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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunday lunch- Save the date!

So begins a lovely new tradition:  the Sunday Lunch share.  I hope this will become interactive, and I can learn so much from you... in time, I'd also like to start a facebook Sunday Lunch group- what we're planning, cooking and eating, how it went, who we are with, what we're hoping, feeling-- reflections on the week past and the week to come...

“There is no delight in owning anything unshared.”- Seneca

The template so goes:

1.  Start here.  Okay, it's 11am.  Just dropped Husby at the airport.  Feel twitchy, all full of things to do, but what first?  It's a grey cold and blustery summer's Sunday.

2.  Who's cooking what?  Just me.  I found 3 gorgeous cookbooks in the secondhand shop this week and this one especially is making me drool: "The New Vegetarian cookbook" by Heather Thomas with foreword by Linda & Paul McCartney.  Yes, it's very old.  It's so old that Heather Thomas is doing vegetarian in all sorts of deep fried, gluten-rich, sauce-y, simple carbohydrate loaded ways, ie. "Boil in the bag rice is a godsend!" not a quote, just you get the general gist ie.  not thaaaaat healthy!  But I am fascinated.  It also is English- in a way that knows what we have and can use and is achievable here.  I love American and Aussie recipes, and I've realised we all have to work within our own countries.

Only 2 courses this day.  Main:  Filled crepes.
Dessert:  Date pudding.
Both from scratch.

How's the cooking?  Not showing the crepes pic... 'twas disaster!  Recipe doesn't work with Granary flour.  Needed to be thinner, smoother, lighter.  With a cheesier, richer,more velvetly elegant and creamy sauce...

Result?  Date pudding = Divine!  A gorgeous, "take anywhere", moist, dense cake; or a proper date pudding when the sauce is poured over:  here's the recipe.  It does contain gluten, dairy, nuts & sugar.  Do share your healthy exchanges for these.  

Dates are one of the most wonderful ingredients in a cook's cupboard- their inherent sweetness help minimise the added sugar (cut it by a half when using in any recipe), and they are rich in iron and B vitamins.

Any AHA!'s?  I found it so comforting to take direction from the recipe book at a wobbly moment after husband goes away and a big week in store. Yet I played with the recipe so much though after reading through it, it's comforting warming moist chewiness hardly resembles the "old fashioned tea loaf, serve in slices with butter" the original recipe creates!  That's why I found it so heartening that the Date Cake turned out brilliant whilst my savoury main left alot to be desired (when it's usually the other way around- baking isn't really a little bit of this and that way cooking style, is it?)  No matter how slap-dash a baker you may be, you can do this and it will turn out gorgeous, I promise!

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Ginger Date and Nut cake with pudding sauce

1 cup water
1/2 cup dark brown/molasses sugar
2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped dates
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 cups wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts- walnuts and hazelnuts are great here
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch salt
1/4 cup stem or candied ginger (optional)

for the sauce: 
1/2 cup butter
4 tbsp honey
1/2 cup cream

  1. Combine the water, sugar, baking soda, butter or oil, and dates in a saucepan.  Simmer for 1 min.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool slightly.
  2. Add the beaten eggs and mix.  
  3. Sift in the flour, salt, spice.  Add the nuts and ginger if using.  Mix well. 

Bake in a preheated oven for 35 mins at 180degrees/ 350F or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  I used a square pan- it would look lovely in a ring pan- I always line my pans in baking paper for easy escape.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10mins before lifting out.
  • To make the sauce (not shown), bring all the ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan.  Sliced the cake, tip over the sauce, and garnish with lemon zest, shaved fresh ginger, and sliced strawberries.

To judge of how good ANY dish is for you, you can ask yourself these questions:

1.  Is it made from natural ingredients?
2.  Does it include fresh fruit and veg? 
3.  Does it avoid most irritants- gluten (wheat), nuts, dairy?
4.  Is it homemade; and made with love?

Be well!
love, Samantha.

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