating from inner city Enmore to Bondi in March, Sādhanā’s new space is lighter, brighter, and larger. The vibe feels healthy as you walk in, or sit outdoors. As you walk by the cakes displayed on the counter, you can quickly reassure yourself that these desserts are actually good for you.

Maz Valcorza’s philosophy is to share how eating ethical, healthy, and delicious food can help us connect with our personal wisdom. Sādhanā is a Sanskrit term that translates to ‘one’s conscious spiritual practice’.

Valcorza’s café and new cookbook, Naked Vegan, evolved from her own transition from a career as a pharmaceutical sales manager, to yoga teacher, and her lifestyle change from chain-smoking party girl to eating a plant-based raw diet. She says that since starting her yoga practice, her attitude towards how she consumed food, has completely changed.

‘By using delicious and beautiful raw vegan food – as our sādhanā – we nudge our lives in a happier, more purposeful direction.’ Her meals and recipes have been mindfully researched and translated to offer diners an ethical, healthy food experience, using raw foods, and introducing us to new ingredients and flavour combinations.

Sādhanā’s menu is evolving, and includes fruit and vegetables, warm and cold elixirs, smoothies, cold pressed juices, nut and seed mylks (plant or nut-based milks), and fermented foods – no eggs, dairy, or honey. Raw foods are unprocessed and as fresh or wild as possible, and are organic, with no irradiation, preservatives, pesticides or GMO.

Where required, the ‘cooking process’ for raw food menu items is either by dehydration, or by using an oven at its lowest temperature setting – never heated above 45°C (115°F) – very low and very slow, to maximize the amount of enzyme and vitamin content in the food you eat.

So how did the menu taste? Up, down, up again.

I ate the Lasagne, the Cheezeburger, a dairy-free coffee, and a Tim Tam for dessert.

The Lasagne ($19) uses zucchini strips as ‘pasta’, layered with baby spinach leaves, walnut mince bolognaise, a slice of cultured cashew Cheeze, and tomato pieces.  The verdant green squeezed over the top is basil pesto.

It’s fresh, and alive with flavour and mouth feel, and you can almost feel the pop of vitamins and enzymes with every mouthful.

Presentation and plating here is mindful, and you can almost see the enzymes dancing on each plate in a colourful burst. Raw, natural food colour is big here, yey!

I guess with the whole of Sydney’s café society in the grip of burger-mania putting a Cheezeburger on the menu seemed like a good idea. It isn’t. A lot of foods translate well, and become more innovative when recreated with difference ingredients. Not this. The basic elements of a burger are: a bun, a meat or vegetarian patty, sauce, and lettuce or slaw, and a slice of cheese are an optional extra.

Burger buns vary from cotton wool burger chains, to sesame buns, to brioche, the salad can vary wildly from a crisp slaw to soggy lettuce, and the cheese is usually the consistency of salty melted plastic, and somehow some of them still taste ok.

Cheezeburger ($20). There is no such thing as an unhealthy burger here – there is no meat, no gluten, and no dairy cheese either. Sādhanā substitute ‘Neatloaf’ a nut-free raw vegan filling for meat, and that’s fine. The cheese substitute – ‘cheeze’ – in their cheeseburger is made from cashew nuts, miso, and yeast, (a cultured cashew cheese) but unfortunately it doesn’t have much flavour. It’s disappointing, but it’s no biggie.

The problem is the bun. With ‘deconstructed’ dishes still being a big ‘thing’, this is a moment to decide to discard the bun altogether, rather than try to replicate it. Bread of any type has to have texture. This had no flavour, no texture, no mouth-feel, just the consistency of stiff cardboard, and while I admire the attempt, I suggest they take it off the menu – now.

But thankfully, the burger is their only fail.

I’m someone who takes their coffee seriously – aka it’s an investment in my happiness – but this being a non-dairy space, I chose the Coco Coffee ($4.50) a flat white made with coconut milk. I’ll admit to being a little sceptical about the taste, texture, and body of the coffee, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Arriving in a beaker, the Earth Elixir ($8) contains the herbs South American Cat’s Claw Bark, Horsetail, Pau D’Arco, and Himalayan Goji Berries. Healthy, if not very flavoursome.

Time for dessert…

Tim Tams are an iconic Australian chocolate biscuit, and I was intrigued to taste Sādhanā’s version.

Boom! A decadent, pretty rectangle of chocolate Tim Tam ($6) arrived sprinkled with cacao nibs, and a what looked like crumbled dried purple açaí berries. On the plate beside it, Sādhanā’s logo ‘S’ written in a swirl of chocolate sauce was an edible, and elegant touch.

Spoon at the ready, I couldn’t wait to dive into this raw version of a Tim Tam. The thin chocolate coating cracked as I cut through the rich, fudge-like deliciousness, the nibs adding texture and crunch. S has managed to work their magic to create a refined sugar free dessert with crunch and texture and ‘I want more” mouthfeel. When I went to pay, I was tempted to add another Tim Tam to the bill to take home.

This is feel good food because it’s fresh and healthy, not comfort food, but it’s very comforting know this food is actually doing you good.

A raw diet doesn’t have to be a 100% commitment to eating raw foods, a ratio of 75% raw is widely recommended. To be able to enjoy access to raw food that has been created by mindful and committed ‘cooks’, even if only occasionally, makes a healthful addition to all our diets.

RATED: Good on the lips, hips, and conscious!  FOOD: 4.9/5
VALUE: 4.5/5  ATMOS: 3.5/5  VIBE: Fresh buzz
HINT: Pay cash (coins and notes) to avoid paying a surcharge
Sādhanā Kitchen – 132 Warners Avenue, Bondi, NSW (Mon-Sun)

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Pimp My Plate #13 – Dee Why

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $18 or less. *In November 2016 BUTTERCUP reopened as JB & SONS

BUTTERCUP*

I was on my way to review a different café in Dee Why when I drove past BUTTERCUP and spontaneously decided to find a park, and review it instead.

BUTTERCUP is a just short walk from Dee Why beach. Unlike the other cafes it doesn’t have a beach view, but it has a beachy colour scheme, and you are greeted with a sunny smile. Besides, today’s view of the beach offered a grey blur, with large clumps of seaweed marooned on the sand – a great day to be indoors.

Inside the café-bar-restaurant the vibe is friendly and welcoming and relaxing, and isn’t that what the beach experience is all about.

I scanned the menu and ordered two items from the range of Snacks: Smoked Cauliflower Nuggets, and Salt and Native Pepper Squid. Add a side of Salad Greens and you have a hearty meal.

Deep fried Cauliflower floret fritters (try saying that fast!) are a thing at the moment and for good reason.

Smoked? I must try them.

Smoked Cauliflower Nuggets with Lemon Pepper Mayo ($9) are pieces of cauliflower dipped in beer batter, using Baldwin & Simspons Lager from nearby microbrewery, Brookvale Brewery.

These ‘nuggets’ have a nice chewy mouth feel, and an intense smoky flavour.

‘Liquid smoke?’ I asked, ‘No, we smoke them ourselves’. With a smile, I’ll leave that there.

The reality is that BUTTERCUP do all their own pickling, curing, and smoking, with the aim of serving ‘hearty food inspired by country Australia’. A nice point of difference for an urban café. Yes, Dee Why is urban, and heading close to urbane.

Did someone say chilli? The little pot of vibrant red House Chilli on my plate of Salt and Native Pepper Squid ($12) is a standout. This ‘house’ chilli pickle is packed with plenty of flavour and fire – my kind of chilli condiment.

I find ordering squid is always a lottery. I’m glad to say that’s not the case here – the pieces of squid were so tender that my knife cut through them like butter, and it was a joy to eat. And their use of Native Pepper instead of black peppercorns was a nice variation. I want more of this, and I’ll be back!

Native Pepper is an Australian native shrub, also known as pepperberry, or mountain pepper. It typically grows in gullies and rainforests in Tasmania, Victoria, and some parts of NSW. The dried leaves and berries are used as a spice in food and drink recipes and it’s considered a ‘bushfood’.

I recommend pairing it with a plate of Salad Greens ($7) for a hearty and good value meal.

Another must-try-because-I-didn’t is the Charred Broccoli with Confit Salmon, Peas, Dill, and Chilli ($17), which would also make a nice lunch.

The bar is fully stocked, and some Thursday evenings the bar offers a $10 cocktail special.

There’s a lot to like about BUTTERCUP and as autumn leaves fall, and bikinis and beach towels are replaced by woolly jumpers – or wetsuits – it’s reassuring to know a place to hibernate indoors with some heart-warming food, and cocktails. Who needs a beach view in Winter?

RATED: Pimped!  FOOD: 4/5
VALUE: 5/5  ATMOS: 4.5/5  VIBE: Talk.Eat.Drink.Relax.
BUTTERCUP – 154-158 Pacific Parade, Dee Why, NSW (7 days)

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