Grief control. Knitting, cakes and chicken tray bakes

Grief. It’s a strange thing. Different very time. Why did I think I’d feel the same after my dad died as I would after my mum did?

I guess it is (blessed) inexperience. But it has been so much harder.

Anyway. I’m out the other side of (most of) it now. And I have a very neglected blog.

I haven’t been sewing as much as normal. But I have been doing some cooking and knitting.

So. Let me tell you about it. Starting with the cakes first because my dad had a sweet tooth.

The cakes

Lemon and ricotta cake

Delicious on its own or with blackberry and strawberry compote and ice cream as a dessert.

  • 250g unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • 220g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 250g ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 220g almond flour
  • 75g (1/2 cup) SR flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 160C (fan). Grease a 23 cm springform pan and line the base with paper
  2. Cream butter and sugar with zest until pale and creamy
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between
  4. Beat in ricotta, a little at a time
  5. Whisk almond flour, flour, baking powder and salt separately
  6. Reduce speed, add vanilla, the dry ingredients and lemon juice to the mixture, and mix until combined
  7. Whisk egg whites separately until stiff peaks form and then carefully fold egg whites into cake mixture
  8. Spoon into tin, smooth surface and bake 50-60 minutes

This delicious moist cake recipe is from David Herbert’s column in the 25-26 July 2020 issue of the Weekend Australian magazine.

 

Persian love cake

This is a super easy gluten free cake that is deliciously moist and with fabulous spicing. Super pretty too, especially when you fortuitously have Persian fairy floss in your pantry and use it for decoration!

Adapted from Poh Bakes 100 Greats

  • 300 g (3 cups) almond flour
  • 185 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 220 g (1 cup) firmly packed soft brown sugar
  • 120 g (generous 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 g Greek-style yoghurt
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 4 tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 4 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan).
  2. Grease a 24 cm springform pan and line the base with paper.
  3. Combine the almond flour, caster sugar, brown sugar and melted butter in a food processor until you have an even, sandy consistency.
  4. Divide the mixture in two and tip half into the pan. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the eggs, yogurt, salt, cardamom, and rosewater to the remaining crumb mixture and whisk until there are no lumps.
  6. Pour over the crumb base and sprinkle the flaked almonds and pistachios over the top.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes

Serve this cake with a dollop of Greek yoghurt – it helps balance out the sweetness

The pistachio and almond topping makes this cake very attractive. No need for pink fairy floss to make it pretty – it already is!

 

The chicken tray bakes

Moroccan chicken tray bake

This is another one of David Herbert’s recipes from the Weekend Australia Magazine – the 13-14 June 2020 issue.

  • 4 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6-8 chicken pieces (David recommends skinless thighs – I’ve made this a couple of times, every time with something different – skin-on Marylands, skin-on thighs and skinless chicken chops – all good)
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 2-4 zucchini, cut into 2 cm slices
  • 8 capsicum pieces from a jar
  • 50g whole blanched almonds  (I used flaked)
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley (I just picked the leaves off)

Couscous

  • 175g (1 cup) instant couscous
  • zest  half lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • seeds from half a pomegranate
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas ( I used currants)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (fan)
  2. Mix harissa and vinegar in a large bowl.
  3. Add chicken pieces, onion  and zucchini and gently mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer to a large roasting pan and cook uncovered for 25 minutes, turning halfway.
  5. Add capsicum and almonds and cook a further 10 minutes or until chicken is tender
  6. Meanwhile, make couscous:
    • Put couscous in heat proof bowl and add 350mL boiling water, stir, then cover and leave for 5-7 minutes.
    • Stir through Zest, garlic and herbs; drizzle with oil
    • Add pomegranate seeds and sultanas and toss well
    • Season with salt and pepper
  7. Scatter chicken with parsley and serve with couscous and lemon wedges (I made a space in the roasting pan, piled the couscous in, added lemon wedges and served it straight from the pan)

I highly recommend this – so simple and yet so delicious. It is almost my favourite chicken tray bake recipe.

Sheet pan chicken tikka

This queen of all tray bakes from Smitten Kitchen is still my favourite.

The version below is double the recipe (recipe serves 4) and so well and truly smothered in coriander and pickled red onion that you wouldn’t know there was chicken and potato and cauliflower underneath.

  • For the chicken
    • 4 cm piece of ginger, peeled and minced
    • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 fresh green chili seeded and minced
    • 1/2 cup yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 kg chicken thighs or drumsticks (skin-on, bone-in)
  • For the vegetables
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4-6 potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 2 cm chunks
    • 1 small cauliflower, cut into 2 cm-wide florets
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • To finish, if desired
    • A few thin slices of red onion
    • Lemon wedges
    • Salt
    • Dollops of yogurt
    • A few tablespoons roughly chopped coriander, parsley or mint
  1. Combine ginger, garlic, fresh chili, yogurt, salt, and spices  in bowl. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Let marinate for 15 minutes or up to a day, covered, in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C.
  3. Add potatoes, cauliflower, salt, cumin and olive oil to the roasting pan and toss together with your hands until evenly coated.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and leave excess behind. Make spaces in the vegetables for chicken parts throughout the pan.
  5. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then toss the potato and cauliflower to ensure they’re cooking evenly, and return the pan to the oven for 10 to 20 minutes more (i.e. 30 to 40 minutes total roasting time), until chicken and vegetables are cooked through.
  6. While it roasts, if you’d like to use lightly pickled onion rings on top ( it adds colour and a nice tangy fresh zip to the dish) separate the rings and toss them in a small bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Set aside until needed.
  7. When chicken and vegetables are cooked, top with dollops of yogurt, herbs and scattered the above onion rings all over.
  8. Serve right in the pan.

Truly delicious!

 

The knitting

This winter I finished off two long term WIPs.

A cable hat

This is from Moda Vera Mawson yarn and the pattern was on the ball band.

Memorable mostly for my daughter’s delight in the truly terrible photos of me modelling it (actually I have to admit that it was a lot of fun taking these photos).

But also memorable because I finished this off in the hospice at the bedside of my beloved father. Plus I used a cute label from KATM.

A lacy shrug

This one was started on holiday in Yorkshire – that’s Richmond castle in the background! It’s the wrap from pattern #5954 in Wendy Aran with Wool yarn, both purchased in a little shop in the middle of Leicester.

Happy holiday vibes to this one.

I don’t have any ‘good’ modeled shots of me wearing this (this is as good as it gets), but it was worn a lot WFH over winter. It is one of those great things to add for a little bit of extra warmth whilst sitting in a chilly home office.

The sewing

I know. Its time to get back to sewing…

Coming to the blog soon..

18 thoughts on “Grief control. Knitting, cakes and chicken tray bakes

  1. Sorry about your dad. It doesn’t matter how old we are when they go we miss them like crazy. Great yourself kindly, and remember the wonderful times.
    The recipes look delicious, and you have been quietly very productive 😊

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Grief is, indeed, difficult, and it’s different every time.

    Thanks for sharing the recipes. I am wanting a piece of that ricotta cake!!

    And the knitting is lovely. Truly, selfies are so difficult unless one spends hours perfecting the angles. Hilarious! Love each one – they are real and not staged.

    Sending you courage and strength for each day.

  3. So sorry to hear about your dad, my deepest condolences to you and your family. My sewing and general creativity came to standstill this year after loosing my dad, so I know a bit of where you’re coming from. Sending love.

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