February 27, 2008

Going Tropo Tarts

Well, since Bordeaux announced what we have to do on HHDH#18, I didn't really have a good look on the recipe. I just had a glimpse and thought 'oh, I can do that'. Then, when I came back to Barbara's entry for the event, I was quite surprised. Coconut tart shells! Not that I dislike coconut, it's just the way how the recipes calls to make coconut tart shell. I just could not believe myself that the ingredients needed are just awesome threesome! YAY!

I am always in awed in how people make delicious food on instant mode. Like there's no matter for the time but the taste, in other words: more taste than time. My, coconut shell filled with chocolate cream, who can resist? I can't! I re-read the ingredients and thought that it should be baked meringue-like cases, but there's no beaten-until-stiff method. My experience with egg whites is if they are not cooked, they'll go soft and gooey. Especially, when making it and shaping it like a tart shell. I can guarantee, the middle of the tart will go soft which is baked for only 10 minutes at 180C. That is quick!

However, I am an eager learner, so then I shall try out what's the book tells. And I was right. I put the shells in the preheated oven, set 180C, in 5 minutes, the edge of the shells have gone dark brown. I thought that's not good. I have to turn the oven down to 120C and bake again for 25 minutes. This time, the brown colour on the edge are not getting darker, but the middle of the shell is going firmer. Then, there's the thing: when you bake tart shell, you should really use beans for blind bake and I have completely forgotten about this as it's not mentioned on the recipe! Should not rely on the recipe alone, I don't think, while you know what's going to happen. I have to press the middle of the coconut shell with the back of a teaspoon, just to flatten the bumpy centre. It's not so bad, though.

I still have thin ganache in the fridge and was suitable to fill in the cases (I only ended up with three cases, using Texas muffin tins). It wasn't long for me to wait until the filling get harden, maybe around 15 minutes, in the fridge. Then I made mascarpone with passionfruit, without adding any sugar and piled them on the half side of the tart. I should use strawberries or raspberies to create an 'eye-catching' effect, but I have not stored any of those berries in the fridge, nor in the garden. I just used what I have. I also have some shaved dark chocolate and scatter them on top and dredge the tart with icing sugar with a sprig of mint I could find in the garden.

Definitely, this is my entry for Hay Hay It's Donna Hay #18: Coconut Chocolate Tarts, hosted by Bordeaux of Marita Says.

I am also looking forward to participate on Livestrong Day (my last year entry is Pineapple Upside-Down Cake), and will still be looking forward for your entry on Cupcakes Spectacular 2008! Please remember, the deadline is in two weeks time!

I'm getting sooooooo excited!

February 24, 2008

Cupcakes for Daddy

My oldest son is 5 years and 2 months, and my youngest daughter is 3 years and 7 months. They both are homeschoolers (although my daughter sometimes goes to a pre-school near home) and really are enjoying drawing, painting, counting, and writing (so, if I'm not visiting you yet, please remember, I am still home-schooling my kids).

They love books and do love exploring (remember the amazing moments with Monarch Butterflies? They watched, observed, and recorded! Little scientists they are). Last Wednesday, they got really excited to learn that their father was having a birthday. They urged me to guide them how-to write “happy birthday, daddy” on a piece of paper that they can use as greeting cards (which were then laminated by JSB). I just write the figures or alphabets on my own book, they copied them on their paper, handwritten (as you can see on the picture). So we finished it, that night, when their father was still sitting somewhere in the living room. They were whispering, not wanting their daddy hearing what they had been planning for him. We wrapped the cards with the present and they just could not wait until the next morning to show their daddy what they had done for him. Cards, presents and cupcakes.

These little cupcakes are Ben and Sarah's entry.

I am still waiting for your entry to join me the excitement of Cupcakes Spectacular 2008 and help me to make it happen!

February 21, 2008

Wholemeal Bread Rolls

We're almost in the end of Summer. As it is noticed, the evening is often chilly, and we have had rains every now and then. Some nights, I have to wear flannel dressing gown and thick socks. Putting soup on the menu at dinner time is necessary sometimes. That's what we do.


The peas are still producing in the garden and I have thought they might add some crunchiness in the soup. It is always good to enjoy soup with bread. The dunking and sucking the absorbed broth gives a lot more pleasurable when you think about childhood. Anyway, I am sending the bread for Bea and Jai's Click Photo Event: Flour.

Wholemeal Bread Rolls

wholemeal bread rolls

2 cups high grade flour,
2 cups wholemeal flour,
1 Tbs salt,
1 tsp sugar,
2 Tbs olive oil,
2 tsps active yeast,
1 ½ cups warm water

Put ½ cup of the warm water into a jug. Stir in the sugar and sprinkle the yeast. Stir to combine and set aside until the mixture froths. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt, make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture, oil, and the remaining warm water. Mix until combined. Tip it out on to the floured benchtop and knead it until smooth. Grease a large bowl and put the dough in. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the warm place until doubled in size. Punch down and cut 12 to make rolls (or do whatever you like, really). Leave the rolls to rise for about 30-45 minutes. Bursh with milk and sprinkle with rolled oats or rice flour, like I do. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until they are nicely browned and cooked (tap them to make sure they have hollow sound). Makes 12 rolls.

February 18, 2008

Garlic and Rosemary Oil Flatbread

We have had nice heavy rain this week and it's just like freshening up everything which seems faded, wilted, and dry. After three or more weeks without rain, it is just so good to enjoy the rain again. We didn't expect it to rain on weekend, though, as we were going to the A&P show in Pukekohe.

The first thing we saw was a group of pumpkins which people grow as the biggest as they can to get the title the widest while the ugly-looking pumpkin will get the title of the ugliest (given by the lumps, warts-like skin). The hall close to it was the Massey's and I goggled my eyes when I saw an array of home-made chocolate and sweets by the door, followed by home-baking products: cakes, scones, biscuits, bread, you name it! The first prize biscuits, OMG, they looked delicious! There were also homegrown vegetables. They were dry when we saw them, but I'm sure that was not the purpose of the exhibition.

The children were as immediately as they could went into a hall where groomed goats were prepared to be judged. We also witnessed the judging and the winners came out with ribbons and proud. I was looking around if they would be some people show off some home-made cheeses, but I could not find any. Well, I guess this was not food show.

flatbread n oil

Anyway, on the event of Bread Baking Day #7 hosted by Chili und Ciabatta, I make garlic and rosemary oil flatbread, our favourite topping to enjoy with soup or roast chicken. That day, I made them for a nibble for the children. I adapt this recipe from Donna Hay magazine, issued on Aug/Sept 2007.

flatbread and oil #2

Flatbread (basic dough)

2 tsps active dry yeast,
1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar,
1 1/3 cup (14 fl oz) lukewarm milk,
2 ½ cups (375g / 13 ¼ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour,
1 tsp table salt,
1 Tbs olive oil, and extra for brushing,
sea salt

Place the yeast, sugar, and milk in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Preheat the oven to 180C (355F). Place the flour, salt, oil, and yeast mixture in a bowl and mix until a smooth dough forms. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding a little extra flour to the dough if it is sticky. Return to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Press the dough onto a lightly greased baking tray to 1cm (1/3 in) thick, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serves 6.

Garlic and Rosemary Oil Flatbread

1 quantity basic dough,
3 Tbs olive oil,
¼ cup rosemary leaves,
2 cloves garlic, crushed,
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese,
sea salt (I don't use as cheese is already salty)

Preheat the oven to 180C (355F). Follow the basic dough recipe. Place the oil, rosemary and garlic in a bowl and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Press the dough onto a 25cm x 35cm (10 x 13 ¾ in) lightly greased baking tray (I always sprinkle the tray with rice flour without greasing with oil), brush with the olive oil mixture and sprinkle with parmesan and salt. Use a small knife to make cuts across the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serves 6.

February 15, 2008

Announcing: Cupcakes Spectacular 2008!

I believe that everyone of us has taken cupcakes to be one of many options to entertain, serve, or even make business of. Many cupcakes are made in simple cups, other are in pretty printed paper cases. Many of us serve them iced/frosted, others just love to have them plain, just to enjoy the flavour with a cup of tea or coffee. Elegant tiers of wedding cupcakes are as a central attention can be some soluble improvement, or perhaps a discovery to substitute, maybe replace, the old-fashioned fruit cake. Children party can't be as merry as colourful decorated cupcakes. And there are cupcakes with adult flavour, using your favourite alcohol or some flavourings you yourself adore.

Cupcakes are as easy to make as 1, 2, 3 and they include just simple ingredients that seem every pantry in any households can deal with. As you see, there are many possibilites a little fairy cake can do with only handy ingredients. So, let's make a party of cupcakes, all of us, and help me to make them real! Let's make Spectacular Cupcakes 2008!

Here are things you can do:

  • Make and bake your favourite cupcakes using any flavour you wish, any recipe you may find works so well for you. Gluten-free cupcakes and eggless cupcakes are accepted!

  • All cupcakes MUST be decorated with any icing/frosting you may find tasty to combine with the base flavour of the cupcakes. You can play around with buttercream, whipped cream, cream cheese, sugarpaste, marzipan, simple icing sugar, fresh fruits, or sprinkle them with your favourite edible glitters or chocolate shavings, all the things your imagination and creative minds can do! Spill your ideas all on to your cupcakes! Make them pretty and edible.

  • Take a photo of your cupcakes, make them special as yours is going to be one of the spectacular cupcakes in the world!

  • Post the photo and recipe (step by step may well do!) and send them to me at arfi(dot)binsted(at)gmail(dot)com with title Spectacular Cupcakes 2008, with the following data: your name, your location, your blog (include the URL), your post and post link, and a photo of 150pxl (only, please), with the latest entry on 15 March 2008, 12a.m. New Zealand (Auckland) Time.

  • Please, feel free to use the logo. Choose which logo is desired: 200pxls and 150pxls.

200 pxls

150 pxls

I will leave it up to you to fill those empty paper cases and look forward to your participation!

Thank you, Andrew to put the event on IMBB!

Happy Baking!

February 14, 2008

Nigel's English Apple Cake

When I started to make this cake, I thought I would make it just as slim as Nigel describes on his book The Kitchen Diaries [p. 306] but then I came up with a loaf tin which gives a thicker sponge with richer topping. I don't have a particular reason, really. Perhaps, my mind has been a bit occupied with something much bizzare than just a simple thing.

On weekend, I have tried to make Denise's lime and coconut cupcakes, I know I'm a bit obsessed to try them out as I do believe the lime and coconut combination will make a great flavour, and they are delicately flavoursome. In the afternoon after I've finished schooled my son, I also make this apple cake to think about An Apple A Day event hosted by Ma Che Ti Sei Mangiato...

I still have some recipes you might want to view or would give you ideas to use up your apples: Toffee Apple Cupcakes, Apple Cheese, and Apple Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce.

English Apple Cake

Source: Nigel Slater. The Kitchen Diaries. p. 306.

I sprinkled the almond slices for the crunchy 'effect' and more cinnamon on top with the breadcrumbs. Tastes some nutty burst in between the sugary crumbs and moist apple chunks with lovely soft buttercake. The recipe is quite simple with using same amount of butter, sugar and flour. The rest of them are yours.

130g butter,
130g unrefined caster sugar,
3 'eating' apples (dessert apples),
the juice of half a lemon,
½ tsp ground cinammon,
2 Tbs demerara sugar,
2 large eggs,
130g plain flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
3 Tbs fresh white breadcrumbs,
a little extra sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Prepare 24cm square cake tin, lined with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl unti light and fluffy. Meanwhile, core and cut into small chunks the apples and drop them into a bowl of lemon juice. Toss the apples with cinnamon and sugar. Break the eggs, beat them loosely with fork. Pour a little at a time into the mixing bowl, mixing well. Sift the flour with baking powder then fold in gently into the egg mixture. Scrape into the lined cake tin. Put the apple chunks on top of the cake mixture, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little of sugar, if desired. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. When it's baked, the cake will turn reasonably brown and firm in the middle. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm with pouring cream (single/fresh cream).

February 10, 2008

All about Peas


spoonfuls #2

Peas are growing in a short, short season. Once they're flowering and bearing pods, we have to watch out to harvest them sooner before they turn to be really floury. We all love peas and we do love eating them freshly picked. My kids love them eaten picked from the pods but they won't want to eat those from the frozen package. I have no idea why, they just seem know what's best for them. In the short season like this, I am taking these pictures, simply to celebrate how pretty they are while they are still fresh, green, and new. I'd like to send these entries for Food + Photography event, hosted by Dayna.

Kaffir Lime Chicken Kebabs with Kaffir Lime, Rosemary and Garlic Butter

I really am not clever on organizing a weekly menu like some people are. There are always things to give a change of heart, especially there are some things new in the market or when the stuffs are not there when they're supposed to be. A real disaster to the compacted mind and I don't really like to have plan Bs, because it is not the same as the original idea. Call me a bit conservative, but original ideas are the first things coming to the minds and they should be appreciatively done.

However, I usually have something on my mind when the groceries day is approaching, perhaps making something different, for a change or trying out some recipes. Olds and News. The thing is like I said before, when I really want to make something, the stuffs are not there, and this can be the trick of the minds that something should be decided what to pile on the dinner plates.

Like on the weekend, I planned to make chicken satay, Indonesian way, but I completely forgot to put the skewers on the list. And once forgotten, let's be forgotten. What to do? We're not living in the city that we can always go back to buy the stuffs, but going back for 35 minutes driving is not fun, just to buy the forgotten bamboo skewers. Nah. Perhaps, the mind is working on a plan B which I don't recognize as is. When strolling along the garden, my eyes are staring at the rosemary bushes and my mind is telling me to use them. Yes, but what should I do with the sauce? I should be making chicken satay with peanut sauce, and can't be mixing peanut sauce with rosemary-flavoured chicken? Can it? Nah. Nah.

Okay. Change the sauce, change the plan. Ha! Well, okay, one clear idea: chicken kebabs flavoured with kaffir lime in rosemary skewers, braised with kaffir lime, garlic, and rosemary butter, eaten with brown rice and BBQ courgettes which are mixed in with basil, roasted garlic and balsamic vinegar with olive oil and a bit of black pepper and salt. That's it. Actually, I didn't eat them with brown rice as I was not that hungry. I just loved to play with the kebabs and piles of courgettes-basil mixture for my dinner. I still have my home-made bread to scrub the juices off my plate. That was enough for me. Later that night, I sat back and said to myself: what a big-moments day.

I am sending this as an entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Erin of Skinny Gourmet.

Kaffir Lime Chicken Kebabs with Kaffir Lime, Rosemary and Garlic Butter

Makes 16 skewers (we ate 8 of them and freeze the other 8s for later use)

I picked three leaves of kaffir lime at Mum's garden as we only grow Tahitian lime, but it occurs to me to add it on the next-to-grow list. I do love the flavour of kaffir lime leaves. I think every ordinary meal can turn magically into exotic and sensous dish when shredded kaffir lime leaves added. Very exotic, very sensous. It's lovely.

892g chicken (that's what I have),
3 fat garlic cloves, minced,
1 Tbs ground coriander,
1 Tbs sweet chilli sauce,
1 tsp ground cumin,
sea salt,
1 kaffir lime leaf, chopped,
1 slice fresh white bread,
olive oil,
16 rosemary skewers

Process the chicken, minced garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and chopped kaffir lime leaf until smooth. Add in the fresh bread and process again until the mixture is smooth. Take some tablespoons of the mixture and press it against the skewer, smoothen it as you go (oil your hands will be quite helpful or use gloves) along the stick. Heat the grill. Cook the kebabs and braise them occassionally with the herbs butter.

Kaffir Lime, Rosemary and Garlic Butter

25g butter,
a sprig of rosemary, finely chopped,
2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped,
1 cloves garlic, roast (or grill on the bbq), mashed,
freshly cracked black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and brush it on the hot kebabs while on the grill and once the kebabs are all cooked, pile the remaining butter you haven't used on top.

These kebabs are also nice eaten with turmeric rice, Indonesian way: Basmati rice, 1 onion, finely chopped, 3 garlic cloves, 2 small bay leaves, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 Tbs coconut cream, olive oil for cooking.

Wash basmati rice and drain. Heat the oil then cook the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add in the ground spices, then the rice. Cook until fragrant. Add in enough water to cover and the coconut cream. Add in the bay leaves. Cover and cook until fluffy.

Selamat makan!

Bon Appetit!

February 08, 2008

A Cool Celebration

Well, yes. It is February. Some of you who live in the different parts of the world may be approaching Spring, which seems to be the favorite season for many, while we in New Zealand are still celebrating the heat of Summer. It is hot and dry and humid.

Celebrating Valentine's in Summer means we have to stay cool. BBQ can be quite hot and it needs something to temper down. A cold dessert is a necessity, accompanied with heaps of fresh Summer berries and your favorite cream or ice cream. I made coffee and star anise bavarois for participating on Zorra's Heart of Valentine. I wanted to make some chocolate praline, but my love has been on chocolate-free diets for almost 3 months or so now. If it is good for him and he makes a great efforts to avoid this aphrosidiac temptation, then why I should allure him with something that he avoids to eat. Seems too cruel. And that's why I choose to make this bavarois because I know well that he loves coffee.

Coffee and Anise Bavarois

Source: Martin Bosley

3 tsp gelatine powder,
600ml milk,
60ml espresso coffee,
3 star anise,
5 egg yolks,
120g sugar,
300ml cream

Dissolve the gelatine in a little hot water. Heat the milk with the coffee and star anise. In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, then pour in the hot milk. Return the mixture to the pan, place over a gentle heat and cook until thickened like custard. Stir in the gelatine. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a chilled bowl. Refrigerate, stirring occassionally, until the mixture starts to set, approximately 10 minutes (I think it depends on how cold your fridge is. Mine took 25 minutes to thicken and getting set). Lightly whip the cream and carefully fold it into the coffee cream. Pour into individual ramekins and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving with some whipped cream or a salad of fresh orange segments on the side (I use heart-shape moulds to fit in the occasion). Serves 6.

February 05, 2008

Revisited Art: Chocolate Lace

our 4th anniversary cake

This is my first 'masterpiece', I suppose, although I didn't make the invention, the first time I really get into the sugarcraft art work. I did invent the passion for it in myself if it's the same matter. Art can't really be measured from what I think, but what I feel. The greatest satisfaction of all is an achievement, something I've never ever thought I am able to do. There's a self-esteem involved and yes, it does feel good!

On the event of Art You Eat, with this month's theme is chocolate, I am tracking back the passion I had had on the special occasion of our wedding anniversary in 2005. I had my hands on the chocolate lace to put on the cake as the centrepiece. I was not at all happy with the result as I thought the centrepiece that high will need two-tiers wedding cake, but then looking back, it wasn't so bad. At least, I did come to a certain stage I had not done before.

The pictures are archived in 2005 (and I was still using a video camera!). Without further ado, here's what I did:

Source: Lace and Filigree by Nicholas Lodge (Oh, how I'd loved to meet this man! His hands are golden with art and masterpiece!)

Equipments I use: a piping bag, baking paper, a pattern, a small plain nozzle (no. 1) and a plain paper


First of all, copy the pattern in a book and tracing it with a pencil on a plain paper. Then, put a baking paper on the pattern (on the plain paper), tracing the pattern with a pencil. Keep the pattern on the plain paper for your record and use the pattern on the baking paper as you're going to trace it with melted chocolate.

Prepare a board, a cake board or a hardcover book to place the baking paper with the pattern (you can also work on your benchtop if you wish) so it will have a smooth and level surface. Use a tape to glue the baking paper on the board. That will help when you're tracing the pattern, the pattern won't slip off the board (that will make a neat job messy).

Melt the chocolate, temper, and wait until it's thickening. Pour into a piping bag fitted with the nozzle (you can use no. 0 or no. 00 if you wish; they will give thinner lines, though). Work from the top of the pattern. Squeeze gently to let the mixture out on a spare baking paper, just to make sure it will flow easily, well, generally it will.

Trace the lines on the pattern. Use your imagination and your own style. It will give the look you really picture on your mind. The pattern that I use is flowers with leaves and I have to make 4 pieces of the same pattern, so when they are placed on the centre, they can stand against each other.

Let the chocolate cool. I don't keep my chocolate lace in a fridge because they will 'sweat' and when are removed at room temperature, the chocolate will develop white dots as the results of the 'dry sweats' (white blooms?), they won't look good as the centrepiece.

When they are cool and hard, peel off the paper carefully, you don't want to break them. I broke one of them as you can see in the picture of the cake I only used three of them. Keep them at a dark place as they will melt easily, especially in a hot Summer day!

What I made for the base of the lace was a chocolate saucer: just draw a circle on a baking paper, trace the outer line, then fill in with melted chocolate, leave to cool and hard, then peel off the paper. Place it on the centre of the cake which is already iced with buttercream or fondant. I did it with buttercream, tinted pink. Arrange the chocolate lace on the chocolate plate, 'glue' them with melted chocolate and you have to keep your hands cool when you're handling the lace, otherwise they will melt! You can always use a toothpick or the tip of your tooling ball.

Decorate the plate with drizzled chocolate to resemble laces around the edge of the plate. Finish the cake with chocolate hearts and flowers, whatever you feel is fitted in the theme and based on what you feel.

Happy decorating!

February 04, 2008

I Want It Gooey!

I was a bit occupied on the weekend when the Monarch butterflies started to hatch out of their chrysalis and kids have cried out to remind me to take pictures for them while I was wanting to try out Denise's Coconut and Lime Cupcakes which couldn't happen. We'd chosen to spend more time in the garden, watching 7 black pupa out of 92 caterpillars 'registered' (today, it is 5 more fresh-wings-butterflies!) transforming into beautiful butterflies. How could you not, while this moment is only to be happening once a year, a rare occasion indeed, if you're lucky to have them in your garden. Fortunately, it is our second year to have them in our garden, but the first year for the children to be aware of their presence with their observant minds. They're very excited to wait the black pupa to hatch. I am sure they won't forget this precious moment.

After all those pretty moments, I decided to come down to the creek down the valley. It is just beautiful as I can imagine. It's like an oasis in a dry-dry-land. So dry as far as you can see everything is brown. And this little creek gives the freshness, the green lane in the middle of wilted grounds. So lovely. Reminds me of the forest I used to play in when I was a kid, searching for twigs or watching monkeys swinging from one tree to the others, fishing in a small river sheltered by huge trees. So lovely.

However, I meant to bake something I love today, precisely on the list from weeks and weeks ago, and I want something gooey, something chocolatey, something pleasant. The thing that I've missed and craved for. Nigel Slater has the answer for me. Frankly saying, this is my second try-out of this gooey almond cake. Last week, I failed it. I think I made a mistake on the whisking the egg whites with my own balloon whisk, giving me cramps on my shoulders and I had to stop a few minutes at a time, just to rest my shoulders. One of these days, you see, you just want to go back to the old days when there were no sophisticated mixers with multi-task attachments, just to feel the feeling how hard it must be. But, I admit, I must have been spoilt by the modernity, the easy-to-get-and-operate tools and didn't give too much credit to myself doing the most labour work those ancient days that I could have done. Anyway, I suppose that I should just leave it well enough alone.

chocolate almond cake

Now, about the cake, I think I also over-baked it which then gave a dry result, I confess I really hated it. I don't like the taste of dry cake, it is just like eating a sandpaper. I'd rather to have them soaked in orange juice and hide them in the bottom of a trifle, or else, give them to the birds. So, I am very happy with the latest result which appeared as gooey as I expected and superb taste as I loved. My mood is back! YAY!!

My suggestion: make it when you crave for it rather than make it when you have to do it for other reasons (well, except you're making money out of it).


Chocolate Almond Cake

Source: Nigel Slater. The Kitchen Diaries. p. 99-100.

Enough for 10.

200g fine dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids—I use my favorite Whittaker's Dark Ghana 72%, a local production and it is pleasantly dark),
a small, hot espresso,
200g butter,
80g plain flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
2 level Tbs very good quality cocoa powder,
125g almonds,
5 eggs,
200g golden unrefined caster sugar

Prepare 23-24cm cake tin, 5cm deep, buttered and lined. Preheat the oven, 180C. Break the chocolate and put them in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (on a low heat, of course). When the chocolate starts to melt, pour in the hot espresso (I used about 70ml), then add in the butter. Don't stir. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together. Set aside. Process the almonds (not blanched) in the food processor until resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Separate the eggs. Put the white eggs in a mixer bowl (and put the yolks in another bowl), whisk until stiff and thick, fold in the sugar gently (this is the tricky part; watch out not to mix brutally, you will kill the air bubbles). Nigel suggests to use a large metal spoon and you know, that splendidly works! Now, remove the chocolate from the heat and stir the last butter which hasn't melted yet. Add in the mixed egg yolks and stir into the chocolate mixture until just combined and this will make the mixture thickened. Nigel asks us to fold in the egg whites and sugar, followed by mixed flour and then almond powder, but I did it on the other around as I do believe it's much safer to retain the bubbles in the egg whites to their best after flour and almond powder are mixed and combined. However, you do your technique that works best for you.

Bake for 25 minutes which only was done for 19 minutes in my oven. Just test with the skewer, it must be no batter should be clinging to it. Leave to cool. I just love to eat it warm.

February 02, 2008

Zucchini Cakes with Dill and Feta

Garden is really dry at the moment. My flowers are wilted and most of them are going to seed. We're periodically pumping the water from the creek down the valley to water the garden. We do it manually by hose. After all, it is just a home garden, nothing really sophisticated or engineered equipments arrangement around the garden. Working in the garden is always muscles involved and that is a good thing, I suppose, to do the cheap exercise while you can breath the good air.

However, we still are enjoying our homegrown vegetables. We still have courgettes, pumpkins, watermelon, apple cucumbers, telegraph cucumbers, tomatoes, silverbeet, carrots, kumara (sweet potato), spring onions, broad beans, peas, runner beans, and capsicum to mention a few. Strawberries are reaching the final growth which are bearing small fruits while we've finished all the plums, except some of black dorris-billingtons and a few Burbank plums. We're still waiting for the Autumn-ripen plums to harvest, but we're not going to enjoy them until March, and most of the peaches are going to be ripen around March-April, as well as are Autumn apples. Passionfruits are awaiting to be gone purple, then we can enjoy the flesh. Kiwifruits are dangling happily, although only 6 of them, they do much better this year with two extra fruits for us to enjoy than last year's.

My dill plants are flowering, I though it is impossible to make zucchini cakes with it once the flavour won't be that fresh anymore, but then I found one plant was still growing with lovely faded green-silverish needle-shape leaves amongst the going-to-seed lettuces. With courgettes in an abundant supply, it is a good time to make zucchini cakes with dill and feta, taken from much loved cookbook Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Claudia.

zucchini cakes1

Zucchini Cakes with Dill and Feta

Source: Nigel Slater. The Kitchen Diaries. p. 227-228.

3 large zucchini (courgettes) or about 500g,
4 salad onions (finely chopped),
olive oil,
1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped),
3 Tbs plain flour,
a large egg,
100g feta cheese,
a small bunch dill, chopped,
a coarse, fine-quality chutney, to serve (I used my own tamarillo chutney to go with it)


Grate courgettes, sprinkle with salt. Leave it for half an hour. Heat the oil in a pan. Cook the chopped onions until soften but not brown. Dry the grated courgettes or wringe them out lightly. Add the chopped garlic in the pan. Add in the grated courgettes, keep cooking until almost pale gold. Add in the flour, cook until the flour is well-combined and well-cooked in the mixture. Season with black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Heat oil in a pan, drop heaped tablespoons when the oil is really hot. Cook until golden and turn delicately as the mixture is very fragile and cook the other side until golden brown as well. Dry on a paper towl lightly, then serve with the chutney. Makes about 6.