Sunday, April 29, 2007

Recent favourites

For those of you who like cooking as much as I do, a couple of our recent favourites.


Serves 6-8

You'll need a pudding basin and a clean cloth (muslin if you have it, chux if you don't).

1/2 cup chopped crystallised ginger
1/4 cup mixed peel
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped dried figs
1/4 cup chopped dried pear or apricot
2 tablespoons Amaretto
100 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons lemon juice
750 grams fresh ricotta
1/2 cup sour cream

Line pudding bowl with a damp cloth.

Mix dried fruit with Amaretto and infuse for a couple of hours.

Cream butter and sugar until light, then mix in egg yolks one at a time. Add zest and ricotta and mix well. Transfer to a bowl (assuming you've been using a food processor until now) and stir in soaked fruit, lemon juice and toasted almonds. Fold in sour cream. Transfer to the lined pudding bowl and cover the mixture with the extra cloth. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Turn out to serve with dried fruit, especially ginger, and Amaretto.

Chocolate cake

5 tablespoons caster sugar
275 grams plain dark chocolate, chopped
175 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
5 eggs, separated
40 grams plain flour, sifted
pinch salt
icing sugar for dusting
course white sugar and butter for lining the tin

Preheat oven to 160 C. Butter a 24 cm cake tin and sprinkle with sugar.

Melt butter, chocolate and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla essence. Leave to cool slightly then whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the flour.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add remaining sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Whisk around 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest.

Transfer mixture to the tin, tapping gently to remove air bubbles. Bake for around 40 minutes, or until the centre is slightly springy. Transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle with icing sugar once the cake is cool.

The cake is essentially chocolate flavoured butter, so it will keep for a while, but I've never known it to last the day. It's lovely with berries.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm dreaming of...

cupcakes and ice cream and creme brulee. Really, anything which involves the vanilla pods which just arrived (oh the joys of online shopping). Gorgeous, glossy and oily bourbon vanilla pods from Madagascar. My office is heady with the scent. It's going to be an excellent weekend.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunny, colourful, fabulous Madrid

Seeing the forecasts of grey skies and rain for Madrid last weekend, I didn't have terribly high hopes for our visit last weekend. But it seems the weather realised it owed me after our Paris trip turned out to be much colder and wetter than the forecasts had promised, and we had beautifully long, clear, warm sunny days to wander around the Spanish capital, visiting parks and tapas bars and museums and tapas bars and shops and tapas bars and shops. It was great! A wonderful city - bright and cheerful and friendly. We ate and drank too much, did an unprecedented amount of shopping (gasp!) and recovered with an afternoon nap in the park. Perfect.

It was also lovely to work in a small office again, where everyone knows each other and people talk to the receptionists. Working out of the Madrid office on Monday, I felt the closest thing to homesickness I've felt since we left Australia a year ago. I don't plan on moving back to Oz anytime soon, if ever, but I think our years in London are limited. Or maybe I'll just move to a smaller firm. Who knows?


Today's Dilbert

For anyone who has ever been involved in a work blog. Genius.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Suddenly I have a craving for saffron pashmak and no London supplier. Does anyone know of any Persian food stores in London?


Friday, April 20, 2007

Just try not to cry

This year's Pulitzer Prize for feature photography goes to Renée C. Byer of the Sacramento Bee. Start with the first photo and work your way through, reading the text of each. It's powerful stuff.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Today in the staff restaurant there were hazlenut creme brulees. Now I'm totally incapable of passing up on a creme brulee, so I broke my new Only Salads For Lunch vow (I'd like to say, until now, two weeks and going strong). And I wish I hadn't. It's terrible. It's not cooked, it has so much ground hazlenut that it is really heavy and gluggy, and just to be pedantic, I don't think it has any cream in it. All round disappointing. But it has inspired me to try making Frangelico creme brulee. With chunks of caramelised hazlenuts on top. Yum.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Down and Vego in Paris and London

Ok, so its been a fairly long time in between posts. But due to popular demand I'm back. (Well, due to Margie's demand really.)

I'm not quite sure what to write about that Margie hasn't mentioned already. We went to Paris for our anniversary, which was great. All rumours about French people being arrogant jerks to foreigners seem to be totally untrue as long as you are put a little effort into speaking French - even if your French is totally appalling. One of the major things that stuck me about Paris was the sheer number of Americans there. Every time we sat down to eat we found we were sitting next to Americans, you could hear them everywhere, and there was one night when a group of very loud Americans in the hotel room next to us just wouldn't shut up until the wee hours of the morning. And we went to Paris in the off season! Just as Melbourne has the highest population of Greeks anywhere in the world outside Athens (apparently) Paris must have the (itinerant) highest population of Americans anywhere in the world outside America.

As Margie has mentioned already Paris was great. That said, like most places in Europe it's not exactly a vegetarian's paradise. At one restaurant when I told the waiter I was vegetarian threw his hands up, exclaimed "Monsieur!"and walked away. Sure he was friendly, and he was doing it as a joke, and he did eventually come back, but as far as I can tell that's pretty much the best you can hope for as a vego in Paris. Upon his return he consulted with the chef and they decided they could cook me an omelette. I accepted, but Margie could see me trying to hid the fall in my expression. I had so many omelettes and other egg based meals in Paris that I was ready to cry if someone kindly offered to whip me up an omelette. Our next trip big trip is damn well going to be somewhere that has an extensive menu of things catering specifically to vegetarians. So that means somewhere like India or......... Well, probably just India.

I think the photo's Margie has put up on flickr show most of the places we went, so I won't go into an itinerary break down, but to sum it all up it was great. And it was nice to go to a city where the majority of people weren't shaped like apples, the teenagers wore more than just hoodies, and there were lots of people walking a variety of friendly looking dogs. The day after our return home to London I was walking along and saw a bunch of fat loud teenagers dressed in hoodies and tracksuit gear walking along at night with their status symbol pit bull and thought "Ah London!"

I think that's probably enough for now. Goodbye people

Ps - Ok, having received some feedback on this post let me just make it clear - I loved Paris. As Margie has said already, if we could speak French and sort Visas we'd move there in a second. I am just having a whinge. It's what I do. I could write about all the good things that happened while we were there, but personally I find tales of amusing misfortune more engaging than tales of pleasant sightseeing times.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


There were swans in Deptford Creek tonight as I was coming home from work. It made me cheerful, and reminded me of the Sunday afternoons Vaughn and I used to spend by the lake in Canberra with a bag full of stale bread, feeding the swans and munching on whatever delightful something we had bought the Silo Bakery on our way there. Good times.

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