Saturday, July 30, 2016

Madeira Cake



A little while ago, I had to go on a preparation diet for a medical test.  The best way to describe the diet is "smooth white stuff".  It meant that I was quite limited in what I could eat, including the types of sweet treats I could have.

To indulge my baking habit during this period, I made a plain vanilla cake known as a Madeira Cake.  Madeira Cake is often used as the base for other flavoured cakes, but on this occasion, there was to be no additions for me.

There are dozens of Madeira Cake recipes out there, but the one I chose was from  a vintage cookbook, The Schauer Australian Cookery Book (1962 edition).  All of the recipes in this book are in imperial measurements, and there are no photos.  Also, there is no separate list of ingredients - you read the ingredients as you go along with the method.

The finished cake was a beauty:


The recipe as it appears in the book is as follows:

Cream 1/2 lb butter and 1/2 lb sugar together.  When quite white add a few drops of vanilla essence or a little grated lemon rind [not in my case!!]. Add 4 eggs slowly well beaten together. Sift 10 oz plain flour with one level teaspoon of baking powder twice. [I skipped the sifting.]  Add to the mixture.  Beat in lightly.  Half fill a well greased and floured tin. Place in another tin [hmmm, I didn't] and bake in a moderate oven for 1 1/4 hours.

Don't you just love it?  It assumes some knowledge of baking and so doesn't fill in the finer details like cookbooks today.  For me, this was not a problem, but I can imagine it would cause some people to scratch their heads.

It was a lovely cake, and hit the spot despite its totally unadorned nature.  Even the work crowd appreciated its simplicity.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

EwE - Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing - Melons, Melons, Everywhere


For this week's Eating with Ellie, Kayte chose the theme of Melons, Melons Everywhere.  I liked the sound of Ellie's Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing from So Easy, so that is what I made.

This fruit salad contains rockmelon (cantaloupe) as its major ingredient, so fits in well with this week's theme.  I was actually surprised to be able to buy a cantaloupe at this time of year, but there was one left in the shop.  It had my name on it.

This lovely, sunny looking fruit salad also features strawberries and kiwi fruit, and is dressed with a mixture of honey and lime juice.  (I skipped the mint.)


It was lovely eaten on its own, or served over muesli for breakfast.

To see what the others made this week, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TWD - Summer Market Galette


Our second July recipe for Tuesday with Dorie is Summer Market Galette.  It is a bitter sweet irony for me to be making Summer Market Galette when it is actually the middle of winter in Australia.  However, thanks to the  global export market, I have been able to buy US nectarines and plums, and I used canned apricots and frozen blueberries to make up the balance of the fruit.

You could actually make this with whatever fruits you wanted to.  However, to keep this aligned with the title of the recipe, I went the extra mile to use "season appropriate" (that is, summer) fruits in the galette.

The fruity component was given some zing by the addition of lime zest, grated fresh ginger and mint.  In all, it was rather a tasty tart that I served warm with icecream:


To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Broccoli and Ricotta Mash


Mashed potatoes are nearly universally adored, but poor old broccoli is often given a bad rap.  If you have children who don't like broccoli, or you are not a fan, a way that you might be able to make it more palatable is by making this broccoli and ricotta mash.

The mash comprises potatoes, broccoli and ricotta, mashed together with flavour enhancing ingredients.  This delicious mash alternative is from The Good Life by Sally Obermeder, and the recipe is as follows:

2 small potatoes diced into 2cm squares
500g broccoli cut into small florets
2 tbspns olive oil
2 crushed cloves garlic
115g ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbspns lemon juice

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 8 minutes.  Add the broccoli and cook for another 6 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Heat 1 tbspn of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic.

Drain the potatoes and broccoli and put into the bowl of a food processor.  Add the garlic with the remaining tbspn of olive oil, the ricotta, and    the lemon zest and juice, and process until you have the desired  mash consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve as a nutritious side with whatever you fancy.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The High Tea Party, Sofitel, Melbourne


Last Saturday, Kamilla, Irena and I headed off to The High Tea Party at the Sofitel in Melbourne.

One of the event sponsors was Royal Albert China, who had this gorgeous display of tea party crockery at the door:


We had goodie bags on our chairs full of samples and vouchers on arrival, and there was a lovely mini bottle of Prosecco for each guest.

 Once we were seated, our tea tray arrived:


There were mini desserts:


and scones and mini quiche:


and ribbon sandwiches:


My favourite was the scones, served with jam and cream:


The crockery was Miranda Kerr by Royal Albert - isn't the tea cup pretty:


The tea was bottomless but I could only manage two cups.

Here we are at our table waiting to be served:



There was also entertainment by jazz singer Emma Pask (from The Voice Australia), and two fashion parades - one by Leona Edmiston and the other by a lingerie house.

Outside, there was a seemingly endless array of stalls selling everything from jewellery to chocolates to vodka.

It was a great opportunity to catch up with my friends and enjoy some great food and entertainment.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

EwE - Greek-Style Spinach Rice - It Isn't Easy Being Green



For Eating with Ellie this week, I chose the theme of It Isn't Easy Being Green.  Ellie has lots of fabulous vegetable recipes in her books, so I decided to choose something along that line for a side dish.

I chose Ellie's Greek-Style Spinach Rice from Weeknight Wonders.  In theory, it sounded great - brown rice and frozen spinach cooked with tomato paste and onion, with optional feta.  I left out the feta but otherwise made the recipe as written.

Unusually for me with an Ellie recipe, I didn't take to this dish.  It was too bland for my liking - a little too close to rabbit food.  Unfortunately, it won't be a repeat.

To se what the other Ellie cooks made this week, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Cranberry Maple Pecan Pudding for Christmas in July



On Sunday, I invited four friends over to my place for Christmas in July dinner.  For the uninitiated, Australia's seasons mean that July is winter, making it the perfect time to indulge in Christmas treats which are more suited to cold weather than December, when Christmas is celebrated around the world.  This means that in Australia, we really can have two Christmases - one in July with roasts and Christmas pud, and one in December with seafood and icecream.

We started off with cheese (washed rind, triple cream brie and cheddar), dips (sweet potato and cashew and guacamole) and crackers to start the conversation while dinner finished cooking: 



Here is the table all laid in expectation:



For dinner, we had slow cooker roast chicken with roast pumpkin, potato and carrot, and steamed asparagus:



I had never cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker before, so I was pleasantly surprised.  the recipe for the chicken that I used (including a spice rub) is online here at Tori Avey's website.  The meat stayed beautifully moist and tender, and the spice rub gave the meat a nice flavour.  For the gravy (not pictured), I drained off the juices that cooked out of the chicken and thickened them up in a saucepan with a dessertspoon of cornflour dissolved in water to make a paste.

Two of my guests are gluten and dairy sensitive, so I made this Cranberry, Maple and Pecan Pudding from BBC Good Food:




You can see that when I turned out the pudding, the base of it caved in a little.  I can only guess that the crumbly texture of the pudding is at least in part due to its gluten free status.  Next time, I would leave the pudding to cool in the pudding basin for a while before unmoulding.

I didn't have fresh  cranberries (they are virtually impossible to obtain in Australia), so I used frozen cherries in the  sauce instead:



For the dairy lovers, there was also raspberry ripple icecream to go with the pudding.

The pudding doesn't taste like regular Christmas pudding - it is nowhere near as rich for a start.  However, it is very fruity, and reminds me of a light fruitcake. 

It was a fun evening and a great way to celebrate Christmas in July.