Archive | August, 2010

Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows and growing up…

12 Aug

I grew up in the eighties where television was inundated by all kinds of extra-terrestrial robots trying to save mankind  from doom or happy, fuzzy cartoons full of caring creatures trying to share love and colour throughout a bleak and dark world.

While I loved the robots for the fast paced action and, lets face it, awesome theme songs: the latter obviously held  a special place in my little girl’s heart.  Especially one show called Rainbow Brite.

Rainbow Brite lived in Rainbow Land with Rainbow Sprites and rainbow EVERYTHING! She had an amazing talking horse with a rainbow mane and they galloped OVER RAINBOWS! Yes, rainbows featured heavily and rainbows had me in their magical, colourful grip.

As a kid I  lovingly drew them with my paints and crayons, colours in order as I  recited ‘ROY.G.BIV’ over and over in my mind. I would search for the pot of gold and be amazed by the rainbows as I played in the summer under the sprinkler and try to catch the pretty drops. I  was always disappointed when once caught, I held only plain water in my hand and not  prisms of colour.

As a teenager in the 90’s,  dressed in tie-dyed rainbow flares, I painted rainbows with eyeball-like fish flying in front of them. I made cakes with colourful icing, ate handfuls of  jelly beans for breakfast and hung crystals from my bedroom window and lay there as the afternoon sun refracted hundreds of little rainbows around my room

For years  I was obsessed with colour.

Now in my late 20’s I dress mostly in black and I no longer search for the pot of gold or hang crystals in my window. Rainbows don’t quite hold that same fascination and joy as they once did. They’re still beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but sadly I don’t think I’ll ever get that “OH MY GOD! A DOUBLE RAINBOW!!” feeling the next time I see one stretched out across the sky.

BUT! Recently I have come across a few things that made me a little excited and brought back a little bit of that colour infatuation and reminded me that although I may be getting older I can still appreciate rainbows and unicorns all in a different way.

The first: Rainbow Bacon.

Bacon is one of my favourite things and some crazy genius with too much time out there thought that dying bacon would be a great idea. And I have to admit, I kind of agree! Crunchy, salty rainbow pieces. yum!

http://bacontoday.com/colored-bacon/

The second: Pop-tart Sushi

At Pop-Tart World. Only in America! My teeth ache just  thinking about it, yet I am fascinated. It’s Pop-Tarts wrapped with Roll Ups! Seriously! A childhood dream!

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/11/2010-08-11_breakfast_favorites_tarting_up_times_sq.html

And number three, (my favourite): Canned Unicorn Meat!

“Caviar is so 1980s. Unicorn is the sparkling, crunchy, savory meat of today’s elite.”

Oh yes!  I gaze at this with lust and wonder.  Unicorn meat. Is it like rainbow bacon? Do unicorns bleed rainbows? Unicorns and rainbows go hand in hand, is this why?

It’s a joke, from ThinkGeek and I love it.Partly because its  “sparkly meat lends the unmistakable air of class and sophistication to your parties” but mostly because it talks straight to that rainbow centre of childhood love of magic and colour that’s still there in my adult brain.  But, as an adult, I can laugh instead of cry at the thought of unicorn in a can.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/stuff/41/unicorn-meat.shtml

 


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حب السعادة والثروة (happiness, love and wealth)

3 Aug

Dinner tonight was at a Lebanese restaurant called ‘Rumi’.

Delicious!

The $45 banquet included (and this is not everything) slow cooked shoulder of lamb seasoned with rose petals and coriander served with a syrupy, sweet mint sauce. The lamb was so tender it fell to pieces as you picked it up and it just melted in your mouth.  Sigh!

Spiced, battered cauliflower deep fried into delicious golden brown balls were one of my favourite things of the night served alongside whole soft shelled prawns and succulent soft meatballs in  a tomato sauce with labna.

Small char-grilled quail were served on skewers resembling swords and yes, we had a mini sword fight. Mature, I know. But how can you resist?

Possibly the hardest thing about the night was that I am currently on a self-imposed alcohol ban so had to refuse the wine. I did have a ‘Rumi’ cocktail (vodka, pomegranate juice, lime and sugar) but I asked them to make it a virgin. It was so refreshing and delicious that I forgot that it didn’t have alcohol in it so I could happily pretend I was drunk.

Dessert comprised of rose and pistachio Turkish Delight,  sweet, plump apricots soaked in arak and stuffed with labna and a choice of sweetened Turkish-style coffee flavoured with cardamon (heaven!) or mint tea. They very nicely threw in a couple of complimentary bottles of sweet, pink moscato as we were celebrating a birthday. I promise I only had one little sip, just to taste!

I’m so satisfied and full from all of that lovely food, but  I wouldn’t refuse another round.  Anyone want to go again tomorrow?


Note to self: I must go and by some of those little swords. They make eating delicious little birds even more fun. En guarde!



Baby elephant walk…straight into the pot, please!

2 Aug

The first edition of the ‘Larousse Gastronomique’ was published in 1938 and new and revised copies are still being published today. I have a copy from 1977.

This French cooking encyclopedia has some interesting ingredients and recipes, one of which I would love to share with you today.

Pieds d’elephant (elephant feet)

Take the feet of one or several young elephants and purge them in warm water for four hours. Remove the skin and bones then cut each foot lengthwise into four pieces: cut each of these in half. Blanch for 15 minutes, rinse in cold water and drain.

Place the following in a tightly covered stewpan: 2 slices of Bayonne ham, the portioned feet, 4 onions, 1 head of garlic, some spices, 1/2 bottle of Madeira wine, 3 tablespoons (4 tablespoons) concentrated stock. Cover and simmer gently over a low heat for 10 hours. thoroughly skim the cooking liquor, strain it and add 1 glass port and 50 small green peppers.

See that the sauce is well seasoned.

Hmmm… I wonder if the zoo has any spare baby elephants lying around?

When two great things become one

1 Aug

As a kid one of my most favourite things to make was lemon meringue pie. The recipe I used was from the back of a condensed milk tin. Mmmm…condensed milk: the stuff my childhood dreams were made of.

The best thing was licking the beaters and bowl clean (yes, I still do it!).  I would even secretly leave a bit extra in the bowl so I could eat more of all of that sweet, sticky goodness. The problem with this was that it was SO sweet that I would end up feeling a little sick and not wanting any of the finished product. Of course my mind would be changed once the pie left the oven and everyone was tucking in.

I recently came across a recipe for lemon meringue cupcakes! Whoo! Two of my favourite things in one delicious cake! So this weekend, I decided to give this recipe a go and the results were delicious! It’s a lemon and coconut cupcake with a hole cut in the middle filled with lemon curd. A coconut meringue is piped on top and quickly baked on a high heat until brown. Yum! Sweet and sticky! I felt like a kid again.

Jealous? Don’t be. Here’s the recipe:

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


Remember that all ingredients are measured in Australian cups which differ from American and British sizes.

Cake ingredients:

125g butter

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup (80ml) milk

3/4 cup (60g) dessicated coconut

1 1/4 cups (185g) self-raising flour

Lemon Curd

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar

2 tsp finely grated lemon rind

1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice

40g butter

Coconut Meringue

4 egg whites

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

1 1/3 cups (95g) shredded coconut, chopped finely

  1. Make lemon curd by combining ingredients in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly  until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, cover tightly and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan forced. Line 6 x 180ml or 12 x80ml muffin pans with paper cases
  3. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and eggs and beat to combine until fluffy.
  4. Stir in milk and coconut, then sifted flour. Divide mixture between cases and smooth the tops.
  5. Bake large cakes for about 25 minutes and small for about 20. Turn out onto wire racks to cool. Increase oven to 220°C/200°C fan forced.
  6. Cut a 2cm hole in the centre of each cake, fill with curd (and find someone to eat the cut out tops with otherwise discard them)
  7. Make coconut meringue by beating the egg whites in a bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form and gradually add sugar. Beat until sugar dissolves and the meringue is smooth and shiny and stiff peaked then fold in the coconut with a metal spoon.
  8. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a plain 1cm nozzle and pipe the meringue onto the cakes starting on the edges and making your way around and up into a nice peak
  9. Pop the cakes on a tray and into the hot oven for 5 minutes or until the meringue has browned slightly.
  10. EAT!

On meringues:

My mum used to make me pavlova for my birthday. I used to love watching those egg whites turn into those shiny peaks. I thought it was magic! Mum used to hold the bowl upside down above mine and my sister’s head to “check” if it was done and we used to squeal with delight and have a half-secret hope that the bowl’s contents would fall on the other’s head. But of course it never did.

Mum gave me a few hints to help me make the perfect meringue:

  1. Always make sure that the utensils you use are extremely clean and dry. No traces of moisture or oil!
  2. Use glass or stainless steel bowls and metal spoons.
  3. Always have the patience to keep beating until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Never make meringue on a  humid day!

Oils and fats interfere with the formation of the foam. A little bit can prevent a good foam from happening.

If the sugar is not dissolved properly when you bake it the little sugar granules will melt and crystallize so you will get a weepy meringue. Also because the sugar helps stabilise the foam, not dissolving it means that your meringue could collapse.

Humidity can cause your meringue to go a bit sticky and a maybe limp. Go make an iced tea instead!

side note: I was a little tired when I made the first batch of the actual cakes and misread the oven temperature and so overcooked them. I got a little grumpy and started again. There was enough meringue left over from the second batch for 6 more cakes so I used the over cooked cakes and added mashed banana and honey instead of the curd. My dad preferred these ones, so mistakes aren’t always so bad!