Friday, December 24, 2010

Gingerbread peeps!

A guest post over at Bright Yellow World (thanks to Abby)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moroccan Christmas Feast 2: Dessert

So given that Moroccan food isn't entirely traditional for Christmas I figured that cheesecake would be perfect for dessert. Logical, no?

Plus, one of my best friends absolutely loves cheesecake, and well, I absolutely love him, so there you go!

This is the best cheesecake I've ever tasted. It's adapted from a recipe from Good Taste Magazine.

What you need:

1 x 250g packet of sweet biscuits (I used Arnott's Nice biscuits but I think gingernuts would be divine too)
125g unsalted butter, melted
750g cream cheese at room temperature (3 blocks! Ok go for a run around the block then resume reading)
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Finely grated lemon, orange or lime rind (I used a microplane)
2 tablespoons of plain flour (if you forget to add this, your cheesecake will still be delicious, I promise)
4 eggs
300ml of sour cream
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, or strawberries, or bluebies... mangoes... peach slices

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 160°C.
Line the base of a 23cm springform pan with non-stick baking paper.

Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and mix.

Transfer to the lined pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the biscuit mixture firmly over the base and up the sides of pan, leaving 1cm bare at the top of the pan. Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and citrus rind in a large bowl until just combined. Beat in the flour. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. Stir in the sour cream until just combined.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the base. Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours or so. Don't worry if it's still looking a bit shaky in the middle when you turn the oven off - a moist cheesecake is much better than a dry one! Turn oven off. Leave the cheesecake in oven, with the door ajar, for 2 hours or until cooled completely (this is supposed to prevent your cheesecake from cracking; in my experience, it will crack if it wants to crack. So don't worry!) Place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill.

Top the cheesecake with the raspberries, or you could use blueberries, strawberries, mixed berries... you get the idea. Most delicious!

Grace in small things #4

1. It's Christmas time
2. I have a WHOLE WEEK OFF from midnight tonight!!!
3. Champagne
4. Gingerbread and rocky road... just to make sure I can't fit into my bikini
5. Sufjan Stevens' Christmas carols. I love you Sufjan

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cake school

Seven hours of cake decorating... this was my tax return present to myself this year.

I got up at the crack of dawn, not a small feat as I've had the man flu this week (like the normal flu but so, so much worse... you know how much sicker men get when they get colds, right? That was me). Anyway, I took my cold and flu tablets, jumped in Wendy, drove to Sydney and spent seven long hours slicing, brushing with syrup, ganaching, reganaching, and ganaching once again. Then chiselling my cake into a perfect three layer cylinder. Then a bit more ganache. Then the icing! Then applying the icing and smoothing and polishing! Then colouring! Then applying the decorations! And icing the board! But it was just so much fun. And lo! The exploding stars cake!

We hosted the last station of a moveable tapas party on the same night, so it was perfect! Lots of people, lots of music, lots of dancing, and serious chocolate cake...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grace in small things #3

1. Family!
2. Old and wonderful friends!
3. Sunshine!
4. Weddings!
5. My night shifts are finally over!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The young ones

Had a wonderful weekend of family and joy! Went back to my hometown, met my newest neice, and went to the wedding of my cousin, whom I've known all my life. Saw family I haven't seen (and have sorely missed) for 5 years!

1/ Dinner and precious catch-ups with one of my dearest friends
2/ Lunch with my Dad
3/ Meeting little tiny Ayva, 15 days old (I know! Why the 'Y'? Seriously!)
4/ Seeing my cousin's bride step out of her stretch Hummer (Seriously!)
5/ Watching my Uncle Sam play guitar and sing their bridal waltz, 'The Young Ones', by Cliff Richard. Never thought that Cliff could make me cry! Pure family magic. Wonderful moments.
6/ Time with my Mum!
7/ My wonderful partner sharing it all.


And, to top it all off... my run of nights has ended! I am no longer a creature of the darkness! Bring on the sunshine!

And, the Christmas tree... this week we're going to find one, our very first Christmas tree! That will hopefully make the whole house smell like pine needles and delight.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grace in small things #2

1. Christmas shopping
2. Sunshine
3. Menus to plan
4. Strawberries to plant
5. Making lists, checking them twice!
6. The new Sharon Jones album

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

After the rain

Strolling with my wonderful old buddy this past weekend in rainy Melbourne, we came upon a gorgeous rose-strewn garden: