Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Anzac Pear and Ginger Loaf

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen

Today is Anzac Day in Australia, when we pay our respects to Australian soldiers from all the wars in which Australia has been involved.  You can read more about Anzac Day here.

As I have previously mentioned, my state primary school did an excellent job of teaching us about the significance of Anzac Day and ensuring that the students commemorated it.  Funds were raised for the returned service people through sales of little navy and silver lapel ribbons, the Last Post was played at a special assembly, and the choir sang songs about Australian soldiers. 

Anzac Day in Australia is also traditionally marked by the Anzac biscuit, which has become the official food of Anzac Day.  I understand that the version of Anzac biscuits eaten by the troops was  rather less tasty than the one we enjoy today, but they have become an important symbol of Anzac Day nonetheless.

This year, instead of Anzac biscuits, I decided to make Lorraine's Anzac Pear and Ginger Loaf.

This loaf really is like a sweet Anzac biscuit in loaf form.  The batter presses rather than pours into the tin, and the resulting loaf has a dense quality.  Be careful with the cake while it is warm, as it can be a little fragile where the pears are dotted into the mixture.

The cake tastes best served warm, when it is still a little crumbly and doesn't necessarily cut into neat slices yet.  The ginger adds a touch of zing and the pears add moistness and sweetness to the loaf.  I think I might like it best without the icing, as I don't handle a lot of sweetness very well anymore.

To all my fellow Australians, wishing you a blessed Anzac Day. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TWD - Viennese Sables

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Viennese Sables.  I was a little hesitant, as Dorie's friend had described these biscuits as tasting like the Danish butter cookies that you get at Christmas - which I find to be pretty tasteless.   However, these lovely little buttery biscuits were not like that at all - they were buttery and crisp and golden.

The recipe said that it made 24 biscuits.  I am not sure how Dorie managed to get that many, as my biscuits were not very big and I only managed to get 11 out of the dough. 

One of my piping bags ended up being collateral damage as it burst its seams when I tried to pipe the biscuits.  I did struggle a little getting the dough to pipe - it was fairly robust.  However, I am happy with the end result.

These are the kind of elegant little cookies that I envisage nibbling over tea with finely dressed ladies at a garden party or such like.  However, I think you'd have to increase the recipe a fair bit to make enough of them for a party.

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blossom Thai, South Yarra

Friday night is often restaurant night for me.  I like to try different places as well as the old favourites.  One Friday night, we were going to the movies at Palace Como to see The Post, so it made sense to find a place to eat in South Yarra, near the cinema.

I found Blossom Thai in Toorak Road (just across the road from the cinema) by some Web searching.  When the booking was made, Tim also handily found that we had a discount voucher for Blossom Thai in our Entertainment Book (bonus!).

The interior of Blossom Thai is typical of Thai restaurants - heavy wood furniture punctuated by Asian style artwork with lots of gold:

Our host made a number of recommendations from the menu based on what is popular, so we largely went with those recommendations.  (After all, the host should know what is good!)

We started with the Potato Prawns ($9.90), pictured at the top of this post.   These tasted as good as they look.  The Potato Prawns are prawns wrapped in potato strings, then deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce - so good.

The prawns tied with our first shared main, Soft Shell Crab Curry ($24.90), as my equal favourite dishes:

In the photo, this curry doesn't look much, but there are actually two whole crabs (one each) in the curry.  The crabs are fried, and served with vegetables in a yellow curry sauce.  This was just devine.

Our second shared main was good, but did not reach the giddy heights in my estimation of the other two dishes.  It was a nightly special, being a barramundi fillet cooked in coconut milk, coated with a coconut crumb, and wrapped in a banana leaf:  

While not bad, it didn't have the wonderful depth of flavour of the curry, so we did not enjoy it as much.

For dessert, we ordered the very un-Thai like sticky date pudding ($12.90), because we both love it and our host talked up his house-made butterscotch sauce:   

Whilst not traditional, we enjoyed it very much, and our host could be deservedly proud of the sauce.

I enjoyed my meal at Blossom Thai and would happily go again.

Blossom Thai
278 Toorak Rd
South Yarra VIC 3141Ph: (03) 9827 8599

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Banana, Coffee and Cardamom Bundt Cake

I am watching Season 2 of Victoria with Jenna Coleman at the moment.  I am loving every second of it, especially the gorgeous costumes and the utterly devine Tom Hughes as Prince Albert.  I last caught up with Jenna as Clara Oswald in Doctor Who, and with Tom as Martha Costello's pupil in the first season of Silk, so this series is quite a different pace for these two actors. 

In parallel, I have restarted reading Julia Baird's excellent biography of Victoria: The Queen, which I had put down over 12 months ago due to life's distractions and the lack of portability of this weighty tome.   The most intriguing element for me about Victoria's life was the constant tensions between her desire to retain power as Queen versus the expectations of society (not to mention her husband) placed on her as wife and mother.  She was certainly a strong woman who overcame many obstacles while dealing with these tensions to maintain her hold on power.

Victoria has absolutely nothing to do with this delightful Banana, Cardamom and Coffee Cake by Helen Goh, other than that I am sure that Victoria would have enjoyed it, given her lust for food (and life in general).  The recipe came from last weekend's The Age Good Weekend magazine (p35). 

This cake is described by Helen as a banoffee pie in cake form.  I am not sure that this cake reminded me of the gorgeous, soft, toothsome caramel mouthfuls that you have with banoffee pie; however, this cake is absolutely delicious in its own right.  It disappeared at work in record time; and there I was wondering if people would like it because of the sticky coffee flavoured caramel pooled on the plate.    

You will be pleased to know that the recipe for this cake is widely publicly available on the Web here.  There is nothing hard about making this cake.  Just be careful, as always, when making the caramel, as it has a hissy fit when you add the cream and coffee.  Burning yourself with hot caramel would take the gloss off the experience.

If you like banana cake and caramel, you will love this moist, tender cake with its lashings of coffee caramel. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pulled Pork Rolls with Fennel & Apple Slaw - Red Tractor April

It's time for this month's Red Tractor calendar recipe, which is Pulled Pork Rolls with Fennel & Apple Slaw.

Before we get started, this is April's calendar quote:

I am not sure that this always holds true, but certainly I can thank my Mum for a good solid start in life and ongoing support.

I did not use the calendar recipe for the pork; instead, I used this slow cooker recipe from 

I agree with the comments on the recipe that the spice content could have been upped a bit, but in the end, it was ok and fit for purpose.

Here is my assembled roll (open roll is featured at the top of the post to showcase the slaw):

Once you have your pulled pork, you will need the following to make up the rolls:

1 thinly sliced fennel bulb, retain fronds
2 tablespoons parsley leaves (I skipped it)
1 pink lady apple, skin on, quartered and thinly sliced (or any red apple)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1/4 cup aioli (or 1/4 cup mayo with a squirt of garlic paste mixed in) 
6 crusty bread roll, split
3-4 cups pulled pork

Toss, the fennel, fronds, parsley, apple slices, olive oil, sugar and juice together.  Season with salt and pepper and stand for 5 minutes.

Mix the aioli and mustard together and spread on the bread rolls.

Top each roll with a handful of pulled pork and slaw (and crispy pork skin if you have any - mine was chewy sadly). 

I liked the aioli and mustard spread and would do that again.  I also quite liked the slaw.  However, there seemed to be a lot of pork, so I might cheat if I made these again and use sliced pork from the deli or some alternative.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TWD - Mocha ricotta puffs

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Mocha Ricotta Puffs.  These are chocolate and coffee flavoured biscuits containing ricotta for smoothness.

The dough is quite sticky and dense, which made the cookies a little challenging to release from the cookie scoop.  I dipped the scoop in water every second cookie or so to help me to remove the dough from the scoop.

I made a full recipe and took them into work, where they promptly disappeared.  I thought they were good, and not dissimilar to a cakey brownie in taste and texture.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TWD - Apple Matafan

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I made Apple Matafan.  This is a chunky, cakey, apple-packed pancake made entirely in a skillet on the stovetop.  It is sprinkled with icing sugar and optionally, drizzled with maple syrup (of course).

I made one third of the recipe, enough for two.  Here's a peek inside:

It was delicious served warm, though I thought it definitely needed the maple syrup for moisture.  A word of warning - it is also very filling.  Don't be suckered into a double helping unless you are really hungry.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website