Blueberry sauce and a baking competition

So, the opportunity arose to partake in a baking competition. The event was being held to raise money for a sensory room at the school where the Mothership teaches. The idea being that your baking would be adjudicated by a panel of expert judges (in other words, people who liked food). The entered goodies were then to be sold at a big bake stall. How could I turn down the opportunity to raise money for a great cause? To me, it’s never been about the winning, it’s always been about the participating. It’s about ‘the taking part’, ‘giving it your best shot’ and all that guff important stuff.

Who am I kidding? I wanted to win. Big time.

The things that this Cheergerm has won in life (if you don’t count the esoteric crap such as true love, two great kids, friendship, good looks, talent) are few and far between. I do remember winning a puzzle once. It wasn’t even a particularly good puzzle.

What to bake, what to bake. It had to be my never fail flourless chocolate cake recipe. But it needed to be elevated and given an extra touch that could really wow them. Basically, it had to be something that could be placed into my new German jars (that I am currently obsessed with). That way, if my cake sucked, the judges would be so blinded by my quality glassware they would hand me the win.

With a few fresh blueberries left and some good quality (as in they won’t poison anyone) frozen ones in the freezer, the idea of a blueberry sauce popped into my mind. A recipe was found, a few adjustments made and Bob was my uncle. Sweet, tart and wonderfully gloopy, this fruit sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the rich, dark cake. We ate the leftovers as jam.

Wonderfully, a decent amount of dosh was raised. Did I win? Sadly not but the runner-up sash and smaller, far less sparkly tiara were mine. My cake and sauce were pipped to the post by mini cheesecakes. Damn those tiny rounds of baked cheesy goodness. Damn them.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE

WHAT YOU NEED
2 cups blueberries (I had 1/2 cup fresh and 1 1/2 cups frozen)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbl lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean essence
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbl water
Zest of one lemon (about 1 tbl)

HOW YOU DO IT
Place the blueberries, sugar, water, lemon juice and vanilla into a medium saucepan,
Over a medium heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring regularly.
Add the cornflour (that has been dissolved in water) to the saucepan slowly. Be careful not to squish the blueberries.
Simmer the sauce until it reaches the consistency where it coats the back of a spoon, this takes about 5-10 minutes.
Stir in the lemon zest. Taste it, you may want to add another dash of lemon juice. I did.
Put the sauce into a pretty jar and serve with flourless chocolate cake, with lemon muffins, ice-cream, spread on toast or just eat it with a spoon. You may just win a prize.

Recipe slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction blog. See link below.

http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/homemade-blueberry-sauce-recipe/

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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


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

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


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


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/


King of the vegetables and a potato and Comte galette

The Yak was crapping on orating upon the delight of the humble potato, his favourite vegetable over all others. We could say in fact, that in his view, it is The King of the Vegetables. As he plainly stated, there isn’t much that you cannot do with the tatie. Bake it, boil it, steam it, mash it, grate it, fry it, smash it, dumpling it. Perhaps The Yak has a point? What he was really trying to say was, could we please have potatoes for dinner?

The pantry was laden with potatoes, I also had some delicious looking Comte cheese that I had purchased at the cheese shop. I suffer from an insidious illness that I would not wish upon anyone, it is called ‘Cheeseyearningitis’. It entails standing in front of a cheese counter, looking longingly at cheeses that one wishes to try but one also knows, that one is of an age where one can no longer eat every cheese that ones hankers after. This is due to a waistline thickening on a daily basis and a propensity towards high cholesterol. ‘Cheeseyearningitis’. Look it up, it really exists.

Comte is a semi-hard French cheese made from unpasteurised milk obtained from cows that have only been freshly and naturally fed. It is very similar to Gruyere but a Comte cheese can only be called thus if it adheres to a whole bunch of strict Frenchy regulations. God Bless the French.

I was thinking of a good old potato bake but a googlebumble led me to this delightful concoction, a Comte and potato galette. (Galette meaning a flat pancake and this dish is intrinsically that, a pancake like concoction of cheese and potato.)

The smell of this simple dish baking caused dribble to surreptitiously slide out of the corners of my mouth. Luckily, no one was watching. How best to explain the odour of this cheese baking? I imagine that it is the smell of the meadows in the French alps, of the sweet grass and alpine flowers that blissfully happy European cows chow down upon.

This cheese and potato dish was nutty, sharp, crunchy and almost caramelised around the edges. Unfortunately, all the children present loved it so there were barely any leftovers. Which really sucked. As a French cow would say, ‘Le Moo, Le Sucky.’

POTATO AND COMTE GALETTE

2 tbl unsalted butter (30g)
1 kilo potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded. I used Desiree because it’s all I had, the recipe called for Yukon Gold. I shredded them in my food processor, oh yeah. Squeeze the potatoes well to get rid of as much liquid as you can.
200g Comte cheese, grated
1 1/2 tsps sea salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.
Preheat a medium size frypan, add half the butter and melt it.
Place 1/3 of the shredded potatoes into the frypan, sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt, some grinds of black pepper and sprinkle some nutmeg evenly across.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the potato.
Place another 1/3 of the potatoes on top, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and add another 1/3 of the cheese.
Add the last 1/3 of potatoes, drizzle the remaining butter on top then press the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Over a medium heat, cook the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until the potato on the bottom starts to sizzle.
Transfer the frying pan into the oven and cook for about 25-35 minutes until golden brown and the potatoes pierce easily with a knife. (Meaning they are cooked.)
Eat it down quickly before the children do.

Recipe knicked from the website listed below, only a minor change was made to it.

http://www.oliversmarket.com/index.php/413

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comté_cheese


Green lentil dal, a curry, not the author

How could I not use this recipe as an excuse to wax a wee bit lyrical about one of my favourite authors, Roald Dahl?

Easily, you may say but then, that is how I roll. Expect the unexpected, I never promised you a rose garden and all that. (Whatever the hell that means, seriously, what does it mean?)

As a child, my fervent reading habit encompassed the works of Roald Dahl. His books were devoured as readily as any white bread that I was able to get my mitts on. (Back in the day, Mum baked homemade bread or we ate brown bread. This once painfully fussy eater hankered after a slice of white bread something fierce.)

Favourite Dahl tomes included the hippy trippy delicious adventures of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, closely followed by Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and of course, James and the Giant Peach. These books were read cover to cover and more than once. They were then followed by the rest of his children’s novels and poetry. In my later teenage years, I encountered his more grown up ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ in which a story about screaming plants was inked indelibly onto my mind and psyche. To read Dahl is to go on an adventure and end up in a place you never thought you would go.

Indian food is a little like a Roald Dahl tale, an exciting and exotic journey into a diverse world of spice and many varying ingredients. Each bite can reveal a different flavour and aroma. Every spice brings something new to the party. This curry consisting of deep green legumes is gently earthy, with a delicate creamy blend of heat and richness. It is a wonderful addition to an Indian banquet or just as pleasantly, scoffed alone with a heft serving of basmati rice.

On that note, I leave you with my one of my favourite Roald Dahl quotes. (And of course, the recipe.)

‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’

GREEN LENTIL DAL

WHAT YOU NEED
250g green lentils, washed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic clove, roughly chopped
5 cm ginger, roughly chopped
1/4 cup oil
1 tbl ground cumin
1 1/2 tsps ground coriander
2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 tbl garam masala
1/4 cup cream

HOW YOU DO IT
Put the lentils in a large saucepan and add 6 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to one hour or until the dal feels soft.The lentils will start to split a little and that is fine.
Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.
Blend the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor to form a paste or finely chop them together with a knife.
Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan and fry the onion mixture over a high heat, stirring constantly until golden brown.
Add the cumin and coriander and fry for two minutes.
Add the lentils and stir in the salt, chilli powder and garam masala.
Pour 310ml (1 1/4 cup) of the reserved lentil liquid into the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for ten minutes.
Just before serving, check for salt then stir in the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes to heat through.
Serve alone with steamed basmati rice or as part of a feast.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the The Food of India: A journey for food lovers by Murdoch Books. Recipes by Priya Wickramasingh and Carol Selva Rajah.


Minecraft and a gluten free lemon drizzle cake

When my two lads talk to me about Minecraft, the computer game, this is what I hear:

Minecraft blah blah blah

Enderman blah blah blah

Diamonds, pigs, blah blah blah

Villagers blah blah blah

Me: Oh really, That’s great!

I could feel really bad but then I remember that this is what they hear when I speak to them:

What did you do today blah blah blah

Homework blah blah blah

Shut the door blah blah blah

Wash your hands blah blah blah

Tidy your room blah blah blah

So we are even.

Parenting can be a battlefield but we all need to eat. Every living creature in our house loves this cake. I mean, they really love it. Gluten is not missed and every bite is moist, sweet, tangy and tender. Just like life itself.

GLUTEN FREE LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
125g butter, room temperature
130g caster sugar
Zest of one large or two small lemons
2 large eggs
65 ml milk
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or essence)
100g gluten free self-raising flour
50g sorghum flour
30g almond meal
2 tsps gf baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Lemon Syrup
2 tbl sugar
Juice of the zested lemon

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven 180 degrees or 170 fan forced, then prepare and line a loaf tin.
Cream the butter and sugar in the food processor.
Add the lemon rind and pulse.
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until nice and smooth.
(If you do not have a food processor, use a stand mixer, electric hand beater or go old school and use a hand whisk!)
Bake the cake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
For the lemon syrup, whilst the cake is baking, heat the sugar and juice of the lemon until the sugar has dissolved. Set it aside until you need it.
Whilst the cake is still in the tin, place it on a cooling rack.
Pierce the cake all over with a skewer then spoon over the lemon syrup. Use it all, the cake will soak up the syrup as it cools.
Let the cake cool completely in the tin before serving.
Slice and eat it. We did.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the UK Telegraph website. The link is provided below.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/8059974/Classic-lemon-drizzle-cake-recipe.html

A wee thanks for the ‘Sunshine’ blog award nomination to Windy Mama who blogs at Wuthering Bites. Go and have a read of her clever award acceptance post.

https://wutherornot.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/the-plays-the-thing/comment-page-1/#comment-575


All the little lights

‘We’re born with millions of little lights shining in the dark, and they show us the way. One lights up, every time we feel love in our hearts.’

I was sitting with Uncle R and Aunty L in their lounge room. We were listening to an album called ‘All the little lights’ by Passenger, aka Michael David Rosenberg, an English folk-rock singer songwriter with an unforgettably raspy voice and poignant lyrics. L is mending and R is reading. The lyrics from the song ‘all the little lights’ lodge within me, there is definitely a light shining in my heart in that moment.

My three sisters and I had landed in full force in Christchurch, New Zealand, the day before. It had been many years since we have travelled there all together, four curly haired lasses reunited on an adventure once more. We encountered a little pocket of summer in autumn, the warm wind wrapping around us like a loving blanket. Tessa the wonder retrieving cat was a delighting and diverting ball of possum like fur. Our Uncle and Aunty love her to the point of distraction. It is no no hardship to see why. We are all in her thrall before we know it.

Their house, built in 1909, timber walls, lovingly maintained by strong hands and strong hearts and held up by the firm foundations of a loving marriage. To our Uncle, this house is part of his story, a direct reflection of himself. Solid through the toughest and most unimaginable heartbreaking of times. It suffered in the earthquakes but the fact that liquification did not travel beneath and the extra work and timber that they built into it ‘back in the day’, ensured it’s continuing existence.

There is true beauty here. Both in the people it houses and in each lovingly chosen or inherited piece. A living, breathing diaroma of their history, just like the patchwork quilts artfully made by Aunty L. Old Pop’s piano accordion, stained glass and hand crafted wooden sculptures made by a close friend. A man’s garage laden with treasures and tools used by the hands of a bloke who fixes and beautifies discarded objects. The garden provides pumpkins, perfumed climbing roses, lavender, a magnificent veggie patch and an apple tree. Saffron seeds given to Uncle R from an Iranian student have been grown into delicate yet vibrant golden threads.

Hot Wheels and Low Rider, how good it is to see them again. No, these are not some hot rodding gang members but two of our cousins. Rest assured, these titles are of their own choosing. These two beautiful men have Frederich’s Ataxia and use wheelchairs as their current mode of transport. This condition causes progressive damage to the nervous system. We are well pleased to clap eyes on them both again along with Big Bibbity Bob (aka Bob) the beautiful brown eyed dogger friend of Hot Wheels. To know Bob, is well, to love him.

A strong food gene appears to be written in all of our DNA. We ate and drank from dusk to dawn, Aunty L’s rich mushroom soup and sourdough bread. The coffee we encounter is seriously good and excellent New Zealand wine flows. Denheath’s custard squares thank you very much, iconic ginger slice and lolly slice, something I don’t think you will see in another part of the world. A miniature Bombe Alaska filled with a rhubarb parfait is well, frankly, the bomb. We are entertained by Uncle R’s amazing ability to recite poetry and witty sayings handed to him by his own personal mentor and hero, Old Pop. (His grandfather, our great/grandfather. He is the dapper fellow in the first photo on the left wearing a beret.)

Special gin (laden with botanicals) and tonics with orange peel, Italian food, cousins and beers, laughing like loons and catching up. Some cooking and baking is also accomplished by sisters together again. A perfectly balanced carrot cake (not too sweet, not too savoury) topped with walnuts foraged from the tree next door. A delicate seafood chowder laden with NZ seafood. We all pitch in.

Reconnecting with our loved ones, family from both our fathers and mothers side, time has passed but not passed at all. The goodwill and interest is still there as if we only saw each other yesterday. Coffee at the local library, lunch at the Boatshed and drinks at the Astrolabe Bar. More laughter and some tears. We pore over photos from a bygone era, looking for snippets of ourselves in the faces that gaze back at us.

Leaving here is hard for many reasons. We miss all of our family and this beautiful city that is rebuilding itself in new ways after the earthquake. It is made more difficult this time because our beloved Uncle R is fighting a health battle that brings new meaning to the saying that ‘life isn’t fair’. As Uncle R would say, quoting Old Pop, ‘Life isn’t fair, so what are you going to do about it?’ Our uncle has spent his life ‘doing something about it.’ Battling injustices committed not only against his own boys but for others who lacked a voice.

We do not say goodbye but instead, ‘until we meet again.’ If love is a tiny light that burns, then there are many tiny lights burning as brightly as they can right now.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CoONtDv9eJg

http://www.fara.org.au

http://www.denheath.co.nz

http://www.christchurch.org.nz


Gluten free chocolate fudge biscuits and bringing glad back

Yes, it may be a bit Pollyanna of me (for those of you who remember the book and movie) but I am single-handedly bringing back the word ‘glad’.

Somewhere along the way, the word ‘grateful’ has become incredibly popular. Leaving it’s less glamorous cousin ‘glad’ sitting sadly against the wall, not unlike an unwanted wallflower at a school dance.

Considering myself a champion for the unpopular, daggy and less than glamorous; I have popped ‘glad ‘ into my handbag of current and favourite words. It somehow speaks of a more refined time. It is not effusive, nor is it ‘in yo face’.

Intrinsically, both words have similar dictionary meanings.

glad: feeling pleasure or happiness, grateful, willing
grateful: thankful, feeling or showing appreciation

To be grateful or show gratitude is a little bit Hollywood. To be glad sounds more London Westend musical. The understated vibe of the word ‘glad’ brings to mind adorable pastel coloured 1950’s hats adorned with fake flowers. It harks back to a time when lads and lasses dressed impeccably in pinstriped boating attire and daintily nibbled on teensy weensy cucumber sandwiches. I will leave ‘grateful’ to the gushing vocabulary of actors swathed in sequinned gowns and pretending to chow down on miniature sushi handrolls topped with beluga caviar.

All in all, I am glad that I found this lovely biscuit recipe on the web. (Not a spiders web but the world wide version.) It didn’t turn out as I had thought. In my minds eye, I envisaged that these cookies would be crunchy but then I went and changed the recipe. (Only because I lacked some of the necessary ingredients.) Ordinarily, I would not post a recipe that could be deemed a failure but to us they were chewy, richly chocolate and unctuous. Less biscuit, more like a brownie or cake.

Strangely enough, our cornflake biscuit eschewing lads, adored these. Go figure.

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE FUDGE BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl grapeseed oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean powder and added it in with the dry ingredients.)
2 tbl golden syrup
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup plus 1 tbl Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
3 tbl cornflour
A pinch of salt
1 tbl milk

HOW YOU DO IT
Place all the wet ingredients except for the milk into a food processor or blender and mix until combined.
Add in all the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Add the milk and pulse until mixed through.
Place the mixture into a bowl and place into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. (Mine was in there for 2 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 170C/350F and line two trays with baking paper.
Place large tablespoons of the mixture onto the trays leaving a gap of at least 3 cm /1 inch as they will spread. Place the trays back in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Remove the trays and place in the oven for 16-18 minutes, they will be slightly cracked on top. (Just like me…)
Cool on the tray for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack for cooling. They will harden up a little as they cool.
Made 19 biscuits.

Very lightly adapted from a recipe from the Mummy Made blog. The link to the original recipe is provided after the photos.

http://mummymade.it/2014/01/chocolate-ripple-bisuits.html