Baked Passionfruit Custard

(Baked passionfruit custard with strawberries and apricot)

There are some things I crave occasionally. Peace and quiet is one, cold custard is another. This weekend, I’m getting a good dose of both since a bag of cheap passionfruits inspired me to make a few batches of custard, and Barry is spending a week working in San Francisco.

This recipe is for Anna. Funny story, Anna and I met one day on her way to the restrooms. In a restaurant, that is, not a nightclub, just in case you really needed to know. But perhaps that was too much information already.

One other thing.. did you know, if you blend passionfruit pulp with their skins, you get pink instead of yellow juice? How neat would pink passionfruit sorbet or soda be!

Baked Passionfruit Custard :
(makes 4 small serves)

3 x 55g eggs
55g sugar
100g strained passionfruit pulp (or leave seeds if you don’t mind the texture) – roughly 3 large passionfruit or 5-6 small ones
juice of 1/2 lemon
100g pouring/thin cream

Preheat the oven to 165’C.

Mix all the ingredients together, whisking gently only to combine. Avoid incorporating too much air or introducing froth to the mixture. If bubbles form on the surface, skim them off. Strain the mixture (return the seeds to the mix if you wish). Divide between 4 small ramekins and place the ramekins in a hot water bath, on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked. They should still have a bit of a wobble in the middle. Remove them from the oven, allow to cool down in the water bath then chill the ramekins for a few hours in the fridge.

You can eat the custards as is, or topped with some fruit or more passionfruit pulp. If you’re feeling fancy, sprinkle the tops with sugar and lightly blow torch to caramelise.

If it’s too hot to bake, try making a set passionfruit cream instead.

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Lemon posset, ricotta buttercream cookies

Lemon posset, ricotta buttercream cookies

We’ve been having a lot of ‘compost’ dinners this week. These meals arise from uninspired conversations I’ve had with our fridge. A cook’s salvage operation, if you will (now why isn’t that a cookbook title?).

Most recently, gradually petrifying parsnips were turned into a puree to serve with beef and braised mushrooms and a shrivelled green apple was peeled, diced and folded into brown sugar cake batter, topped with crumble. It’s all a bit of fun but at the same time makes me quietly thankful for things that do nothing but improve with age. Cucumber pickles, pu-erh tea and gingerbread, take a bow.

A neighbour left a bag of home grown lemons at our door recently. Shall we all agree that the best way to say hello to a cook and baker would be with lemons, not flowers? Lemons are one of those great contributors to any compost meal – it doesn’t take much of this great ingredient to add a surprising spark to curries and a fragrant lift to some sauces.

In this instance, I returned the favour with a tin of semolina cake drenched in lemon vanilla syrup. The juice also went into dressing a cabbage salad and lots of grated rind flavoured a marble cake and butter cookies. If like me, you have also been finding yourself rediscovering the simple, classic things in life, you won’t be at all surprised to hear that stirring freshly squeezed lemon juice into warm cream and sugar makes for a pretty damn good dessert!

Lemon posset :
(potentially enough for 2 if you’re trying to be polite)

1 cup thick cream
4 tablespoons sugar
juice and zest of 1 large lemon (you will want at least 2 tablespoons of juice, or a bit more if you like zingy lemon desserts)

Bring cream, sugar and lemon zest to boil in a pan, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the lemon juice and strain into two cups or ramekins. Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours. Eat.

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Going away and eating well

B and I don’t usually make a habit of taking short breaks away. I’ve never seen the point in them. By the time you’ve planned your trip, taken it and then travelled all the way back, you’re left exhausted and in need of another holiday.

But after spending a few days in the wilderness, and now feeling somewhat restored, I’m beginning to see its appeal. Even if the surprise lack of internet or phone reception was a source of initial anxiety.

We tramped through rainforest, experienced a flat tire, got sun burnt, swam in a river and then returned in the evenings to the cabin to rustle up a meal just as the sun was starting to dip. Postcard stuff.

The cabin we hired had a little barbecue stove on the verandah which was perfect for cooking for two. For dinners, we had marinated steak with plenty of fresh vegetables, homemade blue corn tortillas and warm soda farls. Afterwards, a very satisfying chocolate dessert. Two recipes I’ll definitely be taking with me the next time we go away again.

Soda Farls (that are perfect for breakfast or just the thing to chase the leftover bits of sauce on your dinner plate) :

2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 cup buttermilk (or thin yogurt)

Measure all the dry ingredients into a container or plastic bag. When you’re ready to make the farls, preheat your barbecue (or fry pan). Mix the buttermilk into the dry ingredients to form a dough. Pat the dough out into a flat disc roughly 1/2 inch thick. Cut the disc into 4 and cook the farls on low/medium heat for 6 – 7 minutes on each side. When done, split and serve with plenty of butter.

Sticky Chocolate Pudding Cake (to have spoon wars over after the dishes have been done and the sun has set) :

For the cake :
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup long life milk

For the sauce :
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

In two separate containers, measure out all the dry ingredients for the sauce and the cake. When you are ready to make the cake, tip the dry ingredients for the cake into a heatproof container (round or square disposable pie tin is perfect). Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, add the egg, melted butter and milk. Mix together. Sprinkle the dry ingredients for the sauce over the cake mix, then pour the boiling water on top. If you want the resulting pudding cake to be extra fudgey, only use 1 cup of the required boiling water. If you like it to have more sauce, use the recommended 1 1/2 cups. Place the dish on a preheated barbecue (the temperature gauge should read between 150’C to 180’C) and cook covered for about 20 minutes. If the barbecue seems too hot, insulate the base of the dish with a bbq flat plate or something similar.

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