Josephine Baker Jaffa

Allen’s Jaffas, staple of all Aussie kid’s lolly bags; that was all this cake was going to be about.Simple to make, accessible and relatable, that’s what we want, isn’t it?

But, as I wandered around the market, all I could see were ‘slurp-alicious’, juicy, sweet navel oranges. Fresh juice and zest with Dutch cocoa, were always going to be a part of a Jaffa cake but the more I thought about it the more I needed to make some home made, fresh orange juice jelly to give it zing. I smothered it all in dark chocolate ganache and KAPOW :), I had it.

Rich, fudgy, full of real, fresh, flavours.

Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.
Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.

Now I had caked myself into a corner; with all this real, home made style flavour and texture; how was I going to incorporate my bag of supermarket lollies?  Jaffas are most notable as being the confection of choice in the day, to be rolled down cinema aisles (yes, pre-carpet!) and thrown at people from the balconies?!  Besides eat the whole lot myself I just couldn’t see how I was going to use them.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my supermarket lollies, or else I wouldn’t have bought them to make the cake in the first place, but I was feeling really stuck now.

As I was playing around, a  little skirt of Jaffas started building up around the cake and suddenly….
I thought of Josephine Baker!

Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker
Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker

Her incredible style, grace and beauty contrasted with her sense of humour and willingness to do (and wear) the bizarre and ridiculous; the idea just somehow seemed to work with this juxtaposition of home made and commercial flavours and textures.

Josephine's famous banana skirt!
Josephine’s famous banana skirt!

Call me mad, but I topped the cocoa dusted cake with a little kiss curl of Jaffas and some pretty flowers, and thought it worked great!  All in the Josephine Baker tradition of  beauty and artistic expression through the quirky, and the contrasting.

 

Crazy combination that works... I think?!
Crazy combination that works… I think?!

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Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker.  What would she think?
Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker. What would she think?
    Bliss’ delicious Josephine Baker Jaffa Cake, what do you think Jo Jo?

Feel free to drop me a comment if you would like me to post the recipe!

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“Princess”, The ‘Pain In The Arse’ Sourdough Starter

Once upon a time, there was an innocent, novice, bread baker who started to notice a little chill in the air. The days began to grow shorter, and the leaves on the trees turned yellow. She knew Autumn had arrived, and those long cold days of Winter were only just around the corner.
As always, her thoughts turned to food. She reminisced fondly of the previous Winter; great steaming bowls of veggie packed soups, served with toasted slices of sourdough bread, mmmmm. That simple combination made for delicious and healthy lunches, while fulfilling the comfort factor that was required to satisfy her soul in the middle of Winter, even when served over the stainless steel bench of the staff cafeteria.

Hot and hearty soup with a slice or two of sourdough on the side. Ooooh, great Winter lunch!
Hot and hearty soup with a slice or two of sourdough on the side. Ooooh, great Winter lunch!

But wait, a marvellous thought came to our idealistic baking heroine! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to bake her own sourdough bread, warm and inviting, ready to be sliced and toasted, to serve with nourishing bowls of goodness ladled from great steaming pots. Her minds eye could see the great soup vat sitting atop the old wood fired, kitchen stove, wafting steam and emanating wonderful aromas, that seemed to be an invisible invitation to all and sundry; “Come, pull up a chair around the great wooden table and sup ’til you are filled.” A truly vivid imagination does our innocent bread baker have, given that she knows full well only 2 people in her entire extended family of 10, will come anywhere close to eating sourdough bread with soup for a meal. (and, she has no such wood fired stove!)
But, our heroine is nothing if not tenacious. Her single minded determination, to make a sourdough bread that she felt was of standard, led her to reach her hand into the dark recesses of the fridge and pull out a sourdough starter that had taken up residence in the back of the fridge.
Oh what a sad, sorry and *’hooch’ drowned sight that starter was! Our novice bread baker had neglected the poor starter due to ignorance (and a punishing work/family schedule!), and was immediately faced with a long, slow road to try and breathe life back into the struggling mass of living beings she had so cheerfully thrown together several months before.
She dutifully fed and watered said mess, and waited…and waited. Not surprisingly, in hindsight, nothing much happened.

*Hooch is the liquid that separates from the starter.

Many, many websites were read, to find the answer to her dilemma, but it was all so confusing!
One writer wrote of the confusion for novice sourdough bakers being that they keep too much starter. Our innocent baker would say that the crux of the confusion for novices is that there is too much freedom in the world of sourdough bread!
What is the one best way to feed a starter? The one best recipe? The one best technique? The one best flour?
It doesn’t exist, of course!
The whole point of sourdough bread is that it is baking bread using only natural yeast, as the ancients did. Which ancients are they, our intrepid heroine asked? Whichever, bread eating ancient civilisation, you may wish to poke a stick at, is the general answer!

IMG_2068
This is the loaf we have liked the best so far. Thick chewy crust, spongey texture, and a mild refined taste.

So, in her Zen sourdough moment, when the light finally penetrated through the fog, the answer was revealed to her.
All techniques, all cultural differences, and all things are equal. You need to find your own path.

The innocent little baker, was delighted! She was free, free to be herself; to learn and create.
Oh, you should have seen her scouring websites with renewed vigour in order to understand the science, trying to digest the ramblings of water and flour ratios. Wrapping her head around the intricacies of activating a fridge bound starter, and since she is actually a biologist at heart; throwing herself into experiments to mark the timing of growth and visually interpreting the different stages of her starter sponge.

IMG_2067
My happy little girl, bubbling and gurgling away. Now that I know how to make her happy!

Then, one afternoon, she stumbled upon the fact, that it is traditional (somewhere or another) to name your starter. Of course…it is a living thing after all!

It was actually an easier task than she had imagined. She had read of people giving their aspirating, wet, doughy lumps, such uncouth names as, “Creature” or “Thing” and no matter how she considered it, that train of thought just didn’t seem right to her. In a flash of genius, over a hot cup of tea, she realized that her starter was;

  • born of white flour and *honey, with a little help from commercial yeast
  • a pain in her arse
  • that she had no idea how to make it happy
  • it had taken a considerable amount of investment on her behalf to learn about its moods
  • it took forever to get ready when she needed it
  • it was refined and didn’t smell too bad 😉

and, that no matter all its shortcomings, she loved it!

*Honey is a stupid choice, as it is an antimicrobial and we are trying to grow yeast and bacteria! Who came up with that recipe?

157a4-lumpy-space-princess

“Princess” was an obvious choice 🙂

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Princess has now leavened (slowly, ‘though successfully) 4 loaves of mild and refined white, sourdough bread to the bakers great delight! Lovely toasted and perfect for soup, yes, there was success for our happy baker!

Bliss!

IMG_2073
The most beautiful loaf so far! Who is the fairest of them all?

PS: For those who may be interested, I am noting down a few things that I learned about feeding and starting Princess, I hope it helps you in your journey, and if not, at least I have it all written down for my own reference!!

To feed only
Keep 30g of Princess and throw the rest away
Mix in 30g of water, incorporating plenty of air
Mix in 24g of plain flour and 6g of rye flour
Leave to sit on bench for at least an hour
Refrigerate

To build up enough Princess for baking
Take Princess out of the fridge 2 nights before you wish to bake
Empty all of Princess out into large bowl
Mix in 65g water, incorporating plenty of air
Mix in 65g plain flour
Cover loosely and leave overnight

Next morning
Mix in 125g water, incorporating plenty of air
Mix in 125g plain flour
Cover loosely and leave for the day

That evening
Up to 250g of Princess is ready to be mixed into bread recipe to be rested over night!
Spoon 30g of Princess into clean jar and feed according to feed only instructions, ready for next bake.

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Whose tradition is it anyway? Bread for Toni, Lemon Myrtle and White Chocolate, Ice Cream Cake Recipe

Please don’t judge me. I have a confession to make… it is the middle of January and I still have half a panettone left.
It is difficult to explain but no one else in my family will eat it, and since I enjoy a slice only at breakfast, lightly toasted, with a cup of tea, there is really only so much one can get through!!

However, it seems, that I may actually be the odd one out here, as there is an entire school of thought that believes panettone is a an inedible passing food fad Are they right? How many of us are actually secretly hiding, unopened or rather large chunks of left over panettone, in the pantry or refrigerator? Or is yours just out in the open, (like mine) taking up square footage on the kitchen counter?

Am I perpetuating the myth that no one eats panettone?  Here is another great recipe idea for left over panettone!
Am I perpetuating the myth that no one eats panettone? Here is another great recipe idea for left over panettone!

I’m not convinced though, try telling the Italians that panettone is a passing fad! It seems that the original, flatter, and probably much smaller (aka manageable) version has been around since the fifteenth century. Hmmm, five hundred years give or take, it seems like a fairly strong trend to me!
All traditional festive foods have a legend or 10 behind them and my favourite story of the origins of this paradox, of slightly dry yet buttery fruit bread is this one;

“Does the name “Panettone” derive from Pan de Toni? According to tradition, Toni, lowly scullion at the service of Ludovico il Moro, was the inventor of one of the most typical sweets of the Italian tradition. On Christmas Eve, the chef of the Sforza burned the cake prepared for the feast. Toni decided to offer the mother yeast that he had kept aside for himself for Christmas. He kneaded it several times with flour, eggs, sugar, raisins and candied fruit, until obtaining a soft and leavened dough. The result was a great success and Ludovico il Moro called it Pan de Toni to honor its inventor.

Truly generous act on behalf of Toni I think, as I am sure that as a lowly scullion, to be able to make bread and have yeast available for his family, was not a trifling luxury. Secondly, it must have surely been a charitable master to not only name the sweet invention after Toni, but to not send the entire kitchen staff to the gallows for burning the Christmas cake in the first place!! Ha ha, I like it, and I pay due respect to all, who, when faced with dire need, fall back on creative dessert making!

The Italian cultural influence in Melbourne, which peaked with Italian migration back in the late 60’s and early ’70’s really helped give birth to Victoria’s current food and European style cafe culture. You can see the influence in our streets with the number of coffee shops per capita, it is truly astounding to most overseas visitors as to how many coffee machines they can spot in one quiet suburban shopping strip. You can also see it in the basis of so many ‘modern’ Australian menus which have strong Italian foundations. Who would have imagined that the home made antipasti found in the sandwiches of first generation migrant kids, school lunches, would now be routinely served up anywhere you care to eat? Everywhere from lowly cafeteries, to gourmet modern Australian eateries offer such a wide range of ethnically diverse dishes, that it would be strange not to see it on the menu!

It is so universally accepted that Italian cuisine is part if the strong foundation of modern Australian food, that when I recently asked an overseas visitor, “What is your favourite Australian dessert?”, they replied, ” Tiramisu.”

Looks a little like tartufo! How could you resist an Italian ice cream based dessert?
Looks a little like tartufo! How could you resist an Italian ice cream based dessert?

So, here is my recipe that I dedicate to ‘Toni’. I don’t actually know an Italian Toni, but to all my Italian friends, I hope you enjoy my Bliss, Australian take on, enjoying panettone well into January.

I am giving this blissed, ice cream cake, panettone, lovely citrus aromas by using lemon myrtle. Lemon myrtle has a flavour very, very much like lemon grass. It is green and woody with a good citrus kick to it but with none of the acid associated with lemons, so there is only a heightening of the already rich flavours in the panetonne. Lemon myrtle pairs so nicely with white chocolate that it only makes sense to marry them up and serve everything with ice cream! Since no one needs a reason for ice cream; ice cream is my choice for this new Aussie summer dessert. Heston’s recipe, from ‘Heston Blumenthal at home’, seems as good a place as any to start, given the unusual pairings and the nature of this creative dessert, so here is another great culinary genius’ recipe thrown into the Bliss grinder ;P. May be you can serve it for Australia Day? After all, who’s tradition is it anyway?

Panettone and Lemon Myrtle Ice Cream Cake
3 thick slices panettone, cut to the size of a small, loose bottomed cake tin (approximately 6 inch round)

Chocolate Ganache
150g 35% cocoa chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
Bring cream to boiling point. Add in chocolate, stir occassionally until melted and smooth. Leave to cool and thicken, stirring occassionally (at least an hour).

Lemon Myrtle White chocolate Ice Cream
180g Full Cream Milk
70g Caster Sugar
35g Milk Powder
420g Whipping Cream
90g White Chocolate
1 tspn Lemon Myrtle (or 1/2 tspn lemon zest, if you can’t get Aussie herbs!)

Heat milk, sugar and milk powder over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Add cream and bring to the boil.
Add white chocolate and lemon myrtle or lemon zest, stirring occasionally until chocolate has dissolved.
Cool thoroughly.
Turn on your ice cream machine and churn for about 45 minutes or until the beater can no longer turn.

Work quickly to;
Place a layer of panettone into the botom of your cake tin.
Spoon a layer of ice cream over it, and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
Place second layer of panettone over the ice cream and press down lightly.
Spoon a second layer of ice cream over the panettone, as above.
Place third layer of panettone over the ice cream and press down lightly.
Cover the cake tin in glad wrap and place in the freezer.

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When chocolate ganache has cooled to a runny fudge sauce consistency.
Take cake tin out of the freezer and run a knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the ice cream and turn the ‘cake’ out onto a plate.
Pour a generous amount of ganache over the top of the cake and smooth it out towards the edges allowing it to run over the sides of the cake.
Place ‘cake’ back into freezer.
Place remaining ganache into fridge to firm up (at least an hour)
Use a melon baller to scoop little balls of ice cream, and place them onto a cold tray and place ice cream balls back into freezer to firm up.
When ganache has become firm but not hard, use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop spoonfuls of ganache and roll them in Dutch cocoa powder, and keep them in the fridge.

When you are ready to serve, place mini ice cream scoops and ganache balls on top. The panettone is even drier, coming out of the freezer, but in combination with the ice cream and the ganache, it is a great textural compliment and the flavours work beautifully together!

Happy Birthday Australia xxx

Can you see the Southern Cross?  Happy Birthday Australia in all the finest, chocolatey, tradition :)
Can you see the Southern Cross? Happy Birthday Australia in all the finest, chocolatey, tradition 🙂

If you are enjoying being blissed, please drop me a comment with any feedback or comments!  I would love to know what you are enjoying most and what you would like to see more of.

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One Post Rules Them All. But, why?

Classic BBC photo of the fairytale! Yep, I made Royal Pudding, watched the wedding on TV and toasted with a glass of champers 🍮 (amazing, no champagne emoticon but i found creme caramel!)
Classic BBC photo of the fairytale! Yep, I made Royal Pudding, watched the wedding on TV and toasted with a glass of champers 🍮 (amazing, no champagne emoticon but i found creme caramel!)

Now, you won’t believe me when i tell you this, in fact I still don’t quite believe it myself…

I know I don’t have the most readers in the blogosphere, but how can only one post be the most read, pretty much, every week since 2011? I mean, every week since 2011.
I understand that a little bit of Wills and Kate sells, but really?

Last year, I thought it was the ‘recipe’ portion of this post that was bringing in the views, but it isn’t! So guys, help me out here…what is it about my fabulous Royal Pudding aka Creme Caramel post that you love? What would you like to see more of?

Is it just that this is really Dessert Royalty and I will never surpass this post?

I don’t know, so please can you help me with a bit of feedback?
Please feel free to leave me a note too, although they will be moderated so don’t fret if you don’t see comments being posted straight away, I will be checking frequently!
Thanks muchly! I would love to know the magic behind this post of mine, so that I can sprinkle a bit more of that fairy dust, for all of our enjoyment, each time I write!

True blue bloods with the longevity of my Royal Pudding post! Long live the Queen
True blue bloods with the longevity of my Royal Pudding post! Long live the Queen.

Donut Disaster

http://samelder.hubpages.com/hub/Banana-Donuts-With-Poured-Over-Chocolate# These are what they should have looked like.  I followed the recipe exactly, results were far from perfect!
http://samelder.hubpages.com/hub/Banana-Donuts-With-Poured-Over-Chocolate#
These are what they should have looked like. I followed the recipe exactly, but I can tell you the results were far from perfect!

My world crumbled last month.
No it was not the GFC, nor my family’s health or well-being. Of course, it was food related. I sat down exhausted after a full day and turned on the TV, only to be told that a slice of low fat, cheese had more fat in it than a donut! WHAT!!!!

I may peddle indulgence and enjoy occasional treats, but how many donuts had I foregone over the last few years while thinking that I was doing the right thing? How often had I reached for a slice of Kraft cheddar on a wholmeal Salada, safe in the knowledge that I was doing my body a low-fat, favour? I still don’t know whether that statement on the ad was true, I’m sure I would only have to google it to find out, but I prefer to believe it is true, because it suits me!
Not surprisingly for the past month, I have been on a little donut kick and I couldn’t help but flick through a little book called Mini Donuts yesterday when I was wandering through the book shop. ‘Eat me’ styled, photos of ‘cute as a button’ donuts, looked so tantalising on the pages; it was all the inspiration I needed to make a few mini donuts as a Sunday breakfast treat. I have been working too hard and neglecting my poor kids, so wouldn’t it be nice if I surprised them with yummy, mini, breakfast donuts? Yes, it would have been fantastic, if they worked 😦

Bright and chirpy, thinking that my single, overripe banana was going to be the star of the morning, I couldn’t wait to start! But wait; firstly, it has been so long since I played with the little electric donut maker, that I bought on a whim, that I couldn’t find it….anywhere. After searching high and low for more than the allocated 5 minutes, I was not to be fazed, “I can get past this”, I thought to myself, so I looked for a recipe that was ‘cut out’ not ‘drop in’. I know enough about donuts to know there are 2 types, all is good…so far. You would think that I would also know enough about donuts to know they are generally fried and that not even that dinky little toy, mini donut, maker is a proper substitute. But it was Sunday and it was morning…it was ‘pre’ my mug of tea 😦

Not great, hey?  They were warm and bready.  Great little bit of banana damper with a hot mug of tea.  Australiana version of a donut?  Ha ha, great justification for a complete donut disaster!
Not great, hey? They were warm and bready.
Great little bit of banana damper with a hot mug of tea.Maybe an Australiana version of a donut? Ha ha, nice justification for a complete donut disaster!

Google offered me a ‘cut out’, mini, banana donut recipe, ta-dah, and I prewarmed my oven (how many of you are thinking “WHAT?”) Alas, I am a baker, prewarming ovens come naturally, the idea of it does not pass through any particular grey matter, no cortex or lobes; it has become instinct, a reflex action when I pull out the sugar, flour, (and how many eggs was that?). The batter was a drop consistency, (did I mention it was Sunday morning?) so I added more flour (did I mention I hadn’t had my tea yet?), and cut them out, and with some scepticism (I have a tiny little bit of respect for myself in being sceptical at least), then popped them in the oven.

Probably wasn’t surprising that they turned out to be banana-ish flavoured, donut shaped, scone-like thingumabobs. The photo on the recipe was misleading at best, but truly depressing when compared to my strange, donut disaster this morning. A closer inspection of the photo, after the fact, shows what looks to be a fried donut probably squeezed out of one of those really cool donut, squisher outer, contraptions, and possibly without a hint of banana in it. Ah well, live and learn! At the very least, donuts are definitely back on the menu and I am sure that I will be posting about my incredible successes…next time.

I’m setting the bar now, so let’s go the whole hog and do proper fried, jam donuts, rolled in sugar. Oh yeah, I feel better already 🙂

http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/epicure/have-your-wicked-way/2009/08/03/1249152550766.html Now this is what we are talking about.  Let's do it, will post the recipe as well :)
http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/epicure/have-your-wicked-way/2009/08/03/1249152550766.html
Now this is what we are talking about.
Let’s do it! And, I will post the recipe as well 🙂

Ms Maclaine and My Pear and Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Passionfruit Ganache

The first time I ever came across Shirley Maclaine was as a sassy, smart talking, lady of questionable repute in ‘Sweet Charity’ and of course, I LOVED her.

Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo.  Why couldn't I be just like Shirley?
Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo. Why couldn’t I be just like Shirley?

Julia Roberts may have caused an uproar about morally questionable role models in the ’90s, but way before then, my poor Mum really didn’t know what to do with her little primary school child wanting to be Shirley Maclaine and questioning why it was a bad idea to wear fish net stockings and get a tattoo!

Well, fast forward many years later, after I had worn my share of fish net stockings, have had my hair long, short and shaved, and tattoos are the accepted norm;   I fell in love with the indomitable Ms Maclaine all over again, when I found this quote in one of my recipe books;

LOVE that Ms Maclaine :)
LOVE that Ms Maclaine 🙂
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!

Love it….love being able to play with chocolate cake and even more so when I pick up inspiration from fresh or home-grown produce.

So, in my grand tradition of walking into a shop and picking up ‘stuff’ that looks good, I found myself surrounded by mountains of Bartlett pears and, believe it or not, some great looking passionfruit!   Pears are a mainstay of cold weather but passionfruit?  From New South Wales, what’s more, so we are talking passionfruit in the middle of winter…I am guessing hot-house, but hey, my taste buds were talking, I was going to make an exception today 🙂

Bartletts are not my choice for eating straight up, that sweet, sticky juice, running generously through your fingers, as you try not to make a single handed mess, which inevitably turns into a double fisted, wet, napkin soaked drama; ending in a limp, and soggy mess with an urgent need to find a running tap!

Ha ha, maybe the Bartlett pears I am trying to eat for lunch are just too ripe, but for a dessert or a cake, they are my absolute favourites.  Suddenly all those sad and sorry, downfalls are in fact, the attributes that make them perfect!  Soft and melting, sweetly blessed with juice that flows and flavours everything that it comes in touch with, permeating with a fragrant, slightly caramel aroma that is unmistakable.

That's what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of...cake!
That’s what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of…cake!

I wanted to pair (no pun intended!) this luxurious texture and flavour of cooked pear with a lighter cake and decided on a buttermilk cake with just a hint of cocoa, to help the pear juice to be tasted through it.  The buttermilk gave the cake a slightly tangy flavour as well, which worked really nicely.

However, on its own, I have to say it was not a cake that had me jumping for joy, it definitely needed a little more.  Not exactly worthy of the  Hollywood aspirations of my childhood!

I decide that nothing tarts up a simple, wall flower of a cake, like a crowd pleasing 35% couverture ganache, but I wanted to lift it a little, so as to compliment the pear and to give it a little zing that even Charity would be proud of 🙂

Passionfruit in the middle of winter?  They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.
Passionfruit in the middle of winter? They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.

Please step in, passionfruit.  It may not be seasonal, it may not be home-grown but by stirring through the pulp of this little purple orb, and dribbling that thick and creamy chocolate concoction over my homely little cakes…yes, you guessed it; Bliss.

No, I know it is not Hollywood, walk of fame stuff, but served warm on a mid winters evening, I have to say this little cake makes me feel pretty sparkly, and special inside 🙂

Homely no more :)  A little white chocolate decoration gives my little cakes star treatment :)
Homely no more 🙂
A drizzled white chocolate piece, gives my little cakes the star treatment 🙂

Orange blossom honey cake with yoghurt frosting, grilled figs and couverture collar

Do you live in a dream world like I do?
In my fantasies, I wake up late, have leisurely breakfasts of gourmet produce under a hanging wisteria bough, that is softly swaying in a warm, gentle breeze. Somehow in this dream I still make it to my local farmers market to stroll at my own pace, stopping to chat about, taste, and spend, without limit, on all the yummiest offerings of the season.

Food of the gods.Honey grilled figs, just lay gently on a bed of French toast and dollop generously with Greek yoghurt.  My idea of  heavenly breakfast!
Food of the gods.
Honey grilled figs, just lay gently on a bed of French toast and dollop generously with Greek yoghurt. My idea of heavenly breakfast!

Sigh…

Look what I found on my milk run :) mmmm
Look what I found on my milk run 🙂 mmmm

Of course in reality, I just go to the supermarket like everybody else, rushed after a full days work to pick up milk, and in just a little nod of respect to buying fresh, maybe pick up some meat and vegies, wrapped under plastic for dinner. That sounds so much better than it is, in fact such is the life of a working mum, who can’t even make meal planning for the week, work for her.

It was on one of these trips to the local Coles, rushing to the aisle where milk in plastic containers lives, that my eye was caught by this little jar with a handwritten shelf talker. Handwritten? In Coles? It says ‘Seasonal’ and I just happen to have a weakness for honey, (amongst many other things). Grab jar, drop in basket, keep walking very quickly.

My fantastic orange blossom honey cake.  Not strictly a chocolate cake but come on... Bliss!!
My fantastic orange blossom honey cake. Not strictly a chocolate cake but come on… Bliss!!

It was all the inspiration I needed for a new seasonal cake.
There is no better way to eat figs than the age old, Mediterranean way. One of my best friends, who happens to be Greek, first introduced me to the pleasures of fresh figs with Greek yoghurt, drizzled with honey. Really, some things don’t need changing, but you know me 🙂

Moist and full of honey flavour with just a little hint of citrus, this gorgeous cake is layered with a tangy vanilla bean, Greek yoghurt frosting, topped with sweet as heaven, orange blossom honey grilled figs.  Finished with a dusting of cinnamon. Take each mouthful with a little of the 55% couverture dark chocolate collar, for a dusky cocoa hit, for balance. Food of the gods by Bliss xxx

My seasonal cakes are limited and may not be the same every year.  Please enjoy them while you can! 🙂

My dream gourmet breakfast Bliss-ed!!  Nothing beats cake even if it's not technically chocolate ;p
My dream gourmet breakfast Bliss-ed!! Nothing beats cake even if it’s not technically chocolate ;p

Japanese ice cream makes me happy!

It’s been a long cold winter, there is still snow on the mountains and I am eating and blogging about what makes me happy 🙂 My new year’s resolution of living my life instead of letting life live me has, so far, been a pipe dream and I have not come anywhere near actually making it happen. However, one of my additional little resolutions, New Year’s Eve and Summer is finally here,  has been well and truly ticked off the list. I am proud to say I have raced down that road and rung the bell (or at least caught up with the the guy ringing that happy bell!)

Says it all!
(Photo by Leo Reynolds, that I have lifted from Flickriver. Thanks Leo!)

I have noticed on my travels, that the colder the climate the more readily ice cream seems to be available and the more open everyone is to eating it! I was absolutely delighted to find that when we landed in Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan and home to the snow monkeys, they are obsessed with ice cream! YAAAYYYY!!!! I won’t bore you with details of travel and sight seeing, I will just show you and tell you about the marvellous soft serve that I ate. The island of Hokkaido is the bread basket of Japan, so cows and fruit abound.  For the Japanese, soft serve is the ice cream style of choice. Smooth, refined, soft and delicate, everything that appeals to the Asian palate. I am used to the big bang, flavours of Aussie style cuisine and  I swing from loving the icy, bite in the mouth, gelati, to full bodied, richly creamy, home style, custard based, ice creams. Soft serve was always the poor cousin relagated to cheap choc dips and McDonald’s 50 cent cones, with that strange milky sweetness. Well, my mind has been changed!

Black sesame and milk, a really old school favourite flavour.

Our first stop, and we found a real old school favourite, Black Sesame. Black sesame, in any Asian dessert, has a slightly gritty texture and a pleasant deep bitterness that contrasts beautifully with a sweet finish. Both hot and cold desserts are made with this flavouring but ice cream is a perfect carriage. The smoothness of ice cream gives the ground sesame a soft bed to carry it and contrasting it with a plain milk is simply, genius.This is my dad in law’s hand…of course, he loves it!

Next ice cream stop, Hakodate tower. Hakodate, is the Southernmost fishing village on Hokkaido. Home to the

Cherry blossom ice cream, a truly romantic flavour, with a view of Hakodate.

3rd most spectacular night view on earth, as our tour guide tells us! I can vouch that the view was spectacular and that it was absolutely freezing too boot! Obviously didn’t stop us from eating more ice cream. This beautifully soft, and delicately flavoured Cherry blossom ice cream was what a lot of us imagine Japan to embody, all piled high on a crisp, wafer cone. Over 1000 cherry blossom trees are planted here, however, I missed out on that view by just a few weeks. Plenty of snow, just no cherry blossoms:(

And, this is where it starts getting weird. The Japanese seem so nice, so normal and then you dig a bit deeper and things start to get just a little strange! So, guess who went straight to the counter to order what no other adult, no matter how much they thought of themselves as gourmands, could bring themselves to do? Yes, my son ordered squid ink ice cream and ate the whole thing. Of course I had a taste, it tasted like, squid ink. Bitter. Bitter without the subtlety of black sesame and because it is such a novely, unfortunately not made with as much finesse. Icy and probably needing seasoning, I would even go as far as adding sea salt and herbs. I think we might be on to something Heston Blumenthal!!

Did I say I love the big bang flavours we get in Australia? Did I say I love

Yubari melon ice cream. MMMMMMM I love rock melon gelati and I love Yubari melon soft serve!!!

rock melon gelati? Actually, I didn’t, but I couldn’t get enough of this magnificent Yubari flavoured soft serve. It was larger and fancier than any of our previouis ice creams and the flavour made me question my allegiances, aaaaaaaaaaah.  Yubari is the Japanese take on rock melon, make it more amazingly perfect and packed full of flavour than any other rock melon on earth and these babies can sell for a record, 2.5 million yen for a pair! (That is a measly AUD 25,000 for 2. Don’t forget to bring a couple over for my get together next week!)

Camembert ice cream, makes complete sense!

Next stop, Camembert ice cream.  Of course.  How does that not make sense?  It makes so much sense that it is inspiration for a couple of great recipes that I am forming for the Summer holiday season. However, this little cone just didn’t have enough punch for me.  A great idea, not such great flavour.  Shame, shame.

Such great ice cream memories for 2012,  with recipes to come!  Please leave me a comment if you like my blog and don’t miss my recipe posts by subscribing or following my adventures!

The Grand Finale!
Banana, Chocolate, Milk, Yubari, Green Tea, and Strawberry.
Thank you Hokkaido 🙂

Guest post gig

Fabulous Cheryl from ‘Itty Bitty Foodies’, wrote me a very succinct note to my offer of a guest post, my ‘Cutest lamingtons ever’ recipe.
YES!
Oh, wow, really? How do I do this? What do I wear? Hee hee hee, I’m pretty excited by the possibility of stretching my legs and stepping slightly outside the confines of my own page.
I can’t wait! Tell you when it is up. In the meantime here is a little sneak preview 🙂

The cutest lamingtons ever!

Secret ‘Clark Kent’ Business

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…” just me, actually.  Nah, it’s not that I am trying to say I have super powers or anything.

This is exactly how I feel sometime! Who am I if I am not you? Maybe I am me? But, really I am just too busy right now to be both of us!!

It’s more that I am wondering, has your Clark Kent persona ever become so overwhelmingly busy, that your fun, flying Superman outfit, doesn’t get a chance to leave the bottom drawer?  The red underpants seem to lose their elasticity, and the flouro yellow badge on your chest, seems to have faded when it finally sees sunlight?

Quick change, I need to pack for another business trip and finish my monthly report…no time for whipping egg whites, seriously, who has time for egg separation?

Don’t tell anyone, but unlike alien abductions, this happens to all of us all of the time!  It is actually true that  I do have a day job that involves me wearing respectable pants and reading glasses.  It is also true that  I have been so busy working my respectable day job as well as fulfilling orders for my wonderful customers that I haven’t had a chance to throw on my little retro apron, or pick through my trusty library of cookbooks to just play, photograph and blog.  I can’t believe it has been 3 months since I have had time to post anything!

However, one great, upside to having been so busy over the last few months is that I have had a chance to pick up wonderful ideas for posts that I hope to be able to share with you very soon!  A trip to Mildura, a chance to fulfill one of my New Year’s resolutions, directions in where I am going with my chocolate cakes.  I hope that they will be as fun for you to read in the coming months as it has been for me to experience them. 

But, in the meantime,  here is something for you to ponder on.  What do Camembert cheese, Squid ink, and Blueberry have in common?  Answer you very soon!

Hope that your Clark Kent is well and truly contained to allow the ‘Super’ in you to come out and play with me!  I would love to know, what do you do for a day job, and how do you cut loose and fly high?