Monday, March 15, 2010

Recipe for a perfect Sunday

Take a perfect Melbourne autumn day, a table for 200 down one of it's lovely hidden laneways. Add excellent company, and an indulgent 8 course Vietnamese banquet, including the most tender and taste-laden twice-cooked pork belly. Marinate for 3 hours in sunshine and many glasses of Moscato. The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival provides many opportunities to indulge in such glorious days. If you're in Melbourne, take advantage of them, or if you're not, do what two bloggers from Sydney sitting next to me did, make a note in your calendar for next year and come down for a weekend. Once again I was let down by my camera, but here's a link to one of the Sydney bloggers account of the day's food with amazing photos. Apparently they were flown down to Melbourne by the Festival, and here I thought they had come of their own accord to check out our amazing festival.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Granny and Gingerbread, Saturday morning memories

I'm often asked if I cook (umm I have a cookbook shop people, is that a clue?) and my response is I have been cooking since I was old enough to stand on a stool at the kitchen table. And as with many people, some of my fondest memories of childhood and family revolve around food - the smell of garlic that always accompanied my grandfather, the taste of eggplant my Granny cooked and pineapples growing in her Durban backyard, guinea fowl hanging in our dark pantry.

My earliest cooking memory is of an afternoon tea for my class one (prep) teacher, Mrs Mulcahy. My best friend Rose and I stood at the white melamine table in the kitchen of our fire station flat (there's a whole other non-food memory: the acrid smell of smoke on my father's uniforms) helping Mum bake. I can't remember what else we made, but I will always remember the rich dark and fragrant gingerbread with white icing. Possibly all I did was stir the mixture, but I always claim it as my first venture into baking. I called Mum this morning for the recipe, only to be told it had been lost years ago and she had replaced it with one very similar. So this Saturday afternoon I made it in honour of my beloved gran, my beloved mum, Rose and Mrs Mulcahy, wherever she may be. I also made it for my son Jonathan who is home for dinner tonight after walking from Melbourne to the Dandenongs (a distance of around 36 kms). I think he'll need the sustenance.

Dark Sticky Gingerbread

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice

Cream the butter and sugar. Add beaten egg and syrup. Add sifted dry ingredients. Add hot water. Beat until smooth. Bake in a 180 oven until cake begins to draw away from sides and top springs back to the touch. (Sorry since I startd using the Aga, timing in recipes means nothing to me - it's done when it's done.

Ice with a simple white glaze icing