November 6, 2012

Happy Melbourne Cup Day!


Pressed for time I started on this baby after rushing home from uni last night. Now you might say that 9 'o clock at night is not the best time of the day to start a cake. You'd be right.

But I had promised my collegaues a cake for Melbourne Cup day and I hate breaking my promises.

The base for this cake is the Lavender cake I have made a gazillion times. But that didn't help. The base didn't seem right, the white chocolate mousse wouldn't set and even with some help from gelatine oozed out on the sides. Not to mention that I used too much white choc mousse on two layers and was left with only a smear on the last one. Sigh.

The one thing that did work was the fantastic Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Sweetapolita. Beautiful consistency and not too buttery. A new favourite!

Better photos and recipe to come soon. In the meantime, Happy Punting! 
lavender white choc mousse cake

November 5, 2012

Review: Simple Pleasures - The Free Range Cook


She's New Zealand's leading celebrity chef, stars in her own cooking series and is a passionate advocate for using seasonal ingredients. Annabel Langbein is back with her 19th cookbook, Simple Pleasures: The Free Range Cook. It's another no fuss, entertaining type food book and at first glance it's lovely. Big mouthwatering pictures, easy read text and simple create at home recipes.

At this point I should mention that I own her previous book Annabel Langbein's Free Range in the City and can honestly say I have not cooked one thing from it. That's not to say I don't enjoy reading it and planning to make some of the recipes, which is what I do with a lot of my cookbooks because I have so many. This time however, for the purposes of this review I set out to cook a few recipes from Simple Pleasures.

- Slow-roast Lamb with a Herb Crust
- Poached Chicken
- Butter Cookies


anabel 2

Some thoughts:

The recipes are very simple, some very basic. Unfortunately the poached chicken I made was dry. That could be down to the quality of the chicken. As we all know there's free-range and then there's free-range. In other words depending on how much you spend on your free-range chook it varies.

The herb encrusted lamb I would not make again. I love lavender and this recipe includes it, but there was something about the flavour in the herb crust that did not sit right with me. It was too perfumey and oddly tasted a bit like I had draped the poor lamb in anchovies. Apart from that there was nothing actually wrong with my lamb. The potatoes that baked under the lamb were a ok, but again reminded me of one of my most hated dishes of all time Swedish Sjomansgryta were the potatoes are sliced and cooked in the meat broth.

The butter biscuits though were not bad. I have a similar recipe that uses condensed milk so I know that using this particular ingredient in biscuits works a treat. A note though, even though I halved the recipe it still made one hell of a lot of bikkies, in my case Hazelnut and chocolate and Lavender. These would be great for bake sales.

I'm still debating whether or not to keep this book. Space is at a premium in my house so I might just take down the cookie recipe and give this book away. Any takers?

lavender bikkies 2

baked choco hazel bikkies 2