We are hurtling officially towards summer down here (ie tomorrow) and to be frank I am not pleased. I do not do hot weather and even moreso, humidity. I was truly born in the wrong country although Tasmania would probably do quite nicely. Beautiful countryside, lower temps, less humidity and a great food culture. Let’s sit with that for a moment shall we?
The only redeeming feature for me in these hotter months, apart from washing drying on the line in an hour rather than a day, is the food. Stone fruits, mangos, papaya, crisp Asian salads loaded with lime, mint, coriander and chilli and cooking outside.
Actually Sydney’s climate means I could/should use the BBQ year round but I always tend to forget it’s there once the heater is in action. The main reason I like cooking outside is I don’t have to clean down the cooktop. Yes, I am that lazy.
This dessert is fairly and squarely placed in my summer repertoire and all the boys love it. Along with the black sticky rice it sits in relatively high rotation, topped with mango or other summer fruits, drizzled with a palm sugar syrup, extra coconut cream and lime to give it zing.
Some people call it sago, some call it tapioca, we call it frogs eggs. There are myriad recipes for its use but this is my go-to.
So I finally recently bought Smitten Kitchen‘s cookbook which is as good as I had hoped. I have followed her blog for as long as I can remember and have never ever had a recipe of hers fail. In the cookbook is a version of this using cranberries for the festive season.
This slice is divine, plain and simple. A basic shortbread base that is also scattered over the top of the blueberries. I’ve made this with apple and rhubarb (that I’d stewed previously) and blackberries and every time it turns out a treat.
It’s been so invigorating having my cooking mojo back but let’s face it, cooking dinners tends to focus on the functional in this house and I just had a hankering to make something requiring a bit of technical skill and that was a little bit fancy.
I was rearranging my cookbook bookshelf and the June July copy of Donna Hay fell out with this on the cover. I basically had to make it immediately. I swapped out the white chocolate for milk because it was all I had and the mousse probably didn’t set as well as it should have because I didn’t have enough whipped cream. I also used almond meal instead of hazelnut meal because it was what i had in the cupboard. But guess what, it was BLOODY DELICIOUS.
It’s not technically challenging, but there are steps and waiting/cooling times so go in with that knowledge.
I have a go to flourless orange cake which I adore, but the other day had some divine paesanella ricotta hanging around that needed to be used. Seeing as I’m doing the whole no carbs with fat/protein and no refined carbs a nifty little batch of ricotta gnocchi was out of the question (quietly sobs) and I was at a bit of a loss when I came across this Ben O’Donoghue and thought BINGO! It has a smidge of (semolina) flour in it but I was willing to overlook it. I love Ben’s recipes and he was always my favourite in Surfing the Menu. Curtis Stone is just a little to much of a show-pony-pretty-boy for my cooking likes.
‘My’ custard powder pastry recipe and the associated free-form apple pie is his Nan’s and I reckon that’s pretty cool.
So let’s get on with it.
Lemon ricotta cake (in which I used oranges)
Recipe from: At home with Ben, Ben O’Donoghue
6 eggs, separated
250g ground almonds
65g semolina flour
Juice of 3 lemons
Rind of 6 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 26cm springform cake tin
Beat the butter and sugar until very pale then add the egg yolks one at a time
Combine the almond meal, semolina, half the lemon zest and half the juice (although when I made it with oranges I added all the zest because I didn’t read the recipe properly. Rookie mistake) and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
Crumble in the ricotta and fold through (Ben appears to leave it in little chunks whereas my ricotta was wetter so was more incorporated)
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks and then fold through the mixture
Pour into the tin and bake for 40mins or until a skewer comes out clean (I find with flourless cakes the time can vary massively – just persevere and cover with foil if you’re worried the top is getting too dark)
Make a syrup with the remaining juice, zest, 1/2 cup of sugar and a cup of water by bringing it to the boil then reducing by half (I sort of forgot to read this bit and just made a syrup of equal parts sugar and juice)
Pour over the cake and eat until you can eat no more.