Friday, March 30, 2012

Poulet Vallee d'Auge

“Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away
Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.”

― Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games 

 I am happy to say that the last few nights have been filled with dream-feeds, snuggles and sleep-laced sighs only. For now at least, there are no night terrors lurking in the shadows.

I thought the above quote was fitting not only because of its reference to dreams, but because of it being part of the Hunger Games trilogy. As you know, the sound of my heartbeat is strangely akin to the sound of a turning page; books run through my veins. Unfortunately, the love of reading is not one of the things my husband and I have in common; video games are where he finds his escape. So imagine my surprise when he turns to me and asks, 'so what is that hunger game book about?' Granted, it was the release of the film that peaked his interest, but whatever gets the fish on the hook, hey?

I gladly lured him in enough that he actually picked up the audio books and listened to them. And after a couple of chapters he would stop and we'd have a discussion about what had happened, something I have been waiting 8 years to do with him; talking about books with the love of my life made me grin from ear to ear and head to toe. Alas, he has finished with the trilogy (he thought it was OK, but enjoyed the first film), and now I am thinking of what else I could 'catch' his interest with - any suggestions?

Because I was so pleased with our nightly book discussions I decided to whip up something a little special for his dinner on the last night, and luckily, it tasted as good as its intention.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 55mins.
total: 1 hour.

taste: 4.5/5. A hit with hubby.

Unfortunately I cannot comment on the taste, but after only two mouthfuls, the husband was already exclaiming that it was really good and he would want it again. The recipe above is my adapted version, original recipe is below.

would I make it again: Yes.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chocolate and peanut butter cake

My night's still include many wakings to tend to my little one's voracious hunger which, after almost seven months, continues to conquer her desire to stay within her dreams.
But something new and horrifying has begun to plague our darkest hours together; night terrors.

Recently I am awakening to the bloodcurdling screams of a tiny tot, eyes open in fear, body wrenching in distress. Despite being beside her she is unable to be soothed by my touch or my face as she remains trapped in between the sleep and wakeful states. Luckily most end within seconds after which she awakes as if nothing has happened and settles in for a quick drink. Unfortunately there are some that even the brightest of lights can't seem to penetrate and I have to simply hold her to my chest and wait for her to find her own way through the confusion.

After a call to my own mother, I discovered that both my brother and I used to experience these terrors frequently. Determined to hopefully allow my sweetheart a night filled with only the loveliest dreams I set about eliminating any possible cause I could (lack of sleep, negative people, lights), some I could not, like her current bout of teething (which I believe may be the most likely cause). I also tried many alternative suggestions of prevention such as cleansing our home and using amethyst and rose quartz to bring about peaceful slumber. Last night she only exhaled one brief cry before immediately falling back into dreamland. Hopefully it was also the last.

To those with children, have you had any experience of night terrors? If so, what did you find helped?

Needless to say that after a night filled with these startling occurrences I was a little rattled during the day and found myself needing some soothing of my own. For me, that meant baking something rich and somewhat ludicrous for just two people to consume. With my little Valentine watching from her playgym, practicing to crawl (which she also hilariously does in her sleep) I beat and folded, spooned and baked, frosted and licked this beast of a cake into existence. After which I felt much better.

ease: 4/5.
prep time: 26mins to cook cake and make peanut butter frosting.
cooking time: 45mins to cool cakes to frost with frosting and ganache.
total: 1hour & 11mins.

taste: 3.5/5. Holy heck that's a whole lotta sugar!

All together this packs a saccharine punch that almost gave me a tummy ache (that being said I did cut my regular size slab slice, so for this I would suggest a petit slice).

Let's start with the chocolate cake - delicious, moist, sticky and always seconds away from falling to pieces. Luckily I took Deb's suggestion of sticking it in the fridge before assembling, and I still had a tiny bit break off. That aside it was a delicious cake.

The peanut butter frosting - mmm yummy! Fluffy, buttery, sweet and full of peanuty goodness. Loved it.

The ganache set perfectly mid drip (cake was cold when I poured it on) and looked fab. I used a 70% dark chocolate which was too dark for this cake, I really think that peanut butter goes best with milk chocolate, the dark was too bitter, and I preferred the cake without it.

The cake was lovely, just too sugary for my liking.

would I make it again: Yes, after the requests from other family members to make it again I will definitely give it another shot, perhaps with a milk chocolate ganache this time and a touch less sugar overall.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jamie Oliver's chorizo & tomato salad

My days seem to be getting longer. 

The little one has begun teething again, something which has made me seriously question the necessity of having teeth. As much as I wish I could take her pain from her, I just offer unlimited cuddles, a string of chilled toys that soothe the gums and a basket of reassuring smiles and kisses to get her through till nap time where she happily wanders off to dreams and sleep, drunk on mummy's milk.

In these moments, where the house becomes eerily filled with the silence of a sleeping baby, I head to the kitchen to whip up something to satisfy my hunger and give me energy for another round of baby-soothing. Sometimes I am lucky enough to share lunch with my husband, this was one of those days.

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 5mins.
cooking time: 15mins.
total: 20mins.

taste: 4/5. Rather tasty.

As expected, hubby loved the chorizo component the most, but he did eat all the tomatoes, something he hardly does. I served ours with toasted Turkish bread and marinated goat's cheese.

would I make it again: Yes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Walnut cake

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

As much as we wrung every drop of sunshine from this sweet Summer's sojourn, it was Autumn's arrival that I was eagerly anticipating. Of the twelve months, March is my most treasured. Although it contains no birthdays nor festive holidays, I love it so for the way nature stirs within its embrace. 

Forever changing and yet always pleasantly wanted, the weather is best in Autumn's beginning. 

To celebrate both the beginning of my beloved season and also, my little loveheart's 6months in the world (or as I prefer to call it, her half-birthday), we will be scurrying away to the seaside to spread our toes in the sand should the sun decide to share its warmth, or snuggling up inside to play peek-a-boo and sip hot chocolate. 

How are you planning to spend this first weekend of Autumn (or Spring for those up north)?

ease: 4.5/5.
prep time: 15mins.
cooking time: 40mins.
total: 55mins.

taste: 3.5/5. Nutastic.

You really need to love walnuts to enjoy this cake, it's basically 'essence of walnut'.
It is gloriously moist with a crunchy topping and a hint of sweetness.

would I make it again: No. I prefer a Greek version of walnut cake that my grandmother makes.