If you’re a support me on Patreon at either the top or second to top level, you get to suggest a recipe for me to try twice a year. My mother has taken me up on this twice. First, she suggested a walnut cake, which I actually made at her house so wasn’t that lucky for her. The second was to make a quince and pistachio cake which she got from a Women’s Weekly cookbook.
Friends, I have never worked with quince before. It will be Some Time before I do so again, because OH MY WORD the peeling and the cutting and the coring! What a pain in the butt!
You cook the quince first, for this recipe, and then layer it into the cake tin and then make this awesome thick cake batter with just a bit of the quince and pour it over. I’ll admit, this cake was utterly delicious… even if it turned out I hadn’t cored the quince quite well enough. I was sad that the quince didn’t come out on top of the cake; it stuck to the paper when I inverted it. However, it dealt quite well with me scraping the bits out and putting them back on top in spots that looked a bit light on in the quince department.
We ate quite a lot of it, and then I took it to work so that we didn’t eat all of it. It’s fair to say that it was scoffed very quickly and with many mutterings of appreciation.
Anyway: I made pickles! I pickled pears, and I pickled eggplant.
The pears were courtesy of a friend who managed to salvage 2kg of them from a tree before the rosellas ate them all. I had had pickled pears at Kate’s house, with cheese and then in a chicken salad, and NOM. These were different from the ones she had: I used white vinegar and cinnamon and cloves; I used a recipe that was meant to be for pickled peaches (whichL whoa. If ever I get cheap peaches…). Kate used cider vinegar and rosemary and pepper corns; that will be my next trick, if I get more pears.
The eggplant were from my garden, because BY GOLLY I’m getting a lot. Trying to figure out when the darned things are ripe has been a hassle, since the first info I looked at was all about what the fruit look like on the INSIDE… which is less than useful. Finally I found someone who said eh, if the skins are shiny they’re probably fine. Which meant I got to go and harvest a lot. So I made pickles! They don’t look very appetising, hence no photo, but they have turmeric and cumin and lots of ginger (side note: I discovered that peeling ginger with a spoon is EXACTLY as awesome as all those people have ever said).
I am now about to make moussaka with more of the eggplant, so hopefully that goes well…
I was initially inspired to make a lemon meringue one. Andrew had been challenged to make a strawberry and rhubarb one. And just because we could, we also made a cherry and almond one.
So we started with me making the pastry… and as requested, here’s the recipe! From Nancy Silverton to Starving Dan (don’t ask… it’s been his nickname for as long as I’ve known him, which is at least 15 years), to Andrew to me:
Actually very easy, it turns out, although you wouldn’t want to be making it on a hot day. Bonus: freezes well so you might as well make the whole batch and put some away!
Once you’ve got the pastry you can do whatever… the lemon (and passionfruit) filling was one Andrew has memorised from a Stephanie Alexander. Clever suggestion from Andrew: put the lemon filling into a jug, then pour it into the tart case while the tart is still in the oven. This removes one level of complexity (you don’t have to move a full, liquidy, tart). The rhubarb and strawberry one had some stewed rhubarb as a puree base then rhubarb (baked for a while to soften) and strawberry on top. The cherry was a Classic Andrew, with (frozen) cherries placed on a nut slurry: 100g crushed nuts (you still want some larger bits) + 100g white sugar + 100g melted butter, mixed; add an egg and some salt, mix and put in the baked tart case with the fruit.
The meringue is egg whites and sugar whipped furiously for however long. I was just going to dollop and randomly shape, but my darling decided he would pipe. The lemon one doesn’t look as good as it could because I put a round nozzle in, which he wasn’t expecting; for the strawberry and rhubarb he made the bold decision to change nozzles basically mid-piping for a star-shaped one (it’s fair to say meringue went everywhere), but as you can see it had very good results. I had intended to use my kitchen flame thrower but then the nozzle broke so that didn’t happen (I did manage to set fire to a couple of meringues before that happened).
So that’s three tarts between four people. It’s fair to say there’s a fair bit left over. Happily, the non-meringue tart will freeze… and the strawberry one will freeze if we remove the meringue… which means I might have to eat the meringue, OH NO.
1. A friend came home from France with a madeleine pan for me. I had never had the urge to make madeleines before, but now I have a madeleine pan.
So I’ve made madeleines. I followed Stephanie Alexander’s honey madeleines recipe, and… they’re ok. They’re definitely not as crispy as they should be, although the second batch was a bit better (her mixture is for 24, and my pan is for 12, although it only made 18 I think) – I’d put a bit more butter in the pans I think. So that’s something to experiment with. I’m also not sure whether madeleines come in different flavours, so I guess I’ll do some hunting around to find out.
2. Our fruit n veg box this week came with a large number of bananas, so my mother reminded me that caramelised bananas are excellent. These are not as she suggested, though, because she was reminiscing about making them with rum or brandy ‘or whatever you’ve got handy’ – and I had nothing like that handy (not using Frangelico, or Pimms). I did use some of the cardamom-pistachio sugar mix I have from Gewurzhaus, which I think added a little to the experience, as well as a whack of butter and some additional brown sugar. Very tasty with ice cream.
Take some orange peel. Bring it to the boil a couple of times to soften them and lose some of the bitterness. Then let them simmer in a heavy sugar syrup (1:1) for about an hour. Allow to drip for a day… or more… then roll in sugar and stuff into jars.
This is courtesy of Stephanie Alexander; the recipe is actually for candied lemon peel, which I’ve also made and is delicious. You can eat it by itself – Stephanie says a piece with a post-dinner coffee is delightful – or put it on things: I put a piece on top of some gingernuts before baking and that was a winner. Not sure where these will end up, as yet, but I anticipate they’ll keep pretty well.
Later: well, unfortunately some orange peel kept well, and some did not. Given that this is the same batch of orange peel I can only assume that I did not sterilise this jar as well as I should. Which is a really shame, since I think they were going to be very tasty.
This is what happens when you have a fig tree and don’t mind fig jam but don’t love it either. You decide not to let the blasted birds, bats and rats have more than their fair share so you pick them which means you have to cook them or eat them. I cooked this batch.
This was actually the second time I made this cake; the first time I took it camping and didn’t manage to finish it because it got hot the second day and it didn’t fit in the camping fridge. THE WOES.
My cake is a fig variation on a plum cake from Stephanie Alexander’s plum cake recipe. I figured figs were a lot like plums, so what could go wrong? You make a batter – top it with almond meal – put the figs on top – then pour over a butter, sugar, cinnamon and egg concoction that’s been cooling since you made it before the batter DIDN’T YOU.
I imagine it’s wonderful with plums but it’s also spectacular with figs. In this case, even if you only have one egg not two for the topping.