on birthdays and the passing of another year

frozen almond marscapone cake with cherry compote

I remember complaining to my Dad a few years ago about how quickly time seemed to pass now that I was no longer a child. And my dear old Dad just looked at me and said ‘just wait until you get to my age: Christmases seem to come around like weekends.’ At the time I thought he was up to his usual exaggeration but now am beginning to see he may have a point. I can hardly believe it but as of Decmber 27th, stonesoup became a one year old.

It’s been a fun journey over the past 12 months. In the immortal words of Fatboy Slim we’ve come a long way, baby. For a girl with pretty much no programming experience setting up a blog has been an interesting challenge. But thanks to my techno guru: Matt from Abstract Gourmet, stonesoup seems to be running like a well oiled machine.

The other major change that blogging has catalysed has been my foray into the colourful world of food photography.  Having not even owned a camera since about 1998, to say that my photography skills needed some work is possibly the understatement of the year. A big thankyou to the fabulous Missy Helgs for her photograpic guidance and advice. Thanks also to the lovely L at still life with for her excellent tips and glimpses into the world of the professional food photographer.

To mark this momentous occasion I’ve decided to do what we Virgos do best and put together a few lists that capture the year that was. And no birthday celebration would be complete without cake. So dear reader, I’ll share with you a virtual slice of creamy iced heaven in the form of frozen almond marscapone cake with cherry compote…. wishing you all good things for the year ahead…

2006 favourite stonesoup menus
One thing I’ve discovered over the last year is that I love putting together a menu for a special meal. The planning and thought that goes behind creating a well balanced evening can almost be as much fun as actually getting to eat said creation. Here’s a list of a few highlights from the last year.
*an indian extravaganza
*thursday night dinner with the girls
*a vaguely spanish pescetarian feast
*a wintery shank dinner
*alain ducasse dinner
*a post pregnancy feast
*a very fake christmas

2006 recipes that explored new horizons
It would be impossible to put together a list of my favourite recipes, like a mother being asked to nominate her favourite child. So instead I though it would be fun to pick out the ones that have explored new kitchen territory for me in some way or other.
*baharat marinated lamb chops with yoghurt sauce & fennel salad. Nominated not so much for the recipe itself but for my new found love of camping and camp cooking in particular. Also because it cememted my love for the zip lock bag.
*cauliflower panna cotta with smoked trout. This savoury panna cotta is one of those great things that you wonder why you didn’t try it before. Anything that gets labelled by my brother as ‘good goo’ has to be pretty damn tasty.
*globe artichoke confit with baby leek & broad been salad. Overcoming my fear of preparing artichokes was definitely a highlight of the year. Now I’m hanging out for spring next year to explore this wonderful vegetable further.
*bbq radicchio & swiss brown mushroom salad with toasted walnuts & goats cheese. I thought I had pretty much given most things a go on the BBQ but this year thanks to Jamie O I extended my BBQ repertoire to include this delicious BBQ lettuce salad.
*vanilla creme brulee. Narrowly surpassing my new groovy mandolin, new favourite kitchen toy of the year award would have to go to my birthday blowtorch. While the ability to brulee to perfection was a novelty in itself, these gorgeous little brulees, unencumbered by a ramekin really took the brulee concept to a new place.

2006 cookbook acquisitions
* saha, greg & lucy malouf
*cook with jamie, jamie oliver
*apples for jam, tessa kiros
*where the heart is, karen martini
*let it simmer, sean moran
*danks street depot, jared ingersoll
*an omelette and a glass of wine, elizabeth david
*two’s cooking, jane & jeremy strode

2006 favourite photos
As impossible to choose as favourite recipes. For a view of my favourite photos check out my flickr sets HERE.

 

frozen almond marscapone cake with cherry compote
serves 8-10
Adapted from a recipe by Emma Knowles and Rodney Dunn in the Dec06 Australian Gourmet Traveller.

This decadent cake is perfect for when you feel like a frozen dessert but have left your icecream maker behind. The richness of the marscapone is balanced by the nutty cakiness of the meringue layers.

You could pit the cherries if you feel so inclined but I prefer to spend my time on other things.

200g whole almonds, skins on
6 egg whites
pinch salt
110g (1/2C) caster sugar
60g icing sugar
50g plain flour
3 egg yolks
120g honey
750g marscapone
for the cherries:
750g cherries, washed & stems removed
220g (1C) sugar
2T water
1 vanilla bean, halved

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw three rectangles approx 20cm x 10cm. Whizz almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Beat eggwhites with a pinch salt until soft peaks form. Gradually rain in caster sugar and beat until glossy. Fold in icing sugar and plain flour until just combined.

Place mixture in a piping bag and pipe within the three rectangles to fill each. Bake 15-20mins or until just golden in colour but still soft. Allow to cool on trays for 5mins then turn out onto a work surface dusted with extra icing sugar. Allow to cool completely.

Combine yolks and honey in a heat proof bowl and whisk over a saucepan of simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Cook, whisking constantly for 5-7 mins or until mixture has thickened and become pale.

Remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer for approx 10mins or until mixture is cool. Fold through marscapone until just combined. Refrigerate mixture for at least 30mins.

To assemble the cake, place one almond rectangle on a flat plate lined with cling wrap. Spread a layer of marscapone honey mixture aprox 2cm thick over the top of the rectangle. Top with second rectangle and cover with more honey marscapone. Top with remaining rectangle and cover loosely with cling wrap. Place in the freezer for approx 2hours and keep remaining marscapone mixture covered in the refrigerator. To complete the assembly remove the cake from the freezer and cover top and sides with the remaining marscapone mixture. Cover loosely with cling wrap and freeze for at least 6hours or overnight.

For the cherries, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10mins then allow to cool then refrigerate until required.

When ready to serve remove cake from the freezer and allow to stand in fridge for approx 10mins to soften a little. Serve slices of cake in a pool of the cherry compote.

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{ 18 comments }

kathryn January 2, 2007 at 5:31 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Stonesoup – congratulations on your first anniversary.

Mum January 2, 2007 at 10:10 am

AH… the Birthday looks great as all birthday cakes do! HAPPY BIRTHDAY. x

Ellie January 2, 2007 at 1:50 pm

A bit late, but happy blog birthday Jules :) I love reading your blog and am constantly finding myself printing recipes and menus to try (really, you should just publish a cookbook that I can buy, it’d make my life so much easier!), and I can’t wait to see what yummy things you have in store for us in Stonesoup’s 2nd year/2007 :)

Zarah Maria January 2, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Happy Blog Birday Jules! Looking forward to several years to come…

Jeff January 2, 2007 at 4:01 pm

This is one of those times when I wish we were at a goofy restaurant so we could get the staff to put a silly hat on ya and sing some happy birthday song ;)

Brilynn January 2, 2007 at 4:59 pm

That cake looks fantastic! Your blog looks wonderful, congrats on the previous year and all the best for the next one.

Gourmet January 3, 2007 at 12:52 am

I love mascarpone & almond!!!
Thank’s for share this delicious recipe tous!!
Bye from TURIN,Italy……
;-)

Dr Reb January 3, 2007 at 5:17 am

Happy blog birthday Jules – so good to meet you this year and I look forward to another great year of tasty recipes!

Mallika January 3, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Jules – Happy birthday and Happy New Year! Your photos are beautiful and always make me want to eat even more than I already am, if that’s physically possible!

Lots of wishes for a fabelicious year ahead.

deborah January 4, 2007 at 4:42 am

a hearty congratulations to you jules. i adore your menu’s and your classic approach to your photos. looking forward to another wonderful year.

shaz January 4, 2007 at 6:53 am

I have enjoyed reading your posts. Usually, I am put offby long posts and wordy descriptions, but I have been faithfully reading all your posts and enjoying the prose and recipes. Keep up the good work! Look forward to reading more yummy stone soup entries!

Matt January 5, 2007 at 6:29 am

I think I see some big things in store for Stone Soup… great work this past year Jules, I’ve been glad to be able to help and have loved seeing your posts and photos go from strength to strength… keep it up :)

Matt

Chubby Hubby January 5, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Congrats and happy 1st birthday Jules! Here’s to another great year of blogging.

nao January 6, 2007 at 1:33 pm

hey jul!! cake was yummy and i wish i could’ve fitted it all in!! HAPPY 2nd BDAY!! If you eva need a wok for a dish, i have the perfect one for you to borrow ;)

Helen January 7, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Happy Blog Birthday Jules and congratulations on winning Best Overall Photo in the latest DMBLGiT!

Ellie January 7, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Congrats on winning overall for the latest DMBLGIT!! Definetely well deserved, that was a stunning photo :)

jules January 8, 2007 at 6:50 am

thanks for your kind words everyone.
very excited to have won a photo prize

Bron January 22, 2007 at 5:37 am

happy belated blog birthday Jules!

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