Christmas has been and gone and with it the traditionally festive dessert of choice in Australia, (with its warm weather), the humble ‘Pavlova.’ This ubiquitous dessert really needs no introduction and not wishing to trigger my New Zealand counterparts, I won’t mention its origins, but will note the recipe has Australian variations!
Discussions around this dessert led to a four way cooking challenge which I will explain further in the post.
My take on the Traditional Pavlova Recipe, is mainly decorative but it works well to add to the festive appearance for a special occasion or to spoil a family member.
Still piled high with a delicious marshmallow centre and surrounded by the crunchy meringue shell that we all know and love, this pavlova is topped high with seasonal fruits, whipped cream, or custard as well as cream, (depending on your cholesterol level).
As Pavlova is generally Gluten-free, (omit the cornflour), you can serve this to sensitive tummies as well! Just check the chocolate you use is gluten-free too, if you have Coeliac guests.
Topping of seasonal fruits: eg. cherries, mangoes, raspberries or kiwifruit
N.B. Undecorated pavlova can be made several days ahead; store in an airtight container, prior to decoration.
Method – Making a Chocolate Dome
Spray a 12″ or 28cm plastic or pyrex bowl lightly with oil and place in the freezer. Melt chocolate on low heat on the stove in a double boiler or in the microwave if you prefer.
Remove the bowl from the freezer and pour in half of the melted chocolate. Rotate the bowl to cover as much of the inside surface as possible, using a pastry brush to push the chocolate out to the rim. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes.
To finish the chocolate dome, use a pastry brush to brush remaining melted chocolate over existing layer, ensuring any thin areas are touched up. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set.
Remove the bowl from the freezer. Trim the chocolate on the lip of the bowl to create an even base line and then gently rotate and tap the sides of the bowl to release the dome with a rolling pin. Run a knife along the sides of the bowl to release the dome slightly. Once chocolate comes away from the edge on all sides of the bowl the dome is ready.
3. Meanwhile, top the pavlova with cream and decorate with mango slices, cherries and raspberries. Carefully cover finished pavlova with the chocolate dome. Serve immediately.
Tip: use a wooden rolling pin or similar utensil to “smash” the chocolate casing when serving and prior to slicing.
Those of you who have been following my blog for some time, will know that Norwegian and Scandinavian things are very close to my heart, so it will come as no surprise to read that I am sharing a Norwegian recipe with you.
This is a traditional Norwegian cake with an intense yellow colour. Not too sweet but a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.
NB. This is not Julekake – or Julekake which sounds similar, is equally delicious and is served at Christmas time. No, this is Gulkake as in ‘Gul’ – the norwegian word for yellow.
Gul Blomst = Yellow Flower; Gul Trøye = Yellow Jersey therefore:
Gul Kake = Yellow Cake – well, you get the idea.
The intense yellow colour comes from the SIX egg yolks this recipe contains and that’s also the reason it’s a great time of year to make it, if you live in the southern hemisphere?
Why this time of year?
Because those of us around the southern Ocean, that is Australians and New Zealanders, are busily creating loads of Pavlovas to eat with friends. Pavlovas are often the first choice of dessert, for summer time barbeques, as well as Christmas menus, as it’s too darn hot for warm desserts like plum puddings.
Pavlovas may contain as much as 7 egg whites and you can rapidly get really sick of making omelettes with the leftover yolks. Therefore, making ‘Gulkake,’ is a great alternative to combine when making a ‘Pav,’ (as we like to call them).
You do know Australians shorten names for everything don’t you?
It is 1996 and I’m a young mum with two small sons. They’re two demanding boys, with big ideas and fertile minds. They want to play, but it’s time to prepare dinner for the family.
The oldest boy turns back to set up electrical circuits with batteries and LED light bulbs, whilst the smaller son, Master Three, gathers soft toys, from his prodigious collection, that would be the envy of any Sesame Street cast member and sets up a puppet show singing tunes of Thomas the Tank Engine. I turn back to the stove.
Besides the two boys and the Moth, there is a third child in the house.
I have a daughter I am about to lose. She is not mine, but one I am caring for and have grown so fond of. In less than a week from this night, she will return home to Denmark and we will miss her dreadfully.
Over the eleven months she lived in our family as a Danish Exchange student, we learnt things about Danish life and travelled to a gazillion Aussie places to show her as much of Australia as one can do, with two small boys in tow.
For her last meal on Australian soil, she asks if I can serve her an Aussie Meat Pie. Nothing fancy, just a Meat pie.
She tells me that there are no Meat pies served in Denmark and laments that she will miss those piping hot, oh-so-tender meaty chunks, steeped in rich gravy and covered with a rather messy, get-it-all-over-your-lap, flaky style pastry. Later that week, she eats that pie topped with blood-red squirts of tomato sauce. Yes, that means ‘ketchup,’ but it’s never called that here.
Meat Pie Etiquette
There are unwritten rules about how one should eat a meat pie, especially at the footy.
Take off the pie top and eat.
Squirt tomato sauce on top of meat.
Eat tomato-sauce topped meat from inside the pie
Eat the meatless pie crust last
When our dear “exchange daughter,” returns to visit us in a few years, her first request is:
“Can we have Meat pie for dinner?”
Origins of the Australian Meat Pie
An Australian meat pie was produced in 1947 by L. T. McClure in a small bakery in Bendigo and became the famous Four’ n Twenty pie. … Other manufacturers predate this, and the pie manufacturer Sargent can trace their pie-making back to 1891.
Whatever its origin, Meat pie is as Aussie as a “snag” on the Barbie, as Kangaroos, AFL, (Australian Football), and Holden ‘utes.’ Which reminds me of a song, one that Bushboy might recognize?
Making a Meat Pie
I’ve not made a meat pie myself, so I have no special recipe to share. (Sorry to disappoint you, Sandy). For many years, I was vegetarian and I completely lost the taste for eating any kind of meat. But then the Geebung bakers came along and ruined my meat-free diet.
Trying to emulate the lofty cooking skills of TheBun ‘n Oven bakery, (in the very iconically named suburb of Geebung, in Queensland), or the highly acclaimed piemakers of The Yatala Pie Company, would be doomed to failure. These bakers are Kings in creating a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pie pastry with top quality ingredients. [And no, this is not a paid advertisement.]
Meat pies are found on offer at most Bakeries in Australia, along with the Lamington, another iconic Aussie food. Although you may find dubious imitations of meat pies, in the frozen section of any supermarket, you might need a cast-iron stomach to tolerate those of lesser quality.
Meat Pie Accompaniments
Some Australians prefer their Meat pies served with Mushy Peas atop, something that is more English than Australian, or a cottage pie, with potato and a sprinkle of cheese.
Boringly, a Meat pie in our family NEEDS to be served with lashings of mashed potatoes and green peas. It’s essential, (according to the Moth), and he refuses to eat one without these mundane accompaniments.
In a modern world, where kale and chia seeds might reign supreme, this humble dish, with its high cholesterol reputation and high-fat content, is fast becoming less popular with Australians.
Readers brave enough to take on the Geebung Bakers could try this Meat pie recipe.
Have you a particular dish that you know you don’t like, but have never really ever tried it?
Or perhaps you were once bitten, twice shy in regards to a particular food?
For me, that was Sticky Date Pudding.
I would swerve away from these dried out chewy concoctions at buffets and head straight for the chocolate mousse, pavlovas or berry desserts on offer. I am not really a fan of dates, anyway, unless they are in a Mocha Date loaf, one that I have made at home, myself.
Would you call that being a kind of food snob? Hand up – that’s me!
The thought that I was a food snob struck me in an idle moment yesterday, as I was adding the last of the brown sugar from its packet, atop my morning porridge.
As is my habit, I double-checked the information on the side of the empty brown sugar packet, prior to disposing of the packet, in case there was an interesting recipe that I might consider making.
“Oh.” I sighed with resignation, disappointed to see the suggested recipe was merely sticky date pudding. I tossed the packet aside to go in the rubbish.
Not interested in that, I thought.
Nevertheless, with the topic of pudding on my mind, I struck up a conversation with the M.o.t.h. (aka Man of the House).
“Do you like Sticky Date Pudding?”
“No, I don’t.” was his curt reply. “Never have,” he said, shutting down the topic fast.
I can only blame some kind of homemaker’s intuition that made me re-consider that recipe for sticky date pudding, or it could have been the brainwashing of those Zero waste bloggers.
I noted that cream was one of the listed ingredients in the sauce and making it would mean I could use up the leftover cream sitting in the fridge and not feel guilt at being wasteful.
Add to this, I do like to try new recipes and I had never made this before. I am making #onecakeaweek over at the Home by the Sea and a pudding would be a lovely addition to the theme.
What is the Health Benefits of Eating Dates?
Often maligned, dates are surprisingly good for your health. They may aid with digestion, improve bone health, lower cholesterol and are a tasty source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and fibre. Amazing, really.
The umpteen health benefits of dates has made the delicious fruit one of the most sought after foods in the world of health and nutrition.
So, last night at the Home by the Sea, I made that CSR version of Sticky Date Pudding. Can you believe it turned out to be highly successful with the Moth and a completely delightful surprise for me. (Otherwise, it probably would not rate a whole blog post).
It was soft and delicate and there was not one sign of a chewy date, just a subtle fruity flavour with a freshly baked cake-like texture. The butterscotch sauce, which I was so wary of, initially, could be described as a creamy and buttery, ‘nectar of the Gods,’ with a molasses-like sugary flavour that oozed over the pudding, like velvet.
Why was I so tentative about Sticky Dates? This was not the same dried out chewy version of pudding, I always thought of, at all.
As you have surely guessed, I am now a convert, and the M.o.t.h. could not stop raving about it. In fact, so enamoured was he with this version of Pudding he was going back to the kitchen for a third helping, when I intervened suggesting he might like to keep some for the following night. (I was considering his waistline, of course!)
I blogged earlier about the benefits of magnesium rich foods, and broccoli and spinach are great sources of magnesium. Broccoli soup is an easy and delicious way to eat much more broccoli than one can eat as a humble steamed vegetable.
500 g broccoli (diced stalks and sprigs)
Several large spinach leaves, chopped roughly (or silverbeet or rainbow chard)
1 onion, diced
Several celery stalks,sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream, (if you want cream of broccoli soup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pepper and salt to taste
Lemon slices as garnish
Saute the onion and celery in a pan til the onion turns transparent.
Wash broccoli and cut into sprigs and add broccoli, chopped Spinach, chicken stock and onion/ celery mix to a large saucepan.
Bring to boil and simmer for 10- 15 minutes til broccoli is soft.
Then either A or B below:
A. If wanting to make cream of broccoli soup, process using hand blender or vitamizer-blender till smooth.
Add cream and return to saucepan heating through whilst adding seasoning and lemon juice. Garnish and serve
B. Gently blend or stir til broccoli breaks up into small sprigs. Add seasonings and lemon juice. Garnish and serve.
A nice accompaniment to Broccoli and Spinach soup would be almond or walnut bread. Delicious to ponder about, even better to taste.
The Guest post for this week’s Friendly Friday theme of Nostalgia, comes from Lorelle, an Australian Mum of two, passionate traveller and foodie enthusiast, who blogs at A Mindful Traveller.
I had the immense pleasure of meeting the lovely Lorelle a couple of years ago and she has been so kind to write a beautiful narrative about a very different kind of cake, one that is not only full of tradition but also has a special meaning for her and her family.
“Interestingly, there are two forms of nostalgia, restorative and reflective.
For me, Nostalgia is purely reflective. Stepping down memory lane with no need to recreate the past, is gratifying. The memories and more importantly, the feelings associated with those memories, are forever embedded with us.
Food is a remarkable trigger for Nostalgia, as it is a powerful sensory recollection. We all associate certain foods with memories and feelings.
Sri Lankan Connection
Coming from a Sri Lankan family, food is an important cultural way of life. And when I reflect on the vast variety of delicious and tasty Sri Lankan foods, there is one particular dish that is not only my favourite but one that holds special memories as it is only prepared and eaten at that all-important sacred feast of Christmas.
These customs and traditions allow us to preserve our important ancestral history. Unique, individual stories, wisdom and in this case recipes, passed from generation to generation. As Sri Lankan migrants, my parents continue to pass on their significant heritage to their children, and at important celebrations of the year where family gather, recipes like Sri Lankan Love Cake remind us of where it all began.
History of Sri Lankan Love Cake
This traditional Sri Lankan cake was inspired by the Portuguese from the 1500’s. As the name suggests, Love Cake was originally made to win the heart of an admirer. It is made from cashew nuts, semolina and candied winter melon/squash called puhul dosi (pumpkin preserve). Exotic spices and floral essences create a fragrant, sweet, spiced cake with a soft chewy inside and a crunchy crust.
There are many different variations to Love Cake, with each “Aunty” insisting her recipe is better than the other! Practice is also another requirement. Don’t be alarmed if you do not succeed the first time. Adjusting ingredients or oven temperatures may be necessary.
Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe
In the recipe below, I have used a bain-marie of water to create that soft chewy centre. By placing a tray of water at the bottom of the oven, the moisture stays within the cake and doesn’t dry it out.
So, it is here that Christmas and its celebratory traditional cakes, bring great Nostalgia of our original family home, my grandparents and the sense of togetherness and family love.
Sri Lankan Love Cake
Makes: 2 rectangular baking trays
Prep Time: 30 mins (Eggs need to be at room temperature)
Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 mins
450g butter, softened
650g cashew nuts (pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped, keeping some larger pieces. Do not blend to a powder consistency)
12 egg yolks (at room temperature)
7 egg whites (at room temperature)
700g caster sugar
500 g preserved pumpkin (puhul dosi), finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
2 tbsp almond essence
juice of 1 orange
rind of 1 lemon
2 tsp nutmeg, ground
2 tsp cardamon, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp clove, ground
Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced)
Grease two rectangular cake tins and line with foil and then baking paper.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
Combine the softened butter and semolina together in a separate bowl using your fingers. Add this to the egg and sugar mixture in thirds, beating to combine.
Transfer mixture into a very large mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon incorporate the nuts, pumpkin preserve. Then add rosewater, almond essence, honey, juice and rind, stirring well. Add remaining dry spices and mix.
Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and gently fold through the egg whites into the cake batter in two batches, do not over beat mixture. The egg whites will loosen up the mixture.
Pour batter into prepared cake tins.
Place a large tray of water on bottom oven shelf.
Bake the cakes at 160°C for 20 mins on middle oven shelf.
Reduce heat to 150°C and bake for a further 2 hours and 15 minutes.
If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
Once cooked and brown on top, remove cakes and allow to cool in trays before transferring. Cut into rectangles or squares when cool.
If you are wondering about preserved pumpkin, Lorelle writes to tell me that:
Preserved pumpkin or Puhul dosi, can be purchased from the Indian/Sri Lankan grocers or you could try to make your own. You can alternatively use preserved or candied squash/winter melon or pineapple. A health food store might stock these items.
When the internet came along, it was suggested that everything would be done online, from shopping to employment and communications. Individuals would not need to leave home to live their consumer lives.
The public however, has shown that we are primarily social creatures and are reluctant to embrace a completely virtual lifestyle.Whilst online shopping has undoubtedly increased, it wasn’t the tidal wave envisaged by the tech industry, until Covid 19 came along.
Our lives have become more virtual, whether we liked it, or not.
Getting takeout or takeaway doesn’t seem to give us the same experience as dining in at a restaurant or cafe. Neither does the online shopping experience feel quite as satisfying as the benefits of browsing in person at a store, feeling the fabric in a garment, physically trying on clothing, or chatting to another shopper, seeing what is around.
Because it is not just the objective alone, that is important.
It’s the whole consumer experience.
The atmosphere at the cafes and shops is attractive to us through our senses: the watching of people; the smells, sights and sounds; (overwhelming for some), or the conversation with friends you meet whilst shopping; the interaction with Cafe staff and fellow diners; the inspirational decor on the walls, or from the books on the shelves in a bookstore; even the art on the walls.
All of this, together, gives us a pleasurable sensory experience that is clearly important to us, as a comment on my second blog alluded.
“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
Benefits of Covid and Virtual Lifestyle
During the Covid lockdown, skies, streets and air appears cleaner and we have more time on our hands. None of that horrid sitting stuck in traffic on the way home from work, or rushing to catch a crowded train with a million other commuters at 5pm.
Other people discover there is time to get to know their kids, becoming involved, by choice or necessity, in their education, or generally engaging with them more because there is little ecternal events to absorb their time. (Albeit for some, this could be far more stressful and family life might suffer from a lack of outside exposure, stimulation or influence).
All wonderful benefits of an enforced, semi-virtual life.
Yet, it seems even introverts or socially phobic individuals have struggled with being cooped up during the Covid pandemic.
We, as humans, seem to value social interaction above any virtual experience.
Cafe Society Lifestyle
Prior to the appearance of Covid, the Cafe society was a popular lifestyle choice in Australia. When cafes closed down in lock-down, no one knew what would happen. Aussie Cafes/Diners and Restaurants were legally allowed to operate only on a takeaway, (takeout), basis.
Many chose to close, temporarily, or permanently and the alfresco cafe dining experience came to an abrupt end.
The Beach Esplanade, near my home, is lined with popular cafes and restaurants of all persuasions and cuisines. Being smaller businesses, most have closed completely, but some remain open. Last night, I placed a phone order for a ‘Quarantine Pack’, at one of the restaurants. Being a Friday night, I wondered what I’d find when I arrived for the meal.
At the Italian restaurant itself, a makeshift pick-up counter was laid out with social distancing markers in the formerly packed out al fresco dining area. Customers awaited their order in silence, or hushed in conversations with their partner, spaced well apart from each other. This was a very different picture to the regular Friday night.
On the opposite side of the road, overlooking the sea, couples and small family groups sat on benches or rugs, at the required social distance, eating their takeaway meals and watching the moonlight filtering over the waves, lapping the shore.
It was another life, but it was okay. Not ideal, but it had a beauty all of its own, even a little nostalgic or romantic perhaps.
It begs the question as to how much of a virtual lifestyle we can lead?
Is it possible for human beings to live like this, at all?
In addition to our regular posts, the Friendly Friday team at TheSandyChronicles and StPA, are featuring Guest Posts from Bloggers who contribute to the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge.
Ju-Lyn, a Singaporean blogger, from All Things Bright and Beautiful especially enjoys food and cooking, in addition to making ‘purposeful choices, ‘ and has kindly contributed a guest post to our weekly theme of “Something Different,“ in the form of a post about a Basque Burnt Cheesecake.
Ju-Lyn regularly posts mouth-watering foodie delights, on her blog, and this recipe is no exception.
Did someone say Cheesecake?
I hope you will be tempted to try it, for yourself.
Guest Post by All Things Bright and Beautiful
I love cheesecake, of all sorts: baked/unbaked, cream cheese/ricotta, New York/Japanese. I will scoff each with delight!
It was love at first bite! So enamoured was I that I didn’t realise there was no crust, which I only registered in retrospect. I have never made a cheesecake without a crust before so the idea intrigued me and I begged the recipe off the friend, who gifted me the slice.
It took us a while to get started because our baking shop was out of 500g tubes of cream cheese. After searching for more than a week with no small tubes in sight, I decided to take the plunge and bought a 2kg block. With this quantity, I was free to experiment. The recipe is simple enough, but it makes a tall cake baked in a 6-in circle tin, resulting in a silky gooey centre. Older Daughter wanted to see if dividing the batch into two, (ie. 2 x 6-in tins), would make any difference as she prefers a firmer crumb.
So we did. The verdict is split. Half of us love the taller version, with a slightly squidgy centre. The other half prefer the uniformly firmer texture of the shorter slice. We do all agree that we love the intense, smokey caramelised top of both versions.
· 3 large eggs, room temp (approx 150g of eggs without shell)
· 270g heavy cream/thickened cream
· 20g all-purpose flour
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 1 tsp lemon juice
1. Line a 6” circle cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper and trimmed to have an overhanging amount of 1.5″-2″.
2. Preheat oven to 240 degrees C.
3. Cream sugar and cream cheese together until smooth.
4. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
5. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Beat until just mixed.
6. In a separate bowl, mix flour and heavy cream until smooth.
7. Slowly pour the cream/flour mixture into the cheese mixture until mixed through.
8. Bake for 30-35mins until top is dark amber and almost charred at parts but the middles still has a wobble to them when you give jiggle the pan.
9. Cool in the tin fully on a wire rack at room temperature to allow the cheesecake to set.
10. Remove from the baking tin and enjoy at room temperature.
11. For a less “gooey” center, place into the fridge after cooled to allow it to chill and set.
For the 2-tin version, we lined the tins with only 1 layer of baking paper.
We shortened the bake time by 5 min.
Thank you Ju-Lyn for creating something different for us.
The photos are enough temptation for me to try creating this on my own.
If you would like to feature in one of the Friendly Friday Team’s Guest Posts, please contact Sandy, from (TheSandyChronicles) and Amanda, from (StPA), either by way of comment below or directly via their Blog Contact Pages.
The Friendly Friday Photo Challenge with the theme Something Different, will conclude Friday this week, when Sandy will post a new theme on The Sandy Chronicles.
In these strange times of pandemic, we are called to act differently from the norm. We adjust our lifestyle to accommodate the lock downs and social distancing, according to our own countries. I like to think of it as the beginning of something new, rather than something lost.
A New Kind of Photography Challenge
With new beginnings, comes change.
Friendly Friday is changing. Slightly.
It is our intention to expand the Friendly Friday challenge.
In the first two weeks of each month, participants are encouraged to dig a little deeper into the theme with their response. adding a short narrative, a story or recipe along with their photo.
Guest Bloggers Wanted
Furthermore, we will be publishing a guest post from a Friendly Friday blogger, in addition to the theme, which will be published on our blogs, in the second week of each month.
If you would like to nominate for a guest post slot on either of the host’s blogs, please let us know in the comments below. More details below.
How has Friendly Friday Changed?
This week and for the first week of each month following, we will set the F.F. theme and, in addition, post either a story, a recipe or a narrative of some kind, along with our photo, addressing the Friendly Friday theme for that week.
As always, it is up to you to interpret the weekly theme, as you see fit. You are only really limited by your imagination.
Bloggers who prefer to simply post a photo, will not be left out as the remaining two or three weeks of each month, will be devoted to the regular Photo challenge in the previous format. i.e. You will be presented with a different photo prompt suggestion for you to interpret as you wish, each week.In this way you will still have an opportunity to publish a photo or photos, on Friendly Friday, if you so choose.
Friendly Friday Theme for this Week
This week, I am challenging you to post a photo and story/recipe/narrative about:
Something New/Something Different
It might not be a food you have tried or a recipe that is the “something different” for you, it might be some other kind of activity, or something from your past that you have suddenly had the opportunity to revisit, something new in your garden, or a different way of doing things.
For me, it was baking with a different food! Read more of what I made, below. But first a reminder on how to participate in Friendly Friday.
How to Join Friendly Friday
To participate in the Challenge this week, you need to:
Create a Friendly Friday Post titled: ‘Something new/something different‘
If you can, include a recipe or write a short narrative or story, but most importantly, include a photo interpreting this week’s theme.
Tag your post,“Friendly Friday – Something New, Something Different”
Leave a comment below so that the hosts and others can find your post (ping backs don’t always work)
Let the hosts know if you would like to be featured as a guest blogger.
My New Beginnings with Something Different
Most people say they don’t have time to cook. Has Covid given us more time? Or only reduced distractions so we are willing to do things we have not done avoided before?
Cooking New and Different Foods
I’ve never in my life used Figs before. Neither have I made a Sourdough Mother. My kids might teasingly say I am a sour mother, so I guess I am halfway there! Lol!
So it is definitely a new beginning in the kitchen.
But let’s get back to the figs.
Fig and Walnut Loaf
I don’t really know anything about figs. Figs are something new and different for me. I might even confess to being a bit terrified of using figs. But I don’t want to admit ignorance. They are, after all, very much on trend at the moment.
Not only do I not know how to prepare figs, or how they can be eaten, I don’t know what they go well with, or their nutritional benefit. In fact the only contact I have had with Figs prior to this, is from my local cafe.
They served a mean Fig and Walnut Loaf, sliced and toasted, with lashings of warm butter, strawberries and icing sugar! Garnished with mint.
It was fantastic, it was filling and I was in love.
Soon after discovering the delight that comes with eating figs, this local cafe closed down. I went into an a kind of fig/walnut withdrawal that might see me raid the walnut jar late in to the night! So it became my mission to find a recipe that would equal the cafe’s culinary delight of Fig and Walnut Loaf.
Today it was done and happily shared with neighbours. It was good, really good and now my addiction has been properly fed, the body will no doubt, demand a repeat performance. Figs may be on the menu for some time to come.
Writing a Guest Post for Friendly Friday
Are you interested in being featured here as a guest blogger?
Would you like to write a guest post to be published here on Friendly Friday?
You may choose your own theme or alternatively use our suggestions, but a guest post would follow the format:
Address the weekly Friendly Friday theme by writing a post.
When is a Cookie a biscuit? When you live in Australia, of course.
On April 25 each year, Anzac Day, the nation stops to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of a group of soldiers that have contributed to the development of our national psyche. We don’t have many traditions of our own so we have adopted this to be a signifier that we are Australian. And the Anzac tradition has even spawned a biscuit or cookie! How Australian!
Today, there won’t be any dawn Anzac services attended by the many descendants of those soldiers, so it is likely that we might all be baking these biscuits at home, remembering the soldiers.
The ANZAC Biscuit
During WWI, a certain type of biscuit/cookie was sent by mail, in sealed tins, to the troops fighting in the filthy trenches at Lone Pine and Anzac Cove in Turkey. They were sent all the way from Australia, from the mothers and sweethearts of those brave, young men who were to fight Britain’s war against Turkey.
It was thought this biscuit would keep well in transit for an extended period of time. As such they are regarded as quintessentially Australian and our tradition of making Anzac biscuits on April 25, has continued for the past 9 years. Almost as old as this blog itself!
Below you will find the recipe.
Anzac Biscuit Recipe
I have posted two versions here. The first recipe is mine and the second, the trusty Women’s Weekly magazine version. Please post what temperature worked for you, if you do try the recipe…
Preheat Oven 170 – 180 C or 350 F
1 cup plain or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup – you can use honey or maple syrup as an alternative
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
160 g or (⅔ cup) butter, melted
Method 1. Sift flour and ginger into a mixing bowl and add coconuts, oats and sugar. Mix and make a well in the centre ready for the addition of the wet ingredients.
2. Stir in Golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb soda, in a small bowl, until combined.
3. Add the syrup mix into the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well.
4. Take heaped teaspoons of mix and roll into small balls.
5. Place on trays and flatten gently.
6. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown
7. Cool on tray 10 minutes until they firm up slightly.
Wanting to try the ever faithful Woman’s Weekly recipes, last year I cooked up a second batch. These ones aren’t so crisp, but if you like the flavour of brown sugar, they are worth a ‘go.’
Woman’s Weekly Anzacs
Preheat oven 160 -175 C or 350 F
125 g (I cup) butter chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon golden syrup
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons water
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup Rolled Oats
Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat.
Add bicarb and water to butter mix.
Mix remaining dry ingredients and combine wet and dry.
Spoon teaspoons of mix on to lined baking sheet, and flatten slightly.
Most of us are familiar with ‘Michelin stars – the rating system for high-class restaurants the world over. Those highly sought after Michelin stars are indicative of excellence in consistency, presentation of food and mastery of technique.
What would you do if you were presented with a Michelin meal you couldn’t eat? Read the first part of a Michelin Meal in Japan.
Eleven Course Meal
My stay at a traditional Ryokan, or ‘Old World’ Inn, complete with Tatami mats and sliding paper walls in Kyoto, Japan, included an evening meal, which was served to us in our very own private dining room that comprised part of the sleeping quarters. A fantastic arrangement! Yes, well not necessarily.
It meant not eating the meal was never going to be an option, as we couldn’t leave the restaurant and go home. This was in our home, albeit our room, even if it was only for a short time.
Unfortunately, my daughter a.k.a. Miss Teen now ‘Adult,’ refused to eat any of Michelin Courses #1,#2 and #3 out of 11 courses. And this entire menu was all about seafood.
From Crab to Squid, Sea Urchin to Tilefish, (whatever that is), the menu lurched from one sea creature to another form of oceanic life. [With one token course that constituted a beef dish].
Me? I love seafood of all kinds. If it came from the sea, and is edible, I will eat it.
Miss Teen now an ‘Adult,’ on the other hand, would have none of it. She cannot eat seafood, or rather will not eat seafood. There was no forewarning of the menu contents, when we booked in at this Ryokan, so this was all a complete surprise.
On reading the menu, Daughter dear declared,
“Oh! I will just eat the rice!”
I dutifully opted for eating her untouched courses #1-3, but on re-examining the menu, I quickly realized I couldn’t possibly consume each and every part of the full eleven courses, for both of us.
I had to think. Which of the following options could I take for the rest of the meal?
Send her meal portions back uneaten
Tell the staff my teen is ill and can’t eat it
Apologise profusely and possibly insult the chef
Leave the Ryokan for other accommodation
None of those options sounded palatable, (no pun intended), and there were so many courses! To insult the chef would be rude, culturally insensitive and ungrateful. I also had to bear in mind, the Chef was to serve the rest of MY meal, which I was looking forward to eating.
What was I to do?
Michelin Food Disposal
I looked at the small bin provided in our room.
It would only handle paper and dry contents. I could not leave uneaten seafood portions there.
We were to catch an airport taxi and a 10-hour flight home to Australia the next day, so hiding it in my luggage would result in me smelling like a fish tank! Not the sweetest perfume de toilet!
I devised a plan. After the gentile kimono-clad room attendant/waitress, served up the next culinary marine delight and had left the room, I found a zip lock bag in my luggage.
It was similar to the ones they give you at the airport for storing toiletries, but that was all I had. Surreptitiously, I emptied the uneaten portions of daughter’s courses, within. It wasn’t easy. Those bags are meant for lip gloss and small hand creams. Not five courses from a traditional Japanese degustation style menu!
My subterfuge was very nearly discovered when the Japanese waiter returned, shortly after serving through the seventh course. Thank goodness she knocked on the door first. I would have had to fez up to ditching the food and how would that have looked?
Meanwhile Miss Teen Now an ‘Adult’ was by now, really hungry and looking forward to eating the course of rice. She suggested she might eat both our serves, as she was hungry. “Of course you can,” I reassured her.
Just before the rice was served, we were to be served tea. Green tea. At the mere mention of Green tea by the waiter, Miss Teen Now an Adult, shook her head vigorously to indicate ‘no,’ and eagerly awaited her bowl of rice.
The course of rice was then served – but to her dismay, one bowl not two, arrived, and was served to me only!
Miss Teen Now an ‘Adult,’ was completely forlorn. First all these serves of seafood and now no rice! The poor room attendant clearly had not understood. As soon as our door was closed again, I pushed the rice bowl towards her explaining I had more than enough to eat with all the sea urchins etc. and that she should have the rice.
If the truth be told, I’d have liked to try the rice as the Japanese are very particular about its quality. They do not like imported rice, and prefer the home-grown variety. Miss Teen Now an Adult, inhaled the whole bowl, before I had the chance to request even a small tasting portion. But that is okay.
Soup and Dessert
Strangely, a small bowl of miso soup course followed the rice – perhaps it aids digestion, or could it be that they think a person has consumed too much seafood, at that point? Remember there was now two bowls for me to drink, not one!
The Dessert course consisted of a Persimmon, times two, of course. I’d never eaten a persimmon before, so that was a novel experience and I confess to being quite partial to the sweet, delicate taste. I couldn’t get through the second one, so it also went into the baggie.
There was still my shady skulduggery of hiding food to address: about 5 courses of seafood and a half a persimmon sat in a zip lock baggie inside my handbag. It was 10 pm at night, I was in a Ryokan, in Japan and there was no rubbish bin in sight.
It was time to go out for a little walk.
Gion Bin Hunt and Geishas
Now in most countries, unless a G7 or Olympics were being held, it would not be too difficult to find a rubbish bin on the street, where I could discretely dispose of all aforementioned Michelin Chef scraps.
But this was Japan.
In Japan, each citizen is responsible for their own rubbish. Japanese people take home their used plastic drink bottles and empty food wrappers for recycling or dispose of them, to landfill. You must either pay for rubbish collections from your premises, or take it to the landfill, yourself. Thus, there are very few if any, public trash bins on the streets, in Japan.
It looked like we were in a long walk.
We walked the Gion with not a single bin, in sight. We passed several 7/11 stores along the way – no bins there either.
Around 10.30 pm we saw her.
A Geisha Girl in full attire.
The genuine Geishas are notoriously secretive and seeing a working Geisha in real life, really did make the whole rubbish disposal expedition, totally worthwhile.
In my excitement of seeing her, I fumbled for my camera, its carry cord becoming tangled up in the zip of my handbag, where said seafood was hiding. For a minute, I was completely distracted by the thought of a full-to-bursting ‘zip lock bag,’ spilling its unwanted Michelin meal contents inside my handbag, which would no doubt lead to me smelling like a tile-fish or sea urchin, for the next 24 hours! Meanwhile the Geisha was getting further away Ah!
An American tourist shouted at me to ‘run’ after the geisha, in order to get the prized photo. You can see him in the foreground. The Geisha, by then, had got some distance away. It was amazing how fast she moved in those traditional wooden shoes and maintained her poise. I got the photo. It is grainy, but one grainy photo is better than none.
You are told not to stop or ask Geishas to pose for photographs as they are considered highly skilled working ladies, who entertain guests through performing the ancient traditions of art, dance and singing and are handsomely paid for their time. And she did seem to be in a dreadful hurry.
Suddenly the fact that we had to walk further to find a bin, didn’t bother us as much. We eventually found one at the large Yasaka-jinja Shrine at the Gion. And we could both sleep easier for the rest of the night.
Miss Teen Now an ‘Adult,’ was really keen for breakfast, the next morning, but understandably so, don’t you think?