My Seven Links: A Look Back and A Glimpse Forward

It’s been a year since I left London, to return to Australia. As I expected it has not been an easy ride. Thankfully Sydney is a beautiful city to come home to and the New Year has introduced itself with such gorgeous weather it’s hard not to be cheered up.

One of the people I met in London was Gourmet Chick. In fact her blog was one of the first I started to read. Her great blog grew into a well respected site for honest restaurant reviews, cookbook reviews, and great travel tips on where to sleep and eat. She has since moved back to Australia too (yeah!)

Some time ago she asked me to follow her in sharing my Seven Links outlined by the TripBaseblog. I’ve finally got around to it.

1. My Most Beautiful Post

Rhonda is a beautiful city, without a doubt. A gorge divides the old and new towns creating with it a stunning secret escape for entraped Spanish royalty. With Rhonda comes the famous Andulucian dish, gazpacho. The key to this dish is of course great tomatoes. In Australia the hot summer sun brings garden tomatoes to their glory. If your overwhelmed by endless tomatoes, try a gazpacho!
2. My Most Popular Post

My first attempt at a chiffon cake was a great success, not only with my work colleagues but surprisingly, it became my most popular post. Thanks to the wonderful book put together by the Monday Morning Cooking Club ladies, I managed to pull off a cake that defied gravity. I’ve graduated to slicing, filling, and lathering them with buttery frostings. Possibly this was not the intention for the airy, delicate cakes, but it tastes good.

3. My Most Controversial Post

I am normally quite democratic when I write a post about a restaurant. I don’t think The Harwood Arms was any exception. It’s all about one persons opinion, and I am no expert, but I try to write about my dining experience in an honest way. By the time I finally got to The Harwood Arms, after the post-Michelin star crowds, I thought it had lost it’s way a little. It was also pointed out by a few people that I had not ordered the scotch egg, which is raved about. It’s said to be amazing, but it’s only on the bar menu and I ate in the restaurant area. I don’t think an eating establishment should ride off the back of a scotch egg but then again, sadly, I didn’t have one.
4. My Most Helpful Post

I was so excited when I found this little gem in Annandale. Sitting on busy Parramatta Road it could be easily missed as you speed past on your way home. I really urge you to stop and pop in for a look. The owners run the shop, have reasonable prices and are very helpful. They will be getting a large shipment of mid-century furniture in, from the UK and Europe, in the next few months. Well worth a stop in I think.
5. The Post Whose Success Most Surprised me

A simple banana cake, nevertheless people seemed to think it looked good. It did taste good too. The addition of sour cream made it extra moist and slightly richer. Thanks Donna 🙂
6. A Post I Feel Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved

I have alot of respect for Anna Hansen. I hope she sits back sometimes and takes the time to smile and think “I’ve made it, I did it “. Knowing a little of what she is like, that seems unlikely. She is a very hard working woman, working her way up from dishwasher to owning her own restaurant. A restaurant that pulls flavours from across the culinary world to create something interesting. To me the combinations may sometimes seem a bit ‘out-there’ but for Anna a natural combination to achieve what she wants. I just got her first cookbook and I’m looking forward to trying my hand a few things.
7. The Post I Am Most Proud Of

I love St John, I really do. I can’t believe I miss it so much. It was the place I could always rely on. I think you get the idea that I love the place, and their bone marrow and parsley salad, in this post. What makes this post even more memorable for me is that David Chang sat at the table across from me that day, as I sucked the fat off the toasted sourdough, and I didn’t even really care.

Part of posting your seven links is nominating others to follow.The lovely Miss Piggy has gladly taken up the challenge 🙂

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Orange Chiffon Cake and the Monday Morning Cooking Club

I have accumulated quite alot of cookbooks. Propably no more than any other person out there with a slight obsession in cooking, baking and collecting vintage cookbooks. My mother reluctantly buys them for me when asked what I want for my birthday (she thinks I have too many) and Christmas is easy, I always ask for a subscription to Gourmet Traveller. I could have a worse obsession! or a more expensive one! oh yeah I do, vintage jewellery.

Monday Morning Cooking Club is a collection of tried and well tested recipes from a group of ladies who, yes, meet on monday mornings to cook and chat. In fact they met on Monday mornings for three years! They wanted to gather recipes that told a story. They realised the Jewish community have a strong association with food and the stories surrounding them. They began emailing everyone they knew asking for recommendations for the best home cook they knew. Eventually they had acummulated a list and they wrote to each one asking for their most cherished recipes.

The testing began and eventually the list of recipes began to develop.

Each recipe in the book is preluded by a story from the person who revealed their recipe. To know that your making a recipe that a family has enjoyed for generations is somewhat comforting. It also means it has been tested, alot.

I have made a few things from it and there are still alot more on my waiting list. The custard chiffon cake was the first. It was my first time I made a chiffon cake too. I couldn’t have wished for it to turn out better! I took it to work and the complements were endless, along with requests for the recipe.

The second recipe I tried was the apple and cinnamon pie. I made it for dessert after a family Sunday roast. A simple ‘cake’ that still turned out fabulous even though I thought I had stuffed it up by coring the apples and cutting them with a mandolin so the cake batter kind of fell through the apples. An obvious mistake, after the fact, but the ‘cake’ turned out so well it pleased my 97 year old grandfather and more importantly my father who is a big apple pie fan.

I’ve also tested out the the Israeli couscous soup, which is nothing mindblowing but a good store cupboard standby dinner. I liked the novelty and texture of the tiny round balls of ‘couscous’.

I was in the baking mood and wanted something impressive to take to work so I made a chiffon cake again, this time the orange version. It turned out just as well, even though I thought I had over beat the egg whites. It may sound like I’m a hopeless baker but truth be known I’m just very hard on myself and perfection is hard to master in my eyes. Once again it turned our beautifully and my workmates were overcome with amazement at the height and fluffy texture of my cake. I just smiled and blushed but inside I was just a bit coy ,as I knew how easy it really was.

There are some good savoury recipes in this book but for me the real interest is in the baking. There are some great recipes in here for things I’ve never tried to make before such as mamoul, hamantashen, palacsinta, beigli, and an amazing looking zserbo slice. These are probably some of the real heros’ of the book for me. My comfort is I know I they have been tested, time and time again, before going into the book. So I have that reassuring feeling that they should turn out. So here it is…

Orange Chiffon Cake                                              Serves 12

8 eggs, separated

345g (1 ½ cups) caster sugar

185ml (¾ cup) vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)

185ml (¾ cup) fresh orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)

finely grated zest of ½ a lemon

225g (1½ cups) self-raising flour, sifted

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C. You will need an angel cake (chiffon) cake tin. Do not grease it.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add 115g (½ cup) caster sugar and continue whisking until egg whites are stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil and keep beating until well combined.

Add the orange juice (which I strained with a sieve to get out any fleshy bits) and lemon zest. Add the flour carefully, then beat to make sure the flour is well combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture with a metal spoon, until just mixed through. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

After removing the cake from the oven, immediately invert it to cool by balancing the middle funnel over a bottle neck. The cake will be dangling upside down. Leave it there until it is completely cool to stop it from collapsing. When cool remove from the bottle and run a knife around the outside of the cake and the funnel. Lift the base out of the tin, then use the knife to ease the cake off the base.

If you have any crumbly bits or you just like the look, you can sieve a fine layer of icing sugar over the top.