Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WWDH - Flourless Date and Walnut Cake with Butterscotch Toffee Icing

Sarah has chosen Donna's Flourless Date and Walnut Cake with Butterscotch Toffee Icing for this week's Wednesday with Donna Hay.

This is a massive cake, but easy to make.   As it uses around 500g of walnuts and 6 eggs, it is not cheap to make, but was nice to make once.

The icing turned out more like a caramel sauce than the icing accompanying the recipe on Donna's site:

It will be interesting to see if everyone else had the same experience.  I also found that it took me much longer to get the desired golden colour in the sugar and water mixture than suggested  in the recipe; I assume that is where I had to get to from previous experience, as the recipe talks about time and temperature rather than appearance.

The finished cake is very much like sticky date pudding in a cake form - the walnut meal makes it crunchy rather than spongy in texture. 

To see what Sarah, Margaret and Chaya thought of this cake, visit their websites.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Light Ginger Fruit Cake

Do you like ginger?  I adore ginger in most formats - the only ginger I am not keen on is pickled ginger from sushi shops.

I have bought all kinds of curious ginger products as a result of my ginger worship, including most recently ginger syrup that I put on porridge and icecream.

A few years ago, I bought two bottles of Rochester's non-alcoholic ginger drink from the Good Food and Wine Show. There was a deal on if you bought two; the problem was, I have had trouble using my ginger drinks up, as the flavour is not as smooth as the ginger syrup, and hence I am not that fond of drinking it.

However, when I saw The Caked Crusader's Light Ginger Fruit Cake recipe, using ginger wine, I knew exactly what I would use some of my Rochester ginger drink for - to make this lovely cake.
TCC says that you can use 200ml of ginger wine for a spongy cake or 400ml for a pudding-y cake.  There was no debate here - it was pudding-y all the way!
I swapped around the quantities of raisins and sultanas because that is what I had.  The fruit soaks overnight in the ginger drink, which plumps up the fruit and makes the cake moist.
Doesn't it look devine:
And it tasted as good as it looks.  This cake is a keeper - I'd definitely make it again.  TCC suggests you really can eat it like pudding with cream and icecream, but I loved this cake just as it was, with no adornment.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Santa Monica, George's Bistro and the End of Route 66

The end of Route 66 is in Santa Monica.  Our coach group was going on an optional dinner excursion to Bubba Gump at Santa Monica Pier and for a squiz at the end of Route 66.  While Bubba Gump did not appeal to us, we were keen to see the end of Route 66 to finish our journey on The Mother Road.

We drove into Santa Monica on the coach on a balmy spring evening: 

and posed by the plaque dedicated to the Will Rogers Highway, officially the end of Route 66:

Here is a lovely shot of Santa Monica Pier from the park:

Tim and I left our tour group and strolled into town for dinner:

and scoured the Third Street Promenade for venues.  I liked these huge topiary dinosaurs on the Promenade: 

After a quick stop at Anthropologie for me to buy a pretty plate (love!), we decided on George's Bistro for dinner.  I am not sure what theme George's was going for with their interior, but it was interesting  - enchanted forest perhaps:

I started off with a glass of Californian Zinfandel:

We were provided with some  garden variety garlic bread:

to go with our starters, which in my case was spicy tomato soup:

For main, I ordered jambalaya - I am not sure if this version is very traditional, but it was tasty and not too hot:

Our waiter was very attentive, and caught our attention with his New York accent in California.  We liked our George's experience.

After dinner, we strolled back to Santa Monica Pier, where we were to meet up with our tour group for the ride home:

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and brought closure to our Route 66 adventure.

George's Bistro
1321 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
United States
Ph: +1 310 451 0436 

Friday, August 15, 2014

FFWD - Roasted Peppers

This week's bright and colourful French Fridays with Dorie dish is Roasted Peppers.  Yes, it is simple, but it is very tasty.

Basically, you just roast capsicums (peppers) of your choosing for an hour, then peel off the blistered skin, scrape out the seeds, slice into pieces, and season with olive oil, salt and pepper.  You may also sprinkle some fresh herbs on top (I used parsley and basil).  Not bad!

You can eat these as a starter, or as a side, or chop them up and inlcude them in another dish.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this recipe, visit the LYL section of the website. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WWDH - Broccoli Bacon and Couscous fritters

This week's Wednesday with Donna Hay recipe was chosen by Chaya.  She selected Donna's Broccoli Bacon and Quinoa Fritters, recipe online here.

I mixed this up a bit - I only made a half recipe, and I substituted quinoa for couscous as quinoa gives me the most excruciating gut rot.  I substituted mozzarella for pecorino (yes, nothing in common except they are cheese), because that is what I had.  I did splurge on some Baxter's tomato chutney to serve with my fritters.  I skipped the refrigeration step - I wanted to eat!

I had these for breakfast.  They were OK, a little different from what I'd normally have.  However, fritters are not in general in my wheelhouse, so when the remainder are finished (I have enough for another breakfast) I probably won't make them again.  However, they contain lots of tasty healthy ingredients, so if you are a fritter fan, these could be for you. 

To see what Chaya, Sarah and Margaret thought of this recipe, visit their websites.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lemon, Buttermilk and Black Pepper Cake

I love a cake that has the hint of the unusual, so when I spied a recipe by Ruby Tandoh for Lemon, Buttermilk and Black Pepper Cake, I was in.  I was curious - how would pepper taste in a sweet cake?

The base cake itself was lovely - it had a chewy caramelised outside and a soft lemony inside:

I used a brush to evenly apply the sugar syrup to each layer.

While I didn't have lemon curd to fill my cake, I did have raspberry curd - I thought the tartness of the raspberry would emulate the tartness of lemon curd quite well.  I also topped my cake with some lemon buttercream I had left over from another project:

I thought this cake was delish, but the filling and icing made it a little sweeter than I'd like.  Because the base cake is so lovely, I would make this again, but just keep the cake in one layer, brush the outside of the cake with the syrup, and either not top it or use a lemon glaze.

And as for the pepper - it really blended in with and highlighted the other flavours, with every now and again a gritty speck of pepper giving a burst of flavour unmistakably its own.

Verdict: very good.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Crossing into California - Joshua Trees, Western American Railroad Museum, Harvey House and Los Angeles

After two days in Las Vegas, we hit the road again for the last leg of our Route 66 odyssey.  By 10am, we were back onto Route 66 and had travelled across the state line into California:

where we encountered close-up the magnificent Joshua tree featured at the top of this post. 

I have a mild obsession with Joshua trees, because they have such a cool name and because U2 named an album after them.

Following a short pit stop, we drove on to the Western American Railroad Museum (WARM) in Barstow:

They opened their doors especially for us on a day when it doesn't normally open, and a few passers-by who chanced on the opening also visited the museum.

There is a significant amount of Route 66 memorabilia in the museum, and outside, there are lots of old railway engines and carriages for a touch of train spotting:

The museum owners kindly provided cordial and biscuits to quench our traveller's thirst and hunger. 
Next to WARM is the rather grand Barstow Harvey House, which used to be a hotel:

It sounded quite tough to be a "Harvey girl" - imagine not even being able to converse with patrons - and if they converse with you, wouldn't it be rude to ignore them:

Curiously, in the office window of WARM, I found an item of memorabilia from close to home:  

How and why it came to be there, I do not know, but it certainly caught my eye.

WARM also features a wonderful mural in the car park, which is worth a mention:

We left WARM for lunch  at a non-descript, depressing fast food complex (Panda Express was the best option) before motoring on through the hills:

and arriving in Los Angeles - I loved these freeway murals of children playing:

The traffic at the end of the working day was not so bad:

In the evening, we would officially reach the end of Route 66 in Santa Monica - but that is for another post.

685 North First Street
Barstow, CA 92311
United States
Ph: +1 760 256 9276

681 North First Avenue
Barstow, CA 92311
United States
Ph: +1 760 256 8617