Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Spice School: Simple Potato Curry

I know. No sugar. Do not readjust your screens: DDD has gone savoury!

Dish Name: Simple Potato Curry
Spice: Mustard Seeds
Level: Tiffinwalla

With those pesky lamingtons out of the way for another year, I am free to shout from the roof tops about the real excitement going on this January: Spice School is finally underway!

I have had to keep this fairly quiet recently (though credit is due to the more eagle eyed among you who noticed me add the little tab up there in the menu a few weeks ago), and am so happy to be writing the first proper post about Delicious Delicious Delicious and Ko Rasoi's collaborative series. You can read all about it here, but the short version is this: Sanjana is teaching me how to become a Spice Guru. Over the next 12 months, we're going to cover the basics (and beyond!) of Indo-Vegetarian cuisine, and I am so excited about it I'm semi-palpitating.

Really!

I hope you at home reading follow along (or even cook) with us and get as much out of this as we do. You have no idea how long we've been wanting to do this, and the both of us really want you to enjoy it.

So, the first assignment for Spice School uses mustard seeds and is called Simple Potato Curry. I should say up front that I was a little disappointed when I read its title. I'd imagined that this project would have me grappling with far more complex dishes than this (not that it tastes 'simple', mind you). However, as it happened, I had such a busy few days last week that the time I'd planned to devote to my first assignment had to be put to, ahem, let's say 'other uses' (basically, ironing - the pile of shirts in the corner was starting to resemble Kilimanjaro, thanks to Mr. Other P who wears shirts socially as well as to the office). I ended up with a scant hour and a half on Monday afternoon to shop, cook and photograph this curry, but managed it with ease. And actually, this is exactly what I wanted to get out of Spice School. I asked Sanjana to teach me to cook Indian food; that doesn't mean only complicated, elaborate and involved Indian dishes (though I suspect they're on their way!). Despite being rushed off my feet, I still managed to get a richly spiced, sprightly, tomato-based curry on the table in under thirty minutes, and learn a few new tricks in the process. I'd say that was not bad going for first attempt.

Mustard seeds aren't new to me; I make a great salad from time to time of shredded carrots, chopped cucumbers and lemon juice, with oil and mustard seeds. It's pretty special, but in this curry, the mustard seeds really are the star. Their rounded spiciness is carried all the way through the slightly sour tomato gravy and accented by the cumin which is added after the hot oil has caused the mustard seeds to pop and release their beautiful fragrance. I know I sound like a bad wine critic, but it's true: this is a really fragrant, spicy curry (though not overly hot, so don't be afraid, Chilli Fearers). I'll definitely be making it again.

Some things I learned from my first assignment:
  • Preparation is essential - chopping everything only took about three or four minutes, but once the mustard seeds start popping there's not long before they start to burn. Having your spices to hand, and garlic and chilli ready to go will mean everything runs smoothly.
  • Cooking each spice until you can smell them before adding the next - for example, adding the cumin after the mustard seeds have burst, and waiting to add the garlic and chili until you can smell the cumin - is important. There's no stock used in this dish to add flavour. Everything is natural, so making sure the spices are properly cooked is essential.
  • Crushing some of the potatoes and returning them to the curry to thicken it is the idea of a genius. It worked perfectly, and the texture of the dish was fantastic.
And now the confession that no student ever wants to make to their teacher - that I didn't follow the instructions exactly as they were written. I couldn't find any red chillies in my local Indian shop and didn't want to make a shopping expedition out of it, so I replaced the chopped red chilli with a long, green finger chilli. Which I didn't even chop; I just pricked it with a fork a few times and left it whole.
In a further display of arrogance and my inability to accept authority, I think I may have added slightly more ginger than required. I think I just love my microplane grater too much. It still tasted wonderful though, despite my rule breaking...
(Sorry, Sanjana - I hope this doesn't mean I fail!)
So that's it. First assignment done and dusted. I'm already looking forward to next month's, and hope you come back to see how I do. And of course, if you make this recipe yourself, let Sanjana and me know how you liked it. Because you surely will!
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Simple Potato Curry
You will need:
1.2kg potatoes, cut into 1-inch dices
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
½ tsp cumin seeds
500g chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned)
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh red chilli, chopped finely
1 large clove garlic, crushed
400ml hot water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan (one that has a lid – you will need it later). Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Next, add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, ginger, chilli and garlic.
  • Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, salt, sugar, turmeric, and hot water. Bring to the boil.
  • Add the potatoes and stir to combine. Place a lid on top of the curry and turn the heat down. Allow to gently simmer for around 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Remove the lid and place 1/8 of the curry into a bowl. Mash the potatoes with a fork and return to the rest of the curry. This will thicken the sauce and give the dish a great finish. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Ten: Half and Half Lamingtons


(In which Mr. P makes a half-arsed attempt at justifying shoddy ideas.)

Happy Australia Day folks!

These are not the most inspired lamingtons of my life, let's face it.

The idea was there; I wanted to re-create the half and half cookies I eat whenever I'm in New York. It's been far too long since I was last there, and there's a little deli I know that does really yummy sugar cookies with that well-known, half black half white icing. I thought it would really work as a lamington, and it isn't that it is bad so much as it's just... Kind of like a regular lamington, only dipped in white chocolate. I feel slightly fraudulent claiming that they've been 'Re-Invented'.

Still. Let's not moan. It's the end of my Ten Days of Re-Invention. It's been really fun this year! You know, the last one is always a bit of a 'Scrape the Barrell Lamington', since I've usually run out of steam, but I've made some truly yummy lams in 2012 so I'm not going to feel bad. The popcorn versions were sensational! I'm also pleased to say that there has been a steady stream of entries for my prize draw from you lovely lot, and I can't wait to share them with you all. Remember, the deadline is 31 January. You still have the weekend to bake up a storm!

Before I give you the recipe for these (it's basic butter cake again, so you know they taste of sin), I'm just wondering if any of you readers live in areas that are famous for baking? New York has its half and half cookies, and well, Australia obviously has its lamingtons. What about where you live?

And before you ask: no. Cardiff is not famous for Krispy Kreme. Though it is famous for Welsh Cakes. Maybe I should post a recipe for those...

Half and Half Lamingtons

You will need:

175g plain flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

500g plain chocolate
200g dessicated coconut
150g white chocolate
  1. First, make the butter cake. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla together until you have a smooth batter. Scrape this into the prepared cake tin and level out. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done. That means that when you stick a cocktail stick (or a piece of spaghetti!) into the centre of the cake, it will come out clean, without any uncooked batter clinging to it.
  3. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, and when completely cold, turn out and slice into 16 squares.
  4. Melt the plain chocolate, cool slightly and have ready the coconut in a separate dish. Make your lamingtons: working quickly, dip the cake cubes into the chocolate and immediately roll them in the coconut.
  5. Allow the cubes of cake to dry for an hour, then melt the white chocolate and repeat the dipping. However, this time, only dip the lamingtons half way. I didn't like the way they looked when rolled in coconut for a second time, but you can do so if you wish. There should be enough coconut.

Re-Invent the Lamington Yourself!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Nine: Coconut Ice 'Inspired' Lamingtons


(In which Mr. P gains joy through bitterness.)

I recently had an experience about which I would like to tell you. It involves Krispy Kreme donuts and has a happy ending, though starts off rooted deeply in sad embarrassment for my beloved city of Cardiff.

On our way, we'll move briefly through the wilds of false advertising and the disappointment that it causes too. What can I say? We are today having a morning of moral tales.

Last year, Krispy Creme opened a branch in Cardiff's newest shopping centre. This made the national press and even got a mention on the Visit Cardiff website.

I hang my head in shame.

I have nothing against Krispy Kreme. But really: is having one a reason to visit the Welsh capital? Worthy of an article in the newspaper when they open a new shop? What about our great independent restaurants and bars? What about the farmer's market? If having a Krispy Kreme has put Cardiff on the map, well, I think that's an embarrassment. A real, big, sugar coated embarrassment.

But enough of my moaning about their opening and the excitement it caused. Time to moan about their actual donuts. This past Summer, there was a huge poster campaign for their 'Summer Favourites'. I was ridiculously excited to see that this included a coconut ice donut, although I failed to see the Summer connection. (Is that just me?)

Coconut ice is one of my favourite confections in the whole world. Coconut, icing sugar and condensed milk compacted together to form a wodge of heavenly scented sweetness, it is unbeatable. But don't tell my dentist I said so. He'll be angry.

Basically, I Coconut Ice.

So imagine my disappointment... The donut version was awful. I was distraught. Raspberry flavoured glaze (there's no raspberry in the original sweet) and a gloopy, artificially flavoured coconut 'crème' filling made up this 'treat'. I felt tears in the corners of my eyes, and ill with grief. Money wasted, the donut was never finished.

Sad face. I should have sued them. Advertising a coconut ice donut without any actual coconut ice flavour. The nerve!

Time passed. I forgot the donut tragedy.

However, when thinking about this year's lamington challenge, I remembered this cake and wanted to try the coconut and raspberry combination again, but as a lamington. I also remembered my love of glazed lamingtons (which I think are not technically lamingtons at all, since we're doing away with the chocolate completely!), and low and behold, that ridiculous Krispy Kreme glaze gave me an idea.

Raspberry glazed coconut lamingtons!

My version uses fresh raspberry purée to create a glaze so luridly pink it actually shocks. Happily, the coconut tempers it somewhat, but it has made me very pleased to note that severe donut disappointment can sometimes end in supreme joy. These are my favourite lamingtons of 2012.

But don't tell the others! They'll dissent.

I give you my Coconut Ice 'Inspired' Lamingtons. Eat them. Profess your love. To them and to me. You'll see.

NB: I made these with left over chiffon from the lamingtons of Day Seven, but you could use butter cake or even make them from this recipe, which would also taste sensational.

Coconut Ice 'Inspired' Lamingtons

You will need:

115g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60ml vegetable oil
5 egg whites
4 egg yolks
90ml coconut milk
40g dessicated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (defrosted if using frozen)
1 cup icing sugar
hot water as needed

200g dessicated coconut (or even grated fresh coconut, if you had the time and energy)
  1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Have ready a deep 23cm springform cake tin. Do not grease or line it. If you have a 'not nonstick' (for want of a better description) one, so much the better.
  2. In a large bowl, mix everything except for the eggs whites and cream of tartar together using a wire whisk, or wooden spoon. Beat everything well until you have a thick, smooth mixture.
  3. Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Fold this meringue into the coconut and flour mixture, and transfer to the cake tin.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, until the cake is well risen and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Immediately invert the cake, till in its tin, on a wire rack and leave to cool. When it has completely cooled (give it a good hour or so), run a knife round the edge of the pan and un-clip the tin. Remove the base (you'll need to use your knife here too - chiffon cake sticks to the pan!), turn the cake the right way up and cut into squares or whatever shape you like. Hearts would be great here, since the lamingtons are bright, bright pink.
  6. Make the glaze. Mash the raspberries and icing sugar together, adding hot water as needed to get a mixture that is the consistency of thin cream and lump free. Basically, thin enough to coat the cake cubes but thick enough to stick; adjust quantities of sugar/water as needed. Sorry for cup measurements by the way - I know that grams are more accurate, but with something like this glaze, you can pretty much just wing it.
  7. Dip the cake cubes into the glaze and then roll in the coconut. Allow to set before eating the majority, but allow yourself and a loved one a couple of them while still wet: these are truly delicious.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Eight: White Chocolate and Rosemary Lamingtons

No Kewpies. An 'All In Good Taste' lamington.

I find that as I get older I become less and less excited about new and unusual sounding flavour combinations, in much the same way that I grow less and less tolerant of cheap bin liners, but the world keeps throwing them out at me regardless.

We do not need mackerel flavoured macarons (scroll down and for God's sake, someone please tell them in Brittany!), foie gras flavoured ice-cream (you know, I love SF, but for this, I hate it) or azuki frappuccino ('Taste the daydream'? Taste the sick more like...). We do not and never have. So why are they being produced then? It is a mystery worthy of Holmes and Watson.

I can say though, no word of a lie, that today's lamington recipe is a thing of great beauty and deliciousness. I know this having eaten one mere moments ago, but can offer further evidence in support of the combination of white chocolate and rosemary, though it is anecdotal since I never posted the cake to which I shall now refer; you must believe me. I implore you.

Last Summer I made an apple and rosemary loaf cake and topped it with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. The one from this cake. And it was killer. We ate the lot. I meant to re-bake it and post it, but life got in the way. I did take something away from the experience though, and that was that my favourite flavour pairing in the cake was not the rosemary and apple, but the rosemary and white chocolate. It just worked.

These lamingtons are a little different to that original cake. Obviously, there's no apple included, but I have also added the herb to the icing (well, coating), rather than the cake. It's quite a lot stronger this way (and rather surprising as well, because you can't actually see the flecks of rosemary in there; the coconut obscures them), but I like it like this. I can't claim that it was on purpose mind you. I actually forgot to add the little pile of rosemary I had chopped in readiness to the rich batter that made up the cake component of today's lams. This is what happens when you have only two days to Re-Invent and 10 lamington recipes to come up with - you turn into a sieve-for-brain-nincompoop.

I'd like to draw attention to the lovely flowers my rosemary bush was covered with, which garnish the lamington you see here. Further evidence of global warming? Well, maybe. But pretty at any rate.

White Chocolate and Rosemary Lamingtons

You will need:

175g plain flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (I don't have any dried stuff, but it would work here, though I'd only use 1 tsp)

500g white chocolate
200g dessicated coconut
  1. First, make the butter cake. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla together until you have a smooth batter. Scrape this into the prepared cake tin and level out. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done. That means that when you stick a cocktail stick (or a piece of spaghetti!) into the centre of the cake, it will come out clean, without any uncooked batter clinging to it.
  3. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, and when completely cold, turn out and slice into 16 squares.
  4. Melt the chocolate, cool slightly and mix in the chopped rosemary. Use this mixture to make your lamingtons: working quickly, dip the cake cubes into the chocolate and immediately roll them in the coconut.
  5. They can be laid out on greaseproof paper to dry and set, and if you want to garnish with fresh rosemary flowers, like I did, be sure to put the flower stems into the lamingtons while the chocolate is still fairly liquid. Otherwise it will solidify and you'll find it impossible (read: very difficult) to break through the crisp shell.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Seven: Chiffon Cake Lamingtons


(In which Mr. P comes over all glamorous.)

I have spoken at length about my love of chiffon cakes. Something I absolutely adore about them is that they are really, truly old fashioned. As well as being unheard of in the UK.

When you find a recipe for one in old American cook books (so I'm told - no old cook books here!), the cakes are often described as 'elegant'. Clearly, after the war, and rationing, for housewives to be considered elegant again when entertaining their dinner guests was a big deal. It explains why, along with the hefty clout of Betty Crocker and General Mills marketing powers, the chiffon rose to fame, before swiftly falling from grace some time later. (I've always loved a fallen angel.)

I do actually agree with those old recipe books. There is something very sophisticated about a real chiffon baked in a tube pan. The shape, the smooth sides and airy texture are all very 1950s trophy wife, very gingham print apron and heels.

Another reason I love them.

Today's lamingtons have taken inspiration from all this and are therefore my elegant, deconstructed lamingtons. They take the classic lamington make up of cake (flavoured with coconut and vanilla here), chocolate icing (sour cream ganache for me - not trad., but horrendously yummy) and coconut, but the composition is very different. It is chic. Beautiful without screaming 'look-at-me!!'. An instant classic.

At least that's what I think. How about you?

Use my adapted recipe for coconut vanilla chiffon if you make these; no tube pan required. I'm repeating the recipe below.

Deconstructed Chiffon Cake Lamingtons

You will need:

115g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60ml vegetable oil
5 egg whites
4 egg yolks
90ml coconut milk
40g dessicated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

200g plain chocolate (not more than 60% cocoa solids, or it will be bitter)
100g sour cream (at room temperature!!)

a large handful of coconut chips

  1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Have ready a deep 23cm springform cake tin. Do not grease or line it. If you have a 'not nonstick' (for want of a better description) one, so much the better.
  2. In a large bowl, mix everything except for the eggs whites and cream of tartar together using a wire whisk, or wooden spoon. Beat everything well until you have a thick, smooth mixture. Obviously, 'everything' does not include the chocolate, sour cream or coconut chips; they are for garnish later.
  3. Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Fold this meringue into the coconut and flour mixture, and transfer to the cake tin.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, until the cake is well risen and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Immediately invert the cake, till in its tin, on a wire rack and leave to cool. When it has completely cooled (give it a good hour or so), run a knife round the edge of the pan and un-clip the tin. Remove the base (you'll need to use your knife here too - chiffon cake sticks to the pan!), turn the cake the right way up and slice the cake into cubes. You can eat the cut off round edges as a baker's treat.
  6. Make the ganache just before serving. Melt and cool the chocolate and allow to cool slightly before stiring in the sour cream. Instant, delicious ganache. Yum.
  7. Top each cube with a generous spoonful of ganache and sprinkle with the sweetened coconut chips. Devour. Elegantly.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Six: Funfetti Failure Lamingtons

Stupid.Link

(In which Mr. P expresses regret for the lamingtons that never were.)

I had this idea, way back at the start of the original Re-Inventing the Lamington in 2010, of making lamingtons out of rainbow cake, using the recipe for my Rocky Horror Cupcakes as the base. They were going to be Sydney Pride Lamingtons (for the gays!), and I was going to tell you all in the post about how Sydney's famous Mardi Gras ruined my life in 2008 when I was travelling back (or trying to) on standby from Singapore at the time it was going on. We (me and him indoors) had been in Malaysia, but hadn't even considered what was happening Down Under and its effect on our plans. Why would we? We were strictly Equatorial, nothing Southern Hem. about us.

Mistake.

Rule #1 of standby travel: consider if your destination is a connections hub. It effectively doubles the number of passengers flying there, and halves the number of available seats.

I wasn't flying with my own airline so my priority was pretty much non-existent. And do you know how many airline emplyees were flying in and out of Australia for that damned Mardi Gras? GABILLIONS!

You know, Singapore is lovely, but being stuck there at the airport watching hung over revellers who haven't even been there for longer than a few hours getting on planes ahead of you even though you were there first is not. Especially when you have to get back for a flight duty.

Needless to say, we made it, at great personal expense. But the memory is a bitter one. And I never got round to making the lamingtons that the story inspired, so it has until now gone unshared.

But, I still liked the idea of a party lamington and decided to get hold of some Pilsbury Funfetti Cake mix as an easy alternative to the food colouring nightmare that is the RHC. Easy but expensive. Do you know what it costs to buy that stuff in the UK? It was out of the question. I decided to appropriate my own version using Victoria sandwich batter and my beloved sanding sugars in blue and purple. Well, I do love a challenge.

While the cake was baking, I watched a program about the Great Barrier Reef and, well, shave my legs and call me Grandpa if it didn't feature that crazy old hunk of corals glowing purple, blue and green under UV lights at night. This in itself didn't excite me (though it was pretty), but it did make me think it would be appropriately Australian to change things up and make a Great Barrier Reef Lamington out of my baking cakes instead of the Sydney Pride version.

Well, reader, I'm pro change. I envisaged cubes of purple, blue and green flecked cake, coated with ganache and blue sanding sugar (to represent the ocean) - the Smurfs of the lamington world. I thought how fun it would be to accessorise the pictures I would take with plastic fish and coral. (Well, fun of sorts.)

But upon slicing the cakes, I realised, to my great dismay, that it was not to be. The sanding sugars had, well, sort of 'baked out'. The colours were muted. I won't lie: I was momentarily devastated. I think making all these lamingtons in such a short space of time had gotten to me to be honest. The clean up takes so long; it gets me down. Add that to unexpected colour loss, and the tears were ready to fall.

But am I not pro change? Am I not made of sterner stuff? I decided to just get on with it, and turned these into my failed-but-still-enjoyed lamingtons. The fact is, the cake part is butter cake. It looks a little funky with it's oddly dispersed waves of colour, but it tastes delicious. Lamington disasters do occur. Remember Mathea's house fire? I guess I should feel glad that my disaster is only botched cake.

Funfetti Failure Lamingtons

You will need:

175g plain flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

1 tbsp of sanding sugar in each of your three chosen colours

400g dark chocolate
200g crème fraïche (or sour cream) at room temperature

200g dessicated coconut (I like to use really finely chopped stuff)
  1. First, make the butter cake. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla together until you have a smooth batter. Scrape this into the prepared cake tin and level out. Do this in three batches, sprinkling a little of the sanding sugars in each colour over the top after each layer. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done. That means that when you stick a cocktail stick (or a piece of spaghetti!) into the centre of the cake, it will come out clean, without any uncooked batter clinging to it.
  3. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, and when completely cold, turn out and slice into 16 squares.
  4. Make the ganache: Melt the chocolate, cool slightly and mix together with the crème fraïche until you have a smooth icing. I always use crème fraïche for ganache now by the way; you can use it instantly, unlike double cream-based ganache which takes thirty seven years to cool and thicken.
  5. Make the lamingtons: working quickly, dip the cake cubes into the ganache coating evenly. Immediately roll them in the coconut and set on a sheet of greaseproof paper to dry.
  6. Or don't do any of this. These are failure lamingtons after all.

Re-Invent the Lamington Yourself!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Five: Marshmallow and Rice Krispie Lamingtons

Teddie looked on longingly. How he wished he could join in with Lamington Jenga! But the fear of Watermelon Kewpie's anger when she found out he'd lost her copy of 'Catch-22' at the teddy bears' picnic kept him away...


(In which Mr. P finds a friend in fine literature of the 20th Century.)

Watermelon Kewpie would be pretty mad with me as well. Teddy didn't lose her copy of 'Catch-22'. I have it! Ha ha ha!

And she's not getting it back.

The reason? I identify too strongly with Yossarian. I offer the following as evidence:

... there were many officers' clubs that Yossarian had not helped build, but he was proudest of the one on Pianosa. It was a sturdy and complex monument to his powers of determination. Yossarian never went there to help until it was finished; then he went there often, so pleased was he with the large, fine, rambling shingled building. It was truly a splendid structure, and Yossarian throbbed with a mighty sense of accomplishment each time he gazed at it and reflected that none of the work that had gone into it was his.

Is that not the exact story of me and my lazy-arse Chocolate Fudge Brownie Lamingtons? Well, what can I say? Why work hard when Ghiradelli can do it for you?

'Catch-22' was my 'A'-Level English Lit. teacher's favourite novel. He used to quote the opening as the greatest first paragraph of any novel ever written, though since this is my first time reading the book (SHAME! I'll be 30 next birthday!!), I'll have to let you know if I agree with his praises. So far, so good.

Anyhow, today's offering is Marshmallow and Rice Krispie Lamingtons, and let me be 100% clear about this: I plagiarised the idea, shamefully and shamelessly, from Mary the Food Librarian (who judged Re-Inventing the Lamington 2011 along with Edd, who wrote the book that is this year's prize, and Stef of the great CCP). I saw her Rice Krispie Bundt and knew right then and there that there was lamington potential. And there was: these are the light weight, appetite-saving lams. I can eat three in one sitting, though admittedly I did make them small.

Want to make some too? Here's how:

Marshmallow and Rice Krispie Lamingtons

You will need:

50g butter
300g marshmallows
200g Rice Kripies

200g milk chocolate
100g dessicated coconut

  1. Butter generously a 20cm square cake tin (or similar: you'll be cutting them up anyway, so size, as they say, doesn't matter).
  2. Over a low heat, melt the butter and marshmallows. Stir constantly!!
  3. Remove from the heat, stir in the Rice Krispies and then pour into the prepared tin and level the surface. This is to ensure nice, neat, crisp edges on the lamingtons. Set aside for a few hours (or overnight) to set.
  4. Cut the block of 'confection' (well, it's not a cake is it? What do we call these things?) into small squares or rectangles, or whatever shape you like.
  5. Melt the chocolate, put the coconut into a shallow bowl and then get dipping and rolling. You could use something else instead of coconut if you liked. Flaked chocolate would be amazing.
  6. When the coating has set, serve with gleeful abandon!

Re-Invent the Lamington Yourself!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Four: The Lamingtini

Link
(In which Mr. P revisits Brideshead, and the lamington gets a look in as well.)

The fact is, readers, quite a few of my lamington creations in the past have been inspired by drinks, and not just any old beverages. In the main, they have been rather naff drinks from my liqueur cabinet. Witness and appreciate the violet liqueur infused Purple Rain Lamington (my, my, they were delicious), the Pina Colada Lamington (a joy!), and my botched Snowball Lamington (well, you can't see that one because it never made it onto here, but rest assured: there WAS Advocaat and there WAS lime zest. It just... Never quite came into being.) for proof.

Alcohol can be a real brain stormer.

Anyway. While plundering the 'stash' looking for inspiration this year, I thought it was time to give the lamington a drinks cabinet makeover and create a cocktail in its honour. I'm glad I had this idea by the way, because on the reserve list was a Tanqueray and Tonic Lamington, which actually, probably would have been vile.

That just shows you how non-elitist my cocktail cupboard is by the way. The Tanqueray sits quite happily next to the Malibu and Tia Maria, and they all get along fine. Why just yesterday I heard them discussing at great length the best way to rim the glass when making Salty Dog, and honestly, I felt for a short moment that we really were living in a society free from class bias.

Sadly I have to get back to the point.

Meet the Lamingtini. It's not technically of the Martini family, I actually based it on a Brandy Alexander, but using rum, coconut rum and (don't laugh) chocolate milk. In my defence, I couldn't think of a way to get chocolate in there without buying Crème de Cacao, and we've no room in the cupboard. Plus, Frijj is actually pretty good stuff. Don't knock a good thing.

I have a great soft spot for Brandy Alexander by the way, because of that heart breaking (to me at least) scene in Brideshead Revisited (the TV series - sadly I never made it past the first few pages of the novel, which you'd think I'd prefer given it's lack of Jeremy Irons.) when Anthony Blanche orders four of them ('two for you and two for me, yum yum'). If none of you know what I'm talking about, get yourself the DVDs. Though beware: they do feature Jeremy Irons.

I can't find the picture of all the bottles that I took to illustrate the abundance our cupboard contains, but if I remember to look it up, I definitely will post it for you. You'll just have to believe me when I say that I am not an alcoholic, just a young man in his very late twenties with a lust for life and an addiction to kitsch.

The Lamingtini

You will need:

1 measure dark rum (I used Mount Gay, which normally goes in my Rum Punches)
1 measure coconut rum (I used Malibu, which is for my Snow Queens)
3 measures Frijj chocolate milk (though you could use cream, and change the dark rum to Crème de Cacao)

  1. Put some ice cubes into a cocktail shaker, and pour in the rum, coconut rum and chocolate Linkmilk.
  2. Shake for a minute or until your hands are so cold they feel like they might fall off.
  3. Strain into a chilled Martini glass.
  4. Garnish with optional mini-Lamington.

Re-Invent the Lamington Yourself!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Three: Brigadeiro Lamingtons

Link
Slightly festive is today's Kewpie, yes.
But then we are joining sweets from different corners of the globe.
It's cause for (trouserless) celebration!



(In which Mr. P travels without moving. For once.)

(I always disliked Jamiroquai by the way. Greatly. It was the stupid hats. So don't start...)

Greetings, friends. Today, we are off to Argentina, and we don't even need to leave the kitchen. Which I know my more local readers will particularly appreciate: it is FREEZING out there. As it is inside my kitchen as well, truth be told. Mr. Other P has done something to the boiler and I can't get the heating to come on properly. He doesn't like me to keep warm during the day, evidently.


I say we're going to Argentina, but in actual fact, we might end up in Brazil. You see, my recipe book says that brigadeiros are Argentinian, but my mate Wiki seems to think otherwise. Whatever: I bet both countries' people and the good men and women of Australia alike will think I am pushing the boundaries of what can correctly be called a brigadeiro (or indeed a lamington) with today's gift to you, my sweets. But I face all criticism head on. These are yummy little goodies, and took about five minutes to make (plus cooling time), which is more than you can say for any more 'trad' kind of a 'lam'.

Brigadeiros are little chocolate flavoured caramels made from condensed milk, cocoa powder and nothing else. That's it. Two ingredients only. They are, apparently, ubiquitous at children's birthdays in Argentina, and let me just say right now, would be more than welcome at my birthday party too. They are like a homemade Toffee Poppet, and with my lamington-inspired coconut exterior, have taken my respect for condensed milk and things that can be made from it to a whole new level. I remember once wanting to produce 'I♥HFW' pin badges, such was my love for the great gentleman of River Cottage. But 2012's buttons will only read 'I♥♥♥CM', and no doubt take the fashion world by a storm.

I got the idea for these from "Green and Black's" Chocolate Recipes, but have adapted the recipe and method a little, as well as adding coconut (and let's face it, removing the cake - these are lamingtons after all. Though in my eyes only, perhaps!). Please try them: they are fabulous.


This not-particularly-lovely-looking cocoa-caramel is what you have after completing stage
one of the recipe. Fear not: your Brigadeiro Lamingtons will end up looking just fine, I promise.


Brigadeiro Lamingtons

You will need:

1 can of condensed milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp dessicated coconut

  1. Over a low heat, in a medium saucepan, combine the first two ingredients. Stir occasionally until the mixture boils, and then mix constantly until it comes together and forms a ball. Be careful. It will get quite hot. This will take less than ten minutes, by the way, and you do not need a sugar thermometer. Easy peasy!
  2. Allow to cool until you can touch the chocolate-brown caramel without burning yourself. Then, pinch off chunks of mixture and roll them into small balls between the palms of your hands.
  3. Next, roll the balls in the coconut. If they are still warm-ish, it should stick easily. If they have cooled slightly too much (it's January, after all...), grease your palms with a little butter when rolling the remainder of the brigadeiros, and the coconut should adhere a little better.
  4. Allow to cool completely and eat.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day Two: Chocolate Fudge Brownie Lamingtons

Moist!

(In which Mr. P does the unthinkable.)

No plastic pandas today, unfortunately. Just my good taste chinaware. Don't be too disappointed though, because tomorrow we have the return of the Kewpie. It's been too long without them, hasn't it?

I have a confession today. I've been keeping a big, dirty and reputation-destroying secret from you. For much too long. I feel like it's eating me up inside and I just cannot bear it any more.

Are you prepared for this? Get ready if not. Because here it comes...



I have boxed chocolate brownie mix (catering size!) in my kitchen cupboards.

You look shocked.

I'm not lying.

I got it at Costco.

It's by Ghirardelli, it's Triple Chocolate Flavour and it makes amazing brownies. I forget now where I read about it online, but basically there are Americans out there (many, many Americans) who think that it makes better brownies than a from-scratch, home made recipe would.

Do I think so too? Well, we'll get to that. Right now I need to know that we're still OK. I shouldn't have kept it from you, I know. I just... I need to know that in time you can learn to forgive me. Do you think you can?

I hope so. I feel like the very foundations of my blog are in tatters...

In fairness, I don't think it's better than homemade brownies. I've posted a couple of my favourite brownie recipes on here in the past, and I stand by them. Especially those Chocolate-Ginger Brownies. They were truly memorable.

But I do actually think they're good, these box brownies. Though I cannot put my finger on why. Is it the excitement of using a box mix when everyone knows I'm against them? I'm like those Anti-Fur Activist Types who still wear leather. (And yes, I know it isn't the same thing...)

I like the sweetness. And the fudgy texture - which you can actually see from the photo is particularly inviting.

And let's face it: since these brownies were made with the sole intention of turning them into lamingtons, surely it was OK to use a mix? Well, that's the angle I'm going for...

And what of these lamingtons? How were they? Well, they were fabulous. Moist, fudge-like brownie and crisp chocolate and coconut coating (I opted not to use a ganache for these lamingtons, mainly out of laziness, but it is true that I like the snap you get from a pure chocolate dipped lam) - why wouldn't they be?

If I made them again - and you never know, since these (thanks to Ghirardelli) were a very low-effort undertaking - I think it would be fun to use a white chocolate for the exterior. Make the brownie centre more of a shock.

Though, in retrospect, I think we've had rather enough shocks for today. Don't you?

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Lamingtons

You will need:

1 package of Ghirardelli brownie mix

400g chocolate of your choice
200g dessicated coconut

  1. Make the brownies following the instructions on the box. (I feel sick inside writing those words.)
  2. Cut the cooled brownies into cubes ready for lamingtoning.
  3. Melt the chocolate; put the dessicated coconut into a shallow dish for easy dipping and rolling.
  4. Dip and roll.
  5. Allow the brownie lamingtons to dry and set on greaseproof paper.
  6. Don't tell anyone you used mix. It's not worth it. You could always make these instead. If you feel that strongly about it.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012 Day One: White Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Lamingtons

Pandas (especially those made of plastic, and in miniature) love popcorn. Fact.

(In which Mr. P makes crap up about the diet of pandas.)

I am not a panda, obviously. (Well, I hope that's obvious. Do pandas wear Ray-Bans?) But I do love toffee popcorn, the type that comes in foil bags. I don't really eat it very often, because, well, frankly, with all the cake that I find myself in possession of most of the time, buying sweet things to eat seems a little stupid. But I love it nonetheless and often gaze longingly at it in the snack aisle of my local Co-Op, wishing I could spare the calories and that everything wasn't so over-priced.

I indulged recently at my friend Al's while watching 'The Killing', and could barely concentrate on what Sarah Lundt was doing, so much was I enjoying those buttery morsels. I know that to some this is disgusting - Mr. Other P really hates sweet popcorn - but I care not. Good TV and a bag of Butterkist = ace. Even if it means you lose the plot line a little. I am happy to report, though, that the sacrifice was worth it. I had my own little 'Eureka!' moment right there in crime ridden Denmark: I was going to make a Toffee Popcorn Lamington.



Ostensibly for the pandas, but also for me. Let's be honest.

You know, I can't believe that I didn't think to do this for Re-Inventing the Lamington 2010 or 2011. These lams are amazing! Sweet white chocolate ganache, soft, vanilla scented sponge cake and a buttery, crunchy toffee popcorn coating. They are to be remade. And soon! Though perhaps in a layer cake incarnation, because as some of you are hopefully discovering right now with your entries for Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012, lamington making can be a true labour of love.

Incidentally, if I'm not doing enough to glamorise popcorn, and you also think it's more for the bin and less for the mouth, check this out. Admittedly, not the toffee variety, but still... Maybe if I limit myself to a dollar a day popcorn and cranberry juice diet, I'll become a rich, famous pop icon? You never know...

White Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Lamingtons

You will need:

175g plain flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

400g white chocolate
200g crème fraïche (or sour cream) at room temperature

200g bag toffee popcorn, crushed
  1. First, make the butter cake. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla together until you have a smooth batter. Scrape this into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done. That means that when you stick a cocktail stick (or a piece of spaghetti!) into the centre of the cake, it will come out clean, without any uncooked batter clinging to it.
  3. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, and when completely cold, turn out and slice into 16 squares.
  4. Make the ganache: Melt the chocolate, cool slightly and mix together with the crème fraïche until you have a smooth icing. I always use crème fraïche for ganache now by the way; you can use it instantly, unlike double cream-based ganache which takes thirty seven years to cool and thicken.
  5. Make the lamingtons: working quickly, dip the cake cubes into the ganache coating evenly. Immediately roll them in the crushed popcorn pieces and set on a sheet of greaseproof paper to dry.

Re-Invent the Lamington Yourself!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012

The very first lamingtons I ever re-invented. Good times!


Well, I give you what you want, readers. Or so I like to think. Thanks to input (pressure?) from the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page (which is a great way to follow the blog by the way, if you use Facebook. Or indeed to get in touch with me - hit 'like' and join the fun!), I am once again going to Re-Invent the Lamington. Will it be the last time? Who knows.

I am nervous and anxious about whether or not I can do it to be honest. Both in 2010 and 2011 I felt like I had more fails than passes when it came to the crunch. Not so much in terms of flavour - let me just tell you right now, homemade cake and chocolatey coconut goodness can NEVER taste bad - but more in terms of beauty. I am not a shallow man, really I'm not. But I do want the desserts I post here to look the best they possibly can. South Wales in January is not the most ideal place to be shooting photos when you rely solely on natural light, as I do. But whatever; I am up for the challenge, so come along for the ride!

Now. Qu'est-ce que c'est un lamington? I feel like I spend my life explaining this one. Lamingtons are cakes that are popular in Australia. Traditionally, they are cube shaped sponge cakes coated with chocolate icing and coconut. However, I was unimpressed with them when I visited Australia in 2009, and made it my mission to Re-Invent them in 2010, in the process offending several Australians, who are very proud of their nations confections.

I say upfront that I am not here to step on Australia's toes. I am only doing this for fun! 10 days (the run up to Australia Day!), 10 lamington recipes. Are you with me?

As ever, I am opening up the fun to the whole wide world. Why not bake along and Re-Invent the Lamington yourself? In 2011 and 2012 we had a ton of great entries and I even got to speak about them on radio for ABC Canberra. I really hope you get inspired and join in this year as well.

There will be a prize! Want to know what it is? OK then! A copy of The Boy Who Bakes.


For those that don't know, this is the baking book written by the winner of BBC2's Great British Bake Off 2010, Edd Kimber, and let me tell you, it is fabulous. I've been following Edd's blog for years now, and am so pleased to see he has a book out at last. I rooted for him all the way through the show, knowing full well he would win it, and the book is full of all the great recipes you'd expect from him (except no lamingtons). It is the perfect prize: lamingtons are Aussie, but I'm British, and this book is by the guy who put British baking back in style.

Want to win it? Well, then, you'll need to enter!

The rules:

  1. First come up with a unique lamington recipe. Go wild. I will.
  2. Make and photograph your lamington, and post it on your blog, along with the recipe. If you don't have a blog, you can still enter. Just email me photos of the lamington with your recipe, and I'll post it on Delicious Delicious Delicious, as part of the lamington round-up for 2012.
  3. Make sure to mention in your blog post that you're entering the lamingtons as part of Re-Inventing the Lamington 2012, and be sure to email me at the address above with a link to your post. Or leave a comment with a link to it, either way is fine.
  4. Deadline is 31 January 2012.
  5. Multiple entries are permitted. In fact, they are encouraged; everybody likes a lamington!
My Re-Inventions will be posted daily, starting 17 January, and finishing on Australia Day. Make sure you follow along!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Spiced Honey Gingerbread

'You're what the French call 'pain d'épices'...'

Well, that is officially it for 2011 people. We're all older, have more grey hair and have wasted another year of our lives. But there is great joy to be shared: we have in our hands another new year, and with it high hopes and dreams of a better life. Make them come true! We only live once.

I actually had a fantastic 2011 by the way, so please do not be misled. My bitter tone is entirely for effect.

I trust everybody had a wonderful holiday season. I was working for most of it ('My Carmex Nightmare'), but did squeeze in all the right celebrations. I missed out on seeing my brother and his family though, so am going to have to schedule another feast at some point soon.



Today's recipe is actually one that I made to give as gifts in mid-December. Yes, I have become one of those awful, 'Here's something I made for you' type of gift givers; it must be my age. But actually, this gingerbread is truly fabulous, and even though I never got chance to post the recipe in time for you to follow suit and give loaves of it to friends and family, I am taking inspiration from one of my Christmas presents (a copy of One Day by David Nicholls) and telling myself that it is never too late. Some things are worth waiting for. So you get it now.

Now. I didn't actually like the book all that much. It was an easy read, but quite flawed. I got bored of all the extended internal monologue and lack of action: is there anything worse than people who spend their lives wanting something but but being too scared to do it? Also, the characters' attitudes towards love, sex and relationships irked me. Let's just say you can tell it was written by a man. The male, Dexter, is attractive, popular and sleeps around; the female, Emma, is a good girl. She waits for him, puts herself second. All rather tired if you ask me.

Plus it doesn't seem well researched. Littered with annoying anachronisms. Or maybe I just love the Eighties too much?

Nonetheless, coming back to the point, this honey gingerbread is wonderful. It would be worth waiting twenty annoyingly long years for, even if they were twenty years filled with awkward exchanges and difficult conversations. Fortunately though, you don' have to wait that long. The recipe is right here.


You can't go on honeymoon without buying honey, can you? Well, no. You can't.

Spiced Honey Gingerbread

You will need:

150g butter
125g demerera sugar (that's turbinado for those in US)
200g honey (I used pine honey, from California)
200g treacle (or molasses, or just another 200g honey)
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
250ml milk
300g flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and have ready either 6 small foil loaf tins, each about 350ml capacity, or a deep-sided 20cm square cake tin, which should be greased. Don't worry about greasing the foil loaf tins.
  2. In a large pan, and over a medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, treacle, honey and spices. Stir well.
  3. Add the milk and eggs, and mix together thoroughly. Then add the flour and bicarb, whisking well to avoid lumps in the batter.
  4. Pour into the prepared tins and bake. The small loaves take 22 minutes, the large cake will take around 45-50. Cool completely in the tin.
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