Throwback Thursday: Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake from Jerusalem

I’m now up to 4 – I own 4 out of the 5 Ottolenghi books that the Food52 Cookbook Club included in their June 2017 selections from his repertoire. I talked a bit about that month in this post.

The following is a major cake fail. I burnt this cake to a crisp. No joke. I salvaged it, but it was bad. So I was a bit fancy with the camera angles so you can’t see what a patchwork job it was. I sawed off the top and carefully cut away the sides before brushing the syrup on. Sigh. I’m still not sure where I went wrong with the oven temperature.

I needed a gluten free cake. I’ve dabbled a bit in gluten free baking and I thought that given that a large portion of this cake batter was almond meal, it would probably work with substituting the plain flour for gluten free flour 1:1. It worked a treat! I just had my oven too hot. But anyway…

The Clementine and Almond Syrup cake from Jerusalem is to die for.  The recipe is online, so I implore you to try it! To have had such a massive issue with the baking and to have still ended up with a superbly moist cake is a testament to how beautiful this recipe is. Clementines aren’t in season in Australia at the moment, but I have a fruit drawer full of oranges that need to be used so I just went with that. I used Grand Marnier in the chocolate icing instead of straight Cognac. No big change, but a change nonetheless.

We ended up cancelling our plans so this cake never made it past the test kitchen. We’ve rescheduled for next week though so I’m keen to make it again to see if it’s just as good if I don’t burn it. Aaron called it one of the nicest cakes I’ve made and that is really saying something. I can’t wait for our gluten free friend to try it!

Throwback Thursday: Lemon Sugar Cookies from Dorie’s Cookies

Throwback to the very start of Food52’s Baking Club, April 2017, when we were all baking from Dorie’s Cookies, a compendium of every possible cookie you could imagine, beautifully photographed and equally beautiful tasting. I fell in love with what looks like a Plain Jane cookie but are probably one of my top 3 cookies of all time…Dorie’s lemon sugar cookies.

The recipe can be found on Dorie’s website, so head over there to try them out to see what I’m talking about. They are super simple to put together, if you’re a regular cookie baker and are fairly organized, you can knock them out in about an hour.

It’s basically creamed butter, sugar and lemon zest, add eggs and vanilla, your mixed dried ingredients (flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt) and lemon juice. Dorie says 1-2 lemons…my average Australian lemons that you get from Woolworths (oh to have a lemon tree or a friend with one!) are small so I always need 2, and I make sure to add the zest from both for a bit of extra zing. I set aside 1/2 cup of sugar for dredging and I use my #60 cookie scoop to portion the dough and get 64 cookies every time.

I took a container full of these to a P&C (PTA) meeting this week and watched as they slowly but surely got sampled, then another and another disappeared. They are deceptively delicious!

Throwback Thursday: Ham, Pear & Blue Cheese Quiche from My Paris Kitchen

Throwback to July 2017 when Food52 Cookbook Club was going through David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen. It was such a pleasure to cook through this book and every recipe I try has been mind blowingly delicious. I checked it out from the library again recently (although I do own the Kindle version) and couldn’t believe I had not thought to look there for apricot recipes, including a recipe that uses the apricot pits that littered our house and backyard for over a month. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to try that next summer! I think this may be one of those books that you pick up and find something new each time you read it.

But today I’m going to share with you one of our favourites, that I could eat any day of the week – David Lebovitz’s ham, pear and blue cheese quiche. I’m only a recent convert to blue cheese so have been quite keen to try any recipe that features it. The flavour combination in this quiche really intrigued me and it is such a happy feeling when you try something that you are curious but skeptical of and it turns out brilliant. That is this quiche for me.

The pastry is a combination of cornmeal and flour with butter and egg. It’s mixed in a mixer then formed into a disc and refrigerated. When I rolled it out the first time it fell apart and so in future attempts I always just shape it into the tart pan with my fingers and then refrigerate it, no rolling needed.

The filling is pretty much as the title of the recipe suggests along with the basics of a quiche – eggs, cream, blue cheese and cream cheese, some cooked shallots (lately I’ve taken to just throwing in a cup of fried shallots because I bought too many at the Asian grocer and have no other use for them), seasoning, herbs, chopped ham and pear.  Bake it for about an hour until it’s set and eat up! (One thing I need to remember but always seem to forget is that the quiche seems to brown on top really quickly and so never looks as nice as the picture in the book – I think it should probably be covered with foil until the last few minutes of cooking to prevent that.)

I usually choose nights to make this based on what leftovers we have in the fridge. My younger two aren’t too keen on this dish but us older 4 love it so we easily eat the whole thing between us. Is it weird if I want to make this two nights in a row?!!

Throwback Thursday: Zucchini & Orange Marmalade Tea Cake from Tartine

Throwback to September 2017, when the Food52 Baking Club was going through Tartine Bakery’s book. I could not get my hands on it, despite it being in our local library’s catalogue, so I ended up spending a lot of time just drooling over what other people were making.

The library actually had pulled it from the collection and chucked it in their annual book sale, I guess because they’d decided it wasn’t worth having on the shelf anymore. I ended up buying it for $2! Only trouble was that it was missing 2 pages. Flash forward to yesterday when I spotted the Kindle book on sale for $5. So now I’ve got two versions of it!

Anyhow, we’ve been graciously given so many zucchinis this month, so I’ve been starting to get creative as to how to use them so we don’t get sick of the old faithful recipes. And I remembered a lot of people raving about this tea cake, loaf cake, quick bread, whatever you want to call it, so I thought it would be worth the risk since it was a cooler day to give it a try.

This batter was crazy easy to put together. I used my stand mixer, even though I really could have done it by hand. You beat eggs, oil, sugar and marmalade together, then add in zucchini and salt and then your dry ingredients and toasted walnuts. I toasted them while I was grating the zucchini as the oven preheated. I sprayed my loaf pan and then poured in the batter and sprinkled on a bit of sugar for a nice, sweet top crust. In the oven for 70 minutes, and voila!

The flavour combination was so unusual to me when I first saw it, but having tasted it, boy oh boy, is it a winner! I will definitely be making this again and again when I have zucchinis on hand. Aaron asked if I could make sure that the coworker who gave us only some of the zucchinis we’ve been given could try it and I thought it would be cool to buy the mini loaf pan I saw on sale in January   at David Jones to make miniature versions so he gets a whole cake rather than a portion of a slice. So when I say making it again and again, I mean I’ll be doing it again this weekend even!

Peek-a-boo!

Throwback Thursday: Rolled pavlova with peaches & blackberries from Sweet

Throwback to December 2017, when Food52 Baking Club was going through Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh…so many beautiful desserts and so little time. I managed to make the yoyos and the gingerbread tiles, but figured I’d have to wait til after the silly season was over to return to the book. Well, with Australia Day being tomorrow I thought it was only fitting that I make a pavlova and this book has more than one to choose from!

I’ve never made a rolled pavlova before, but the recipe was really straight forward (see online version here), it’s just egg whites whipped with caster sugar and then 2 teaspoons each vanilla, white wine vinegar and cornflour. Spread it out on a sheet pan, mine was bigger than the recommended size and filled it to the brim and bake for 35 minutes. Even with the bigger pan mine started to overflow, but didn’t quite make it to spill in the oven, so all was well.

Spread over whipped cream, fruit and almonds and roll it up, then place the rest of the cream along the top with remaining fruit and almonds and enjoy! Hopefully you can’t tell from the picture what a mess it was, spilling out everywhere, but it was yum all the same.

I wished I’d had baking paper, but we ran out earlier this week and I haven’t made it to the shops for more so I lined my pan with foil instead. I think this caused the meringue to be a little wet on the bottom, but like I said just before, it was still yum!

Since I haven’t perfected the roll I think I will give this recipe another go at a later stage to see if I can do better. It was a real crowd pleaser and I reckon if it looked better it would have had a much bigger wow factor.

Throwback Thursday: 3 Easy Recipes from The Food Lab

Throwback to November 2017, when the Food52 Cookbook Club was tackling J Kenji Lopez-Alt’s epic first cookbook, The Food Lab. We absolutely loved this book, so much so that we perpetually have it on reserve at the library on both our library cards and whenever it’s our turn to have it checked out, we welcome it home with a little hug.

Several recipes from The Food Lab were highlights on our Thanksgiving table (including the broccoli cauliflower casserole, the green bean casserole, the cranberry sauce and I’m sure there were more) but we’ve also made several others (eg pasta alla Norma, eggs florentine, biscuits and gravy) and the list just keeps growing.

The recipes in his book vary between simple and complex and we love the science sections where he explains a different ingredient or technique in depth. Here I’m going to tell you about 3 of our favorite simple recipes…

The Fry Sauce: My gosh is it good. And dead simple. Seriously, you chuck stuff in a bowl and stir it together. The first time we made it we used the dill pickle juice, but decided we wanted the texture relish offers so ever since we replace it 1:1. On burger night we usually buy frozen chips that we cook in the oven, and it has now become our standard condiment that we serve with them.

Similarly, the garlic croutons: Kenji says to use a good quality bread loaf, but one night I needed a salad and all I had was lettuce, store bought dressings and cheeses in the fridge so I thought if I had croutons we could make a caesar style salad. The only bread I had left was frozen wholemeal bread ends that I normally use for breadcrumbs (or often end up as my breakfast or lunch, cos you know, I’m a mom and that’s how I roll) so I cut them up and tossed them through a mixture of oil and garlic and a few other seasonings and baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes and voila! They were so addictive I kept coming back hours after dinner had finished and ate every last one. So good!

Lastly, his maple sage breakfast sausage. This recipe has changed my world. No seriously. Australia knows nothing of American style breakfast sausage and they are the poorer for it. And I have for ages been lamenting not having Jimmy Deans here. We have this delicious breakfast casserole recipe that I usually make at Christmas and special occasions and I’ve explored a few alternatives in the past but never been too convinced until I tried using this. And if you just buy pork mince like I did and omit the bacon, it is seriously no more than mixing the ingredients by hand in a bowl and leaving it in the fridge to marinate before frying it off in a pan. Dead set it is the bomb. We’ve used this in his biscuits and sausage gravy recipe and once when we had leftover mince we turned it into sausage and biscuit breakfast sandwiches (again something we don’t get here in Australia) and I feel instantly transported to America when I’m feeling a bit homesick even after almost 19 years.

There you have it, three reasons to get your hands on The Food Lab, or at the very least, follow J Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab column on Serious Eats.

Throwback Thursday: Cinnamon Rolls from Bravetart

Throwback to November 2017 when Food52 Baking Club tackled the new Bravetart book by Stella Parks and the recipe that caught my eye upon flicking through the book – cinnamon rolls! Or rather, recipesince if you count all the variations there are 8 varieties of cinnamon rolls you can make from the one base recipe. Now of course, I wasn’t going to do this back to back over the course of a month, the waistline is not that forgiving, but I’ve set myself the challenge to make every variety over the next 12 months for birthdays and certain holidays.

The base recipe is pretty simple for a cinnamon roll recipe – you combine some basic dry ingredients in your mixer bowl then melt some butter and stir through yogurt and milk to bring it down to a lower temperature (I’m guessing so you don’t kill the yeast) and then add it to the mixer bowl and knead until well combined and elastic (about 20 minutes). Then you put it in a well greased covered container and let it rise until doubled (about 90 minutes) before rolling out and filling with whatever filling you’ve chosen to make and then turning it into scrolls. What I love most about this recipe is that at this point you can refrigerate them and pull them out while the oven preheats the next morning so you can have fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The icing is easy as well, and Stella recommends you put it in a zip lock bag and cut the corner and squeeze the icing out all over the cinnamon rolls straight out of the oven.

These cinnamon rolls are sooooo light and fluffy and really aren’t as labor intensive as you might think. For my son’s 12th birthday I made the apple cinnamon variety (which can be seen in photo directly above and below) which replaces butter for the cream cheese in the icing and adds some apple to the filling. He loves apple anything and he was more than impressed with these!

Below are my two previous attempts from last year: the pumpkin variety for Thanksgiving breakfast…

…and my first attempt at the start of November, the basic cinnamon roll recipe to see if the endeavor would be worthwhile.

Stay tuned for the other 5 variations over the coming months. =)

Throwback Thursday: Cauliflower Cake from Plenty More

Throwback to June 2017 when Food52’s Cookbook Club took on Yotam Ottolenghi’s plethora of beautiful cookbooks, and everyone was making this intriguing looking Cauliflower Cake from Plenty More…not only did I do the same at the time, but I’ve made it probably 6 times since then because it is just that good!

The recipe can be found online here so I won’t go into any detail about the ingredients or method, but I’ll share how I have tweaked it slightly to make it a bit quicker and easier to throw together as a midweek meal.

Firstly, the cauliflower…

…I do not buy a fresh whole cauliflower, but instead a frozen 500g bag and I cook it in salted water in the microwave for 4 minutes before straining. This happens while I cook the onion (except for the reserved onion rings) with dried rosemary in a nonstick frypan.

My next change is that I add a grated pizza cheese blend instead of freshly grated parmesan to the egg/flour/onion/herb & spice mixture.

My last change is that I use spray oil to grease my casserole dish before sprinkling the seeds into it and rolling them around until they stick.

Then I simply pour the rest of the ingredients into the dish and place the reserved onion on top before baking.

It is such a delightful meal with a side salad and some fresh bread and it gets gobbled up every time without fail. Definitely worth returning to!