When a song by musical robots distracts you from revision or writing, you know it's good.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
The past week confirms it all: Britain is at least a month behind on the weather front.
|See this? The sunshine is a lie. It'll be gone within 5 minutes.|
Thanks to rain and winds that threaten to blow away all but the most sturdy of buildings, a planned picnic in the park for a friend's birthday turned into a house party with lots of Pimms, bubbly and food. My contribution to the feast included my latest attempt at lamingtons, which I think I finally got the hang of. For now. They went well with the delicious sandwiches our hosts so kindly prepared, my friend Kate's amazing blueberry and almond cake, and of course lots of Pimms and les vins.
After all, who in this cake loving city can resist the allure of squares of golden sponge cake? Dip those little morsels in chocolate and coconut, and you have a winner*. My first attempt a few weeks ago resulted in a sponge that was too rich, sending most of the people in the ward to sleep during the ward round... oops. This time (surprisingly) using gluten free flour with a modified marble cake recipe worked plenty of magic! The resulting sponge was light, tender yet buttery enough to suit British tastes - a perfect foil for the decadent coating.
What else can I say? Australian folks, you guys are baking geniuses. Thank you.
225g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
225g self raising flour (I used Doves Farm gluten free self raising flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
A pinch of salt
150g dark chocolate
50g unsalted butter
180ml semi skimmed milk
200g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
2-3 tablespoons boiling water
2 cups desiccated coconut
Grease and line a 23 cm square cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Using a stand mixer or an electric whisk, cream the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and milk. Do not panic if the batter looks a bit loose initially if you are using gluten free flour! It will come together eventually with gentle handling and a few minutes for the flour to soak up the liquid. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes. The cake is done when the sides pull away a little from the pan and a skewer inserted in the middle comes away with a few crumbs. Set aside to cool.
Once the cake has cooled, cut the cake into two rectangles and cut each rectangle into 2 layers.
Melt the butter, chocolate and milk in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Use about 1/2 cup of the icing to sandwich the cake layers. Cut the cakes into 16 squares.
Thin out the remaining icing with 2-3 tablespoons boiling water. Pour the coconut into a shallow dish for tossing.
This is the fun part: Dip each cake square into the chocolate icing, using 2 spoons (I'm clumsy and prone to licking my fingers!) to turn the cakes or spoon icing over any uniced bits. Let any excess icing drain off on the side of the bowl, then toss the cakes in coconut. Place on a wire rack to set.
Enjoy at a picnic, a party or with a cup of coffee/tea.
Makes 16 lamingtons.
*Someone did pick out the sponge from the layer of chocolate icing. You strange person you.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
Oh for blue skies,
cocktails and song,
and beautiful open spaces.
I have never been so in love with London before.
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
'Home-Thoughts, from Abroad' by Robert Browning
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Easter brings back fond memories, and every year new ones are created. On the afternoon of Easter Sunday after a lovely morning mass, we had a traditional meal of a slow-roasted leg of lamb. I was initially very nervous about the roast as I had never roasted anything besides chicken and duck portions over nearly three years of cooking in this kitchen! Am pretty pleased it turned out all right - well browned with a good texture from hours of cooking at low temperature, but have a feeling it was mainly due to the fact that it was good meat from the Ginger Pig. Next year I'll try shoulder as it lends itself better to slow cooking and because I simply love the more intense taste of leftover lamb shoulder in pita bread sandwiches!
|I had already carved the lamb prior to serving, but am sure photos of the roast exist thanks to the number of smartphones whipped out just before carving...|
The meat was accompanied by very Mediterranean style sides in addition to the ever popular roasties and sweet potato mash - a simple version of Turkish salad, slow roasted carrots, and minted Greek yoghurt with honey. For pudding, an amazing chocolate cake baked with lots of love by a dear friend.
What mattered most was not the food, nor was it watching the boat race on telly (well done Oxford!) but it was the company of friends and family present. The meal, a beautiful bottle of Fleurie and plenty of G&Ts just aided the conversation, made us comfortable with sharing experiences and new discoveries. Just like all good dinner parties do.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
So the inevitable has happened and I have a really bad cold which is almost flu-like. It kind of serves me right for not getting my flu jab! The headaches and muscle aches are not as bad as yesterday, it only took 2 doses of ibuprofen to manage it. However the sore throat and blocked sinuses needed something hot, spicy, delicious and naughty for soothing purposes.
Looking at a classic recipe by the great Nigel Slater for inspiration, I decided to make some hot toddy according to what was at hand. The honey in my cupboard was crystallised (when will I ever learn that squeezy bottles of honey are a stupid idea?) and I ended up sneaking some of the flatmate's agave nectar. Also I find ginger more soothing in cold weather, and it went well with the Balvenie Signature whisky in my stash (which happened to be the only whisky I have, a girl can only drink so much). Yummy.
I would also love to try this with rye whiskey - have my eye on a bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye! Sadly it is competing with two lovely small batch gins for my money and love.
Place a cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and 2 slices ginger/a wedge of lemon into your favourite mug. Pour over a tablespoon of agave nectar and a measure of whisky. Top up with boiling water.
Relax in your favourite chair and enjoy with a new exciting book.