Friday, March 16, 2012

Carrot Cake

I am not a big fan of carrot cake but there are worshipers here who absolutely love carrot cake. One of them happens to be S, who loves only this cake in the whole world. Even the sexiest of chocolate cake doesn't make him go week-on-the-knees. I make the carrot cake every year for his birthday with little variations, but since the past few years, I've been making it with whole-meal flour. I make them with fresh pineapple & frost it with toasted coconut cream cheese icing or a simple carrot cake with hazelnuts/walnuts/pecans (like here) & lemon cream cheese icing. This year I adapted Donna Hays recipe and the cake was fabulously moist and perfectly balanced. This one is for keepers!!
Carrot Cake
220g brown sugar
185ml vegetable oil 
3 eggs 
225g whole-meal or AP flour 
1½ teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
½ teaspoon mixed spice 
½ teaspoon ground ginger 
About 5-6 med sized carrots grated 
60g chopped pecan /hazelnut or walnut 
60g sultanas 
Cream Cheese Icing 
250g cream cheese/mascarpone, softened 
3-4 tbsp icing sugar, sifted 
zest & Juice of ½ a lemon or 1-2tbsp lemon curd 
Preheat oven to 180°C . Place the sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2–3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger over the sugar mixture. Add the carrot, nuts and sultanas and mix until just combined. Pour into 2 greased 8 inch-round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in tin. 
 For the cream cheese icing: Beat the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add the icing sugar and lemon juice/lemon curd and process until smooth. Spread frosting on the cooled cake as desired. I simply used it to sandwich the layer and just on top.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Chablis Challenge Menu

I was recently sent 2 bottles of chabilis and the challenge was to pair it with the kind of food I would serve typically with the wine. I am not a big wine-cheese-food pair-er but do generally serve light creamy food with whites and tomato based food like pasta with reds. 
A little about the wine:
Product details: Domaine Bois d’Yer Chabilis 2007
Style: Dry
Grape variety: Chardonnay
Country of origin: France
The wines from this region of France, are a touch more austere mainly as the soils here are composed of light, sandy topsoil with the Kimmeridgian (limestone-rich) subsoil. The cool climate produces wines with more acidity with a beautiful fresh minerality which makes them the best wine with seafood. The wine has a pale yellow-green tinge, plenty of lovely green apple fruit on the palate, with notes of smokiness & zesty lime but still crisp. 
Product Details: Chabilis J. Moreau & Fils 2009
Style: Dry 
Grape variety: Chardonnay 
 Country of origin: France
 These grapes grow on Portlandien limestone plateaus which is essentially a cool, cloudy climate. Hence the wine is golden in color, tangy with flavors of green apple and honeydew. Very fresh, lite bodied and round mouth with a tangy and lightly spicy finish.
 I paired the Chabilis J. Moreau & Fils 2009 with cheese & the Domaine Bois d’Yer Chabilis 2007 with risotto.
 Cheese Platter with Cheese Ball, Grapes and Wine (Chabilis J. Moreau & Fils 2009)
 The cheese ball forms a perfect hors d'oeuvre along with crunchy vegetables,bread & cheese crackers. It is packed with flavors from mustard & herbs and has the crunch from chopped nuts.
For the Cheese Ball
Ingredients  1 tub of cream cheese/drained greek yoghurt
 mix of cheese or a sharp vintage cheddar
 (I have used a mix of Goats cheese, PiĆ© d’Angloys, Camembert)
 50-80g butter
 1tsp of dijon mustard or horesradish
 touch of honey if using horseradish or any spicy mustard
 a little grating of garlic
 chopped fresh herbs like basil or chives
 grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
 toasted walnuts
 Bring all the ingredients to room temperature and whip together in a mixer until light & creamy. Wrap in a cling and place into a deep bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours before un-moulding. Serve with sour dough/rye bread along with cheese crackers and some fresh grapes or figs.
Chabilis-Butternut Squash Risotto
 Yes, I used chabilis instead of the usual wine and absolutely loved the result. The general rule is to use the wine that you'd drink  to cook . Instead of standing & stirring the risotto, I baked it (tip from Donna Hay) as I enjoyed my wine with the cheese board.
 For the Risotto

 1tbsp butter
 300g carnaroli or arborio (i used carnaroli)
 1 onion and a clove of garlic, chopped
 500g chopped butternut squash
 one glass of chabilis or any white wine
 700ml of stock
 couple of sage leaves
 zafferano a pinch
 freshly grated parmesan
 20g butter
 touch of cream
 salt & pepper to taste
 Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat a heavy bottomed pan saute the onions & garlic in the butter. Add the rice, zafferano & sage leaves and coat well till transparent. Now add the wine and stir till it has evaporated. Now transfer the contents to a oven safe pot and pour the hot stock. Season well, give it a stir and bake for about 30min. At this point the risotto will look watery but put it back on heat and add the butter, parmesan & the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. It should be ready tender & creamy but the grains still firm in the center. Serve with more grated parmesan, fried sage leaves & wine.
We finished the meal with a very light but very decadent Deconstructed Eton Mess with berries. Meringue topped with dollops of thick and light cream and fresh berries.
 For the Deconstructed Eton Mess

 2-4 meringue
 handful of fresh berries
 creme fraiche/sour cream/cream/greek yoghurt
 vanilla extract
 some chopped pistachios or grated chocolate
 Whip the creme fraiche/sour cream/cream/greek yoghurt lightly, with vanilla. I used a mix of creme fraiche and diary free cream. Place the meringue onto a plate, spoon the cream mixture and serve with fresh berries, nuts/grated chocolate and a drizzle of honey, just enough to sweeten the palate. 

Disclosure: I am not a wine expert or sommelier and all my views  on the wine-food pairing, are my idea of how it works best for me. I was sent 2 bottles of the wine mentioned here as a part of the challenge. Many thanks for sending the wine.

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