Month: November 2015

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake

What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies is the featured book on the Cookbook Guru this  month.  I made Katie’s Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake.  It turned out pretty well, despite some massive hesitations on my part. 

Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake2If you are not familiar with Katie Quinn Davies, Ladyredspecs of Please Pass The Recipe wrote a great post on her background and work here

One of the issues she mentions with the recipe she tried, a carrot cake that was definitely on my list to make,  is a certain vagueness Katie has around specific quantities of some ingredients.  This made me chuckle because only a few days before I’d had a very intense (and hilarious) discussion on just that point and it involved rosemary, one of the key ingredients in this cake.

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake1I mentioned I was thinking of making this cake to the work girls.  One of them visibly paled.  “Go easy on the rosemary” she said. She then told us this awful story of how she had made a rosemary panna cotta for a dinner party and it turned out terribly.

“People were gagging, ” she told us.  “The rosemary was soooo strong”.

We asked how much she put in.  “Four sprigs” she said.  There was then one of those talks which only happens when you really don’t want to go back to work.  How big is a sprig? She thought it was the size of the stick you get in the pack from the supermarket.  I think it is something about the size of your little finger.  One of the girls thought it was about the size of the tip of your little finger.  The internet was not really helpful. So we never really got an answer.  She used four sprigs of rosemary in her gag inducing dish. 

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake3I got home and checked Katie’s recipe.  It called for three sprigs.

So what to do?  It was less than the panna cotta’s four sprigs and my idea of a sprig was smaller than my friend’s.  But all of a sudden three sprigs seemed like a lot.  Rosemary is a strong flavour.  I really didn’t want people gagging over my cake. 

Aarrggghhhhhh!!!!!

In the end I gave in to fear and used two sprigs.  And, as one of my friends commented “You can’t even taste the rosemary”.  You could taste it could but it was faint.  I should have trusted Katie, I think three sprigs would have been about right. And a more exact measure of rosemary would have been ideal!

The Rosemary and Blood Orange cake looked lovely.  However, my version was quite bland.  This was more than likely my fault for being a coward with the rosemary; it certainly would have been a bit more interesting if that flavour had been stronger.  

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake2

It was a shame because the orange flavour was pleasant and the structure of the cake was great – the crumb was good, it was moist on the inside and golden on the outside.  It just needed a little something…possibly another sprig of rosemary for it to level up from being a decent, if ordinary cake to something spectacular. 

The cake keeps really well but the rosemary kind of works against it – after a few days it is hard to tell if those little green flecks are rosemary or teeny specks of mould. 

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake4I would like to say I would try this cake again but currently my spreadsheet of cakes to make contains 500+ recipes.  So, let’s say I bake a cake every week, which I don’t and this goes to the back of the queue, that would mean baking it again in about ten years.

Actually, that seems about right.  Let’s catch up in 2025 for an update on this!

Katie’s recipe, and her stunning photo of this cake can be found here.

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Sussex Pond Pudding

In a weird coincidence, the last three cookbooks I have read have all contained recipes for Sussex Pond Pudding. I had never heard of such a thing  before and suddenly, it was stalking me!  The universe was absolutely, positively telling me something.  And I took that message to be that I should make one.  Because that’s what the universe does right?  Offers a gentle guiding hand to point you in the direction of where you need to be going. 

But first, somewhat of a digression.  The cognitive bias that had me seeing Sussex Pond Pudding everywhere has a name – The Bader-Meinhof Phenomenom.  It occurs when a word, name or thing comes into your attention and shortly afterwards it reappears with what seems like greater than normal frequency.  I’d love to know if, after reading this any of you randomly hear the words Bader-Meinhof or Sussex Pond Pudding over the next few weeks.   Let me know if you do. 

My most recent sighting of a Sussex Pond Pudding (kinda makes it sound like the Loch Ness Monster) came from Big Table, Busy Kitchen by Allegra McEvedy.

I find Allegra McEvedy immensely likeable and all of her recipes that I have tried have been successful.  She describes the Sussex Pond Pudding as follows:

“This classic English Steamed Pudding is definitely of a superior nature to most of it’s steamy brethren…it’s the only steamed pudding I ever make and I need to make it at least once a winter”

High praise! 

The next reference came from  The National Trust’s Complete Traditional Recipe Book by Sarah Edington.

She offers some the following explanation of the name.

“Sussex and Kent extend their rivalry to puddings – the most famous being Sussex Pond Pudding and Kentish Well Pudding.  The former consists of a suet crust enclosing butter, brown sugar and a whole lemon, and in the latter currants are added.  Either way, when the pudding is cut open, a rich sweet syrup, the well or pond  – oozes out.”

The final book (which was actually the first book I read containing those three words was Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking.  Which you can read more about here.

You may have noticed that thus far, you have not seen any of my photos of the Sussex Pond Pudding.  I thought I would intersperse my pictures with Laurie’s commentary.

By the way, Laurie Colwin calls it Suffolk Pond Pudding.  For the sake of consistency, I will refer to it as Sussex Pond Pudding throughout.

But first.  Can we talk about suet? OMFG – was a more disgusting substance ever invented?  This has to figure right up there with the civet pooping coffee and that bird embryo they keep getting people to eat on Survivor and The Amazing Race.  I had to look it up because I was actually not too sure what it was.  I wish I hadn’t

Suet – raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys. 

I am really sorry British people who eat this stuff all the time but that is just disgusting.  Raw sheep kidney fat.  Exactly what I want in my sweet pudding. 

Turns out you can buy (fake?) suet in the supermarket and it looks kind of like breadcrumbs of butter.  So not as bad as you might think.  Just try not to think where those buttery breadcrumbs come from. 

And that pastry?  Was a bastard of a thing to make.  And I was not at all happy with the finished product. It was very both heavy//thick and fragile.  Getting it to line the pudding bowl was a nightmare. 

Suet PastryAnd now, over to Laurie Colwin.

“Sussex Pond Pudding although something of a curiousity sounded perfectly it splendid….it never occurred to me that nobody might want to eat it”

No one wanted to eat mine either.  The fussiest eater in the world took one look at it.

“What is that?”

It’s a Sussex Pond Pudding”

“It looks disgusting”

He comes from Kent.  Maybe I should have added currants.

Suet Pastry2Back to Laurie:

“My suet crust was masterful.  When unwrapped from it’s cloth, the crust was a beautiful deep honey colour”

Mine too, at least at the bottom, which became the top where all the butter and sugar had soaked into the pastry.

Sussex Pond Pudding

“My hostess look confused.  “It looks like a baked hat”, she said.

“It looks like the Alien,” my future husband said.

“Never mind, ” I said.  “It will be the most delicious thing you ever tasted”. 

Sussex Pond Pudding2

“I cut the pudding.  As Jane Grigson had promised, out ran a lemon-scented buttery toffee.  I sliced up the lemon which was soft and buttery too.  Each person was to get some crust, a slice of lemon and some sauce.  What a hit!  I thought.  Exactly the sort of thing I adored.  I looked around me happily and my happiness turned to ash”

The buttery lemony sauce was by far the best thing about this .  It was actually quite delicious.  And the soaked buttery pastry was not awful either. 

Sussex Pond Pudding4My host said: “This tastes like lemon-flavoured bacon fat”

“I’m sure it’s wonderful, ” said my hostess.  “I mean, in England”.

The woman guest said “This is awful.”

My future husband remained silent.

Mine did not taste like bacon fat, maybe because I used the fake supermarket suet. If you got it in the right ration of sauce (lots) to pastry (not much) it was actually not too bad.  It was not the “weird inedible sludge from outer space” Laurie Colwin describes however it is also not something I will feel compelled to make at least once a year like Allegra. Or ever again. 

Although I am going to have to find something to do with the rest of that suet!

Sussex Pond Pudding5I guess that sometimes, instead of being that gentle guiding hand, the universe is a smartrase little jokester who is six steps ahead of you laying down banana peels for you to prat fall on. 

And then, just as you are shaking your fist at it, it gives you a little wink and a grin and holds out its hands in a let’s be friends gesture.  In my instance, remember a couple of weeks ago  I said this:

I have a real hankering to go back and watch some early XFiles. I have yet to scratch that particular itch but it’s there….

And lo and behold, I was flicking channels on Saturday night during an ad break in, ok, I admit it, The Hunger Games and look what was on my telly:XfilesJust a couple of minutes before this scene Mulder was examining Scully’s butt for alien probes.  It was AWESOME!  I can’t wait for next Saturday!

Have a great week!

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The Dishiest Dish – Summer Punch Cup

Something a little different this week.  The best thing I made was a super summery, super fun, super colourful drink – The Summer Punch Cup.

Summer Punch CupThe Summer Punch Cup was inspired by two things.  First Schweppes has some limited edition “inspired by London” lemonade in the shops at the moment and it is delicious.  Also, I have been meaning to try the drink that most definitely is not Pimms (tastes almost identical to Pimms) from the cheap European supermarket. 

Put them together, add a splash of sherry and you have the Summer Punch Cup. 

Summer Punch Cup2Cole Porter said it best – “It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely”.

You could use normal lemonade, just muddle a bit more cucumber in the shaker.  And, of course, you could also use Pimms . However, I did do some research on the Austin’s Summer Punch before I bought it and the general consensus was that, particularly if you are using it with a lot of other flavours, the Summer Punch from the cheap European is  almost indistinguishable. 

The Summer Punch Cup is fresh from the cucumber, tangy from the lemon, sweet from the Summer Punch and lemonade with a touch of dryness from the sherry.  And it looks so pretty.  This is surely going to become my go to for summer!

Also right up there was the Passionfruit Coconut Custard.  I bruléed the top to make it even yummier!

Passionfruit Coconut CustardNo real disasters this week but I broke one of my main rules of cooking and regretted it both times.  The rule is never to buy an ingredient for a recipe if I have no other use for it.  I bought pickled mustard leaves for a Thai Khao Soi recipe and Doenjang for a Korean Steak dish. Neither were great and now I am stuck with a whole tub of Doenjang.  It looks a lot like miso, I wonder if I can use it interchangeably?  If anyone knows, please advise! 

Summer Punch Cup3This week I am looking forward to cooking:

Starter /Lunch / Salad  – Crab and Watercress Finger Sandwiches….so pretty!  This recipe comes from a special they did on retro food. I’m pretty sure there will be more recipes from this feature in due course. 

Main Event – Bang Bang Chicken Salad

Sweet Treats – Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake for The Cookbook Guru

In Other News I Have Been

Shopping

I’ve been on a bit of a cook book buying binge – all of these were delivered this week.  I’m very excited about all of them.  I think they are all going to be great fun!  Stay tuned, no doubt you will see some of the recipes contained within in due course!

Books CollageI also bought a spoon.  And not just any old spoon.  An official retro food for modern times spoon. Check it out! 

RFFMT Spoon

Playing

I found another game.  I have only played about ten minutes but already loving:

Her Story

Reading

I’m struggling through The Reckoning.  I’m about three chapters in and so far not enjoying it a lot.  I’ll give it another few chapters but I feel that this is not going to be my book of the year!

Summer Punch Cup4

Reading/Listening

I finished The Faithful Couple.   It was ok.

I have started The Last Werewolf.

Watching

Ever since reading The Versions of Us (still probably my favourite book of the year) I have been wanting to rewatch Sliding Doors. Which I got around to doing on the weekend.  Thoroughly enjoyable!!!

I also did a little Paris film watching on the weekend:

  • Midnight in Paris
  • Before Sunset
  • Two Days in Paris

Possibly my way of dealing with the terrible events of Friday night.

Another way to brighten up your day is with the Summer Punch Cup  –  it is a lovely light, bright and summery drink!

The Dishiest Dish – Summer Punch Cup

The Dishiest Dish – Summer Punch Cup

Ingredients

  • 60ml Austin's Summer Punch (or Pimms)
  • Lemonade (I used Schweppes Lemonade with cucumber and citrus)
  • 1 2.5cm thick piece of unpeeled cucumber
  • 1 tbsp lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ice
  • 1 tbsp Amontillado Sherry
  • Cucumber slices, strawberries and mint leaves to garnish

Instructions

  • Muddle the cucumber with the lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker to release the juice.
  • Add the Summer Punch and fill with ice.
  • Cover.
  • Shake until the the outside of the shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a tall glass.
  • Add fresh ice and the sherry.
  • Top with the lemonade.
  • Garnish with cucumber slices, halved strawberries and mint sprigs.
  • Enjoy!
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2015/11/19/the-dishiest-dish-summer-punch-cup/

What’s on your list of good things to cook?  What was the best thing you made this week?

What are you reading, watching, listening to?

I’d love to hear!

Have a fabulous week everyone! 

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History Happy Hour 1558 – The Gloriana

We’re  stepping into the waaaaaay back machine for today’s history happy hour, all the way back to 1558 when, on 17 November, Queen Elizabeth I ascended the English throne.

Gloriana3

“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too”
Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth’s parent’s were Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  However, maternal bonds were not really allowed to develop as her father had her mother’s head lopped off when Elizabeth was just under 3 years old.

By the standards of the day, Elizabeth was a beauty with the lovely Tudor red-gold hair.  I wondered if  this might not be the be the reason for the apricot brandy in the Gloriana. 

Gloriana2Elizabeth ruled for 45 years and her reign saw the voyages of Drake and Raleigh and the defeat of the Spanish Armada.  The position of the Church of England was stabilised and the arts flourished.  Elizabeth even attended the première performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. 

Elizabeth was the last Tudor Monarch.  She died without an heir to the throne and the crown  passed to James I. 

Gloriana1The Gloriana is traditionally ungarnished.  Given our subject was the Virgin Queen herself, I thought my garnish was appropriate.  (In a totally inappropriate way!)

If you feel like raising a toast to Good Queen Bess, Gloriana herself, I can think of no better way than with this delicious cocktail.

.  

History Happy Hour 1558 – The Gloriana

History Happy Hour  1558 – The Gloriana

Ingredients

  • 30ml Apricot Brandy
  • 15ml Gin
  • 15 ml Lemon Juice
  • Maraschino Cherry to garnish (optional)
  • Ice

Instructions

  • Place the ice in a cocktail shaker and shake with the Apricot Brandy, Gin and Lemon Juice.
  • Strain and pour into a cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with the cherry if using.
  • Enjoy!
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2015/11/17/history-happy-hour-1558-the-gloriana/

 

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Old Bay Beer Can Chicken

This is it, the grand finale of Old Bay October.  And what a month it’s been.  And what a meal to end it on.   This is the meal that the fussiest eater in the world declared “This is the best chicken you have ever made”.  

Oh Yeah!!!

The.  Best. 

You need to remember that before you see the picture. 

The.  Best.

Oh Lord….here it is….

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken1Oh, the indignity! 

I’m so sorry chicken.  Really I am.  It was bad and weird for me too.  Probably not as bad as for you, but bad all the same. 

Sigh.  And remember. 

The. Best. 

The things I do for this blog.  Including now, shoving a beer can up a chicken’s clacker.

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken – The Backstory

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken2Do you ever get that thing where out of the blue you hear a word or phrase and then all of a sudden you start hearing it everywhere?   Well this exact thing happened to me with  Old Bay and beer.  First thing, along with the Old Bay, Yinzerella sent me a book full of Old Bay recipes.  All of which contained Old Bay…and a can of beer.  In most instances the instructions were to drink the beer before, during or after making the Old Bay recipe. 

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken4

Then, I was randomly flicking through an issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller one afternoon during Old Bay October and came across an article where various chefs were asked their favourite way of cooking chicken:

p 107: Lachlan Colwill

For me, the best and only way to roast chicken is the beer can method.

I had heard of the beer can chicken method but  I had never in my life planned on making one.  However, I’d already read the Old Bay Book from Yinzerella.  Then I turned the page and leaping off the page at me was:

p108 and Daniel Pepperell’s Peroni Can Old Bay Chicken

I felt like my whole life had been leading up to this.  This was meant to be. Old Bay Beer Can Chicken.  Of course!!!

However, Peroni schmeroni.  In my very first post in Old Bay October I spoke about this being a Maryland and Melbourne collaboration.  So I used what the ads (if there were beer ads on tv anymore) would tell you is “the best cold beer”, the ubiquitous Victoria Bitter aka Vic aka VB. Brewed right here in Melbourne. 

Also, we happened to have a can of it in the house. And I’m a tight arse who was not about to spend money on something I do not drink.

So, here we go.  Rub a chicken with a mixture of olive oil and heaps of Old Bay.

Find someone who will happily drink half a can of beer of their choice for you. 

Do the necessary with the can. 

Pop in a hot oven. 

And voila.  The BEST CHICKEN EVER.

I served mine with some broccoli and garlic crumbs and some rosemary and bacon crispy potatoes. 

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken3This really is a fabulous way to cook chicken.  The skin gets lovely and crispy as all the fat drains off, the meat stays tender and juicy due to the steam effect of the beer.

If you do not like the taste of beer, no problem, neither do I and in fact, this was my major worry with this  – that it would taste beery.  It doesn’t at all. 

The Old Bay Beer Can Chicken looks totally ridiculous.  You will also most likely feel like some sort of sex pest when making it.

Is it worth the indignity? 

Hell, yeah!!!! 

Given the praise from the fussy eating one, this is going on high menu rotation.  I would love for you to make it and give me your thoughts!

What a way to end Old Bay October!  I love experimenting with new flavours and I think I really put Old Bay through it’s paces..  To finish with a dish that is both totally bonkers and utterly delicious was the best way to end the “month”.

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken

Old Bay Beer Can Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay (or more to taste) + 1 tsp more
  • 1 1.6 kg chicken
  • 1 can of beer
  • 1 garlic clove

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 180C.
  • Mix the olive oil and Old Bay.
  • Rub all over the chicken, including between the skin and the breast meat.
  • Drink half a can of beer.
  • Poke the garlic clove and the additional teaspoon of Old Bay into the beer can.
  • Sit the chicken on the can of beer.
  • Roast in the oven for approx 1.5 hours or until a skewer inserted into the thigh runs clear.
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2015/11/15/old-bay-beer-can-chicken/

Have a fabulous week.

Signature 1 Paris Peace Sign

 

 

 

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