Saturday, 6 December 2008

Sausages and Cake, Nom Nom

I haven't been eating quite as healthy as I should in the last week. Though it has been rather delicious. We ate two meals of sausages and I had three kinds of cake. Four if you count this morning's muffin. And then there was the lemon meringue pie. (Post now updated with photo.)

To make a meal of the sausages, I assembled one of those briami style potato, onion, zucchini and tomato bakes. I used new potatoes, and just a little oregano and the rest of the roasted garlic for flavouring. Then I threw the sausages on top for the last 20 minutes. I'm very taken with this method: it's very tasty and very adaptable, and seems like less work to me than making mash and a green. It's certainly less washing up: it's a one dish meal. Two, if you add a salad or extra green. We ate it with gorgeous pork, pine-nut and fetta sausages from Meatways in Kambah, with a mesclun side salad. The leftovers we had on another night with Poachers Pantry smoked lamb sausages and green beans.

The cake - well, that was a bit of a story. I needed something for my "Find" column, and someone suggested Cherry Seed cupcakes at Ginninderra. So I went off there with Beth one lunchtime, only to discover that they'd already been written up by the person who did the column when I was in China. Argh! Well, we were there, so we couldn't waste the trip. We had to buy cupcakes. And eat them. They were good.

Read on for more about cake and about the EPIC markets.

Cherry Seed is a specialist cupcake place. It's in the rougher gardeny part of Ginninderra Village, near the Green Herring and Lilitu books. It's fitted up in an old-fashioned country look, which fits the retro concept of the cupcakes perfectly. They serve tea and coffee, and their own cupcakes and cookies. You can pre-order any amount, but if you just drop in there on spec they limit you to six. They're about $3.50 each, or there's punnets of mini cupcakes. They look lovely: a cupcake has its own appeal that a slice of cake doesn't quite match. The discreteness of the item gives a very personal feel to the indulgence.

I had one chocolate cake, and one blueberry, yoghurt and almond cake. And then I spoiled the discreteness by cutting them in half. The bloke enjoyed half the chocolate one, and agreed with me that it was a good texture and definitely a much better cake than the microwave experiment. It managed to be both richly flavoured and light. Good stuff. I wasn't so impressed with the buttercream topping, though. It seemed excessive, and much less flavoursome than the cake. I thought the same about the blueberry one. This cake was different: more solid and a little granular from the almond meal, it sat somewhere between friande and sponge cake in texture. A very good cake indeed, but again the buttercream was the dull part. I think I'd have preferred a simple glaze icing in both cases.

My next cake came from Knead at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. I was out there yesterday with my mates, buying some Herbie's spices from Cooking Co-ordinates to make up an Xmas present to post off to the US. Otherwise we weren't shopping much. For me it was just a quick visit to Eco Meats, and some bread and coffee and cake from Knead. Knead Patisserie is quite new at the markets - it's indoors, around the middle, not far from the Chinese BBQ place and the health food shop. I heard about it first from Ninaribena the Canberra Stylist, who has lots of lovely photos.

There's a few casual ironwork tables outside the shop, a large table inside - which is where we sat to drink our coffees. I had a peach and coconut cake, which was quite delicious: moist and fruity, with large threads of coconut. The coffee was quite remarkably good - one of Canberra's best, in my opinion. Props to the gorgeous big lady with the red hair who operated the machine! The sourdough bread that I took home is a good robust and chewy white loaf, with a crisp crust. At $5 a loaf it's perfectly respectable: I didn't think any of the prices were unreasonable for what was on offer.

The final "cake" of the week was a mixed berry muffin from Rosa at the EPIC market this morning. I was disappointed in that one - it was a bit underdone, which made it damp and stodgy. But don't let that put you off Rosa altogether: she makes beautiful Florentines and lasagna and gnocchi.

Well, it's been delicious, but this week is going to be a bit healthier, I hope! I've just got back from the farmers' market with beans, cherries, raspberries, bok choy, salad greens, watercress, basil, parsley, tomatoes, pumpkin, garlic, olives, cauliflower, apples, carrots and asparagus. The early stone fruit are in, but mostly small and hard. One stall looked good for nectarines and peaches, but they had a long queue. Anyway the bloke doesn't eat them, and that kilo of gorgeous big fat dark cherries isn't going to eat itself, you know.

A quick Xmas note: the market will be held as normal next week. It will be at the racecourse on Dec 20th. There will be a mini market on Tuesday 23 Dec, 2-5 at Kamberra Wines on Northbourne Ave. The normal pattern will resume on Sat 10th January, after Summernats. With Xmas coming up, there's a few seasonal items on sale. There's a tree stall - $45 for a very bushy and well-shaped medium sized tree, larger and smaller available. There's puddings and cakes and mince pies. And some of the gourmet food producers have got special gift packages. 1kg of maple roasted pecans, or caramel macadamias? I'd die! I have a terrible weakness for sweet nuts.

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to cook this week. I was pleased to see a nice cheap cauli since the wonderful Clotilde has just posted a recipe for Saffron Roasted Cauliflower. I'm also toying with the idea of a proper vitello tonnato, and a European variant on my Thai beef salad, and something involving a roast chicken. Or maybe a Hainan chicken rice. I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

infoaddict said...

I found Knead just after they opened, in our semi-weekly Belco market visit. Like you, I was impressed by their little sweet things, and it was a lovely place to sit just before closing time on a Friday afternoon (after I'd collected a box of cabbage leaves for the chooks from behind the markets). Coffee excellent. Servers generous - as I was just sitting their chatting, they handed me over a pecan tart that had touched the blueberry meringue and got blue stuff on it ("we can't sell this; want it?") which was deliciously chewy and surprisingly unsweet, and before I knew it I'd eaten the lot. And I love their distressed French-look decor :)

I didn't know there was a name for "one-pan cooking"!! I do it the other way around - cook up whatever meat is being cooked, prepare veggies (whatever's in the fridge or garden; which generally means cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs, snow peas/beans, frozen peas, asian greens, etc). Then take the meat off to rest, deglaze pan with appropriate wine (red or white depending on meat, mood, or availability; I've been known to use cider, too, esp. if it's pork chops), and bung in veggies. Cook until desired colour, texture, etc; add herbs/spices/flavours as desired.

Bung everything on a plate and serve.

Not sophisticated, but (generally) tasty, filling, and quick; these are vital ingredients during a working week with a 75km each-way commute. Hard to completely bugger up as long as one tries to under-cook the veggies; this generally means perfection during the last-second scramble for plates and cutlery and so on.

And only one pot to clean. Even with a dishwasher, this is a bonus. It's astonishing how many pots I can go through in a week of after-work cooking ...