Friday, April 28, 2017

Eggless Ginger Cake with Chocolate Icing

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
Cheerio, here I go, on my way
Harry Parr-Davies

Growing up, I wanted to be Vicky Dean from A Country Practice.  I didn't mind that she was a grown woman who regularly sported pigtails and whose wardrobe largely comprised khaki overalls and wellies.  She was a vet, which meant she was smart and loved animals; she lived in the country; and she drove a hulking four wheel drive.  I decided that was the life for me! 

When Vicky married Dr Simon Bowen, they played Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye at their wedding reception as the going away song.  It made a huge impression on me, as I have remembered it all these years later.  With the advent of the Internet, it is easy to find out what was the song and the lyrics.  I just had to wait over a decade to do so.

Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye was originally sung by Gracie Fields for a movie, but the song was adopted during World War II as a song for the troops.  With that in mind, I decided to give a recipe from Marguerite Patten's Victory Cookbook a spin. I selected her Eggless Ginger Cake, which is featured in the Street Parties chapter, mainly because it sounded quick and easy and I had all of the ingredients.  The recipe is as follows:

175g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g margarine
50g sugar
6 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of vinegar

Grease and flour an 8" cake tin, and pre-heat your oven to 190C.

Sift the flour and baking powder with the ginger into a mixing bowl.  Rub in the margarine with your finger tips, mix in the sugar and then the milk.

Blend the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar together, then beat into the cake mixture.

Spoon the cake batter into the tin (I pressed it in as it is like a dough!) and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. 

Unfortunately, when baked, this cake had the look and texture of a large ginger scone, so I decided to make some icing for it.  In trying to stay authentic, I used this recipe involving golden syrup, margarine and cocoa powder.  The icing tasted a little odd, but on the ginger cake, it just gave it a bit of oomph of flavour.  It's just a little unfortunate that it looks like Vegemite. 

This was a fun experiment in wartime cookery, but not one I'll be repeating.

I will be starting a new chapter myself next week - wish me luck!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

EwE - Good For You Shepherd's Pie - Mash-Ups

This week's Eating with Ellie theme is Mash Ups, chosen by me.  My pick for this theme is Ellie's Good For You Shepherd's Pie.

At first glance, it looks similar to any other Shepherd's Pie.  However, the "mash up" topping is not just potato - it is potato and cauliflower.  And the potatoes have their skins left on!  Also, there are heaps of veggies in the mince part of the pie - normally, a Shepherd's Pie has no veggies in the mince part.

I think that next time, I'd add a spoon of promite or similar to spice up the mince a bit, but otherwise, I really enjoyed this version of Shepherd's Pie, which is very satisfying.

To see what Mash Up madness everyone else got up to this week, visit the LYL section of EwE website.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Apple Crumble with ANZAC Biscuit Topping

We would remember them today
Who from their homeland sailed away
So blithely and so willingly
To give their lives for you and me
Father guard their sleeping.
                                          Bene Gibson Smythe

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand.  It is a holiday to remember Australians and New Zealanders who served their country in all wars.  The day is the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli, Turkey in World War I. 

Our primary school always did a great job of teaching us about ANZAC Day and its significance.  ANZAC Day ribbons were sold in the classrooms every year to raise money for war veterans, and the choir learned various ballads about those who served in the wars, including the verse above.  We had a special school assembly at which the choir sang the aforesaid songs, and a member of the band played the last post on their trumpet while the assembly remained silent. 

In high school, much less was said about ANZAC Day.  However, we watched the film, Gallipoli, as part of our English studies. It is the ending of that film that always gets me.

To commemorate ANZAC Day in my own way while I am coccooned at home, I made the April recipe from my Red Tractor calendar, being Apple Crumble with ANZAC Biscuit Topping.

April's calendar quote is another  sage saying:

Apple crumble is the British/Australian version of a Brown Betty.  What makes this version unusual and ANZAC Day appropriate is the ANZAC biscuit topping:

This is one delicious dessert.  The recipe makes one big crumble with 4-6 serves.  I quartered the recipe to make two individual serves in ramekins.  My adapted version of the recipe is as follows:


3/8 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar (I cut this to 1/8 cup)
1/4 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/4 tablespoon dessicated coconut
45g butter
1/16 cup golden syrup
1/4 tablespoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Combine the sugar, oats and coconut in a small bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium heat,   melt the butter, golden syrup, water and bicarbonate of soda together.  Pour over the dry ingredients, then chill in the fridge while making the apple filling.

Stewed Ginger Apples

1 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/16 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/16 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and lightly grease 2 ramekins.

Put all of the filling ingredients into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the fruit is tender.


Divide the apples evenly between the two ramekins.  Remove the ANZAC biscuit mixture from the fridge and crumble into smallish pieces.  Sprinkle the biscuit pieces evenly over the top of each ramekin, then bake in the preheated oven until the top is crisp and golden (~20 minutes). 

Serve warm with icecream and custard, if desired.

TWD - Lemon Meringue Tart A New Way

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Lemon Meringue Tart A New Way.  Lemon Meringue Pie is a perennial favourite, and when I brought this one to work, it was no exception.  Someone was disappointed that they missed out because they were trying to be good, then they changed their mind and there was no pie left. 

Lemon Meringue Pies can be hit and miss.  Too much meringue, it can be too sweet.  Filling too lemony - it is not balanced out by the sweetness of the meringue (reminds me of the infamous "Sunlight Soap" lemon pie served to us at college, to much derision). Oh, and some recipes have a weepy filling - check out the Daring Bakers version that I made many moons ago

However, this lemon meringue "tart" suffered from none of those shortcomings.  The "new way", according to Dorie, is that this lemon tart has a flan-like filling.  I believe that Dorie's introduction comes from the perspective that this tart is different to a traditional tarte au citron, which has a curd-like filling.  However, it is very much the type of lemon meringue pie that I am used to, and which is a staple of Australian cafes.

And what a lovely lemon meringue tart it is.  The filling is a lemony pastry cream rather than a curd, so there is no weepiness, and it is smooth and silky.  It also set up like a dream.  The meringue was good, although someone said she would have liked more.  To solve this, you could just use the two additional egg whites that are left over from this recipe to make a more voluminous meringue.

I have neither a blow torch nor a broiler, so I just put my tart into the oven for an extra ten minutes after adding the meringue topping.  It may have made the crust a little too brown around the edges, but it didn't detract from the flavour.

Verdict - a thumbs up.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Baby Pear and Ricotta Tart

While browsing through The Toowoomba Chronicle this week, I spotted an irresistible recipe for Baby Pear and Ricotta Tart. The recipe comes from a new cookbook by Emiko Davies called Acquacotta, which focusses on Italian family recipes.

How cool does this tart look with the pears standing up and their stalks left on?  It's a bit like stargazy pie, but without the gruesome factor.

The biggest challenge that the recipe posed was finding baby pears, but I lucked in and my supermarket just happened to have baby beurre bosc  pears.  You don't have to core the pears for this recipe - when they are poached, the core goes soft enough to eat:

This is a smooth, creamy cheesecake with fruit - what is not to love:

I changed the order of proceedings a little from the recipe by making the pastry first and letting it chill while I poached my pears so that I could seamlessly move from poaching pears to lining the pie tin with pastry then adding the filling.

Would I make this again?  Absolutely - it is striking to look at and so delicious.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

EwE - Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal - An Apple A Day

Margaret chose An Apple A Day as the theme for this week's Eating with Ellie.  There are lots of Ellie recipes, sweet and savoury, that use apples, so there was plenty to choose from. 

I selected Ellie's Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal, which as well as apple, contains carrot, pecans and raisins (I used cranberries).

It looks and smells delicious, and tastes like dessert. I only made a half recipe because the full recipe made 8 serves (yikes!).

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Betty's Burgers & Concrete Co, Melbourne

Betty's Burgers and Concrete Co is a burger restaurant chain founded in Noosa.  It landed in Melbourne late last year, taking over a vacated Laura Ashley store location.  When Betty's first opened, it was impossible to get in the door, such was its popularity, so I left my run at Betty's for a few months.

Betty's is styled to mimic US-style burger joints, and is remarked by commentators to be like Shake Shack.   I liked the kitschy 50's style store fitout, which I found quite charming.

Betty's is still very popular, despite having been open for nearly 6 months now.  At lunch and dinner, the lines still snake out the door as people line up for a seat.  However, I am in the minority in that the d├ęcor is where my love of Betty's ends. 

Burgers and fries are quite pricey.  I ordered a Betty's classic (beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, lettuce, Betty's special sauce), which cost $10 for what  was a rather small burger.  Shoestring fries are $5, although the serving of fries was quite generous.  You need the fries, as the burger will not fill you up by itself:

Looks attractive enough, doesn't it.  The taste was OK, but nothing out of the ordinary.  And something about Betty just didn't agree with me.  For a $15 burger meal, I was hoping for more.

Here is an interior shot of Betty's - quite pleasing from my perspective:

This is the inside view of my Classic Betty:

Ok, but not something I'll be hurrying back for.  However, I am in the minority, judging from the ever snaking queues out the door and the rave reviews online.

You can also buy frozen concretes at Betty's, which have some great sounding flavours, but at $8 a pop, I'll wait til I can share one.

97 Elizabeth St
Melbourne VIC 3000