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.
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?
To 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!
Not 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!
I 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.
The 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
A lovely old fashioned British Pudding. Perfect comfort food for a winter night!
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.
Put the golden syrup in a small pan and gently heat with half the bourbon. Set aside.
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.
Mix the mincemeat, the apples and the rest of the bourbon and allow to sit for half an hour so the flavours can develop.
Grease the pudding bowl and our the golden syrup & bourbon mixture into the bottom, swirl around so it coats the sides.
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.
Cover the basin with greased paper and foil tied on with string.
Steam over boiling water for 2.5 hours.
Serve with custard or ice cream.
By Taryn Fryer
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/
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!
I made my very first soufflé. For you, for Valentine’s Day.
And it’s filled with passion – fruit.
I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make a soufflé. I have some vague childhood memories of eating cheese soufflés and them not being very nice. Then again, I ate nothing for two years except vegemite sandwiches so my judgement was possibly awry. But those memories and the soufflé’s reputation for being notoriously temperamental might be the reasons I have stayed away. After all, the soufflé come with more rules and regulations than the driving handbook:
Don’t beat the eggs too little
Don’t beat the eggs too much
Don’t fold the egg whites too roughly
Don’t open the door of the oven
Don’t make loud noises or sudden movements
Don’t look it directly in the eyes
What they don’t tell you is this. You can have a decent souffle cooked from scratch and on the table in less than 20 minutes. So let’s get started.
Butter and sugar coat your soufflé dish. When you butter your dish, brush the butter from the middle of the dish to the rim and then up the sides of the dish. This creates tiny channels that helps the soufflé to rise. Seriously this works.
When you are ready to start mix your egg yolk, half the sugar and the passionfruit juice in a bowl until light and creamy.
Then mix your egg white and sugar to soft peaks.
Then fold the yolk into the white. Gently does it here. A little streaky is fine. Then pour into your prepared soufflé dish.
Now, into a preheated oven for 12 minutes. So we’re not tempted to open that door and ruin our “ahem” hard work, let’s talk about romance. After all it is Valentine’s Day.
The last few Valentine’s Days I have given you some horror stories. Not so this year. This year we are talking about two very special romantic moments in my life.
Let’s start with my first ever boyfriend. We started going out when I was 15 and he was 16. There was a local park we used to frequent to get away from prying parental eyes and ears. So, one Sunday afternoon we rode our bikes down to said park and headed towards our favourite bench to have a kiss and a cuddle. We had not been there long when, from down the hill we heard some children screaming “Help, help, Angus has fallen in the lake”.
Well, he took off down that hill, and jumped in, fully clothed to save what we assumed was a drowning child. Turned out Angus was a labrador puppy who had been quite happy paddling around in the shallows and had not even noticed the distress of his young owners. Semi disaster averted and there was a little swoony dripping wet with tight tshirt moment. Made only more adorable by the squirming puppy in his arms!
Young love. My hero. And a puppy. Life did not get much better!
So move forward…..a few decades years to the fussiest eater in the world. A few weeks ago we were walking the dogs by the lake and noticed that one of the ducks had become entangled in some fishing wire and was only able to move in a tiny circle. And cue the second Mr Darcy moment of my life.
Not only did he jump into the lake (it was only calf deep so no wet shirt here) but he unwound the fishing line from the duck’s leg then we noticed there was also some line knotted around it’s beak and neck. It was really knotted and tight he ended up having to bite through it! It was both amazing and kind of gross. That lake water is pretty dirty and I was expecting him to get sick from swallowing even a little bit of it. (He didn’t).
These moments may not have involved hearts and roses but for me were two of the most generous spirited and selfless acts I have seen. And that is true romance!
OK, our 12 minutes is up and the soufflé is out of the oven. Quickly dust with icing sugar, add a dollop of passionfruit pulp over the top and serve immediately. Your souffé will start to deflate from the time it comes out of the oven so speed is of the essence here.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s day! And don’t forget to spare a moment to moment to say thank you to the everyday heroes in your life, the people saving dogs and ducks and generally making the world a better place. If you have a spare 15 minutes why not make them a soufflé?
And then tell me when the love heart lollies of our childhood took a step into the digital age? Not only are they now using Twitter….
But also Tinder!
Swipe left on that!
A delicious passionfruit souffle that can be on the table in about 15 minutes!
1 can passionfruit in syrup, you will need 1 tbsp of syrup
icing sugar to dust
melted butter to grease the souffle dish
1 8cm souffle dish
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Butter the souffle dish, spreading the butter from the middle of the dish up the sides. Scatter a tablespoon of sugar into the dish tipping it all around the insides until it is entirely covered.
Strain the passionfruit syrup into a dish, you will need a tablesppon of liquid. Reserve the seeds for later.
Place the syrup with the egg yolk and half a tablespoon of sugar into a bowl and beat with an electric beater until light and creamy.
In a separate bowl beat the egg white to soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar, a little at a time until the mixture is glossy and holding it's shape.
Using a metal spoon, fold the whites into the yolks. A light touch is needed here, you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. It is better to have the mixture a bit streaky than to have it over mixed!
Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish to just below the rim then run your thumb around the rim to totally clear it of any sugar, souffle mix etc that will prevent rising.
Pop the dish onto a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
Do not open the oven during this time.
Remove from oven. They are done when a finger touched lightly on the top comes away clean but there is still a slight wobble in the middle.
Quickly dust with icing sugar and add a dollop of the reserved passionfruit seeds and some additional syrup.
It’s been a while since we have had a dishiest dish – I thought it was timely that we had look at some I had cooked successfully! I made these Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts over the break. They were pretty easy to make and tasted delicious!
And who says you can’t play with your food? These are perfect for a little game of tic-tac-toe!
Or you can give them to people you like as little kisses and hugs. Valentine’s day’s a-coming. Why give someone flowers when you can give them some delicious almondy fruity deliciousness?
Who doesn’t love
Crisp buttery pastry – no soggy bottoms here!
A lovely sweet almond filling
The apricots and rhubarb, both of which have a natural tanginess help to make the tarts not too cloying or heavy.
An amaretto and apricot glaze
Never mind saying it with flowers. Proclaim your love with pastry!
My Six Week Challenges
This year, instead of setting a series of resolutions, I was inspired by my friend Ali to try a series of smaller challenges over the course of the year. I started mid-January with 6 weeks of no alcohol. The start of February sees me trying to build a meditation practice! I am aiming for 42 days straight of meditation. I haven’t figured out what I will pick up in mid-Feb but that’s half the fun – deciding what to do next! Hopefully some things I will stick with and some things I may do another six weeks later in the year!
I have been on a reading binge – I have had a real spurt of books I have enjoyed.
Disclaimer by Renée Knight
Imagine if you started reading a book that had mysteriously appeared in your house only to find out the book was about you. Specifically about you and an incident from your past which you have kept hidden from everyone – and the only other person who knew about it is a long time dead….
I would give this one a 7/10. The plot required a hefty suspension of belief on a couple of major points but all up, a fast paced enjoyable read.
All These Perfect Strangers – Aiofe Clifford
I loved this. But I am a big fan of the mystery set in academia. The Secret History is one of my favorite books and there are some similar themes here. This is not released until March – I was given a free copy for review but it is certainly one I can heartily recommend.
Funnily enough, the book in Disclaimer was called The Perfect Stranger. It was a really weird but totally cool coincidence!
The Grown Up – Gillian Flynn
This short story (it’s just over 6O pages on my Kindle) has more twists and turns than a spiral staircase. I loved it. And you can read it from start to finish in about an hour!
Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
Another outsider goes to posh school – mayhem ensues book. I did tell you I had a thing for them. Do not read this if you are one of those (annoying) people who has to like the main character in a book. Tifani/Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive is awful! She’s shallow and self obsessed, snarky and mean. I am about three quarters of the way through this and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I hope the end is not a let down.
I just noticed three out of the four of them mention Gone Girl. And have black, white and yellow covers. I’m sensing a zeitgeist.
Come Dine With Me
I started watching old episodes of the British Come Dine with Me on the telly over the break and am now utterly obsessed with it. I soon exhausted all the episodes available and am now mainlining episodes on You Tube.
The best part is the narrator. He is hilarious.
Oh and there was a series of episodes with my girl-crush Sabrina Ghayour of Persiana fame.
Another British show. This is like a reverse Family Feud where people try to guess the least popular answers to a question, the goal being trying to get an answer that whilst correct, no one in the studio audience chose. It would be a fairly run of the mill quiz show if not for the hosts – host and co host who are just delightful. Charming, witty. Smart. I could watch the two of them banter all day!
So excited about this. We were a week behind the States so are only two episodes in. And it’s been great. Even though I have been watching the classic episodes, when I heard that theme music and saw that they had kept the old intro I got almost a little teary….
And speaking of getting a little teary, I went to see Nigella Lawson in conversation. She was brilliant. There a not many people for whom I would stand in line for and hour and a half just to get a book signed by she was worth every minute.
Now, how about a recipe for these babies?
This week I am looking forward to cooking:
Chicken, Feta and Zucchini Meatballs from my latest Tasty Reads Choice, Life in Balance by Donna Hay. We have our meeting in a few weeks and I feel I have not done this book justice. Time to get cracking!
A Biscotten Torte from the A-Z of Cooking
Tomato, Peach, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Salad. I am the only person in my family who likes fruit mixed in with salads that are not fruit salads. Does that make me weird? Or them?
Time to share. What are you enjoying reading / watching / doing?