April 23, 2012

The kindness of food...

One thing I love about food is the way in which people use it to connect. We become passionate about, and obsessed by our most favourite of things, and delight in the opportunity to share our experiences and indulge in a good meal with friends. But this often unspoken generosity stretches far beyond our nearest and dearest such that there is a delightful gifting of produce, time, and ideas between both family and strangers alike.

I've been very lucky to be on the receiving end of a great many wonderful things of late, including the idea that should you be unable to get a bone-in lamb shoulder for that long-craved Sunday lunch, you can still accompany your crisp winter salad with a meltingly tender slow roast if you just stuff it with a black pudding first (genius!).

And there was the gift of my two most favourite of autumnal pleasures as some dear friends' not only gave me their time in taking me foraging for the first,

but then promptly sent me home with a car load of of the beautiful second.

I do try and give back where I can, and so bake night certainly generated some small, share-worthy delights:

lemon coconut cakes (gluten-free)

 Chocolate custard muffins with treacle chocolate fudge icing

those tarts

But even the pre-arranged tart-for-horseradish exchange was met with a bonus of blackcurrants that were quickly churned into a luxuriously smooth sorbetto di ribes.

And when this was paired with some lemon verbena sorbet thanks to yet another generous garden it was suddenly summer all over again...

Food is a lovely medium through which to share, and I count myself lucky to have friends as equally food-obsessed as myself. One such friend moved back home to Germany over Christmas, and I have been attempting to maintain our Friday morning swim-then-breakfast ritual ever since. Aside from her desire to see as much of Melbourne as possible, our outings were driven by my friend's quest for the ultimate bircher muesli. Guiltily, she never tried mine, but there was often some complaint that, while nice, many of them just weren't very interesting. I haven't quite kept up with the breakfast tradition, but the swims are still there and with an eye out for any muesli with a difference, Miss J, this bircher-style freekeh with pistachios and sour cherries is just for you...

And while there'll be no cake today, as always, we're still thinking of you. Happy birthday, SR, we all wish you were here...

April 7, 2012

Day bake...

The beginnings of April brought with it the luxury of a long weekend, and with this promise of a few days respite from the daily grind came a touch of excitement in the knowledge that the weekly bake night would at last be conducted during daylight hours. I've had a fine time trialling new recipes of late, and this week was no exception when it came to finding some promising new delights.

Aside from the requisite chocolate salted caramel tarts I discovered these gorgeous little lemon meringue cupcakes,

Hugh's wickedly rich chocolate peanut butter brownies,

A nice little way to combine cupcakes and cheesecakes,

And another winning gluten-free option in these scrumptious banana and coconut muffins.

Of course, when you're trying new ideas things don't always go to plan, and while this coffee poppy seed cake was a beautiful combination of flavours and textures,

Had I paid proper attention to the sugar content I perhaps would have realised that switching it from a large cake to delicate glazed tea cakes wasn't necessarily going to turn out so well.


Had it been an abject failure I could have coped, but such disasters are all the more disappointing when despite ultimate aesthetic destruction the taste remains positively wondrous. Not wanting to waste such a tasty combination it was therefore time to play frugal, and knowing there can be only one solution to such a predicament I did what any good, self-respecting habitual baker would do - I made trifle.

As it turned out I was somewhat lacking in resources, but one should never let the absence of a few key ingredients get in the way of a good dessert, and so I also managed to discover that coffee-laced coconut milk creme anglaise isn't actually all that bad...

So with crisis averted and some excellent new finds in the cabinet it was another new and exciting tasty treat-filled week, but of course it wouldn't be a proper Easter weekend baking montage without the requisite reference to TPB's dazzlingly hot buns, now would it?

Happy Easter everyone!