Winter comfort food

Let’s start with dessert

Chocolate cake

I think you know what my priorities are. Yes. Chocolate is one of them. It’s a vegetable with lots of antioxidants. What’s that you say? Something about fat and sugar? Surely not!

This is the second time I’ve made this cake. First time was for craft night and exactly to David Herbert’s recipe. There were 8 lovely crafters and everyone had a slice. There was more than a quarter of the cake left.

Second time was in a smaller tin just for Sunday lunch (5 people). My cut down recipe was a little less than half of everything and is just right for a 16 cm tin. It also looks cute on He Who Cooks new mini cake stand. This time there was half a cake left. Its very rich!

70g butter, plus extra, melted, for brushing
90g dark chocolate, broken up
2 large eggs
90g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (I make this by combining two parts tartaric acid with one part sodium bicarbonate).
70g ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g caramel chips

  • Preheat oven to 170°C (mine is fanforced, 180°C for regular ovens).
  • Line base of a 16cm-round springform tin with baking paper; and butter the sides ( squish a small piece of butter all the way round with your fingers).
  • Melt butter with chocolate carefully in the microwave (mid to low power, check every minute or so and stir, until smooth).
  • Crack eggs into a mixing bowl then add sugar, baking powder, almonds and vanilla. Mix to combine.
  • Pour in chocolate mixture and beat until creamy, then fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour into tin, place on an oven sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes (don’t do what I did: set timer for 20 and then another 5 and another 5. The top should spring back when pressed. Mine almost did and I thought it should be cooked because the full size one was in this time so I took it out. Gooiness ensued. I did have fennel roasting in the oven at the same time. Perhaps that changed the timing?)
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool for 1 hour.

One way to disguise the sunk-in centre:

25g butter
50g dark chocolate, broken up

  • For topping, melt chocolate and butter and drizzle over top. Leave to set for 2 hours.

Roast lamb for main course

He Who Cooks put a crust of garlic, re-fried beans and taboulleh (parsley, onion and cracked wheat salad) on the lamb and roasted it on a rack above a bed of borlotti beans with stock, cherry tomatoes, diced celery and carrot. He also roasted root vegetables (heirloom carrots, butternut pumpkin and potatoes) in the same pan.

Pork Belly starter

  • Rub Chinese five spice liberally over the skin of the pork belly.
  • Use a slow cooker to braise the pork belly for about 4 hours in a 50/50 mix of cider and soy sauce (enough to come up the sides about 1 cm).
  • Drain the fat off and then reduce the cooking juices on the stove top with a splash of port until thickened slightly.
  • Crisp pork belly skin up in a hot oven.
  • Slice and serve with a drizzle of the reduced sauce and blanched greens (we used slivers of snow peas and the outer leaves of young brussels sprouts).

A fabulous Sunday lunch.

Now its time to go up to the sewing machine and make a casual winter coat (BurdaStyle 12-2011-114). In a boule style, to give plenty more room for more cake and other comfort food.

Burda uses faux fur, but I’m going to use this poly wool knit.

Looks like it’s going to be a great Sunday!

At last, something other than sewing!

We had a fabulous lunch at our good friends’ home on the weekend.

Their recent kitchen renovation included a blackboard as the pantry door. A clever idea and perfect for displaying the menu.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it!

And we were not disappointed.

The starter was pasta with lemon, rocket and grilled goats cheese. The lemon kept the flavours fresh, the rocket added peppery notes and the goats cheese added great depth. There’s nothing like the aroma of grilled goats cheese to whet your appetite.

What’s not to love about osso busso on a wintery day? Especially when its accompanied by the best comfort food of all: mashed potato. The size of Rory’s grin was huge. He happily went back for a second enormous serve of mash. Only a growing boy could fit dessert in after so much potato!

A cheese course was included too: Fromage d’Affinois, with figlets (and a game of cards to keep the mind active). Not much left of either of these by the time my brain was active enough to remember to take a photo.

Mmm, the sticky date roll with butterscotch sauce was delightful. This is a tricky dessert and requires last minute attention, but was executed beautifully.

Thank you dear friends!

Sunday lunch

Having people over for lunch is really just an excuse to try something new in the kitchen, well not entirely… you see I love a long lazy lunch but the trouble is I like to do something a bit special so often a simple lunch turns into several courses and a frantically busy host. Just to make things a bit more challenging I go off to church with my family right when I should be getting things ready so food that can be prepared ahead is the order of the day. So here is my thinking an easy tasting plate of bits and pieces to get things rolling quickly, a main that needs little close attention and a dessert that can be plated up beforehand…I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday lunch

Seafood tasting plate:

Seared prawn on grilled polenta squares topped with basil pesto
Tuna with lemon caper and coriander marinade
Scallop and sweet potato flan with lime ginger beurre blanc sauce

Tender beef fillet topped with anchovy béarnaise served with roasted tomato relish and crisp roasted baby potatoes and Spanish onions

Side salad of Wild rocket, garlic crouton and shaved parmesan salad with oregano dressing

Summer berry mousse with mint and king island cream