BIRTHDAY CAKE

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No, this isn’t my end product, this is the foxy cake (from bloglovin) that made my heart skip a beat and fuel my desire to bake an orange and almond cake for my birthday.

Yes,  I baked my own cake because frankly, I don’t trust any of my friends in the kitchen, plus, wine comes first, I doubt any of them thought of organizing a birthday cake. It’s like the stork delivering babies, birthday cakes are just always there. No one really knows where it comes from, but ever-present on it’s post, the cake is like my mother with a camera, ready for action. Bring on the candles, spittle and sparklers.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups almond flour

1 t cardamom

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t salt

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup honey

1/4 cup melted butter (or extra-virgin olive oil)

thumb of fresh ginger, grated

2 oranges, zested and juiced

2T honey

GARNISH:

Fresh jasmine, roasted almonds, pistachios, forest berries, citrus blossom cream, anything, just put anything on there that would satisfy your heart and make your eyes sparkle.

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Prepare a round springform baking tin with butter.

In the bigger bowl, mix the dry ingredients, almond flour, cardamom, salt.

In another bowl, mix the eggs, honey, butter, ginger and orange zest. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients.

Fold in until just blended and pour into your prepped baking tin.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. Or just until it’s a gorgeous deep gold colour and the knife comes out clean from the center.

While the cake is bronzing away, heat up the orange juice and table spoon of honey to make a syrup.

The moment that cake sets it’s hot feet on the counter, drench it in the syrup. Allow to cool, even if it’s just slightly, before serving.

My personal serving suggestion would be an orange blossom or jasmine whipped cream, but people go nuts for pistachios, toasted almonds, toasted coconut or you could even make a wicked dark chocolate ganache.

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The honourable Mr tom and cheese

The fabulous pan toastie: The honourable Mr tom and cheese

I can fill the halls of the royal palace, the walls of china and berlin, with love songs and lyrics for pan toasties born from the royal lineage of Monsieur et Madame Croque.

Copious amounts of oozing fragrant cheese, ribboning with each salivating bite put to bed between crusty charred slices of fresh bread marinated in butter or a full green extra virgin olive oil. Add onions or bacon, tomato or egg, for your flavour of the day. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE!

Today I am perfectly pleased with the honourable Mr tom and cheese.

Ingredients:

Beautiful cheese of choice, I went for a smoked 6 month cheddar

Fresh tomato, sliced

Olives, I spread some love with a chilli olive tapenade

Fresh oreganum, for deep frying

2 slices of bread as you please, seedy whole wheat did the trick

salt and pepper to season

Heat up a fresh full bodied olive oil. It’s ok to have it smoking. The better the quality of oil, the higher temperature you can fire up for cooking before you poison yourself.

Scatter the fresh oreganum in the hot oil and fry until see through, remove quickly and drain it on kitchen towl.

Stack all your goodies on one slice (with the exception of oreganum), season to taste and seal the deal with the other slice.

Ease your sarmie into the hot oiled pan and brown the beauty until the cheese is gooey and outside is as crisp as the librarian’s stare.

Slice and top with the crispy herbs and indulge with a rich espresso maybe even a scoop of buttery gelato.

MA PETIT MACARONS

Always intimidated by the giant shadow who’s name still eludes me; macaron? mungo? meringue? Either way, this itty bitty treat is a sweet pill for painstaking hours spent in the kitchen.

One day, I was feeling rather cheeky and decided to move while the feeling lasted. What with baking not being my big gift to man kind one has to act!

Guess what? As I pumped the foreign on my speakers (a la Edith Piaf) and from my oven, les petits macarons ont été un succès. OUI!

Here’s the recipe. Now just can everybody calm down, no need to pretend to be uppity. Just be cool. Macarons can smell fear.

100 g almond flour

3 T cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

4 egg whites

Sift the flour and cocoa.

In a super clean grease free bowl, whisk your egg whites with an electric beater until frothy. Add the castor sugar little by little and whisk away until the meringue turns sticky and super shiny.

Fold the dry mix in 2 batches into the meringue. Have your baking trays ready with silmat/baking paper and pipe little dots to your fancy. (well spaced from each other mind you.) Whack the tray a couple of times on the counter and scream something French.

Have your oven ready at 170ºC. Let your babies rest for 20-30 minutes until a layer has formed that isn’t sticky to touch.

Bake for something around 14 minutes, turning your tray at halftime.

Remove and allow to cool.

Ganach filling:

1 slab dark choc

30 ml cream

a tot of whisky perhaps?

Heat the cream, add the chocolate in pieces and stir until melted through. (Don’t apply any more heat). Add the tot of whatever tickles your tastebuds. Scoop into a piping bag and wait for the little devils to cool down.

Pair the best suited halves and pipe the ganache onto a half, sandwich et voila!

PLEASE REMEMBER. THIS RECIPE MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. JUST PLAY UNTIL YOU FIND YOUR METHOD. Ovens, outside temp, your mood, etc may all play crucial parts in the prep.

Bonne chance!

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BRASILIAN BARBEQUE & BEYOND

Oi carimba! I don’t even know if it’s the right phrase or even the right language but boy oh boy does this book evoke a serious need to speak in strange tongues.
Beautiful seasonal produce grilled and plated.

Fresh produce popped on the grill.
Fresh produce popped on the grill.

It’s pure Brasilian, pure like the morning sun with your cup of strong coffee, you can taste the tempting forest, smell the icing sugar beaches and feel the fires burning, happy voices cackling into the dark hours of the night. Flashes of flowers, feathers and flames.

Celebrating the love of meat.
Celebrating the love of meat.

This is not just a recipe book, but a Brasilian food bible for the non-Brasilian. It’s stuffed like a Matambre with goods and guides. Everything on traditional meat cuts, beautiful stories of faraway places, staple treats and fresh ingredients, the Brasilian way of do’s and don’ts and of course the traditional oh-so terribly exotic recipes, all guiding you ever so gently to the bright light.

Caramelly douce de leite with breakfast pancakes and crispy bacon.
Caramelly douce de leite with breakfast pancakes and crispy bacon.

This book is perfect timing as the soccer world cup kicked off in Brasil and is in full swing. I must admit, I am not the most enthusiastic soccer fan, but this beautiful book may very well temporarily turn me to the beautiful game. So, there is absolutely no time to lose. Light the fires, shake and ‘sluk’ those Caipirinhas and let’s feast!
Fresh drinks and things.

Images photographed from the The Cabana Cookbook: Brasilian Barbeque and Beyond

batter bake-off

My challenging(ly) talented parents argued over who has the best hake batter recipe. My mother swears by the recipe of her mother, as she does with all her recipes. But my jack-in-a-box pops prefers his own intuition with a pinch of nostalgia.

Of course he also credits the wisdom of his mother but when the pot boils down to a reduction, she can only get credit in the wisps of nostalgia that linger in your nose and tickle your palate.

So thanks to my competitive nature I so furiously received wrapped in a box of genes, I challenged them to a batter bake off.

and they're off
and they’re off
2
ma vs pa
3
some spying on the opposition
4
so I made a salad
5
dipped and dunked
6
it looks all the same to me
7
I just had calamari instead