Monday, March 29, 2010

settling slowly, and bananacakesuccess

We don't have these trees in Melbourne.

Having changed location this year, it's taking a little while to get settled in. Moving creates different kinds of crises, and incurs cake-making.

And I have finally DONE IT, made a banana cake that really pleased me. (It's not really the first time, but as I haven't followed an exact recipe for banana cake in a while..)

Banana cake as it should be:
Because an anonymous flatmate (I don't know who) felt the love to cover it.

After one day, this is how it should look:
This is how I know it wasn't just me. It is good. This is the word of the Melbourne flat.

While I didn't have the book in front of me, I did use a recipe that comes from a book. I'm sure the lady who put it in there won't mind me sharing.

BANANA CAKE from the Boort Fiesta Cook Book
3 overripe bananas, mashed
60g butter
1 cup sugar (this is too sweet for me, I use 2/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda, dissolved in 2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (ish)
1 1/2 cups flour
handful of sultanas and walnuts

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg, beat til smooth.
Add everything else. Make sure it's all mixed together, without beating the life out of it.
Bake at 180 C for about 50 minutes, depending on your oven and the tin you're using.
At home (yes, it's a Mum recipe) we use a biggish loaf tin. Here I used the only tin I have, which is in fact not mine or even a resident in my flat, but is a borrowed tin. It's round. It was a HUGE SUCCESS.
I didn't have walnuts, but this meant I got to use up some cashews/pepitas/sunflower seeds that weren't going to get eaten. Toasted them in the preheating oven and chucked them in at the end. Yum!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

culinary prototypes

Continuing with the nostalgic theme and eating a Golden Delicious, which used to be my favourite kind of apple, it became clear that "apple" now first evokes the image of a Pink Lady - a miniscule of a second before just meaning any apple, which to me is a Jonathan, Granny Smith, Akane, Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, or (hopefully not) Red Delicious... all those fruits that are sweet with varying bite/sourness, crunch, colour outside on a thin skin, whiteish flesh.

Of course, then there is cooked apple, which for me means Granny Smith, and which is green when it's cooked. (It's an appropriate name if you consider that for many, Granny Smiths are purely for cooking, and have that wonderful grandmotherliness of apple crumble, apple cake/slice, apple sponge, etc. or just stewed apple. Mmm.)

Further in this linguistic vein, did you know that 'apple' just used to mean fruit? And then at some stage.. I think it was due to the Norman conquest and the French introduction of the word 'fruit' (not sure what happened with 'pomme') that then the meaning of 'apple' narrowed to refer only to that particular fruit we now know as the apple.

Apples go with cream. It's approaching that season.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Food Love

Apparently I am a nostalgic person. I love being nostalgic, and also happen to have a good memory for food.

I was just eating half a banana muffin (wholemeal and homemade, of course) practicing restraint, after an unrestrained few days that were really quite excessive. I ate two teaspoons of ice cream with the muffin and it was delicious, which brought me to thinking nostalgically.

The ice cream I bought when I wanted my college apartment to feel like home: Bulla Vanilla, 4 litres. It should last a while, depending who comes over.
We always used to buy the same ice cream, Peters Original and it was the Best. Then they 'improved' the recipe, so now it's Original with New Improved Recipe. Hm. New Improved recipe tastes and feels like marshmallow, sweet, gooey and empty. I seem to recall my dad reading out that the first two ingredients were sugar and water, then milk, or something like that.
So now we always buy Bulla ice cream. It's not for any amazing culinary sophistication. It just tastes like ice cream.

Lamingtons. Grandma makes them. Also in this category:
Sponge cakes, sponge kisses, jelly cakes, fruit cake (Christmas, weddings, and big birthdays), sultana cake, apricot jam, pav.

Apple cake/slice from Nanna, and cassata
Corned beef, sigh. I've never liked it much.

Marmalade!! I love marmalade.
Nanna always has marmalade on toast for breakfast, with a cup of tea, and I always think of her when I have it. I also can't help thinking of Mum, who makes THE grapefruit marmalade of the world.

Speaking of citrus, the whole-orange syrup cake from Women's Weekly Cakes and Slices cookbook has high sentimental value for me. The two boys I love most in the world have both made it on separate occasions: my brother, who made it first, and a non-family member, who has made it enough times in quick succession to make up for not having made it first.

Yo-yo biscuits and ANZACs always make me think of Mum.
As do cheese and chutney hot sandwiches. Made traditionally at our house with Colby and Rosella fruit chutney (known originally as cheese and children's chutney).
Also, I always think of Mum when I make a pavlova. We always hide a little layer of banana under the cream, and strawberries normally go on top.

And, not with any necessarily personal association...
Vegemite (derr). Is not vegemite on toast such an Aussie comfort food?
I have had fantastic palmiers with Vegemite and parmesan, too. Don't knock it until you try it. And in fact, I'm pretty sure these will always remind me of the friend who has made them twice recently.

Patty cakes. Vanilla. Choc chips optional. The best are made by my sister. They are what a cupcake should be.

I could go on for a long time. Potato flan... lemon slice... Blue Castello... you know.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's raining again

Dear world,
Please forgive the incoherence of this post.

I've moved interstate for the year. It rains a lot here at the moment.
I've worn a jumper once in the last month.
My enthusiasm for food has changed over the last while. Perhaps my attitude has become healthier? Maybe it hasn't changed at all. But the food fascination is definitely of a nature I'm happier with.

Anyway, while I still love food, I've been enjoying it over the summer in simple ways. Often nostalgically.

With the arrival of autumn, I felt a strong desire to make this apple and date cake from such a lovely honest blog.
I don't peel the apples, and I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup and omitted the topping, and it is dense sweet meltingness - as much as you could want. Next time I'll try 2/3 or even 1/2 cup of sugar.
It is a wonderful cake. Perfect with cream or not-too-sweet vanilla icecream.

Meanwhile, I think the most exciting role of food for me at the moment is with a bunch of friends around.
Even if it is a giant, ugly, delicious pot of non-authentic curry.
It's supPOSEd to be green. It was extremely yum.