Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cinnamon Teacake

This is an afternoon quickie - G is working weekends at the moment - he is coming up to the end of a big project he's been working on for a while so I whipped up this cake for him to take in to work today and share with the troops (doesn't that make me sound hideously domesticated!)

This is a simple old fashioned cake and best served straight from the oven all warm and fragrant.

Cinnamon Teacake
(adapted from a Margaret Fulton recipe)

1 egg, separated
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup self raising flour
30g melted butter

30g melted butter
1 Tbsp castor sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Grease a small round cake pan (or several small bundt pans)

Add the salt to the egg white and beat till stiff peaks are formed. Add the egg yolk the gradually beat in sugar.

Add the vanilla to the milk. Beating slowly alternatively add the milk and flour till well combined.

Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake in the centre of a medium oven (180 degrees) for 20-25 mins.

When the cake is done - invert onto a plate and using a pastry brush paint the top with melted butter. Sprinkle the mixed cinnamon and sugar on top.

Serve warm.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

SHF #35 - The Beautiful Fig

This month's Sugar High Friday is being be hosted by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and her chosen theme is the fig. It's summer in the northern hemisphere and figs are in season - we in Australia are just coming into spring so while fresh figs are available they are prohibitively expensive. So dried figs it is....

I have only recently come round to the pleasures of figs - fresh or dried - their mild taste and creepy squashed look when dried has never really inspired me. Recently we have been occasionally shopping at a local organic market that sells the most divine fruit bread from La Tartine filled with raisins and divine chunks of dried figs. It is a little expensive but toasted with a little butter it makes the most divine weekend breakfast.

But I digress -when deciding what to make for SHF this month I looked at variations on fig bars or biscuits - I looked at what I currently bake with dates (fig scones anyone?) and finally decided on a coffee cake with a fig filling.

Fig-filled Streusel Coffee Cake

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter


1 cup dried figs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup butter
1/2 sugar
1 vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

To make topping, combine flour and sugars in small bowl. Rub butter in with your fingers until crumbly. To make cake batter preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a springform pan.

Pulse the dried figs in a food processor until finely chopped, mix in walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cream the butter, gradually add sugar and beat until light. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Alternately beat flour mixture and sour cream into batter. Spoon cake batter in bottom of pan.

Spoon fig mixture carefully on top of cake batter and spread to even layer. Sprinkle streusel topping over top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes.

Serve straight from the oven with custard for dessert or room temperature for afternoon tea

A food blog eating itself

I was watching cooking dinner the other weekend - Australian Idol was on ( I was not watching it I swear!) and a comment Dicko made about pop culture eating itself given that many of the new Idols were singing Kelly Clarkson songs made me giggle.

It struck me again as I was taking photos of my lunch yesterday and planning to blog it here - a recipe I got from a favorite food blogger, Luisa of The Wednesday Chef

The recipe in question is Tomato Bread Soup and I have to say it is every bit as good as Luisa expounds, even with spring, just ripe tomatoes rather than the height of summer sun ripened tomatoes. The soup has a fresh taste and the bread takes on a gorgeous custard like texture - perfect with a sprinkling of grated mild cheese. Divine on a wet afternoon!

Bill Telepan's Tomato Bread Soup - via The Wednesday Chef

1.5 kg ripe tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups of cubed sourdough bread - crusts removed
1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata - we used a mild Spanish cheese as the miserable weather meant we really didn't want go out and shop.

Core and quarter plum tomatoes. Place tomatoes in food processor and pulse to chop, but not too fine.

Heat oil in 4-quart saucepan. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, but not browned. Add tomatoes and their juices. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a slow simmer and cook 45 minutes, covered, stirring from time to time.

When the soup has simmered for 45 minutes, stir the bread cubes into the soup and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Serve hot or at room temperature, with grated ricotta salata and minced basil strewn on each serving.

** Next time I make this - and I will make it again - I think I'll add some stock to thin the soup a little - the tomatoes I used weren't really juicy so the soup was a little thick - especially after I added the bread and it soaked up a lot of the liquid **

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A quick trip to France

Well I have been a very lazy food blogger haven't I? I have been and long returned from a trip to France and Japan. I was lucky enough to spend just over 3 weeks away and seems I have been in holiday mode ever since!

I wasn't sure what to expect in France - despite traveling for around 4 years I have never been to Europe (I know!) and have never really eaten a lot of traditionally French food so I was really unsure of what I'd eat past pain au chocolat, baguettes and loads of wine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the supermarkets and local markets - I found the restaurants a little hit and miss, but I suppose that is true everywhere! I was totally put of my depth with the wine but enjoyed what I drank - I'll never be able to tell you what it was though.

Here are some of the photographic food highlights.

You have to love breakfast cereal with dark chocolate, 70% no less- who needs Coco Pops?

Another breakfast favourite - Chanson Pomme (apple filled pastries) from the boulangerie near our houseboat on the Seine.

Evening drinks on the houseboat - French champagne (of course) and cheese.

We went to a couple of local 'marche's' while driving from Paris to Bourgogne. I have to say the standard of the produce was amazing - from the fresh butter and cheese to the fruit!

Mom and I literally stumbled on Laduree while looking for the Musee D'orsay in Paris - we had a gorgeous mid-afternoon break full of macaroons and rose flavoured pastries

We had a lovely afternoon in Sancerre - a wine growing region in the Loire . They have a great museum that explains the region and goes through the history of the growers collective.

Another wine highlight was going with our family friend, Camille to buy wine for her cave. We wound our way down a little suburban street to the vineyard version of a petrol station and bought several 33 litre 'bag in a box' to bottle back at Camille's house.

Bottling the wine was a family affair with a mini production line in place. Corking the bottles took some muscles! I have to admit that I only helped bottle one 33 litre cask and that was plenty.

Other highlights were several lovely meals in little bed and breakfasts, the range of aperitifs served before dinner and the epiphany of a beer cocktail - really not as weird as it sounds!

I promise it won't be so long between posts again - I am well and truly out of holiday mode now.