Month: August 2015

Birthday Beatles Cake

They say it’s your birthday
It’s my birthday too, yeah
They say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you

Hey there

So yes, it was my birthday…and I made us all a cake.  And, oh boy, what a cake.  Just in case you thought that after that weird stroking meat hand we were done with Margaret Fulton?  No way.  No how.  Nyet.

Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake

Because I saved the best for last.  Because back in the 60’s Margaret Fulton made a very special cake. Which I totally copied for my birthday.  And it was awesome. 

What made it so good?

The burnt sugar cake?  Incidentally a first for me (and utterly delicious)…

Beatles Cake 2
Beatles Cake 2

The caramel icing?

 Beatles Cake3jpgThat it came with four….huh…maybe fab four friends to help get the party started?

Beatles Cake4
Beatles Cake4

 Yes, I made The Beatles Cake!!!!  Which of course, you already knew if you read the heading so my attempt at suspense was all for nought. 

 Here is Margaret Fulton’s original version, made back in the day.  

And here is mine:

beatles cake5
beatles cake5

 I think I did a pretty good job of this.  I was very pleased with my Beatle cookies.  Dare I say they may possibly even look slightly more like their counterparts than Margaret’s original?  And I know they’re not going to win any form of identikit prize and it may not be the face of Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich but it’s almost recognizably The Beatles.   If you squint.  And look from far away…

Beatles Cake John
Beatles Cake – John

I found the recipe here, although the burnt sugar cake is also included in the Margaret Fulton cookbook.

http://www.womansday.co.nz/food/recipes/everyday-recipes/2013/7/retro-recipes-for-a-beatles-party/

I changed it only slightly, I used the same icing pen for the eyes as I used to pipe the yeah, yeah, yeah biscuits and I rolled my liquorice flat (9-10 seconds in the microwave and it became soft enough to roll out).  Then I cut the hair shapes out with a pair of scissors. 

Beatles Cake Paul
Beatles Cake – Paul

Also, the template in the link did not work so I had to make my own face templates.  I looked at a few things and I decided my best option was actually to use some of the images I found looking under Beatles cartoons.  I printed them, cut them out, then cut around them to get the face shapes. 

I felt very sorry for Ringo.  The original recipe called for a peanut for each of the other Beatles’ noses and THREE cashews for Ringo’s!  Too cruel Margaret, too cruel.  I used a whole peanut for Ringo and a half peanut for the others.

Beatles Cake Ringo
Beatles Cake – Ringo

To be honest with you I did not think I could pull this one off.  There were so many points of worry – the shape of the cookies, decorating them, the right amount of burnt for the burnt sugar cake, the caramel icing.  This whole thing was FRAUGHT with a lack of confidence in myself more than any real complexity in the cooking.  I mean it wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever made but it also was not as hard as I made it out be in my head. 

Beatles Cake - George
Beatles Cake – George

The secret was like most things to give myself plenty of time and to break the recipe into little pieces.  I baked the cookies on Friday night, baked the cake on Saturday and did the icing and all the cookie decorations on Sunday.  For me this was about right.  I think trying to do more would have lead to madness. 

 Did I mention this was delicious?  And in the end….haha…worth all the bother.  Margaret Fulton sure knew how to make a cake!  It was also HUGE.

But only fitting this time round to finish some words from my favourite Beatle, George Harrison:

All the world’s a birthday cake,
So take a piece….but not too much

Wise words to live by. 

Have a great week!

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Home Cooking – Laurie Colwin

You know how sometimes you meet someone and you just click?  And you want to spend the rest of your life sitting on a sun drenched balcony with a glass of crisp rosé and maybe a some lovely fresh seafood just listening to that person talk?  Because right from the get go you recognise that this person is charming, delightful, witty and that you will be friends forever? 

These are the people who one of my childhood reading friends, Anne of Green Gables would have called “kindred spirits”.   And that is EXACTLY how I felt whilst reading Laurie Colwin‘s Home Cooking.

Oh, yeah, I’m back!  I hope you all enjoyed the Margaret Fulton holiday special.  Particularly as I only got about a third of the way through the book…so plenty more where that came from, even if it is about a year away.  Holiday deets will be forthcoming but first Home Cooking because like rust, I never sleep and I pretty much wrote this whilst on holiday almost immediately after closing the last page….or whatever the Kindle equivalent of that is.  

I LOVED this book.  And I really want to be BFF’s with Laurie Colwin. 

Wanna know why?

Laurie Colwin is a little bit like me

As frightening as that may be, reading parts of this book was a little like talking to myself.  I could just imagine us chatting and having so many of those “Me too” moments vis a vis….

  • “I love to stay home…I love to eat out, but even more, I love to eat in”
  • “In foreign countries I am drawn into grocery shops, supermarkets and kitchen supply houses”
  • “Dinner alone is one of life’s pleasures”
  • “There is no such thing as really bad potato salad”
  • “At night some people count sheep and others read mysteries.  I lie in bed and think about food.  Often I make up menus.  Sometimes I invent recipes”
  • “My favourite party is a tea-party”

 

She also shares some characteristics with some of my best friends both in real life and my favourite food bloggers!

She is opinionated

  • “As everyone knows, there is one way to fry chicken correctly.  Unfortunately, most people think their method is best , but most people are wrong.  Mine is the only right way,”
  • Grilling is like sunbathing.  Everyone knows it is bad for you but no one ever stops doing it”
  • “I do not like to eat al fresco.  No sane person does, I feel”
  • There is nothing to be said about (gingerbread) mixes.  They are uniformly disgusting”

 Home Cooking 3She has a sparkling wit

  • I was once romantically aligned with a young man who I now realise was crazy, but at the time, he seemed…romantic”
  • For eight years I lived in a one room apartment a little larger than the Columbia Encyclopedia”
  • “It is possible to get nasty food everywhere, but with the exception of a few eccentric meals fed me by my peers, the only awful thing I ate in England was a packaged pork pie; but then a person who eats a packaged pork pie gets what she deserves”
  • I am a great champion of English food, but what I was given at these dinners was neither English not food as far as I could tell.”

Home Cooking 2She writes about food like a dream

  •  “The smell of chocolate bubbling over and slightly burning is one of the most beautiful smells in the world.  It is subtle and comforting and it is rich.  One tiny drop perfumes a room like nothing else”
  • “Soup embraces variety.  There are silken cream soups that glisten on the spoon and spicy bisques with tiny flecks of lobster”

I was so sad at the end of the book to discover that Laurie Colwin passed away in 1992 aged only 48 that I cried a little.  After loving every word of this wonderful book, I truly felt like I had lost a friend.  And whilst I will never be able to a share cucumber sandwiches with anchovy butter with her in a teeny apartment in Greenwich village I feel like I have found a “kindred spirit” whose wit and wisdom will stay with me long after I have closed the last page of “Home Cooking”.

As I read this on holiday, I have not yet cooked anything from Home Cooking, but as soon as I do I will tell you all about it.  I have however ordered the sequel to this book, called More Home Cooking and, based on Laurie Colwin’s recommendation, I have also moved Elizabeth David’s book English Bread and Yeast Cookery to the very top of my wishlist.   In the meantime, the folks over at Food52 recently had their own Laurie Colwin celebration.  You can read about that here:

Food 52 Laurie Colwin Picnic

And I will leave you with some more lovely words from this wonderful writer.

laurie-colwin-author-1978photo-everettNo one who cooks, cooks alone.  Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.

Please note that whilst I received my copy of this book for review for free via Net Galley, my opinions are, as always, entirely my own.

 Have a great week! 

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MFCB 13 – Missing from the Modern Part 3

It seems fitting that for the 13th (and last) part of this series that we hit what has to be the weirdest photo in The Margaret Fulton Cookbook. I’m not even sure where to start with this one….

  • This lady’s incredibly hairy arms?
  • The weird tan line across the back of her wrist?
  • Why would you put your thermometer in the meat and then rub the salt over it.  Surely it’s just going to get in the way?
  • What is that even doing there? Don’t you take the temperature during cooking not before?
  • Why would you even want a photo of someone rubbing raw meat?

So many questions.  So few answers…it boggles my mind!

It seems so right…and yet so wrong to leave you with this image but I’m back from holidays and normal (or what passes for it ’round here) transmission will resume shortly!

Missing From The Modern 3
Missing From The Modern 3

Have a great week!

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The Margaret Fulton Cookbook 12 – Sunday Roast Chicken

Margaret Fulton - ChickenMargaret’s Mediterranean Chicken from 1977 fits the bill of being big and fat and crisp and brown.  Not to mention utterly delicious.

Mediterranean Chicken - Then
Mediterranean Chicken – Then

 And when you’re onto a good thing? Stick to it:

Mediterranean Chicken - Now
Mediterranean Chicken – Now

 if only the modern picture had a glass of wine in it, it would be perfect! But both of these are pretty superb pictures, you can almost taste and smell that lovely roast chicken!

I liked this so much I made one myself:

Mediterranean ChickenI think it is such a genius idea of Margaret’s to change the vegetables from the traditional roast – the tomatoes, mushrooms and olives were delicious, although I did throw in a few potatoes too.

 Here’s the recipe so you can make it too:

 French Roast Chicken1French Roast Chicken2Mediterranean Chicken - RecipeHave a great week!

 

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The Margaret Fulton Cookbook 11- Fish

Fish…is fresh when the eyes are bright, the flesh is firm, the gills red and the scales do not come off easily.  Fish should smell of the sea.

The biggest crime is to overcook fish.  Whichever method of cooking you choose, watch your fish with loving care, serve it with a glad heart and a touch of parsley, a wedge of lemon or a dash of paprika”

– Margaret Fulton

Fresh lively vibrant seaood

THEN:

 

Fish  - MFCB 1977Yikes!  So much fish, none of it looking all that appetizing.  And that fake background of the sea.  Because that’s where fish comes from kids.  Just in case you didn’t know….

NOW

I really want to be on a beach somewhere watching the sunset and eating some fish and chips as mouthwateringly delicious as these. 

 Margaret Fulton's Fish and Chips

Margaret Fulton’s Fish and Chips

 

What do I love about this photo?  The crispy fish, the sharp salt crystals, the hazy tartare sauce in the background, the muted colour sheme that makes the fish, the chips and the lemon just pop…so, in short everything!.

Hope your having a great week!  Now go eat some fish and chips…you know you want to!

 

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