The last meal and a gluten free rhubarb frangipane tart

Nigh on an eon ago, whilst undertaking my food studies course, we made frangipane for the first time. Frangipane is a filling for a cake or tart made with, or flavoured by almonds. In this day and age, it is normally made of ground almonds, butter, egg and sugar. The manner in which this mixture puffed up and surrounded the fruit placed on top, seemed magical to me back then and still does today.

It appears that this fluffy almond concoction could also have been a favourite of a saint. Some googly research unearthed the charming story of Jacoba dei Settesoli, an Italian woman who married into the Frangipani family in 1210. After meeting Saint Frances of Assisi, she became a friend and follower of his, devoting her life to good works. The story goes that upon his death bed, Francis called for ‘Brother Jacoba’ (as he had named her due to her fortitude), to bring him some of his favourite almond treats. Much to the consternation of the other monks, she was allowed in to the monastery with a basket of almond pastries and stayed until the revered man took his last breath.

This tale of a woman before her time, feeding a saint the food he wished for on his death bed, led me to ponder what my last meal on earth would be. Before making this momentous decision, I asked The Yak what he would choose. He replied that it would have to be his ‘once favourite dish’ from his ‘once favourite’ Italian restaurant Buon Ricordo. The legendary cream and Parmesan fettuccine topped with a truffled egg. He would also feast on a basket of the finest gluten laden breads.

For myself at the time of writing (I am nothing if not fickle), it would probably include half a dozen Sydney rock oysters ‘au naturale’, a bowl of buttery garlic prawns, a slice of good sourdough bread to mop up the prawny juices, steamed asparagus spears drizzled with lemon, a splodge of the creamy French soft cheese Buche d’Affinois and an icy cold glass of champagne. (Well, maybe more than one.) For dessert, this pretty and delicate cake would certainly be a contender. The piquant rhubarb offsets the buttery, nutty, sweetness of the frangipane perfectly.

A tart worthy of a saint or a Cheergerm’s last meal.

RHUBARB FRANGIPANE TART, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 lemon rind finely grated
150g almond meal
35g (1/4 cup) gluten free plain flour
150g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease a 34 cm x 12 loose based tart tin rectangular tin or a 23cm loose based flan tin.
Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and lemon rind and beat well.
Add almond meal and flour and fold to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top with a spatula.
Arrange the rhubarb over the top of the mixture in a pleasing pattern.
Put in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
If you want to serve it warm, give it 15 minutes before trying to take it out of the tin. Otherwise, cool completely then gently loosen the edges before removing carefully and placing onto a plate for presentation.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or without. That’s really up to you.

Slightly adapted from the SBS food recipe website. Link follows the photos.

http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-and-orange-blossom-frangipane-tart-rhubarb-syrup

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/feb-8-bl-jacoba-de-settesoli

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacoba_of_Settesoli

http://buonricordo.com.au

http://www.aoap.com.au/content_common/pr-white-mould-cheese_guilloteau-buche-daffinois.seo


Chia pudding pots and granola, gluten free

There was a stirring in my workday breakfast soul, a yearning for something a little different than my usual banana, spelt sourdough toast with smashed avocado and a cup of tea. Something free of gluten that that The Yak could also scoff, before the trek to work was made. Something that could be made the night before, which for this ‘Non-Morning Person,’ is perfect.

When I first started experimenting with this pudding, doubt ruled supreme as to whether it would be delicious. Currently, these kind of chia concoctions are hipper than hip, too cool for school and this Cheergerm has never enjoyed the textural journey that is sago or tapioca. However, we have become chia pudding converts. Sigh, what followers. After some experimenting with liquid and chia quantities , I found a balance that works for my taste. The gluten free granola is a marvellous combination of crispy, sweet and nutty goodness. It is rather fabulous when strewn on all manners of breakfast foods. Combined with the pudding, it is simultaneously creamy, squishy and crunchy. The blueberries add a lovely fresh tartness that cuts through any richness.

Little black pearls of chia seeds
I appreciate popping you into a biscuit batter
Or this nice little breakfast pudding
Even though
You get stuck between my teeth
I kind of like you
But I kind of don’t
I have read that you are a powerhouse of
Fibre, protein, antioxidants and all that good stuff
You are also free of gluten
Which is greatly appreciated in these here parts
But you are also a little bit weird
And whilst I don’t want to be cruel
I am not quite sure I would say
We are the best of friends quite yet

BLUEBERRY CHIA BREAKFAST PUDDINGS

WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/2 cup yoghurt (I used a thick greek style vanilla bean yoghurt.)
1/2 cup light coconut cream (an oxymoron if I ever heard one)
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/8 tsp Vanilla bean powder or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean essence
2 tbl maple syrup
125g blueberries (reserve 12 for garnishing) (I have used raspberries as well which are also delicious)

HOW YOU DO IT
You will need 4 cups or jars to put this mixture into. Whaever takes your fancy. These wee jars were from Wheel and Barrow (no sponsoring or anything tricksy going on here) and I am a little bit in love with them.
Divide the blueberries amongst the jars or cups, leave about 12 for garnishing the top.
Whisk the chia seeds, yoghurt, milk, maple syrup and vanilla in a large bowl.
Divide equally amongst the four containers, pouring the mixture over the berries.
Use the remaining berries to garnish the puddings.
Cover and place in fridge overnight.
If the pudding is too thick for your liking, add a dash of milk or coconut milk to loosen it.
Serve topped with a hearty sprinkling of the granola (recipe follows) and tuck in.

A Cheergerm creation

GLUTEN FREE GRANOLA

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup coconut (I only had desiccated, shredded or flaked would be good too)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I used whole unsweetened)
1/4 cup sultanas
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tbl chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean essence
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbls maple syrup
2 tbl grapeseed oil

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 160C.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Spread all of the ingredients except for the maple syrup and grapeseed oil onto the tray and mix well.
Pour the maple syrup and oil over the granola mixture and mix very well.
Place in the oven for ten minutes, remove tray and stir. Put the tray back in the oven.
After another ten minutes, remove the tray again and stir.
Pop back in the oven, I then gave it another five minutes, but it will depend. You will have to watch it carefully as you want crunchy golden brown granola, not burnt.
Once cooled, place a hearty spoonful on top of your chia puddings. It is also great on yoghurt and other breakfast cereals. Store in an airtight container.

A Cheergerm creation


Thanks Mum and Moosewood, bean and tofu casserole

Growing up in the seventies, our Mum was part of a health-food co-operative. She purchased natural food in bulk that wasn’t your average store bought fare. Standout memories from those days include bags of wholemeal flour, copious legumes, lecithin (crazy stuff that), tins of molasses and brown sugar. (To emphasise this was the seventies, I remember Mum wearing a much coveted white peasant blouse embellished with red embroidery.) An orchardist’s daughter, she always stocked a cornucopia of fresh fruit and vegetables in the house.

Mum baked her own bread, made her own tomato sauce, bottled delicious preserves and for a time, a yoghurt maker graced the benches. Out of her kitchen rolled wonderful soups and heartily savoury casseroles. There was always a container holding tempting baked slices and biscuits made using recipes she had memorised from her own Mums wonderful baking. Our mum is not one to toot her own horn but we all feel lucky to have had such a solid grounding in eating and cooking good food.

One of the cookbooks that graced Mums shelves was The Moosewood Cookbook, one of the most iconic and revolutionary cookbooks of that time. This vegetarian recipe book was written by Mollie Katzen, who at the time was a member of The Moosewood Collective. (A natural foods restaurant founded in 1973 in Ithaca, New York.) My copy seems to have gone missing but recent reviews of updated editions state that many recipes are now ‘lighter’ than in the past. I imagine the author cut back on some of the larger quantities of cheese and sour cream. (Ingredients which were possibly the reason why the Moosewood food was so darned delicious!)

I took the inspiration for this dish from memories of the Moosewood Cookbook and the fact that I was housebound and needed to use whatever my pantry and refrigerator had to offer. It is great to soak your own beans but if you can’t, tinned beans are fine. These sort of casseroles are forgiving, so use what you have and experiment to your hearts content. The Yak and I happily scoffed our portions whilst the sproglets did a double take at the tofu. Kid 2 asked ‘what was that white spongy stuff?’ I said tofu. He said he thought it was chicken. (See, everything really does taste like chicken!) There is a good contrast between the crunchy munchy topping and the piquant, Mexican style sauce underneath. If you like your food really spicy, just bump up the chilli.

Peace out and enjoy.

Thanks Mum and Moosewood, bean and tofu casserole

WHAT YOU DO
3 tbl Olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 large yellow or red capsicum, diced (or 1 small)
2 carrots, diced
3 small zucchini, diced
200g Mushrooms, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbl ground cumin
1 tbl ground paprika
2 tsps salt
Black pepper to taste
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tin cannelinni beans, drained
1 tbl molasses
250 hard block tofu cut into 2cm cubes (don’t like the curd of beans? Don’t put it in!)
50g Parmesan, grated
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (or regular, try and use wholemeal or wholegrain)
Extra olive oil

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C.
Oil a casserole dish or if you have an ovenproof casserole dish that you can cook everything in and then transfer directly to the oven, use that. I used my sturdy Le Crueset cast iron pot.
In a large saucepan saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil for a few minutes until they start to soften.
Add the capsicum and zucchini and cook for another few minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few more minutes.
Add garlic cook and for 30 seconds or so then add chilli flakes, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the tomato and molasses and stir to combine.
Add the beans and tofu. Bring to the boil.
Adjust the seasoning. If using another baking dish, pour the mixture into it. If you are using the same casserole dish, make sure you wipe the rim so it doesn’t look too messy.
Combine the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and a few glugs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the breadcrumb mixture over the bean mixture.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the mixture beneath is bubbling. (Turn the dish half way through cooking to ensure even browning of the crust.)
Serve with a green salad or steamed veggies.

A Cheergerm creation

http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/about/cookbooks/

http://www.molliekatzen.com

http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/about/cookbooks/

http://www.molliekatzen.com


Gluten free dark Jamaican Gingerbread and the bird

Children are a veritable wealth of knowledge.

Kid 1: Did you know that years ago, that angry tennis man John McEnroe flipped the bird at the queen?

Me: Are you sure?

Kid 1: Yes, and the Queen flipped the bird back at him.

Me: Now I know that part didn’t happen.

Kid 1: It did, it did. The Queen flipped the bird.

Me: She did not!

And so it went, did, didn’t, did, didn’t. It turns out he had seen an advertisement for a television ‘mockumentary’ on tennis and at the time, believed it to be a true historical fact.

I for one, imagine that during her illustrious reign, Her Royal Highness must have wanted to flip the bird at least once. (Gesticulating in this manner has certainly crossed my mind once or twice when arguing with Kid 1). This spot of baking hails from the iconic British baker, Delia Smith. This no-nonsense doyenne of English cookery is accredited for teaching two generations of loyal British fans how to cook. Her recipes are reliable and are also easily converted into gluten free options.

In her cookbook Delia’s Cakes, she tells us that this cake was ‘originally from the sugar-and-spice island of Jamaica.’ Darkly treacly, spicy, sticky and chewy. This is almost like a real loaf of bread. It is truly better when wrapped and left for a day and even better (like so many things), when smeared with butter.

Now I just know that Delia would never flip anyone the bird.

GLUTEN FREE DARK JAMAICAN GINGERBREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
180g gf plain flour (130g plain gf flour and 50g sorghum)
1 tbl ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (1/4 nutmeg, grated)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbl milk
75g black treacle or molasses
75g golden syrup
75g dark brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
75g butter
75ml water
1 large egg, lightly beaten

WHAT YOU DO
Getting Ready: Preheat the oven to 170C and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper. Delia suggests using a ready made loaf tin liner (which I did not have.) Place the tin of treacle or molasses and golden syrup bottle in hot water to warm them and make it easier to measure them.
Sift the flours and spices into a large bowl.
Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the milk and set it to one side.
Measure the treacle/molasses, golden syrup, sugar and butter into a saucepan with 75ml of water. Heat over a low heat and stir gently until thoroughly melted and blended. Don’t let it come anywhere near the boil and don’t go off and leave it.
Next add the syrup mixture to the flour and spices, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon.
When the mixture is smooth, beat the egg in a little at a time, followed by the bicarbonate of soda and milk.
Now pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on a lower shelf, align the the tin with the centre of the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour until it’s well-risen and firm to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.
If possible, store it in a cake tin in the liner (if you used one) or wrapped in clingfilm for 24 hours before eating. It is delicious smeared with butter.

A Cheergerm adaptation from Delia’s Cakes published by Hodder and Stoughton 2013


Baggage and Gerringong

Everyone needs a little time away. To unwind, read a good book, to perhaps experience something a little different than the everyday. But two ‘three day mini-break weekends’ in a row? Now that seems a little, well, greedy. To quote Gordon Gecko from that 80’s hit movie Wall Street, ‘The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.’

So five friends from Mothers Group, once again threw together our winter woollies and piled our literal and metaphorical baggage into one car. This in itself was a small miracle, can you imagine? (Some of us may have packed more than others.) Our destination this time was the adorable hill perched coastal village of Gerringong on the South Coast of New South Wales. Only two hours (if that) from Sydney. We had the lend of a small holiday house and counted ourselves as very lucky chicks indeed.

Lunch had been missed and a loo visit was called for. So to start this gourmet weekend away, a stop was made at the infamous Maccy D’s just out of Wollongong. Now, I am no fan of this multinational fast food joint, for a number of reasons. However, not being a purist, I must tell you that we did eat the fries. Not sure if it was our hunger, excitement or the fact that we had just emptied our bladders but they tasted damn good. Let’s leave it at that.

Heading deeper south, the sky darkened. By the time we arrived, a full blown storm had settled in. Rooms and space divided, luggage unpacked, wine placed into the fridge and the kettle boiled. Snug as bugs in rugs, we looked at each other and heard not, the sound of children. And it was good.

Dinner that first night was an arduous trek (ok, it took three minutes) up to the main drag of Gerringong. There, we ate at the Werri Thai Restaurant, a hole in the wall and encountered some of the freshest Thai food any of us had eaten in quite the while. The tofu and cashew nuts, with a jammy spicy sauce was the standout. Enough that the restaurant was earmarked to re-visit before we left. That and a glass or two of Arras sparkling wine from Tasmania (for those of our number who partake in the odd alcoholic beverage), was a great start to our long weekend.

The next morning, after a luscious lie-in, the lot of us traversed the full twenty minute drive to the pretty town of Berry. Our destination being the renowned Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery. My last visit was many years ago and we were all keen to give it a whirl. Our sleep-in meant missing out on the full breakfast menu. So a cut down menu it was and sadly, no eggies. My choice was a Croque Monsieur style ham and cheese croissant. Not sure if this is actually done in the land of the French, but oh my. Flaky and buttery with a creamy, porcine interior. The others tried a very good spinach, pumpkin, pepita, sunflower seed and feta muffin. The coffee was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

After drooling over a fine selection of various baked goods, choices were made and boxed up to take back to the cottage. A stellar multigrain sourdough, a chocolate almond croissant, lemon yoghurt tea cake, prune and custard tart and macadamia tart. The intention being to share for afternoon tea, if not that day, the next. (No-one likes to go hungry.)

Back in Gerringong, we walked along the cliffs and drank excellent coffee from the Blue Espresso Bar. This Cheergerm eyed off some gorgeous hand-etched wine glasses at Mas Homewares. A shop brimming with an array of delightful European goodies.

Books were read, blankets snuggled under. Friday night, we had pre-booked (at a local’s suggestion), Zoobs Woodfired Pizza. They prepare their hand rolled pizza dough fresh every day and fire it in a proper woodfired oven. To start, some of the laydeez shared an excellent salt and pepper crusted squid. Then it was the pizza. My margarita with mushrooms was to die for. The base was puffy, light, yeasty with the smoky taste that only a woodfired pizza can give you.

A slap up home cooked brekky then a visit to the Gerringong Saturday markets. Cold but fun. Woolen hats, homemade cakes and jams, alpaca wool and handcrafted pillow cases. Hot chips eaten from the paper, another contender throws it’s hat into the ring for the hotly contested title of ‘the best chips in the world.’

Cups of tea, coffee, herbal libations, glasses of wine, reading, movies and tears over parenting journeys that seem to have become more complex. This gift of time allows us to expand on conversations that usually happen over the space of a cup of coffee. For a brief while, our burdens are unshouldered. It feels like we have unpacked far more this weekend than just our actual physical luggage.

We head out again that evening to Werri Thai to once again chow down upon that delicious tofu and cashew nut dish. This time trying an equally good massaman beef which is creamy and mildy spicy.

Sunday arrives all too quickly. Breakfast was booked at the Seavista Cafe in Gerringong. Light, airy with a gorgeous view of the ocean. The breakfast is decently solid. My poached eggs with hollandaise, avocado and smoked salmon is tasty. Back at the house, our re-packed bags are skillfully arranged (not unlike a jigsaw puzzle), into the car. I cannot speak for everyone but my baggage seemed just that little bit lighter. (Well, apart from those rather fabulous wine glasses I purchased.)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Espresso-Bar-Official/456897421029059

http://berrysourdoughcafe.com.au

http://www.zoobswoodfired.com

https://www.facebook.com/GerringongSeaVistaCafe

http://www.mashomewares.com.au

http://www.gerringongvillagemarkets.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/kiama-area/gerringong

http://cheergerm.com/2014/08/24/shadow-sisters-and-the-apple-bar/


Bonny Bonnay

School holidays had arrived so we decided to hitch the cart to the horse, throw the sproglets in the back and take off to the Hunter Valley. This is a beautiful wine growing region a mere one and a half hours drive north from Sydney. A mini-break that involved wine tasting? You don’t have to ask me twice.

A quick visit to the local Hornsby Growers Market for supplies, then we hit the open road. We knew we were in wine country the minute we hit the vineyards. (A real bunch of Einsteins are we.)

First stop before arriving at the house was a spot of lunch, we spied a rustic looking joint called the Lovedale Store Cafe. A simple cheese toastie for the eight year old and a ‘slap me silly sideways it was so good Asian style pulled pork on a toasted bun with homemade coleslaw’ for Kid 1 and myself. A big pot of Yorkshire tea for the grown ups and a veggie frittata with a tasty potato salad for The Yak. And a chilled out Highland goatie oatie out the back. (Alive of course.)

Our first wine sipping stop is Peterson’s Wines where they make killer sparkling wine. Friendly, funny and attentively served, this Cheergerm solely sipped on stars and maybe even purchased one or two. A chocolate shop stop to keep the smaller people happy, then off to the house we went.

This soothing green house is timeless, stepping inside we feel instantly becalmed. Steady ticking clocks, the heartbeat of this home, remind us both of childhood. Patchwork quilts and vintage china, a well-stocked kitchen and a claw-footed bathtub. We look out onto pastoral landscape and an old school garden with lavender and citrus trees.

An afternoon walk, warm sunshine on a winters day. Kid 2 slipped his little hand in mine and chattered about the shapes of trees, what we will do next and other topics that are dear to this eight year old boys heart.

Sitting on the white bed, the view of the vibrantly orange mandarin tree from our bedroom window distracted me as I wrote. The only sound was the chirrup of birds and the occasional bovine moo.

Night fell and we rugged up to stargaze in the darkened country night. Kid 1 was initially frightened at the overwhelming vista, never has been before. Perhaps it is merely a symptom of his burgeoning awareness that sadly, the world is not the safe place he thought it once was. Our eyes adjusted to the night sky and Kid 2 marvelled at the Milky Way and multitudes of stars. He spoke of a high powered telescope and perhaps, another stargazer has been made.

A Peterson’s sparkling Shiraz Viognier goes very nicely with a black pepper pie and a gluten free veggie roll purchased from the Hornsby Farmers Market. (It’s my bloody holiday too.) A homemade baby kale (adorable or what and so much nicer than the grown up version) and fennel salad dressed with caramelised balsamic and olive oil, offsets the pastry richness.

As I sat in bed reading, the boys and Yak were fast asleep. I listened to the crackle of the open fire and felt lucky and grateful to be there, tucked cosily under the roof of this country home. (I also felt grateful for the sturdy fire guard that ensured we did not burn to death in the middle of the night.)

My master plan of slap up huge lunches and easy dinners worked a treat. Japanese and Thai food at Oishii in the Tempus Two complex is surprisingly good. On the next day, a solidly decent lunch of fish and chips at The Deck Cafe in Lovedale kept us going amongst the very difficult work of a spot of wine tasting. Vineyard highlights included Cappercaille, Brokenwood, Allandale, Tamburlaine Organic Vineyards and the stunningly beautifully located Audrey Wilkinson. Needless to say, we are well stocked in case of a wine apocaplyse.

Our final night found us by the open fire, scoffing Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese triple cream Brie. A delightful floral, chalky and creamy cheese. The lyrical and come hither strains of bohemian French Cafe jazz, (why does everything sound better in French?), kids revelling in toasting marshmallows on the open fire and a Hunter Valley Chardonnay from Allandale.

The Yak wanted to freeze time as he watched his two lads reading in their voluptuous white cloud-like beds. But the morning of leaving arrived as mornings are bound to do. As my mum always says, you have to leave so you can come back. And that we will.

http://www.bonnay.com.au

http://www.stayz.com.au/accommodation/nsw/hunter/hunter-valley/76903

https://www.facebook.com/lovedalestore

http://www.oishii.com.au

http://www.petersonswines.com.au

http://www.capercailliewine.com.au

http://www.allandalewinery.com.au

http://www.deckcafelovedale.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/hunter/hunter-valley


For you, a gluten free passionfruit cake

This is for you my friend since we were fifteen year old ingénues
We would share our hopes and dreams in sleepovers silly from lack of sleep
The world spread out before us juicy, ripe and full of hope
Kept apart by distance for many years now
This was baked with Kid 1, in the pretence that it would be placed lovingly into a lemon coloured Tupperware container, tucked into the car, then driven over to your house
To make you a cuppa
To cut us a slice of cake
It’s possible it may have sat there untouched for quite a bit
Whilst we talked it out
This cake is for all the times I wasn’t there to hold your hand or for you to hold mine
To dry your tears
To tell you it was would be ok
Even when it really wasn’t
To kick each other’s arses if it was required
Or to not say much of anything at all
This cake is so you know
You are in my heart if no longer in my neighbourhood

Kid 1 and I baked this tropical fruity delight slowly and happily. The day stretched out immeasurably before us. Carefully learning to crack eggs, he wrapped his small hands around the ovoid object as if it were a Faberge antiquity.

This cake has a light soft crumb with soft vanilla undertones and is best eaten on the day it is made. (Or the day after, but it loses something by the third day. Not sure what, just trust me.) The thin passionfruit glaze with its scattering of dark seeds is just the right balance of sweet and tang. In lieu of sharing a slice of this cake with my friend, we had it for afternoon tea.

GLUTEN FREE PASSIONFRUIT CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
125g butter, room temperature
2/3 cup raw caster sugar (or white caster sugar)
200g gluten free self raising flour
50 sorghum flour
30g almond meal
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
4 small passionfruit pulps, (or 2 large.) If you don’t want too many pips in your cake batter, you can sieve the pulp then add some of the pips back into the sieved mixture to add to the cake.

Passionfruit glaze
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp boiling water
passionfruit pulp of 1 small or 1/2 of a large

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixmaster, with hand beaters or by hand. Make sure it’s light and fluffy and almost white in colour. (Add the vanilla essence if you are using it at this step.)
Whilst the butter and sugar is mixing, sift the self-raising flour, sorghum flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean powder. Place aside.
Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, mix well.
Starting with the flour, add the sifted flour and milk alternately, one third at a time.
Add the passionfruit and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the tin.
Cook for approximately 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Let cool for ten minutes then take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Once completely cool, drizzle with the glaze. (Recipe below.)

Passionfruit glaze
Sift the icing, add the butter, boiling water and passionfruit pulp to the icing.
Mix well, you want a fairly runny consistency, add a dash more hot water if needed.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the Best Recipes website, link below.

http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/golden-passionfruit-cake-L8274.html


Where did the words go green bean curry

Sometimes adjectives run towards my outstretched hands like small greedy children to a fairground stall laden with fairy floss. Other days, I reach desperately into the hollow of a darkened cave where all the worthy words in the world are wedged into tiny crevices. Begging for them to come forward into the light, they refuse and cling mollusc-like to their safe rocky comfort. Leaving me berefit and wordless.

Ornery little buggers.

That is why I give you a brief description. Aromatic, spicy, zingy, beany. This curry was bloody good and adds a vegetable freshness to an Indian banquet.

GREEN BEAN CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED

1 tbl vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
15 small dried curry leaves or 5 fresh
1 tbl curry powder (use a good quality one, I used a Herbies Spices blend)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
500g green beans, topped and tailed
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used low fat)
2 tbl lime juice

WHAT YOU DO

Heat the oil in a medium size frypan over a medium heat then fry the onions until they start to turn golden brown.
Add the garlic and curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add all the spices and salt and cook for one to two minutes.
Add the green beans, stir to coat in the spices then turn to a low to medium heat and cook until the beans are just al dente. (Meaning they have a bit of resistance when you bite into them.)
Add the coconut milk and cook for five minutes. Check the seasoning.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
Serve as part of an Indian banquet.

A Cheergerm adaptation of the recipe listed below.


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/green-bean-curry/


Long walks in the rain and restorative vegetable soup

Hi, my name is Cheergerm, I like long walks in the rain. (This sounds like the introduction to a personal ad on a dating website.) Actually, I was under the impression I liked long walks in the rain.

After a lovely and filling lunch at Mum’s house, a forty minute walk home seemed like a good idea. The offer of an umbrella was denied. ‘No thanks, I have my rain coat, that will do thanks.’ The first five minutes of light drizzle were delightful. I felt alive, exuberant, all English-like and Mary Poppinsy. Trip trapping down the road like one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, cool mist enveloping me.

Then the rain got heavier. Rain coat zipped up, hood on. This wasn’t going to dampen my spirits, so to speak. Did the intrepid explorer Sir Edmund Hilary turn back when things got a bit hairy climbing Mt Everest? Never! With nothing to protect my face and glasses, large drops began to drip down, obscuring my vision. A pair of teeny tiny windscreen wipers would have been great. This genteel walk was becoming somewhat unpleasant.

The rain deepened, as did my mood. I would not call for help. Captain Scott didn’t call his mummy for help in the Antarctic, did he? (Unfortunately, I had left my mobile phone at home.) The wind started to blow the rain sideways. By now my track suit pants were hugging my legs wetly, not unlike a clingy three year old with a soggy nappy. The odd drip or two was making it way slowly down my back, creeping towards undergarments that one would prefer to keep dry.

I saw a car, my heart lifted, it was the same make and colour as ours. Had the Yak come to rescue me from this foolhardy adventure? Nope, it wasn’t him. Resolutely, I put my head down. Rain was now pouring over the hood of my rain coat and down my nose like a miniature waterfall. Home was only ten minutes away.

My name is Cheergerm, I do not like long walks in the rain.

But I do like this. A marvellous restorative vegetable soup based on the kind of soup that Mum would make on wintery Sunday’s. It is perfect for when you feel wet, poorly, sad, or just in need of a big bowl of soup love. It makes a huge pot but I always freeze some for a rainy day. Mum always used barley but sadly, it is not gluten free. I threw in some lovely red Persian lentils which do not need soaking and keep their shape once cooked. The celery is essential.

RESTORATIVE VEGETABLE SOUP

2 tbl olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow or red capsicum, diced
4 sticks celery, 300g, diced
1 Swede (the vegetable not someone from Sweden), diced
4 cups veggie stock
7 cups of water
1 cup Persian red lentils (or green lentils, or barley if it doesn’t need to be GF), make sure you wash them
Big handful of green beans, chopped
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 tsp Salt and as much black pepper as you desire
1 large handful celery leaves, roughly chopped
(Optional: vegetable stock powder.)

Heat oil in large stockpan and sweat off onion, carrots, pepper, celery and swede for about ten minutes. Do not colour the vegetables.
Add the veggie stock, water, lentils and a few big grinds of black pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
Cook for about 40 minutes until the carrots are just tender, then add the beans, zucchini and salt and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until they are just tender. You want to keep some vibrancy in them.
Check for seasoning, add more salt, pepper and a teaspoon of veggie stock powder if needed.
Add the celery leaves and cook for five more minutes. Let the soup sit off the heat for five minutes, scoop off any lentil scum that has come to surface.
Eaten with a slice of spelt sourdough and some manchego cheese.

A Cheergerm recipe

Cooking Notes: I used a store bought veggie stock. I have made my own before (a few years ago now) but I really fancy making the wonderful sounding roast vegetarian stock from the lovely Almost Italian blog. She roasted the vegetables first to obtain some umami depth. I haven’t made it yet but I will. Or maybe you will first. Bless and damn you if that is the case.

https://almostitalian.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/french-onion-soup-with-vegetable-stock-voila/


Gluten free date and ginger slice, minus three points

Kid 1 to our dog: Elvis I love you so much but I minus three points of love because you have no butt cheeks.

Kid 1 is a hard taskmaster. After being begged asked to try this slice, he had a tiny nibble. Letting me down as gently as he was able to, the sproglet informed me that ‘it was not to his taste and he didn’t like the ginger and chocolate together.’ Well, that left a large amount of slice for the taller people in our household. (Kid 2 saw the cornflakes and ran a mile.) Leftover gluten free cornflakes needed to be used up so this recipe was on my ‘to do’ list. The Yak and myself were big fans, as were the other friends that I palmed it off on shared it lovingly with. It is a bit like a poorer cousin of a fancy florentine, but no less delicious.

With a chewy unctuousness, this slice isn’t as sweet as you would imagine and the ginger is a welcome spicy surprise. It would be a wonderful addition to a Christmas celebration or packaged prettily as a festive gift. Containing dates, this concoction must be good for you and being doused in dark chocolate (which science has proven to be rich in important nutrients), it is doubly so.

Kid 1, I love you so much but I minus three points of love for you being such a fussy bugger.

GLUTEN FREE DATE AND GINGER SLICE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/2 cups (180g) chopped dates
170g butter
85g sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
3 cups (80g) gluten free cornflakes
170g dark chocolate

HOW YOU DO IT
Put the chopped dates, butter, sugar and ginger into a medium sized saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly amalgamated. This takes about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and mix in the cornflakes.
When everything is well combined, press into a 30 X 21 cm shallow tin until it’s about 1cm thick. My slice was about 26cm long, it depends how thick you make it.
Once the mixture has cooled, put it in the fridge until it is quite firm. This took about 45 minutes.

Finishing
Melt the chocolate carefully and pour it over the chilled slice.
Spread out evenly with a knife or spatula, then score the surface of the chocolate with a fork.
Set aside to cool and cut into small fingers or squares.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container, separating the layers with baking or waxed paper. Makes about 20-25 squares, depending on the size.
Cooking Note: you can use regular cornflakes if you don’t require a gluten free slice.

Recipe from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/16/more-evidence-that-chocolate-may-be-good-for-the-heart-say-researchers#img-1