Month: August 2016

My Swan Lake Cake

Remember…hmm about a year ago when I bought the re-issue of the classic Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday  Cake Book?  And I swore black, blind and blue that this year for my birthday I would make the classic swimming pool cake? Well that didn’t happen.  Because I made something better!  I made a Swan Lake Cake!

Swan Lake CakeOk, technically a pink flamingo cake but in my mind a Swan Lake cake because….I’m going to the ballet!  For my birthday the Fussiest Eater in the World bought me…us…tickets to Swan Lake! It’s being performed by the Russian National Theatre Ballet and I can’t wait.  Mind you, I have to because it’s not until November.  Meantime, I guess I can eat cake!

Swan Lake Cake2Ok. so, let’s get down to it.  This should have looked like this:

Pool Party Cake
Pool Party Cake

Not to diss the AWW but I like my version better.  It’s brighter, less busy, a little more uncluttered.  And it’s pink flamingo’s on a lake of bright blue jelly (jello for my American friends)!!!  When there are so many artificial colours in the one place, you need to keep it pretty simple!

Swan Lake Cake3So, now to the assembly.  I used a box butter cake mix.  You could buy a ready-made cake.  It’s going to have a big hole cut in the middle of it so no need to be too precious here. 

Swan Lake Cake5The next step is to ice the cake inside and out.  Icing on the inside will prevent the cake from going soggy once you add the jelly /jello.  Here I am about half way through that process.  I used the icing that came with the cake mix and it was just enough although I had to spread it pretty thin in some places. 

Swan Lake Cake6 I used Blue Heaven flavoured jelly.  Which as anyone outside of Australia will know is a totally made up nonsense flavour.  And anyone in Australia will be hard pressed to tell you what Blue Heaven actually tastes like.  EXTENSIVE research on my behalf (ie a google search) would have me tell you that Blue Heaven is a combination of raspberry and vanilla. Which does sound quite heavenly. I have no idea why it’s blue. 

It does make a pretty lake though! 

Swan Lake Cake8

Swan Lake Cake10

I really wanted to keep the jelly whole so I would have  a lovely smooth surface on my lake.  Impossible!  Anyway, I went down to our local lake today and it was neither flat (nor quiet).  I had never really noticed how LOUD the lake is on a windy day!  And not just because Oscar goes crazy when he sees his version of Swan Lake!

Oscar and The SwansOnce your jelly sets, rake thought it with a fork and then move it into your cake lake. 

Decorate as you will – a Swan Lake Cake, a swimming pool cake, a sea monster cake!  Whatever floats your boat….you could even float your boat on the lake!  I bought my flamingo candles at a gift shop but you could use toys or sweets.  The only limit here is your imagination.

Oh and a little tip for eating.  Jelly and cake is great!  Jelly and cake and a little dollop of whipped cream? 

Trifle-icious!

Swan Lake Cake9.jpgHere’s the original recipe from the AWW:

Swimming Pool Cake Recipe

Here’s a little bit of what I’ll be seeing come November. 

Have a fabulous week!

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Cauliflower Basket

This was NOT how I wanted to celebrate reaching the halfway mark of The A-Z of Cooking.  Because that’s where we are – M is for Meatless Mains!  I decided to use the current darling of the vegetable world, the cauliflower to make the intriguing sounding Cauliflower Basket. Here’s what it looks like in The A-Z:

Cauliflower Basket5Hmm…you say.  Not very basketlike you say.  Well, you’re both right and wrong.  Wrong because hidden in that seemingly normal cauliflower is a whole melange of….well…more cauliflower with cheese and eggs and capers and pickles. 

On the other hand, you’re absolutely right because in terms of being a good material for a basket, cauliflowers SUCK.  It probably explains why someone had to invent wicker.  So, what happens in real life when you try to make a basket out of a cauliflower?  Well, you get something that looks like the creature from the Black Lagoon and  / or something the creature from the Black Lagoon vomited onto a baking tray.

Cauliflower Basket1Mmmmmm….Yummy!

There are so many flaws in this recipe that I don’t even where to start. 

Cauliflower Basket – The Good

So, I’ll start with the ONE overarching positive. 

This tastes DELICIOUS.  No, really.  It does.  Stop laughing. 

Sigh.

I’ll just wait shall I?

Cauliflower Basket – The Bad

Okay…you might want to go grab yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit.  We might be here a while.

  1. You need to cook a whole cauliflower.  Do you have any idea how long this takes?  Which may have been fine in the 1970’s when I’m guessing utilities cost nothing  but nowadays? That cauliflower is going to end up costing you more than caviar!
  2. Next.  The actual premise of the recipe is fundamentally structurally flawed.  Once you have spent an hour cooking it, you then need to cut a piece out of the top of the cauliflower so ideally you now have a U-shaped hole in your cauliflower.  Here’s the thing.  This doesn’t work.  Because the minute you start to cut down into the cauliflower, you are cutting away the support for the sides of that U.  So the walls of your basket start to fall away. Cauliflower Basket2
  3. So then you make a very tasty cheese sauce, chop up the bits of cauliflower that you have cut out of the middle and pile it all back into the U.  Except of course, you don’t have a U so it falls all over the baking tray.
  4. This recipe is found in the Meatless Mains section.  This meal is by no means a main dish. It is a side dish.  A very tasty side dish.  A delicious side dish.  But not a main.  This would be great with steak or chicken.  It is not enough in itself to make a meal.  Look how lonely it looks on the plate.  It’s almost crying for a little bit o’ roast chicken to keep it company!Cauliflower Basket3
  5. Because you are using a whole cauliflower you end up making a TON of this, so unless you are planning on serving it for a large gathering of people, you will be eating Cauliflower Basket for a week. 
  6. If you were planning on serving this to large gathering, be prepared at best to have raised eyebrows and at worst to be publicly mocked.  This is one  fugly looking dish. 

The Recipe

Here is the original dumbarse recipe from The A-Z of Cooking:

Cauliflower Basket RecipeA much more sensible way to make this would be to cut the cauliflower into florets, par boil them and just pour the sauce over top. This would keep the flavour but remove all of the annoying things about it.  And eat it as a side!

There’ll be more celebrating next time, it’s been my birthday and I made cake!

Have a fabulous week everyone!

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Tanis Inspired Cocktails #1 – The Black and Tanis

Regular readers will know what a HUGE fan I am of the Pacific Northwest Stories Podcasts, Tanis and The Black Tapes.  They are both utterly, utterly brilliant, to the point where I barely listen to anything else anymore.  Just obsessively check my Stitcher feed to see if there is new content.  And re-listen to old podcasts so I can find stuff I missed the first time round.

Black and Tanis4

I am always so excited for new content but then I often have to wait a couple of days to listen to it because, particularly The Black Tapes, has some seriously spooky shit going down.  As some of you may also know, the Fussiest Eater in the World works nights and I am of a nervous disposition.  So I can only listen in daylight and when I am not going to be in the house alone that night.  If I don’t then we get situations like the other night when I was bolt upright in bed from 3:00am because I swear to God I had been woken by some….one?  thing? knocking on my bedroom door and there is a spooky psycho killer child on The Black Tapes who:

  • Used to communicate only by knocking
  • Can teleport himself into people’s room to kill them

Goodbye sleep, it was nice knowing you. 

 

What is Tanis?

But I digress.  This is not about The Black Tapes, this is about Tanis.  So what is Tanis?

It’s possibly a mythical place but equally, it might be real.  It may create exceptional song writers who die darkly (Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain),  assorted madmen, weird dead eyed children and mutant cuttlefish; it may be the place Lucifer landed when he fell from heaven, it may be the fountain of youth, it may be the holy grail.

If it is a place, it may or may not currently exist in the Pacific Northwest, in an area now under lockdown called The Breach. 

Then again, Tanis could also be a person. 

Or possibly a cat.

Black And Tanis 1

Seeking Tanis is radio producer Nic Silver. However, saying Tanis is about a dude looking for a place that or may not exist is like looking at that Munch painting and saying “It’s about a guy who’s having a bad day”.  Technically correct but all the meaning and nuance and complexity that makes it the awesome thing that it is, is totally lost.  Helping Nic is “information specialist” (please don’t call her a hacker) Meerkatnip, (MK to friends).  She is cool and smart and has a wonderful dry sense of humour and is, my favorite character. She finds a lot of information for Nic and really, he would be lost without her. 

The picture below which came from one of Nic’s emails (I know, I’m such a geek.  #sorrynotsorry ) shows some of the details and  connections Nic & MK have uncovered in the search for Tanis however it doesn’t even touch on the links to Charles Manson, rocket scientists writing weird stories, mad trappers, Jack The Ripper, servant girl murders, disappearing planes and two possibly unrelated people with dogs called Monkey. 

As another character, Cameron Ellis might say, “It’s complicated”.  And it is, but in the best, most intriguing way possible.  This is smart, well researched, edge of your seat story telling at it’s best!

So anyway, already long story about to be cut short.  Nic, and others, are seeking Tanis.  So, imagine my surprise when, on our recent trip to Bali, I found it! 

https://i0.wp.com/www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Tanis-Villas.jpg?resize=480%2C360I tweeted this picture and someone tweeted back that they wondered what kind of drinks a Tanis inspired bar would have.  My first idea was for a Black & Tanis which is what I have made today.  Then, joy of joys, the Tanis Podcast then tweeted back a few ideas.  So, over the next month I will be running a mini-series of Tanis inspired cocktails, starting with today’s Black and Tanis.

 

Black And Tanis 9

After MK, my next favorite character in Tanis is Geoff van Sant. Geoff’s brother Carl was the person who posted the Craigslist ad shown above before topping himself in their basement.  Carl thought he was, or wanted others to believe he was, a runner.  A runner is….OMG can you just all please listen to the podcast?  Because this really is complicated.  Anyhow Geoff’s catch cry is “Wanna grab a beer?” And in Season 1, Episode 2 it also transpired that Geoff, Nic or both are Guinness drinkers.  So, on top of the name being totally appropriate, the Black and Tanis also seems like something Nic and Geoff might actually drink!  

The Black and Tanis

I didn’t want to make a straight up Black and Tan because what would be the fun in that?  I also love a pun so my idea was to anise up a regular Black and Tan which I would then contract down Brangelina style from Black and Tan and Anise to a Black and Tanis! 

The little guy is actually a mini Balinese satay grill but I thought he looked creepy enough to be included here!

Black and Tanis7

I am not a beer drinker so I was a bit worried that beer….oops, sorry pale ale (for the pedantic people out there) and stout and anise would taste revolting together or that there might be a combination  in the three that would send you barking mad.   Remember when you were seventeen and someone told you that if you drank Bailey’s and then drank soda water and then went on a plane your stomach would explode? I was scared of something like that happening.  Of course, we all know that is just nonsense.  Do we? Do we really?  Does anyone know if that can actually happen? Who drinks Bailey’s on planes anyway?  G&T all the way!

Then I found this recipe:

Cinnamon & Star Anise Beer

And, happy days, I knew this was going to work.  Here is my syrup cooking away.

Black and Tanis8

I used a Gage Roads Atomic Pale Ale  as my tan.  I know nothing about beer so I chose this entirely on its name and a tenuous link to Tanis (Jack Parsons who wrote the short story Where is Tanis back in the 1950’s has been called the Atomic Antichrist). But for those who care about such things it is an American style pale ale.  It was really nice – very refreshing.  I could see myself drinking more of these on a hot summer day!

Black and Tanis 3jpgMy black was a traditional Guinness.  I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of the Guinness as I had always assumed it would be very dark and very bitter but it was a lot lighter and more pleasant tasting than I thought it would be.  I won’t be rushing out to buy crates of it but it was a lot more drinkable than I had previously assumed.

Black and Tanis6

You can see in the photo above, how much “tanis” there was the glass originally.  Despite my best intentions of careful pouring the “black” bled into the tan a lot so the final result looks a lot more black.  If I was making this again I would add even more of the pale ale so after adding the Guinness, it would look more like 50/50.  Still, I love the ombre effect. I also think the Guinness might have been colder than the pale ale because it created a weird condensation at the top of the glass. 

The Fussiest Eater in the World, who is a beer drinker, liked this very much.  I did too.  And it was great fun to create. 

Black And Tanis
A Black and Tan with Anise to celebrate the podcast Tanis.
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For the Cinnamon and Star Anise Syrup
  1. 1/2 cup sugar
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 2 cinnamon sticks
  4. 2 star anise
For The Black and Tanis
  1. 1 can of Guinness
  2. 1 can or bottle of Pale Ale, I used Gage Roads Brewing Co. Atomic Ale
For The Star Anise and Cinnamon Syrup
  1. Combine the sugar, water, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, at least 1 hour.
For the Black And Tanis
  1. Place a tablespoon of syrup into the bottom of your glass.
  2. Pour in the beer and give it a light stir.
  3. Place a spoon with the back side up against the side of the glass. Very slowly pour the Guinness over the spoon until the glass is full.
  4. Enjoy!
Adapted from Star Anise and Cinnamon Syrup from Giada De Laurentiis
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Have a great week.

And remember, keep looking!

 

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Future Classics – Australian Table – August 2001

Remember how I said I had a fab idea for a whole new series of blog posts whilst on holiday?  Here’s the thing, along with hundreds of cookbooks, I also have a huge collection of food magazines, most of which sit on shelves in my back room doing nothing.  Once a year, I grab a handful of the oldest, take them on holiday and cut out the recipes I want, throw away the magazines, and cook the recipes over the next 12 months. 

Vodka With Crushed Limes2

Crispy Duck with Green Pancakes2jpg

Currently I have a few mags from the late 1990’s but they are most from the early noughties onwards.  So they are not quite but well on their way to becoming formally vintage.  My thought on holiday was….”These are the things that will shortly become the vintage recipes of the future.  So, instead of ripping them up, I’m going to start cooking from them.  Once a month, I’ll revisit one of these magazines, cook a thing or two and decide if these are future vintage classics – or just junk taking up space in my backroom.  Here are the early years to 2013:

Magazines1And here are 2014 to the present day:

Magazines2so, to start, we are stepping back in time 15 years to the August 2001 edition of Australian Table:

Australian Table August 2001 I also thought it might be fun to revisit some of the content of these magazine as well as the recipes, so without further ado, here are the:

Flavours of The Month – August 2001

This section spoke about what was in season.  I thought I might give it a little Retro Food For Modern Times Twist!

Sweet Potatoes

Huh….my plan here was to insert a recipe or two from the blog.  However, apparently I have made nothing with sweet potatoes. I’ll link to some recipes  below.

Baby Bok Choy

Or anything with Bok choky.  What have I been cooking in for the last four years? 

Cumquats

Hooray – Finally!

Click here for my Four Kumquat Canapés For Four Food Heroes recipes

Pineapples

Melbourne Cup Crab and Pineapple Appetizer and MC Cocktail

Pineapple soufflé

Movies of The Month

Oh man.  August 2001 was a GOOD month for movies!  I would quite happily watch Bridget Jones’s Diary or Along Came a Spider today.  I don’t recall ever seeing Evolution but I am definitely putting that to rights, pronto.  I know it’s probably a little late with the picky picky however, Australian Table, I would like to point out that the chocolate-voiced, sloe-eyed maverick investigator is actually called Alex Cross.  The ACTOR is Morgan Freeman.  And what a difference a letter makes.  Slow-eyed which I typed at least a dozen times in the above paragraph makes you sound like you should be taking special classes.  Sloe-eyed…hello sexy!

Movies - August 2001

Music Of The Month

Well, I guess you can’t have it all.  I listened to none of these at the time nor do i have any real desire to seek out any of these.  Maybe the Elvis Costello.

Music August 2001

The Food

I chose two recipes from an article on fool proof party food starting with:

Vodka with Crushed Limes

Australian Table August 2001These are my flavours…this was so good!  Tangy, sweet delicious!

Crispy Duck with Green Scallion Pancakes

Crispy Duck with Green PancakesNo, these are my flavours!  Spicy, seductive!

Australian Table August 20012

Berry and Rhubarb Crumble

This recipe came from an advertisement for a 3 in one hand blender.  Crumble is pretty much already a classic but the addition of rhubarb instead of the more traditional apple?  Genius!

Rhubarb and Berry CrumbleRhubarb and Berry Crumble Recipe

Everything I made from this mag was SUPER! My view is that this is a definite future vintage classic!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down memory lane!  I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a mag from September 2001.  I hope it’s as good as this one!

Have a great week!

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Bourbon Brigade Pudding

Coming back to Melbourne in winter after a tropical holiday has been a shock to the system.  I’m not sure if it is the cold or getting back onto germ-laden public transport but I have come down with a whopper of a cold.  Sore throat, blocked nose, and a head that feels like it is about to explode.  When I have not been in bed this weekend, I have been craving comfort food and what better way to rally one’s flagging spirits than with a Brigade Pudding.  And not just any Brigade Pudding but a Bourbon laced Brigade Pudding!  Because alcohol kills germs right?

Brigade Pudding 3To quote The Rolling Stones “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”. Such was the case with the recipe for Brigade Pudding.  There I was flicking feebly through the A-Z of Cooking, trying to muster the energy to get out of bed / the house / my sense of lethargy.  And to quote Marcy Playground (who knew illness would bring out my musical side, or maybe it was those weeks of Balinese cover bands).

“And then there it  was, Like double cherry pie, Yeah there it was, Like disco superfly, ”

Right in the  sweet spot of L (Leave it to Cook) in the A-Z of Cooking, Brigade Pudding.

Definitely what I needed!

Brigade Pudding 4Not even the Lemon Pond Pudding debacle of last year was going to stop me from making the Brigade Pudding.  Yes, the number of suet puddings I have made  to date is 1 and the number of failures I have had making suet puddings is also 1 but due to that disaster and a yet untouched bottle of fruit mince from a Christmas hamper I also had all the ingredients for the Brigade Pudding in the house.  No need to shop!  Yay to making food in one’s pyjamas! Yay to comfort food!  Yay to The A-Z of Cooking providing just what you need!

Brigade Pudding 1I am not sure which Brigade, if any, the Brigade Pudding was named after.  I did some cursory research but please see above for head that feels like it is about to explode.  What I can tell you is that it consists of layers of  apple and fruit mince sandwiched together by layers of suet pastry and then steamed to pudding perfection.  I added a little Trans Atlantic twist to my Brigade Pudding by adding in a good splash of bourbon into some warmed golden syrup to help give that  lovely shiny glaze and also allowed my apple and fruit mince to soak in another good splash of bourbon whilst the pastry chilled in the fridge.

Brigade Pudding RecipeThe verdict?  The Fussiest Eater in the World who grew up with stodgy British suet puddings loved it!  My opinion was not quite so positive.  Personally, I found the suet pastry  a bit heavy going.  I would have preferred the apple, fruit and bourbon mix with a lighter sponge pudding. He also liked it as is,  whilst I really thought it needed a little something-something to go with it.  Custard would have been super but we didn’t have any.  What we did have some was some of Sabrina Ghayour’s Pistachio, Honey and Orange Blossom Ice Cream which gave it just the lift I felt it needed.  Pudding perfection!  I also love that combination of hot pudding and cold ice cream! So good.

Bourbon Brigade Pudding
Serves 6
A lovely old fashioned British Pudding. Perfect comfort food for a winter night!
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For The Pastry
  1. 200g self raising flour
  2. pinch of salt
  3. 100g shredded suet or butter
  4. water
For The Filling
  1. 4 tbsp golden syrup
  2. 1/4 cup bourbon
  3. 200g mincemeat
  4. 3 large cooking apples, peeled, cored, grated
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and add the suet or butter. Rub in well then add enough water to make a soft dough. Leave this to chill in the fridge for around an hour.
  2. Put the golden syrup in a small pan and gently heat with half the bourbon. Set aside.
  3. Take your pudding bowl and place it on a piece of baking paper, small side down. Trace around the bowl and cut the paper to size. Then, turn it over so the widest part of the bowl is on the papder. Cut three circles this size. You will now have one small circle and three large. Trim two of the large circles down so you now have four circles of varying sizes.
  4. Mix the mincemeat, the apples and the rest of the bourbon and allow to sit for half an hour so the flavours can develop.
  5. Grease the pudding bowl and our the golden syrup & bourbon mixture into the bottom, swirl around so it coats the sides.
  6. Now, roll pastry out thinly. Using your paper circles as templates, cut four circles from the pastry. Place the smallest in the pudding bowl and top with a third of the apple and mincemeat mixture. Repeat until all the apple is mixture is used, topping with the largest circle of pastry.
  7. Cover the basin with greased paper and foil tied on with string.
  8. Steam over boiling water for 2.5 hours.
  9. Serve with custard or ice cream.
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking, 1977
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking, 1977
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Have a wonderful week! 

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