Hello friends! You may or may have noticed that I disappeared. I assure you it was for very good reasons, one of which you can see….the new look! It was time. I’m one of those people who needs a change quite often and with all the issues I was having with my mail delivery, hosting problems, and then just the web traffic issues and basically having no time to work on any of it, I enlisted expert help. Rather than post while the site was being worked on, I thought I would take the time to chill and catch up with some back up posts. That was the plan… Continue reading
Happy New Year, lovely friends! I hope 2016 is off to a fantastic start for all of you; brimming with projects, resolutions, plans and prosperity. Our New Year’s Eve was quiet as usual. I think I was asleep by 11.44 pm, and I know the time because my brother texted me from Texas, soon after their New Year arrived, and I was able to text back with sleep laden, bleary eyes.
I can’t remember any exciting New Years Eve in a long time. It’s not like I did all that much when I was young and carefree, but I really can’t remember celebrating in any late night, festivities manner. Boy, am I getting old.
I did have plans to host a New Year’s Day lunch but a couple of days before hand, I got some sad news of my uncle passing away. He was quite dear to me and it just seemed wrong to throw a party when my heart was not in it. I cancelled the event and my friends were all very gracious and wonderful about it. I plan to reschedule as soon as I can.
Monday morning was a lesson in reality; the reality of back to work and school and the knowledge that there are no more holidays for a while. I don’t work a regular schedule but man, was I depressed. I’ve always enjoyed the holidays. The weather, the parties, the shopping but especially the time off.
Being at home without a schedule or deadline and having my husband home for 3 days every week was amazing. We did nothing and enjoyed every second of it. We did take a trip up to Idaho Springs, to hike around the lake at the base of Mount Evans, over the weekend. It was just the two of us and it was so exhilarating and just gorgeous to be surrounded by all the beauty. We walked across the frozen lake and marvelled at the layer of thick ice holding us up, and hiked through scented pine trees and firs.
The sky was the bluest blue with barely a wisp of a cloud; the air was brisk and refreshing; and the snow glinted like sparkly glitter freshly spilled from the heavens. I couldn’t resist the sparkles and scooped up a handful. It was cold, dry and glittery; the crystals shone in my hands like diamonds. I blew lightly and they fluttered away, gleaming in the sunlight as they danced away.
The sound of our footsteps on the snow was deafening. You’d think that soft snow wouldn’t make so much noise, but slightly packed snow and hiking boots make for some loud, squeaking sounds! We didn’t realise the noise until we stepped onto the pavement to walk back to the car and our ears were revolting from the silence.
Sunday was spent at home getting ready for the week ahead, cleaning out the garage, the kitchen, changing stuff around and watching the divisional championships for football. My Denver Broncos are almost there if they can hold on 3 games and win the SuperBowl!
I started this Beef Nehari right after a late breakfast and stuck it in the oven. It braised all day on low while we went about our day. After the garage was rearranged, the kitchen sorted out and organised, the clutter decluttered….somewhat, and the last game of the night on the telly, we sat down to steaming bowls of beef nehari and hot naan. Comfort food at its simplest and best.
I’m all for balanced meals and all but sometimes, a bowl of meat and bread cannot be messed with. I wish I could say there are some green accompaniments to this but there really aren’t, unless you are counting the cilantro, mint and limes that dress this baby up. Herbs count, right?
Beef Nehari is a famous breakfast/brunch dish in India and Pakistan. The vats of beef or lamb shanks and feet are simmered over night, ready for breakfast the next morning. My father recalled how it was his job, as a youngster, to run down to the local restaurant where nehari had been bubbling all night and bring back the coveted curry for breakfast.
Traditionally, this is made with lamb/mutton shanks and feet. I don’t like either. The smell of feet cooking on the days my father requested this was quite unbearable. I usually spent the day out. A slightly updated nehari uses beef or lamb shanks; gelatinous but with chunks of tender meat, this one I can manage to eat. I like the broth from the feet nehari because it is a delicious bone broth, flavoured with warm spices but I am not a fan of the fatty, gelatinous meat from the feet.
This one is a bit more substantial with the broth being thickened to more of a stew consistency. I also used plain beef with bones instead of shanks because I don’t really the gooey meat from the legs. I know, I know. But this recipe is good for everyone; for those who like gooey meat and for those who have an aversion to gooey meat. This is a flavourful stew with big chunks of tender meat, warm spices and a thick gravy. A squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of fresh ginger, cilantro and mint and it is ready to be mopped up with warm, buttery naan.
This is perfect winter food. The meat cooks slowly in the oven and is low maintenance. Stop by to check the water level every now and then and give it a stir. Addition of fried onions and a thickener like a flour slurry or corn starch, thickens the stew up before serving.
This can be made using a slow cooker and I have made it like that a few times. But I have to justify my Le Creuset purchases so I bypassed the slow cooker this time and broke out the heavy duty dutch oven.
Serves: 6 servings
- 3 pounds/1.5kg large beef/lamb chunks with bone or beef/mutton shanks
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin, ground
- 1 tablespoon coriander, ground
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cayenne chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 6 cups of water
- 1 large onion, sliced thinly and fried
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 6 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon mace
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups of water
- salt to taste
- fresh ginger, julienned
- naan for serving
- Preheat the oven to 300F/120C
- Wash and dry the meat.
- In a large dutch oven, add the oil and brown the meat.
- Even browning isn't necessary, just get some colour on it.
- Remove the meat and pour out the oil if more than a tablespoon.
- Otherwise, add the coriander, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric and garlic and ginger.
- Toss the meat around in the spices and cook a minute.
- Add the 6 cups of water and stir, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to deglaze.
- Bring the pot up to a boil, cover with the lid and place in the oven.
- Let the meat cook slowly for about 2-3 hours.
- While the meat is in the oven, have the fried onions ready and grind all the remaining spices.
- Make a slurry with the ¼ cup of flour and 1 cup of water.
- After 2-3 hours, slowly remove the dutch oven and add the fried onions with their oil, the ground spice mixture, 1 cup of water and the flour slurry.
- Stir carefully and then cover and cook for another hour till the meat is tender and the gravy is thick.
- How long it takes to tenderise the meat depends on the meat and for me, altitude.
- Generally, at 5600 feet/1706m, it takes me a long tome to get meat tender. That's why I use a pressure cooker most of the time.
- But sometimes, you just want the slow cook flavour and then you have to put aside some time.
- The meat took about 4 hours to get really tender and fall off the bone soft.
- By this time the gravy was rich and thick.
- If you are at sea level, check your meat at the 2 hour mark and then if it's getting soft, add the flour slurry, onions and spices.
- Cook for another hour, for a total of 3-3½ hours.
- When it's time to serve, taste for salt and add as needed.
- Put ginger slivers, cilantro, mint and limes on the table for guests to garnish as desired.
- Serve with warm naan.
Back to the grind stone now. My time off will be ending soon but I think I have till the end of January before it really kicks in again. Then all the cooking starts again. It has been really nice to just cook for home the past few weeks; no stress, deadlines, menus to arrange. I’ve cooked what I felt like cooking and if I didn’t want to, we ate out.
Our eating out is coming to an end as I have put my husband on a diet and I’m joining him too so he has some support. We’ll see how that progresses! He has a terrible sweet tooth. After dinner last night, he asked for some gluten free cookies we have at home. I told him, no because of the added sugar. After about 15 minutes, while we are watching a show on tv, he yells out “I want just one cookie!” I just about died laughing, he’s hilarious. I made him a nice cup of tea instead.
How’s your New Year going?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by loved ones and lots of delicious food. Did you get what you wanted? After we reach a certain age, Christmas presents must not have the same excitement? I don’t know though, I’m just guessing. I love getting presents and I’m old! It’s always exciting to me to open up the bag or unwrap the wrapping paper with baited breath, waiting to get the first glimpse of the goodies inside.
We were up bright and early Christmas morning to start off our day with our own ongoing tradition, the first showing of whatever the hit movie is that year. This year, Star Wars VIII. As you know we are huge fans so waiting a week to watch the movie was torture. However, I’ve done an opening night movie for Star Wars back when they had their 20th Anniversary. The weirdos that turn up for the opening night; I wasn’t about to put myself through that again. So, we waited, and it was totally worth the wait. LOVED the movie and cannot wait for the next one.
In the rush to get up and get to the movie theatre and due to some bad procrastination the day before, I forgot to pull out the chicken from the freezer for dinner. So, in true “A Christmas Story” fashion we ended up in the only open restaurant close by, a Chinese place. No, we didn’t have duck with the head still attached along with badly sung Christmas carols but we did have some bad Chinese food nevertheless. Apparently, many others forgot to take out their frozen turkeys/rib roast since it seemed like everyone in Broomfield was there. When we arrived there were a fair number of people but as we ordered and got our food, the stream of people coming through the door was never ending. The bad part; only one server. She was worked out of her little apron, but then family members started pitching in. We decided it was time to leave. I couldn’t fathom how many people, on Christmas, choose to not cook, won’t cook or can’t cook…or maybe they just like less than mediocre Chinese food on special holidays. These weren’t just couples and such, while we were waiting on our food, a family came in and asked for a table for 11! For 11?!! Why aren’t they cooking a family dinner at home??
After our not very good Chinese food, we went home and collapsed on the sofa. Steaming cups of hot cocoa kept us warm as the snow that was supposed to fall in the morning, finally arrived. We watched TV, drifted in and out of slumber, drank tea and cocoa and enjoyed a cosy evening at home. The snow kept falling; in fact, it fell all night and we woke up to about 4-5 inches. All the melted roads from the last snow storm were all snow packed and icy again. The weather has been so cold that nothing has melted and there is an ice rink right as you reach the bottom of our driveway. This morning it was 6F. Yeah, single digits.
Christmas Eve we were invited to dinner at a lovely friend’s house. It had been so long since I’d seen my friends, I was really looking forward to it. As I lay in bed that morning, my mind whirred away trying to come up with something to make with the ripe persimmons I had sitting on my kitchen counter. We had eaten a few fresh but persimmons can be very tannic and that can be off putting, especially to kids. I wanted to use the rest up in a dessert of some fashion.
Pudding, trifle, cake, muffins, cupcakes….all these ideas went through my mind. Since I had only 4 persimmons left, it had to be some sort of filling that was complemented with something else and something the children would eat. But wait, I was headed to a party that evening, I could bring a dessert. That opened up the idea of cake again. I don’t make too many cakes, they never get eaten at our house and I get stuck with them every time. But dinner parties are something else, food gets eaten at parties. I jumped out of bed and got to work.
Every year I put a traditional Buche de Noel on my bucket list, and every year it gets thrown out with the dirty water. This is not a traditional Buche de Noel, but it’s a Yule log of some sort. I love roll cakes, they can be a bit tricky but I love them anyway. They are pretty and easy to portion and cut, not to mention delicious! I have a couple of roll cakes on the website.
The persimmons are cooked down a little to concentrate flavours and remove the tannic quality. They are then mixed with some heavy cream, a drop of rose water is added and then filled inside a pistachio sponge cake. Allowing the cake to sit for a few hours before serving makes the sponge soft and saturated from the cream and it just melts in your mouth. The hint of rose water and the pistachio cake add an exotic flair to the beautiful persimmons.
Serves: 10 pieces
- Sheet Cake:
- ¾ cup all purpose/plain flour
- 3 tablespoons pistachios, ground fine
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 large eggs
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cups persimmon chunks (about 4 whole, fresh ones)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon rose water, optional
- Ground pistachios for decoration
- Dried or fresh rose buds for decoration
- Persimmon Filling:
- Put the chunks of persimmons and ½ cup water into a small saucepan.
- Put on low heat and bring to a simmer.
- Let the persimmons soften and break down, mash down with a fork to help them along.
- Add the ¼ cup sugar and let simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
- It will take about 20-25 minutes till the persimmons are cooked and the liquid has evaporated.
- Put into a small bowl and place in the fridge to cool.
- In the meantime, make the sheet cake.
- Once the cake is cooled and the persimmon filling has cooled, whip the heavy cream.
- In the bowl of a clean mixer bowl, add the 1 cup of cream, once the cream has thickened a little, add the tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until thick.
- You want the cream quite stiff so it will hold the persimmon filling and stay firm in the cake as well.
- Fold in the persimmon filling and add the rose water if using.
- CAUTION: rose water is strong so start with ½ teaspoon. Too much will over power the cake to just rose water tasting.
- Sheet Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Grease and line with parchment paper a ½ size sheet pan (17.5 x 11.5 inches)
- Sift the flour, baking powder and ground pistachios together a few times.
- Keep aside until needed along with the sifter.
- In a saucepan or a microwaveable bowl, heat the milk and butter together till butter if melted and milk is hot.
- I zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time until the butter and milk are hot.
- Watch carefully as it can boil over.
- Keep aside until needed.
- In the bowl of a mixer, add the eggs and the sugar and which until pale, thick and frothy.
- This whisking is key to a sponge.
- The eggs have to be whipped sufficiently.
- Anything under whipped; the cake will not rise enough.
- The consistency of the whipped eggs and sugar have to be like softly whipped cream.
- Once the egg-sugar mixture is ready, sift the flour over the batter in 3 batches.
- Fold in carefully but completely.
- Bring the milk and butter up to a steam again (zap in microwave for 20 seconds)
- Pour the hot milk mixture all at once into the batter.
- Fold the batter thoroughly.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is light golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed gently.
- While the cake is in the oven, place a clean tea towel on the counter or table and dust liberally with powdered sugar.
- Once the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake and flip the cake carefully onto the sugared tea towel.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly before removing the paper liner.
- Once you remove the paper liner, place a large piece of foil over the top.
- Use a sheet tray as a support and place over the foil.
- Place a hand under the towel and cake, flip the cake over carefully, so the top the cake is now facing you to be filled.
- It's easier to fill the cake and roll if the cake isn't on the sheet tray so carefully remove the cake from the sheet tray on the foil and lay on table.
- Remove the tea towel from the top.
- Fill with 1½ cups of the filling.
- Spread the filling evenly over the top, not too thickly though.
- Carefully lift up one the short edges of the cake and start rolling tightly.
- Use the foil as leverage and a way to help roll and keep the roll compact and tight.
- Use one hand to hold the foil and the other to keep the cake tight as it rolls.
- It will crack a little at the beginning but the cracking will reduce as the roll gets bigger.
- Just keep the roll tight and compact at the beginning even if it crack.
- Shape with your hands as you are rolling.
- Once the cake is rolled, keep it covered and rolled in the foil.
- Refrigerate for an hour in the foil before serving.
- Remove the foil, use the remainder of the filling to cover the top of the cake lightly.
- Dust with ground pistachios and dried roses if desired.
So, what was the best thing you ate over the Christmas holiday? Let me tell you, for us, it wasn’t the Chinese food! This cake was pretty good though, as was the dinner at my friend’s and my White Chicken Chilli that we had on Boxing Day.
I cannot believe 2015 whizzed by in a blur. I am quite certain I was writing this very sentence not too long ago! Be that as it may, the fact is 2016 will be here very soon. I want to wish you all a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year. I thank you for your friendship, your encouragement and your support. Here’s to many, more years together!
Happy New Year!
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…
My last post inspired so many lovely comments! Thank you all for being so sweet and it’s great to see that I’m not the only one who struggles to read on a regular basis. You’ll be proud to know that I finished a whole book the other night and started a new one last night! Woo hoo! I’m on a roll.
As nice and calm as the last post was, I’m going to raise a stink in this one. Actually, it’s more of a “discuss with me and others”/spirited rant. And I know we’ve discussed the etiquette of party attending and hosting before but I have new things to add. Funny how these posts come up shortly after I’ve held a party…
First off I’d like to ask you all, since many of you drink, would you go to a party whose hosts don’t drink? Is it a deal breaker for you or you think you are going to have a terrible time at the party? It’s a question that nags me a bit when I entertain friends who drink but we don’t. They seem to have a good time but it makes me wonder.
Over the weekend I had a few work friends come over for brunch. They all know my husband and I don’t drink and it doesn’t seem to bother them. In fact, between the pork and alcohol, there’s plenty of fodder for endless jokes at my expense. The ones who were present seem to enjoy the food and company. I think. I don’t know.
So, every year, I host a New Year’s get together for friends but I also invite new friends, acquaintances, and neighbours. It’s a way to get to know someone a bit better. This year it was a couple of blogger friends, some close friends, work friends and friends I met through a British club.
I sent out the invites two weeks ahead of time, hoping for RSVPs in a timely manner. Many were good about it, some not so much. And I’m going to rant because the offenders don’t read my blog anyway. So, you get invited to a party two weeks ahead of time and you RSVP the night before with a “we’re in the mountains and won’t be able to make it” WTF?? Then another one was “we’re having work done on the house and we’re downtown” (barely 20 minutes from my house), also the night before. Then there’s the one who avoids even mentioning he’s coming or not…a vague “I think so”. Then has the nerve to say he’ll be there (with family) and doesn’t show up and doesn’t call or text to say he won’t be there. I honestly don’t mind if they don’t want to come, but please have the decency to let me know ahead of time!
When I receive an invite, I check my calendar, check with my husband to make sure he doesn’t have anything going on and then I RSVP. I don’t wait around for something better to come along and I don’t plan to go to the mountains on that day! In fact, that day then becomes booked. Am I the only one who does this??
Why do I bother? I think from now on, I’ll take a page from my husband’s book and just be antisocial. Do people not realise how much work goes into making one dish let alone 6? Or how time consuming it is to make 12 cupcakes and then 4 other desserts? How are they so tacky to diss an invite at the last possible minute? I am so disappointed in people, not just people but people who I thought were friends! Needless to say, those “friends” just got unfriended on Facebook. Oh well, it makes my life easier to not worry about entertaining and save some money too.
Any thoughts on this matter from you guys? I know we’ve discussed this in a past post, but it really irritated me how these “friends” acted. On a positive note, I got tonnes of European chocolate and flowers 🙂 from the guests who had the decency to RSVP AND turn up!
Anyway, that’s my two cents, I guess I just feel a bit hurt that people don’t value other people’s time and effort (and Karen Harris, you are not included in this rant, I know your reasons 🙂 )
The party, work and an event I worked last week kind of put me behind on my blog schedule. I was scrambling to find something to post. I haven’t had time to cook and photograph for the blog for the past few weeks.
On Saturday, I was at work doing the Thermador demos and I made a blood orange focaccia. It turned out so well that I thought I’d share it with you. Excuse the photos, I only had my iPhone with me that day. Blood oranges are in season right now and even when I do my demos, I try and use seasonal fruit and educate the customers on seasonal fruit and vegetables as well!
Focaccia is great any which way. I often make an olive oil and rosemary one because the customers love bread. The Thermador steam oven does a fantastic job producing a golden crust and a soft and pillowy inside. You don’t need a steam oven to make this (though I really recommend one, they’re fantastic.) A pan of water in the oven when the focaccia is baking should add some humidity to your oven.
This isn’t one of those time consuming focaccia either where you start with biga and let it proof for a 100 hours. It’s pretty quick and easy to assemble and bake. It’s also a great and different way to try out this season’s blood oranges. You can even do a mixed citrus focaccia, not only would that be strikingly beautiful, it will be pretty delicious too.
Serves: 12-16 pieces
- 3 cups/450g all purpose/plain flour
- 2¼ teaspoon yeast, fast acting, one envelope
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ cups/355ml warm water
- 2 medium sized blood oranges, thinly sliced
- two rosemary sprigs
- flaked sea salt, optional
- flavoured raw sugar, optional
- If you are certain that your yeast is fresh, and not expired, you can mix the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil all together in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough attachment.
- If uncertain about the yeast, proof the yeast in 1 cup of warm water and sugar to make sure it gets all frothy and active.
- Mix the flour mixture with the dough hook and slowly add 1 cup of water.
- You may not need all the water.
- You want a soft dough but not too sticky.
- It shouldn't stay in a ball when you place it in a bowl, it should want to spread out.
- Use the mixer to knead the dough until it is smooth and soft.
- Place in an oiled bowl, covered with a towel and someplace warm.
- Near the oven is the warmest spot in my kitchen.
- The dough will take a 60-90 minutes to double in size.
- Here in Colorado, it really only takes me 45 minutes and the dough is ready to shape (low air pressure at our altitude of 5500 feet)
- Sea levellers might have to wait closer to 90.
- Once the dough is a nice size and risen, grease a sheet pan, cookie sheet, brownie pan, and lay the dough on the pan, stretching it out to make a rectangular pizza.
- Stretch and shape gently.
- Place the sliced blood oranges over the top.
- Arrange decoratively or just throw them on there.
- Scatter some rosemary needles all over the top.
- Allow the focaccia to rise for another 20-30 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400F/200C
- Once the focaccia is risen the second time,
- Sprinkle some flavoured sugar or flaked sea salt over the oranges.
- The sugar will caramelise and turn the oranges into a candy like rind.
- The sea salt adds great favour too.
- Place a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and place the focaccia pan on the rack above.
- Bale for 30-40 minutes or until the focaccia is nicely golden brown and the oranges have brown edges and are juicy.
- Allow to cool, and the slice into pieces.
So, this was delicious straight up. We just ate it as a snack and the clients ate it as they wandered the showroom. The focaccia baking is the best smell in the world in the showroom! Draws the people to the kitchen 🙂
Hope you’ll make use of the citrus that’s available right now, at least in the Northern Hemi. I’m jealous of all the berries the Southerners are enjoying.
Have a great week, and let me know your thoughts!