Orange Flourless Cake- and Moving House

Some years back,  a cake that didn’t contain flour was a mystery to me, but now I have many great recipes for gluten-free cakes which are delicious.  But a cake that doesn’t have flour OR butter, well, that is cause for major suspicion.

Somehow though, the many eggs in this recipe must have been an important compensation, for this cake is moist, light but not lightweight (if you know what I mean!) and just plain delicious. I grew up eating cakes Nana made that regularly had four to six eggs in them.  Famously, her Christmas cake calls for TWENTY TWO eggs! Nowadays, it seems many cake recipes only call for two or three eggs,  I myself came to cake baking quite late in the piece as you know. I was happy to feed you girls a lovely plain chocolate cake which I bought at the Fyshwick Markets. Why bake when for twenty dollars, you could buy a delicious, chocolatey cake? After all, I was waaay too busy running around after two baby girls and a princess dog called Flipper.

Anywaaay, Izzy.  Back to the issue at hand.  It is the end of an era for you! Finishing up a degree- you are in the home run. LAst month before you are done! AND a new house to move in to. Yes, Grouse has been amazing, but looking back, it is the sum of wonderful people in it that made your household so special. Your new home sounds wonderful, and looks so lovely and light in the photos. And all your great Grouse residents moving in too. Cannot wait to visit you in Melbourne at your new address soon! Your gleaming kitchen and state of the art oven will have you baking and roasting and experimenting with so many better facilities and  better bench space. Fun!

Here’s this butter less, flour less cake to bake in your new home- it is a winner. Serve with whipped cream on the side. Good luck moving house this coming week-end! i’ll be thinking of you.  And here’s a tip from your master mover mum: pack your kettle and mugs separately: you’ll want a cup of tea before you do anything much once you are in the new place.

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ORANGE ALMOND CAKE RECIPE- as per The Cake Mistress

TIPS:

  • Use quality oranges. If they’re bitter, the cake will be bitter.
  • NO shortcuts on the boiling oranges step! Boiling reduces the bitterness of the orange pith and softens the rind. Failing to do so will result in a bitter chunky cake, which is nasty ‘yo.
  • Navel oranges don’t have pips, but other varieties do. Once boiled cut them open, check for pips and remove them!
  • Watch the baking time carefully. Other bakers have reported variable baking times, ranging from 45-60 minutes. Keep a close eye from 35 minutes onwards and check with a skewer to see if it comes out clean.
  • Use a springform pan, and let the cake cool in the upright position. Do not attempt to turn the cake out , because it’s a squidgy one and it will fall apart. A broken cake is a sad cake.
  • Tins: I used a 22cm round springform tin, filled to around 2/3 – 3/4 full. If you’re making a smaller cake, stick to the 2/3 full rule and turn the leftover batter into cupcakes or something equally marvellous.

You Will Need:

2 navel oranges
220g Caster Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
6 large eggs
250g Almond Meal

Place whole unpeeled oranges in saucepan. Cover with water. Boil with the lid on for 30 minutes. Drain the liquid, fill with fresh water and boil for 1 hour. Trim the ends, cut the oranges into quarters and check for pips. Place oranges into a food processor and pulverise them to a pulp. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Line a 22cm round springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius, or 160c if fan forced.

Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until fluffy and pale, which should take 3-5 minutes (stop before ribbons form). Beat in the baking powder. Fold in the almond meal and orange pulp.

Pour into tin and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer into the centre comes out clean. For me, at 30 minutes the top was getting nice and brown, so I covered it with aluminium foil to minimise burning. At 45 minutes, mine was shrinking away from the sides of the tin and passed the skewer test.

Allow cake to cool upright in the pan. Do not attempt to turn out. When cool, dust the top with icing sugar if desired.

Serves 10

Recipe found on SBS Food, which is identical to the Stephanie Alexander version in The Cooks’ Companion, which is extremely similar to the Australian Women’s Weekly version. All equally awesome.

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Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

When we lived in LA, you two girls came with us  to the T’s for dinner one night.  You were in for a treat. That Venice Beach location, and a wonderful infusion of Aussie family atmosphere was so pleasant . On top of that, DT’s prowess as an Italian chef was about to be revealed.

As the sun melted into the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashed with the tide coming in, we chatted at the kitchen island, about all things Australian. DT was cooking you girls something special she said she’d always made for her boys. As is true of most Italian cuisine, freshness and simplicity were key to a memorable dish of pasta.

The W family were here last week-end, and brought with them a large container of tomatoes, capsicums and chills from their garden. At first I used them sparingly, these  fresh garden picked delights. But as the days wore on, I knew I would only be wasting them if they perished. THAT would never do! It was time to make DT’s pasta dish!

This recipe is so simple, one doesn’t need a recipe, but a few things bear following to bring out a perfect flavour.  I know it is a deceptively simple recipe, Izzy. But the warmth of the pasta releases a wonderful aroma in the uncooked tomato and basil, and the mozzarella adds a slight creaminess which counters the  tomato acidity perfectly. Please tell Grouse honcho MW that he can substitute the cheese with soft tofu.

Pasta with Tomato and Mozzarella 

  • Very ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil,washed and picked off the stems
  • some good medium firm mozzarella 
  • pasta of choice (penne or spagatinni is favoured here)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
  2. When the water is boiling vigorously, add the pasta and boil carefully till perfectly al dente (pasta should be chewy not crunchy, neither should it be allowed to turn soft and squidgy). 
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cut tomatoes into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to bring out exceptional flavour. 
  4. When the pasta is perfectly boiled, drain, and quickly toss it in the bowl of tomatoes.
  5. The warmth of the pasta will soften the tomatoes slightly, adding to its juiciness, and creating a bit of a sauce. 
  6. Now add the chopped up pieces of mozzarella. It will melt slightly, adding to the ‘sauce’.
  7. Serve immediately, while still warm, but not before you tear up the  basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta.

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Yummy Savoury Muffins: Thirty Minutes Flat !

My Friday morning blur is usually induced by the extra early start. Thanks to Little C’s History Extension class which is held BEFORE the regular school day begins. But who am I to complain? SHE’s the one who has to sit through it and pretend to be awake: poor fellow!

Little C has some full on, heavy-duty stuff to attend to these days. Snacks to sustain are crucial. Our family were always grazers….. we like our little snacks in between (small? haha!) meals. And cups of Milo…..

I know your go-to snacks are sushi and a half avocado, Izzy. But these muffins are so amazingly quick and easy to make, I thought you might like to have a little container of them that you could snack on while you study. They are also good for part of a portable lunch, or serve them alongside a soup. All good!

OK, let me show you just how easy this is:

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Savoury Muffins

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 125 g butter, melted and cooled
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or tasty cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped ham or bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Paper cups to bake your muffins in
  • 12 cup muffin tray

Method:

  1. Set your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Mix the flour, cheese and salt together.
  3. Add whatever other dry ingredients you’ve chosen to use (onion, ham, parsley,etc, but no more than 1 1/2 cups in total.
  4. Lightly beat the egg , milk and cooled butter with a fork.
  5. A little at a time, add the liquid to the dry ingredients, and blend together lightly with a fork.
  6. Place the paper cups in the muffin tray, and add about two heaped tablespoons of dough in each cup.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes. 
  8. Remove from the oven, and serve warm. Enjoy!

More veg please! (Cauliflower Peretel)

It is ANZAC day in Australia and the day in Sydney has dawned bright and clear, a day of reflection and gratitude for our forces  both fallen and returned who have defended the country in various battles over the ages. We had a glorious walk at Bondi Beach this afternoon. The sun was hot and it seemed all of Sydney was exhaling. IMG_5459 Surely a day to bake some Anzac Biscuits, for this sparkly day will surely turn cool this evening, requiring a cup of tea. And what’s a cup of tea without an Anzac…. As the weather has turned milder, the Rainbow Lorikeets are out in enthusiastic force, chirping and parading, jostling and preening.2953703796_bfe6355086_o There are crowds of them in every camellia tree in the garden. The combination of pink and white camellia blooms with these psychedelic coloured parrots is a bit of a sensory wonder to someone like me who’s lived out of the country for so long. I stand on the front porch with key in my hand, meaning to walk to the garage, and get in the car, but minutes later find myself still watching these amazing birds cavorting. They are not very tidy, these lorikeets, so the paths around the house are strewn with pink and white petals. We don’t mind. L1030873 Food in the kitchen has turned somewhat hearty, a little chill in the night air being an excuse for curries and stews. Heartier cooked vegetables rather than salads, and another interesting  breakfast casserole recently. I have missed you, Miss Izzy Bee! I am sorry you have been weathering a lingering cold. Please try this dish- it is comforting and healthy, and easy to prepare :it might just give you the boost you need. In fact, perhaps MW could cook it for you- he did send me a message asking where the veggie recipes were…

Cauliflower Peretel

  • 1/2 head firm, unblemished cauliflower, broken or cut into florets
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • about 8 to 10 curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1/2  fresh chilli, sliced fine (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  1. Heat oil in a wok, and when smoking, add the mustard seeds.
  2. When seeds begin popping, add the curry leaves, turmeric, cumin seeds, onion, ginger, chilli and coconut flakes.
  3. Stir well, until onion has softened a little, and take care not to burn the coconut.
  4. Add the cauliflower, and toss well.
  5. Add a very small amount of water (perhaps a quarter cup), season with salt, add raisins and parsley, cover and leave for exactly two minutes, turning down the heat to low.
  6. Uncover after the two minutes, and stir well. If you find the ingredients sticking, add a few more drops of water as you stir everything together.
  7. Turn out onto a dish, or else the heat of the wok will continue to cook the vegetables even when you’ve turn the fire off. The cauliflower should be tender, but still have a good crunch.
  8. Serve with rice or roti,  plain yogurt and lime pickle or your favourite chutney.

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A Breakfast Casserole from ‘The Rivah’

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The D family had us down to stay at their ‘Rivah’ house all those years ago in Virginia, and CD had made a breakfast casserole the next morning. Every time I make this, I think of this lovely sweet friend who was my walking companion for a while in Windsor Farms.

The past week-end was Easter and it was so wonderful to have four full days to relax. We had lots of friends around including some overseas visitors, and of course there was plenty of food too. We dropped off some eggs to Echo’s household, but I doubt if she’ll get any, no matter how much she begs.

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After some hungry work kayaking in Rose Bay, CD’s casserole seemed like a good and hearty option. CD, it is such a hit every time it gets made, so I hope you don’t mind that I am sharing it here. So easy and tasty, good for breakfast or lunch. Not quite in the swing of Aussie life again, I had left some last minute shopping for Sunday.  Imagine my surprise when I found EVERYTHING tight shut: there was not a single shop open.  So…… the to-be accompanying salad did not get made!

I usually make my casserole with bacon, purple onion, and chopped parsley. Also, I use a combination of parmesan and cheddar. IMG_5145 IMG_5147 IMG_5171 IMG_5100 IMG_5107

Afterwards, a snooze in the garden hammock for a tired visitor: jet lagged, sun infused, and Aussied out!

CD’s Breakfast Casserole

  • 1 lb sausage, cooked and drained
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 6 slices bread, broken up
  • 1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Brown sausage drain and cool
  2. Beat together eggs, milk.  Add salt and dry mustard, beat again, add bread and stir until softened.
  3. Pour in the cheese and sausage.
  4. Pour into a greased 9x 13” glass baking dish and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Bake @ 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.  Let stand for a few minutes before cutting.

Optional ingredients:

Minced onion

Diced tomato

Mushrooms

Any omelet ingredients

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies: For Your Repetoire, Cookie Queen

Isabel, the Archibald season was a fun one to experience; now we finally know what all the hype is about. It was so nice meeting many artists over the course of the whole thing. Soon you’ll be in town again, and we’ll wander through the exhibitions, and talk about all the anecdotes attached to the event. Fun, fun!

LL dropped by this morning to chat with your sister about her HSC art project. Nice to bounce ideas off people outside of the family.  She’s an amazing woman, that’s for sure; kind and generous.  She asked Little C lots of questions helping her think more clearly about what she’s trying to achieve.

In honour of LL’s visit, C thought some chocolate crinkle cookies should be baked.  Remember when you girls were little in Virginia, you were given the William Sonoma children’s cookbook? I don’t think anything else apart from these yummy bikkies were made regularly out of that book, they were such a hit !

ANYWAY, as you are the reigning queen of cookies right now, I thought you should definitely have this recipe on hand: easy, no fail, and utterly fabulous. The texture is quite cakey, which is a nice change, and the dough makes about 26 good-sized biscuits.

Meanwhile, the weather has been gorgeous: I dropped dad off at the beach today for a swim: he is one tired guy after a busy busy week!  I hope we have an Indian Summer in store…. trust the study is going well, your little bookshop seems to be keeping you very busy too. See you at Easter- we cannot wait !

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room
    temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease 2 baking sheets with butter.Put the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 1 egg and beat on medium speed until blended. Add the other egg and vanilla and beat until blended.Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended.Form the cookies 
Using a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of dough. Scrape the dough off the spoon into the palm of your other hand. Roll the dough into a ball. Roll the ball in the icing sugar until covered. Place the balls on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies
When 1 baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake the cookies until they are crackled and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes.

Using a metal spatula, move the cookies onto the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. Makes about 24 cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Oxmoor House, 2003).

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Spicy Chinese Chicken Quick Fix

How I tore a tendon in my hip I still don’t really know, but boy, it has been a challenge. Coming up to seven months and not much relief was really enough.  When an eminent Professor of orthopaedics at St. Vincent’s hospital here in Sydney suggested PRP injections, I was curious,  He had skirted the dreaded word ‘operation’, so I was gratefully anxious to hear more about this alternative.

Thursday was a funny old day.  I was anxious about the procedure on Friday.  Also, we were waiting to hear news from the West Coast, which meant a huge deal to someone dear. C was in the throes of an important test.  And I had just had more health info which I really could have done without.

I got home late int the evening, anxious and pretty wound up.  I walked into the house, and called. News from the West Coast was excellent-fabulous! Time to cook dinner.

I pulled out the free range chicken tenderloin and knew already what to make with them.  Charmaine Solomon’s cook book was  on the kitchen counter, turned to the ‘China’ section. Comfort food for the end of a stressful day. Dried red chillies, spring onions, lots of ginger and garlic. Mmmm. Here’s my slightly adapted version:

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  • 500g chicken tenderloin
  • 4 tablespoons corn flour or rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup oil for frying
  • 3 to 4 dried red chillies
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 fresh spring onions, chopped in 5 cm lengths

Method:

  1. Mix chicken pieces with five spice powder, salt and pepper, and toss in the 4 tablespoons of corn flour. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the stock, vinegar, sherry/wine, sesame oil and soy.
  3. In a hot wok or large saucepan, fry batches of the chicken till golden, and set aide to drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Add a little more oil to the pan once the chicken is all cooked, and toss in the garlic and ginger till it is fragrant and golden.
  5. Add the chillies. the spring onion and the chicken, and stir well.
  6. Add the stock or water, and the 2 teaspoons of corn flour.
  7. Stir well, the sauce will begin to thicken.
  8. Continue stirring, and add the mixture of sauces. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and give it another thorough stir before taking it off the heat.
  9. Serve hot with steamed rice and a green vegetable……. delicious!

I’ve been so lucky to be cared for by MB and Little C, good friends (picking me up from hospital) and bringing care packages of yummy food.

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This week-end, my sore leg is getting better quickly, helped by distractions like another visit from little Lulu dog- how cute can a Kelpie puppy be?

I know if you were here, you’d make me a batch of some of your now famous cookies, Miss B.  Meanwhile, thanks for all your kind messages. xoxo

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