A daughter to be married

Hannah is my beautiful 20 year old daughter who is getting married to Luke Crouch at the end of this year.

To celebrate her birthday and engagement we had a family dinner at a great Italian home style trattoria ‘ Bannerman’s’ in Glenhaven, which is a hinterland suburb of Sydney.

The food here was wonderfully authentic, the service was truly welcoming and the pride of the establishment was heartfelt. They also hold a growers market in their car park once a month followed by a long lunch.

After delicious platters of antipasto, pasta, spatchcock & beef we headed back home to sing and cut cake. Not just any cake, but one inspired by Emma Galloway from blog site  ‘My Darling Lemon Thyme’.

I have been in awe of Emma’s genius since I started blogging. When I saw her recent post on flourless chocolate wedding cake, decorated with meringue icing and purple lisianthus, that she made for her own wedding, I was taken.

I modified the recipe just a little by using less butter in the frosting  – it still worked perfectly and as lisianthus were temporarily unavailable at the Sydney flower Markets due to Mothers Day, I used my homegrown pink iceberg roses instead.

The cake making was time consuming but I enjoyed every minute of it & the cake was the talk of the evening- a perfect way to end the Italian meal and bring the celebration back home.

.  .  . Guess who’s making the Wedding Cake???

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Love, gratitude and sweet things

This post is a compilation of three separate food experiences this week.

The first is a dessert I made for my parents on Wednesday night. I love being able to utilise seasonal produce in my kitchen and this weeks fresh figs were ripe for the picking.

A whole box of these gorgeous little bursts of flavour and texture for a few dollars at my local greengrocer, Martellis was to good to pass by.

Another foodie thing I love is being able to eat something just as you like it, not as it it should be or as it’s expected to be but just as you like it. . . allow me to explain.

Remember when you were seven years old and you ‘licked the bowl’ as a cake was being made. My best friend and I did this and vowed it definitely tasted better uncooked. We further added that when we grew up our cakes would be served uncooked, a la pudding style! I recently had the same experience with my step-son when we were making a cheesecake mix for his birthday and have since been longing for that sweet smooth creamy mix to be consumed in an appropriate dining experience. The opportunity presented itself with the prospect of my parents coming to dinner mid-week and my lovely little figs crying out to be consumed in the next day or two. I was to make a sweet cheese mixture to be eaten with figs & peaches.

Sweet  Ricotta  with  Fresh  Figs  &  Peaches

400g ricotta cheese(I used low fat on this occasion but I think full cream is yummier)

2 eggs

lemon syrup(juice of 1 lemon cooked over low heat with 1/4 cup sugar)

Combine ricotta & eggs in food processor until smooth and gradually add cooled lemon syrup

Serve with platter of seasonal fruit.

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The second experience was a lovely surprise from an ex-student of mine, a very beautiful lady called Antoinette who comes from the Philippines. She had remembered that I liked her coffee jelly dessert and had made a generous batch for me to take home to my family. I just love it when people remember what brings joy to others and the spontaneously act on this memory, presenting you with some un-expected delicious morsel to savour in your own time.

This jelly is made from gelatin & coffee(instant & no sugar) and set in a tray, then cut into cubes and placed in a mixture of evaporated skim milk and a little condensed milk. Refrigerate.

The magic happens when the coffee jelly and milks combine overnight, the coffee flavour infusing the milk.

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And the third sweet thing wrapped with gratitude was a food gift from Luke(my 19 year old daughter’s boyfriend). One afternoon as he arrived into my kitchen he gave me a ripe banana that he thought I could use in my cooking . . . he is so lovely! So this morning when I was having one of my  frequent ‘I just have to cook something moments’, I thought banana and I thought muffins. The only problem was I got to the end of the muffin making, the muffins were actually baking when I realised I had forgotten to add the banana.. . which was still in the fridge. However they were still great-oatbran & honey work harmoniously together with whatever flavour combinations you use.

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Banana,  date   &  apricot  oatbran  muffins

1 ripe mashed banana(remember to include)

1/4 cup each chopped apricots & dates

1 cup oatbran

1&1/4 cup SR flour

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp baking powder

(seed mix for topping – optional)

Combine all ingredients except seeds together in bowl until combined.

Bake at 160 degrees in muffin papers/tin sprinkled with seeds for 20 mins or until cooked & golden.

Ginger Sticky Parkin

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Just the name of this alone had me in a state of instant intrigue. Who calls a cake a ‘parkin’?

As I sit here with my favourite red benzer dessert bowl full of the stuff, I am still deciding whether I actually like it!

I definitely like the name. I definitely like the ingredient list. . . more intrigue with use of backstrap molasses. I love the purchase of a new ingredient, so with my recently acquired Berenberg molasses and a recipe from Delicious Magazine that my lovely neighbour Barb was about to throw, I was ready.

The ginger parkin was fun to make, forming a thick brown mix that did not present as anything vaguely edible. With an edibility rating scale scoring no more than a 2.5., the joy was definitely in the mixing of butter with the sugar, molasses & the adding of spelt flour was comfort cooking transporting you back to Anglo baking traditions of the 17th Century.

The verdict of the parkin was weighted between various family members. Here’s a taste of their comments:

“Would taste good with a cup of chai tea, I’m not just saying that to be nice”

“Ginger, no way!”

“Will try some a bit later mum”

“Its really great mum. I like it”

And from me now that I have finished my sampling “Very  nice with a good scoop of vanilla ice-cream, followed by a chai tea”

However all this aside, we all need to try & do new things and enjoy the process of doing so. In a world that is so results orientated let’s never forget the fun of just getting in and having a go.

And at this point a special thanks to my husband for his awesome photos and for never complaining about having to pull out the camera on demand.. .Love you hun.

 Ginger  Sticky Parkin 

1 cup wholemeal spelt flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup black strap or regular molasses

125g unsalted butter

1 cup rapadura or brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees and line a slice tray with baking paper.

In a bowl combine butter, sugar & molasses and gently melt in microwave. Mix with spoon and then add all dry ingredients until combined.

Combine milk and egg together in cup and add in to parkin mix.

Pour into cake tin and bake for 30-40 mins or until tests clean with skewer.

(recipe adapted from June 2011 edition of Delicious magazine, credit to Barossa foodie Sherie Hausler)