Persian Love Cake
November 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
A few weeks back I went to Melbourne for a friend’s wedding in East Gippsland. There on a small property amongst the green and rolling hills we walked up to the top of a ridge, the sun golden and almost setting, to share with them their love and vows of togetherness and foreverness. I was so moved by the graciousness of love on that day, not just in the space between them, but also amongst us, all their friends, who each shared in that love for them. What a thing to celebrate! I danced until 4am in the morning and could barely move the next day, but my sore calves were a welcome reminder of the joy we can find between each other.
As you can probably guess there was cake involved… 15 different kinds to be precise. Each guest was asked to bring a plate for dinner, and most of us being most of us, naturally wanted to bring cake.
The cake I have for you today is a Persian Love Cake. With a name like that, could you really resist? In Persia, this cake is cooked by a mother in law for her daughters husband to be. The story goes, that once he eats the cake he will fall madly in love and they will have a happy marriage.
Thanks to Gourmet traveller and a dear friend for introducing me to this cake. I haven’t looked back!
Recipe for Persian Love Cake
360 gm (3 cups) almond meal
220 gm (1 cup) raw sugar (I used a bit less)
220 gm (1 cup) brown sugar (I used a bit less)
120 gm unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250 gm Greek-style yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
45 gm (¼ cup) pistachios, coarsely chopped (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180C. Combine almond meal, sugars, butter and 1 tsp salt in a bowl, then rub with fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Spoon half the mixture into a lightly buttered and lined 26cm-diameter springform pan, gently pressing to evenly cover base.
Add egg, yoghurt and nutmeg to remaining crumble mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Pour over prepared base, smooth top and scatter pistachios around the edge. The recipe says to bake for 30 -35 minutes. I baked mine for about 45 minutes. And its good to keep in mind that the cake can still be a bit soft in the middle. It will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
September 28, 2013 § 3 Comments
I had a dismal attempt at trying to grow watermelons this year. The process started with me very excited. I made a little round bed full of compost and manure and planted two little seeds inside. They sprouted and grew… A little… I watered them and they grew some more. They bloomed tiny little flowers and even grew one tiny little watermelon. Then I went away and the little watermelon shrivelled up. Then the rest of the vine shrivelled. And one day they were dead. And that was that.
The sun is relentless here. Unforgiving. I realise my mistake, I shouldn’t have put them in a place that gets all day sun, and I should definitely have mulched them more.
But still, I have been managing to eat some of the very best watermellons I ever had. The local ones are cheep and abundant at this time of year. They are a deep bright pink and so so sweet.
So I have a recipe for you today, a drink, and a very refreshing one at that. It comes out of the beautiful cookbook The New Persian Kitchen. Its a watermelon, mint, and cider vinegar tonic!
Author Notes: “Even if drinking vinegar sounds like a dare — and maybe that’s why you ordered it — it’s anything but. It’s sweet and sour and icy-cold. It vibrates and clangs with fruit and vinegar, and soothes with sweetness and mint. It is the most refreshing drink you will have this summer”. From The New Persian Kitchen
Recipe for Watermelon Mint and Cider Vinegar Tonic
Makes about 5 cups concentrate
3 cups water, plus more to serve
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
6 cups coarsely chopped watermelon
1 cup tightly packed fresh mint, plus more to serve
1 cup apple cider vinegar (preferably with the mother because that is the best kind for you)
Ice cubes, cucumber, and lime to serve.
- Boil the water and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the honey and allow to dissolve before removing from the heat.
- Combine the watermelon and mint in a large bowl and stir in the hot honey water. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, add the vinegar and allow the mixture to steep in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight.
- Strain the mixture and eat the watermelon chunks, if desired.
- Store the concentrate in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- To serve, pour 1/4 cup of the concentrate into a glass over ice and dilute with 3/4 cup water. Garnish with the watermelon, cucumber, and mint.
basil and papaya
June 6, 2013 § 2 Comments
If you are one of those people who like papaya, this one is for you. I know, I have done it before with strawberries and basil, a recipe good enough to serve to the prime minister of Australia, and perhaps I should have just left it at that. But with fresh papayas straight from the tree in our back yard and thai basil and limes also in the garden I couldn’t help myself.
I can’t promise it will blow your socks off but papaya, lime and thai basil salad is in every way good. The pictures say it all.
spelt hot cross buns
March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
I remember making hot cross buns with my mum and sister when I was very young. I remember the smell of orange and spice bouncing off the kitchen walls and making it bright and warm.Often the fire would be on because the weather had started to turn by then and my sister and I would stand on chairs at the kitchen bench rolling out the little white stripes of dough to become the crosses, placing them haphazardly on top of the buns before they went in the oven. We would prove the dough on the backseat of the car which mum would have parked in the sun. Covered with a damp tea towel and sitting wonkily on the seat, this would always amuse me.
I have always loved hot cross buns, who wouldn’t – the smell of yeast and spice, warm and gently sweet, melting with butter. What a shame people only tend to eat them one day of the year.
Here I have a recipe that is not my mothers, in-fact there is no sentimental story behind it whatsoever. I found it today, not even in a well-loved, old and creased cook book, but on the internet. And it is good. So much so that I wanted to share it with you all. Perhaps if your quick you may be able to whip up a batch for tomorrow.
Below is my version of the recipe I found. It is quite similar to the original except I used spelt flour instead of wheat, orange zest instead of dried orange peel, honey instead of sugar and I added a pinch of clove.
Recipe for Spelt Hot Cross Buns
2 tsp dried instant yeast
3 ½ cups plain spelt flour
1 Tbsp honey
300 ml milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground all spice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground clove
60 g butter
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 ¼ cups sultanas, currants, or raisins
Zest of one orange
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cold water
Glaze (optional – it ends up making the bun sweeter if that is what you like)
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
150 ml boiling water
Sift the flour into a small bowl and add the water. Mix thoroughly to form a thick paste. Spoon into a pre-used and cleaned zip-lock bag. Cut a little hole out of the corner of the bag and use it to pipe the mixture in crosses on top of the buns (not the way we did it when I was young, but I have to say, so much easier).
Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C/390°F for 15–20mins.
Whilst the buns are in the oven prepare the glaze by mixing all ingredients and dissolving the sugar in the boiling water. Brush this mixture over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven and whilst they are still hot.
March 11, 2013 § 2 Comments
Our new life is settling into itself. A bed has been made out of scrap wood from the recycling centre, a portable oven found in our land lords shed, a table, two chairs, a fridge and no job!… yet.
There is something rather fragile and strange about things when they are just beginning. A humble recipe of uncertainty, insecurity, space to be reflective, waiting, letting go, anticipation, and in this case, much time left to watch the rain. And boy does it rain, heavy thunder on our roof.
The first thing I felt like cooking when I arrived in Darwin were these Oatcakes – probably for their comforting nature. They are halfway between a cracker and a biscuit being both salty and sweet, they are incredible with cheese and even better with a sip of red wine when there is something to celebrate. I found the recipe at Molly Wizenberg’s very enjoyable and always inspiring blog Orangette. Apart from her recipes and beautiful photos, I think what I enjoy most is the honesty in her writing and the courage this takes.
Rather than re-write her recipe I am just going to send you over to her website which you can do by clicking here.
I have always loved cardamom biscuits the most
April 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
I don’t think I have ever made these biscuits the same way twice. They seem to evolve from feeling and what is in the cupboard at the time. Here is a version that is close to what I always start out wanting to make but am usually too stingy or don’t have all the ingredients at hand to pull it off. You can choose to add less almond meal and more flour if you like – the nuttiness makes them very rich.
Recipe for cardamom biscuits
3/4 cup rapadura or brown sugar if you want
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
zest of ½ orange
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup almond meal
¾ cup wholemeal spelt flour sifted
Pre heat oven to 180°C. Cream together butter, rapadura and spices. Add and combine the egg and vanilla. Then stir in the flour, almond meal and baking powder until just combined. You don’t want to over stir once the flour has been added because it will stimulate the gluten and make your biscuits tough
Place spoonfuls on a greased baking tray making sure you allow room for them to spread. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
strawberries and basil
March 7, 2012 § 6 Comments
This recipe is really very special, so much so that I was almost tempted not to share it. I used to make it when I worked at Friendly Beaches Lodge – indeed I even served it to the Prime Minister of Australia, but thats another story.
Recipe for strawberries and grapes with macerated basil sauce (serves around 6)
500g fresh strawberries
300 – 500g green grapes
3 tsp raw sugar
I cup fresh basil leaves loosely packed
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves loosely packed
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup raw sugar
Cut strawberries into quarters and grapes into halves. Place in a bowl and sprinkle 3 teaspoons sugar over the top (for an extra tangy end result drizzle 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar over the fruit as well). Cover with a plate and leave to marinate for a couple of hours.
In the meantime combine the basil, mint and additional sugar in a mortar and pestle. Grind and pumice into a paste. Alternatively, use a food processor or coffee grinder.
Add the lemon juice to make a moist smooth mixture. Allow to sit until sugar dissolves.
Divide the marinated fruit into serving bowls and top with basil mixture.
Serve with pouring cream and be glad I shared it. xx
baked lemon cheesecake with an almond and hazelnut base
September 28, 2011 § 7 Comments
I think simple is best when it comes to cheesecake. Therefore, not much of an introduction needed, except to say I adapted it from here, avoided all the electrical equipment that makes me dread washing up, filled it with lemon rind and changed the base.
For the base
80 g plain biscuits (plain wafers and arnotts variations work well)
1 1/4 cups mix almonds and hazelnuts
150 g non salted butter
Toast the nuts and crush in a mortar and pestle along with the biscuits. Melt the butter and mix with the nuts and biscuits. Push into a lined and greased 22 cm base springform cake tin. Allow to chill in the fridge for half an hour and in the meantime…
… the filling
500 g cream cheese
300 g sour cream
3/4 cup castor sugar
4 smallish to medium eggs
3 tsp vanilla essence
Rind from 1 1/2 lemons
Note, pull the cream cheese and sour cream out of the fridge a couple of hours early to help it soften.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and lemon rind and beat with a hand-mixer until smooth and creamy. Pour onto the base and bake for an hour or until set all the way through. Chill in the fridge et voilà.
Parfaite!! Well except for the little crack. But thats a sure way to tell its homemade.
I can’t help imagining what it might taste like with rosemary, or maybe lavender (not so simple after all)… does that make me strange?
September 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Lilly Pilly has become a somewhat popular garden ornamental here in Melbourne. A beautiful dense green rainforest tree native to coastal Australia with white flowers that turn into deep pink berries. It was with little surprise that a friend and I spotted a heavy laden tree on the side of the road on an afternoon walk. A convenient plastic bag stuffed in a pocket for just such an occasion made a perfect vessel to carry the fruits home once picked.
We ventured to make Lilly Pilly Jam. I have to say the end result left much to be desired. I think this is mainly because we didn’t have enough pectin and ended up boiling and boiling it to try to get it to set… as a result it ended up tasting more of sugar than anything else. Next time I think adding some apple and more lemon seeds might be a good idea to help it set. And perhaps the laborious task of de-seeding each berry might be worthwhile too.
What we did
Washed the liily pilly fruits and removed any stalks etc
Placed them in a saucepan with enough water to just cover the berries (next time I think I would add less water)
Allowed to boil for about half an hour
Strained, and returned the liquid to the saucepan, adding 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup liquid
Added juice of 1 lemon to every 4 cups liquid and tied the seeds up in a cloth and placed in the saucepan
Gently boiled until set when tested on a spoon in the fridge
Transferred into sterilised jars