This recipe is one of my French husband’s family recipes – whipped up literally in a dash, the chocolatey, velvet softness of this cake is champion in our Franco-Kiwi household. Since meeting the effervescent Merrill J. Fernando of Dilmah last year I have been spellbound by the powers of tea and I am using it far less carelessly than before. The addition of bergamot citrus notes from Earl Grey tea touched with a smack on the tongue from fruity ground Guajillo chillies make these darling little cakes jaunty and voguish. Partner them with the perfect, pillowy mandarin cream.
Sticky rice is my favourite dish at yum cha but it always comes with pork or chicken so, as I try to only eat free range, I either have to forgo my principles or miss out. So instead I make my own vegan version, packed with flavours and still ‘meaty’ with mushroom and eggplant. Add the chilli bean paste if you like a bit of heat.
It is best to use firm apricots for this as soft ones will collapse. If you have a very light, soft goat’s cheese you can forgo the crème fraîche. Trim the tough stalk of the fig leaves off with a sharp knife, trying not to cut through the leaf. I have served these with ice cream but if you wanted to serve them as more of a cheese course, you could have with a fruity bread or cracker and the honey syrup.
These tasty parcels are a great addition to a Pacific feast. They are best cooked and served immediately, though I have pre-cooked them then heated them quickly for 5 minutes in a hot oven and they were still great. Frozen banana leaves are available from Asian supermarkets. The mixture also makes great fritters if you simply want to fry in a little oil.
These simple little small bites make perfect nibbles for a party or as part of a larger barbecue. Pandan imparts a very distinct flavour and aroma, but don’t eat it!
Fish wrapped in vine leaves is a great Mediterranean dish; oily fish such as sardines are popular, but NZ mussels work well as they are big and meaty. If your leaves are small, you may need to overlap two.