July 27, 2016
The other week Ria posted a gloriously golden cake – Lavender Honeycake – which looked like summer itself. I could practically smell the thing, as sweet and fragrant as long nights, wafting through my computer screen. If Ria’s cake – tanned and dressed in florals (throw some strappy sandals on that thing!) – is summer, then this cake is winter.
Paler by far, and denser, this cake is made for hot cups of tea or strong coffee. The buckwheat flour gives it nutty-flavoured heft, the roasty-toasty hazelnuts adding to the comforting weight and flavour. The pears turn to winter’s candy underneath the sprinkling of raw sugar and the white chocolate pieces buried within are rewards for all your efforts. The Lewis Road Creamery Double Caramel Milk is a touch of genius – full of butterscotch, burnt sugar and syrupy tongue-smackers – but if you cannot get it then… move to New Zealand. Sorry, I mean, use regular milk and perhaps add a spice you like. A teaspoon of vanilla extract, some crushed roasted cardamom pods, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, whatever tickles your taste-buds.
July 20, 2016
Salad days. Youth, summer, innocence. We can stand to get a little Shakespearean sometimes, can we not? Lettuce is going to seed in our garden, herbs are fragrant in the air from small hands brushing through them on the way to a game of make-believe. I have a small abundance of basil, and so I make this dressing. A while ago I posted a recipe for Awesomesauce, a tahini-soy-nutritional yeast dressing that blew the lid off our winter salads. Consider this number two in the sauce trifecta (yes, there are plans for a third). It’s from the Rebar Cookbook, which I’ve talked about many times, but it’s just that good. This makes a nice marinade, dressing for panzanella, tomato-bocconcini salad, or a regular dinner salad with anything/everything in it. Basil is that friendly.
Adapted, barely, from the Rebar Cookbook
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients before oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. You could also use a blender, but it may not puree everything as well. With the processor on, slowly add the oil in a thin stream until the dressing is thickened. Check if it needs more salt or pepper. This will keep in a jar or bottle for about five days in the fridge.
What are your favourite recipes with basil?
July 13, 2016
Baffled and bewildered, Ria and I recently figured out we have been blogging here together for FOUR YEARS. That’s right. Longer than the average age of a pet hamster. Four whole years of diligently writing and cooking and photographing and sharing in this space, for you and for each other. It’s certainly been a journey. Wishing for a real, live, in-person catch up, but thwarted by geography, time and finances, we’ve had to opt for the next best thing – a blog catch up.
Join us to review the last few years and peek into what we hope for the future. Plus, check out each of our top four posts and tell us which posts you liked best. We love hearing from you, as always.
July 6, 2016
Oh, lavender. French gardens, milled soap, summer days, fresh-smelling wardrobes. Cake.
No? Not a fan of soapy-tasting cake, as a friend of mine describes lavender in baked goods? Okay. Maybe just look at the photos and skip this next part.
Ahem. For those of us who like our baked goods to sometimes be reminiscent of soap (in only the best way!), this is our recipe. The one to make during that part of June when gardens sing with early summer colour, bees bumble clumsily with burdens of pollen, lavender just about to purple open and once again fix itself into your memory: those weeks in June—the lavender weeks. (And, yes, I verbed purple there. Lavender fills me with that much passion.)
This is a summer evening cake. One that comes together simply and easily, the making of it matching up perfectly with a warm breeze in the kitchen, a pretty tea towel crumpled on the counter for wiping your hands as you work. Maybe a cup of tea already half gone, the rest of the pot waiting for the cake to emerge. It’s a friendship cake. A sharing with neighbours cake. A slice as dusk falls because two wasn’t enough cake.
June 29, 2016
I don’t know about you but this week has me feeling despondent. Is it “the age of foolishness…the winter of despair”? At every turn there seems to be a massacre, a miscarriage of justice, an environmental disaster, political miscreancy, the death of a musical icon, mass fear and hysteria. As the Brits would say – it’s doing my head in. On Instagram this week I vowed to vote for sunshine in the presence of so much rain, pain and gloom, but I’ve found it difficult. What is a girl to do? The only thing she can. Turn to chocolate.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of chocolate bark. I’m a huge fan of anything chocolate and ridiculously easy to make. The time from head (idea) to reality and back to head (through mouth) again is crucial. If it takes too long I lose interest and appetite. In the wake of all this depressing global news the therapy needs to be swift and I’ve created two versions of chocolate bark that are truly quick to make and delicious to devour. The biggest dilemma you have to overcome is : which one to make first?
Bark one is made using dark chocolate and flavoured with cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, chunks of crystallized ginger and freckled with cacao nibs. Dark, rich, spicy, crunchy. The spices are warming, the ginger sweet and jube-y, the cacao nibs give that delectable hint of espresso. As therapy this chocolate lets your cry, allows your bitterness, wraps you in a soft blanket and kisses the troubles away. It’s music by The Cure, it’s literature, it’s a cabin in the woods.
Bark two is made using white chocolate and flavoured with vanilla, passion-fruit powder, pieces of tropical fruit and topped with curls of roasted coconut. Sweet, creamy, exotic, luscious. The chewy fruits and coconut remind me of warm holidays and holiday cocktails, the sour passion-fruit powder and vanilla spice add complexity. As therapy this chocolate orders you to brush your hair, grabs you by the hand and takes you out dancing till morning. It’s your favourite 80’s movie, it’s the craic, it’s a drunken skinny dip in an ocean full phosphorescence.