Currently, all my after-office hours are filled with research on Paris. As on date, it is exactly 3 weeks before I leave for Le Cordon Bleu. For a long time I thought its easy, I am going there for just a month. Or that it is a very touristy place, geared for tourists like me. So it wont be difficult.
But as the date gets closer, I am getting worried-er. Firstly, it will be quite cold in late November and December. Akshay has studied in Rochester, New York where the winter temperature dips to -10°C. So he is comfortable with the cold. But I am really a Mumbai girl, and my comfort zone is restricted to 22°C to 27°C. Outside this range, it is either too cold or too hot.
Secondly, although I love to eat fish and chicken sometimes, I am a vegetarian at heart. And I need meat-less options for everyday meals. The first time that we were in Europe, I came back with a substantial vitamin deficiency. I have to be careful that it does not happen again. While browsing the web, I found an excellent book of compilation of restaurants serving vegetarian food in Paris. It is by Rashmi Uday Singh and is called ” A Vegetarian in Paris” . I intend to make best use of it. Of course I will report back on some of the restaurants that I visit and like or dislike.
Third and most important fact (or stupid really, if you think in any other way) is that I will miss Akshay (my husband) tremendously. Since the last 3 years since we started dating and then got married, I haven’t stayed away from him for so long. It has been the longest “happiest-stretch” of my life, and we are a perfect team. No idea how to function alone without his comfort and guidance. Yeah yeah, I did survive well for first 24 years of life without him. But that was before I met him, before I knew what it was to have a wonderful partner like him. And the worst part is, it is going to be his birthday in December when I would be in Paris. Duh uh!
Well, cest la vie, this is life. But apart from these little things, I am superly excited. All the Paris research like the Movies to watch, Places to visit, Books to read is yielding good results and I am quite hooked on to it. Feel free to browse through it and recommend some more exciting movies, places and books.
Meanwhile, last on Sunday, we made this bloody orange cake for Akshay’s uncle’s birthday. I actually got these exotic looking oranges to make marmalade, but then I stumbled upon this Blood Orange upside down cake from Not Quite Nigella, and dear god, I had to make it.
The original recipe called for 200 gms of almond flour which I thought was too much, so I reduced it to 100 gms. But the nutty almond-y flavor is delicious and goes very well with the citrusy orange depth of the cake.
And the handsome oranges. A burst of color and flavor!
The almond meal is very easy to make, after blanching almonds overnight. And even if you forget to soak them the previous night, you can get them ready in 20 mins, with a trick. Read on..
Sizzling Orange upside-down cake recipe
What you will need :
- 3 blood oranges (the ones which have orange color skin), thinly sliced
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 200 gm butter (I always use slightly salted Amul butter)
- 200 gms powdered sugar
- 3 eggs
- 100 gm / 1 cup almond powder / almond meal (See the footnote for recipe)
- 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
What to do :
- In a saucepan, place the water and sugar on low heat till the sugar is melted. Turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
- Then add the orange slices and simmer it for 20-25 mins on medium heat, till the orange skin becomes tender and slightly translucent.
- Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and let them cool. Boil the syrup further till it becomes thicker.
- Grease and line a 8 or 9 inch cake tin with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with some of the syrup so that the orange slices stick to it. Place the slices on the parchment paper and over to the sides. Cut some into half to fit over the sides of the pan. Reserve the syrup to brush over cake once baked.
- With an electric blender, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy and add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in almond meal, flour and yogurt and mix until just combined (do not overwork).
- Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
- Spoon it into the prepared tin making sure not to dislodge the orange slices.
- Bake for 60 minutes @ 160°C until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Let it cool, then upturn it. Gently remove the parchment paper off the cake. Glaze the cake with the reserved sugar syrup. Serve into triangular wedges.
To make almond meal
- Take about 5% more almonds than the required quantity of almond meal. Say if you want 100 gms of almond meal, take about 105 gms of almonds.
- Soak them overnight in water and in the morning, peel off the skin. Let the almonds dry thoroughly before grinding. In a mixer, pulse the almonds till it forms a coarse powder. Do not over grind as it would then turn into almond butter.
- Or, if you want to make it instantly, blanch almonds by boiling them for about a minute or two, uncovered. Use your hand by and rub the skin off . Completely dry the almonds before using, as the water will make it into butter.
- Almond meal if extra, has to be stored in the fridge, or it turns rancid.
- The orange skin when simmered in sugar syrup become beautifully moist and tender. But if you dont like the skin, shave the oranges slightly so as to leave on only a thin layer of skin.
This cake is moist and nutty and wholesome. Before you realise you will be going for another piece.