Tuesday, October 30, 2007

India is calling

Hi everyone,

I may or may not be leaving you for a while. It all depends you see, on internet access in Jaipur. Weird huh.

I am about jump on a plane to India, hwere I will be doing some community development work. Hopefully, I will be able to post a bit about life there. If not, I will be back in January.

In the meantime, here are some photos I took of spring flowers in Canberra. I hope you enjoy them.

Take care everyone.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Daring Bakers - Bostini Cream Pie

Beautiful creamy custard

Orange chiffon cake

Silky smooth chocolate sauce

Tiered as a trio


Nice little teacups

In all different shapes and sizes.

Chomping, chomping, chomping

Raving, raving, raving

Everone is

Asking, asking, asking

More, more, is there more?

Putting a big smile on my face

Is the happy thought that

Everyone is enjoying it so much.

Sorry no time for a proper post this month. Plane to catch. So much to do. More about that later.

Thanks to Mary for a great challenge. The recipe can be found on her blog, Alpineberry. My fellow Daring Bakers will also be posting over the next day or so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Cookies

Is it a cake?

Is it a cookie?

It's.....both.......or is it neither? I just don't know.

I have never quite gotten the cake cookie. I think they are trying too hard to please. In trying to be both a cake and a cookie they never quite measure up to either.

I have to admit though, that these ones are very good. They almost convinced me. Almost.

They are sour cream chocolate cake cookies from the fabulous Dorie Greenspan bible, Baking From My Home To Yours. I chose the recipe using the close my eyes and open a page method pioneered here.

So far so good with this method. So what lucky page was flicked open for next time - Floating Islands. YUM!

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Cookies
(adapted from Baking from my home to yours)

Whisk together 21/4 cups plain flour, 1 tspn cocoa, 1 tspn baking soda, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/4 tspn cinnamon and a pinch of grated nutmeg.

Beat together 56 gm of soft unsalted butter until creamy and smooth, add 11/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar. Add 2 eggs and continue to beat for another minute.

Reduce speed and add 1 tspn vanilla extract and 57gn of melted chocolate. Alternatively add the dry ingredients and 1 cup of sour cream. Mix in 1/2 cup of sultanas.

Drop heaped teaspoons of batter onto baking sheets. Allow for spreading. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes if using two trays at a time (8-10 minutes for one tray) in a 190C oven.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Retro, Retro - Turkish Delight no. 1

These are the stickiest things that have ever stuck in the whole history of sticking.

They add a whole new meaning to the term - jelly wrestling.

They are none other than Turkish Delight no.1. I made these for the retro recipe blog event, hosted this month by Dolores from the terrific Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. The theme is sugar and the idea is that the recipe must pre-date 1980. Where else could I turn but to my ever faithful CWA cook book.

The preparation is deceptively simple. Boil together some sugar, water and gelatine. Flavour with lemon. That's about it.

Then comes a very innocent little instruction to pour into a wet bowl and cut into squares when set.

This would be all very well if the stuff didn't stick and cling with the determination of a crazed limpet beset by a tidal wave.

There were issues in kitchen Chez KJ.

Problem no.1 - getting it out of the bowl. The knife is immediately taken hostage. And it doesn't come out again without a fight. Then the jelly immediately just resticks itself right back to the bowl.

My solution: Hold bowl upside down and pull with fingers.

Better idea: actually, you know, read the recipe and use a hot knife to cut.

Problem no.2 - getting it off fingers.

My solution: Dump onto a cutting board. Pull one hand free. Use downward force from flat knife to pull the other other hand free. Just leave the knife stuck there.

Better idea: Use free hand to coat with cornflour and then pull other hand free.

Even better idea: Dont't use fingers in the first place, see above.

Problem no.3 - cutting into squares.

My solution: lots of effort, leverage and swearing.

Better idea: use a long bladed hot knife, see above and above, that can slice across the whole length.

Problem no.4 - retrieving said squares. Even if you manage to get the knife through the stuff, it just immediately resticks itself all back together again. At the same time clinging like a mad thing to the cutting board beneath.

My solution: abandon all decorum and rip it apart with your fingers.

Better idea: dust the board with a layer of cornflour first. Use a hot knife to cut, see above and above and above.

Problem no.5 - getting it off fingers.

My solution: spend ages in a loony comedy routine passing it from finger to finger and then clothes, hair and half the kitchen. Tiring of that, dunk the whole lot (fingers with jelly attached) into cornflour and then grip the coated part with free hand, detach and coat the remaining naked bit.

Better idea: Errrm, I can't think of one.

Enough of your trials and tribulations I hear you say. How did it taste? Not bad, not bad at all, I answer. I would describe it more as a jelly jube than a turkish delight. The outside forms into a crispy sugar crust.

And yes there is a Turkish Delight no.2. It uses honey and cornflour rather than gelatine. Maybe one day.

Turkish Delight No. 1
(adapted from the CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints)

Soak 30gm of gelatine in a little cold water and dissolve over the fire.

Bring 500gm of sugar, 250ml or water and a strip of lemon rind to the boil. Add dissolved gelatine and boil for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the juice of 1 lemon and pour into a wet dish. When cold and set cut into squares with a hot knife. Roll in cornflour and leave on a wire rack for 24 hours.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Whenever I am asked about Australia's national cuisine I tend to look at the ground, kick a few pebbles about and mumble something about meat pies.

It's not that Australia doesn't have fantastic food. We do. In bucketloads. It's just that most of it isn't ours. Australia is a melting pot of the world's cuisines brought about by a century of migration. Up until the 1950s most meals were the standard english fare of meat and three veg, white bread and butter and sweet tea. Now we think nothing of whipping up pasta one night, a green thai curry the next, followed by some nice stir fried noodles, then a vindaloo, and why not some kebabs, hummous and tabbouli. The world of food is our oyster.

I guess it's understandable then that, the few creations we do have, we cling to. I think those pesky New Zealanders have tried to claim almost all of them at some stage. The battle of the pavlova has been going on for decades. It's egg whites at 20 paces.

So what are these fabulous creations - well there's the pavlova I already mentioned. The pie floater - a hideous concoction of a meat pie drowned in a bowl of mushy peas topped with tomato sauce. ANZAC biscuits - sent to the troops during World War I. Pumpkin scones - which have become synonomous with Flo Bjekle Petersen. And of course the lamington.

This is a lamington.

A cube of sponge cake (traditionally stale), coated in chocolate icing and dipped in coconut. They were named after the 2nd Baron Lamington who was Governor of Queensland way back when. Noone is quite sure where they came from but I kind of like the story that Lord Lamington once dropped a piece of cake into his gravy and then flung it over his shoulder into a handy bowl of coconut. Some weirdo he was dining with had an epiphany and hey presto, the lamington was born. I like even more the story that he hated the things, calling them "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".

I happen to love them. So in the best Aussie tradition, up yours Lord Lamington.

There is a lot of nostalgia associated with this. Lamington drives used to be the prime fund raising mechanism for sports clubs, girl guides, church groups etc in my very young girlhood. I have lots of memories of lamington bees. A big group of ladies would gather together and spend hours dipping cake into icing and coconut. The lamingtons would be put onto little styrophom trays, covered in gladwrap and then delivered to people who had subscribed to the drive. I liked being in charge of the gladwrap. It was my thing.

Now I like to make my own at home. You can buy lamingtons in any bakery. But they are never as good. Way too much cake and not enough icing. The best bit of a lamington is around the edges where the icing has soaked into the cake and it is all squishy and chocolatey. Yum. I won't even mention the ones you buy in supermarkets. They take the whole stale cake idea a bit too literally.

They are not hard to make, but they do take a bit of time and effort. For the cake I make a standard genoese sponge. The chocolate icing is just a mixture of cocoa, hot water and a little butter. The trick is to keep the icing thin. If it gets too thick and gluggy it is much harder to dip the cake. It will tend to stick in the icing and break up. As the icing tends to thicken quite quickly, it's best to make a number of small batches of icing as you go. Or keep re-heating the icing in a microwave throughout the whole process.

A variation is to add a layer of jam, or a layer of jam and cream in the middle of the cake cube. Full lamington cakes are also popular. A whole complete sponge cake is coated in icing and coconut and then split to add a layer of jam and cream. It's then sliced as served as you would any cake. I prefer just the plain lamington cubes myself.

(adapted from Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander)

Genoese Sponge

5 eggs
60 gm of unsalted butter, melted
150gm of plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar

Beat eggs and sugar until thick and mousse like. This will take about ten minutes. Sift flour over the eggs and fold in with a metal spoon. Trickle melted butter down the sides of the bowl and fold in. Pour into a floured 20cm square cake tin.

Bake 15-18 minutes in a 180c oven. Do not open the door before 15 minutes are up.

Chocolate Icing

Mix 1 part dutch cocoa with 8 part icing sugar, 2-3 part boiling water and 1 part melted butter.

If we say that 1 part = 1 tablespoon, I find that 3 tbspn cocoa, 24 tbspn icing sugar, 4-5 tbspn water and 3 tbspn of butter is just enough to coat all the cake. The thicker the icing the more you will need.


Leave the sponge for one day. Cut into cubes. I like to keep them small to maximise the icing to cake ratio. I usually go for around 41/2cm.

Prepare a tray of dessicated coconut.

Lay the cake cubes into icing and turn about using two forks to coat completely. Lift them up to drain slightly and then roll them in the coconut.

Set them on a wire cake rack to dry and then store in an airtight container.

P.S. Can you believe how yellow this sponge cake is? It's purely from the free range eggs I buy at the farmer's market. They are amazing.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Quince Jelly

I have a confession to make – until a week or so ago I was a quince ignoramus. I knew what they were, but that was about it. I have never cooked them, tasted them, or ever even picked one up. That has now changed.

Over the last few weeks the blogosphere seems to have been awash with quinces. It seemed everyone, well everyone except me, was cooking and talking about quinces. Naturally, I started to feel left out. This could not go on. If there is one thing that spurs me into action it’s the thought that I might be missing out on something good.

So I tottered off the markets and came home with a bag of quinces. Now, what to do with them.

It didn’t really take much effort to decide. I had to make quince jelly. I have been wanting to learn more about making jams and preserves. Here was a big chance to get started.

First I needed a recipe. I turned to one of my favourite blogs, the Cottage Smallholder. Fiona's posts are always interesting whether they are about delicious recipes, her beautiful garden or the exploits of her chicken and keet colony. I was sure I had seen a recipe posted there at some stage. With this in my hot little hand, all there was to do was get stuck in.

It all went quite smoothly to begin with. I simmered the quinces to a pulp and then set them out to drain in a muslin lined sieve. They seemed to drain really quickly. After an hour or so, the drips seemed to have ground to a halt. But there wasn’t a whole lot of juice. I obviously couldn’t squeeze the pulp or it would go cloudy. So I took to just gently lifting up the edges of the muslin every now and then, and that seemed to set it off again.

But even after 12 hours of draining there still didn’t seem to be much juice. So I decided to dilute it and then add the sugar based on that. I have no idea if this was the right thing to do. I just hoped for the best.

So then I boiled the jam to setting point. This all got a bit difficult. Fiona suggested putting a few drops of jelly onto a cold plate and pushing at it to see if it crinkles. The jelly seemed to stay quite thin for ages and ages. Eventually, it thickened up, but it refused to crinkle. Not even a hint of a crinkle. I was worried. I wanted the jelly to be quite soft. So I called it quits and poured it into the sterlised bottles. If it didn’t set I would just use it as a syrup.

I ended up with a little jelly left over. So I poured this into a container for immediate consumption. I left it on the bench and wandered off feeling a bit depressed.

An hour or so later I came back and found THIS.

Perfectly set quince jelly. I was so thrilled and excited. I ran around showing everyone in physical reach. I rang my Mum. I emailed my sister. I told everyone who listen about it next day at work.

It even tastes really, really good. Why haven't I tried this earlier. It's great with some sharp goats cheese. It's great on toast. Happy, happy, happy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The CWA rides again

A few months back I posted about one of my favourite cookbooks - The CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints. I always enjoy browsing through this book. It's a bit like a time capsule for a bygone era. Like this for example:

Tea cosy hint - chamois leather is a great retainer of heat. If you have any spare pieces, join them together and use to line your tea cosy. You will find your tea will keep warm for much longer.

Even better is the section on invalid cooking which includes such delicious treats as raw liver juice. I can totally see the logic in this. I mean invalids can be a lot of trouble. If anything is going to get them out of bed proclaiming their health to the world surely it's the threat of raw liver juice. For some reason the recipe says that it must be served in a ruby glass. Is this a red glass or is it something else? Maybe it's particularly good at disguising its contents from the poor sap who is going to have to drink it.

So anyway, whenever I browse through this book there's a few recipes that I return to again and again because they just sound so absolutey awful. And this makes me wonder. Is it just me? I mean someone obviously thought highly enough of these recipes to write them down and put them in a book. Am I just a food snob? Have tastes changed so much since my grandparents generation?

There was only one thing to do. I would have to make some of these recipes and actually taste them. After all how do you really know unless you give it a go, right.

What was clear was that I was not going to go through this alone. And clearly the bigger the reference sample the more accurate the outcome. So I blackmailed, errrr coerced, errrr volunteered two gullible, errrr dear friends for a taste testing fiesta.

At the risk of retribution from redoubtable CWA ladies, anonymity was granted and they asked to be known as Kevin07 and Collingwood Forever. This will immediately alert Australian readers as to the quality of my social circle. For non-Australians explanations are provided at the end of the post.

So let's get to it.

Dish no.1 - Mock Brains

This dish is made up of left over porridge mixed with diced onions, flour, egg, salt and pepper and then panfried. Mocking seems to a singular trait from the first half of last century. Nobody except my sister's mother-in-law seems to bother with it anymore.

Kevin 07

What did you like: the crusty bits on the outside.

What didn't you like: the kinda gluey lumpy bits on the inside.

Overall opinion: surprisingly edible, but I can't say I would trample over a vegemite sandwich to get to it.

Collingwood Forever

What did you like: it tasted much better than expected.

What didn't you like: it's called mock brains.

Overall opinion: not too bad at all. It would be good with tomato sauce. I'd eat it again.


What did you like: it really tasted not bad. Kind of like heavy fritters.

What didn't you like: it was a bit heavy and kind of gluey.

Overall opinion: it exceeded expectations, but I won't be making it again anytime soon or ever.

Dish no.2 - Sausages Jellied

Now this dish is made up of cold cooked sausages set into milky beef broth jelly. Obviously, this was a way of using up left over sausages. Why not just reheat them I ask.


What did you like: the plate it was served on and the lettuce was fresh.

What didn't you like: oh the cold, hard, fatty sausages, the clammy jelly, the taste, shall I go on.

Overall opinion: if it was the only thing in the whole house, it was pouring rain, the phone was out and the car was broken, I still wouldn't eat it again.

Collingwood Forever

What did you like: [complete silence]

What didn't you like: oooooh everything.

Overall opinion: dog food gone wrong!!!


What did you like: i've got nothing here.

What didn't you like: Everything.

Overall opinion: it was truly awful. Really, it was. I can think of a million better ways to use up sausages.

If I didn't know better, I would swear that this was a photo of sausages sitting in a tray of solidified fat.

Dish no. 3 - Chocolate Jelly

So this dish is basically a thin chocolate custard made with cocoa, mixed into a packet of made up jelly crystals. Sprinkled with coconut for a touch of exotica.


What did you like: well it wasn't horrible.

What didn't you like: the chocolate taste was a bit nondescript. It was kinda watery.

Overall opinion: it's kind of a poverty stricken man's panacotta.

Collingwood Forever

What did you like: after the jellied sausages, it's nectar

What didn't you like: is it supposed to be chocolate?

Overall opinion: meh!


What did you like: it had a nice soft texture for a jelly.

What didn't you like: the chocolate custard flavour was a bit weak, so it tasted kind of watery.

Overall Opinion: It has potential. But then again, why not just make a chocolate panacotta.

So what do I conclude from this little experiment. There are lots of excellent recipes in the CWA Cookbook. These are not three of them. Our tastes have moved on, and really we are spoiled by endless choices and cheap, high quality and abundant produce. Lucky us.

Thanks to may panel. I appreciate your time served, errrr assistance


Kevin07 is the campaign slogan for the current leader of the opposition Kevin Rudd, a kind of round chubby faced school boy kind of a person. An election will be called any day now, and there is a very real possibility that he will be our next Prime Minister. You can even buy a Kevin07 t-shirt.

Collingwood is an Australian Rules Football team. They lost in the semi-finals a few weeks ago. Collingwood Forever did not take it well.

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