Coconut Biscuits And Remembering Our Gourmand Alice

You left us on a beautiful summer day this week-end. It was so special that Izzy and Little C were here to hug you and kiss you. The house was filled with flowers and candles, and oranges- all of which you adored. Little C baked a huge orange drizzle cake, and all your favourite people were here to share a slice.

Alice, you always found the flowers in the garden, where ever we lived, and would go over to stand near them. We have so many family snaps of you posing by the flowers…….

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Alice amongst the flowers…..

 

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Our Alice vigil

 

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A candle for Alice

 

You also loved a good sausage, Dad maintains it was because of your German heritage. And croissants! Oh my! You knew exactly how many were on the table and what was left over, but  we always kept a portion for you….. Yes, you were a dog of good taste always, but your old age meant a much stricter diet. A far cry from early days in California where you started the day with a breakfast of cream cheese on toast,,,,

While I bake these coconut biscuits this evening, the kitchen is so quiet.  You usually make the rounds while I am in here, clattering through, nose to the ground, hovering any fallen crumb.  How I will miss your big, sweet presence, dearest Alice- you had a post at every home we lived in, where you could watch me in the kitchen. My true gourmand. May you start your mornings with a pile of croissants and eat many a fine sausage for dinner in doggie heaven. Adios, sweetest girl.

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Our perfect sweet girl Alice

 

Comfort Coconut Biscuits

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 egg
½ cup melted butter

Method

  • Mix all ingredients together with a fork or wooden spoon.
  • Place teaspoons of the mixture onto buttered cookie sheet and bake for 12 mins at 180c depending on your oven.

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Purple Plum Torte and Little People at Easter Time

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Happy Easter to you Izzy, and Little C at opposite ends of the world.  From Bells Beach (Rip Curl 2014 Surf Pro?) to Bel Air (at Jessi’s house), dad and I cannot wait for you both to descend on us in Sydney in a couple of days.

It is so nice to have four days in a row. Dad, who has worked twenty-six days without a break certainly needed this week-end. I took him breakfast in bed on Friday, which he loved.

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It would have been an unusually quiet Easter Sunday without you girls, if not for a week-end of visitors in and around Sydney, including three gorgeous little one-year olds, two of whom were here today for lunch with their parents, and your cousins  T and D. Dressed in their Easter best, the baby twins were gentle and sweet  and quite won our hearts.

Across the way in Darling Point, cousin C has visitors one of whom is a precious one year old too! You’d love these little people, Izzy- warm and small and oh so sweet!

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I cooked some favourite suspects for lunch– thought with babies a meal at room temperature might be more practical to give us lots of time to start and stop with them if needed,  and not worry about things getting cold.

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For dessert, we had a plum torte which I served with Persian fairy floss and dollops of thick cream. This is no ordinary plum cake, Izzy. It is, in fact, ‘the world’s BEST plum cake’! Don’t you love it when you come across something that claims to be the best? I found this recipe and immediately had to read more. The tartness of the plums and the sweetness of the butter cake make a wonderful medley of tastes. It is a cinchy cake to bake- you’d be impressing everyone big time with this one, little Izzy.

Well, I’m getting my Ottolenghi cook books out for when you gals arrive let’s get cooking’! Cant wait to spend some hours cooking with you while we catch up on all the news….in person! Until Tuesday my darling girls.

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Purple Plum Torte

This is ideal with purple Italian prune plums, but if you can’t find them, other plums will do.

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder (the aluminum-free kind, if you can find it)
Large pinch of salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoon (depending on sweetness of plums)
1/2 cup (115 grams or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
12 smallish purple Italian purple plums, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon or tablespoon ground cinnamon (see Note up top for explanation)

Heat over to 350°F. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan (but if you’re worried, you can always lightly coat it first with butter or a nonstick spray) and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon, then remaining sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter (but of course not plum juice), about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack.

Once cool, if you can stand it, and I highly recommend trying, leave it covered at room temperature overnight as this cake is even better on the second day, when those plum juices further release into the the cake around it, becoming not just “cake with plum,” but cakeplumughyum (official terminology, there).

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-with thanks to the Smitten Kitchen

Feeling Uneasy and Chocolate Cake Comfort

It is without doubt a very strange time.  That Flight MH 370 could make a couple of unusual manoeuvres, turn the plane around from its  course, and then just DISAPPEAR, has been weighing heavily upon our family.

Meanwhile, we also watched helplessly while a group of artists slated to participate in the 19th Sydney Biennale, began to make so much protest about a sponsor, the Biennale’s well loved Chair had no choice but to resign. It threatened to leave arts agencies and galleries, (the very champions of such artists ) hamstrung and in jeopardy of losing state funding. Short sighted and acting on so little information, damaging years of goodwill.

Preparations for the opening under Nike Savvas' installation "Rally".

Preparations for the opening under Nike Savvas’ installation “Rally”.

 

 

 

So much good art to see all over Sydney!

So much good art to see all over Sydney!

Alice: never far

Alice: never far

Yes, we’ve had quite a few discussions about it all over long telephone calls and numerous texts. I know how upset you and Little C are Izzy, about the Malaysian plane. We’ve been on countless MH flights ever since you were born. I’ve thought hard about this unease; it has felt quite familiar. And then it struck me: it is the limbo our family was in, a quiet unease which later turned to helpless horror when news unfolded about 9/11. You girls were both at school on a clear sunny day in an idyllic American city not far from New York. I was at the gym with two school mums. We were on treadmills and watched astounded, on CNN as the first plane crashed into the Twin Towers. Then sickeningly, we watched live as the second plane crashed.

I jumped off the treadmill, raced to the car and called dad. We wondered in panic what was happening. I stopped at a drive in-bank on Libby Avenue on the way home and shared this news with the teller; many people had not heard the news yet it seemed. She shut her window right after I left to find her manager. I could see we were heading in American terms to ‘lock down’.

That early fall in Virginia was a surreal period. We watched the news round the clock. Your school was sometimes closed, based on the safety rating of the day. Low flying drones circled our city; it felt war-like and eery. The days were clear and bright, with a slight evening chill to remind us winter was on its way.  It wasn’t easy explaining the situation to you dear little girls aged just 6 and 9. I felt like we were planets away from our simple life in New Farm where you went to the tiny school on the hill, Little C just a baby in a pram,  and we lived amongst good friends.

I just hope there is some end to the search for this plane. It is awful to think of the poor families waiting, waiting.

Well darlings…………. I just cooked ‘the’ chocolate cake. What else is there to do while in such doldrums? It is a very FINE cake, this one. Almost macaroon- like with the crushed almonds, almond meal and whipped egg whites. After being throughly satisfied with a lovely chocolate buttermilk cake I found on Taste.com, and then Anna Gare’s crazy good recipe, I thought the search was over, and we were good for amazing choc cake recipes. But no! Enter The Cake Mistress. I came across this blog quite by chance, and her entry for this recipe is quite hilarious as she likens her feeling for this cake to her passion for Johnny Depp.  It just seemed like at this very moment with so many momentous things happening in the world, I had to cook a momentous cake. So here with my love and hugs, is the Cake Mistress’s recipe for her Flourless Chocolate Cake

Preparations for the opening under Nike Savvas' installation "Rally".

Preparations for the opening under Nike Savvas’ installation “Rally”.

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Please try not to worry too much about everything going on; focus on your wonderful lives. The troubles of the world are sometimes unfathomable. Count your blessings, hug your friends, and keep those telephone calls home coming.  Dad and I miss you! xoxo

 

The melted chocolate and crushed almonds mixture

The melted chocolate and crushed almonds mixture

 

 

Whipping egg whites

Whipping egg whites

 

 

Folding egg whites into the chic mix

Folding egg whites into the chocolate mixture

 

 

So much good art to see all over Sydney!

So much good art to see all over Sydney!

 

Whipping egg whites

Whipping egg whites

 

 

Folding egg whites into the choc mix

Folding egg whites into the choc mix

Just dee-lish

Just dee-lish

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
•    200g Dark Chocolate, chopped
•    125g Unsalted Butter, chopped
•    225g Brown Sugar
•    100g Almond meal (can use hazelnut meal if you prefer)
•    100g Almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)
•    5 large Eggs, separated
•    1 pinch of Cream of Tartar
•    1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
Directions
1.    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
2.    Make a “double-boiler” to melt the chocolate and butter: Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Place the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over the hot saucepan to allow the ingredients to melt. Stir occasionally.
3.    Once all is melted, stir in the brown sugar, almond meal and almonds until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then add the egg yolks gradually, stirring each time.
4.    Meanwhile, place the five egg whites into a clean dry bowl with a pinch of cream of tartar. The egg whites will form the structure of the cake, so it’s important they’re well beaten. Using a hand whisk, electric beater or stand mixer, beat the eggs slowly at first until they are foamy and then gradually increase the speed every few minutes. (If you go straight to high speed, you increase the chance of your cake collapsing). Continue beating until firm peaks form. Don’t worry if you overbeat the eggs because you’ll beat some of the air out next.
5.    Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. The chocolate mix is quite heavy, so don’t worry if you need to stir quite a bit at this stage. Stop when the eggs are just incorporated with the chocolate.
6.    Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until a firm crust forms on the top. A skewer test is not necessary. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before attempting to remove. Once cool, sift cocoa powder over the top.

Also, you’ll be glad to know the doggie are keeping me good company.

Alice : always close-by!

Two Sisters In Melbourne And Baking Nana’s Christmas Cakes

I put Little C on a plane to you this morning, and came home to cook up Nana’s Christmas cakes. The diced fruit’s been marinading in lots of brandy, and the house smells very Christmassy! Now we just need the added layer of a fresh pine tree in the house, and we’ll really be ready to celebrate.

So glad you girls have some time together today in Melbourne. I think you’ll put C in a good frame of mind for her college interview tomorrow. After all, you’ve been there and done that. I clearly remember the three of us dropping you off at college on a cold wet night. I felt so sad that evening, but you settled quickly and had such a great time at Ormond.

Enjoy the granola and curry puffs I sent through our special courier today. And I hope you share with the H family.

It is so exciting to think of all of us being together in Sydney for Christmas. It is only a few weeks away!

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Also just before I dash off to get these babies out of their tins and onto some wire racks to cool, I should share with you that I’ve been making lots of salsa for snack time. So easy: just throw into the blender  a punnet of cherry toms with what ever’s close at hand: mint, green apple, cucumber, bell peppers, cilantro. I had some chopped water melon the other day and added that too. Pineapple is a nice addition.  The kick you get from a pickled green chili added to the mix is quite fab. Squeeze in some lime, and you are good for a FRESH snack.

Good luck with the interview tomorrow- I know you’ll have Little C well primed. Thank you for having her to stay and lookking after her, dear Izzy. xx

Fresh herbs from the garden: great in a salsa

Fresh herbs from the garden: great in a salsa

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In The Thick Of It: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies to Distract

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Arrgh- I hate exams! And I’m not even the one taking them! But I hate them on behalf of you and now your Little sis C, and your cousin Tash. the stresses and strains of so much study is so wearying.

I’m coping with it all by cooking lots: today was chicken soup and a green energy shake, for in-between snacks, and at about 4 pm this afternoon, there was a real need for something chocolatey in the house, so I made some of those damn fine chocolate crinkle cookies.

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