Monday, 5 August 2013

Land down under: The Blue Mountains

This post has been a couple of weeks in the making - and is not as full as it could be because I forgot my camera battery charger so had a while where I couldn't take pictures. So you don't get to see the spatzle I helped my aunt make, or the rather good pumpkin and walnut lasagne we made (I tell you what though, spelt flour is a pig to make pasta with, I will not do that again), or the lovely Nigel Slater apple cake. You are also spared the genuinely dreadful loaf of wholemeal bread and appalling mushroom omelette I constructed.

You do get to see a couple of other things though.

I've been staying on the edge of the Blue Mountains for the last couple of weeks. This is pretty close to the NSW wine regions, and in the five years since I was last here, the area has really started to champion these local wines. I think it really helps that the wines have improved out of sight in that time...
This sparkling wine was particularly delicious - very crisp and appley.
Bubbles make things good.
So I drank some very nice local wines.

I only had one meal out, with my friend Megan, who you may remember from posts such as this one and this one. She's living back in Sydney now (Sydney's gain, London's distinct loss) but did a day trip to Leura in order to play with me. We had lunch at a place called Zest, where the food was good and the service was bad.
Megan had lamb tagine with couscous. Deliciously tender and fragrant but a bit too sweet in parts
I had lamb shishliks - 2 weeks of vegetarian food was about enough for me. Just what I needed.
I had a perfect baked cheesecake, topped with honey flavoured with orange flower water
Megan had a very good carrot cake

One reason for the timing of this trip was in order to coincide with my aunt's 50th birthday. For her birthday lunch she wanted fondue, so I made my very nice wild mushroom version.
For dessert I made an apple strudel, mostly following Nigel Slater's recipe in Ripe. I did make a few variations though. I left out the apricot jam and almonds, used Granny Smiths instead of sweet apples and added 1tbs calvados to the filling. And instead of fresh white breadcrumbs fried in butter, I used the aforementioned abysmal loaf of wholemeal bread, combined with some ground mixed nuts.
Layers of phyllo pastry, butter and wholemeal bread crumbs mixed with ground nuts
Thinly sliced granny smith apples, light muscovado sugar and sultanas, with lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and a touch of calvados
I also made a pretty damn good zabaglione ice cream to go with it. We sampled the ice cream the night before (with some pears baked in more of the marsala) and I think it is pretty much the perfect winter ice cream.

Zabaglione ice cream
2 eggs, separated
60g raw sugar
4 tbs marsala wine
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
300ml cream

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, marsala, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Beat until it comes up to lukewarm and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk until cool, pale and frothy.

In another bowl whisk the egg whites to firm peaks.

In yet another bowl whisk the cream to soft peaks.

Fold the three bowlsful together until properly combined, but trying not to knock the air out of it. Freeze in a plastic box over night. Serve on its own (I think a caramel sauce would be wonderful with it), as an affogatto, or with a hot fruit dessert.

4 comments:

hungryandfrozen said...

That zabaglione ice cream sounds wonderful! Also, good to know about spelt flour. Making pasta is so fraught as it is, no need to add to it!

grace said...

i like the look of that carrot cake, and i love the concept of a zabaglione ice cream! there's a lot of delicious imagery in this post. :)

Chris Scheuer said...

How fun, delicious and interesting. Sounds like a good time with lots of culinary delights!

Foodycat said...

Laura - I think it is the low gluten content. Took a lot of work and more water than usual to make it hold together.

Grace - it was good! I prefer Swiss-style carrot cakes though.

Chris - A very good time was had!

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