Layered chocolate and cherry wine cake : My most decadent cake yet

I have made this cake twice – once as a wedding present for a dear friend and once for my huband’s birthday – both in 2013, both decadent as anything and both having gone down an absolute treat with their respective recepients.

Weddings and wedding presents – always a tricky one for me. There are those people that tell me what they want and make my life easy. And then there are others who I care about, but I have no clue as to how my miniscule contribution could make a difference to there generally well set up lives. It is in the latter situation that I usually opt for cooking (usually baking) something for them so that they can remember the taste of it (and perhaps its maker) for many years to come.

I’m not a huge chocolate eater myself but I knew my friend was and I know my husband definitely is. It is his weakness and I often joke that he’d be easily kidnapped if someone dangled dark chocolate on a stick in front of his eyes. So, for me, this cake was a challenge on many levels – coming up with the right texture, appearance and taste for the occasion were very important. So I set about surfing the internet for inspiration and ideas and came across this lovely recipe by Lindsay & Taylor and I decided to give it my own twist.

Hope you like it and will give it a go.

Manasa

Triple-layer chocolate cherry cake with dinosaur

Triple-layer chocolate cherry cake with dinosaur

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Purple sprouting broccoli for breakfast

A few months ago, just when the season was right for it,  a dear friend brought me some purple sprouting broccoli fresh from her garden. It just also happened to be the weekend  and I was missing my Melbournian weekend brunches, as I often do in this small English town.

To pay for breakfast or brunch here is folly as the food is disappointing 9.5 times out of 10. So, I decided to make some myself using this lovely sprouting broccoli. A bit of google-ing and I settled on grilled purple sprouting broccoli and hollandaise sauce on a bed of sourdough and poached eggs.

Why do I post it now ? I was doing an audit of my food pictures folder and realised that I have so many things I need to write about and today, I just felt like writing about this one as it was so delicious. I’m sorry, I don’t have too many pictures of the process and next time I make this dish, I’ll be sure to take some.

Purple sprouting broccoli with hollandaise sauce over poached eggs and sourdough

Purple sprouting broccoli with hollandaise sauce over poached eggs and sourdough

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Tiramisu alle fragole or Tiramisu with strawberries

I have been on holiday for a whole week as a re-energiser before starting my new job. Thus, I’ve spent most of the week doing what I like best – cooking. Earlier in the week, I cooked a festive South Indian meal for some friends of ours which is still being consumed 4 days on and last night, we hosted an Italian-food themed board games night with some other friends. While I had most of the menu sorted, I was umm-ing and ah-ing on the “dolce” or dessert course.

Given my enormous free time this week, I browsing through the travel section in the local library and I chanced upon a book called “Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons : Travels in Sicily on a Vespa” by Matthew Fort. This book’s contents are pretty much as the title claims – It contains several mouth-watering (and sometimes weird) Sicilian recipes, while giving the reader a feel for Sicilian people, life and customs as the writer explores this island on his Vespa scooter.

The one thing that really irks me about this book is the unecessary overuse of flowery language to describe things that can be done equally well with more accessible vocabulary. Despite that, I’m persisting with the book and it was in one of its pages that I came across a lovely recipe for strawberry tiramisu.

I have posted two previous tiramisu recipes – one regular and one with raspberries. However, back in the day, I didn’t actually have any pictures of this delicious Italian treat.

Inspired by this verbose but informative book, and my Italian-themed games night, I present to you – Tiramisu alle fragole with pictures.

It was so good that my guests were fighting over it !

 

Tiramisu with strawberries - Just hanging onto the edge of the bowl...

Tiramisu with strawberries – Just hanging onto the edge of the bowl…

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Turkish cornbread (Misir Ekmegi)

I have a Turkish colleague and a few weeks ago, she was relishing some cornbread that her mother had made for her and couldn’t stop raving about it. As is my reaction in these situations, I set out to make some for myself.

Upon surveying the internet for some recipes, I came across one at Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook which looked simple enough  and so I decided to give it a go. Of course, I added a few of my own touches like fresh chives and chilli flakes to flavour the bread and really loved the end result. It was soft yet had a crunch to it, and tasted good warm and cold. Slather some butter on it or eat it with a dip or chutney. It’s absolutely delicious and what’s even better is that it is a one-pot dish and preparation time is less than 15 minutes !

I did go back to my Turkish friend and give her some of my cornbread to try. She liked the taste of it but said it was quite different to her mum’s. She said her mum’s version was made of  only cornmeal, corn oil and salt as corn grew abundantly in the region of Turkey where she came from. However, she did also say that in regions where wheat was available, people did add standard flour to the cornbread and so my recipe was also genuinely Turkish. Woo hoo!

Yellow corn meal
Yellow corn meal

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Semlor or awesome cardamom-spiced, almond paste and cream filled Scandanavian Lent buns

Semlor (singular : semla) is the Swedish name for these delectable little (OK my version was little) buns. I first saw them on a friend’s Fascebook page more than two years ago. Her Scandanavian partner had produced these around Easter time and from her pictures, they looked delicious. I remember reading at the time that the buns were full of cardamom and that’s all I needed to know. Buns with cardamom, almond and cream sounded like something that would be right up my alley.

All my semlor-related knowledge came from Wikipedia and from this page which is also the source of my recipe (s). Traditionally, these buns are meant to be eaten on Mardi-gras or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday – the day before the start of Lent. Apparently, in Sweden there are long queues at bakeries that specialise in making and selling semlor on Shrove Tuesday. Having made semlor once, I reckon they should be an all-year bun, not just Mardi-gras buns. Just make sure you don’t eat them like the old Swedish King Adolf Fredrik did. Fable says that he died after eating 14 servings of semla in hot milk.

With this post, I have provided links to the recipes I used and have demonstrated the methdolofy in pictures. Hope you find it useful and give it a try!

 

Whole cardamom pods in the background. In the foreground, from left to right (1) half-open pod (2) peels (3) seeds (4) ground cardamom

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