Senegalese Soup

IMG_3247Just said good-bye to our guests after a fun-filled Easter weekend.  The sun is shining, it’s t-shirt weather and we have hundreds of daffodils blooming.  Perfect weather for walks, photography and sitting outside visiting.  We had a summerlike lunch on the porch yesterday, with bowls of Senegalese soup, and warm, delicious cornbread.  I think that when we eat out of doors we tend to linger longer, as we nibble and visit.  Three of our four visitors are extremely gluten intolerant, so go with the flow; we simply had a GF weekend.

I’ve made this soup many times, always with great reviews, people asking for seconds, and the recipe passed on.  The combination of apples and curry is a lovely pairing, and makes this a very pleasing soup, as well, not only is it vegetarian, but easily gluten free.

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Crème Brûlée

IMG_3202My all time favourite restaurant dessert is Crème Brûlée.  In many restaurants it is the only dessert made “in house”.  The reasons for this are simple enough, this is a very simple dish, keeps well, and only needs to have the sugar burnt before serving.  Many other desserts require a baker or pastry chef, and have short shelf lives.

Crème Brûlée is a simple custard of cream, sugar and egg yolks with a thin layer of cooked sugar that becomes hard enough to crack, so that you can scoop out the custard beneath.  The custard can be flavoured with different spices, but traditionally is made with vanilla.  If you have vanilla beans, simply store one in a couple of cups of white sugar for a couple of weeks.  This will give a lovely fragrance and taste to anything you use the sugar for.  It’s okay to use pure vanilla extract, just don’t add too much.

The desserts in the photos are a bright creamy yellow because I use free-range eggs.  Store bought eggs will make a much paler custard.

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Baked Mushroom Risotto

IMG_1170Here it is the beginning of spring and I’m baking a mushroom risotto.  It’s still cold out, although if the sun’s shining while working out in the garden it’s wonderful to feel the heat!  I think that as long as the weather still has us cooking indoors, we can still enjoy a hearty repast.  This dish can be served as a main course, with a few vegetables on the side, or a big crunchy salad.  It also serves well accompanying pork or beef.  I try to serve meat as a component of the meal, not the star attraction.  I think it keeps meals more balanced.  Continue reading

Rainbow Birthday Cake

IMG_2546One Easter weekend about 15 years ago, I made this cake.  I wasn’t sure who was going to eat it all, but I thought it would be fun for the family.  It was sitting on the kitchen table, uncut.  The dogs started barking, letting us know someone was arriving.

A huge black Shire horse was coming down the driveway pulling a farm wagon full of friends.  They’d harnessed her up for an Easter weekend outing, and ended up at our place.  With Queen standing patiently by, we shared the cake before she moved her dinner-plate sized hooves and took them all away, back up the hill.

This cake is so fun for birthdays (even for someone’s 55th last year).  Even though this is done in rainbow colours, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be done in gradients of someone’s favourite colour.  Have fun! Continue reading