Monday, October 03, 2005

EBBP 2: The "Tasting"

The Cake
(scroll down for the recipe)

Now, if you're thinking, 'Ah, for once, a decent photo on Zabeena's blog' , I have to tell you that I've nicked it from Talia's, but I'm sure she won't mind, as it is depicting the Choccolate & Zucchini Cake she sent me as part of the parcel in the current EBBP 2 event. I had to 'borrow' hers as my picture simply did not do it justice (see below: Cheese, Cloves and Cake). (In the same way as my attempt at 'This is the way the cookie crumbles' photographs of Moira's American Cookies did not -- in fact, my kids forbade me to put them on the blog!! So if you want a peep and the recipe, go to Who Wants Seconds?)

As you can see, this cake looks absolutely scrumptious, and I'm telling you IT IS !!! If you like your cake as richly chocolatey and as moist and sumptious as possible, without the sickly sweet addition of icing and/or buttercream, this is the one for you! And if you simply love the subtle hints of luscious spices to set off and enhance the chocolate, look no further!! -- Even Frank (who is, as I've said before, the self-declared connoisseur of bakeware in this family) raved about the texture and taste! And when he likened it to the very best carrot cake (his favourite!), I let him in on the secret ingredient... The latter had been a discussion point between the boys: I didn't want to say what it was because they both HATE courgettes, so they had taken it upon themselves to guess what 'zucchini' might be... The closeness to German 'Zucker' had led them to believe that it was nothing more sinister or disgusting than sugar. (Clearly, their reasoning didn't stretch far enough to notice that sugar wouldn't exactly constitute a very 'secret' ingredient in a cake... )
Anyway, this cake is really sensationally good!
If there is only one cake you're going to make this autumn/winter, this has got to be the one!!

The Cheese

First of all, you need to know that I'm mad about cheese. Cheese would be a lot harder to give up than chocolate. Oh yes!! And this goat's and sheep's milk cheese is totally to die for!!! Unlike most goat's and/or sheep's milk cheese, this one is a hardcheese, processed like Gouda and matured. It is light in colour, crumbly in texture, and rich, salty and acidic in taste. It melts on your tongue in the way slivers of Parmesan do. now, I ate cheeses in France this summer as if there was no tomorrow (and as if there were no calories, in fact, as if I were not prone to obesity...), and I loved a lot of them, but none of them left me longing, hankering, pining as this one will, once I've finished it! This cheese has immediately climbed into my top ten of best cheeses of all time, and next time I go over to Germany, I will have to send my brother over the border into Holland to procure a piece of this cheese for me, or else!!

The Sausage

Think 'best charcuterie', think 'Continental smoked sausages', think 'air-dried', think 'cured'. Then add the pungent taste of cloves. Now, I love cloves, adore cloves, and I think of them as quintessentially autumnal. So, needless to say, I loved this sausage, too.

The Jam

Ah! This is just soooo special! First of all, I had never heard of dune berries before, so, my golly, what an experience this lovely woman is providing! And secondly, totally unbeknown to her, of course, dunes and berries in Holland, conjure up very specific holidays for me...

It must have been 1994, because I was pregnant with Ozzy, and in order to combine the 'obligatory' visit in Germany with a holiday, we had opted for a week in Zandvoort. Frank and I had gone to Germany first, and then drove over to Holland and met OH (oh for Heaven's sake, let's give him a name, let's call him Thomas - Tom thereafter - as Th. Hardy is one of his favourites) at Amsterdam airport. Busy executives like him sometimes only manage a week of holidays, and as fate would have it, most of those 7 days were spent in hospital!!! BUT -- this way, Frank, who was 5 at the time, gained a completely child-oriented holiday, which involved going into the dunes, flying a kite, and gathering the most delicious berries. (They were like blackberries, only infinitely more gorgeous, blacker and sweeter and bigger and juicier and all the rest of it, in short, the stuff that myths are made of .) -- It was only this year that Ozzy and I came across the scrap book of that holiday, and he -- Ozzy -- was very jealous, and demanded a similar holiday in Holland straight away...which wasn't an option, but as luck would have it, just a couple of weeks after finding the scrap book, completely out of the blue, I received a phone-call from the lovely lady we stayed with then, and I think we will soon be making plans for a visit.

But no, we did not, on that occasion, encounter orange dune berries. I don't know what they are, but they are certainly special. The consistency of the jam is rather like one of my own, more soupy than set. The colour is, wow, most autumnal, the most marvellous orange brown, full of sun rays and specks of orange. The taste is a very sweet pumpkin combined with a very tart redcurrant, and there are traces of ripe gooseberries, sweet chestnuts, rosehips and plump sultanas, soaked in rich wild honey.

Absolutely marvellous, absolutely unique. (And as an aside to Andrew: it goes spiffingly well with the Ernest & Julio Gallo Sierrra Valley 2004 Californian Chardonnay, which I happen to have at hand, right now...)

What an absolute treat!

So thank you ever so much, Talia, for providing me with such entirely new and exquisite taste sensations!!!

And thank you, Andrew, for organising it all and presenting the results so well !!!

For news of what I've done with the noodles and the tea, please return in a few days time.

In the meantime, here's the recipe for the most luxurious Chocolate & Zucchini Cake, as adapted by Talia from Elise of 'Simply Recipes'.

The Recipe:

2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour, unsifted1/2 cup cocoa (this make for a chocolaty but not over kill flavor, next time around, I might add a bit more, say another ¼ cup)2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon cinnamon3/4 cup soft butter2 cups sugar3 eggs2 teaspoons vanilla2 teaspoons grated orange peel2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (I added an extra ½ cup, could easily take another 1 cup)1/2 cup milk1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (add many many more walnuts)

Glaze (directions follow)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.1 Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.2 With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until they are smoothly blended. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel, and zucchini.3 Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition.4 Pour the batter into a greased and flour-dusted 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes (test at 45 minutes!) or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly. 5 Drizzle glaze over cake. Glaze: Mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth.


Andrew said...

Duneberry Jam and Californian Chard. An interesting combination but like you I have never had Duneberries before! Looks like I am missing out...

Zabeena said...

Ah well, there is a tiny amount left (and when I say tiny, I mean tiny), and if I come to the blogger meet-up, I'll bring it with me. (At the moment I'm toying with the idea, even though the date is really inconvenient...)
I've got something else for you, too.
And please explain to me why I keep having this urge to call you Andrew-darling, when I haven't even met you? (Though I have seen a photograph...)

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