Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lamb Cutlets in Mushroom and Artichoke Sauce

or Cotellettes d'Agneau a l'Italienne

 This is the first recipe in Eating with Emperors and is one of the courses from the royal wedding menu of Princess Beatrice of the UK (Queen Victoria's youngest daughter) to Prince Henry Maurice of Battenberg (on 23 July 1885).

I have never been very successful cooking fresh artichokes. I tried Stephanie Alexander's hearts in red wine ......that went in the bin! And what a lot of trouble they are - all that peeling to end up with a little handful of hearts. More went in the compost!

So when I saw this recipe (with tinned artichokes)  that I was entering in Random Recipes - First and Last (hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen) I thought I would give them another try. And maybe the tinned ones would be better.....  Maybe.


8 lamb cutlets
250gms mushrooms sliced
8 marinated artichoke hearts - rinsed
4 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons oregano
1 clove garlic
21/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan and saute shallots, garlic and mushrooms
Add salt and pepper and rinsed artichokes
Reduce heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes stirring occassionally.
Heat the rest of the oil and fry the chops sprinkled on each side with oregano, until the tails are cooked but still pink and tender.
Serve the cutlets on a plate surrounded by the artichoke and mushroom sauce.

I was keen to use my new ricer and so I also cooked some mashed potatoes.
It looked lovely served up on the plate.  Now for the taste test........ the cutlets were perfect, and the sauce nice but I think I can live without artichokes even tinned ones.

 This dish was one of twenty two offered at the wedding breakfast hosted by Queen Victoria for Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry at Osbourne House, Isle of Wight 1885.

Creme of Asparagus Soup

or Potage Creme D'Asperes

For Mother's Day (early in May) my lovely next door neighbour (daughter) bought me a rather unusual book, Eating with Emperors by Jake Smith.  It is really quite beautiful with a regal dark blue and gold flocked cover. It is a combination of historic photos and menus splashed with recipes. It is intriguing and every time I walked past my buffet (it hadn't made it up onto the bookshelf yet and was looking strongly random) I would flick aimlessly through it, reading little snippets. I walked by it that many times I thought it was time to cook something from it before I put it away.

The last recipe is this Asparagus Soup from the menu of the Shah of Iran for his guest Prince Bertil of Sweden (2 December 1970).

Imperial Palace Garden Lunch Tehran 

Asparagus has looked so wonderful lately (I am addicted to the stuff), what a perfect inclusion for Belleau Kitchen's May Random Recipes Challenge - "First and Last". So I made both. 
This is the last recipe first ;

500gms fresh asparagus - chopped and blanched
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons corn flour
Salt and pepper
11/2 cups of chicken stock
11/2 cups cream
2 tablespoons sherry

  • Melt butter in a saucepan and add onion salt and pepper.
  • Saute until onions are transparent, slowly stir through corn flour
  • Gradually add chicken stock and bring mixture to the boil
  • Add asparagus for a minute or two (depending on thickness)
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool
  • Once cooled puree in a blender 
  • Slowly reheat the pureed mixture in a saucepan and add cream and sherry.
Tips : The cream made it a very rich soup and half the cream content could certainly be replaced by milk and the sherry omitted for a lighter taste.
This was not a very impressive looking soup but the taste......... lovely and very rich, the sherry gave it an underlying depth,  obviously perfect for a Prince.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Petal Tea-Pastry

Back on 19 October 1982 my mother bought me a biscuit gun! She packaged it up and sent it out to Australia just in case we couldn't get them here.  I know this is the exact date because she wrote it on the box along with a note highlighting the biscuit recipe she had used on the back of the box.

For a while it was well used and then after several house moves it somehow never got unpacked.   Last year our shed was demolished and numerous tea chests were unpacked for the first time in ages and the "Super Biscuit Maker" made a come back!

It is retro cream and brown and the little metal disc shapes fit into the end of the gun to create the pattern.  These discs have hung about in the "3rd drawer" next to the cooker, sad and alone for years,  miraculously managing to escape being thrown out by the man! He has a tendency for throwing things away.  It must be very difficult for a minimalist sharing a house with a hoarder, poor love!
He loved these though - just as well as this recipe made dozens!
250g butter
250g sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
500g plain flour
Cream butter and sugar together
Add eggs and flavouring
Sieve in flour and mix the remaining ingredients a little at a time until a soft dough is achieved.

Form the biscuits on a chilled baking tray. 
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C (400F) for 8-10 mins.
They cook very quickly so keep an eye on them.

These pretty little flowers looked perfect to enter into Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked Tea Time Treats for May's Floral Theme hosted by Karen this month.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Orange Halva Cake for Mother's Day


I was flicking through another of my Margaret Fulton supermarket recipe book purchases from 1982 and came across another little treat I thought would be perfect for Mother's Day.  We were off to my mother-in-law's for afternoon tea and decided to take this cake with me.  I do however tend to leave things until the last minute so there was a bit of puffing and blowing from the man as he watched the clock tick away waiting for the cake to cool before adding the cream to the top.  So I ended up taking the cake and cream separately and dressing it up when we arrived.

Sugar and Butter
Fresh juice 
As this is a ring cake I hunted the night before for an appropriate tin (in case I had to make a dash to the shops to buy or make calls to borrow) and actually dug out 3! which I can't remember buying at all!  Anyway they are quite old and not non-stick so I think they must be hand-me-downs. As I am not a fabulous baker I had slight reservations about this turning out, I could see myself trying to prise the cake from the ring.  Bravely I pushed through the hesitation and continued, and I am so glad I did.

 I even got to use my new zesting plane instead of grating the orange rind - good tools do make some jobs a joy.

In true retro style the hardest job was creaming the butter and sugar which I did by hand, ( I tried to employ the man for a bit of muscle power but he was useless and said he had weak wrists! any excuse). I do sometimes find that old fashioned methods are very satisfying and I give myself a little pat on the back for persevering. Well if I don't who else will?

Zest add

Cream ingredients
Fold in Semolina 

Cake Mix
185g (6oz) butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
3 eggs beaten
11/2  cups semolina
11/4 cups ground almonds
3 teaspoons baking powder
Orange Syrup
   1/4 cup caster sugar
   5 tablespoons water
   2 tablespoons lemon juice
   1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
   2 tablespoons chopped candied peel (I used finely chopped rind and some extra long peelings that I       removed later
   3 tablespoons orange juice

   1/2 cup cream whipped
   1/4 cup flaked almonds toasted (keep your eye on these as they catch very quickly in the oven).

  • Cream butter and sugar together with grated orange rind until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the orange juice and eggs, then fold in semolina, almonds and baking powder.
  • Turn into a greased and floured 9'' (23cm) ring tin (fearfully I over engineered part)
  • Bake in a preheated very hot oven 220C (425F) for 10 mins (as my oven is fan forced - 9 mins)
  • Bake for a further 30mins (25mins) at lower heat 180C (350F)
  • For Syrup - Place sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon and peel in a pot and bring to the boil, stirring.  Simmer until slightly thickened, then add orange juice
  • Turn the cake onto a serving plate straight from the oven.
  • Pour over the hot syrup slowly until all is absorbed.  
  • Leave to cool.
  • To serve, fill centre of the ring with whipped cream and sprinkle with almonds.
  • Serves 10.

I was amazed at how easily my cake turned out of the tin, it just plopped out so quickly, mind you I had been zealous with the greasing and flouring. I was very pleased with the result, so pleased in fact that I am entering this in this month's AlphaBakes Challenge hosted by Caroline over  at Caroline Makes... and More Than The Occasional Baker which is "H" this month so Orange Halva Cake fits in well.

I hope all Mothers everywhere had a wonderful day!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Went Foraging - Found Delia Smith!

It's funny how some days are more productive than others, you know when things just fall into place so easily,  like it's meant to be.  It's become a bit of a habit, Saturday morning we more often than not pop out to our local coffee shop for breakfast - coffee and a ham, swiss cheese and horseradish toasted sandwich, read the papers, and then a spot of supermarket shopping. 

This Saturday as we were parking the car we noticed our local library was having their monthly book sale.  The Library space for this is not much bigger than a hole in the wall, opens a roller door onto the supermarket car park. We are both addicted to books as anyone would know if they visited my house. So even though the tummy's were rumbling we headed straight to the hole in the wall. 

Anyway the little area no more than a storeroom, open to the public to purchase little treasures for  a $1 or so, was packed, it was standing room only.  I elbow my way straight to the cooking section (of course) the man heads for autobiographies.  We came away with an armful and only spent $22.00! 

I think I got the purchases of the day - a couple of fabulous finds - two Delia Smith “How to Cook” Books 2 and 3 in near perfect condition (the library protective wrapping made sure of that, at least on the outside). They were  only $3 each.  I was quite chuffed with myself.  Although it’s hard to believe, I don’t own any of Delia’s books and so I was very pleased with these.  I also picked up a fabulous book Cooking by James Peterson for only $6. 

So while I have been pouring over my new purchases, one of Delia’s books mysterious found its way to the kitchen book stand, curiously opened at the page “Spotted Dick” - guess this is on the menu for the weekend!
"Spotted Dick Rides Again"

"Warm Chocolate Rum Souffles with Chocolate Sauce"
However, these are what took my fancy!

The Library Book Sale is definitely a date to put in the diary for next month - I need Delia's Book No.1 now to complete the set!  Better get there early next time. Might have to take my hockey stick to beat off the competition. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

White Bean and Ricotta Dip

The weather in Melbourne has become decidedly chilly of late, Autumn has set in and the summery clothes have been packed away. But this gives us an excuse to light the fire pit in the garden and have friends around for a casual dinner outside, warming our bottoms by the fire.

And so it was the other weekend, the man cooked his famous chilli (recipe to follow later) but we needed something to nibble while we had a couple of drinks first. 

How often do we really cook other bloggers recipes, I have slowly realised how handy this can be - I remembered reading recently a couple of great blogs one was over at Hotly Spiced and the other Glamourous Glutton both about dips. 

I had a tin of cannelini beans in the back of the cupboard and dragged it out to whip up something simple and hopefully impressive or at least edible. So adapting the recipe from Hotly Spiced I made this  lovely little dip that turned out quite good, even if I do say so myself (and my guests wanted the recipe!) So I thought I would share with anyone else wanting a quick dip.


  • 1 can cannelini beans rinsed and drained
  • 1  garlic clove
  • handful fresh thyme
  • splash of olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or enough to make a good consistency)
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese (or enough to make a good consistency)
  • cracked pepper 

  •  Heat oil in a pan
  • Add beans, garlic, herbs and cook gently until garlic is fragrant
  •  Transfer to a food processor, add lemon juice and blend
  • Add olive oil in a slow steady stream and continue processing until all is combined
  • Pour into a bowl and whip in the ricotta
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon
I would have loved to have served this with some lovely pinwheel pastries from Glamorous Glutton but I will have to make these next time.