Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Pistachio, fig and lemon biscotti May 27, 2009

Filed under: Cookies,Nuts — smop @ 9:45 am

Baking isn’t something that is automatically considered to be healthy, and generally speaking, it isn’t.  I mean, who are we kidding when we know exactly how much butter, sugar, flour went into making that cake.  But over the last couple of years where people have become more health conscious, I think baking has become healthier — there are recipes that have less sugar, less fat, use whole wheat flour or try substitute ingredients to deliver the cake, muffin or cookie as we know it but healthier.   I think it’s amazing — not only in the ‘progression’ of baking sense but the fact that everyone can still enjoy baked treats a bit more freely.

I was trying to find something to bake for someone who was diabetic, and there are certainly a lot of desserts out there.  However, a lot of them suggested using Splenda in replace of normal sugar.  After researching a few reviews for these recipes, I was a bit skeptical of how it would turn out as most of them talked about an odd aftertaste with Splenda and I had never cooked with Splenda before.  In the end, I went to my trusty recipe source ( and found this recipe under a diabetic friendly recipe collection — a pistachio, fig and lemon biscotti.   The bonus with this is that I didn’t have to use butter!

Shelling the pistachios was awfully tedious, but worth it for the bright green colours dotted in the biscotti.  They didn’t turn out as crisp as I like my biscotti, but they still tasted pretty nice, and the natural sugar of the figs gave the biscotti enough sweetness.  Having it with a nice pot of herbal tea made it a great afternoon snack.

fig&pistachio biscotti

Pistachio, fig and lemon biscotti
Makes about 30


  • 1/3 cup pistachio kernels
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tbs finely grated lemon rind
  • 3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried figs


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.  Brush a 7 x 25cm (base measurement) bar pan with melted butter to lightly grease.  Line the base and 2 long sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang.
  2. Place pistachios in a heatproof bowl.  Cover with boiling water and set aside for 5 minutes or until skins soften. Drain.  Peel off skins and dry on paper towel.
  3. Meanwhile, use an electric beater to whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition, until sugar dissolves.  Add the lemon rind and whisk until combined.
  4. Combine flour and figs in a bowl. Use your fingers to separate figs and coat in flour. Fold fig mixture and pistachios into egg-white mixture until just combined.
  5. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Turn onto a wire rack and set aside for 1 hour or until cooled to room temperature.
  6. Preheat oven to 160°C. Use a serrated knife to cut loaf crossways into 5mm-thick slices. Place in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool on tray.

Banana pecan muffins March 5, 2009

Filed under: Banana,Muffins,Nuts — smop @ 7:52 am

Sometime back in 2nd year uni, I developed a love for banana bread.  I used to consider things like carrot cake, banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini muffins a bit strange — I was so used to the usual chocolate chip / vanilla cupcakes.  But through a chance stumble at one of the campus centre shops, I was hooked onto it.  The ones that they sold were moist, full of banana flavour and light – essentially the perfect after uni snack.  Without an oven, the only way I could get my hands onto them was the store bought kind.  It was $2.20 that I was willing to part with.  Then when I got an oven, Cyclone Larry hit Queensland’s north coast and banana prices went shooting up the roof – paying $12 / kg for bananas didn’t seem to sink in that well.  When it finally came back down to $3 / kg, I went about searching for the banana bread recipe.

And I have found it.  The recipe from Simply Recipes I’ve made it again and again, without fail.  It creates a banana bread that’s just the right texture, and is full of banana flavour without using too many bananas.  There’s hardly any sugar, and it’s so versatile that you can add other things — nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, more fruit to it.  It’s really just perfect.

This time I made them into cupcakes, added some pecans to it and popped a pecan on top for decoration.

banana pecan muffin.jpg

Banana Pecan Muffins
Makes 12


  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas (skins brown and banana feels mushy), smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Mix butter with mushed bananas in large bowl.  Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla.
  3. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
  4. Add the flour and pecans (if using).  Mix.
  5. Pour mixture into greased muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (until cooked with skewer test).
  6. Cool on rack, remove from pan and serve with honey and ricotta or butter.

If you want to make it into a loaf, just put it in a greased loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes (in my pan, it takes about 40) – cool on a rack and serve.  To freeze, slice it up and wrap individually in baking paper then cling wrap.  Defrost in fridge.

Try eating banana bread it with ricotto and honey.  It is the bomb.


Figs, Honey & Macadamia Nuts Ice Cream December 14, 2008

Filed under: Dessert,Nuts — lewislikesolives @ 10:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

It has come to my attention recently that most of us take many of life’s wonders and pleasures for granted. And along with this, we all seem to lose that sense of wonder and curiousity as we grow older; no longer do we ask why the sky is blue or why toothpaste is always white. So, even though I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, nor would I consider myself much of a philosopher – I have decided to take on one of life’s big questions this weekend: where does ice-cream come from (other than out of a tub)? And more importantly – can it be made at home?

And just over an hour later, it was evident that the answers to the above questions are resounding “YES’s”, with the downside being that without an ice cream machine, it would have been impossible – the only alternative that I can think of is to stand inside a industrial freezer with the tub of custard and stir the mixture manually while it turned into the said product (as an ice cream maker is exactly that – a freezer that stirs custard to ice cream. Funky huh?) Also, it was a lot of fun as well, mostly due to the fact that you are reassured that what ever you do – it would turn out creamy and delicious. Of course, common sense prevails, I would never anticipate pate flavoured ice cream to be much of a crowd pleaser…



Fig, honey and macadamia ice cream

  • 2.5c milk +0.5c
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1.5 tsp cornflour
  • 1.5 heaped tbsp fig jam + 1.5 heaped tbsp honey (or all honey, to taste)
  • 1 cap brandy (2 tsp)

Heat 2.5c milk to simmer in saucepan, then whisk egg yolks, cornflour and remaining milk until smooth.
Pour approx 1c hot milk into egg yolk mixture while mixing before pouring back into saucepan. Heat over low heat until custard thickens. Take off heat immediately. Mix in fig jam/honey and brandy,taste and adjust sweetness. Cool in fridge over night before churning in ice cream maker.

Macadamia/fig mix:

  • 1/2c roasted macadamias, crushed into small pieces
  • 5 dried figs
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 1tbsp brown sugar

Finely chop figs. Put in saucepan with honey and brown sugar and 1/4c water, then cook over low heat until figs are softened and sauce slightly thick (may need to add more water/honey/sugar to taste). Take off heat and let cool. When ice cream is done, stir macadamias and figs through.

Makes approx 1 litre

 (I would like to acknowledge Beck, chef-extraordinaire and friend, for providing the recipe & her ice cream factory, Eton for smashing the macadamia nuts and mushing the figs)

Eatery Of The Week:

  • DOC Pizza & Mozarella Bar – 299 Drummond St, Carlton. Victoria. (03) 9347 2998 No bookings.
    The antipasto was brilliant as was the pizza with lemon. An unexpected combination but really quite fantastic. Also, the music there is so bad it’s awesome – it’s like eurovision.