Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hen's Night Antics

First thing's first: I have photos but to share them may result in me being sued.

More importantly, the hen's night was a blast. Imagine this: around 20 women, dressed up to the nines and looking forward to catching up, eating well and dancing the night away. We did all of that and then some. And no penis paraphernalia in sight. I think one or two were slightly disappointed with that, but oh well. I didn't organise it. My beautiful sisters did and they did a good job. 

Also the Harem Turkish Restaurant in Kingston is great. The food was fresh, tasty and plentiful. We started with a series of flavoursome dips that tasted like they'd just been made. Plenty of fresh Turkish bread was provided and even a pancake/flat bread sort of thing for me who couldn't eat the bread. I think it was made from chick pea flour. This was followed by what I'm told are Turkish lady fingers - flaky pastry with cheese inside and absolutely beautiful, or so I heard, and zucchini balls. Also a sort of a chicken dish in sauce, plenty of rice, salad and kebabs. This was followed by proper Turkish delight and I think baklava. Vegetarian meals were provided for those who asked. The servings were generous and the service was good. I plan to go back asap!

Half way through the meal a belly dancer showed up  to entertain the guests. At this point my mother with her broken foot and godmother with no broken feet decided that they could show the dancer a trick or two. I swear they got more male attention than the pro (possibly not for the right reasons but hey, it was that kind of night). And from that point, there was no going back. 

Thanks everyone who made it such a great night! 

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Wedding Cake Saga

With less than three weeks to go until the wedding, the time has come to 'get real' as Dr Phil would say, and admit that I do not have time to learn how to do white icing for the wedding cake. I've prepared the cake without a problem and I'm fairly proud of it. It's a rich, wheat-free, fruit cake that I've been dousing in brandy once a week. However, despite my best intentions, I've come to the conclusion that icing it with the required skill is best left to an expert.

Thank goodness I found myself pondering this out aloud at work last week. Linda from my office very helpfully suggested someone she knew who has set up a business and who is apparently brilliant. We shall see, but I really do have a lot of faith. It certainly could not be any worse than my efforts which could actually be pretty awful. I just don't know and the immediate weeks before one's wedding is no time to find out!

The decoration will be simple - I found a quirky cake topper that just suits me and Tim. The rest of the cake will be cupcakes organised in a number of tiers, but that I can manage without a drama. Haven't quite decided yet on the flavour but I'm thinking some sort of chocolate would be good. I guess I'll decide on the Thursday beforehand when I actually have to make cupcakes for 72 people. (What is wrong with me???!!!)

For now, think about this - in August of last year, a slice of Princess Diana's wedding cake sold for one thousand pounds. Will mine achieve the same greatness? I think not, but it should last until either our first wedding anniversary, or first child. Whichever comes first. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chocolate mud cake (a food group of its own)

In one week and three days, I will be on leave for a whole month. Not that I hate my job, because I actually love it, but I am counting down the days, hours and minutes until my freedom touches down at Canberra airport on Friday night. My last day will be the longest - a day-trip to Melbourne with the boss. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Today was a particularly long and treacherous day in the office; one that required careful maneuvering to avoid prickly obstacles such as colleagues best avoided (arch nemesis getting out of the lift) and the extra work that seems to flow into our pod like maple syrup onto Tim's cornflakes. (Yes. He really does that). My stance on the matter is that I can't tidy everything up before I leave if I keep getting new stuff. So far, nobody has pressed the point. 

It was also a day that required chocolate. I was soooo good too. I turned down my favourite choc-hazelnut brownie from the deli down the street, I didn't cave when I saw a new batch of double chocolate chip gluten free cookies at the coffee shop across the road. I didn't even open the box of chocolates I have stashed for the honeymoon (don't bother looking Tim - you'll never find them) or dip into the Italian hot chocolate mix. 

Only now have I cracked and it's been in the pathetic form of four Nestle dark chocolate melts. I have officially resorted to cooking chocolate. I hang my head in shame. 

I hope to salvage some self respect by sharing why the really good, organic, $40 a kilo dark chocolate is gone. I put it in a killer chocolate mud cake for my sister's birthday. This is divine, although Tim didn't find it sweet enough, but then he does eat maple syrup on corn flakes. You can really taste the luscious, good quality chocolate and cocoa in this cake and I think it goes brilliantly with the olive oil flavour. In fact, in the past I've used virgin olive oil and I think it tastes fantastic. If you don't like the flavour, just use unsalted butter and if you don't want to use liqueur, use milk instead. 

375g olive oil spread (or butter), softened
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa powder
200g dark chocolate, melted
3/4 cup creme de cacao (or milk)
3 eggs

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add eggs in one by one. Beat the whole thing until well combine. Fold through the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Combine well. Then fold through the chocolate and stir in the liqueur or milk. 

Spoon the mixture into a 22cm spring form tin lined with baking paper and bake in a 160ยบ C oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until cooked - use the skewer test. Cool it in the tin. I decorated with little hand-rolled truffles, but you can just dust with cocoa or icing sugar or leave it plain. I wouldn't ice this one personally, but it might suit the super sweet-tooths to do so.