Saturday, 21 July 2012

Easy Red Dragon Fruit and Banana Cake

The Pitaya (as it is know in Mexico, or Fire Dragon Fruit (huǒ lóng guǒ in Mandarin Chinese) as it is known here in Taiwan, is a member of the cactus family. The plant is native to Mexico but is widely cultivated and eaten throughout Asia.

In Taiwan we get them in mainly two varieties, white and almost scarlet red. Despite the fact that this fruit is violently colourful, out and in, it is the taste, or lack thereof that people comment on. For me the taste is almost a cross between a melon and a prickly pear, but not as sweet and quite watery. 

For this recipe, it was the vibrant colour I was after and not the taste. Although the batter was a beautiful, bright pink, unfortunately the colour didn't make it to the baked stage. The cake is fluffy, light and delicious though, so do give it a try.

Easy Red Dragon Fruit and Banana Cake


  • 250 ml sugar
  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 375 ml cake flour
  • 15 ml ground cinnamon OR 10 ml vanilla essence
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 250 ml ripe bananas, mashed
  • 250 ml red dragon fruit, grated

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Cream the sugar, oil, eggs and salt in a large mixing bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Add vanilla extract, if using.
  4. Stir in the bananas and dragon fruit until well combined.
  5. Pour mixture into a greased loaf tin or bundt tin. Bake for up to an hour if using a loaf tin, or about 45 minutes if using a bundt tin. If a wooden skewer,inserted in the middles comes out clean, the cake is done.
  6. Dust with some icing sugar just before serving.
Don't have any Dragon Fruit? Why not try this Carrot and Banana Cake instead? Similar and delicious!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Melktertjies (Milk Tart Shots)

My recipe for Melktert (Milk Tart) as been the most popular post on this, my humble blog for a very long time. These easy to make shots will be an ice breaker at any party where you find South Africans. Even people who wouldn't normally drink shots fall in love with these shots before you can say "melktert"!

This is the third post in my Drinks Series.

Milk Tart Shots (Melktertjies)
Makes about 800 ml

  • 350 ml Vodka
  • 1½ tin sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tin evaporated milk ("Ideal Milk" in South Africa)
  • ground cinnamon to serve
  1. Pour the vodka, condensed milk and evaporated milk into a 1 litre bottle. Close the cap and shake vigorously until well mixed.
  2. Store in the refrigerator. Give the bottle a good shake before pouring the "melktertjies" into shot glasses.
  3. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon before serving. Serve icy cold.


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is really easy to make with or without an ice cream maker.

It is exactly a week after Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan and the temperatures are soaring. It is hot and humid and people are turning their air conditioners to freezing cold wherever you go. As I type here, my fan is at full blast and I can hear the excited shouts and laughter of the children at the swimming pool. Yes, it is summer vacation at last! Two glorious months of relaxing around the pool, drinking ginger beer and eating ice cream! 

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Makes about a litre


  • 7 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups full cream milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ¾ tsp peppermint essence
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • A few drops of green food colouring (optional)
  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar with an electric beater until pale and creamy and all the sugar has been dissolved.
  2. Bring the cream and milk to a gentle simmer in a saucepan, over low heat. DO NOT allow it to boil!
  3. Whisk about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs until smooth. Now pour the eggs into the milk mixture and stir while cooking over low heat until it thickens and covers the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the surface of the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator (or overnight).
  5. Place your ice cream maker's container in the freezer overnight.
  6. Remove the custard from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap and whisk in the salt, peppermint essence and food colouring, if using. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and let it churn away until almost set. Mine takes about 30 minutes.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and continue to churn for another 5 minutes or until the chocolate chips are mixed in well. Turn off the ice cream maker and transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Return the ice cream to the freezer and allow to set completely for another 2 hours or so, before serving. The ice cream will last for up to a month in an airtight container in your freezer.