Category: Cookbook Guru

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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Rocking The Casbah – The Food Of Morocco

The selection for March and April over  at The Cookbook Guru was The Food Of Morocco by Paula Wolfert which really fits in with my explorations into Middle Eastern Food via Persiana and MENA.

 First, the book is ENORMOUS!!!! If you dropped this on your foot, you would be in serious danger of breaking a toe.  Or two. It was really quite difficult to choose the recipes to try, there were so many and so many that sounded delicious.

Second, it is beautiful – not just the recipes, the photography, the writing, everything about it is lovely. I would love to have this in my own collection as it is so well curated and contains so much of interest but sadly, it is quite expensive so, at the moment is just on the wishlist!

I have been sick for nearly a week now so I have left my run here a little late.  Thankfully the anti-biotics have started to kick in and hopefully I can get this post out whilst it is still April somewhere in the world.

I have made four things from this book and whilst I would have loved to have a post for each, for the sake of brevity, I’m putting them all together so I can get something out before Christmas!!!  I have also not included any recipes as that would have taken even more time but, if you like the look of anything let me know and I can send ’em through!

THE FOOD OF MOROCCO // BRIK WITH TUNA, CAPERS AND EGGS

I was not familiar with the brik, (pronounced breek) which is a Moroccan snack consisting of a very thin pastry called warqa wrapped around various fillings, one of which is this delicious but to me, uncommon, combination of tuna and egg. 

Not surprisingly there was no warqa pastry at the local supermarket and because I was running so late on this, I could not shop for it so I used the much more readily available filo pastry for my briks.  You can apparently also use spring roll wrappers, or if really brave, make your own warqa pastry.

So first up you saute up some onions, then add your tuna, capers, parsley and some parmesan cheese.  And yup, this mix just on it’s own tastes AMAZING. I’m surprised there was any left to make the briks. Personally, I blame the hosts of reality tv cooking shows for constantly telling people to taste their food during cooking!

Then you make place the tuna mix on the pastry but make a little hole to hold the eggs.  I don’t think it matters if it spills over a little like mine did.

Tuna Brik
Tuna Brik

Then you quickly seal this up and drop it into some hot oil to fry up – the idea being you want your pastry crispy and your egg still a little bit runny.

So, did I cook the perfect runny egg brik?

Sadly, no.  My egg was cooked through. 🙁

This was not all bad though, it certainly made it easier to take the remainder for lunch the next day.  And OMG, so tasty.  I’ll definitely be trying this again and trying to nail that runny egg.

Tuna Brik
Tuna Brik

 THE FOOD OF MOROCCO //POTATO TAGINE WITH OLIVES AND HARISSA

This tasted as good as it looks.  And one for my vegan friends!!!  The colours are so beautiful and the flavours blend together beautifully!

Potato Tagine With Olives and Harissa
Potato Tagine With Olives and Harissa

 THE FOOD OF MOROCCO // THE BIRD THAT FLEW AWAY

This a lovely chickpea dish with a delightful name.  Paula Wolfert explains that is it a “plat de pauvre” (a dish for the poor) that is made when you can’t afford to buy a chicken.  It’s so good I think I would eat it regardless of whether I had a chicken or not!

The Bird That Flew Away2
The Bird That Flew Away2

 THE FOOD OF MOROCCO INSPIRED // ARTICHOKE SALAD WITH ORANGE, LEAFY GREENS AND DATES.

A Spanish restaurant I am very fond of does a salad with oranges, artichokes and dates which is To. Die. For.  In order to recreate it’s flavour, I used Paula Wolfert’s Orange, Leafy Green and Date Salad and added artichokes and some lemon and olive oil in the dressing.  I think it worked really well and I loved the hint of orange flower water.  It was not exactly my restaurant salad but it was pretty close. And look at how pretty it is! 

Artichoke, Orange, Leafy Green and Date Salad
Artichoke, Orange, Leafy Green and Date Salad

 This was an amazing book and I am so glad that The Cookbook Guru drew it to my attention.  The next few months we will be cooking from a book by a true legend of Australian Cooking, Margaret Fulton.  I can’t wait.  And I promise to be a bit more timely!

Have a great week!

 

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Jane Grigson’s Watercress and Orange Salad

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Ok, so not exactly true for Melbourne, although it has been a fairly shitty summer.  But certainly for my friends in the States, it must feel like that.  But hopefully, this Watercress and Orange Salad will bring you some virtual sunshine.

Watercress and Orange Salad 5
Watercress and Orange Salad 5

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

 This is a very cool salad from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.. I think it looks like a big, beautiful sunflower. And not only is it pretty; it is super tasty too.  How could it not be – peppery watercress, tangy sweet orange, earthy toasted walnuts and salty olives. And it looks so 70’s.  I think it’s the combination of green and orange….

Here is the original recipe from Jane Grigson:

Orange and Watercress SaladAnd here is the original version:

Jane Grigson's Watercress Salad
Jane Grigson’s Watercress Salad

This is very simple to put together.  Line your plate with watercress and start piling in your ingredients.  The worst bit if you do it in the circle is stripping all those watercress leaves.

Watercress Salad LeavesLike a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel…

 Watercress Salad Leaves2Never ending or begining on an ever spinning wheel….

Watercress Salad Leaves3I found the best way to get the orange slices as thin as possible was to cut them with the skin still on, then cut the peel and pith away with a pair of kitchen scissors.

 Oranges for the watercress saladThen just add your walnuts and / or olives. 

Before serving, a grind of pepper and a splash of vinaigrette made with some sherry vinegar and voila!!!  Or should I say “Velado!” because this really has a Spanish feel to it.   

I had this with some grilled salmon the first time I made it and it was delicious!!! The second time I had it with some prawns and it was, again super.  I would love to try it with duck as per Jane’s suggestion. 

And I made it a third time but this time tweaked the recipe a bit – I added some feta cheese and a teeny bit of red onion.  This time, I had it with a lovely sourdough baguette for a light lunch and it was perfection!!!  And yes, I made this three times in about ten days.  It’s that good.

Watercress and Orange Salad 6
Watercress and Orange Salad 6

 So far, Jane Grigson’s recipes are turning out to be amazing.  I am a little disappointed that it is now March and we have another book to focus on at The Cookbook Guru.  But wow!!!  What a book!!!  I am super excited about stepping across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco for my next venture with The Cookbook Guru!!!

 And, if you are struggling through a long cold and lonely winter either physically or mentally, here is a little anecdote that may help.

Back in 1969, there was not much joy camp Beatle – there were personality clashes, legal battles, business disputes….things were going to hell in a handbasket.  But in the midst of all the problems, all the trouble and strife, George Harrison (by far my favourite Beatle) walked into Eric Clapton’s garden with an acoustic guitar and wrote, to my mind anyway, one of the most beautiful, hopeful songs ever written.  In the midst of adversity and all that…

And just to tie it all in together, here is George singing  that song with some Spanish subtitles.

All together now

Sol, sol, sol
AhĂ­ viene

Have a great week.  I hope all your clouds have silver linings.

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Locket’s Savoury & Pimped Up Locket’s Savoury (GF)

Pimped Up Locket's Savoury

One of the best things about 2014  was connecting with other cooks and bloggers and cooking from the same books. I love doing it in person at the Tasty Reads bookclub but it was also so much fun doing the Joan Crawford inspired dinner for Jenny’s book launch.

Locket's Savoury 1
Locket’s Savoury 1

So, I was super excited to find this blog:

https://thecookbookguru.wordpress.com/what-is-the-cookbook-guru/

Which is pretty much all cook-a-longs.  They choose a new book every two months and anyone can cook from the book and post on their own site.  Then, Leah shares what everyone posts on The Cookbook Guru.  What a great idea!!!

The book for January and February is Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.    First published in 1978, this has become a classic.  And very auspicious that I get to start with a book full of retro recipes. 

I was even more excited that there were a whole heap of artichoke recipes because the local continental deli had been having a sale and I bought about a ton of artichokes because they were something insane like 50 cents a can.

Then I read Jane’s advice on

How to choose canned artichokes.

“Don’t”

Huh….Jane apparently doesn’t mince words.  I like her already. But anyway I hightailed it out of artichokes and landed at the very other end of the book at watercress and found this lovely recipe for a very fancy grilled cheese called Locket’s Savoury. 

Locket's Savoury 2
Locket’s Savoury 2

I did have a little giggle when I read the name of this dish.  Back in the day, we used to have a footballer by the name of Lockett nicknamed Plugger because….I have no idea why and have sufficient lack of interest in football to be arsed to Google it.  Anyway, some time before the Grand Final one year (the equiv of the Super Bowl or the FA Cup Final),   Plugger hurt his groin.  And I swear for an inordinately long amount of time,  it seemed like if you picked up a newspaper, turned on the radio or the tv, all you heard about, all people seemed to care about was Plugger’s Groin.  Strangers would approach you on the street and say “So, do you think it will be good for the Granny?”

“What?”

“Plugger’s groin.”

Not since David Beckham made those underwear ads has an entire nation been so obsessed by the state of a football player’s nether regions.  And yes, by the way…we do nickname our Super Bowl/FA Cup etc The Granny. As in a little old lady.  That’s Australia for you. 

So, all that was Lockett’s Unsavoury, let’s turn to the matter at hand – Locket’s Savoury

So simple. So delicious, and just 4 ingredients.

Bread

The original recipe called for white bread.  I used this beautiful seeded ciabatta. Jane’s recipe called for the crusts to be cut off.  I left mine on because I love the taste of the toasted seeds!

Locket's Savoury  - Bread
Locket’s Savoury – Bread

 Watercress

One of my favourite  greens.  I love the peppery taste of it!

Locket's Savoury - Watercress
Locket’s Savoury – Watercress

 Pears

Are probably my least favourite fruit.  Will this recipe redeem them in my mind?

Locket's Savoury - Pear
Locket’s Savoury – Pear

 Stilton.

Mmmmmm…blue cheese. Happy days….

Locket's Savoury - Stilton
Locket’s Savoury – Stilton

 Stilton is apparently the king of cheeses.  Who knew cheese had a royalty.  Who’s the queen?  And more importantly who is the red headed reprobate prince flashing it’s arse and donning a swastika for high jinks? 

I’m betting it’s goats cheese. 

Locket's Savoury3
Locket’s Savoury3

 This was awesome.  It actually made me like pears.  And that’s saying something!
There’s a few more totally awesome watercress recipes in this same book and I have a ton of it left so you may get a few more o’ these before the month is through.  There is definitely one more I have to do. 

Locket's Savoury 4
Locket’s Savoury 4

Here is Jane Grigson’s recipe:

Locket's Savoury RecipeThis was really good. Super tasty, super easy and I wouldn’t change a thing in Jane’s recipe.

Or would I?

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed very unfair that my gluten-free friends missed out on this delight.  

So without further ado, meet the pimped up, gluten-free Locket’s Savoury

Pimped Up Locket's Savoury
Pimped Up Locket’s Savoury

 Basically, scrap the bread, use a slice of pear as the base.  Add your watercress and Stilton.  Throw in some chopped walnuts.  Once done, sprinkle with some chives. 

In some ways this was almost better.  Those pears got all caramelised and…dare I say it, delicious!!! 

I’m so looking forward to doing the Cookbook Guru Cook-a-longs.  And you know what would be even better?  If you all did it too…

If you did want to, you already know the book for the rest of Feb.  March and April is The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert.  My local library has a copy of this. Yours probably does too.  I also got the Jane Grigson book from the library.

But PS..The Locket’s Savoury is the gift that keeps on giving.  Those little bits of blue cheese that slide off as you grill the cheese and go kind of crunchy.  So good to eat later!!!

DSC02463

Have a fabulous week! 

And I would love to know your royal family of cheese!!!

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Pimped Up Locket's Savoury (Gluten Free)
Serves 1
A gluten free version of a delicious watercress, pear and blue cheese recipe from Jane Grigson
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pear
  2. 2 - 4 sprigs of watercress, depending on size
  3. 2-3 slices of Stilton
  4. 4 walnuts chopped
  5. 1 chive, chopped
  6. Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Slice the pears into six slices, discarding the core. You will have some rounder pieces as well as some more "pear" shaped pieces.
  2. Remove the leaves from the watercress sprigs and place over the pears.
  3. Cover with stilton
  4. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts
  5. Place under a hot grill until cheese is melted and walnuts are toasted.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped chive and black pepper.
  7. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. You can easily increase the quantities for this, I made mine for one because I only had one pear and minimal watercress left.
Adapted from Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book
Adapted from Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

 

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