May all your tables be full, your bells a-jingling and your tummies full over the holiday season, where ever you are in the world, in Summer Sun or Winter White. The mad dash of shopping and bopping are finally done and it’s time to unwind in front of a roaring fire with some mulled wine, Christmas Pudding and those near and dear.
Archive for December, 2007
So these Persimmon things and I have not had the most understanding of relationships. In fact, there seems to be a complete lack of communication and I feel rather like I do nothing but give, give, give and the persimmon does nothing but take, take, take. I was on the verge of walking out of that door forever, citing irreconcilable differences when, lo and behold, a breakthrough. Suddenly, it seemed, the Persimmon was a changed fruit, a giver not a taker and quite willing to do it’s fair share in the relationship.
The problem was, you see, that I had been buying hachiya persimmons, which have to be squishily over-ripe to be eaten, and there-in lay the seed of my trauma. No matter how many fruits I bought, all gorgeous, orange, firm and shiny, not a single one bothered with what I would consider the normal path a fruit’s life follows, namely: ripening. I put them in paper bags, in warm spots, in cool spots, with other fruit, on their own. Oh, I tried it all, and everytime the fruit would sit there, glaring at me, hard firm as a green mango until it started shriveling and turning muck. And I had just about given up hope of ever coming to terms with this intriguing fruit when I noticed a tray of persimmons in the market that looked just a little bit different to the usual bright globes. They were … Ripe! Squishy and jellyish and just sitting there in their little trays begging for some love.
So finally, here it is. A recipe I’ve been holding hopefully onto for nearly 18 months now in the hope that one day, One Fine Day, I’d meet Mr Persimmon-Perfecto. Please don’t ask me where the recipe is from: it’s been kicking around, scribbled hastily onto a piece of paper, for just too long. If anyone recognises it, do let me know so that I can pay tribute correctly as this delicious pudding deserves.
*note: the left overs are great cut into cookie-sized squares for tea time
**note: this is not strictly a pudding, but more of a cake-meets-pancake. But who’s counting, right?
1 cup persimmon pulp (from 1 big, super ripe persimmon)
½ cup dark brown sugar (demerara)
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp bicarb
½ cup evaporated milk (from a can)
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup vegetable oil, such as canolo
for the filling:
3 or 4 Tbsp cream cheese
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
couple drops of vanilla
honey, to taste
- preheat the oven to 325˚F. Grease 2 23cm cake tins.
- mix fruit, sugar and eggs in a large bowl.
- stir the bicarb into the buttermilk, then combine both milks together.
- mix fruit and milk mixtures, then add vanilla.
- mix the flour and the baking powder well then add to the milky fruit mix.
- lastly add the oil. Allow mixture to sit for 5 mins before baking.
- divide between 2 cake tins and bake for about 45 – 50 mins, until golden.
- the cake will rise quite dramatically then fall again, don’t worry. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
- to finish the pudding, mix the filling ingredients, to taste, and spread between the cooled cakes.
And just as I finally turned the oven off, the skies turned the snow on and poor, dear Toronto was generously bedded down in a thick blanket of white, bringing the city to an eerie, ghostly quiet as most people stayed indoors, drinking hot beverages by the fire, no doubt. Not, I, naturellement, as I just couldn’t resist a snowy exploration. At least there’ll be a white Christmas this year, non? A perfect way to celebrate the occasion, along with all sorts of goodies and treats.
Nothing like some mulled wine and fire-side nibbles after a Winter Walk in a Wonderland. Will Christmas ever be the same again without the snow?
The Christmas bake is upon us, here. My kitchen is covered in a fine and persistent film of various flours and sugars and nuts and fruits and the ever wafting air of things being baked greets the marvelous Mr P every time he comes in to see what’s what. It’s perfect weather for it too, snowy and chilly and Winter-wonderland gorgeous out there, and toasty, spicy and afternoon-napish in here. There’ve been pots and pots of hot spiced apple cider and mulled wine and steaming mugs of hot tea going around, along with many friends to keep the spirit kicking. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll post all that’s been happening, but in the mean time I thought something a little savoury was in order to cut through all that sugary yum. Here is that rather delish broccoli pesto I made for our first, fire-side dinner last week. It’s equally good on a pasta as it is stirred into leek and potato soup, or grilled with cheese on whole grain toast.
*note: only use the flowery bits of the broccoli as the stems can be a bit bitter. I kept the stems for a soup later in the week.
**note: as with most pesto’s, the ingredients are a guideline only. Add more or less of each according to your taste.
Broccoli and Pepita Pesto
2 cloves garlic
1 large head broccoli, florets only
⅔ cup Pepita’s (green pumpkin seeds)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
⅓ cup good virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- toast the Pepita’s over a medium to high heat. Remove from heat as soon as they start to brown.
- peel the shallot and garlic and blend, along with the broccoli in a food processor until finely chopped
- fry over a medium heat until broccoli is bright green and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Allow to cool.
- chop Pepita’s in food processor. When broccoli is cool, add to Pepita’s along with cheese and process until fine. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
Posted in baked goods, beans, beetroot, butternut, cake, chestnut, chocolate, cream, curry, dessert, dinner, ganache, hazelnut, lentil, pastry, pesto, pudding, saffron, sweet potato, Uncategorized, white chocolate, yam on December 4, 2007 | 1 Comment »
We haven’t had a housewarming, per se yet. But we decided last week that something was needed to make our house feel like home. And I also needed something to kick start the kitchen a little. A Winter Dinner was quickly put together, some friends asked around and the fire was lit in the hearth. With Winter having arrived a little earlier than I think we were expecting, the meal was warm and comforting, with loads of winter veg and a little bit of chocolatey goodness to help it all along the way. We started off with a Chestnut and Onion Soup, which is a traditional French soup and neither too hearty not too brothy; followed by a main course of Filo baskets filled with Beetroot, Butternut and Onion, topped with a Broccoli and Pepita pesto and accompanied with a variation of the divine Deb’s Curried Lentils and Sweet potatoes and some fresh Cherry Tomatoes. But my favourite bit was, of-course, dessert, as it so very often is. Le Dessert was a miniaturised variation of Nigella’s Nutella cake, topped with a precious marron glacè and swathed in a white chocolate and saffron ganache. Oh, yum. The little cakes were warm from the oven and slightly sticky on the inside. Chocolate heaven. Mmmmm.
An no, I’m afraid I’m not going to give you the recipe’s this time. I have Christmas Stuff to do! My, it’s busy this time of year. Instead, here are some temptingly yummy pictures to water your mouth over a little.
Isn’t there something magical about a cupcake? Stupid easy to make, requiring, in general, no special ingredients that you don’t normally have in the pantry and taking just about no time at all to whip up, yet they illicit a disproportional amount of joy and happiness in the recipient. Everybody, surely, loves a cup cake. What’s not to love, I ask you with icing sugar in my eyes? It’s the one time you get to eat the whole cake from start to end and it’s socially okay to do so. No sharing, no fighting over who’s slice is bigger, no dainty little forks, no politely leaving the last slice on the platter. Just you and the cake, head to head. Winner takes all. And then, of-course, there is the cute factor. Mini-cakes!? Yes, please. Sign me up.
So when you’re invited, back to back, to mid-week social events, in between a schedule involving working for a living and a long list of errands, can you honestly tell me you can think of a better take-along than a little plate of cup-cakes? I think not. These babies took 45 mins from tying on the apron to cinnamon-sugar dusted end and I can honestly say, they went down a treat. They were perfect, in their Mapley, cinnamony, cream-cheesy goodness, for the chilly weather. In fact, they were eaten on the day of the first snowfall of the season. Oh my, what brilliant timing.
*note: I used a generic cupcake recipe I’ve always had around and substituted maple syrup for the sugar, then left out any milk at the end. You might find you need to add a bit more flour at the end to form a suitable Cake consistency.
Maple Spiced Cup Cakes with Cream Cheese Centers
For the cakes:
1 stick (125g) butter, softened
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp maple essence
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground nutmeg
cream cheese (about ⅓ cup, maybe a little more)
For the Icing:
½ stick (60ml) butter, very soft
about 1 cup sieved icing sugar
1 tsp maple essence
2 tbsp cream cheese
- preheat the oven to 400˚F and line 12 muffin/cup cake tins
- in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- in a different bowl cream the butter until very soft, then add the syrup and beat until combined. Add the eggs and essence and 2 Tbsp of the flour.
- then add the rest of the flour mix in two goes and mix well
- divide cake mix between 12 muffin tins. Place a blob of cream cheese in the middle of each (about ½ Tbsp each)
- bake for around 15 mins until cooked and golden. Cool well before icing.
- to make the icing, first beat the icing sugar into the butter, then add essence, cinnamon and cream cheese. Mix well and taste: you might want a little more cinnamon.
- ice the cakes and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar to decorate