Monthly Archives: November 2011

Best ever chocolate cake

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As published in InStyle Magazine July 2011 – recipe and food styling by Jody Vassallo. Serves 8.

Ingredients:
Cake:
125g dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup boiling water
250g butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 ½ cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 cup buttermilk
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Chocolate cream
50g butter, softened
250g cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
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Garnish
slivered pistachios
fresh pomegranate pearls
dark pink roses
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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180C. 350F Gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 24cm round spring form tins. Put the chocolate, cocoa and boiling water into a small saucepan, stir over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Set aside and allow to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar until thick and creamy, add the vanilla and the eggs, a little at a time, beaten well after each addition. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and buttermilk alternately, starting and finishing with the flour.
Divide the batter in two and spoon the batter into the prepared tins. Bake on the third shelf of your oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the chocolate cream, beat the butter, crème fraiche, icing sugar, cocoa and cinnamon until smooth.
To assemble place one cake top side down, onto a plate (if your cakes haven risen during cooking use a serrated knife to trim off the tops so your cake will sit flat).
Spread the top with some of the chocolate cream, top with the other cake top side down and cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate cream. Decorate with pistachio slivers, pomegranate pearls and rose petals.
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Twice Cooked Mini Cheese Souffles

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As published in InStyle Magazine July 2011 – recipe and food styling by Jody Vassallo. Serves 8.

Ingredients:
Twice Cooked Mini Cheese Souffles:
melted butter for greasing
plain flour for dusting
85g butter
85g plain flour
grating of fresh nutmeg
400ml milk
150g gruyére cheese, finely grated + 50g extra for serving
6 eggs, separated
300ml pouring cream
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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 170˚C. Grease 8 (1/2 cup capacity) small non stick baking dishes or ramekins with butter and grease lightly with flour. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring for 2 minutes without allowing to colour. Remove from heat, adding grated nutmeg to the milk and slowly add the milk to the pan a third time, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and cook, stirring until the sauce boils and thickens. Add the cheese, stir until melted. Remove from heat, add egg yolks and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large clean bowl. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form in a separate bowl and fold into cheese mixture in 3 batches. Fill your buttered ramekin dishes 2/3 full with the mixture. Place them in the backing dish with enough water to come 1/2 way up the sides of the dishes and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove the ramekin dishes from the baking dish and allow to cool for one hour. Just before you are ready to serve, turn the oven up to 240˚C. Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the soufflés. Remove them from the dishes and place upside down in separate, shallow oven proof serving dishes. Pour some of the cream over each soufflé and sprinkle a little gruyére on top. Bake for approx 7 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Unforgettable & Unusual Nutmeg Cake.

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Ingredients:
Nutmeg Cake
2 cups (250g) self raising flour
2 cups (500g) soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
150g butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
*
Vanilla Marscapone
300g marscapone
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
*
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base and sides of 20cm cake tin.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, allspice, coriander into a bowl, stir in the brown sugar.
Rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles biscuits crumbs.
Press half of this mixture into the prepared tin.
Whisk together the egg, nutmeg and buttermilk and add to the remaining flour mixutre, this will be very thin.
Pour this mixture over the crumb base.
Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
Allow to stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool – I love this cake warm.
To make the cream combine the marscapone, brown sugar and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl, serve a dollop of the cream with a generous wedge of the nutmeg warm nutmeg cake.

Spice Island of the Modern World.

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Years ago a photographer friend of mine mentioned to me he’d been to Zanzibar, he spoke of the island as if he’d found a little piece of heaven here on earth. He finished our conversation by saying ” You must go there Jode, it still operates like the spice island of the world”. I had just so happened to be reading a wonderful book called Nathaniels nutmeg which charts the history of the spice trade so my little ears pricked up. 
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Zanzibar managed to become top on my list of spots to visit – as a foodie, there is a strange mysticism that surrounds spices. Wonderfully aromatic substances that have been traded as currency, cured diseases and been the cause of many a conflict, spices are the cornerstone of nearly every cuisine around the world. I like to think of them as the ingredient that add personality to a dish and I believe they say quite a bit about the personality of the cook using them. Fiery people like to add oomph to a meal with chilli, pepper and ginger and all those big note spices, whereas more reserved home cooks would tend to tread more softly and favor the more calming nurturing flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, added by the pinch rather than the tablespoon.
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Anyway I have digressed from my Zanzibar tale. I eventually made it to Zanzibar, words cannot describe its beauty, so just do as I did, put it on your bucket list of must see places. It was here I saw for the first time in my life nutmeg being grown. The fruit looks very much like an unripe plum and when split open it reveals the seed (the nutmeg which is enclosed in a vibrant red sheath which is mace). Kept whole the blade of mace has a delicious slighlty pungent flavour and is most often used in slow simmered meat dishes, the ground powder is great with seafood . Mace is actually quite intriguing, Ian Herbie Hemphill writes that mace ” is the placenta that conveys nourishment from the fruit to the seed”.
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Traditionally nutmeg is dried whole in the sun until the shell dulls and the seed rattles. If you love nutmeg I urge you to stop pussy footing around with it. Herbie says it is one of the few spices that is as good in the powdered form as it is whole. If you choose to use the whole nutmeg you can grate it on a microplane or fine grater, in fact I have a small metal grater which I set aside for this specific purchase.
This recipe I have adapted from the one in Ian “Herbie” Hempills Spice Notes book, which is one of the best books ever written on spices.
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Ingredients:
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Nutmeg Cake
2 cups (250g) self raising flour
2 cups (500g) soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
150g butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
*
Vanilla Marscapone
300g marscapone
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
*
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the base and sides of 20cm cake tin.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, allspice, coriander into a bowl, stir in the brown sugar.
Rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles biscuits crumbs.
Press half of this mixture into the prepared tin.
Whisk together the egg, nutmeg and buttermilk and add to the remaining flour mixutre, this will be very thin.
Pour this mixture over the crumb base.
Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
Allow to stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool – I love this cake warm.
To make the cream combine the marscapone, brown sugar and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl, serve a dollop of the cream with a generous wedge of the nutmeg warm nutmeg cake.