Friday, January 13, 2006

crash landing

Killer says it's landing pain. Better than "adjustment angst". Whatever you call it though there's days that are ok, days that suck, moments of beautiful light and times that don't really bear describing. Then there's cooking. When I was away I realised I often undervalue the things that really matter to me. Cooking and gardening aren't just hobbies - they're work in the real sense of the thing... labour that creates something. My hands need to move, I need to feel I'm producing something and we all need to eat.

Wednesday night dinner... me and S. had to meet and talk. There are some things you can't say via text message. I changed the menu plan 5 times. I wasn't sure I wanted to make something really amazing if we would both feel too sick to eat. But then I wanted to make something amazing.

Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons still hasn't made it back to the library so I decided on the piadina with caramelised onions, walnuts and taleggio. Piadina is an Italian flatbread that was ridiculously easy to make - mix flour, oil and water; knead; roll out; fry in rounds. I'm cheese mad right now and taleggio might be my new favourite indulgence. It's creamy almost like brie but with more of an aged blue taste. And bubbling under the grill over a spread of caramelised onions and walnuts on the piadina... well it was so good it tasted amazing even on a clenched tight stomach. Maybe I was overdoing it because I needed to keep busy that afternoon or maybe it's that I don't know how to cook for two. But I couldn't help myself from cooking up some garden fresh zucchinis with mint and chilli, and Abla's fried cauliflower with tahini sauce. Rocket salad added the peppery greenness needed.

Later... things were going ok. As ok as can be expected. And there was this cake to bring us back to the table. It's good cake. The kind of cake that comforts, doesn't scream about itself but impresses quietly. I'm a big fan of yoghurt cakes and they're stupidly easy. That ain't a bad thing.

Yoghurt and Walnut Cake with Coffee Syrup
from Crazy Water Pickled Lemons

This cake is meant to be made the day before but I didn't read that until it was too late. It was still good on the day but better the next.

175g butter
175g caster sugar
2 eggs
175g plain yoghurt (preferably Greek style. the new Chris's yoghurt is awesome)
175g shelled walnuts
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
icing sugar

For the syrup:
275ml strong espresso coffee
75g caster sugar
2 tbsp brandy if you got it (I didn't)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C

2. Take 125g of the walnuts and chop em roughly. Yeah rough, they like it like that. Take the remainder and grind them in a mortar and pestle or somehow.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat. Stir in the yoghurt and nuts.

4. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the batter. Pour into a greased and lined tin about 8 inches across. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

5. Mix the coffee with the sugar and boil until it's reduced by half. Add the brandy.

6. While the cake is still warm pierce it all over with the skewer and pour the coffee syrup on. Leave in the tin overnight if you're that organised.

7. Unmould the cake and dust it with icing sugar. Serve it with more yoghurt or maybe even with the Leche Merengada you just made? (see below)

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