Archive for September, 2009

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Orange Lemon Cake

September 30, 2009

Tomorrow is October which is my official start date for Flavour of the Month, which this month is going to feature Traditional South African Cooking. I’m very excited; I have a recipe picked out and ready to go – not until Friday night due to time needed but it’s going to start.
But, before then I thought I’d show a recent baking experience. Yet another family dinner offering – this time aimed to please my SIL after my disastrous first attempt! So keeping in mind what I know about my SIL: that for ease of access Orange’s are one of her favourite fruits and that “anything with Lemon is good” I chose a combination I thought would work out quite well – an Orange & Lemon Cake!

Strolling around a fresh fruit and vegetable store I had come across some delectable looking Blood Oranges and couldn’t go past them. They made their way quickly into my basket and up to the counter for purchase. I love the sweetness of them (personally a “normal” orange is a touch acidic for me at times) and….since I have such a love of all things red, I get such joy of slicing them open to see their dark red interior!

Orange & Lemon Cake
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• zest of 1 lemon
• zest of 2 oranges
• juice of 1 lemon
• juice of 2 oranges
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1 cup butter, at room temperature
• 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
• 1 1/4 cup sugar (if you don’t have vanilla sugar, just use 1-1/2 cups regular granulated sugar)
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan or springform pan.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Once sifted, add the orange and lemon zests and mix well. Set aside.
3. Combine the butter and sugar and mix for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is light in colour and appears fluffy.
4. Combine the lemon juice, orange juice and milk and stir.
5. Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
6. Begin adding the dry ingredients, in three additions, and then alternating with the milk/juice mixture. You should begin with the dry ingredients and end with the dry ingredients.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Check the cake after 50 minutes by inserting a toothpick or cake tester into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, continue baking the cake
8. Once done, remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, unmold the cake.

Recipe adapted from Cream Puffs in Venice.

I also had a large quantity of passionfruit that I wanted to use, so I made a syrup-y passionfruit icing to go on the top. Very simple was about ½ cup of fresh passionfruit pulp and about 1 cup of icing sugar, not 100% sure of quantity as I just added and mixed until I got the consistency I wanted.

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Zuppa di Finocchio

September 23, 2009

I thought that since I’d been blogging incessantly about all the baking that I do that it was about time I put in a bit about some of the more…savoury options I cook. Because, I do do that!

This picture doesn’t do the Fennel soup any favours but I have to tell you the taste of it…divine! Now before you run away thinking Fennel Soup? hear me out. I’m not a fennel girl, not one iota. When it comes to aniseed I am a bit hit and miss, sometimes I think it works other times not so much. As fennel? it was a not so much option. However, when I came across this entry by Haalo of Cool (almost) I had to give it a go. She spoke of her ambivalence towards Fennel and her joys of discovering another way to eat Fennel.

Now, as I’m a large fan of beans, and Cannellini beans in particular I figured that it would work quite respectably with Fennel, in fact I thought it might tone down some of the ‘harshness’ and add a layer of complexity to the taste that would work for me. So I gladly headed to the kitchen to give it a go. I adapted the recipe slightly, I had no leek so just went the white onion route, and I didn’t feel the need to add any cream to the final product because I found the texture and consistency to my liking as is.

Zuppa di Finocchio


1 large fennel, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 onion, halved and cut into thick slices
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
400g can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups stock or water (I just used water)
salt and freshly ground white pepper

In a saucepan and over medium heat, drizzle in some oil and about 1T of water. When heated add the prepared fennel, onion and garlic and stir well. Reduce the heat cook slowly for about 20 minutes, softening but not browning the fennel
Add the beans and two cups of stock or water, stir and continue to simmer for roughly 15 minutes or until the vegetables are breaking down.
Using a blender, process until smooth.
Season to taste with salt and white pepper

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Baking for a vegan….?

September 20, 2009

One of my new colleagues is an almost true vegan (I say this because she apparently eats honey taking her out of the ‘true’ category) so I’m moving into a whole new world of baking. And, I find it intriguing!

I’d already been introduced to the idea of cooking with olive oil as a butter substitute in the past. Not always successfully of course, but I’d given it a go. And, I knew of the existence of “egg substitutes” but never used them myself because when the Husband couldn’t eat egg, he also couldn’t use the substitute due to ingredients in it he was also meant to avoid (thank goodness we’re over that!) but only recently had I been introduced to the idea of Flaxseed meal as an egg substitute!

To replace one egg:
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons water (or other liquid)
Stir together until thick and gelatinous

So the challenge was set – I just had to give it a go! I served these dusted with icing sugar.

Lemony Polenta Cookies

280g plain flour
180g polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup + 4 tablespoons olive oil
100g icing sugar + 120g caster sugar
2T flaxseed meal + 6T soy milk
juice & zest of one lemon
3T limonccello
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk flour, polenta, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a bowl.
Mix together oil and sugar. Beat in the flaxseed mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Continue to add the lemon zest, juice, limoncello and vanilla, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl down.
Beat in the dry ingredients until a very soft dough is formed. Scrape out onto a sheet of cling wrap, flatten into a disc, wrap and chill for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170C. Lightly grease two baking sheets, line with baking parchment
Break off teaspoon-sized bits of dough and roll them into balls about an inch in diameter. Roll each in a small bowl of sugar and place on the tray. Make sure to space them an inch apart as they’ll spread
Bake for 14-15 minutes until they’ve flattened out and are crinkly on top. Cool on the sheet for 2 minute and then use a spatula to transfer to a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from A Spoonful of Sugar

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…boringness of it all?

September 19, 2009

So for dinner last night I was reminded of how the Husband despite all his wonderful ways is actually rather….boring when it comes to his food choices. He can’t help it entirely but he is a product of his environment in a lot of ways. His parents are very much a meat, vege and potato sort. So when asked what he felt like for dinner last night, the Husband responded with delight: sausages and chips please.

Sausage and chips?! Really? He could have anything (within reason of course) and his only request was sausage and chips? *sigh* of course I’m sure I could find a way to dress this up a little, but I was hoping for something more challenging. And actually, the Husband didn’t want me to do anything with it, the addition of green beans was frowned upon in fact. He wanted plain pork sausages with plain chips. No accompanists added by me, a condiment (BBQ Sauce) added by him once served but that’s it – plain and simple.

But then after begrudgingly making this for his dinner (I created myself a ragu-esk dish) I realised who am I to talk? My favourite breakfast = porridge; my favourite fruit = apple and my favourite dessert = anything with apple in it…I too have “simple” tastes at times. And, really there isn’t anything wrong with that. It’s that basic/simple food that is often the food of comfort for a person, and looking back over the Husband’s week I realised that it actually has been rather stressful for him – so wouldn’t he naturally gravitate towards such a comfort like dish? A nice reminder for me that often what people crave is related to how they’re feeling!

On a different note I have decided what October’s Flavour of the Month will be, it of course has to be my most recently purchased cookbook Traditional South African Cooking I have been perusing and have many an idea of what I want to make from it, and am looking forward to October very much.

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Cunning & Devious plan

September 16, 2009

I was perusing the world of food blogs as I do on a not so rare occasion and I came across what I thought was a spectacular idea utilised by Cream Puffs in Venice. I was immediately drawn to the idea, I think it’s pretty spectacular really. Like most avid food lovers I have a motley collection of cookbooks, unlike some however mine is not quite as extensive. I am sad to say I only own 18 cookbooks (not counting various kitchen appliance recipe books of course!)

Now this is not because I don’t want more, my goodness my amazon wishlist is filled with them it is just that I often feel as though I do not use the ones I have to their full potential. Except for the one purchased most recently I think I can say with certainty that I have cooked at least 1 thing from all of my books – quite an achievement I feel! I try and curb my cookbook purchases. I will, without fail, go into a bookstore and pick up a cookbook, I shall then walk around with it thinking of all the things I could make from inside its pages and then with great restraint I put said cookbook down and walk away! I need to use what I have before I add to it – or at least this is what I tell myself.

I have many, many, many recipes printed, bookmarked written on scrap pieces of paper and put into folders that can keep me entertained for months, perhaps even years to come. The thing is these are not quite as satisfying as a good recipe book! So now I have devised a cunning and devious plan that I will have to make the Husband privy to at some point I suppose. And, I’m utilising Cream Puffs idea to achieve this plan.

So now each month (starting in October) I will (as long as all goes to plan) have my own Flavour of the Month and cook once a week at a minimum from 1 of my cookbooks. Once I’ve achieved this, I will reward myself with……the purchase of a new cookbook! Now some months I will continue to hold my restraint and not make said purchase but the option will be there, I can allow myself that guilty purchase if I am so inclined. And, that knowledge makes me feel all happy on the inside.

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Mango Pannacotta

September 16, 2009

It’s very hard to satisfy my desire to bake and cook and what not when one is on a restricted diet! My body and it’s unfairness to me is cruel – hopefully it will balance itself out soon and I will be able to begin the slow and gradual reintroduction of all the things I miss now! In the mean time I bake and cook in sparing amounts because with only feeding myself and the Husband the products of my kitchen adventures call me and I eat and I pay the price!!! The Husband of course continues to ‘enjoy’ the benefits of his genetics (which I hope to one day pass on to our children) but just because he can doesn’t mean he should!

So in the hope of satisfying my ‘problem’ I unselfishly offered to begin to provide the dessert component of our weekly family dinners. Each Tuesday night the Husbands family (the Clan) show up after work to my mother-in-laws (MIL) house and enjoys an evening familial bonding which is lovely. With my family small and scattered about the country this opportunity to get together with the Husbands family is something I deeply appreciate. I thought though that perhaps it would be appreciated if my MIL doesn’t have to provide everything to satisfy 7 people!

It will be a challenge I’ve decided, one which I will thoroughly enjoy! My father-in-law (FIL) doesn’t like any berries but Strawberries (which the Husband hates, though actually he’s not a fan of berries really) whereas my Sister-in-law (SIL) and Brother-in-law (BIL) love berries. MIL likes all things chocolate, especially with orange, whereas BIL hates chocolate in any form but in its original state (well he will make exceptions for brownies I hear) and especially dislikes the chocolate orange combination. FIL doesn’t really like hot puddings – preferring things like trifles, whereas my SIL hates trifle. Now I’ve made no mention of Little E (my niece) but she’s often easily satisfied with some custard or ice-cream, and well at just over 2 it’s still an ongoing adventure to see what she does and does not like! I could go on, but needless to say everyone has different tastes, and I’m sure I’ll get it wrong sometimes. But, thankfully one thing I can count on is that at Clan gatherings there will always be ice-cream available for those who don’t want what is on offer.

This week was the first go around of me supplying the dessert, and I figured I’d start with something I was sure my FIL would enjoy. He was having some day surgery completed and I thought something made from his favourite fruit would be a winner. And, thus my mango pannacotta was born. It’s lovely creamy texture and subtle mango undertones always make me smile so surely it’d be a success – and I suppose one could say it was. With those of the family who enjoy mango. However, for my first go around I failed my SIL (sorry!) who likes neither pannacotta or mango…and the Husband, will eat mango but it isn’t his favourite so whilst he ate the dessert and said it was nice and thanked me for my efforts did make sure to remind me mango isn’t his favourite, in case perhaps I’d forgotten? Ahhh well, lesson learnt and FIL had made sure there were strawberries on offer for SIL so I don’t think she minded too much.

Mango Pannacotta

2 large mangoes
250mL cream
2t sugar
2T gelatine

With a serrated edge knife slice off both sides the fattest part of the mangos (the cheek). Score the cheek into little cubes and then with a spoon scoop out the flesh from the skin. Then with a paring knife cut around the pit with a paring knife, and remove the remaining flesh from the skin and trim around the pit to remove any remaining flesh.
Place flesh of mango into a food processer and let this process for 2 or 3 minutes until the mango is smooth.
Place the cream and sugar into a medium saucepan and over a medium heat, stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the cream is almost at a boiling point. Do not allow this mixture to boil, and remove from heat.
Whilst whisking this mixture slowly add the gelatine until dissolved and absorbed and then stir in the mango. Keep whisking until well blended and then divide the mixture into 4 serving dishes (though I originally served mine into 5) and place into the fridge to set. To soak up any moisture from the hot mixture you can cover the tops with baking paper.

Maple Mango

1 Mango
1/4c of Maple Syrup

Prepare mango as directed above. Place in small baking dish, cover with maple syrup and bake in an oven at 180C for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool, and divide evenly over pannacotta.

Recipe adapted from a number of recipes (including Cook (almost))

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Quiet…

September 14, 2009

I have been quiet, I realise that BUT I have been baking/cooking! I’ve got photos all prepared I just need to put them up! I will do it in the next couple of days I’m sure