So remember how I got really pissy that The A-Z of Cooking didn’t actually deliver a Z? Well, there’s some snappy aphorism somewhere which is something like “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” or “Sisters are doin’ for themselves” which I can’t quite call to mind now. But it’s something along the lines of “If life doesn’t give you Z’s stop your snivelling and get out there and make some Z’s. So I did. And here is the first in a mini-series of posts on food starting with the letter Z.
Starting with the Zanzibar Cocktail!
This little beauty comes from the book The Cocktail by Jane Rocca.
I feel like I always say this but damn! This is good!
The main players are vanilla rum, passionfruit liqueur, cranberry juice, strawberries, blueberries and lime. It’s sweet and fresh and the cranberry and lime add a tangy tartness so it is not at all cloying.
I made my vanilla rum, following the recipe here. I did not add the simple syrup as thought this cocktail was going to be sweet enough. Also, I had not planned far ahead enough to let the mix steep for 3 months so I also added some vanilla essence to the rum along with the bean. I used it within about 3 weeks and it was fine. Probably better if you wait 3 months but that’s for people are a little more organised!
The recipe calls for crushed ice. I tried to do it like that but both days I made this were ridiculously hot and the crushed ice was melting before I could even get it out of the blender. So I used ice cubes instead.
The Zanzibar is a glorious colour. Just gorgeous!
When I was pottering around the internet I found this fabulous old travel poster for Zanzibar.
So I just had to make another so I could have a play…
This was a fun cocktail! Perfect for a summer’s day on a tropical beach? In Zanzibar maybe? Or by your side in an inflatable flamingo drink holder while lazing in a pool. Or just if you feel like something delicious to drink at any time.
Here’s the recipe:
And if you want more flamingo’s in your life (and who doesn’t?) you might also want to try the Flamingo Cocktail which you can find here.
Have a great week. I’ll be back with more Z’s in the not too distant!
Today we’re whipping it, whipping it..kind of mediocre as we stroll down Avenue Q of The A-Z of Cooking (1977). Quick Desserts is the chapter and Strawberry Whip is the verse.
I’ll give The A-Z this. The Strawberry Whip is quick to make. However, I’m going to come right out and say it. This was not for me. But surprisingly not for the reason I thought it would. The strawberry whip is a cross between a milkshake and an ice cream, kind of like a thickshake.
I am not a milk drinker.
Even as a child, a glass of milk would make me gag. So, I fiddled with the recipe provided by The A-Z because there was no way I could have faced it. I halved the milk and doubled the ice cream. I left out the ice cubes.
And I still had to give it up after about three mouthfuls. Not for the reason I thought I might which was the milky strawberry mix. No, it was because my first mouthful was of straight whipped cream and that was me gone. I KNOW! What kind of freak doesn’t like whipped cream? This kind of freak apparently.. . And I semi-defy anyone to eat a whole mouthful of whipped cream and enjoy it. Oh? You did? And you liked it? You’ll LOVE the strawberry whip then!
However, whilst we’re bitching about it? Don’t even bother with the brandy. I felt it was a bit redundant to add vanilla to vanilla ice cream so
I used the brandy. I couldn’t taste it at all. My recommendation would be to save your booze (and your vanilla) for when it counts.
That’s all folks, we’re done with Q. But before we hit R, the bunny cometh, and to celebrate I made bread. It was good. Really good.
The good news, is that with this post, we are done with the letter F in the A-Z of Cooking. The chapter heading promises that we will be “Finishing with Flair”. The bad news is that without seeming like Mary, Mary Quite Contrary right from the get go, another F word springs to mind when I consider the contents. Except for these Strawberries in Grand Marnier. They were good! Although how could a combination of fresh sweet strawberries combined with luscious orange liqueur with mint as it’s cheerleader not be delicious?
We’ll get to them later. However, back to Finishing with Flair – we have already mentioned this so called Mango Mousse. The picture of which contains bananas, oranges, passionfruit, eggs and nuts. The recipe below has none of these. The Mango mousse recipe actually sounds really nice. Maybe I am just being a brat for not making it. Then again, if they can’t be arsed putting the right picture with the recipe, what are the chances that recipe will turn out?
That fear of 1977 desserts not being all they were cracked up to be was born out when I made the Continental Chocolate Squares featured on p28. The picture from the A-Z of Cooking is on the left, with the Squares looking rather decadent. Mine are on the right looking a lot more Raggedy Anne. I think I tried to cut them when the chocolate topping was still too hard from being in the fridge and I could not get a nice clean line. Maybe I should have glammed them up by adding some candlelight!
What both of these pictures fail to convey is the overbearing sickly sweetness of the filling. It contained 4 cups of icing sugar which was far too much! I love sweet food but this was way too much for me and prompted the fussiest eater in the world to ask if I was trying to put him into a diabetic coma. It is a shame that the middle layer was awful because the base which was chocolate and walnuts and biscuits was quite nice. It is probably worth someone spending some time on trying to get that filling right because this could have been amazing. I just don’t think that person will be me! Although, now I kind of want to. So maybe it will rear its head in another incarnation down the track.
There was a lovely sounding recipe in this section for French Cherry Fritters. This is the one I would have loved to make but you had to deep fry the fritters and I do not have a deep-fryer. This however is one I am going to:
a) Play around with until I can perfect a baked version
b) borrow a deep-fryer. i think my mum has one.
Until then, it’s Strawberries with Grand Marnier. Adding the mint sugar was an idea I borrowed from Sabrina Ghayour in Persiana. She makes a number of herb sugars to sprinkle over fruit and now it is something I do all the time!
I served this with some white chocolate dipped almond bread which was every bit as delicious as it sounds!
Initially I thought this might be a bit too simple to blog about – soak some strawberries in booze. And done.
And it is very simple. But sometimes that is all you need to finish a meal with flair!
White Chocolate Dipped Almond Bread to serve (optional)
Halve the strawberries and place in individual serving dishes.
Sprinkle each dish with 1/2 tbsp of Grand Marnier.
Leave to stand at room temperature for at least an hour.
Meantime, make your herb sugar.
Place your mint and your sugar in the bowl a mortar and grind with your pestle until them mint is finely ground and well combined with the sugar, which will be a lovely green.
Alternatively, place both in your food processor and whiz until you achieve the same effect
You could use basil instead of mint. Or a mix of basil and black pepper.
Any Orange flavoured liqueur could be used instead of Grand Marnier.
Any left over herb sugar can be used to rim a cocktail glass, or used in place of regular sugar in anything else you are making - I'm thinking lemonade would be amazing.
By Taryn Fryer
Adapted from A-Z of Cooking & Persiana
Adapted from A-Z of Cooking & Persiana
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Ok so that’s F done.
Coming up we have G is for Good Health. I have actually already made the Cheese & Date Bread from this section so we may skip it altogether as there is not much else to get excited about. So, possibly our next venture into the A-Z will be The Gourmet’s Touch. Ooh la la. Exciting times ahead! Possibly.
Have a wonderful week lovely people and this week, what ever you do, I hope you finish it with flair!
Sometimes you just need to focus on the good stuff. Like birthdays and strawberries and brownies and cheesecake. And sometimes you just have to wham bam them all together. And get something a little like this:
Let’s break it down shall we?
Fresh strawberries coated in a red currant jelly so they are lovely and shiny.
A tangy creamy cheesecake filling
A base made of white chocolate and macadamia nut brownies.
Did I hear someone say cheesecake heaven?
Well, yeah, it was me. But you will too when you make this. Which you should. It’s very decadent but hey, you only have one birthday a year right? And if you can’t have a Strawberry Cheesecake with a Macadamia & White Chocolate Brownie Base on your birthday when are you going to have one?
In a week of average meals, The Birthday Strawberry Cheesecake was a welcome highlight.
The River Café Spinach Rotolo was disappointing. I had a very specific idea of how I wanted this to taste (which was EXACTLY like the Spinach Rotolo I ate at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant many years ago). And it didn’t meet these high expectations. It was a weird recipe too. You had to wrap the pasta rolls in a tea towel and place that in a fish kettle. I cooked mine in a big roasting pan because who on earth has a fish kettle? Maybe that’s why it didn’t work.
I cooked it for longer than they said but it was still half raw when I took it out of its tea towel wrapping. I couldn’t be bothered wrapping and tying it all up again so I put in a baking dish, made a quick tomato sauce and baked it until it was cooked through. It tasted fine but it was not at all what I wanted.
The duck meatballs were a disaster. I had borrowed the Kitchen Aid mincing attachment from a friend and minced my duck. Let me tell you, there is not a lot of meat in two duck breasts. Which was kind of okay because the five meatballs that came out of that process weren’t great. It was a good thing we had lots of brownie left over from making the cheesecake because that dinner of 2.5 meatballs each wasn’t what you would call hearty!
This week I am looking forward to cooking:
Turkey and Cranberry Meatballs with a Camembert filling from The Meatball Book. Let’s hope it works out better than the duck!
Black And Blue Berry Chocolate Almond Crumble adapted from my list of the year.
A Kahlua Cocktail for another new segment on the blog. Stay tuned. This one is going to be fun!
In Other News I Am
Orphan 8 by Kim van Alkemade for bookclub – have only just started but looking forward to getting stuck into this.
253 by Geoff Ryman, not sure about this. Very concept driven but, so far not not greatly compelling.
I found a new podcast! Billed as a cross between Serial and The X Files, Limetown is hitting all my buttons. Don’t listen to this alone. Or at night. Seriously creepy stuff. I can’t wait for Episode 4!
This one is old but I have just discovered and am mainlining a British TV Series called Line of Duty. Excellent gritty police drama. I inhaled Series 1 and cannot wait for the weekend so I can start (and finish) Series 2.
A new Australian drama called The Principal. Have seen the first 2 episodes and it is shaping up to be a winner!
And I watched The Imposter. I tell you, if this wasn’t true, you could not make it up!
Strawberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate & Macadamia Brownie Base
Serving Size: Serves 8-10
A lovely decadent cheesecake, perfect for a special occasion.
Leave plenty of time to make this. I made the brownies on Saturday, then assembled the cheesecake on Sunday for eating on Monday.
For The Brownie
Melted butter to grease
150g white chocolate, chopped
150g butter, I used salted
3 eggs, lightly whisked
150g plain flour
60g whole milk powder
60g caster sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
150 grams white chocolate chips
150g macadamia nuts, halved
For The Cheesecake
1/2 of the white chocolate and macadamia brownie, cut into small pieces
50g white chocolate, chopped
1 gelatine leaf
200ml thickened cream
500g cream cheese at room temperature
35g icing sugar, sifted
Juice of half a lemon
2 punnets of strawberries (smaller strawberries work better than large ones), with the stalk end cut off so the bottom is flat.
2 tbsp red currant jelly
For The Brownie
Preheat oven to 160C.
Brush a 20cm square cake pan with melted butter to grease. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang at the sides.
Place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
Cook, stirring often until the chocolate and butter melt and are well combined.
Set aside to cool.
Once cool, add the eggs and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Sift the flour, milk powder, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl, Stir in the white chocolate chips and the macadamia nuts.
Add the butter mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes or until moist crumbs stick a skewer when inserted into the centre.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely in the pan.
Cut in half.
For the Cheesecake
Grease and line a springform pan with baking paper.
Place the brownies in a food processor and whiz into fine crumbs.
Melt the butter and white chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring to combine
Pour into the food processor and pulse to combine.
Press the brownie mixture into the lined pan.
Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or until set.
Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for five minutes.
Place 100ml of cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine and stir into cream until smooth. Strain and allow to cool slightly.
Beat cream cheese and icing sugar in an electric mixer until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Add the gelatine mixture and the rest of the cream and beat until combined. Add the lemon juice and beat to combine.
Pour into the pan over the brownie base. Smooth the top and place in the fridge to set overnight.
Place the strawberries cut side down on the cheesecake.
Place the red currant jelly in a small saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir until melted. Set aside.
Once cool, brush over the strawberries.
The brownie mixture will make enough for two cheesecakes. Or you can just eat the extra brownies.
If you are in a hurry, you can use store bought brownies. If so, you may have to add some additional melted butter to the brownie crumb mix to bind it together. The amount will depend on how dry your brownie crumbs are. You want the crumb to hold together.
Both the brownie and the cheesecake recipe are adapted from recipes found on taste.com.au
As in guess which bozo forgot to celebrate her own blog’s 2nd birthday on May 25th?
So, today we’re having a Belated (don’t worry, I promise I won’t capitalise every word that starts with a B) Birthday, (no really, I won’t) celebrating my second annivesary with food using the second letter of the alphabet. See what I did? Second year, second letter?
You’d think I planned it.
Maybe you should keep thinking that….I”m all for anything that makes me look better!!!
So anyway, it’s my birthday so let’s get this party started. And I’ve said it before, and no doubt I will say it again, (purely because I’ve got a bottle of the stuff that isn’t going to drink itself) a retro party isn’t a retro party without Parfait Amour. And any party is better with a blonde bombshell!
Nope not like this, the blonde bombshell I am referring too is a cocktail made with the aforementioned Parfait Amour. I’m not sure why it’s called a Blonde Bombshell as it comes out a gorgeous dusky pinky purple.
First Course – The Birthday Blonde Bombshell
It’s my party…cocktails count as a course….in my perfect world, we would skip main meals altogether. We would move from cocktails to fingerfood to dessert.
Wow!!! I think I may have found my Parfait Amour drink of choice. This was lovely!!! Sweet and florally and almost kind of musky…it reminded me a little bit of Turkish Delight…maybe it was the roses in the Parfait Amour. Very girly, very pretty. Easy to drink….hmmm….maybe getting rid of that bottle won’t be as hard as I previously thought!
Second Course – Bay Wrapped Bacon and Prunes
This is basically a take on a Devils on Horseback. But wrapped in a bayleaf. And I added a little smear of my Strawberry Habanero Sauce to the bacon before wrapping it around the prunes.
Note for the unwary – grilling bay leaves makes your entire kitchen smell like you’ve been smoking marijuana. For about a week. Which is fine until you have a plumber come to fix your leaking tap and they ask you if you can score them some bud.
I barely even know what that means.
Despite that, you really can’t go wrong with these…salty, sweet, spicy, crispy…The bay leaves added a slight resiny flavour that was quite pleasant but prevented the bacon from getting really crispy which was slightly disappointing.
I served it them with some more of the strawberry habenero sauce. And the saltiness was a great foil to the sweetness of the Blonde Bombshell.
But now to the piece de resistance. The dessert.
So….what’s better than a triple chocolate baby bundt?
A QUADRUPLE chocolate baby bundt.
And what’s better than a quadruple chocolate Baby Bundt?
A Quadruple Chocolate Chilli Baby Bundt!
Third Course – Quadruple Chocolate Chilli Baby Bundt
So, if you’re following me on Instagram you would have already seen me post my first experiment with the Spice Peddler’s Mexican Chilli Chocolate Cake Mix. That was a Chili Chocolate Cupcake with a Chilli Toffee Shard topped with Vanilla Icecream and my Strawberry Habenero Sauce. OMG, I thought this was the best thing ever…so, so good. The cake was fudgy and spicy and delicious, the vanilla icecream and chilli sauce worked together perfectly and the chilli toffee was a cute and quirky touch. Basically, this was me on a plate!!!!
Gahhh….so how do you top that?
Well, I found this recipe for a cake called a Tyroler in a Delicious Magazine and I had a little play with it. And came up with the the Quadruple Chocolate Chilli Baby Bundt. I used the Spice Peddler Mexican Chilli Chocolate Cake Mix as my base and it was super delicious!
This was really good. Then again, how could it not be?
It had quadruple chocolate.
And a touch of chilli.
And rum soaked sultanas.
And did I mention quadruple chocolate?
So, it may have been belated but worth the wait because these were all awesome!!!!
I’ll try to be on time next year and if not, I can always repost this and rename it Birthday 3 – Cocktails, Canapés and Cake.
Chill, then lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
Soak the sultanas in rum.
Place butter, eggs and cake mix into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until well combined.
Stir through chocolate chips, sultanas and any rum remaining in the bowl.
Pour into the prepared cake pans and cook on the lower shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Chop and toast the walnuts.
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
Melt the dark chocolate and the cream over a double boiler.
Cool then pour over cake.
For the White Chocolate Drizzle
Melt the white chocolate and cream over a double boiler.