Tamarillo pudding

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I am so happy it is tamarilo season once more.  I love tamarillos.  Not just for their cheek-sucking tartness, but also because I think they are one of the most beautiful fruits, with their plump, ruby skins and yellow flesh.

Tamarillos, which were once known as the very cute name ‘tree tomatoes’ in New Zealand, are considered by some to be the lost fruit of the incas.  How exotic!  These gorgeous little fruits spring from the Andes, and are now found in countries including India, USA, China, Malaysia and of course New Zealand.

And it’s not only me who loves them…one half of our recent two-cat addition to the family spent the best part of the afternoon pestering the tamarillos too.

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My inspiration for this recipe comes from the New York Times plum torte.  I was introduced to this delight by my good friend Sondra who, as it happens, also introduced me to our new cats the same night.  I love the story behind this plum torte. It was published every Autumn for seven years until the editors decided that was plenty long enough.  However, this was met with outrage and a slew of angry letters, and so now it is published every year, just in time for Autumn.

So, with many thanks to the New York Times and its plum torte-loving readers, here is my take on their classic, with my beloved tamarillos.

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 ripe tamarillosIMG_3099
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup four
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 eggs

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Halve the tamarillos and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.  Add the vanilla essence, sugar and cinnamon.  Combine and set aside.

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In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs, and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a springform cake tin, between 20 – 25cm diameter.  Place the tamarillos over the top of the batter and drizzle with the remaining liquid.

Bake until the torte is cooked through and springs back to the touch, approximately one hour.

This is quite lovely served warm with some yoghurt, or even better, cream.

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Bliss Balls

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So, bliss balls are a thing right now.  Anyone who reads my blog will know that I take great joy in the retro tried-and-true; the less sexy the better (although I’m sure we all agree that Delia looks a total fox on the cover of this 1982 How To Cook).  I’m not always so adventurous when it comes to the hottest trend.

But, thing or not, bliss balls are scrumptious.  I believe their popularity comes from the fact that they get their lovely moreish-ness from things like dates and cocoa powder, so they provide a delicious little morsel without sending your blood sugar skew-whiff.   Personally I just like them because the dates and cocoa make them all dense and fudge without being sickly.  And a little delicious morsel?  Count me in.

My tried and true Bliss Ball recipe is not my own, but comes to me courtesy of two of my lovely sisters.  So please find their excellent recipe below – I promise it’s quick, and the results are superb with your post-lunch cup of tea.

Ingredients:

1/2 C dates (I’m assured that raisins and sultanas also work well)
1/4 C almond meal
2T cocoa (be generous!)
1t vanilla essence
1T peanut butter
1T oil (I use olive)
1/4 C dessicated coconut

Boil the kettle. Soak the dates in boiling water for ten minutes. Drain the water, reserving 2T of water.

Place the dates and all the other ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

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Test the mixture with your fingers.  It should clump nicely without being too sticky – add some of the date water if it’s too dry, or more almond meal if it’s too sloppy.

Wet your fingers and roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls.  You can roll them in a little coconut at this stage if you fancy, although I prefer them without.  Refrigerate for half an hour to set, and keep them in the fridge.

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Eight-minute chocolate orange cake

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What’s not to love about a cake that you can make entirely in one cake tin? Hardly any dishes and quick to boot.  Because, although I love to cook and bake, there are times when I am too greedy or impatient to fuss around.  If it’s delicious and you can get it in the oven in under ten minutes, count me in.

I have been fiddling around with this particular recipe for a few weeks now, having found myself in need of a cake on several occasions (mainly the delicious shared morning teas for which my workmates are justly famous, but also once or twice just NEEDING CAKE).

It is adapted from this recipe for six-minute chocolate cake, which I understand is an old Moosewood one.  And perhaps this is why I am particularly drawn to this notion, because I have an enduring soft spot for all things Moosewood. I think The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is one of the sweetest cookbook titles of all time.  I still rue the day I trustingly lent out my own lovely Moosewood Cookbook, never to be seen again.

I have called this recipe an eight-minute chocolate cake, as I don’t feel I can truthfully say it takes six minutes like its predecessor, since I ask that you zest an orange. But, I promise it’s still eight minutes-quick with a chocolatey, satisfying cake at the end that’s worth the orange zesting.  It’s also pretty easy to whip up, as most of the ingredients are generally in the pantry.  I like the little dash of ground almonds for the moist and grainy texture the give, but if you don’t have these to hand, just use an extra 1/4 cup flour instead of the almonds, and it still works a treat producing a slightly firmer cake.

You will need:

  • 1 & 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds (or, if you don’t fancy ground almonds, use 1 & 1/2 cups of plain flour)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1
 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 
cup brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 
cup coffee (cold)
  • 2 
teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 
tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat your oven to 190 celsius.

Put the flour, ground almonds (if using), cocoa, baking soda, salt, sugar and the orange zest into an ungreased 9 inch round cake tin and mix it together, breaking up any lumps.

Mix together the oil coffee and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients in the tin.  Mix the batter until smooth with a whisk or a fork.

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Add the vinegar and orange juice and stir quickly. You will see pale stripes in the batter – this is where the baking soda is reacting with the vinegar and orange juice.  Stir until the vinegar and juice is just distributed through the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Set aside the cake to cool.

It’s tasty dusted with a little icing sugar and served with whipped cream.  Or, as I have done in the picture, it responds well to a hearty dose of chocolate icing.

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Edmonds Cookbook ANZAC biscuits

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It is indeed a happy accident, that my arrival at ANZAC biscuits in the Edmonds Cook Book as I head forth in my self-imposed Edmonds Challenge has coincided so closely with ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day always puts me in mind of Aud and Reg, my Granma and Grandad on my Dad’s side.  Along with many others, my grandparents were part of World War II. Grandad went away with the Royal Air Force, and Granma was a WAF.  The milk bottle in the picture above was once theirs, and I used it in a little homage to them.

Here’s a photo of Aud and Reg below; I think from my Grandad’s cryptic title (“four years ‘ard labour”) and the pile of paper in front of them, they are sitting in front of all of the letters they exchanged while Grandad was abroad.  He looks rather Don Draper, although that’s where the comparison ends…he was a most morally upstanding man and a teetotaller to boot.

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ANZAC biscuits enjoy a historical pedigree dating back to World War I, where their ancestor-biscuits of oats, golden syrup, sugar and four were sold at fetes and galas at home to raise money for the troops.  After Gallipoli the term ANZAC was born, and the ANZAC biscuit followed, first appearing in a cook book in 1921.

It is of course unthinkable that Edmonds, holding its bible-like status in the New Zealand baking canon, would not have a recipe for ANZAC biscuits, and indeed I, personally, would not use any other.  So without further ado, see below for Edmonds’ ANZAC biscuit recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 3/4 rolled oats
  • 50g butter
  • 1 T golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 T boiling water

Heat the oven to180 degrees Celsius. Mix together the flour, sugar, coconut in a large-ish bowl.  Melt together the golden syrup and butter (I did this in a little dish in the microwave).  Dissolve the baking soda into the water and add it to the butter and syrup.  It will bubble and fizz in an awesome kind of way.

Mix the butter mixture with the dry ingredients and place tablespoonfuls on a cold, greased tray.  I must confess I used a cookie cutter to shape them; I’m sure this is not authentic, but I had some new cutters and I was looking for a chance to use them. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.

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Spiced apple and ginger loaf

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Every Autumn when I start spying lovely plump pears, plums and apples, thoughts of warming fruity goodies are not far behind.  This particular little loaf I’m bringing you today has been a long time in the making.  It first starting flitting about the corners of my mind a few years ago, when the aforementioned greedy Autumnal thoughts lead me to this delicious chocolate and pear cake. So this Autumn, finding my fruit bowl running over with many sweet little apples, I began hankering after something upside down-y involving apples.

It has taken a little experimenting, but I am happy to settle on this combination of slightly spicy ginger loaf topped with apples.  Upside down fruit-topped baking, I have concluded, needs a reasonably hefty cake to support it, and ginger loaf is up to the task.  I used this ginger loaf recipe as a base with some tweaking of my own, including a little wholemeal flour to give it some extra muscle.  And also because I love wholemeal flour.

For this spiced apple and ginger loaf you will need:

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Apple topping:

  • 1 apple (I like Braeburn for this)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Ginger loaf:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 Tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup milk

Butter your loaf tin.  Peel your apple if you like, although I prefer mine with a little bit of skin.  Quarter the apple and cut each quarter into thin slices.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle into the bottom of the loaf tin.  Lay the apple slices in top of this mixture and set aside.

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Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a large saucepan.  Add the egg and the sugar and mix in.  Then add all the other dry ingredients except for the baking soda.  Mix the baking soda into the milk and then add this to the mixture.

Pour the ginger loaf mixture into the tin, on top of the apples.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.  This may seem like a long time for a little loaf, but the fresh juicy apple slices make the mixture quite moist and mean the loaf needs longer to bake.  Trust me, I have been faced with the sad, sucking noise of turning out under-cooked baking in earlier versions of this apple-topped cake, when I have had less patience with the length of baking time.

Rest the loaf for a few minutes in its tin before running a knife around the edges and gently turning upside down.

The apple keeps this loaf tasty and moist. It can be a little prone to breaking up, so you may like to use a spoon, particularly if you fancy this warm with some vanilla ice-cream.  This, I can recommend.

Happy baking.

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Maple candied walnuts

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I love walnuts.  Perhaps this started with the grand old walnut tree in our garden when I was little.  When I wasn’t swinging from it or chasing the chickens that lived at its feet, I was happily crushing walnuts between concrete blocks so I could prise the nuts from their wrinkly little shells.  I still remember the pang of pride the day Mum put the mangled results in a small dish at the dinner table for everyone to share, even though the results of my efforts were mainly bits of concrete with the odd bit of bruised walnut flesh.

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So I felt a very lucky person indeed when I was offered some walnuts recently, still in their green casings.  Of course I jumped at the chance. One of the things I love most about walnuts is their versatility – they will happily partner with savoury or sweet, and can turn an ordinary salad or muffin into something that little bit more scrumptious and gourmet.

I fancied something autumnal and sweet, and after a little research settled on experimenting with candied walnuts spiced up with some maple and cinnamon, borrowing heavily from the caramelising talents of BraveTart who I have learnt from with my candied sugar experiments in the past.  And here’s how I got there:

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Ingredients:

  • 12 walnuts – of course whole is ideal, but I was whacking mine with a hammer to get them out of their shells and some where less than whole, which didn’t seem to matter too much
  • 12 toothpicks
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 4 T white sugar
  • 1 T water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

Put toothpicks into the walnuts.  They get their pretty little stalagmite-like shape from being hung upside-down, so I put a wooden board along the edge of the sink to hang them from and some baking paper in the sink to catch the drips.  I also prepared some strips of masking tape for taping the toothpick ends to the board.

Put all of the other ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, swishing the pan to stop it sticking.

When the sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns amber, put the pot on the wooden board.  Take each tooth-picked walnut in turn and dip it into the sugar, coating it generously.  Turn it upside down over the the sink so the caramel drips off.  Secure and tape the other end to the wooden board.  It may look a little like a Game of Thrones-style torture chamber for walnuts, to be honest.

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When the caramel has hardened and cooled, pull the toothpick out and you will have pretty little maple walnut teardrops to use as garnish or gobble up as is.  They are lovely with ice cream.

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Antipasto, courtesy of Edmonds

Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally hit the International Dishes section of the Edmonds Cook Book.

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As I make my way alphabetically (and rather slowly, I do admit) through the Edmonds Cook Book, the A section to date has yielded a fair bit of baking and things involving almonds.  But now, we find ourselves at Antipasto, opening a rather ambitious International Dishes selection including foreign delicacies like nachos and cucumber salad.

I suspect in this day and age, many of us are familiar with antipasto and its role as the opening dish in an Italian meal.  In our little far-flung corner of the world, however, the inclusion of Antipasto, and indeed an International Dishes section at all, to the Edmonds was no doubt a bold leap into the unknown at the time.

This may explain why tasty cheese makes up the cheese selection in the ingredients list, when in other antipasto recipes we see rather more exotic cheeses such as aged Manchengo or Gruyere.  But tasty cheese is a firm favourite in our shaky isles and it is only appropriate that it features in the Edmonds take on antipasto.  And I don’t want to seem as if I am sneezing at tasty cheese.  There are very few snacks as lovely as a thick slice of tasty cheese on a cracker with a generous spoonful of my Mum’s tamarillo chutney.

So for an antipasto platter, Edmonds-style, you will need the following:

  • 425g can artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 6 to 8 slices of smoked beef
  • 250g tasty cheese
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 slices of salami

 

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And the rest is pretty simple chaps.  After draining and rinsing the artichokes, all that one is required to do with the ingredients is ‘arrange decoratively on a plate.’  I will leave the arranging up to your imaginations.  This is how mine looked and it was most pleasing with a little tipple on a late Summer afternoon.  Enjoy.

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