Thursday 24 October 2013

Sponge or Swiss roll - a bit of an experiment

Idling thumbing through an old magazine and spying a chocolate sponge roulade I got the inspiration to make an old fashioned Sponge or Swiss Roll. Do you remember those? A lovely yellow sponge with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream? I think housewives used to make them because they looked rather grand, especially when you wanted to make an impression.
My mother was great at making sponges, and we were particularly good at scoffing large portions of said sponges when we had half the chance.  More often than not we got the left overs from afternoon teas, consequently not much to share between four greedy children!!!
I really cannot remember ever making a Sponge or Swiss Roll.
I needed cheering up, over the last week or so the weather in Welly has been disgusting, think gale force winds, persistent torrential rain, a wrecked broccoli patch and you get the picture. Even our dog refused to go for a walk!!
We are also looking after our neighbour's chickens (again) - for two weeks - which is wonderful. We feed them twice a day (along with a few left over scraps now and then) and we I have a daily supply of beautiful organic eggs just begging to be used!
Last weekend I felt  it was time to make a Sponge Roll.
Out came my battered 1973 Edmonds Cookbook. In spite of religiously following instructions the result was a bit of a flop - for a couple of reasons. My equally battered 40 year old Amco sponge roll tin had a slight bend in it, not a problem when you are baking slices but clearly a problem for sponges as the bowed bit made the sponge run down one end - result - one thin end of the roll that looked like a burnt tongue. The other end looked good! But not quite good enough to post a photo!
Suffice to say the Amco tin has been sent to the tip.
On turning out the sponge onto a tea towel dusted with icing sugar and carefully rolling the sponge it cracked, right down the middle - apparently a common occurrence if you don't cool the roll to the exact temperature before rolling! Mmmmm.... The good news was, once  smothered with whipped cream and freshly sliced strawberries you would never have known about the disaster that lay beneath! The sponge itself was just the right taste and texture.
However, back to the drawing board for a perfect Sponge Roll.....
I received my Cuisine magazine this week, and I couldn't believe it - on the front page was a Chocolate Roulade. 'It's a sign I said to my hubby!' I am going to give this recipe a go - maybe the chocolate will help make it perfect. And I am especially keen as they are running a competition for subscribers to bake something from this edition and write to them about the results. The prize is a dozen Daniel le Brun bubbles. Very timely for Christmas celebrations.
Definitely worth another go at that Sponge Roll.
I have bought a new Sponge Roll tin, the lovely fresh eggs are ready and I just have to perfect the rolling bit.... watch this space

Sunday 6 October 2013

A salad using Farro

Always on the lookout for something a little different, I spotted this recipe for Cypriot Salad in the latest Cuisine magazine. It's a great wholesome recipe for a vegetarian main or for meat lovers, a lovely accompaniment for chicken or lamb.
I thought it would be the perfect dish for a recent celebration lunch and (if there were leftovers) a great dish to take to a couple of vegetarians in the family who have recently had a new baby. We all know what those first few weeks are like! And yes, they were most grateful for the leftovers, this dish in particular as it contained no dairy (apart from the garnish of a dollop of yoghurt), perfect for their Vegan guest staying over to help with said baby.
It contains Farro, a grain I had not used before. It comes from the wheat family, a nice change from bulgar wheat, easy to cook, very filling and tasty.
I had a bit of a challenge sourcing Farro but finally found a 500g bag at Moore Wilson's, a great shop in Wellington where almost anything can be found. I would recommend a visit, think a 'toy shop' for cooks and food lovers!
I love experimenting with new ingredients, sometimes they end up languishing in my pantry but more often than not they end up as a favourite. In this case one to be used for special occasions as Farro is imported and not cheap! To find it, you might have to shop around. A good organic shop or health store will have it but I find once something has caught on - more people bring it in and the price tends to come down a bit.
I always smile to myself and think of my mother when I cook new dishes, she was not a fancy cook and once considered Couscous (instead of spuds) a 'bit posh'. I suppose in her day feeding a hungry family of five, (without all the fancy gadgets and the variety of food we have now) it was always a mission to get a meal on the table, on time, within a weekly budget. The only thing considered exotic or fancy back in those days would have been a stir fry!
Cypriot salad can be prepared the night before, by cooking the Farro and lentils and roasting the pumpkin. You can then assemble everything and add the dressing closer to serving. I really like all the nuts and seeds in this salad too, they make a lovely crunchy addition to the Farro's chewy texture. And if you love Moroccan flavours, you will love this. I have included the link to the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!,cypriot,salad