It’s Thursday morning in Melbourne. I was scheduled to spend the morning with the residents’ cooking group, one of my four voluntary gigs at Strathdon aged care facility. However, I learnt yesterday the kitchen is not available, so we’ll have to postpone the blueberry and lemon muffins; and I now have three extra hours to spend as I please.
Most of the morning will be devoted to cooking. Julian and Sara take possession of their first house tomorrow and we are on a promise to hang out with Iris on Saturday morning while they paint a couple of interior walls ahead of moving in. We will also be preparing lunch to share when they bring their paint-spattered selves back to their rented house.
For Saturday’s lunch, the chicken I roasted on Tuesday (Mardi) will become the core ingredient of a chicken caesar salad; I will make a small fresh batch of borscht today; and Tuesday’s carrot cake will be there to accompany a cup of tea or coffee. I will also be using some of the bolognese sauce to make a dish of cannelloni but that will be reserved to provide weekday lunches for Maggie and me.
My bolognese sauce recipe, including six different vegetables, can be found in my April 2014 post Last weekend in the kitchen. I have elaborated it a little and added two photos from Tuesday.
For the roast chicken, I used a recipe from a cookbook given to Maggie for her 60th birthday – Week in, week out by Simon Hopkinson. (If you google Simon Hopkinson Bibendum, you might find something to add to your bucket list!)
I can’t reproduce the recipe here but I can tell you that it involved a roasting pan, lemon juice, salt, honey, pithless pieces of lemon rind and white wine and delivered an appealing burnished finish on the skin of the roasted bird.
Lastly, the carrot cake.
For many years, this has been the most popular of the cakes I make to share with family, friends and colleagues. For dietary reasons, I now only make the icing for special occasions; the cake is quite enjoyable on its own. I usually make two cakes at a time, as per the recipe. This reduces the margin for error in the quantity of some ingredients, eg carrot, lemon zest (this might sound anal but do the math!).
2 cups self-raising flour
1¼ tsp mixed spice
1 cup each of raw sugar and dark brown sugar
1 cup walnut pieces, roughly chopped
3 cups grated carrot, packed firmly but not tightly
1 cup olive oil (or any other oil with a high burning temperature, eg grapeseed oil)
4 extra large eggs
3 tsp freshly grated ginger
175g creamed cheese
2-3 tbsp icing sugar (to your own taste)
grated zest of one large lemon (fresh from a tree if you can)
2 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 170C (fan-forced). Line the base of two greased or non-stick loaf tins, approx 10cm x 20cm, with baking paper.
- Sift flour and spice into a large mixing bowl. Add sugars and stir well to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Add chopped walnut.
- Beat eggs well in a bowl and add the grated ginger (this helps to distribute the ginger evenly through the cake mixture).
- Add grated carrot to the flour mixture, one cup at a time, folding the mixture after each cup. Add the oil and stir briefly. Add the mixture of egg and ginger and stir thoroughly to combine ingredients well.
- Divide equally between the two loaf tins and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until a cake skewer tests clean. Cool cakes in tin for 5 minutes then turn out on to a cake rack. When cooled, refrigerate the cakes while you make the icing.
- Mix icing ingredients in blender (creamed cheese should be used direct from fridge). Cut each cake in half horizontally, spread half of the icing over the base of each cake and gently cover with top halves. After icing, store in fridge and remove from the fridge 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- If you decide to make the cake only, I recommend that you still refrigerate it for a while. The cake tends to be crumbly at room temperature; it will be easier to cut slices after it has been chilled.