Monday, October 20, 2014

plate 2 plate - mushroom quiche

Hi Every-one,

Do you remember I visited Zurich a few months ago? While I was there, I met up with my blog friend Juliana and we chatted about food photography and travel. Juliana was just about to take a food styling workshop so when I returned home to Sydney I suggested we participate in a styling challenge. We select a recipe to style and photograph which we then share on our respective blogs. Today is the first Plate 2 Plate column and we're hoping to make this a regular feature. Our next column will be in December, in time for the holiday season.

Juliana lives in the Northern hemisphere whilst I live in Sydney so trying to find ingredients which are in season in both hemispheres was quite a challenge. 

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For this month we chose mushrooms and after some discussion, we decided to bake and photograph a mushroom quiche from a tried and tested Margaret Fulton recipe. We didn't set any boundaries and changed up the recipe just a little to suit what was both in season and in our cupboards. 

My images have my regular logo and Juliana's have the Plate 2 Plate logo. Here's Juliana's take.

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Here's mine. Like Juliana, I used a combination of mushrooms in the quiche - button mushrooms, field mushrooms and swiss browns.

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I made my quiche in my old faithful rectangular tin and flavoured it with some fresh thyme as my little thyme bush is flourishing on the bathroom window ledge.

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Great minds think alike, because Juliana flavoured her quiche with some fresh herbs as well, though she used rosemary.

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As it's spring in Sydney and everything is nice and green, I wanted to reflect that in my images. 

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I had the quiche for my lunch and served it with a nice leafy green salad.

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Juliana's images were just so autumnal.

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Here's the original Mushroom Quiche recipe from the Margaret Fulton Cookbook

1 cup (150 gm) Plain Flour
Pinch each salt and baking powder
2 oz butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons iced water
Squeeze lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 oz butter
8 oz (250 gm) button mushrooms, finely sliced
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Plain Flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
2 teaspoons melted butter
1 oz (30 gm) grated Swiss cheese

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter in lightly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the egg yolk, water and a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle over the flour stirring with a knife to form a dough. Add a little extra water if necessary. Knead lightly on a floured board to bring together, then wrap the pastry and chill for 30 minutes or until required.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to fit a 8 or 9 inch flan ring standing on a baking tray. Roll the pastry into the flan tin pressing the pastry well into the flutes. Using a sharp knife cut the pastry level with the top of the flan ring. Chill the pastry while preparing the filling.


Preheat the oven to (200°C/400°F). In a medium saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat and cook the shallots in butter softened but not browned. Stir in the mushrooms, salt and lemon juice. Cover and cook over a gentle heat for about 8 minutes. Uncover the pan, raise heat and cook until the liquid evaporates.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, flour, salt, cayenne pepper, the cream and milk and the butter until well mixed. Strain the mixture through a sieve then gently stir into the mushroom mixture. Pour the mixture into the chilled flan case, sprinkle with the cheese and bake in a hot oven (200°C/400°F) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate (180°C/350°F) and bake for another 20 minutes until the filling is set.

Serves 4 - 6.

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Apart from using a selection of mushrooms and the fresh thyme, I barely altered the recipe. I can't remember the last time I made this quiche but it was seriously delicious. Lovely short pastry and a very tasty filling. It was so good, I might have to put it back on the menu.

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I hope you enjoyed the first Plate 2 Plate column. Check out Juliana's blog for her take on the challenge. Many thanks to my friend Mona who came up with the name for the column. 

I'll be back again next week with something sweet from the kitchen, so until then,


Monday, October 13, 2014

in the garden, dungog

I know it's been a while since I did an 'In the Garden' post but last time I visited Dungog, there was little in bloom. I spent last weekend visiting my brother Farmer Andrew and the chicken ladies and this time spring was definitely in the air. 

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The air was redolent with the fragrance of blossom and I came home with a bag of oranges, fresh from the garden. I made (and burnt) an orange poppyseed cake while I was there, from Farmer Andrew's home grown eggs and oranges and once I cut off the burnt bits, it tasted pretty good.

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The garden was in full bloom so I spent a bit of time wandering around the garden with my little camera.

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I found some secret places in the garden I'd not seen before.

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I love wisteria and was pleased to find it was still in bloom.

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Another spot of colour in the garden.

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My favourite flowers in the garden - the poppies.

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I've just returned from a 4 day trip to Brisbane to find the painters have been and gone. It's lovely having the place look so fresh and clean but I've just spent an hour sweeping, mopping and replacing furniture with still loads more to be done. I've not been near the kitchen except to make a cup of tea and to fill the fridge with food.

I think I might escape the paint fumes (and the ironing) for a while and head to the gym. I'm hoping to get back into the kitchen this coming weekend so see you all again next week with some baking.

Bye for now,


Monday, October 06, 2014

auntie rosina's meatball sliders

Hi Every-one,

Daylight Saving has just begun so I'm feeling ever so slightly out of synch. Today was a public holiday for Labor Day and the 3 day break was much needed. I went up to Dungog to visit Farmer Andrew and the chicken ladies (photos to follow next week) then came home in time to do some domestic chores. With the painter coming to do some work on my place I had windows to wash; lightbulbs to replace and some packing up and shifting to do in my spare room/office before he could locate the walls. Yup it really was that bad in there.

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Today’s recipe is a very old Maureen Simpson recipe from Australian House and Garden. I copied this into my little recipe notebook so long ago that the writing is now faded and almost illegible. The recipe for Auntie Rosina’s meatballs is very tasty and a little bit spicy and I seem to have been making them for ever. Usually I serve the meatballs with penne pasta but I decided to put a spin on the meatballs and turn them into meatball sliders.

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I made the usual meatball recipe but I added a few extra olives just to make sure there was at least one olive for every slider. I’d planned to serve the meatballs on a few salad leaves, topped with a slice of parmesan and a sprig of oregano all tucked inside a homemade soft brioche roll.

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While hunting the internet to see if any-one had made meatball sliders before (and let me assure you that they have) I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart. She topped her sliders with a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheese then heated the slider in a hot oven until the cheese melted. That sounded so much better than my idea, so I pinched it lock stock and barrel.

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To make these into sliders, in addition to the meatball recipe you’ll need some buns. I used this recipe which will make 16 small rolls but of course you can just buy the rolls. I served 2 meatballs for each roll, so the meatball recipe would make about 14 filled sliders. You need about 2-3 tsp of cheese for each slider, a few salad leaves and a few sprigs of herbs. I used a combination of both oregano and basil as that’s what I had in the fridge and in the herb garden that’s growing on my bathroom window ledge.

Here’s the recipe for you -


1 tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic; finely chopped
1 chilli de-seeded and chopped
700ml tomato passata
½ cup red wine
sprigs of fresh oregano
12 black olives, pitted

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil. Gently fry the onion, garlic and chilli until softened. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

500gms beef mince
2 cups of soft fresh breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped parsley
1 beaten egg
salt and pepper
1 tbs olive oil, for frying

Thoroughly combine all the meatball ingredients and form into 2.5 cm (1 in) meatballs (makes about 28 meatballs). Heat the oil in a medium sized fry pan and gently fry the meatballs on all sides until browned. Add to the sauce and simmer in the sauce for 20 minutes. Top with extra parsley and serve with pasta.

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Back to work tomorrow then I'm heading to Brisbane for the weekend to see the family and to let the painter do his work. He's just painting the living room; repainting the spare room and all the windows and I can't wait to see the place freshened up a bit. 

See you all again next week,


Monday, September 29, 2014

blood orange poppyseed cakes

Hi Every-one,

I hope you all had nice weekends. I had a quiet weekend at home recovering from a busy week at work. I did quite a bit of cooking, catching up on items for the blog as I'm going to be out of Sydney for the next couple of weekends. When I return the flat is being repainted so I don't know how easy it will be to get into the kitchen. 

Here's the last blood orange recipe for a while. I still have one more item to make but I'm sure you're ready for something else so next week expect  something savoury from my kitchen.

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I decided to make some little blood orange poppyseed cakes. Initially I was going to make them in muffin tins but I didn't want to use liners and I couldn't be bothered greasing and lining the tins so I decided to use my little loaf tins instead. 

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I whipped these up from an old recipe I photographed a few years back. I didn't type up the recipes back then or post them, so the recipe is hand written in an old notebook. It's good to see my styling has improved a bit since then!

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The recipe made 4 little loaves and I probably could have squeezed all the batter into the tins but I decided to make a little teeny tiny cake specially for the cook.

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The syrup didn't really go far enough so I might make double the quantity next time.

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Here's the recipe for you which makes one 16 cm cake, a small bundt or loaf cake or 4 mini loaf or bundt cakes. If you double the mixture it will make an 8 inch cake.

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Cakes 
1¼ cups plain flour 
1½ tsp baking powder
tbl poppy seeds
110g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened 
100g (3½ oz) caster sugar 
Finely grated rind of 1 blood orange 
2 eggs 
¼ cup blood orange juice 

Grease and flour 4 small loaf or bundt tins. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. 

Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl. Stir though the poppy seeds and set to one side. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, orange rind and caster sugar. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs then gradually mix into butter mixture. If the mixture starts to look curdled, add a spoonful of the flour mixture.

Add the remaining flour mixture to the batter alternating with the orange juice to make a soft batter. If the batter looks too thick add a little more juice. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared tins and bake the cakes in the 180°C/350°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden and cakes are cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack. Pour over the blood orange syrup. 

Blood Orange Syrup
1 small blood orange 
⅓ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup water 

Peel the orange and finely shred the peel. Juice the blood orange and set the juice to one side. In a small pan bring some water to the boil, and then cook the peel for 1 minute. Drain the peel and rinse. 

Return the orange rind to the pan with the juice, the sugar and the additional water. Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer until the syrup is reduced by half. If the syrup thickens up a bit you can warm it up again and if you have any left over blood orange juice you can add a tablespoon at this point to freshen up the flavour of the syrup. Pour the syrup over the cooled cake decorating the tops of the cakes with the candied peel.

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Serve with a nice cup of tea and enjoy.

Do you remember a few weeks ago I was wondering whether I should rename the blog, delicious bites? I'd like to go ahead and with that I'll need a new logo. I've made some enquiries and the price to redesign the blog and provide a logo is way out of my budget. 

For the first time in 10 years I don't have a regular photography gig so the coffers are bare. I'm planning to use a pre-made template but would like to jazz it up with a new logo. In the past my clever readers have helped me out with my shopshoot logo (many thanks Jess) and I was wondering if there was any-one out there who could help me?

I've an idea of what I want, I just need someone clever who can realise my ideas. If you think you could help, please email me (info at or leave your contact details in the comments section.

Bye for now,


Monday, September 22, 2014

blood orange meringue tarts

Hi Every-one,

another busy weekend has just been and gone. I finally decided on a rug for my living room and I brought it home on Saturday. Sunday I met friends for dinner and took these little blood orange meringue tarts with me for dessert.

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They're a slight riff on the lemon meringue tarts I made for decor8 last year. Blood orange is nowhere near as tart as lemon juice, so I've dialed back the sugar content in the curd.

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I bought the tart rings from Dehillerin when I was in Paris earlier this year and haven't had a chance to use them until now. They were a bit fiddly to work with but I like the professional look of the straight edge tart shells.

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I was a bit worried the meringue might stick leaving me with a sticky mess but thankfully, the tarts come away from the ring without too much effort.

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I left the tarts in the fridge for a few hours to set and went up to the shops to post a parcel. Since I was last there 2 weeks ago, the post office has changed locations and is no longer open on Sunday so I came home with the parcel and a new pair of shoes!

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Here's the recipe for you and yes, it's all a bit fiddly. I made the curd the day before making the tarts but it's probably a good idea to make the tart shells the day before as well.

Blood Orange Meringue Tarts (makes six 7 - 8 cm tarts)

Crumb layer
2 tsp dry breadcrumbs
2 tsp caster sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Put to one side.

110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
¼ cup almond meal
1¼ cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cold water

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor with the lemon rind and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a little cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball. You won't need all the pastry for this recipe, so divide it in half and wrap one half in plastic and store in the freezer for another time. Flatten the remaining half slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the remaining dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin.

Grease six 7 - 8 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 5 minutes or until the tart shells are golden. Take the tart shells out of the oven and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture over the base of the warm tart shells.

Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool.

Blood orange curd filling

3 large egg yolks 
Finely grated rind of 1 blood orange and ½ lemon
⅓ cup strained blood orange
30 ml strained lemon juice 
⅓ cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
75 gm (3 oz) unsalted butter
Place the egg yolks, the rinds, juice, cornflour and sugar into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter in small batches until incorporated. Set aside to cool. When cool place the curd in the fridge and allow to set. 

Meringue topping
2 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
½ cup caster sugar
Additional caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until thick and gradually add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until the sugar dissolves. Using a spoon, decoratively swirl the meringue over the filled tart shells or you can pipe the meringue, sealing the tarts completely with the meringue. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle a little extra caster sugar over the meringue topping.

Bake the tarts in the preheated oven (190°C/375°F) for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. If you prefer, you can use a brulee torch to colour the meringue.

Cool the tarts on a wire rack. Once the tarts have cooled return to the fridge for a few hours to allow the filling to firm before serving.

Here's the finished product.

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I've a few blood oranges left in the fruit bowl and I was thinking of making either a blood orange poppy seed cake or a blood orange and passionfruit tart to round out blood orange month. 

Any thoughts on which one I should make?

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions.

See you all again next week.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Blood Orange Marmalade and Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Those 2 pots of blood orange and vanilla marmalade have been sitting on the kitchen bench untouched since they were made. 

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Early on Sunday morning I remembered these raspberry thumbprint cookies I made back in 2012 were originally made with marmalade and now that I've belatedly decided I do like marmalade, I decided it was time to revisit the recipe.

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I just made one small but important change to the recipe. I figured oranges go really well with almonds so instead of using hazelnut meal, I ground some unskinned almonds in the food processor to make whole almond meal. I don't know if you can get whole almond meal in your grocery store, but I can't. Instead I ground the whole almonds with a spoonful of sugar to help the grinding process.

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Here's the recipe for you.

Blood Orange Marmalade and Almond Thumb Print Cookies, adapted from this recipe by Mike McEnearney of Kitchen by Mike fame.

Makes 16

125 gm softened butter
50 gm (½ cup) pure icing sugar, sifted plus extra to serve
½ tsp vanilla extract
110 gm (¾ cup) plain flour plus extra for dusting
45 gm cornflour (cornstarch)
35 gm ground whole unskinned almonds or whole almond meal
blood orange marmalade

Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixture until light and fluffy, add vanilla and beat to combine. 

Sift the plain flour and cornflour together. Stir the flours in followed by the whole almond meal to form a soft dough.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.

Roll the mixture into walnut size balls (20 gm) between floured palms.  Flatten the biscuits with the base of a floured drinking glass leaving space for biscuits to spread. Bake for 5 minutes. 

Make an the indent in the cookie with the handle of a wooden spoon, then spoon a teaspoon of the marmalade into the indent.

Return the jam filled cookies to the oven and baked until they're golden, a further 
10-15 minutes. 

Cool on tray, then dust the cookies with icing sugar and serve.

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These are best served on the day they're made but they're still pretty good a few days later.

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I crumbled one of the cookies for the photograph (I call it my 'stunt' cookie) which of course meant I had to eat it, because I can't tolerate waste. These cookies are really, really good. I think they're probably even better than the raspberry jam version and that's saying something. Just in case you were wondering, I picked up the platter
on Saturday at Small Spaces in Redfern while I was out furniture shopping.

As I spent last weekend cooped up in a Physiotherapy Department attending a workshop, this past weekend I went out sourcing furniture and light fittings for my living room refurbishment. I bought a new sofa and installed new blinds soon after I came back from my holidays. I've now decided I need to change the rug in the living room, the light fitting and the side tables and would like to buy a storage unit as well. I actually think I'm close to making a decision about the rug, the side table and floor lamp and as my middle name is 'indecisive', that's quite a big statement. Next month the living room is being repainted so the refurbishment is definitely on it's way.

I hope you all had great weekends. See you again next weekend,


Monday, September 08, 2014

blood orange polenta cake

As you know I’m a bit of an Ottolenghi fan. His recipes always work and they’re packed full of flavour. I’ve had this recipe for orange polenta cake bookmarked ever since I took ownership of Ottolenghi, the Cookbook.

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The recipe mentioned how nice the cake was made with blood oranges, so as soon as they appeared in the shop I bought a few then started looking through my cupboards for all the other ingredients. I didn’t have any orange blossom water but I thought I could safely leave that ingredient out. I went on the hunt for quick cook polenta without any luck. All I could find on the shelves was pre-cooked polenta and I was pretty sure that wouldn’t work in a cake. I had polenta flour in the cupboard leftover from these little cakes so I used that instead.

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I used to make toffees all the time when I was growing up so the caramel section was a cinch. As they’re smaller than a regular orange, 2 blood oranges won’t cover an 8 inch cake tin so make sure to buy at least 3 oranges. As I wasn’t using orange blossom water I used a teaspoon of vanilla and some additional grated blood orange rind from the third orange.

The mixture was quite thick so I added ¼ cup of blood orange juice. I’m not sure if that was due to the polenta flour. The recipe makes a lot of batter and I’m wondering if it would work better in a 23 cm tin. It would certainly cook faster because despite the instructions to bake the cake at 170°C for 40 minutes, my cake took an hour to bake at 190°C in my old gas oven.

I’ve had a few disasters in the past when turning out upside down cakes, so I held my breath when turning this one out. It didn’t crack but next time I’d let it rest for a little while longer before turning it out just to reduce my stress levels a bit.

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Once the cake cooled, I glazed it with some of that homemade blood orange and vanilla marmalade I featured on last week’s blog. It looked pretty special. I served the cake with a dollop of sour lite cream or I guess you could use crème fraiche.

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Here’s the original Ottolenghi recipe for you, very slightly adapted.

Blood Orange Polenta Cake, from Ottolenghi the Cookbook

Caramel topping
90g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
20g unsalted butter, diced
3 blood oranges

50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter
200 g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp orange blossom water
240g ground almonds
120g quick-cook polenta

4 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp water

1. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. If using a loose-based tin, make sure the paper circle you cut for the base is large enough to go some way up the sides as well, to prevent leaking.

2. To make the caramel, have ready by the stove small pastry brush and a cup of water. Put the sugar for the caramel topping in a heavy-based saucepan and add the water. Stir gently to wet the sugar through and then place on a low-medium heat. Slowly bring the sugar to the boil. While it bubbles away, brush the sides of the pan occasionally with a little of the water in the cup to get rid of any crystals that from close to the bubbling sugar. After a few minutes the water should evaporate and the sugar will start to darken. Be sure to keep your eyes on the sugar at all times as it can easily burn. As soon as it reaches a nice golden colour remove the pan from the heat. With your face at a safe distance, add the chunks of butter. Stir with a wooden spoon and pour the caramel over the lined base of the cake tin. Carefully but quickly (so it doesn't set) tilt it to spread evenly.

3. Grate the zest of the 2 oranges, making sure you don't reach the white part of the skin. Set the grated zest aside. Using a small, sharp knife, slice off 1 cm from the top and bottom of each orange. Standing each orange up on a board, carefully but neatly follow the natural curves of the orange with the knife to peel off the remaining skin and all the white pith. Cut each orange horizontally into roughly 6 slices. Remove the pips and lay out the slices tightly over the caramel. (You might need to peel and slice another orange to cover the whole space).

4. Now move on to the cake batter. Heat up the oven to 170°C/325°F. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

5. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together lightly. Make sure they are well combined but do not incorporate much air into the mixture. Gradually add the eggs while the machine is on a low speed. Next add the reserved orange zest and the orange blossom water, followed by the almonds, polenta and sifted dry ingredients. As soon as they are all mixed in, stop the machine.

6. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin, making sure that the oranges underneath stay in a single neat layer. Level the mixture carefully with a palette knife. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out dry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes.

7. While the cake is still hot (warm it up a little if you forgot, otherwise the caramel will stick to the paper), place a cardboard disc or a flat plate on top. Briskly turn over and then remove the tin and the lining paper. Leave the cake to cool completely

8. For the glaze, bring the marmalade and water to the boil in a small saucepan and then pass through a sieve. While the glaze is still hot, lightly brush the top of the cake with it.

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Jillian’s adaptations
I used polenta flour instead of quick cook polenta and added ¼ cup blood orange juice.

I didn’t have any orange blossom water so I used the zest of 2½ blood oranges plus 1 tsp vanilla instead.

You really need 3 blood oranges for this recipe.

I baked the cake at 190°C and it took 1 hour to cook. I’d also cool the cake for about 10 minutes next time – I was a bit worried the cake might break into pieces.

I think the cake would work just as well baked in a 23 cm tin with 50% extra caramel and more oranges for the topping.

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The cake is really moist, quite dense, intensely orange flavoured and absolutely delicious. I’m wondering whether I’d be able to renovate this recipe for Passover using regular oranges as blood oranges will be out of season. Watch this space.

See you all again next week with another blood orange creation.

Bye for now,