My first piece of cookware I bought for Mum

PARTING WITH MY COINAGE

My grandparents lived a leafy street away from the circus tent topped shopping centre of Floreat Park. When I visited their home on Thursdays I was allowed to go to the shops unattended. I would peruse the stores wide eyed and wanting. For the first 8 years my focus and saved copper 1 and 2 cent pieces would be handed over the counter at the heady chocolate scented Candy Cabin. As my headed into my teens, my tastes matured, and I picked up a weekend job my attention was drawn to the homewares store, “Affaire “( it was the ‘wannabe chic’ ’80s darlings). Here, the sophisticated owner with coiffed hair would wave her Cruella de Vil arms around as if to show with one fell swoop all the shiny trinkets she had on offer. I would spend hours in her store, knowing that my mother loved the expensive Lladro figurines and I would wistfully turn over the delicate white Wedgwood china……wishing, like kids do that I could impress my mum with an exquisite purchase as a small token of my giant love for her.

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Thursday, after Thursday the ritual would start over. A nose pressed against the window, and then slowly being drawn in by the golden throw of the shop lights and the displays of considered homewares. What would I like to give most to my Mum? What would make my thirteen year old heart swell with pride? I found it in a German clay baker. As I ran my hands along the decorated clay top I could feel the ancient folk images bump against my fingers. I had nailed it…..something warm, attractive, different yet practical. I had found the Romertopf. I tore open the yellow pay envelope and prised from it two burnt orange paper notes ($20 notes for the plastic noted generation)…..and this, ladies and gents was my first foray into the love of kitchenware. Happy Mother’s Day Mumma Marales and Carol!

WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE GERMANS DO

Romertopf is a german clay baker which means Roman Pot. And clay pot cooking is as ancient method that lends it self to succulent flavoursome meals.One of the original ways to slow cook, place ingredients into the pot and place in the oven on low. You can ever do so before heading to work, and then arrive home to a steaming fall of the bone pot of deliciousness.

Nicely gift boxed with recipes and ideas. Perfect for a gift or great way to cook this winter.

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A Sweet Easter Exchange

Back in the day…when I lived in a neighbourhood of towering white gums and was surrounded by original worker’s cottages (mine was a blacksmith’s and the kitchen had a quaint slope to it)….I enjoyed the company of my neighbours. Next door was 102 year old Mrs Jones and her son Tom, two doors up was a grumpy foul mouthed old lady who used to kick my dogs, a doss house was next door that was frequented by wannabe musos who’d strum their guitars late into the night fueled by joints and coopers ale. We’d have conversations across our fences munching on figs that came from an ancient old tree or stand out on the road chewing the fat as the sun slid down over the hill.
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Across the road lived Anna, a middle aged blonde lady that spoke with her polish accent in the front of her mouth. One Easter we had a gathering in my backyard.  Anna, marched across the road, as that was the only way she seemed to know how to move. In her hand she carried a cake…”Here is something for you, this is what we have for Easter in Poland”

The Sernik is also know as the Viennese Cheesecake in Poland it isn’t Austrian and has be known by this moniker for hundreds of years in Poland.

POLISH EASTER CHEESECAKE

The taste of Anna’s Sernik has never left me. We’ve both since moved on and I across a continent. However the beauty of heart made food gift…it never leaves you. I never got the recipe from her instead though have sourced one from the Examiner. It comes from Agi Graczyk, a Pole who now resides in LA as a personal chef.Polish cheesecake “sernik”

  •     2.5 lbs ricotta well drained of any residual liquid
  •     6 free range eggs, separated
  •     1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft (preferably organic)
  •     1 cup raw cane sugar
  •     1 Tbsp potato starch – try arrowroot as a substitute
  •     2 tsp baking powder
  •     1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  •     pinch of salt
  •     1/4 cup raisins soaked in 3-4 Tbsp good rum, then drained (save the rum)
Using a food processor, combine the cheese and butter into a coherent mass. Use a  kitchenaid or food mixer beat egg yolks and sugar together until light and creamy, saving 1 Tbsp of sugar for the egg whites. Add the eggs with sugar into the cheese mixture along with potato starch, vanilla extract, drained raisins and baking powder. Mix well.In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, adding the remaining sugar at the last minute along with a pinch of salt. Gently combine the cheese mixture with the egg whites. It should take you about 5 minutes. You do not want to mix it rapidly, as that will deflate the eggs and your cake will end up dense and flat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grab a 9-inch round baking pan, grease its bottom and sides with a little butter and dust with a touch of flour. Pour the batter into the form and insert into your hot oven. Bake for 40 minutes and check the cake. If it’s getting too brown on top, cover it with a piece of tin foil. Bake another 10-20 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack open its doors and let the cake sit inside for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the cake and let it cool on a rack inside the form.

When cool, dust the top with powder sugar for decoration, or top with chocolate ganache as in the photo above

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Chocolate ganache

  • 3 oz dark chocolate (70% coco)
  • 2 Tbsp reserved rum
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

In a double boiler slowly melt the chocolate and gently combine it with all the ingredients. Make sure the water in your pot is only gently simmering (not boiling) and it does not touch the bowl you’re melting the chocolate in. When the chocolate becomes silky and smooth, let it cool for a few minutes and them carefully distribute it all over your cheesecake. Store the cake in a refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.