Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cornmeal Rosemary Cake with Pine Nuts and Orange Glaze

cornmeal cake



This is me, trying my hardest to be a lovacore and not  succeeding! Eating  locally makes sense. It's a way to build a more self reliant  economy. It is also better for the environment since imported food uses  more fossil fuels to transport it to supermarkets than locally grown  produce.  For an entertaining yet thought provoking account of one family's attempt to adopt a lovacore or local foods only lifestyle, I highly recommend that you read the book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and  Camille Kingsolver. This book documents the Kingsolver-Hopp family's attempt to ONLY eat seasonal food that they   grew themselves or that was produced in their neighbourhood.

After reading this book last year, I immediately became a  convert to the church of Barbara. I fully embraced the idea of a kitchen garden. I wanted to make my own cheese, can my own vegetables and make jam.  I started by planting a herb  garden. I even bought a few vegetable seedlings and manure from the agricultural depot.  Yes. I was going to do my part  to prevent global warming and rising  food prices.

I started thinking.  Maybe I could also raise  chickens, start an apiary, rear cows  - no wait, I'm afraid of cows. How about goats?  They give milk from which I could make my own cheese. I shared these thoughts of a greener world with my other 'saner'  half who patiently reassured me that while it was indeed a noble dream, my utopia fantasy was somewhat flawed. First off we live in an apartment complex - not a farm. Also, I  already have a job which makes the business of rearing a family challenging enough without wanting to add goats to the mix.....Hmm, all valid points. Bummer, don't you just hate when  the voice of reason rains on your parade.

cornmeal cake


Still every little bit counts. I pressed ahead  with  my herb garden now dead dormant  because of the  current drought conditions.  I vowed no more purchasing of strawberries or  cherries. Easy enough, since they are too expensive to be anything more  than a rare extravagance in the same way that one treats oneself to an expensive box  of chocolates. But how do I wean myself off apples and grapes? We must have  survived before without them since I remember in times past that they were a special treat purchased only at Christmas time.

My righteous,  sustainable, local-food supporting zeal was further tested when it came to making what has become a favourite cake of this family.  Pine  nuts are definitely not local. They aren't even sold here.  I acquired this ingredient in the usual manner via Facebook and my sister. I posted to her wall. the urgent message. SEND NUTS.   She was kind enough to mail them to me.  I justified my  weakness for this foreign import by rationalizing that the plane which brought the letter sized package of pine nuts was on it's way here with the mail anyway. Even  Ms.  Kingsolver is forced to admit  that there were some imported items, like coffee and  spices, which  she couldn't live without.

While I  may not be able to live as austere a lovacore lifestyle as did Barbara  Kingsolver, her book has given me much to think about as I try to be a more responsible citizen of this world.  She has made me take a good hard look at my shopping habits with a view to  making  improvements. So tell me, do you support the local food movement and is there any imported food that you  just can't live without?
 

Cornmeal Cake

Cornmeal Rosemary Cake with Pine Nuts and Orange Glaze
*  adapted from the Best of Fine Cooking (Fall) 2007

yeild: one 9 -  inch cake

The Cake

1 1/2 cups all - purpose flour
3/4  cup cornmeal
1/3 cup toasted, coarsely chopped pine nuts
1  Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 TBS finely grated orange zest
1  tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup cream cheese, at  room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2  cup (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, melted

The syrup
1/2  cup fresh orange juice
2-3 tbs sugar

the Glaze

1  sprig fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
2  tbs fresh orange juice
1 tsp, finely grated orange zest


Make  the cake: Butter a 9 X 2 inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a  round of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. Position rack in the center of the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In  a medium bowl, mix the flour with the cornmeal, pine nuts, rosemary,  orange zest, baking powder and the salt.

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer and whisk the cream cheese to soften it. Add the eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed to combine. Add the sugar  and mix until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the dry  ingredients into the wet ingredients. Then fold the rest of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth. Still using the rubber spatula stir in the melted butter until blended.

Scrape batter into prepared tin. Bake for 40 - 45 mins until the cake is a nice golden brown or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out  looking a bit moist and the sides have begun to pull away from the pan.

Make the Orange Syrup
While the cake is baking mix the orange juice  and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar  dissolves. Use 1, 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar depending on the sweetness  of your oranges and to your taste. Remove from heat.

Cool  cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a plate. Remove  the parchment paper and invert cake again onto a cardboard round or  another cake plate. Poke ho;es all over the top of the cake with a  wooden skewer or toothpick. While the cake is still warm brush it with  the warm orange syrup. Give the syrup time to soak into the cake. Use up  all the syrup. Let the cake cool completely.

Make the Glaze.
Boil a small saucepan of water. Get a small  bowl of ice water ready. Put rosemary in boiling water for one minute to  blanch them. Remove with a slotted spoon and set them in the ice water.  Drain and spread them on a paper towel to dry.

In a  bowl whisk the confectioner's sugar  and orange juice until smooth and  then mix in the blanched rosemary and the orange zest.

When  the cake is cool transfer to a wire rack set over some wax paper. Pour  glaze over the cake. or glaze over the cake then transfer to a cake  plate. Sprinkle with orange peel and rosemary. Remove rosemary garnish before eating as the woody texture can be a bit sharp.

The texture of this cake is slightly grainy due to the cornmeal. I like the texture but make sure and use a finely ground cornmeal if you think that might bother you. This is a perfect tea-time cake. I love it with a cup of coffee. It's a perfect balance of sweet and tart with subtle,  almost minty notes from the pine nuts.

NB.  Most American cake recipes call for a lot more sugar than suits my tastes. I usually only use about  3/4 cup sugar where an American recipe would call for 1 cup. The original recipe asks for 1 1/3 cups sugar. I have left the original measurement because I know that many people prefer a sweeter cake. However,  I prefer to  use  just one  cup of sugar for this.

Photobucket

Friday, February 12, 2010

All Heart, No Hassle Valentine's Day Breakfast

Heart Breakfast


You have heard it before. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast kicks starts your metabolism and helps you shed unwanted pounds. Eating a high fibre breakfast is also beneficial for people wanting to lower their cholesterol.

Despite my reading constantly about the importance of breakfast, I am one of those people who struggles with it. It is my least favourite meal and the one I most often skip. Most mornings, I'm quit content with only a cup of coffee or cocoa. Some mornings just a glass of water will do. You see, my metabolism actually rebels at being kicked started.

Healthy Heart sandwich

I am usually up before the crack of dawn to prepare myself for the day ahead. I have never been a morning person and obviously neither is my stomach as I feel physically ill if I eat anything before 10:00am. Definitely a late riser that stomach of mine - lucky bugger.

This year Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday and the kids will be sleeping over by my mother-in-law's. Whoo Hoo! I get to sleep late. By the time I wake up, I know my stomach will be in the mood for this simple yet delicious breakfast.

I suppose, I could celebrate Valentine's Day by preparing something that is a bit more extravagant. However, I am sure anyone with very young kids will agree that keeping meals low-key is always more enjoyable than something more elaborate which leaves you stressed.

heart sandwich


Here is an ingredient list for this easy open-faced sandwich. I don't expect that you'll be needing instructions, will you?
sliced bread (rye or whole wheat lightly toasted)
2 slices apple or pear
low-fat or non-fat cream cheese with onion and chives
lime or lemon juice (brush on fruit slices so that they don't turn brown)
strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrent , or my current favourite wild hibiscus preserves

Photobucket

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Intermission

As an entire country rushes headlong towards the mother of all street parties, it has been  difficult impossible to think about anything other than Carnival! Love it or hate it, the energy and the excitement is unavoidable.

Carnival in T&T is so special to all ah we
Like we need blood in we vein
That's how we feel about Port-of-Spain (*capital city of Trinidad)
When the posse dem come in town
Beatin' pan and a bongo drum
Is madness everywhere
Carnival is your true freedom
Make a noise and a joyful sound and jump up in the air

                                         

Here is another video which perfectly descibes what many of us feel like doing this week.



And now having seen this, don't you think bouncy castles should be mandatory in all offices? I'm so gonna ask my boss!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I'm in love...

Wild Hibiscus Cheesecake


Here. Eat this.

Nyam nyam nyam....

Do you know what you are eating?

Uhmmm, yeah. Cheesecake with a blueberry topping.

Cheesecake, yes. Blueberry, no.

Cherry?

No.

Some kind of berry?

No. It's sorrel.

For real?

For REALLY real.

It's good.

Yeah, I know.

Happy Valantine’s Day

Cheesecake (Sorrel)


Photobucket

Monday, February 1, 2010

Here are links to some of my favourite blogs.

Caribbean Food Bloggers 

Candi Cooks
Come Taste This
Frangipani and Gingerlily
Life Span of a Chennette
Simply Tia
Simply Trini Cooking
Tastes Like Home
The Crucian Contessa
TriniGourmet





Yummy Food Blogs (Rest of the World)

 Africa

 Aaplemint: Gorgeoues photos and deliciouis recipes from Kate in Ghana


Asian
My Little Space: Blogging out of Malaysia with the most creative uses for tapioca desserts that I have ever seen

Ravenous Couple:  I am learning all about Vietnamese food from this couple who now live in the America but  were originally from North and South Vietnam..

Australia
Not quite Nigella: Lorraine scores the most interesting interviews about food

American
Cate's World Kitchen - Head over to Cate's Kitchen for some delicious and nutrious meals. I especially like her Asian inspired dishes.
Duo Dishes
HomemadeS 
Mangio da Solo The lovely Memória eats alone but the delicious stuff to come out of her kitchen is really meant for company. Can I come over?

Ravenous Couple
Serendipity - Ser*en*dip*i*ty (noun) Not finding what one is searching for, but finding something better. I prefer Kate's meaning. She says it's serene with a little dipity added. I agree.


Great Britain
Coffee & Vanilla: Margot will tell you that she is Polish but don't let her fool you her recipes make me wonder if in a past life she might have been West Indian. Oh and she is also a very talented photographer


Middle Eastern
Taste of Beirut Lebanese recipes for home cooking


Caribbean Blogs ( Non Food)
Guyana Girl
This Beach called Life
Wuzdescene
Uncommon Caribbean