Saturday, July 19, 2008

Party in the Park

Ok, the Party in the Park. My friend S decided to invite a few friends to celebrate her birthday with a picnic in Bushy Park. If you remember last Sunday in Dublin she possibly picked our one day of summer for this event. Nobody should have a birthday without a cake so I provided this one.

An American friend gave me a cookbook of cookbooks Food & Wine ‘Best of the Best’ Vol 8 (thanks BJM). I’m not a big fan of very sweet desserts. I like dark chocolate, lemon and raspberries. I especially don’t like overly sweet icing/fillings, the filling in this cake is white chocolate rather than frosting based which made it jump out at me immediately. It is originally from ‘Pure Chocolate’ by Fran Bigelow. I know my recipe is a mixture of imperial and metric - the original is in American imperial and I converted the sugar and butter to metric because I can never get my head around a 'stick' of butter!!

First things first – when a recipe has an instruction like ‘chill overnight’ it’s probably for a reason. I baked my cake on Saturday evening and simply left it out to cool overnight, as a result it was quite stick and difficult to cut. Thus my cake had slightly-less-than-perfect edges but the taste was still good. It's quite a rich cake and you will easily serve 16 from this recipe. You do need to start this the day before you intend to eat it.

Ganache Filling
½ cup double cream
8 oz white chocolate

  • roughly chop chocolate and place in a bowl
  • heat the cream until just boiling
  • pour over the chocolate and keep stirring until it's smooth and glossy
  • cover with cling film (touching the surface) and leave to cool overnight
8 oz chocolate, chopped

115g unsalted butter, softened

5 eggs, seperated

340g sugar
  • preheat the oven to 150ยบ C
  • grease, line and grease again a 9 x 13'' swiss roll tin
  • melt the chocolate
  • remove from the heat, stir in the butter until the mix is glossy
  • set aside to cool for 20 mins
  • whisk egg yolks + 170g sugar together until tripled in volume
  • fold the melted chocolate
  • in a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until firm
  • add the sugar and whisk until firm again
  • slowly and gradually fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix
  • spread the mix evenly in the pan
  • bake for 25 mins
  • CHILL UNTIL COLD IN THE FRIDGE (wrap in cling film)

Cake Assembly
Put the white chocolate filling in a mixer and whisk for 3-4 mins until it is lighter in colour and texture. Turn the cake out onto a cake board and cut into three lengths of equal width. Spread ½ the filling on slice 1, top with slice 2 and spread it with the remaining ½ of the filling and top with slice 3. Chill for at least and hour before proceeding.

Chocolate Ganache
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup double cream

  • heat the cream until almost boiling
  • pour it over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy
  • put ¼ the mix in the fridge for 25 mins and leave the rest to cool at room temperature
Writing Icing
2 oz white chocolate

2 tsp vegtable oil
  • melt chocolate
  • stir in oil
Icing the Cake
Use the chilled ganache to thinly coat the top and side of the cake (this seals in the crumbs and provides a smooth surface for the rest of the ganache). Pour the rest of the ganache over the sides and then the top of the cake. For the writing icing I put it into a squeezy sauce bottle but you could use a parchment cone instead. Pipe three lines down the centre of the cake. Then using a cocktail stick draw a continuous series of figures-of-eight down the centre of the cake. Finally chill for about 2 hours so the ganache can set.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Courgette Cakes

Sunday brought sunshine and a party in the park (more of which anon). By evening time we wanted something to nibble on but weren't quite up to a full dinner. I rustled up these cakes from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries and they really hit the spot. I used the fine setting on my mandolin and the cakes held together well and were no problem to turn over.

Courgette Cakes with Dill and Feta
6 cakes - serves 2/3 depending on how hungry you are!!

500g courgettes
1 onion

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

150g feta, crumbled

small bunch dill
  • grate the courgette thinly - using a mandolin is best
  • place into a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 mins
  • heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic
  • squeeze the excess liquid from the courgette and add to the onion
  • saute for 2-3 mins
  • add the flour for 3-4 mins until cooked
  • stir in the beaten egg, crumbled feta and dill
  • season
  • fry the cakes for 2-3 mins on each side until golden

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cultivating Cultural Interest

It is an absolute joy to stumble upon little cultural events, particularly when they involve food. Last Saturday we made a trip into town to the Cultivate centre in Temple Bar for the Annual Indian Food Mela. We met up with our Indian friend A and his parents, who are over on a visit from Delhi.

There were a variety of stalls set up around the room. Having been at the mela two years ago, Iwas pleasantly surprised that this time it was better organised and more professional. Most of the stalls were run by people in the catering business. Dishes ranged from €1 for a samosa or poori to €6 for a big carton of chicken and rice. We sampled a number of the main dishes, tandoori chicken, chicken and rice mix, karahi chicken, onion bhaji, paranta, rice with kidney beans.

In the normal course of events I find Indian desserts to be far too sweet. A had some gulab jamun and jalebi, which I tried (in the name of research!) and the sweetness seemed to have been tempered slightly to suit the Irish palate - still not my desserts-of-choice though.

Gravity Defying Yoghurt??

Is that what has happened to this Glenilen yoghurt? Or are your eyes deceiving you? I'm a great fan of these yoghurts (especially the raspberry flavour). They come in fab glass containers which are perfect for making individual desserts in. These are actually vanilla pannacottas with a strawberry topping. The recipe comes from the original blogger herself, Clotilde. She says they take about an hour in the fridge to set, at this stage mine were still liquid!! They took a good 3-4 hours to be suitable for serving and are really best made the day before. Even when 'set' they are still quite wobbly - this is the way I like pannacotta but I think if you turned them out onto a serving dish they would probably collapse. But why would you turn them out when they look so pretty like this?