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.
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
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
220g almond flour
75g (1/2 cup) SR flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 160C (fan). Grease a 23 cm springform pan and line the base with paper
Cream butter and sugar with zest until pale and creamy
Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between
Beat in ricotta, a little at a time
Whisk almond flour, flour, baking powder and salt separately
Reduce speed, add vanilla, the dry ingredients and lemon juice to the mixture, and mix until combined
Whisk egg whites separately until stiff peaks form and then carefully fold egg whites into cake mixture
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!
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
Dollops of yogurt
A few tablespoons roughly chopped coriander, parsley or mint
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.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Add potatoes, cauliflower, salt, cumin and olive oil to the roasting pan and toss together with your hands until evenly coated.
Remove chicken from marinade and leave excess behind. Make spaces in the vegetables for chicken parts throughout the pan.
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.
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.
When chicken and vegetables are cooked, top with dollops of yogurt, herbs and scattered the above onion rings all over.
Serve right in the pan.
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.
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease four 1-cup (250ml) ramekins. Place the cauliflower, onion, bay leaf, thyme and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes until cauliflower is tender. Strain, reserving cauliflower and milk, and discard the other solids.
Melt butter in a clean saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, then gradually whisk in the reserved milk. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until thickened and combined.
Whisk in the egg yolks, 1/2 cup (125ml) cream and half the cheese until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whiz the cauliflower in a food processor until smooth, then add cheese sauce and pulse to combine. Season.
In a large bowl, using electric beaters, whisk eggwhites to stiff peaks. Fold one-quarter of eggwhites into cauliflower mixture to loosen, then gently fold in remainder. Divide among prepared ramekins, place in a deep baking pan and fill with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Remove from pan and set aside to cool slightly before turning out onto a baking tray (they can be covered and refrigerated for 24 hours at this stage).
Preheat oven to 180C. Pour some of remaining cream over souffles and scatter with remaining cheese. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until souffles rise again and sauce bubbles.
Place in radicchio ‘cups’, drizzle with remaining sauce grind some black pepper over and enjoy.
Now lets talk about main course – enough to have delicious leftovers in your lunch box the next day.
Moroccan slow cooked lamb
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds trimmed boned lamb shoulder, cut into 5 cm cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 cup dried apricots
2 large plum tomatoes, chopped ( or a can of tomatoes)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl.
Add lamb and toss to coat.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large frypan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to pan between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to slow cooker after each batch.
Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in pan. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.
Transfer everything to slow cooker and cooke for at least 4 hours on low
Looking for something sweet to finish? How about a piece of cake? ( yes, pomegranate seeds make two appearances on the blog today)
Blackberry ricotta cake
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen blackberries, divided
Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a 22cm-diameter cake pan with baking paper.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup berries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup berries over top.
Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Sprinkle with more berries to serve. Make sure you also have lots of cream, Add pomegranate seeds to make it look extra pretty.
I love Eleanor’s blog and have been very happy with how her gluten free recipes have turned out (here and here).
I was keen to try some of her other recipes in my “Christmas” book, and New Years Eve was the perfect opportunity for her lemon coconut balls. Not too sweet and refreshingly citrusy. Perfect for a hot summer evening down under. Plus super easy to make.
I repeated the recipe the other weekend with limes. Even better!
I love limes
2 cups (180g) desiccated coconut
1 cup (100g) almond meal
1/3 cup (115g) honey
grated zest and juice of two limes (or one lemon)
Set aside ½ cup of the coconut and put all the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
Blend for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture starts to form a dough.
Use your hands to form small balls.
Roll the balls in the extra coconut (or use prettier, larger coconut flakes instead).
Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to set.
The truffles can be kept at room temperature, but are best kept in the fridge. Makes around 25 truffles. Will keep for 3-4 days. In theory.
I’m still auditioning patterns for my lovely landscape print
(If you are here for the sewing, click away now! or scroll to the bottom to see what’s in progress..)
with my sister-in-law’s gorgeous red roses (Papa Meilland– stunning to look at and to smell)
220g butter, softened
220g caster sugar
220g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon coffee granules (instant coffee) dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Grease and line two 20 cm round sandwich tins.
Put all ingredients and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix until combined (don’t over beat, just make it smooth).
Divide between tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
To make icing, dissolve another tablespoon coffee granules in 2 tablespoons boiling water then beat with 200 g softened unsalted butter and 400 g icing sugar until smooth and pale. Use half to sandwich the cakes together and the rest for the top. Dust with cocoa.
Recipe from David Herbert, The Weekend Australian Magazine October 19-20, 2013
Metric to imperial conversions and other explanations:
220 g =8 ounces
20 cm = 8 inches
200g = 7 ounces
Self-raising flour is plain flour with a raising agent added. Convert plain (all purpose) flour to self-raising by adding one teaspoon of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to every cup of plain flour.
Baking powder is a mixture of two parts ( e.g. two teaspoons) of cream of tartar to one part teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (e.g. one teaspoon)
This cake has an excellent effort to impact ratio; a small amount of work for a large amount of yum. My guess is that it would also be excellent as cupcakes too.
Can I offer you a slice of sunshine? Moist orange and poppy seed goodness?
This recipe is from the September 2007 issue of Australian Good Taste, Page 114
125ml (1/2 cup) fresh orange juice (1 orange wasn’t enough, two oranges were plenty)
130g (1/2 cup) Greek-style natural yoghurt (that’s the secret of this cake’s moistness, methinks)
60g (1/4 cup) poppy seeds
270g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar
2 tbs finely grated orange rind (about three oranges)
340g (2 1/4 cups) plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a 25cm (top measurement) kugelhopf pan.
Combine the orange juice, yoghurt and poppy seeds in a small bowl.
Cream butter, caster sugar and orange rind.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until just combined.
Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and mix
Add the yoghurt mixture and mix in.
Bake in oven for 1 hour
150g (1 cup) pure icing sugar
1 tbs fresh orange juice
Zest the orange,
Combine the icing sugar and extra orange juice in a bowl until smooth.
Pour over the cake and sprinkle with the orange zest.
If you’re worried about the zest drying out, you could do what He who Cooks did (as always, he improves my cooking): combine a bit more orange juice and caster sugar in a saucepan and heat on low until the sugar is dissolved, add the zest to coat it in the sugar syrup and then add the zest on top of the icing.
It was delicious with a dollop of double cream flavored with Grand Marnier. Eating it on the lawn with the spring sunshine on my back might have helped..
Recipe from Australian Good Taste – September 2007 , Page 114
Instead of baking (and eating cake in the sun), I should have been sewing. These two garments are cut out and waiting for me…
Camel stretch cotton as this skirt (without the pockets): Burdastyle 08-2011-122
Patterned silk as this blouse (without the ruffles): BurdaStyle 07-2010-121
I’m not doing the bias cut layout for the front skirt, but placing the thicker navy stripes of the fabric at the hem. I’m using the thick stripes on the sleeves too, and made them short sleeves, not ¾ length as in the photo. Its looking good so far!
I have a cake recipe from Joan Campbell (Vogue Food and Wine cookbook, 1991) that I have used over and over in emergencies, there are just a few ingredients and they all go into a food processor, nothing fiddly, not much to wash up and a cake that works every time. [that is,if you cook it the right length of time…]. I fluffed it once by pulling the cake out too early and it of course sunk in the middle. Luckily I had some hazelnuts on hand so I quickly roasted them, piled them in the middle, drizzled honey all over and ta da a new cake… phew that one was close.
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon nutmeg
In a food processor, combine sugar, baking powder and flour and then rub in butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs [this means do it all in the food processor: add 2 cm cubes of cold butter to the dry ingredients in the food processor and process].
Spread a little less than half [a third? enough to give about a 1cm thick layer] onto the bottom of a greased 20cm spring form pan. Set aside
Add the soda, milk, egg and nutmeg to the remaining mixture and mix on low speed just until combined.[Use a container you can shake liquids in, like a Tupperware Quick Shake, and “lightly beat” the egg by adding it to the milk and shaking, then add the soda and nutmeg, shake a bit more then pour the lot into the food processor and mix]
Pour onto prepared crust [Blanch finely sliced pear in the microwave and add to the top of the batter, sprinkle some more nutmeg on top]
Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 180°C for 60 minutes.
Apple and rhubarb crumble was our lovely dessert today after roast lamb. As you can see, not much was left over.
Peel and quarter 4 large apples with the Ikea apple cutter [because it is fun and functional], then cut further into pieces about 2 cm long.
Add a nice chunk of butter to a fry pan [probably at least 50 g, we like butter in this house] and cook the apple in butter after sprinkling a few tablespoons of sugar over the fruit and putting a lid on the fry pan [in other words, cook the fruit in the way you normally cook fruit].
Chop about 300 g rhubarb into randomly sized pieces [i.e. roughly chop] and add to the apple once the apple is almost done.
Add 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 cup plain (all purpose) flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon ground ginger to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add 100 g butter in small pieces and pulse again until the mixture is like course breadcrumbs. Then add an egg and pulse a bit further to incorporate it. Place over warm fruit and bake at 170oC for 20 minutes.
Serve with pouring cream and custard made by your brother (his speciality) to your appreciative family and Grandad. Bask in their compliments and miss out on having to do the dishes like normal. But do them anyway because you are so sweet.
Print off the recipe from Smitten Kitchen site and get all your stuff out, except your baking pan. Realise you have to find an inch ruler before you can even find your pan. Realise you also have to convert from °F to °C before you can preheat the oven.
Finally, preheat your oven to 170°C and line a 30 x 25 cm baking pan.
Chop the rhubarb into about 1 cm pieces.
Zest the lemon before you juice it. Hah, see, not just a pretty face. Err, perhaps not so clever, using the zesting thing that makes long strips of peel. Ask mum to help and get slightly annoyed when she says she’s too busy unpicking the grey dress of doom. Mum does remind you that there’s a better thing for making fine zest. Don’t tell her that she has not been completely useless. Later, say nice things about her dress when she tries it on to check the fit.
Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside.
Cream butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time.
Sift flour, baking powder, and ground ginger, add one third of this to batter, add half of the sour cream and then add another third, more sour cream and then the last bit of the flour mixture. Try to get a bit on your face so that Grandad knows you’re cooking.
Dollop batter into pan, then spread the cake into an even, thin layer.
Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake. Dad didn’t buy enough rhubarb, so add something else, like blackberries from the freezer from February’s blackberry picking day. Eat all the leftover blackberries and remember the scratches.
Now start the crumb topping.
Stir together the the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then stir in the melted butter.
Scatter the crumble evenly over the rhubarb and blackberry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean and the top is golden. Let Dad worry about this bit, because you have books to read, er, homework to do.
Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and bask in the compliments from your very lucky family. Tell them not to expect this often!
Pssst Can you keep a secret? Yes? Good…. now what I am about to tell you must NEVER be told to anyone that is not a cook. Here it is …the secret handshake of the food lovers fraternity…. we share recipes….yep its true …and we pass little jars of quince paste, capsicum relish, greens picked from a home garden, a slice of the best fruit cake you could dream of, super fresh eggs, figs and more…(by the way, thank you, you know who you are)… it’s like our secret motto, our handshake or symbol, it helps define who we are. So now that I have told you my secret, what has someone clandestinely slipped your way recently?… saying ‘try this’ or thanks for inviting me please have this little jar of something? hmmm go on tell us!.
The recipe for this cake was given to me recently on a little slip of paper… “really weird orange cake” it said, and it was a bit like Alice in Wonderlands bottle saying ‘drink me’ …except this recipe was whispering ‘bake me’. Now a cake recipe that has no wheat flour and no butter does sound weird so I did a little research. The recipe here is based on the Sephardic orange-and-almond cake in Claudia Roden’s comprehensive book A New Book of Middle Eastern Food (yes you may borrow it if you want). The recipe was originally Jewish and the cake was baked during Passover.
This cake is a winner for me for two reasons; firstly all the ingredients can be bunged ( is that a cooking term?) into the food processor, saving on washing up ( though if you do it properly it could just be that little bit nicer) and secondly because Claudia Roden says that the cake can never fail ( you have to like that). Claudia says that if the cake is not cooked enough, it is moist enough to became a pudding served with a dollop of cream or mascarpone, and the moistness helps prevent the cake becoming too dry if it is overcooked ( I proved this having not checked oven temp properly and it had been set too high)
I have found several variations to the ‘original’ recipe that you could try; Jill Dupleix separates the eggs, making a cake that is lighter, my good friend who gave me the recipe said that a heaped tablespoon of poppy seeds added to the batter was good, and I made mine with a sort of almond brittle topping.
So have a go and remember keep on sharing those recipes and other goodies, oh and thanks again Mr R.
2 large or 3 medium oranges
225g caster sugar (or make it sugarless too and use 3/4 cup honey)
200g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
Place the clean, whole and unpeeled fruit in a little water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for at least 1½ hours or until soft, adding more water when necessary.
Drain the oranges, cut into quarters, discard any major pips, and whiz (including peel) in the food-processor, then cool. Throw in the rest, egg*, sugar, almonds, and baking powder.
Heat the oven to 180C
*Jill Dupleix says to just add the yolks then beat the egg whites until softly peaky and fold gently into the mixture.
Pour into a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin and bake for an hour, until firm to the touch (cover with a loose sheet of foil if over-browning). Cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar to serve.
Limes are in season said the magazine, sure enough the greengrocer had them bagged up ready to go, shiny and green and cheaper than usual. The ones ‘on special ‘ were smaller than the ones I had been buying so I did a bit of research… seems the ones currently ‘in season’ were probably Mexican limes (there goes my cred for only using local ingredients) Mexican limes are small, with bright green skins and are harvested all year round (so always in season!)
All you bakers (yes I am looking at you) will recognize this as a classic butter cake made the ‘easy’ way by adding melted butter to the dry ingredients. I like this method, it is fast and relatively foolproof, though many bakers remain unconvinced that the results are as good as creaming the butter and sugar or the rubbing in method, but what the heck I say… the cake soon disappears so it can’t be all that bad!
I have used shredded coconut rather than desiccated because I think it gives a better finish to the cake, what do you think? Perhaps desiccated would make the cake look ‘finer’ like an afternoon tea cake rather than a desert style cake. The final result had a nice acid tang from the lime but to be honest was a bit dry ( I am a sucker for moist…almost gooey cakes). I would recommend pouring lime syrup over the cake especially if serving the cake as a desert. I have added a recipe for the syrup if you want to try it and you can spare the limes.
Ingredients (serves 10)
Melted butter (optional), for greasing
150g unsalted butter, melted
155g caster sugar
3 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cups desiccated (or shaved) coconut
125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh lime juice (approx 3-4 limes)
1 tbs finely grated lime rind
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line an 18cm square pan.
Process flour, sugar, baking powder and 2/3 cup of coconut in a food processor for 20 seconds
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently until light and well combined.
Spoon cake mixture into the cake pan and smooth surface with back of spoon. Sprinkle the remaining coconut over the top
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Recipe from Australian good taste March 2011 pg29
To make lime syrup:
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
185mls (3/4 cup) water
Peel rind from 2 limes with a vegetable peeler. Remove white pith from rind with a small, sharp knife and then cut rind into very thin strips. Juice all 4 limes.
Combine lime rind, 80mls (1/3 cup) of lime juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, remove rind from syrup with a fork, set aside.
When cake is cooked, remove from oven and Stand in pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Place rack over a large plate or tray to catch any drips and pour hot syrup slowly and evenly over cake. Cool
Ok all you people that are trying to lose the extra weight post Christmas…don’t even look…the following pictures are likely to cause you to throw your good intentions to the wind.
Everyone should have a signature dish and chocolate brownies are the one Miss F is famous for. Whenever we have a picnic or special occasion the cry goes up all over the household …Brownies… Brownies… Brownies… Brownies.
I am sure you get the idea. We love these brownies.…Soft and gooey in the middle, crusty on the top and very chocolatey.
The recipe is good with nuts but the raspberries provide that little extra ‘zing’ that makes these special.
Go make some you know you want to!
115g dark chocolate
190g unsalted butter
160g plain four
20g (2 rounded tablespoons) cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
380 g brown sugar (or half and half with caster if you run out like we did last time)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125 g pecans or walnuts or frozen raspberries (all optional, all yummy)
1. Grease and line a 20 cm square tin. Preheat oven to 180 C
2. Melt the butter and the chocoalte (we use the microwave and melt them seperately- makes more dishes that way, and reduces the risk of the butter making the chocolate too hot, maybe..).
3. Allow chocolate and butter to cool.
4. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa.
5. Beat the eggs lightly then add sugar and vanilla extract. Stir until just combined.
6. Fold the melted chocolate and butter into the beaten egg mixture. Then fold in the flour mixture (and nuts if you are adding them).
7. Spoon into the tin, smooth the top (and poke in frozen raspberries if you are using them), bake for 25 minutes (unless you’ve added frozen raspberries, and then you have to bake for longer. We added an extra 10 minutes, but it was still fairly wobbly in the middle when we pulled the tin out and the brownies are a bit too fudgy and gooey. Delicious but messy).
8. Allow to cool in tin before cutting into squares.