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Mother's Day!

Mother’s Day looks different for everyone.

How we show someone we love them – whether that’s our birth mother, our adopted mother, another mother figure who’s played a significant role in the shaping of our lives, or just another woman in your life that you love – can take many shapes and forms. It might be taking the time out of our day (and theirs) to spend some quality time with them, it might be finding a small meaningful gift to give them – whether it’s handmade or not, it might be surprising them by cleaning the house or car, it might be making them their favourite meal, it might be telling them you love and cherish them, or it could be something as simple as a hug.

I think personally for me, cooking something for mum that’s new or a favourite is a definite win on Mother’s Day, especially if there a bunch of my family there to share it with. I always plan for a shared meal with my mum, dad and any one else in my family that’s around at the time (like my sister and her 3 kids, and my other siblings if they’re in town). One of the rules my mum put in place for our family growing up was having at least one shared family meal a day (usually dinner), because for my mum that shared meal was a time to reconnect with each other and spend some time sharing important things that had happened during the day.

Even now, she’s the reason my parents, my sister (along with her kids) and I get together to have a family night once a week. Even though the conversation at the table may include some very random (and sometimes confusing) stories from my 4 year old nephew about a four-wheeler or a crocodile he saw at the wildlife park - or sometimes things that I'm certain never happened, or even just a run down of my nieces’ day at school it is always entertaining and usually (if all the kids are in a good mood!) a good time with my family. I do cherish those times, even if sometimes it can be a challenge with the kids competing in who can tell the best story or whose turn it is to speak about their day.

Here’s a recipe for a delicious Meringue Layer Cake that you might want to make for your mum (or whoever you like) this weekend. It can be a little tricky, but I promise you no matter what it looks like (things might get a bit rustic), it’ll taste delicious in the end.

meringue-cake-catering-brisbane

Meringue Layer Cake

Ingredients

Meringue Layers

  • 4 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 6 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 cups white caster sugar
  • ½ cup (60g) almond meal

Filling

  • 400g chocolate
  • ½ cup (125ml) pouring cream
  • 1½ cups (375ml) thickened cream

Other things you’ll need

  • Electric mixer
  • Baking paper 
  • Oven trays
  • Something that’s round and 15-20cm in diameter (like a plate or round cake tin)
  • Pencil or pen
  • Microwave safe bowl/jug or a bowl and saucepan that’ll work as a double boiler
  • Spatula
  • Cake stand or large plate for assembling and serving

Method

  1. Prepare your baking trays by drawing 3 circles using your 15-20cm diameter plate (or other round thing). Flip over the baking paper so you can see the circle but won’t get any of the ink/pencil on your meringue. Set aside your trays. Preheat your oven to 120°C.
  2. In a large glass or metal bowl add the egg whites, vinegar and 1/3 of the sugar. With an electric mixer, beat the mixture on low until soft glossy peaks form.
  3. Slowly add the rest of the sugar while beating on low. Careful that it isn’t grainy. You’ll know it’s done when the mixture has stiff peaks and is glossy.
  4. In a separate bowl add the almond meal, and gradually fold in the meringue mixture into the almond meal until combined. Don’t stir or whisk, gently fold the mixture using a spatula.
  5. Divide the mixture between the prepared baking trays and shape into circles. Bake at 120°C for 25 minutes or until the meringue is crisp to the touch (a very light touch). Turn off your oven, leaving the meringue in to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Whip the thickened cream until light and fluffy, set aside in the fridge to keep cool.
  7. Prepare the chocolate ganache melt the chocolate and cream together stirring until smooth – melt together in the microwave or over a double boiler. Set aside to cool. This will be coming into contact with cream so it needs to be room temperature.
  8. Once your meringue layers have cooled, and the fillings are ready, it’s time to assemble! Now in this part things don’t have to be perfect, it’s a bit of a rustic layer cake. Place the first layer of meringue on your serving plate. Spread the layer with the chocolate ganache, then a layer of cream. Gently place the next layer of meringue on top and repeat the process. The cake should be topped with the whipped cream. Garnish with your choice or leave it as is.

Notes

If you want to make it dairy free, you could use a dairy free dark chocolate (Lindt 70%, Alter Eco, Whittaker’s 50% or up, or your favourite dark chocolate), swap the pouring cream for coconut cream and the whipped cream for whipped coconut cream (the solid part of the top of a refrigerated can or two of full fat coconut milk). If you choose this option for the whipped cream, add a pinch of vanilla bean powder to the whipped coconut cream mixture.

If you don’t like almond, you could swap the almond meal for hazelnut meal. Or you could make your own pistachio meal (finely grind pistachios in a food processor) and add a pinch of rosewater to the ganache or whipped cream and/or garnish with dried rose petals.

Other Garnish Options:  Fresh berries, Grated chocolate, Dusting of good quality cocoa, Edible flowers (real ones, not the ones made from sugar)

You can have fun with the flavours with a cake like this. Let us know if you try a variation of your very own creation or post a photo of your meringue layer cake on our Facebook page!

Enjoy the weekend.

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WHERE THE MAGIC IS ….

A few nights ago a friend of mine dropped in after dinner for a glass of wine and a chat.  Usually when guests arrive at my house they fill their wine glasses or their teacups and head to the table on my verandah which is commonly known as the ‘the spot’.  However, now that the weather has turned a little chilly the lounge has become the current entertaining space.

As my friend and I sat chatting he reached over to put his drink on the coffee table and noticed a box of coasters.  The coasters were a Christmas gift, they’re the ones that look like little vinyl records, in ode to my love of music.  He asked why the coasters were still in a box and suggested it might be more ‘user friendly’ to take them out. - don’t you just love a helpful friend!  I hadn’t really thought about it before, but he was right.  I had been keeping them in the box so they wouldn't  look messy but  as a result I’d never actually used them.

This lead to a conversation about keeping things for special occasions and I was reminded of the dinner parties my parent’s had when I was a child. 

My brother and I always picked up on the ‘someone’s coming to dinner vibe’ as the special occasion things made an appearance. A great deal of effort was put into these evenings. The ‘good’ china came out of the cupboard, the silver cutlery got a polish and the timber furniture glistened.

Mum always cooked a chicken and slivered almond dish when people were coming over, which was followed by a sour cream cheesecake.  Tantalizing cooking smells would fill the house (combined with the subtle odor of Mr Sheen).  Specially selected vinyl records were taken from the old fashioned stereo cabinet, and dust was blown from their covers to get them ready for people’s easy listening pleasure.  To this day a Carpenters song or something by Simon and Garfunkel can also take me back to those moments.

I would try not to get in the way while preparations were happening.  Which means of course that I didn’t want to polish the silver or the the furniture.  Instead I would head to the large cane swing chair on the verandah and read a book while waiting in anticipation for the evening ahead.  This was a time when people wore their 'Sunday best' when going to go someone's house for dinner, and they always brought a gift for the host (and sometimes the host's children).

As a child my parent's dinner parties always seemed so exciting and mysterious.  It felt like something magical was happening in those moments.  And perhaps it was.

Now that I'm of an age where I sometimes have dinner parties of my own, I realise that as adults we can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to notice the magic.  We can easily forget that having an opportunity to share food and conversation with the people in our lives truly is a special occasion and should be treated that way.  The good china and the polished silver aren’t really necessary ingredients but the connection shared, the atmosphere, the conversation and the food – now that’s where the magic is.

My little vinyl record coasters are now out of their box and proudly scattered across the coffee table just waiting for people to pop in.

 

Magic Sour Cream Cheesecake:

250g packet plain sweet biscuits

150g butter, melted

250g packet cream cheese, softened

250g cottage cheese

3 eggs

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

2 tablespoons cornflour

½ cup(125ml) milk

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon lemon juice

 

Preheat your oven to 170 (150 fan forced).  Blend or process bikkies until they are the consistency of fine bread crumbs.  Add the melted butter and processes until combined.  Press the mixture evenly over the base and side of a 20cm springform tin.  Place on an oven tray and pop in the fridge for about half an hour or until firm.  While the base is cooling, beat the cheeses together until smooth and then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the sugar and cornflour followed by the milk , cream, rind and juice.  Pour the mixture into the crumb crust.  Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Let it cool in the oven with the door ajar and refrigerate overnight.  Add a few raspberries on top before serving.

MAGIC SOUR CREAM CHEESCAKE

MAGIC SOUR CREAM CHEESCAKE

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