I have to admit to not having had a desire to make jam before. It requires a lot more fresh fruit than my heart, or my budget, can take. I kinda feel like I'd rather just eat the fruit. Perhaps this has got to do with the fact that I'm not a great fan of jam. We never had it in the house growing up. It's only my boyfriend's love of this breakfast condiment that has me trying and slowly acquiring a taste for it. But with all that said, I'd never had home made jam before.
This growing season, Australian farmers had a great yield. But due to all the supermarkets refusing to lower their prices to meet increased supply, they left them as normal and demand remained the same [and many farmers ended up having to throw away perfectly good fruit they couldn't sell]. It's one good reason why I don't get my fruit at the supermarket, instead I prefer to support local fruit shops. My local fruit shop was happy to adjust their prices, and in return we had a summer of budget fruit. They were constantly having sales to move large amounts of stock, but my jaw almost hit the floor when I saw them selling trays of 15 x 250g punnets of strawberries for $8. When I returned two weeks later and found 18 punnets for $5 I almost fainted. A far cry from the $3 a punnet the supermarkets were still selling them for.
Strawberries are one of my absolute favourite fruits, so I had no qualms using up over 8 kilos of them over the month. They featured in desserts and on them. We ate them with a fruit platter or with chocolate sauce for a bit of a treat. We had weeks of fresh strawberry smoothies or an occasional thick shake.
It also gave me chance to finally see what all this fuss over home made jam was about.
I have to admit to being a convert…
I couldn’t go past the fifth day of Christmas without making rings of some sort. Cookie wreaths seemed like the perfect option, but which recipe? I was tempted to make some piped shortbread, but after having made some Christmas shortbread already this year, it had to be something a bit different.
These Italian lemon biscuits were the perfect alternative.
During my thesis-induced baking hiatus, I did have a moment of weakness. I was missing baking a little too much, and so I returned to the kitchen to bake a quick treat. I told my desk buddies I’d bring in some cupcakes to help them through the last moments of Masters. Stress levels were so high in the office during those last few weeks that the tinest of morale boosts were received with thrice the usual enthusiasm, so really, it was for a good cause. It was also a good excuse to get away from the computer chair that was numbing my limbs and the computer screen that was ruining my eyes.
Excuses, excuses. A baking hiatus was never really going to last anyway…
Recipe +3 …
This week is the final installment of the Cook Book Challenge taken from this mini-series (because I am a genius and did #10 weeks ago). Next week we shall return to your regularly-sized version.
Gary Mehigan is another well-known Melbourne chef. He was well known before becoming a judge on MasterChef, but since has become a household name. He began his cheffing career in London before moving to Melbourne and opening a plethora of award-winning restaurants. This book is named after, and full of, my favourite types of eats: comfort food. It's particularly comforting during this cooler part of the year. Choosing a recipe was almost impossible.
Winter, or any time, warmers…
Maggie Beer is one of my all time favourite cooks. Not only are her recipes intelligent, perfectly balanced wonders of deliciousness — she also has the most infectious personality. I still remember watching the Twitter feed exploding with adoration when she appeared on MasterChef for the first time. She's impossible not to fall in love with.
So are her cook books.
While her recipes are intelligent, they are also accessible to most everyone. Some require a bit more skill or practise than the next, but they're not recipes you'll feel too intimidated by to try. Her chatty style of writing talks you through the complicated steps and explains why you are doing what you are doing.
There were so many recipes in this book I wanted to try, but I simply couldn't go past the Olive Tart. Not just because I have an obsessive love for puff pastry…
Pastry, om nom nom…
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
Unlike almost every other week of this challenge, I actually have no idea where this recipe book came from. It may have been another op-shop find from years ago, or it may have been one my mum had and never used and ended up leaving for me. It's so tiny that it was hidden amongst my much bulkier books, long since forgotten. But while digging through recipe books looking for one to try this week, I found it and decided to have a flip through.
This one is Margaret Fulton's "Book of French Cooking". After a few savoury challenges, it was time to pursue the dessert section once more.
I didn't get much further than the Mousse à l'Orange. A sweet mousse without chocolate?
I was intrigued…
This commission was a follow up from the last jungle cake I did. The gentleman ordering the cake was hosting a party for his son and decided he’d like a similarly themed tiered cake with a few changes. He also wanted a batch of cupcakes, but we’ll save that one for another post. This one is going to be fairly pic heavy, so if you’re on dial up you’re about to really dislike me.
Welcome to the jungle…
This week's recipe comes from Women's Weekly's "Easy cakes and biscuits". They are just what they say they are: easy.
My boyfriend loves jam biscuits, and I for some reason have never tried to make any sort of thumbprint or jam drop biscuit before. So here was one to tick off the list.
Recipe after the jump…
After I did the charity cake for my boyfriend's work, I got a sudden spark of interest in purchasing some baked goods off of me. One of his co-workers had his son's birthday in two days and wanted to know if I could do it. Because I'm crazy and clearly am not busy enough, I said yes.
The brief was for a small cake for 5 or 6 people with jungle animals.
If you go out in the … jungle today?