Not only is today’s post the 250th post on my site, but it’s also this little blog’s 4th anniversary! Thinking back on it, there really should be a lot more posts, but I was pretty laid back about them back in the day. I’m just totally surprised that I even made it to 4 years!
As much as I love writing this blog, developing the recipes and taking the photos, it is a lot of work and so hard to keep up. I think everyday for the last 4 years, I’ve asked what state of mind was I in that I agreed to do this! And everyday for the last 4 years I’ve thought about giving it all up. Then, of course, that day I will make something that turns out phenomenal and my first thought is, “I need to share this!” So, there you have it. I can’t stop even if I want to.
And I won’t. I have plans for my little piece of web and slowly but surely, we are getting there. None of this would be possible without the support of all of you, my readers and friends. I am thankful for the friendships I’ve made, the wonderful blogging community, and the home cooks who actually try my recipes! I appreciate every one of you. Thank you for a wonderful 4 years.
So, no rants today, or soul searching questions, just a light post 🙂 I thought maybe I’d share a few random tidbits about myself. I get asked all kinds of questions when I am at work and it’s interesting because I don’t know how to answer them half the time!
Last weekend, somebody asked me which cuisine I like the most, or rather if I owned a restaurant, what would I serve? To me, that’s two different questions. There isn’t a cuisine I hate; there is something I enjoy in every cuisine. At home, I make a lot of Indian food, and that maybe because I grew up eating it, it’s comfort food for me. I love it that my husband never complains that we eat so much Indian food! And that’s probably because I also cook a variety of things and cuisines. There’s always something different at our house 🙂
Would I move back to London if the opportunity arose? I love Colorado; I love living here, I love the scenery, the weather and the people are great too. However, if I was given the opportunity to move back to London, yes. I would go back in a heart beat. For someone who has travelled so much at a young age, moved continents, countries and States more times then I’d like to remember, It’s home to me and always will be. I want my children to know it and love it as well.
Having an Indian ancestry but being born in Saudi Arabia, growing up in England and then moving to the US, I find it hard to “belong”. I am not very Indian, my thoughts and ideas and upbringing were all done in England. I know very little about India. When I meet Indian people, I have nothing in common with them and they just don’t understand why! Of course, the younger generation is different but usually Indians of my age, have grown up in India. We think quite differently. Once in a while, I will find that rare person I get along with famously.
On the same lines as ancestry and upbringing, one of my most detested questions is “where are you from?” I don’t know how to answer that. When, after thinking a long time (because I know they are looking at my head scarf and my colouring) I say England, I can see their disbelief. Then they say, “you don’t have a British accent” I don’t know what to say to that either. Me having or not having an accent doesn’t discount the fact that I LIVED there and am as British as the next British person, so I don’t know why that question/statement matters. I am bilingual but I can also read and/or write 4 others. Maybe, that’s why my accent isn’t noticeable or is totally warped.
I am not a fan of smoothies. I think it’s the texture.
I love chocolate straight up. But don’t find all chocolate treats such as cakes, fudges and brownies, etc as enticing.
I love a chocolate malt with french fries for dipping.
I am obsessed with coffee and coffee shops and roasters. I have driven an hour to try a coffee shop that got rave reviews.
I don’t like anything made from coffee, only exception being, tiramisu.
I am also a coffee snob. At work we have very expensive coffee and espresso machines that make fabulous coffee. Unfortunately, they are filled with bulk Starbucks coffee and I refuse to drink that “coffee” (I go to a coffee roasters around the corner to get my fix.)
My dream vacation would be a trip to Europe visiting all the kaffee houses, especially in Hungary and Austria.
I want a food truck.
I want to go to a dinner party where the food is SO good that I’ll think about it when I go home and for years after. I have memories of about 3 or 4 parties from my youth that the food was so memorable, I salivate now when I think about it.
One of my biggest pet peeves at dinner parties, apart from the ones I’ve already complained about, that is, is when the guests love a dish so much that they insist on knowing the recipe, right there and then. It is so hard to not be rude! First off, the hostess is always busy, and we are busy talking with other guests and don’t want you to monopolise the conversation about a recipe. Another thing, what if we don’t want to give out the recipe!! I don’t have a problem with friends asking because I can always talk about it to them later, but on many occasions, I’ve had guests bring other people that I don’t know well and I have literally been harassed all evening over one of my recipes by these new people.
OK, that’s probably enough because I have a feeling that my pet peeves would over whelm this post! I’ll just say that I have a problem with stupid people and everything they bring with them 🙂
Today’s celebratory creation is a very simple one, and is doubling as a Valentine’s Day treat. Lately, I find myself wanting less fussiness and more simplicity. I want rustic and sophistication blended together, a rustic sophistication. I almost just made a pie, because that’s what I was craving but I had bought these beautiful blood oranges and wanted to use them while they were in season.
I happened to be reading one of my favourite European baking books, Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers and came across an orange torte that sounded delicious and simple. Though it’s a bit fussy in its preparation, it’s really quite a basic cake or torte, actually. I changed a few things, mainly the citrus but I also made a smaller cake. We find it hard to finish huge cakes, especially when I’m experimenting all the time.
This is the perfect torte to show off blood oranges. The torte is moist and the flavour of the blood oranges shines through, bright and sunny. The curd filling is not overpowering but light and fruity, thanks to some whipped cream in there.
The candied blood oranges used as garnish are easy to make and look beautiful on the cake. They taste great too, if you like candied peel.
I left the cake in a natural state. At high altitude, baking cakes is a tricky business. Our cakes never come out the same way twice. This torte probably will be level at sea level but at my 5500 feet, it really sank in the middle! My fault, I didn’t watch the egg whites and beat them too stiff, and so the end result was a cake with a sunken middle. At first, I was bothered by it, but after it cooled, I saw it was actually really beautiful, my rustic sophistication.
The blood orange torte is filled inside and I put a thin layer as icing all over. Decorate with the candied orange and for my celebratory cake, I added some flowers and candles 🙂
Make this! It is delicious, even if it deflates on you. Your special someone will adore it, especially if they are a citrus lover.
Serves: 6-8 pieces
- ½ cup dried breadcrumbs, plus more for the pan
- 1 cup/115g ground almonds
- 5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
- ⅔ cups/135g sugar
- Grated zest of ½ blood orange
- 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
- BLOOD ORANGE CURD
- ¾ cup/150g sugar
- Grated zest of 1 blood orange
- ½ cup/118ml fresh blood orange juice
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons/55g unsalted butter
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ½ cup/118ml heavy whipping cream
- CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
- 1 blood orange, sliced very thinly
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup/175ml water
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Lightly butter a 7 inch/18cm springform pan and line the bottom with a parchment round.
- Dust the sides and bottom with some breadcrumbs.
- Tap out the excess crumbs and set pan aside.
- In a food processor, add the ground almonds and bread crumbs and process till finely ground, almost to a powder. Set aside.
- Beat the yolks and a ¼ cup the sugar in a medium bowl with a hand mixer until thick and pale.
- About 4 minutes and then beat in the blood orange zest and juice.
- Using clean beaters or a stand mixer, add thee egg whites and beat until soft peaks form.
- Add the remaining sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form and are shiny.
- Fold about ¼ of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten the mixture,
- Add in the almond-breadcrumb mixture and fold in.
- Add the rest of the egg whites, folding in until batter is combined.
- Spread evenly into the pan.
- It will fill up the pan almost to the top.
- Bake until the centre is springy and firm, about 35 minutes.
- Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edges and loosen the cake.
- Remove the cake carefully by removing the sides of the pan.
- Remove the cake from the bottom cake plate and peel off the paper.
- Place on a rack until completely cooled.
- BLOOD ORANGE CURD
- Whisk the sugar, blood orange zest and juice, lemon juice, butter, egg yolks and corn starch together in a medium pan.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a full boil .
- Let stand and cool completely.
- Can be made ahead and kept in the fridge to cool.
- If you want to assemble the torte the same day, cool the curd by pouring it into a bowl that's been placed in a larger bowl of ice.
- Stir occasionally to cool.
- This will make more curd than is needed, but it can be kept to use on toast or scones.
- When it's time to assemble the torte, whip the heavy cream till nice and stiff.
- Beat until quite stiff since the curd will thin it out.
- Add ½ cup of the blood orange curd and beat until mixed.
- Slice the cake in half or thirds if possible.
- Carefully separate the layers.
- Add some blood orange curd as a filling, about ¼ cup or so.
- If you were able to cut into thirds, fill with more curd in the second layer.
- With the remaining bit of curd icing, spread it all around the cake, if desired.
- I like the rustic, somewhat naked look of the cake.
- Top with fresh blood oranges or candied blood oranges.
- CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
- Place the water and sugar into a medium pan and bring to a boil.
- Once the sugar is all dissolved, add the blood oranges into the simple syrup.
- Lower the heat to medium low and simmer the oranges until they are soft.
- It will take about 45-50 minutes.
- Remove the blood oranges and cool on rack until cooled and dried.
- They make take a day or two to dry so plan ahead if you are using these.
Once again, thank you for your friendship and support and for reading my ravings for 4 years!
Here’s to many more…