cooking

The mighty annual bakeoff…

Or…how a MixMaster may have saved my life…

The mighty annual office bakeoff. Competition fierce…always has been, always will be and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Hashtag game on!

Oh yes! While I’m busy Googling ‘re-purpose’ options for my batch of timer traumatized chocolate brownies, they in their frilly aprons with matching china bowls and candy stripe cupcake papers will be comparing the fruits of their labours to their Donna Hays with smug smiles of satisfaction.

Uh huh! The fabulous five (my gorgeous colleagues), between moving house, dance, gym, soccer runs and end of year school mayhem, still somehow find the time to knock up exquisitely presented, scrumptious fare that would make Adriano Zumbo blanche. Oh the pressure!

Time to put ’em in their place I mutter while wiping the sticky (but glossy) meringue massacre splatter of my new attempt off the kitchen walls. With what’s left in the bowl I will impress. Oh yes I will. After I dissolve this glob attached to my brow. And pour a large wine. And Google a substitute for white vinegar. I want my Mom.

Here’s the result. And the recipe. And you will need a BIG bowl. For the mix not your wine. And probably one of those MixMasters my colleagues are so fond of rather than hand held beaters.

Caramel Filled Pistachio Meringues

Need:
• 4 free range egg whites
• 220g caster sugar
• 2 teaspoons corn flour
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar
• 40g pistachios, roughly chopped

• For filling – caramel in a can

Do:
• Preheat fan forced oven to 140 degrees centigrade (160c conventional/gas2-3)
• Line 3 baking sheets with baking paper
• Put egg whites in clean, grease free bowl and using stand electric mixer or electric hand held mixer, beat them until soft peaks form
• Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each edition. Whisk until mixture is smooth and glossy
• Fold in the cornflour, vinegar and 3/4 of the pistachios
• Put mixture in piping bag with no tube (or glad bag with corner snipped off)
• Pipe small rounds onto the prepared trays, allowing a little room for expansion, and sprinkle the remaining pistachio
• Reduce oven temperature to 130c (150c conventional/gas 2) and bake for 40 minutes
• Turn off oven and leave meringues inside to cool completely
• Scoop caramel out of tin whisking briefly to soften it then use it to sandwich meringues together

Serve: 

Pile on a platter and present.



PS: After the collective outcomes were presented, Instagrammed and consumed amidst deep sighs of sugar high, the vote was in. Hard to top a magnificent raspberry stuffed brownie topped with shards of white chocolate and dried raspberries thought I, as I graciously smiled at the winner punching the air with glee. A worthy adversary that Maree. But you just wait sweet pea! I’ve 11 months to perfect a perfect comeback…now somebody buy me a goddamned MixMaster?

On Italians, Tiramisu…and Grappa

This time last year…

I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, freshly plucked sweet crimson cherries in hand, gazing at sun sparkles shimmering across a breathtakingly azure ocean and clear blue sky, and squinting to identify where the two actually meet. Grappa impaired vision.

The small terra cotta and mustard hued fishing village surrounded by heavy grape vines and silvery olive trees below looks to relinquish its tenuous grip on the valley and tumble into that ocean. A number of villas actually did in the Autumn of 2011when flash flooding tore through the township consuming everything in its path to the sea. You’d never know it today though. Stoic folk these Ligurians…good thing that Grappa.

Behind me, nestling beneath a burgeoning Cherry tree, sits il Ciliegio (‘il Ciliegio’ translates to ‘the cherry tree’), a quaint little restaurant lovingly tended by a welcoming family who’ve just taught me how to cook five delectable Ligurian dishes. Each course consumed with great gusto and washed down with Prosecco, Frascati, Chianti, Sciacchetra (a delicate sweet wine from the region) and finished with a rich espresso….and Grappa.

As the last sediment of city deadline driven tension dissolves I smile and whisper to myself…’girlfriend you’ve made it!’ The Italian Riviera. The Cinque Terra. Monterosso al Mare…your new home! My gracious hosts are chortling for I’m also squealing ‘bello! magnifico! splendido!’ Damn Grappa mouth. Here’s one of those recipes…Grappa optional!

Tiramisu (the Ligurian way)

Need:

500g mascarpone cheese
4 eggs
Zest – thick strips of the surface of one lemon
4 tablespoons sugar
Coffee
Savoyard (lady finger) biscuits
Cocoa or shaved dark chocolate for dusting

Do:

• Separate eggs
• Beat the 4 yolks with the sugar and strips of lemon zest until light and fluffy (the zest removes the ‘eggy’ taste, remove it and discard after beating)
• Add mascarpone and incorporate well
• Beat egg whites until soft peaks form
• Fold egg whites into the mix, stir gently
• Prepare strong black coffee
• Reserve six of the Savoyard biscuits
• Break two Savoyard fingers each into the bottom of six individual glasses
• Soak the biscuit in each glass with two tablespoons of coffee
• Top with the mascarpone cream
• Liberally dust with cocoa or shards of dark chocolate
• Insert the remaining Savoyard finger
• Serve with espresso and dessert liqueur of choice.

Grappa – an alcoholic beverage, fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume. (Wikipedia) Damn Grappa!

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My little scrapbook of life enhancements

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 “Career management specialist, obsessed blogger, aspiring foodie, traveller and retail therapist; lover of gadgets, mango daiquiris and sourcing the perfect downtown nosh”

Hi! I’m Jane and welcome to Indulge Divulge. Whether looking to love your job just that little bit more, nurture your mind, improve your abode, feed your need for exploration or simply taste new sensations, I hope my little ‘scrapbook’ of inspirational finds and lifestyle enhancements might contribute in some small way to enhancing yours too.

Currently sharing amusing and frightening travel tales from France. Enjoy! Feedback always welcomed!

Jane

 

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