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!

Food52 Genius Recipes: “Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad

We were invited to a BBQ over the weekend and they asked us to bring a salad – for months now I’ve been wanting to try the chopped salad from Food52 Genius Recipes (the book the Cookbook Club went through in December) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. So off I went in search of all the ingredients and once I found them (it took me 3 different shops thanks to the scarcity at the moment of Savoy cabbage and radicchio) I set Aaron to the task of constructing this gorgeous and colorful salad.

It’s made by quick pickling some vegetables (celery and carrots and red capsicum), then once they’re ready, draining them and combining them with the remaining vegetables (cucumber, radicchio, rocket and cabbage) and apple and making a sauce from some of the leftover vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you finish the salad with goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds.

I’m usually opposed to eating radicchio but in this salad the bitter notes balance so well with the other flavours that I actually liked it. Aaron similarly is not a huge fan of rocket but enjoyed it in this salad. It was the perfect salad for the summer night bbq and we will definitely make this again. The only warning I feel is necessary: the vinegar smell wafts through the whole house during the pickling stage. It actually made me worry that the whole salad was just going to taste like vinegar. But it didn’t and the smell passes. And now to devour the leftovers!

Marmalade Meatballs from Dinner: Changing the Game

One of the things that I’ve absolutely loved about being a part of Food52’s online cooking clubs is discovering recipes that we would never have found otherwise that have become a family favourite.

Take the marmalade meatball recipe from Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game that we found when the Cookbook Club was going through her book last August. We make a double recipe of these meatballs quite regularly and they are devoured by everyone in our house. And at first glance, the meal does not sound all that normal.

The recipe itself is fairly straight forward: beef mince mixed with breadcrumbs (we use wholemeal breadcrumbs made from leftover bread ends rather than panko), green onions, egg, garlic, ginger, allspice, salt and pepper…and anchovies…we don’t buy anchovies regularly so haven’t bothered to put them in yet, but we do eat them on pizza or in caesar salad so we aren’t opposed to them, it’s just a convenience thing. Ball them and cook them then pour over a glaze made from orange marmalade, cider vinegar, soy sauce and red chile flakes that literally takes 2 minutes to make. And the flavours just sing together.

We like to serve them with mashed potato as suggested by Clark alongside some sort of green vegetable, usually peas and green beans. We seriously have this at least once a fortnight and afterwards we’ll say we should make it more often still. I think one of these days I’ll have to branch out and try some of her other meatball recipes – there are at least 3 others!

Made in India: Vegetarian Curries and Naan

Tonight we feasted! And I really do mean feasted. It’s been a while since I’ve had my hands on Made in India, I checked it out from our local library in October when Cookbook Club was working through it, but haven’t been able to get it back out since. Now that it’s finally come back around to me at the library, it seemed appropriate that I do a bit of cooking from it, and what better way to start than a vegetarian curry feast.

What we made:

Junjaro – this is a kidney bean curry and when I saw how simple it was to make it seemed like a no brainer, especially since my daughter loves chilli con carne, especially because of the kidney beans. But of course she wouldn’t try it…she’s contrary like that…but the rest of us really enjoyed it. You fry an onion with some cumin seed and a cinnamon stick, and some garlic, ginger, chilli and spices, tomato paste, the kidney beans (I used cans) and some water and let it get saucy.

Inda nu shaak – this is a coconut milk egg curry and it was the most complex of the 3 curries we made because we had to hard boil eggs. Yeah, it was really that hard. You fry off some onions, add garlic, tamarind paste and some spices, dilute it with coconut milk and water (I used a 400 mL tin of lite coconut milk rather than 300 mL of coconut milk and 100 mL water) and add the eggs when they’re boiled and peeled and sliced. The sauce in this one was lovely and sweet and was so nice to soak up with a piece of naan or a spoonful of rice.

Chana Masala – chickpea and tomato curry. Similarly you fry off onions, add garlic, ginger and chilli, this time a can of tomatoes and tomato paste, the spices and then the chickpeas (again from cans). This was probably my least favourite of the 3 curries, but I think that’s because it wasn’t very saucy.

Aunty Harsha’s Naan – the naan, oh my goodness, the naan. So when I got home from picking the kids up from school, I mixed the dough which is a basic bread dough in terms of ingredients, but with yogurt and milk in it, and then after it was kneaded I put it in a covered oiled container to rise until doubled. Then we just split it into 12 portions, flattened it with our hands and used our flat electric grill to cook them. I was so shocked that it actually worked and was distinctly naan bread. Aaron asked if we’re planning to make naan everyday when he found out that the prep time before cooking was only about 5 minutes.

We served everything with plain basmati rice and still have plenty of leftovers for Aaron to take to work for lunch over the next few days. I’m so glad we powered through to make this meal, because to be honest today was an exhausting one, but when you look at everything we made, the hands on time was really not that long at all. This book continues to impress me and next time I think I’d really like to try some meat curries and some of the chutneys…oh and did you know there are some really interesting sounding desserts in there, too?!!

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?!!

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:

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.

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.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Quiche Lorraine

This month the Food52 Cookbook Club is tackling Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I’ve had this book for several years and really haven’t delved into it much so was keen to see why it’s so popular. For my first recipe, I chose Quiche Lorraine. Now I always thought quiche was a mixture of eggs, cream/milk & cheese with various fillings in a pastry crust but wouldn’t you know, Quiche Lorraine has no cheese. I was shocked!

So what goes into making the iconic Quiche Lorraine? Well, the pastry is super simple, basically flour, salt, sugar, butter and water. (I used all butter rather than 1/4 shortening because the shortening is recommended for American flour. And let’s face it Crisco is ridiculously expensive here.) Mix it together, shape it into a disc and freeze for an hour before rolling it out and partially blind baking in a pie plate. Piece of cake!

The filling is similarly breezy – dice up and lightly cook some lean bacon in a non stick frypan (Julia says you can blanch the bacon in simmering water to remove its salty smoky flavour but we skipped that step). Meanwhile combine the eggs (only 3!) with the cream and milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put the bacon in the shell and pour over the egg mixture. Then dot the top with some diced butter (this is what helps it brown on top) and chuck it in the oven for half an hour.

It turned out light and custardy rather than eggy and cheesy and while Aaron was looking for the cheese (he loves nothing more than cheese and bacon and egg) I thought it was just lovely for a hot summer day with the leftover salads from yesterday’s bbq. Now what to make next?!

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!