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!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Boeuf Bourguignon with Buttered Peas and book review

For the final recipe of the month, I chose Julia Child’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon. Because we still don’t have our oven fixed (I know, right!) I adapted it with help from this recipe so we could use our slow cooker instead.

It’s a long recipe, but no part of it is difficult. You chop up an onion and a carrot and the beef and you cook them in some oil and butter, then chuck them in the slow cooker with herbs and beef stock and red wine and cook them for 8 hours on low. Then about an hour before it’s done, you cook the mushrooms and onions (and the boiled potatoes) separately to bring together at the end of the cooking time.

The only trouble we had with cooking it this way is that at the end of the cooking time when we drained the liquid to put in a pot to reduce for a sauce, there was still SO much liquid left. Like none of it had evaporated at all. This wasn’t too much of a problem, it just meant that it took longer to get the sauce we were after.

I stirred the boiled potatoes in with the meat and other vegetables, because to be honest, I’m not a big fan of boiled potatoes and figured this would be the best way to give it more flavor and make it more palatable to my taste.

We served it with buttered peas from the book, adapted again by using frozen peas and cooking it in the microwave. I couldn’t be bothered shelling peas and cooking them another way, and these were really scrummy and seem to have become a regular side dish for us at the moment.

It seems strange to try to review Mastering the Art of French Cooking based on only 4 recipes. What I can say is that everything we’ve made has been fabulous, and that each recipe is very comprehensive. I appreciate the nostalgia of the book, and love the cuisine, but wish that we had done this at a different time of year since I live in Australia and it is the middle of a hot summer. I’m sure that I’ll return to the book in the colder winter months to try out a lot of the recipes that the Food52 Cookbook Club members in the Northern Hemisphere were making that looked delicious, but for me, I really wanted to try a variety of recipes and savoury, but everything summery seemed to be eggs and desserts. The only criticism I have is the lack of photos. I understand why this is, but when you’re working from just a recipe title and most are in French, photos would make it much easier to browse and choose things to cook.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Creamy Sundried Tomato & Spinach Pasta

This is one of those recipes that I had on Pinterest for ages before I tried it, but after I did, it quickly became part of our regular vegetarian meals since the kids love it and it literally takes 10 minutes to make. Because I have to cook for a big family though, I’ve obviously had to adapt it from the original recipe in order for it to feed us all.

First, on a back burner, prepare 500 grams of wholemeal pasta according to the instructions (I use spirals because they cook in 6 minutes). While that’s happening, in a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil and brown 1 diced onion and 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Then add 1 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes and 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add 3/4 cup of light sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup of light Greek yogurt and stir to combine.

Add roughly 3 cups of baby spinach (I just guesstimate – 2 big handfuls) and season with salt & pepper.

Leave that to wilt while you drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, then stir everything together and voila! You are ready to dish up dinner.

We like to top ours with grated parmesan (and lots of red chilli flakes for the adults).

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.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Gratin Dauphinois

For today’s post my husband Aaron returns to take us through Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois (scalloped potatoes) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Taking advantage of a reduced price Christmas ham, we needed a side dish that would go nicely with glazed ham, and we had wanted to try Julia Child’s scalloped potatoes for some time, so this was the perfect opportunity to give them a go.

When going over the recipe, my initial impression was that there wasn’t enough potatoes to feed our growing family, but when you add butter, cheese and milk, it gets to be quite heavy and there was plenty for us all.

The only real change we made from Julia’s recipe was to use crushed garlic in the stead of a 1/2 garlic clove, which possibly resulted in garlicky-er potatoes, but that really wasn’t a problem.

As above, the scalloped potatoes (I did old school thin-ish slices with a knife, but this recipe would definitely benefit from a mandolin) are joined by garlic, butter, milk and cheese (we had lots of Monterey Jack in the fridge so that’s what we used) . Add a bit of salt and pepper, throw this layered goodness into the (not quite working properly so they took a bit longer) oven, and we had a very tasty dish that complimented our ham very nicely, and the kids all LOVED it.

It will definitely be a recipe we will have again in the future.

Meatless Mexican

I was so excited to see that you can now buy canned pinto beans in Woolworths that I couldn’t wait to have bean burritos for dinner. (We seriously bought 12 cans of them and also 12 cans of black beans because they were super cheap this week!) This is a meal we do quite often that I’ve adapted from several recipes to easily accomodate vegans, but you can also easily add an animal protein for the meat lovers (or if there’s a crowd to feed). But on Mondays, this is often what it looks like.

Mexican corn cake

It started with this recipe, but my method is much simpler, and instead of butter and milk, I use canola oil so vegans can enjoy it too.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook 1 1/2 cups frozen corn with 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. While this is happening, chuck the following ingredients into a small casserole dish: 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup masa, 1/4 cup polenta, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt. Then add the corn and water and use a stick immersion blender to mix it all together and to break up the corn kernels. Bake in a water bath, covered, for about an hour. I use a large ice cream scoop to serve like you’d see in many Mexican restaurants in the US.

Mexican rice

I got the original recipe here, but I’ve changed it so I can make it in my rice cooker.

Place 2 cups long grain white rice, 1 diced onion, 1 diced green chilli, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable stock, 1 Tbspn cumin, 1 tspn minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn salt in your rice cooker and stir together. Let it cook and then devour!

(If you have lemon or lime juice on hand, or fresh coriander, throw some of that on before serving. Usually we make guacamole, but alas there were no avocados at the store, so today we served it plain.)

“Refried” beans

I’m not sure where this recipe originated anymore, but basically it’s another throw everything in and give it a stir recipe. Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans and place in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, 1 small diced onion, 1 tspn garlic, 1 diced green chilli and some salt to taste. Cook on high until the stock has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or use your stick immersion blender (this helps break up the onion and chilli). If it’s too watery continue to cook until desired consistency.

From here I just set out other staples (chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, tortillas, taco shells and corn chips if I have them) on the table and everyone does what they want. I made myself a bean burrito with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream in a wholemeal tortilla and then had rice and corn cake on the side (sadly our salsa was moldy and we’re out of hot sauce – clearly I’m in holiday mode still). If we’d had guacamole, I would’ve made a cheese quesadilla and had everything else as sides to dip them in. Aaron and my oldest two like to chuck everything into a tortilla as part of their burritos. Or if we have corn chips they like to make nachos and throw everything on top of corn chips and cheese that they’ve warmed together in the microwave.

The only things that make this meal vegetarian rather than vegan are the dairy products that accompany it (ie sour cream and cheese). If we were to serve this meal to vegans I’d simply make sure to have guacamole as a creamy condiment for them and wouldn’t sprinkle cheese on the refried beans like I did tonight.

Bouchon Bakery: Mille-feuille and book review

I was a bit apprehensive to make mille-feuille. I had no idea if re-rolling the scraps of puff pastry left over from the pithiviers would work and how the assembly of the dessert itself would work given the summer weather. But I pressed ahead and it turned out successful.

I rolled the puff pastry dough out to the size of a cookie sheet and baked it weighted down with another cookie sheet and a baking pan for over an hour. Since the bottom element is out on our oven, I’ve found that the cooking time and temperature are a lot closer to what recipes suggest (normally I would’ve burnt something to a crisp if I cooked it per the book). I used the leftover creme patisserie from the pithiviers as well, and mixed it with a simple French buttercream to create a mousseline. This was frozen in my 9×13″ pyrex casserole dish to ready for assembly. It was then as *simple* as cutting the pastry into 4 slices and the mousseline into 3 and sandwiching them together. I had a lot of help from Aaron at this stage because he has much better knife skills then I do. Getting the mousseline layered on the pastry proved challenging as it was warming up too quickly, but we worked it out by doing some fancy flipping over and back again. Then we just piped some whipped cream on top (cream whisked with vanilla and icing sugar mixture).

I loved how the dessert is flipped on its side to make it easier to cut. No mousseline seeping out the sides this way because you aren’t squashing it all together as you cut it. And it is incredibly delicious. We couldn’t fault it. If anything, I may have been tempted to add some passionfruit to the top, but that’s the Australian vanilla slice lover in me looking for that. It was absolutely perfect!

Bouchon Bakery cookbook has been a lot of fun to explore but there are a few real drawbacks for me. I understand how this is from a professional bakery, but a lot of the recipes do not translate to a home cook very well because of how much is leftover after you make a recipe that you either need to use in something else or chuck out. And the weighing of the eggs – like it is seriously aggravating. I was 5 grams off on an egg yolk measurement and had to crack into another egg just to get the tiniest bit out. I ended up using that egg as the egg wash for the pithivier, but still, I found it most unsatisfying to have to do this for each recipe.

That being said, everything I’ve made so far has been delicious, and the other recipes I’ve seen in the Facebook group have me wanting to make even more. Highest on my list are the cinnamon honey scones. Everyone has been making them and they sound and look amazing! I also still have a pate sucree in my freezer to use up, and I’ve been eyeing off the lemon meringue tart for a while now. So you’ll probably see a bit more of this book in future Throwback Thursday posts. For now, I’m planning how on earth I’m going to narrow down Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours to three must try recipes for next month!

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

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.