I visited my best friend in Darwin last week. It wasn’t the most successful visit we’ve had – my friend has a toddler, and he was sick, and then he gave his lurgy to his dad, and then his mum. He did not give his lurgy to Auntie Catherine, but since she had nasty cramps for most of the visit, she was entirely on board with the lying-on-the-couch-pity-party that we tended to devolve to.
I don’t want to imply that it was a wasted visit, because it wasn’t. The entire purpose of visiting Darwin is to hang out with my best friend and her family (since I still do not entirely trust Darwin not to break my leg when left to its own devices), and I got to do that, even if it did involve a lot more lurking on the couch feeling sorry for ourselves than it normally does. And my nephew by affection is very cute. He has very fair, blond curls, and dark, straight eyebrows, which are very expressive. Also, he is bilingual – I was amused to see on one occasion when he was trying to get his father’s attention, the escalation went, “Papa, look! Papa! Look! PAPA!! GUCK MAL!!”
And, amazingly, he seemed to be pleased enough with my company to ask after me when I wasn’t there and sing some of the songs I was singing to him after I left – which I really didn’t expect, because, in the way of sick toddlers, all he really wanted during my visit was ‘Mama cuddles’, which I was not qualified to provide. I felt a bit bad that I didn’t interact with him all that much, so it was nice to see that at least I made a bit of a positive impression despite that!
Anyway, I don’t have a lot of Darwin photos, for obvious reasons. But I did spend a fair bit of time while I was in Darwin helping with menu planning and cooking, so that my friend could cuddle the velcro toddler and get at least a break from some of the household tasks.
One thing I made was this vegetable pikelet recipe. It’s my friend’s recipe, and quite popular with toddlers, but I have stolen it for myself. I like these pikelets for breakfast, plain, or with butter or hummus. I’ve also made a sweet variant with fresh berries, which you will find in the variations section. They are lovely hot, but also perfectly delicious at room temperature, so you can make them on a Sunday night and have them ready for breakfast during the week.
Your Shopping List
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1/4 tsp Oma Rosas Gulasch spice mix from Gewürzhaus, or just use a little paprika
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 smallish zucchini (a bit bigger than the carrot)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar or any nice grated cheese mix)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- Unconscionable amounts of butter, for cooking. Maybe 3 tablespoons?
Now what will you do with it?
Put the self raising flour and the spice mix into a large bowl. Peel and coarsely grate the carrot, and coarsely grate the zucchini without peeling. Add the grated cheese to the bowl, and stir everything together.
Beat the eggs and milk together, then add them to the flour mixture. Or, if you are like me, and are more concerned about washing up, just break the egg into the bowl with the flour mixture, add the egg, and beat everything together well. The mixture should be a nice thick batter, and will have the odd airhole in it. You can add another 1/8 – 1/4 cup of flour if you are worried that it is too thin.
Put a large frying pan over medium high heat, and add a spoonful of butter. Tilt the pan around until it is all melted.
Pick up dessertspoons or soup spoons of batter, and put them three or four at a time on the frying pan – you want them well spaced out, otherwise turning them will be a pig.
When holes start appearing in the pikelets, and they are changing colour and looking a little dryer around the edges, flip them over and cook them on the other side. Press down a bit with your spatula while they cook, you don’t want a gooey middle.
Once the pikelets are golden brown on both sides and cooked through, put them onto a plate lined with paper towels, add some more butter to the pan, and make the next batch. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture. I get between 11 and 14 pikelets from this, depending on the size of my spoon.
Serve at once, or let cool and pack away for later. Store in the fridge.
These pikelets are vegetarian and nut-free. They would work just fine with the gluten-free self-raising flour mix if you wanted to make them gluten-free. Dairy-free would also work – I’d use soy or almond milk, skip the cheese (but you might add some nutritional yeast, or a vegan cheese if you are so inclined) and cook them with olive oil instead of butter. Egg-free is trickier – I feel as though this is one where aquafaba or a chia egg would work, but I haven’t tried it. Or just find your favourite vegan pikelet or thick pancake recipe, and add veg to it.
My favourite variation on this is a sweet one – skip the cheese, vegetables and spice mix, and add a tablespoon of sugar or cinnamon sugar. Drop your batter into the pan, then strew three or four raspberries or blackberries, or chopped strawberries, or a sprinkle of blueberries onto each pancake while the first side is cooking, so that they sink into the batter a little, then continue with the recipe method above. Serve warm or cold with yoghurt or ricotta.