Saturday, May 27, 2006

Finnish Buttermilk Cake

In another Melbourne food blog, Tomatom talks about the sad plight of being served a tea bag in lieu of a proper pot of tea in a place calling itself a tearoom. A good pot of leaf tea is such a fine thing. Lately I've needed to wake my small girl up from her extensive afternoon nap (I believe more that 3 hours leads to trouble in the evening). As a salve to her grumpy state we have afternoon tea. We have what ever cake or biscuit is in the house (or cheese and dried fruit if there isn't), and share a pot of tea. I guess you could say Hannah really has milk with tea (just a drop to faintly colour the milk). She so enjoys the ritual of making the tea. Also she has the important duty of tea-strainer placement).

Yesterday we had some of this cake:

Finnish Buttermilk Cake

2 ½ cup plain flour
1 ½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ tsp bicarb
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground clove
2 tsp grated orange rind
½ cup melted butter
1 ¾ cup butter milk

Sift dry ingredients, make a well in bowl and add wet ingredients. Pour into greased and sugared (using 1 tsp of castor sugar) 23cm ring or gugelhopf tin.

Bake 1 hour in 180°C oven.

Dust with icing sugar

Friday, May 26, 2006

time for a new kitchen

No food today, I've decided to record my current crappy kitchen to celebrate finally getting the installation date for the new one. When we moved into this house nearly five years ago I vowed the kitchen would go before anything else got done. But more important matters such as the leaky roof and dodgy shower jumped the queue. The kitchen is functional, I have lived with worse (I had my share of student houses) but boy I'm ready to put an axe to it. I guess its worst feature is the benchtop, built at granny height - 83cm. I'm tallish, so I have to take my shoes off to do the dishes (or I'll have back ache for the rest of the evening).

The oven, in the picture above does function, once on however one can't turn the temperature down, or it will turn itself off and not function until its cooled down. And the door is a little prone to falling out, I find a child's highchair (without child) useful for holding it open when extracting something hot. The grill also functions, the rack sits on an upturned cake tin as the metal bits that hold the rack along the side have disintegrated.

Three out of four burners on the stove function, but but the spacing is poorly designed so as to only allow the use of small saucepans if one is planning a lot of cooking. You might notice the gap under the cupboards over the stove - that is part of the fan extraction system - which is powered by a weak fan in the ceiling. I've spared the viewer a picture of the stove itself. When I realised I'd be living with it for a while, I decided to clean it. I purchased appropriate evil chemicals and soaked the stove bits for a week, however the brown gunge remained. I just try not to notice it now.

The next image is the rest of the kitchen. Beautiful window (yes sadly today's view is washing, but there are many improbably small pairs of undies which I find unaccountably funny). I'd never had a double sink before and have become so fond of it that the new kitchen will have a double sink under the same window. The image fails to show that the hot tap is so close the wall that one grazes one's fingers on the tiles if not careful; and classiest bit of patching I've ever seen - the benchtop is covered in contact, wood-grain patterned contact.

The final image is to record the careful colour palette chosen for the kitchen. Beigeish vinyl flooring, flesh kickboard, and contrasting veneers. The drawers please note are to be opened from underneath. They still remain childproof which is quite a feat, but that underneath bit is, um, sort of a bit yucky. Rufus the cat poses to show where we put the cat crunchies when we first moved in, not thinking of how easy it would be for him to self serve. They haven't been there now for a long time, but he's never lost hope.

The new kitchen should start arriving on the 19th June.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Red Lentil Dhal

You know how some favourite recipes unaccountably drop off the menu, and then you rediscover then and think why don't I make this all the time. I started cooking this in 1990 when I eschewed eating meat. I found the recipe again today - and can't think when I last made it. It is quick, hearty, healthy and really delicious. And to my immense pleasure Hannah liked it, it just pays not to call it soup, soup is currently a no go food. And this can be so thick, one need not think of it as soup. Certainly it could be served with rice rather than toast. I just prefer toast. If you have left-overs, it is superb reheated as a variation on baked beans on toast (it thickens even more when it cools).

A brief word on red lentils. We've been buying the Mount Zero brand of Australian grown red lentils, they are just perfect for Kedgeree. They are no good for dhal, as they stay beautifully intact. Stick with the imported ones here I'm afraid.

2 tbs butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 cups red lentils
4-6 cups water (more or less depending on how thick you like it)
4 tbs tomato paste
salt to taste
squeeze of lemon

Gently fry the onion in butter or oil. Then add garlic and spices, and fry until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add lentils, water and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, being careful as it will catch on the bottom of the saucepan if you forget to stir occasionally.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon, yoghurt and toast. Or rice.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Orange pears

We don't usually do desert, usually Hannah's meal ends with a plate of fresh fruit. But something I've been making lately, a really easy desert of stewed pears. Peel and core a few beurre bosc pears, then gently simmer for a while (1-1 1/2 hours) in enough fresh orange juice to cover. The juice from the pears forms a sumptuously thick sweet sauce. I think this used to be a fancy desert involving butter and sugar and brandy, but just like this it's perfect. Cream or ice-cream optional.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Daube of beef with oxtail

It is cold, miserably cold... I just love this weather. Perfect time of year for a beef daube. I was a little hesitant in offering this to Hannah, its very rich dish with the sort of gravy that sets if you let it cool down, but she adored it. I now make enought for lots of left-overs as it freezes and reheats beautifully. It is supposed to be served with pasta, we often do mashed spud as it's so good with the gravy. This version is from Escoffier's Ma Cusine and I use oxtail. The downside of this is that you will want to refridgerate this once cooked in order to skim the copious amounts of fat off. But oxtail is so worth it. Certainly other cuts of beef are possible. The original recipe merely requests lean beef.

1/2 kg of Oxtail (approximately) or one Oxtail chopped up
2 small onions or one large, quartered
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbs Brandy
2 cups red wine
2 tbs wine vinegar
1/8 tsp ground clover,
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger

2 rashers of bacon
2 tbs olive oil
skin of an 1/8 of an orange
1 clove of garlic
1 bouquet garni
(sprigs of thyme, marjoram, parsley and a bayleaf tied together)

Rub oxtail with garlic and spices. Mix with carrots, onion, and liquids and marinate for 5 hours (or overnight).

In an ovenproof casserole fry bacon in olive oil, remove bacon from the pan and brown drained oxtail. Add marinade and remaining ingrediants. Cover tightly and cook in a slow oven 150 degrees C for five hours.