Thursday, February 9, 2012

I am escaping this cold that has been bugging me for a week by indulging recipes from the warmer climates. Today's journey took me Down Under, for a creamy and refreshing coconut and passion fruit recipe.

Ever cooked with passion fruit? Chances are many of you will say 'no', and that's to be expected - passion fruit is hard to come by in our part of the world. If you get at all excited about trying new things, then I recommend you get some the next time you go shopping. It is delicious on its own and can be mixed with other tropical fruit in exotic smoothies that will make your loved ones (and your palate) very happy.

I've used it in smoothies but never in cakes, so it's my first time too. This cake is easy and straightforward to prepare; it looks interesting and the taste itself will probably be new to you. 

I've also made three different smoothies: mango, orange, and lime combo; banana, vanilla, and passion fruit; and a mixed berry lassi (lassi is a yoghurt-based drink that originated in Asia, often served with Indian and Pakistani food - very refreshing). I guess what I am making here is not the original lassi drink - think of it as its western cousin. However, I cannot wait to feature the real lassi with some of my favorite Asian cooking, coming soon.

Mixed Berry Lassi


2 cups mixed berries (can use frozen ones, thaw for 15 minutes to half an hour)
2 tsp honey
2 cups plain yoghurt

Mix berries and honey together. Add yoghurt and blend all ingredients until smooth. Add ice to make the smoothie thinner, if preferred. Serve cold.

Mango, Orange and Lime Smoothie


1 large mango, peeled and cubed (here is how)
Juice and zest of one orange
A squeeze of fresh lime juice + zest to decorate (I made tiny rolls with it)

Mix the ingredients together and blend until smooth. Add ice to make the smoothie thinner, if preferred. Serve cold. 

This particular smoothie is also great as breakfast addition - when mixing ingredients, do not blend them completely (leave mango a bit chunky). Top with granola and/or sliced bananas, and serve. I've had a similar combo at Chicago's Jamba Juice and loved it. Homemade version is that much better.

Passion Fruit, Banana, and Vanilla Yoghurt Smoothie


2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and chopped
1 cup natural yoghurt (use vanilla yoghurt for a sweeter version)
3/4 cup milk
seeds of half of a vanilla bean (split the bean lengthwise and scrape the beans; when shopping look for beans that are easily bent - it is and indication of freshness)
1 passion fruit, halved and pulp removed, to decorate

Combine the ingredients (save for passion fruit) and blend them until smooth. Pour in serving glasses, decorate with passion fruit on top, and serve (passion fruit may also be mixed with the other ingredients). To dilute, add 2 ice cubes, crushed. Can add honey and/or two scoops of vanilla ice-cream for a sweeter drink.

Coconut and Passion Fruit Slice (adapted from Bill Granger)


125 g butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
half vanilla bean (seeds scraped)
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup cream
160 ml coconut milk
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup passion fruit pulp

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy. Add egg and vanilla seeds, and beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until a sticky dough forms. Press the dough into lightly oiled 23 x 23 cm tin. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

To make filling, place eggs and sugar in a bowl and mix until blended. Add coconut, flour, cream, coconut milk, lemon juice, zest and passion fruit pulp, and stir to combine. Pour the filling over pastry base in the tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until set and golden brown on top. Let cool and slice into squares.

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