And the Theme Is PINK! (Raspberry, Almond and Coconut Cake)

I don’t quite know how or why, but it has been a pink infused few days.  It started last week-end, with your sister rummaging around early on Saturday morning looking for pink accessories to wear at her Touch Football game in Queen’s Park. All the SCEGGS sporting teams  took part that week-end and raised close to $2,500 for breast cancer. Even Little C’s  coach got into the fun of dressing in pink.

We took Alice on a walk in the hills around our house, and came across a home with huge Bougainvillea SPILLING all down the driveway; amazing, shocking pink.

Then on Wednesday, she was off to her vet appointment for ultrasounds. I looked at the old girl sitting alongside me in the car, sweet in her pink collar and leash.

Is the expression ‘in the pink of health’ ? Well, that’s what the tests showed for dear Alice at the end of the day. Phew.

I baked a cake which I came across in a sweet little blog ( called Wayfaring Chocolate ). You know how sometimes you read a recipe, and you have to just JUMP right up and make it? This was it for me.  I mean Izzy, think about it: a combination of coconut, raspberry and almond meal. How good can you get? (maybe a handful of chocolate chips…..?) Gluten free, and apparently, diary free too if you substitute the butter with Nuttelex. It was so easy, delicious and more-ish, that I’ve cooked it twice already. The raspberries kind of melt on top and make a deep pink decoration of its own- so you don’t even need to think about icing. Make it for your household- those vegan boys will thank you for a delicious cake!

Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cups (170g) almond meal
  • 1 1/4 cups (275g)  sugar
  • 3/4 (70g) desiccated coconut
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g Nuttelex (dairy-free spread) or butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup (55g) fresh or frozen raspberries.
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F), lightly grease a 24cm springform pan and line base and sides with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together almond meal, sugar, and coconut.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly whisk in the melted butter.
  4. Add butter mixture into the almond mixture, stirring until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan, then dot the top with the raspberries.
  6. Bake 50-55 minutes, until the cake is golden and the top springs back (or, at least, doesn’t feel uncooked… fancy that) when you press it lightly.
  7. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

After eating all that cake, I was glad to dash off with dad to the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition along the Bondi to Bronte walk. They were about to dismantle it all, so I am glad I saw it again, this time with dad. There were some good ones and some not so good ones, but I thought this one here, was clever! (and dark pink in the fading light!)

Are you packing for LA? You’ll have to drop in on the newly weds in their home in Venice. Do you think I might be more excited than you about this trip….? Haha! Sending you pink kisses, and hearty congratulations on finishing the Melbourne Uni year on a high note. Yippee!

Food Re-Cap, and a Garden Pea Risotto

A wonder to think it was only a couple of weeks ago that we’d arrived in Melbourne and come over to Grouse for dinner. I am still amazed thinking about the wonderful dinner your house mates cooked, and the warm hospitality you all extended to us. I mean, you guys even vacuumed!

It was the sort of meal our our family adores: felafel, tabulleh, hummus, baked tomatoes, and yummy chocolatey dessert. So very very good. Izzy, you picked a good crowd.  Thank you Gousers for a lovely evening.

The rest of the two days in Melbourne sped along, visiting Betty at Montclair,  and re-grouping. We ate at Dandelion in Ellwood. Such magnificent food, and great company.

Durga cooked us sambar and idlis with a killer green coconut chutney one morning, and you traveled all the way over from Carlton to have some with us. Yes, I would have hopped on a tram for those too!

The Cattapans sent us on our way with a charming afternoon tea, complete with coconut cake and scones which Giselle had baked. Her pretty tea service on a flowered tablecloth reminded me of how special a sit down afternoon tea can be.

Sydney wasn’t really about restaurants was it? We were busy meeting all the new folks at the Gallery, touring potential schools for Claudia and house hunting.  We did have one memorable family meal at Sailors Thai on Circular Quay. Delicious appetizers but when the mains came, you and Claudia could hardly eat, it was all SO spicy. It was good to be back there again though.
One fun discovery was Miss Chu, in Darlinghurst. Around the corner from Church of England Girls Grammar School, or SCEGGS, which is as of 12.30 pm last night, Claudia’s choice of Sydney school. It is a great little box in the wall, with most of the action on a sunny pavement, decorated to look like a hawker food stall, resplendent with strings of badminton shuttlecocks and hanging bunches of yellow bananas. My idea of ultra- cute stylin’ ! They serve Vietnamese street food, with fresh rice paper rolls their mainstay. Bahn Mi and dumplings are on the menu too, fresh pineapple juice, strong coffee sweetened with condensed milk……..oooh, yum! It is a sophisticated update on my childhood canteen food. You can imagine my excitement for Claudia. I might be early to pick her up every now and again so I can stop for one of those sickeningly good coffees.
All the travels have not been without its struggles, and I have been fighting off a pesky chesty flu thing all along the way. Being back here and scurrying around to get the house on the market is flat out tiring. Throw in a big dose of jet lag. Tonight called for comfort food, and something with restorative properties.
I pulled out a pile of fresh garden peas, arborio rice, and some chicken stock and set to work on an easy spring risotto. (Spring is here even in the deep Tundra- forsythia, and bluebells everywhere, sun shining a little brighter, although it is still cold.)
Here’s a good recipe for the house, Izzy. Risotto is healthy and nourishing….. and easily GLUTEN FREE. haha!
We ate this light risotto tonight with little organic sausages included in our ‘welcome home’ food basket Mamma Barrs had so kindly prepared for us weary travellers. It hit the spot-I’d love you to try it.
Spring Risotto
Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup white white
  • 1 litre chicken stock ( or water for your vegan householders)
  • 5 pods garlic, peeled and chopped
  • salt to taste
  • a tablespoon of butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup shelled garden peas
  • a few stalks flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks spring onion, chopped
Method:
  1. Pop the water or stock in a small pan on a back burner, and keep warm on the stove.
  2. In your heavy pot, melt the fat, and stir in the garlic till fragrant, just a few seconds.
  3. Add the rice, and stir well, coating with the oil/butter. Stir continuously until the grains turn from clear to translucent.
  4. Add the wine and stir well until all the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Now start adding the stock. Add a cup at a time, and as the liquid is absorbed, add more and keep stirring gently.
  6. If you run out of stock, you can use warm water.
  7. Your risotto will be ready after about thirty minutes of stirring. The grains should be chewy and al dente. 
  8. At this point, add the peas, and the chopped greens, and stir in some salt to taste. Turn off the heat and remove from the stove.
  9. Serve warm, with cracked pepper and parmesan cheese.