The renovations at my rental are finally coming toward an end. I’ve spent much of it being without a kitchen or a computer or much of any of my belongings really. Half of my house is still in boxes, and with full time work spare time is definitely at a minimum. Which has meant I’ve been doing little to no cooking most nights, let alone anything fancy. I’ve definitely been missing it, and missing having usable space. But we’re slowly reclaiming the house and getting everything into some semblance of order. I have some usable spaces now, and no more yellow benches and green walls — massive yay! I’m definitely going to try to spend more time in my [new — more yay!] kitchen and in turn make more time for sharing it with you guys.
Speaking of work, though, over the last few months we’ve had a number of people being shifted to new locations or moving on to other things. We’ve celebrated last days with sadness and, of course, with cake. I’m fairly sure I’m getting a ‘the cake lady’ reputation now. A few weeks ago I made a ferrero rocher cake and had a pile of biscuit crumbs and hazelnuts that needed to be used up. The easiest thing to use a pile of biscuit crumbs on is definitely cheesecake (if not truffles), and the hazelnut definitely leant itself to another favourite: nutella.
The fact that it’s endlessly simple definitely helped in the decision making process. You don’t even need to bother with gelatine for this one!
My summer blogging hiatus has lasted a lot longer this year than usual. The reasons for which are much less exciting than the trip to New Zealand and much less dramatic than the threats of bushfire seasons the summers prior. While our summer heat has certainly kept me out of the kitchen, I’ve also begun a new full time job which has left me with little time to do anything other than sleep. Today marked my third month at the new job, and for the most part I’m not sure where the time has gone. How exactly is it February already? I’m still stuck somewhere in September 2014.
Alas, time marches on and all the annual events are arriving with it. And what is an event without cake? So back in the kitchen I go!
This dessert was partly inspired by the Valentine’s holiday fast approaching, but mostly by my fruit shop. They’ve been selling boxes of 20 mangoes for $10. We have been going mango crazy. We’ve been binging on mango lassi and milkshakes and ice cream and all those wonderful summer desserts that help you beat the heat. This cheesecake is a really quick and easy dessert that doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. Perfect for my air-con-less house.
Baked cheesecakes are one of Cam’s favourite things in the world, but something I bake incredibly infrequently. I’d never had cheesecake at all before I met him, and certainly not baked cheesecake. For some reason I always assumed I’d hate it, but the more I have it the more I fall in love with them. It really is the best of the cheesecake world: there’s that gorgeous flavour, but the baking of it brings a lightness to the texture that makes it far too easy to eat a giant slice of it.
The only hard part is choosing a flavour! I was baking this for his dad’s birthday so I asked cam to choose one. He narrowed it down to about 5, so I then turned to his mum for back up. Eventually we settled on apricot cheesecake.
Earlier this month it was my boyfriend’s 31st birthday. As the recipient of practically all the goodies I bake, it can be hard to come up with something special for his birthday dinner and dessert and/or cake. This is exacerbated by the fact that his idea of special and mine exist on opposite sides of the planet. I like busy and complex multi-layered cakes of ridiculousness with fancy decorations, he likes chessecake. I started quizzing him on things he’d like me to make for him and got nothing except requests to make cakes I’d made for previous birthdays. Unsatisfied with that answer I sent him to rummage through my recipe books for ideas.
He returned with an A4 list of cakes. He’s about as decisive as I am.
They were almost all cheesecakes and tea cakes, save for the bread and butter pudding he’d very subtly circled. I resigned to banishing any idea of spectacular gateaux from my mind and baking him a cheesecake instead (whose birthday is it anyway, right?).
I took a basic baked cheesecake recipe and decided to load it with a few of his favourite things.
I’ve got a jar of dirt. And guess what’s inside it?
I love jar food. It’s so quirky and cute and rustic and just ticks all my aesthetic boxes. It used to be so rare to happen across but now it’s everywhere. It’s even all over MasterChef, and once MasterChef is doing it you know everyone is going to be doing it.
But I have a serious problem. Every time I see jar food, I get a particular sing-song voice stuck in my head. I’ve got a jar of dirt. I’ve got a jar of dirt. And then it’s stuck in my head all day, until I start singing I’ve got a jar of dirt and it gets stuck in everyone elses head. There was only one way to deal with it, and that was to replicate it with food.
Of all the people I make food for, my number one priority in life is my boyfriend, Cameron. He's what motivates me to learn and try new things and attempt to impress him with some crazy dessert. He gets to eat almost everything I make, the only exception being commissions, really. I'll upload snaps of my cakes to Facebook and people will be quick to tell him how lucky they believe him to be. They think he must get the most amazing, whimsical cakes for his birthday. They think him blessed to be able to request from me to bring anything to life via this edible medium. But the reality is that he wants none of that. At heart, he's a simple man.
So when his 30th birthday rolled around I wanted to make him something impressive to mark the occasion.
He just wanted a cheesecake.
What the birthday boy says, goes…
Last week I went out to dinner with mine and my boyfriend's immediate family to celebrate the completion of my Masters degree. We went to one of my favourite local restaurants, Azurea's and had a lovely time together. While Azurea's have a gorgeous selection of cakes and desserts themselves, I wasn't about to let go of an excuse to bake! Between mine and his family, everyone's preference for cake is many and varied, so choosing one is always a difficult task — someone is always not going to be happy! I eventually settled on this cake I had been wanting to try for quite a while now.
Here's for some more Father's Day bakerage. I spent dinner on Father's Day with my dad, but for lunch we spent it over at my boyfriend's place with his dad and immediate family.
Occasions with his family are often a food-centred affair, but particularly so if it's a celebration. If we go out for the meal, there's usually more food and hot drinks waiting to be consumed at home. If it's all home cooked food, you can be sure that there's going to be more food than you could dream of finishing, and then some. All of it is as delicious as it is plentiful and you will find yourself lamenting the appetite required to try it all. Or at least I do. The boys usually find a way to squeeze most, if not all, of it in. Us girls can seldom match their appetite, but we all still insist on making an enormous amount of food.
When we're dining at his place, I seldom bring things along mainly because there's so much already. I'm often caught somewhere in between feeling like I should contribute, and being too self-conscious about doing so. For this occasion, I decided to bring something. Knowing there would be an abundance of food already, I settled for something small.
After a delicious lunch, there definitely was an abundance of dessert. His sister-in-law brought a delicious ginger cake she'd baked, and his mum provided a hummingbird cake as well as platters of different biscuits, nuts, chocolates and other sweets. In between these two courses, we all had this vanilla cheesecake slice:
Care for a slice?
This week's cook book challenge comes for the 4th book in this mini series. It's called "Grossi Florentino – Secrets and Recipes". Named after Guy Grossi's restaurant, this book was composed by its head chef as well and the journalist, Jan McGuinness. While the mini version of this book offers none of the history penned by McGuinness in the full version, there's more than enough recipes to peruse through.
There's a lot to love in this book: something that made choosing a recipe really hard. It's packed full of the from-scratch pasta recipes you would expect, as well as some gorgeous meat dishes and more than a few delicious desserts.
White Chocolate Cheesecake
Cheesecake is one of my boyfriend's favourite things, but I don't make it very often. I'm always forgetting to grab cream cheese when I do the shopping, and when I finally do I often fall short of inspiration and forget to use it. I was wondering around the supermarket picking up some random items when I came across some savoiardi sponge biscuits on special and recalled this cheesecake I'd been intending to make for a while. So I grabbed some cream cheese and some mascarpone cheese and headed straight home to whip this up.
This cheesecake comes from one of my all time favourite books: The Australian Woman's Weekly's "Cupcakes, Cheesecakes and Cookies". It combines their three separate books into one, and as a bonus is cheaper to buy than buying the other three books separately. It's full of delicious recipes. I've baked so much from this book, whether it be the whole recipe or just a portion of it. One day I will bake it cover to cover.
Cut yourself a slice…