Apologies for the no-post last week, kittens. Its been an emotional couple of weeks for me lately bogged down with family issues. I won’t go into it too much, but basically what has happened is that I came out to my parents (it’s in my previous post of Hot Cross Buns) a couple of months ago and introduced them to my partner. They have recently appeared to do a complete 180 flip and while they evidently appear to like my partner as a person, they disapprove of our relationship because it’s an apparent “waste of my future potential”, and “settling for a girl is a more comfortable option.”
Can I just say… having two sets of PMS emotions is NOT a comfortable option..!
Jokes aside, I don’t see how my sexuality impacts upon how my parents live their lives. I am employed, educated, well-fed (to say the least), and I have a roof over my head. While I do respect them as my parents I don’t believe that my relationship should be seen as more of a commodity and less about happiness. They don’t have the right to dictate how love should be expressed and given.
Its been a tumultuous and upsetting state of affairs these last couple of weeks and as a result I’ve been keeping myself occupied with work and in the kitchen when I get home, busying myself by doling out comfort food like peanut butter choc chip cookies, brownie cookies with peanut butter, fresh pasta, soups, scones, and last night’s moussaka. My way of coping is through keeping my mind on other things and doing projects. You may have noticed that recently I’ve been taking photos using a dark grey background – something I decided to create myself after seeing food styling backgrounds being sold for more than $80 on etsy. Grated, it’s painted on an MDF board, but it is just paint! We had an old cardboard box we have been using as our recycling bin in the kitchen that was growing something nasty at the bottom of it, so when we found a replacement I took up the old box and decided to give it some new life.
Using a utility knife, I cut along the side so it could lie flat, then cut off one side wall, the top flaps, and the bottom flaps so what I had were three side walls. You want to remove the top and one wall to let in light, and you can leave the bottom if you like but my box wasn’t in the best condition (…). I picked up two poster paints from Kmart – black and white – for $2 each, and went to town on it, mixing them up inconsistently to form a mixed grey. Using a wide wall-painting brush, I painted on a dark base before going over it with mixed grey streaks. I let it dry before sanding it back lightly with some fine sandpaper. It’s now the perfect accompaniment to all of my kitchen photographs and best of all, can be easily folded away into a corner when I’m not using it. It provides a very good solid background, particularly for light subjects. Here was one of my first test shots:
I made this cake for a dinner Night Owl and I were going to; we were going over to the place of my best friend from high school (Blondie) to visit her and her husband for dinner. She’s a coeliac so I offered to make something gluten-free for dessert, and she happily said that was fine. While I was tempted by the flourless chocolate cake mixes in the healthfood section of my supermarket, I ultimately went with making one from scratch – because I certainly can’t blog about a cake box mix!
This is quite a deceptively dense, rich cake considering how fluffy it looked at the end. As per the recipe, I had poured the mix into a 22cm diameter cake tin, only to have the mix skim the top edge of the pan. In a panic, I fastened a collar of baking paper around the edge of the pan, like you would a souffle, and that saved my cake. While the cake does sink while it’s cooking, you certainly don’t want it to spill out while it’s baking. I would recommend you make the cake in a 25cm + tin.
Serves 8-10. Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller. You will need:
- 170g hazelnuts;
- 280g dark chocolate (66-70% cocoa solids – so darrrrrk), coarsely chopped;
- 100g butter, coarsely chopped;
- 100ml well-shaken buttermilk at room temperature;
- 2 tablespoons dark cocoa, sieved, plus extra for dusting;
- 6 eggs, separated;
- 150g caster sugar.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, and butter a 25 cm diameter cake tin. Line with baking paper so it comes above the top rim.
Roast the hazelnuts on an oven tray until golden (5-8 minutes). While warm, tip them onto a tea towel and rub to remove the skins before finely chopping. Transfer to a mortar and pestle to grind. They don’t need to be too consistent.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in the buttermilk, cocoa and egg yolks.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until frothy in an electric mixer or with a handheld electric mixer. While whisking, gradually add the sugar and whisk until glossy soft peaks form. Fold into the chocolate mixture in batches along with the hazelnuts.
Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake until the cake rises and cracks on top (25-30 minutes). Cool in tin, but gently press on top and sides as it cools so that it falls back evenly. Remove from tin, dust generously with cocoa and serve.
The cake will keep for 2-3 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container… if you don’t devour it earlier!