31 May 2011

onion, tomato and ginger chutney

I reckon chutney is probably one of the most versatile condiment we can have in the fridge/pantry.  I have mine on the side with omelettes, frittatas, cooked breakfast, a bowl of lentil soup, or as a dip, or paired with cheese for a snack, and as a filling in sandwiches, melts and paninis.  Its just endless...

Chutney never last for very long in my house, and the good ones aren't very cheap either.  So instead of forking out the dosh, I decided to have a go at making my own chutney.  Since I've made onion marmalade before and I knew the flavours I wanted in my chutney, I didn't think it was going to be very hard.  A few quick referrals to some recipes online to double check cooking and bottling processes, gave me a good idea on what needed to be done.

The tomatoes at the Sunday markets are really cheap at the moment - they've got masses of too ripe or unripen tomatoes that they can't sell to the supermarkets.  And its probably the last of the 'cheap' toms before the cold really sets in (and frost) and tomatoes start to cost as much as a piece of pure angus ribeye.  So I was on a mission...

Surprisingly, a little goes a loooong way.  The first lot of chutney I made with 1kg of toms got me 3 x 400g bottles of chutney (I re-use old store-bought chutney bottles).  The 2nd lot with 1.5kgs of toms gave me 2 x 400g plus 1 x 540g and 1 x 160g bottles.

Kitty cat wanted in on the picture.  He likes my chutney too.  And so do my landlords, who happen to live upstairs and babysit his majesty whenever I have to go away.  Since they don't want any payment for services rendered (apparently furry smooches is enough for them), they get chutney.  And baking.

If you've got the time on a quiet weekend, go make a few bottles of chutney and store them away for the coming Winter (I sound like someone from Little House on The Prairie).  You'll thank me! :-)

And if you fancy something with a bit of a kick, have a look at my Spiced Tomato, Onion and Fruit Chutney.

Onion, Tomato and Ginger Chutney

1.5kg a mix of ripe red tomatoes and green tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 medium sized onions, sliced (red/white, up to you)
3 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tbsp mild curry powder*
½ tbsp sweet paprika
½ tsp whole cloves
½ tbsp salt
1 1/3 cup soft brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cups cider vinegar

  1. Mix everything up in a large heavy bottomed pot and make sure that the vinegar covers the ingredients. 
  2. Bring to boil and boil for 10 minutes. 
  3. Lower the heat to a medium-low heat and simmer until the whole mixture thickens and becomes sticky (kinda like jam). This can take up to couple of hours. 
  4. Stir occasionally to prevent burning or sticking. If you find that this is happening quite quickly, lower your heat. This may mean that it’ll take longer to get to the end product, but well worth it.
  5. Before you bottle the chutney up, make sure you fish out the whole cloves.
*The mild curry powder won't make this chutney spicy, but will give it a nice rich flavour.

There are quite a few ways to do this according to what I've read so far. I choose the easiest and fastest way - of course.
  1. First, I give the bottles and caps a quick wash with warm soupy water.
  2. Then I put them all (DO NOT screw the caps back on!) in a large pot of water and and boil for 10 mins.
  3. Carefully lift the bottles and caps out of the hot water. Here's how I do it - get 1 long chopstick and lift the bottles one at a time up from the pot, with the chopstick on a slight angle so that the hot water inside the bottle runs out. Use a pair of tongs to handle the hot bottles and place them upside down on a wire rack to dry completely.
  4. Just before I ladle the cooked chutney into the washed and disinfected bottles, if the inside of the bottles are not completely dry, I zap the each bottle (not the metal covers) in the microwave on high for 20-30secs. Be careful when you remove the hot bottles from the microwave.
  5. I wait until the bottled chutney has cooled down (lukewarm-ish) before I cap them. I've been told by some people that I should cap them whilst the chutney is still hot, but none of my chutney have gone off so far. Perhaps because they all get stored in the fridge and not in the pantry, even the unopened ones.

spiced tomato, onion and fruit chutney

I've been on a bit of a roll lately with making homemade chutney.

All that chopping and stirring and bottling...  Makes me feel like I need to go put on a bonnet and a gingham apron.  Not that there's anything wrong with gingham aprons (not sure about bonnets though).  But I'm more of a bright candy pink with white polka dots and a lime green edging type of girl.

And the kitchen.  Oh my.  The kitchen.  Let me tell you, the kitchen will have all sorts of lovely yummy smells whilst your chutney is simmering away in the pot for a couple of hours.  Its a different story the next day!  Maybe its just me, but I think my kitchen just smells of cider vinegar the next day.  Nothing a bit of airing can't fix though.  But just warning you is all...

This chutney has a bit of kick to it.  Nothing too spicy.  Just enough of a kick to give you a tingle and teeny tiny burn at the back of your throat - most marvelous for the colder weather we're heading into.

But if you're the type that breaks into a sweat even with just a sprinkling of pepper or a pinch of spice, or whilst eating korma curry or butter chicken, then perhaps some Onion, Tomato and Ginger Chutney will suit you better.  Just cut back on the ginger used in that recipe. :-)

Spiced Tomato, Onion and Fruit Chutney

1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 onions, sliced (red/white, up to you)
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 large green chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
½ cinnamon quill
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp salt
¾ cup sultanas or raisins (whatever your preference)
1 cup soft brown sugar, packed
2 cups cider vinegar

  1. Mix everything up in a large heavy bottomed pot and make sure that the vinegar covers the ingredients. 
  2. Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes. 
  3. Lower the heat to a medium-low heat and simmer until the whole mixture thickens and becomes sticky (kinda like jam). This can take up to couple of hours. 
  4. Stir occasionally to prevent burning or sticking. If you find that this is happening quite quickly, lower your heat. This may mean that it’ll take longer to get to the end product, but well worth it.
  5. Before you bottle the chutney up, make sure you fish out the cinnamon quill and whole cloves.
Disinfecting and Bottling - you can either search the Internet on how to clean and disinfect bottles or you can follow how I do mine in this other post.

very nutty peanut butty bickies {aka cookies}

I was working on making the photos I took for this post pretty, and promptly got side-tracked.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that this happens regularly and easily.

Just so you know, after I typed the end of the sentence above, I got side-tracked and went and made myself a bowl of bananas smothered with melted Nutella and eaten with three huge dollops of this most scrummy nommy choccy yoghurt.

Then I think I'll leave it till tomorrow to continue...
Next day

Back to business at hand - how about I just launch straight into aye?

These are really totally scrummy very nutty peanut butty bickies {aka cookies}.

Cookies {American} = Biscuits {British, NZ, Australia}
Biscuits = Bickies, biccies, bikkie

I'm generally not a cookie dough eater.  I know fellow foodies find that strange.  Close friends will tell you that not eating cookie dough is only skimming the sea of strangeness in which I frolic in.

But people change.  There's always the first time.  I saw the cookie dough light.  Albeit accidentally.  See, I was mixing the dough when a few flecks flew up and one landed on the back of my hand.  I was suddenly curious about what all the fuss was about eating raw cookie dough and decided - ah well, one teeny tiny taste...

Holy moly!  Yep.  Holy bleedin malloly.

It was a good thing that the recipe made a LOT of cookie dough.

See these gorgeously crafted balls of dough?  I'm very proud of these.  And no, not because I was able to hold back from eating too much of the dough instead of making bickies out of them.  But because each and every one of these were lovingly and painstakingly created by molding the dough with two teaspoons - like you would, making a quenelle.  Except I made round balls instead of ovals.

Note to self: Must buy a cookie scoop.

Did I tell you that the recipe made a LOT of cookie dough?  Think I might have possibly made 6 trays of bickies.  I didn't count.  But I was in that kitchen for a while.  Not that I'm complaining.  I surfed the net whilst the bickies baked.

And I snacked on cookie dough.

The next day, and the day after and after and after...I snacked on these totally scrummy very nutty peanut butty bickies.

Very Nutty Peanut Butty Bickies {aka Cookies)
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

230g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Line baking tray with baking sheet. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  3. Finely chop the dry roasted peanuts in a food processor.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. 
  5. Beat in peanut butter  and vanilla until well-combined. 
  6. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  7. Gradually mix in the flour mixture, scraping down edges of bowl to incorporate throughout the dough. 
  8. Add the chopped peanuts into the dough and mix until they are evenly dispersed.
  9. Use a cookie scoop (if you have one!) to scoop dough onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

27 May 2011

some might call this music 'vintage'

I was working on a post about a batch of very nutty peanut butty biscuits (aka cookies).  What you ask, has this got to do with music?

Absolutely nothing.

But anyway.  Here I was working on this post and I got side tracked on the net.  Like you do when you're easily side-tracked, like me.  Checking out links from some of my tweeps, having a snoop around friends' updates on Facebook, youtubing, googling flowers.  I wanted to know the correct spelling of ranunculus.  Nevermind why.  Just 'cos.  Ranunculus are these rose-ish looking flowers.  But they're not roses. Geddit?


So googling led from one site to the other, more googling and search results...that led to this...

I could not believe this appeared on one of my search results.  Roses by Gingerbread (Singaporean band).  Check out the big hair and Earth-Wind-And-Fire outfits!  This was a hit when I was in my teens.  There was a lot of slow dancing in the dark with your 'steady' to this song.  Also a lot of kissing, teenage fumbling...

I'll just stop there 'cos like this blog, is not that kind of blog.

So you know on youtube, there's this list of other similar videos to the one you're currently watching, right?  Guess what I saw??

Holy moly.  Within You'll Remain - Tokyo Square.  More slow dancing with your 'steady' in the dark!

How the world has changed.  Life and love was so simple when you're young.  Swaying to a shared love for a particular song whilst tightly clasped. And feeling like you can just live on love and fresh air.  And pizza.  Or in my case, hor fun and hainanese chicken rice.

After Tokyo Square, I was feeling somewhat inspired to check out more oldies but goodies on youtube.
(I also got bored with my very nutty peanut butty biscuits post - will have to complete it later).

I found this.

The Mamas and The Papas - California Dreamin.

I love how this was edited to flip between an old recording in black and white, and a later version in colour.

And no.  Not many of my friends nor I were around to dance to this song when it was a hit in 1965.  Our parents might have though.

Next post: Very Nutty Peanut Butty Biscuits {aka Cookies}.

I promise!

19 May 2011

{memories #2} foodie

Welcome back to my {memories}.

Yesterday, I showed you what a hoarder I was...and kinda still am really.  Stickers and colour pencils I've had for over 25 years are still around!  What does this mean?

Does this mean I'm all kinds of OCD?  Obsessively squirreling things away for years.  Perhaps a smidgen of separation anxiety?  Afterall, I simply find it almost impossible to part with some things.  Oh maybe its just simply because I'm not very good at housekeeping!  Yep, that MUST be it.

Due to this inability to perfect the art of domestic goddessing, I have more {memories} to share with you.  These ones are food-related.  It looks like food was always going to play a rather large part in my life.

I've had this menu now for somewhere between 30-35 years!  This is probably something that I'll never throw away, keeping it for as long as there is hope that one day, I'll be able to pass it on to my child.  It's got no monetary worth.  But I'll still bet that no one else has a copy of this old children's menu from the Mandarin Hotel, Singapore.

I may have been given this by the waiter...or my mum stole it off the table.  Which is very likely.

Check out the prices!!  I'm sure I have to pay more for a Happy Meal at Mackers nowadays.

I had to google "Risi Bisi" - apparently it's rice and peas!

$4.50 for pork tenderloin, mash, carrots and peas!  I don't think I can even buy a decent size pork tenderloin at the supermarket today for $4.50, let alone the trimmings.  And I seem to remember Ultraman as being in silver and red.  Not blue.  Who remembers Ultraman?

Its nice that 30-odd years ago, a girl super-hero is featured alongside other superheros.  Something a little girl could aspire to.  Although, why is she a dessert???  Even Bionic Boy gets to be a main!

I wonder if Marvel Comics knew about this menu.  Here's what I know.  Thunderball wasn't white (and Thor-ish looking).  Thunderball was a black man and also happen to be one of the 'baddies'.  A stretch and test of early licensing laws perhaps??!

Fast forwarding to my late teens/early 20s...

I left school and went to work in the hotel industry where I met James and Gina, whom I've unfortunately lost touch with after I left Singapore years ago.  James had worked on the QE2 cruise liner and gave this menu (below) to me as part of a birthday present.

The significance here is that the first day of the cruise is also my birthday (not the year though!).  Which I thought was very cool (the date) and sweet (the present).

Ports of Call...

Wouldn't you love to be on this cruise?  New York...Barbados...St Maarten... **siiighhh**

First night's dinner menu - the Captain's Welcome Dinner.

Maybe one day, I'll (try) recreate this menu for my birthday.  Except maybe not the Roast Capon.  Why?

'Cos I'm not sure I want to roast a castrated rooster.  Yep.  Castrated Rooster.

Perhaps a substitution to a nice organic chicken would do me just fine.

And note the healthier option further down the menu.  Beef Tea with Angel Hair Pasta vs the 'fattier' option of Cream of Asparagus.  Hmmm... I know which I would have chosen.  They got me at Cream.

As I mull over these menus from yesteryears, I can't help think that somehow my connection and obsession with food started young and was always going to be much more than just the day's 3 square meals.

So my foodie friends, when did your food connection/obsession start?  What are those memories made of??


18 May 2011

{memories #1} stationery

An ex boyfriend from back in the day...like waaay back was doing some major clean out (he MUST have been bored) and found an old school badge that belonged to me.  He'd messaged me saying to expect something in the post but did not say what, only saying that I'd be surprised.  And boy was I surprised.

But. I won't talk about in this post.  Instead, the old badge gave me an idea.

I wanted to see what I could dig up, dust away and share on my blog.  And boy did I find some treasures!  Actually I would have had more, but when I moved to my current flat two years ago, I did one of those 'throw out the old and bring in the new' cleansing exercises.  It was a cleansing of body, mind and material.  But I wished I hadn't thrown some of it out, like a colour drawing a friend did for me and an old teenage dairy diary.  Oh the stories that dairy diary held.

But, but...I did find some pretty amazing stuff that I didn't even remember I still had.  They were kept in a box.  And that box just kept being shunted around from corner to corner, out of sight.  Which is probably why I never threw the stuff out when I moved.

I've grouped them up into 'categories' and will post them up over the next week or so, with the first lot here.

Now this is probably one of the oldest things I have from my childhood.  I don't remember how old I was when I got this, but it would have been between 7-10 years old.  Its a well-loved metal box of coloured pencils.  It was all the rage.  It was all about what image you had on the front of the box and the number of pencils.  If memory serves me right, I think they came in 6, 12, 24, 36 and 48.  If you had one like mine, you were 'in'.  I don't remember if I EVER was 'in', but this is what I do remember...

Hours of tracing the image of the pretty girl and colouring it in.  Over and over again.  And wishing I had blonde hair and big sparkly eyes like that.  Never got around dying my hair blonde (thank goodness) but did get big sparkly eyes for a while.  Yep.  Party scene in Bristol, England.  That's ALL I'm saying.

Pre-cursor of the labelling machine - use a knife, peel away the outer coating and write your name down with a pen.  That's what my mum used to do so that I wouldn't lose my pencils.

It didn't work.

Wistaria Violet (as opposed to Wisteria) and Vandyke Brown.  These names used to fascinate and bamboozle me in equal measure.  The Japanese translation didn't help any.  I didn't speak nor understand Japanese.  It was an imported Japanese brand - Japanese stationery was (might still be) so popular when I was in primary school.

My Garfield pencil case survived to this day mainly due to the fact that its made of some sort of rubberised fabric.  Its probably...umm...around 25-27 years old!  I got this in my early teens and used it throughout my secondary school years.  The entire case has been 'graffitied' on, by myself and by friends.  I can still make out some of what was drawn/written, and can tell who wrote what just by the handwriting.  However, I've chosen not to show most of this 'graffiti' because I'm still in contact with some of these friends, and a few read my blog...and there's just no reasons to stir any trouble with current wives, husbands, partners, etc.

Stickers!!  The good and sensible kids collected stamps.  I spent my hard-saved pocket money on useless, valueless but pretty stickers.  They were much cooler.

Who remembers Little Twin Stars???  If you know Hello Kitty and My Melody, you'll know Little Twin Stars.  How super cute are they?!

See those teddy bear stickers?  They came in that little silver pocket that came in that little envelope.  And I can even tell you the day I bought these stickers.  01 08 87.  (i.e. 1st Aug 1987).  I've had these squirreled away for 24 freakin years!!!  If I'm not wrong, these were bought from this cool little shop in town called Paper Moon.  They sold stickers in rolls and had rows of rolls on the walls.  You'd unwind each roll and cut a length of stickers off, depending on how many stickers you wanted.

I'm more than amazed that I still have these stickers.  The box of colour pencils and pencil case I get, since they're not made of material that would tear or disintegrate easily.  But little wee stickers kept in flimsy thin paper envelopes?  Wow.

As you can imagine, lots of memories came swimming up as I looked at these earlier this afternoon.  And then I thought of this...

Nowadays, its Picasa or Photoshop instead of coloured pencils, the iPad or netbook instead of a case filled with writing pencils and bedazzling instead of good 'ol stickers.

And then there's Justin Bieber.

It truly was another lifetime.


14 May 2011

mouthwatering meatballs with pasta

So normally at the start of most posts, you'd expect to see a photo of the finished product first.  All plated and styled (professionally, or in my case not so professionally).

But these?  These perfectly (almost) round balls of meaty perfection had to be up first.  You just gotta look at them and you know.

They are very good.  I kid you not.

I used to make meatballs that somehow always turn out dry and crumbly, whatever the ingredients or method of cooking I used.  Then an ex-boyfriend made these based on his mother's recipe.

Bye-bye boyfriend and hel-lo yummy meatballs!  You're very welcome to stay please.

Now here's what makes these meatballs super yummy...

Don't worry about buying the more expensive Italian flat leaf parsley. Good 'ol regular (curly) parsley will do since they're going to get minced up anyways.

And then you want to add some of these.

Sultanas, or raisins - whatever rocks your boat and makes you happy.  But don't be tempted to leave these out though.  The dried fruit rehydrates during the cooking process and helps to keep the meatballs moist and contributes to the salty-sweet taste (a winning combination I tell you!).

Add all the other good things that make these the best meatballs you've ever had.  Spices, garlic...mmm...

Oh.  One thing though.  Don't go all super healthy and buy lean mince.  Meatballs need some fat.  Trust me.  It makes a difference.

Now we get to the best bit - mixing this up by hand and rolling it all up into these succulent meatballs studded with dried fruit and fresh herb.  Very therapeutic, this hand mixin and rollin business.

This time I made mine the size of large Jaffa balls.  Ummm...about 3cm in diameter.  Not that I'm wanting you to measure them.  But make'em big.  They're great with pasta and if you're making humongous ones, have them with mash - a marriage made in food heaven.

For charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double,double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and couldron bubble.
(MacBeth, William Shakespeare)

Optional: Repeating the chant above a few times as you're cooking your meatballs.  Just seems so appropriate, no?

Mouthwatering meatballs with wholemeal spaghetti.

Make a big pot of it 'cos the meatballs and sauce taste even better the next day.  Enjoy! :-)

Mouthwatering Meatballs
As I often cook by sight and taste when making savoury dishes, the measurements below are just a guide as I didn't really measure all the ingredients I used.  

500g-700g mince beef (lamb works well too)
3/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
1/2 cup sultanas/raisins, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp oil (use something light like rice bran oil, a vegetable oil or extra light olive oil)
Salt & Pepper
More oil for frying

1 onion, chopped fine (but not minced)
1/2 cup chicken/beef stock
1/2 cup of red wine (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano (use wild Italian dried oregano if you can find it)
2 cans of Roma (Italian) tomatoes
Salt & Pepper

Fresh or dried pasta
Fresh parmesan

  1. Put all the Meatballs ingredients in a large bowl, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Mix it all up with your hands, just until all the ingredients are mixed through the mince.  Take care not to over mix, or else your meatballs will be tough.
  3. Heat some oil in a deep frypan and fry the meatballs over medium heat until brown and bottom of the pan starts to stick and burn a wee bit.  Scoop up the browned meatballs into a bowl - use a slotted spoon/scoop if you have one, so that you can drain some of the oil from the meatballs back into the frypan.
  4. Fry the onions in the remaining oil in the frypan for a minute or two until soft.
  5. Add the stock and scrap the bottom of the pan to dissolve the 'burnt' bits.  (These burnt bits will give your sauce a certain richness and deep colour).
  6. If you're using red wine, add it at this point and cook until the wine has been reduced by half.
  7. Then add the meatballs back into the frypan, and if there are any juices in the bowl, add those too.
  8. Add the dried oregano and both cans of tomatoes.  Stir gently to mix - stirring too vigorously may break up the meatballs.
  9. Taste and add more salt and pepper if required.
  10. Bring to boil and then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens and darkens.  Stir occasionally.
  11. Cook the pasta of your choice in boiling salted water.
  12. Serve the meatballs sauce over the pasta with freshly grated parmesan.

12 May 2011

Looping: The Honey Trees and Joy Williams

Hello there friends. :-)

Every now and again, in the midst of drafting up blogposts, sifting and tidying up the tons of photos I've taken for this blog, I'd post up something else I'm obsessing about other than food.

Today, its The Honey Trees and Joy Williams.

Its a lovely Autumn day - breezy with just enough sun to keep it all softly warm.  And a perfect day to have the following on a loop as I go about my day.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I am...xoxoxo...

09 May 2011

banana cookies

Make these...

That turn into these...

And because they're so moreish, so addictive and so good for you (bananas, wholemeal and nuts are good for you!), you feed visiting friends some of these little pillows of goodness in small little individual saucers. :-)

These cookies are inspired by the banana cookies at Hungry Girl Por Vida.  I didn't ice them - I know I should have.  But I got lazy...and hungry.  There was no waiting until these babies cooled down.  Mmm...warm banana cookies.  Try 'em!

(They reminded me of madeleines - slightly crunchy and candied on the outside and light and cakey inside).

Banana Cookies
Adapted slightly from Hungry Girl Por Vida

113g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Buttermilk Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons buttermilk

*I didn't have pumpkin pie spice made my own based on what I found online - mix together:
1/2 tsp of ground ginger + 1/4 tsp of ground allspice or ground cloves + 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg)
  1. Preheat oven to 190ºC / 375ºF. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or silicone liners.
  2. Whisk flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs in one at a time, scraping down sides after each addition. 
  4. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Add mashed bananas and mix until incorporated. 
  5. Fold dry ingredients into banana mixture to combine. Fold in nuts. 
  6. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons full of cookie batter onto sheet pans, about 1 inch apart. The batter spread quite a bit for me when baking, so I used only 1 tablespoon to get get smaller cookies.
  7. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, watching closely so as not to overbake and the bottoms of the cookies don't get too dark. Cool completely on wire rack before glazing. 

Buttermilk Glaze
Whisk both ingredients together in a bowl. For thinner glaze add more buttermilk.

02 May 2011

orange and poppy seed cake

Dessert after dinner at my place is sporadic at best.

But I decided that something sweet-ish would be appropriate for 'afters' whilst sitting glued to the tv watching Kate marry her man.

Don't you just love orange zest?  Especially when you're in the process of grating the skin - spurts of orange mist surround the area.

Its such a happy smell, don't you think?

A very zesty looking orange and poppy seed cake!

All laid out and in time to nibble on some cake, sip tea and watch Kate being walked down the aisle.
Note to self: Must at some point buy myself a square cake stand, or a round cake tin.

Long aisle = long walk = time for 2nd slice of cake!

Always eat warm with side dollop of yoghurt or cream. :-)  X.

Here's what we had for mains before cake - Crustless Savoury Quiche!

Orange and Poppy Seed Cake
Adapted from Sicilian Orange Cake by Almost Bourdain

250g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
200g raw sugar (you can use caster sugar)
3 large eggs (size 7)
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
(I love orange zest so I used all the zest grated from one large orange, which was more than 1 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
250 g self raising flour, sifted
85 ml freshly squeezed orange juice

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C / 340°F. Grease and line a 22-cm round (or square) cake tin with non-stick baking paper. 
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together for until very pale and fluffy. 
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each egg. 
  4. Beat in the orange zest and poppy seeds. 
  5. Fold in the flour and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice. 
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.
  7. If the cake browns too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of lightly buttered foil.
  8. Once done, leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack, then carefully peel off the baking paper.
  9. Frost the cake with your favourite frosting once the cake is completely cooled.

crustless savoury quiche

It was the wedding of the century.  Or was it?  Princess Di and Prince Charles' wedding was in the previous century, so I suppose Wills and Kate's wedding could make that claim.

That is, until Angelina agrees to marry Brad and make an honest man out of him.  I bet they'll get more coverage on the E-Channel.

Along with millions of people around the world, I just wanted to see commoner Kate marry her prince.  A real live one at that.

And I wasn't disappointed!  The pomp and ceremony.  The concentration of aristocrats, royalty and privileged all in one place.  The procession of women with their hats and fascinators - a procession of both the gorgeous and ridiculous.  The amazing abbey and its choir of prepubescent boys with voices that could make angels weep.  The Archbishop of Canterbury's voice...

What a voice.  Now that's  the sort of voice that could entice me back to church just so that he could preside over my wedding (if I ever was going to)...and maybe also dj at the reception after.  You know, as a favour.

And THAT wedding dress.  **Siiighhh**

MAJOR INTERRUPTION - as I'm typing this blog, news just broke all over international media, twitter, everywhere...that Osama bin Laden has finally been killed!

I've kinda lost my train of thought now after this news.  How about I just say this...

Here's wishing that the newly wedded Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stay happily married and be everything that Prince Charles and Princess Di's marriage was not. :-)

And here's what I made for our royal wedding-watch dinner - Crustless Savoury Quiche (inspired by Jeanette over at Poppytalk and Everybody Likes Sandwiches.  Followed by Orange and Poppy Seed Cake. - recipe post coming up soon!

(I did think about getting fish and chips instead - very British.  But felt that dinner needed to be a little bit more special than takeaways!)

I tweaked Jeanette's recipe a little - added slow cooked caramelised red onions, ham and more cheese (I added swiss cheese to the mix as well).  Oh, and a bit of cream. ;-)

Leftover quiche for next day's breakfast...love, love, love.

For my Kiwi friends - Rocket Sauce on the side made this even more spesh. :-))

Crustless Savoury Quiche
Inspired by and Adapted from Poppytalk and Everybody Likes Sandwiches

This recipe is very flexible and changeable. Substitute the broccoli with spinach and peas, omit the cream if you feel its too rich, use whatever cheese strikes your fancy and  use bacon bits instead of ham (or use not meat at all!).  The alternatives are endless.

Butter or light oil (like canola or rice bran oil), for greasing pie plate
2-4 tbsp of breadcrumbs (I used wholemeal ones)

1 head of broccoli
1 red onion, chopped
5 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1 cup ham, chopped (I used shaved ham. If using ham steaks, chop into small cubes.)
a pinch of salt & good grind of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or your favourite herb)

1/4 cup swiss cheese, grated
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 200C / 400F.  Prepare your pie plate/dish - butter or oil the bottom and sides, and then dust the dish liberally with breadcrumbs to coat.  Tip out excess breadcrumbs.  Set aside.
  2. Cut broccoli into small florets and chop the stem into small bitesize bits. Steam until cooked but still crisp (about 3 min with boiling water or 2 mins in the microwave on high). Drain out excess water well and leave to cool.
  3. Fry the chopped red onions over medium heat until caramelised, taking care not to burn them.  Pour out onto a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil and leave to cool.
  4. Beat the eggs, milk, cream and herbs together in a large bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Stir in the cooled onions.
  6. Pour egg mixture into the prepared pie dish/plate and scatter the broccoli and ham evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the grated swiss cheese over the top.  Use the back of a spoon to gently press these into the egg mixture.
  7. Dot the top of the pie with the crumbled feta cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until eggs are set.

Happy nommings!