Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tuscan pine nut cake

I was having a dinner the other evening for a few neighbourhood friends and in anticipation of our trip to Sienna this fall I decided on Tuscany as a theme.  I found this recipe on It was from a food blog called Jul's kitchen, Recipes and stories from Tuscany. This is a blog I think I will be returning to. I also made it for Easter dinner as there was something about it that reminded me of Easter, maybe all the eggs, and it was very very good.

  • 180 g of butter at room temperature
  • 150 g of sugar
  • 3  eggs
  • 180 g of  flour
  • 10 g of baking powder
  • 1 handful of shelled pine nuts
For the custard:
  • 3  egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons  flour
  • 500 ml of  milk
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins, soaked in Vinsanto, Tuscan sweet wine or sherry

Make the custard first as it needs to be cool when you add it to the cake. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it starts to simmer, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and flour, then pour in the hot milk in slowly whisking continuously with a whisk. Put the custard on a low flame and stir constantly until it begins to thicken: remove it from the heat, add the raisins and let it cool. I did not have a raisons or vinosanto unfortunately, so I used dried cranberries soaked in sherry and it worked just fine.

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Whip the butter at room temperature with the sugar for a few minutes until it becomes creamy and light. Add the eggs gradually, one after the other, waiting for the first to be completely mixed before adding the second. Stir in the flour sifted with the baking powder.
Grease and flour a 23 cm wide spring form pan
Separate the dough into two equal parts put half the batter into the prepared tin and level the batter off.

Spread the cold custard over it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pork tenderloin stuffed with feta and artichokes

I really like pork tenderloin it cooks quickly and it is low in fat, so really it is like a chicken breast.  And like a chicken breast it needs a little help in the flavour and moisture area.  I came up with this recipe the other night when I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge and a large container of feta cheese to use.

My husband loves feta cheese, artichoke hearts and mushrooms, so 2 out of 3 aren't bad!

To feed 2 big eaters or 3 or 4 light eaters. (This fed us 2 for dinner and one for lunch the next day.

1 pork tenderloin
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1 small jar of artichoke hearts quartered
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of white wine

Butterfly the tenderloin which I described in pork tenderloin stuffed with mushrooms. Sprinkle the feta over the pork and top with the artichoke hearts.

Roll up and either tie with twine or pin closed with bamboo skewers, which is what I did this time. Cut off the long ends of the skewers.

Add the olive oil to a preheated ovenproof frying pan and brown the pork all over.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Hike in the Topanga Canyon and two good meals

During our weekend in Santa Monica the weather was warm and sunny but not hot, the perfect weather for doing things.  I find when the temperature starts getting over 25 I really do not feel like doing anything other than sitting around, so with a high of 22 it was time to go hiking.

The Topanga state park is within the city limits of Los Angeles and it is amazing how away from it all you can get with in a city of just under 4 million.

The entrance to the canyon was a 15 minute drive from where we were staying, so we headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway for a couple of miles then turned inland at Topanga Canyon Boulevard and drove up to a parking lot Trippet Ranch and headed up to Eagle Rock.

A view of Eagle rock
It was a beautiful walk along a well groomed trails.

With out much shade this would have been a hot dry trail in the summer, but on this day it was perfect.  We made it up to Eagle Rock, where the views were magnificent, back to the Pacific Ocean and in the other direction over the San Fernando Valley.

We walked down going a different route that my husband assured me was a shorter way, this turned out to be not exactly true, but with the promise of a nice lunch I soldiered on.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Patricks Road House Santa Monica

My husband and I met in Santa Monica for a long weekend at the end of his trip to California and Arizona with our son.   We have been to Los Angeles many times, so we did not feel the need to go to any of the Los Angeles Icons. We rented a VRBO in the Santa Monica Canyon 1 block from the beach and the idea was to relax, bike, hike and of course eat. Unfortunately the first morning was spent with a frustrating trip to the Canadian Consulate and visa centre, due to some expired papers.  This was a fruitless exercise and ended with me having to book a different flight home.  This done we walked the block from our accommodation to Patricks Road house a Santa Monica Icon across the road from the beach

The first thing in order was a drink, but sadly they are BYOB only and even though the waitress helpfully pointed out that there was a liquor store across the road, we stuck to water and coffee. The speciality of the house are fresh made chips (crisps) with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese served with guacamole. I decided homemade truffle chips sounded decadent enough to wipe out the lost morning that I would never get back.

These were large fresh and truly delicious as was the guacamole.

We did not want to ruin our lunch so we ate half of these and took the remainder back and ate them with a steak and grilled asparagus we barbecued on our deck for dinner the next night.