April 25, 2010

A happy innings...

To date, there have been three men of great influence in my life whom I have loved and respected above all else. When two of the three stepped out well before any of us were ready, not surprisingly, the devastation that ensued was nothing short of soul-destroying, and the profound heartache we have borne since has indeed been most difficult to bear.

The third, I am happy to report, just turned 90, and not only do I have the honour and absolute privilege of calling myself his granddaughter, but I also got to make his cake...



  Coffee-macerated Morello cherries & chocolate ganache


Coffee mousse & a threesome of twelve-inch ding dongs

Let the construction begin...




Miss Emily's chocolate cake with coffee-stepped morello cherries, cream & coffee mousse


Outside (he's a vet, you see...)


 ...Inside...


 ...And as the puppy distracts, the cheeky candle-blower strikes again...


So happy birthday Doug. With all my love...

April 19, 2010

The subtle psycho...

...and other amusing sidesteps into mispronunciation...

For a long time now we've been meaning to do pastes, and as luck would have it, for our latest Sunday session, we finally got around to it.

Now it might just be me (read: probably), but I liken making curry pastes to participating in a prize fight. There's a lot of preparation, it seems a stupendously manly thing to do (maybe it's all that pounding and heavy equipment?), requires a great deal of mental preparedness and dogged determination, and if you don't have the audacity to endure, quite simply, you will never make it out alive...


By the end of round one, you can't see and your face is a mess.




Round two and you've lost all feeling in your hands.





And come the close of round three you're disoriented, in agony, and wondering why the hell you do these sorts of things to yourself. And in that moment of existential clarity as you teeter between throwing in the towel or sucking it up to launch one final onslaught with everything you've got, you remember...





A little effort now means you'll reap the rewards for weeks to come. Nothing, nothing compares to homemade curry pastes. And above anything else, it means that at the end of it all, you can sit down to share a good meal with good friends. And that, in my book at least, is worth it.


 Ezard's red curry paste, Solomon's coriander & black pepper curry paste, Solomon's Masaman curry paste

Pretty - no. Overload of sensory deliciousness - yes.


...But before we get to dinner, there were also a couple of sweets to attend to. Since I have been test-baking for an impending celebration, we had a massive ding dong that needed to be dealt with, and there seemed nothing more seasonally appropriate than these chocolate chestnut cakes. While I had been reasonably chuffed with how the cake turned out earlier in the weekend, it must be said that my start to the day was in fact far from satisfactory. Apparently my presumption that there would be nothing to whipping together cream and chestnut puree was a rather serious miscalculation, and my underachievement in producing something which could only be described as an astonishingly accurate depiction of vomit, was nothing short of spectacular. There is no photographic evidence, as I was too busy running to the shops for more cream, sulking, and feeling a contemptible failure, but fortunately Miss Rose tidied up, and then made it all better.



Chocolate chestnut cakes


I did, however, manage to absolve myself when it came to dessert. Preparing chestnut cream may not be my forte, but when it comes to buttermilk panna cotta, now that I can do. And a pairing with saffron vanilla poached pears was not such a bad choice either.


So as the night settled in and we tidied up for the day, I started thinking; title contender? Who knows. Stuck on the ropes? Maybe. But who cares, when you can sit down at the end of the day and share this...


 Red duck curry, steamed greens, snapper in coriander & black pepper sauce



 Saffron poached pears with vanilla bean buttermilk panna cotta


So whatever you've got, round four, bring it. We're here, ready and waiting...

April 7, 2010

Sorry, didn't see you there...



I know, sorry, it has indeed been a while, and I’m afraid there’s no glamorous or exotic excuse.  We’ve just been busy, I’ve been distracted, and any baking to be had has been more a repeat visitation of previous endeavours than anything particularly worth writing home about.  So just to reassure you that we’re still here and haven’t forgotten you, here is a quick update on what’s been going on…

The advent of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival saw us venture out for our annual pork-tastic overindulgence


La Luna Bistro


Followed in quick succession by a south-side initiation into duck-fest:




Miss Rose grew herself a pumpkin…





Then as for baking, our Easter bun extravaganza was followed by an exploration of the spiced stout bun to great affect, and the most wondrous discovery that our spiced ginger beer bun interpretation has resulted in TPB’s hottest buns yet


 Spiced stout buns





Spiced ginger beer buns

 
Sticking with the spice theme, there’s been pie and biscuits…




 Spectacular Speculaas


My dear little natural starter has not been forgotten, and continues to fuel much doughy experimentation…


 Rye sourdough with caraway seeds


And while the iced treats have been given a bit of a rest lately, that hasn’t prevented the discovery of a couple of killer combinations in the form of blackberry rose geranium and lemon verbena sorbet:


 Lemon verbena sorbet


Oh, and did I mention we’ve now got our own busy-ness cards?