Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

I think we’ve all had the occasional dream where everything that happens in it is really odd, even downright creepy, but we don’t feel at all threatened or scared while it’s happening. In fact, we’re mostly not too concerned and frankly, quite apathetic. And it’s only until after waking up that we think “why was I so calm in that dream? It was terrifying!” Well, that was me when I woke up this morning.

In short, my dream consisted of a global pandemic whereby people who were infected by a virus became crazily aggressive. And even though there was this viral outbreak happening and apparently 68% of the city was infected, everyone still went about their daily lives like nothing bad was happening. I went to work as a mechanic and I liked my job. Some people from high school figured prominently. Life was actually pretty normal, up until I decided to visit a friend on Tamborine Mountain in the middle of the night, who just so happened to be Andrew Garfield. When I got to his house, I discovered that he and a bunch of incredibly creepy babies (!!!!) were infected, but everything turned out okay because Emma Stone saved me, and then we found the cure to the virus (in the form of a magical purple flower that had butterflies flying around it). The dream ended pretty abruptly after that.

Honey and Coconut Oil Chopped Bananas Whittaker's Classic Bittersweet Peanut Slab Dark Chocolate Bars Whittaker's Classic Bittersweet Peanut Slab Dark Chocolate

So yes, that was actually what I dreamt about last night. I don’t usually have many epic dreams, but when I do, they’re pretty memorable. I might make myself a dream diary, just for the fun of it. Or maybe I’ll just keep a record of my dreams on this blog, and you guys can figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me. Anyway, all this talk of dreams has reminded me of an interesting article I read a few weeks ago: The Science of Dreams and Why We Have Nightmares. You guys should totally check it out.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Righto, back to baking. If you need some inspiration for breakfast this weekend, try this recipe. Seriously, it’s good. We had heaps of spelt and coconut flour just sitting in the pantry, plus an outrageous number of jars of honey and lots of bananas at various stages of ripening at our disposal. Key ingredients for a healthy loaf of banana bread, you say? Indeed. We also had an abundance of Whittaker’s Classic Bittersweet Peanut Slab Dark Chocolate Bars at home, so I chopped these up and used them in this recipe. They’ve obviously got chunks of peanuts in them, but plain dark chocolate will also do nicely here.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate ChunksSpelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

You can make this recipe vegan-friendly by substituting the honey with maple syrup and using dairy-free chocolate (Pana Chocolate and Sweet William offer some awesome dairy-free chocolate products that don’t compromise on taste). No eggs, butter or milk was used in this recipe, mainly because we didn’t actually have any at the time. Good thing we had flaxseeds and coconut oil on hand! I have to say, this is probably one of my favourite things I’ve baked so far. With its perfect cake-like texture – firm, yet spongy and crumbly – and a strong banana flavour interspersed with generous amounts of dark chocolate, there is no way anyone could turn down a warm slice or two.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseeds mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 7″ x 4″ loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, melt the coconut oil and honey together (you can do this in a microwave for a few seconds) and stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas and flax egg together, then add the coconut oil and honey mixture and mix well.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Mix well.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and gently stir together until everything is just combined.
  6. Add the hot water and mix well, then carefully fold in the chopped chocolate chunks.
  7. Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring loaf to a wire rack to cool. Best served fresh and still slightly warm.

Spelt & Coconut Honey Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Tamborine Mountain @ Scenic Rim, Gold Coast Hinterland

Tamborine Mountain

Just sharing some pictures taken during two separate trips up to Tamborine Mountain over the past year (once in Autumn and another in Spring). We don’t often visit Tamborine, despite the fact that the scenic location is just a short 30-minute drive from home. I’m starting to think maybe we should go up there more often to have brunch, maybe make it a kind of weekend ritual – they have some pretty amaaaazing cafes up there. On our last trip, I distinctly remember snacking on some awesome sugar-coated almonds and macadamia nuts that we bought at one of the little shops, hanging out at an adorable cafe while sipping on warm pumpkin soup and nibbling on sourdough, and going on a ridiculously long rainforest walk that seemed to never want to end. Perfect afternoon. Always enjoy the simple things in life, I say.

Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain Tamborine Mountain

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs {vegan}

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Happy Saturday, readers! We made these fairly healthy vegan pancakes for breakfast this morning! I adapted Andrew Olson’s recipe for “The Perfect Vegan Pancakes” into this supercharged version that features the generous flavours of cacao nibs and orange (zest + juice). They turned out fantastic and, quite honestly, proved to be one of the best things to wake up to in the morning!

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

No eggs or dairy here, for those of you looking to cut down on your intake of animal produce. The recipe calls for the old flaxseed + water trick in place of eggs. For those who don’t know, it creates a gooey mixture that acts as a vegan-friendly binder in recipes. Also, instead of butter, grapeseed oil is used, although you can use coconut oil instead for added complexity in flavour.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

There is no sugar in this recipe. Only the natural sweetness of freshly squeezed orange juice is added. The incorporation of orange zest and cacao nibs invite a unique grainy texture to the pancakes, as well as a good dose of vitamins and minerals. Sure, we know plenty about cacao nibs and their superfood status, but believe it or not, there are benefits to eating orange peels too!

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

These are small and cutesy little pancakes – pikelets, if you will. With all the cacao nibs and zest thrown into the mix, the batter ends up being pretty viscous and will not spread too much when ladled onto the frying pan, which is just as well since we’re after thick pancakes. While they don’t exactly turn into puffy pillows like those Fluffy Breakfast Pancakes with Lemon & Honey we made awhile back, these mini pancakes are still pretty good for a filling, guilt-free breakfast.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs {vegan}
adapted from Andrew Olson’s perfect vegan pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons cacao nibs*
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds**
3/4 cup soy milk (or your favourite non-dairy alternative)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

** I used TRU RA’s Cacao Nibs. They’re organic, cold-processed and vegan!
** I used Melrose Organic Golden Flaxmeal. The golden variety tends toward a more subtle flavour in baked goods, whereas brown flax might leave too strong an aftertaste.

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the flax egg, combine the ground flaxseeds with 2 1/2 tablespoons of filtered water in a small cup. Stir and set aside to thicken.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest and cacao nibs. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk with the apple cider vinegar, then stir in the grapeseed oil and the flax egg.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and gently stir together until just combined. Do not mix too thoroughly – lumps in the batter is fine.
  5. Lightly grease a frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once fairly hot, ladle a small amount of batter (up to 1/4 cup) onto the middle of the pan and turn heat down to medium-low. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a preheated oven (set to about 50°C) while you fry up the rest.
  6. Serve pancakes with your syrup of choice and some orange segments.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Yebisu Izakaya @ Regent Place, Sydney

Yebisu Izakaya

Yebisu Izakaya is located at Regent Place, a notoriously bustling shopping and dining hub in Sydney’s CBD that is home to a number of drool-worthy restaurants specialising in Asian fare. We stepped into the establishment for an early dinner and this proved to be the best idea we’d ever had. We didn’t have to wait for a table! This was a very good thing because not 15 minutes later, a ridiculously large queue of over fifteen people had built up outside the popular izakaya. This was a Friday night and it seemed like everyone wanted to get into this casual after-work Japanese bar to have some drinks and hot food.

Yebisu Izakaya Kirin Ichibanshibori Yebisu Izakaya Yebisu Izakaya

Being a special night for the both of us, we decided to splurge a little on some of our favourites. There were so many things we wanted to try! As is the trend nowadays, you get to pick your order through a touchscreen interface at your table (in Yebisu’s case, they use iPads). This saves a lot of time and orders are placed immediately at the touch of a finger. Of course, once you select your item, you won’t be able to cancel it, so a lot of deliberation will need to be made before you pick something. The cool thing though, is that the screen is able to tell you in real time exactly when the chefs have started to cook your meal, and exactly when it is done.

Agedashi Eggplant

We started the evening with a bowl of the Agedashi Eggplant ($7.80). Being huge fans of both agedashi tofu and eggplant, we loved the idea of combining the two. The tentsuyu (dipping sauce) was particularly nice; a nice combination of sweet and salty. While the eggplant was also perfectly cooked (succulent, yet ever so slightly crunchy), I would have preferred it if the eggplant itself was deep fried rather than surrounded by bits of tenkasu (crunchy bits of deep fried batter).

Mentai Tsukune

Next, we ordered the Mentai Tsukune ($4.80) and Teriyaki Chicken Thigh Skewer ($2.80). The tsukune definitely won this round. Perfectly succulent morsels of grilled chicken meatballs coated in a spicy cod roe sauce. The slightly spicy sauce complemented the juicy chicken well. Though slightly less memorable, the chicken thigh skewer was also nicely grilled and coated in a sweet, shiny tare sauce. As with most yakitori (heck, any grilled food), it’s washed down well with a cold beer.

Akashi Style Takoyaki Akashi Style Takoyaki

We soon spotted the Akashi Style Takoyaki ($7.80), something new to both of us. I’ve been a huge fan of takoyaki for as long as I can remember. Who can turn down the cute little balls littered with dancing katsuobushi (bonito flakes)?! Naturally, I was quite excited about trying the mother of takoyaki, akashiyaki. The texture is quite different, being noticeably softer and a lot eggier in taste.  The akashiyaki is dipped into a light dashi broth before eating, softening it even more and making it melt away in your mouth! Akashiyaki is considerably plain compared to takoyaki, but I can definitely see myself ordering it again in the future.

Karaage Chicken Karaage Chicken

Last to arrive was our beloved Karaage Chicken ($8.80). To be honest, I wasn’t particularly amazed by Yebisu’s karaage. A bit too crunchy for my liking – they might have actually burnt the pieces slightly (you can judge from the pictures). But at least the dish came with a handful of salad leaves and some sweet chilli sauce for dipping.

Komagura Sake

Just when we thought we’d had enough food to add to our bellies, we were startled by sudden bell-ringing and yelling a few tables down. Panic-stricken and wondering whether we needed to evacuate immediately, we spotted a sake-laden drink trolley making its way around the restaurant! The merry waitress soon spotted our bewildered faces and rushed over to offer us a drink. Naturally, we ordered a serving of the Komagura Sake ($18.00 per 100mL) – well, it’s a bit hard to say no when everybody is staring at you, waiting for more bell-ringing and yelling like you’ve just won the 1 millionth customer prize. The sake is poured at your table into a glass placed in a wooden masu box. After pouring the drink, the waitress cheerfully rings her bell and lets everyone in the restaurant know that somebody just ordered sake!

Kyoto Style Green Tea Cheesecake Kyoto Style Green Tea Cheesecake

Despite eating more than enough for the night, we could not resist trying their Kyoto Style Green Tea Cheesecake ($6.80). While it wasn’t the greatest cheesecake in the world (the green tea flavour was hardly present), it was still impressively decorated and adorned with a purple orchid, no less. The cake had a nice creamy texture with a delightfully crunchy base. It was a nice way to end our meal.

Yebisu Izakaya

Overall, we both thoroughly enjoyed dining at Yebisu. True, some of the food could have been prepared a little better, but what Yebisu lacked in flavour it definitely made up for in atmosphere. I would happily return to try more of their (insanely large) menu.

YEBISU IZAKAYA
Regent Place, CBD
Shop 7-10, 501 George St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Opening hours: 12 – 2:30pm (lunch), 5 – 11pm (dinner)

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