Author Archives: Rowena

About Rowena

Hobbyist gardener, enthusiast in cooking different cuisines, smitten with dogs of all shapes and sizes, and travels occasionally when the mood hits.

Before April segues into May

Simnel cake

And just like that, the first quarter of the year is almost over. Where does the time go? For us, because Easter neatly fell on a week that includes the national Festa della Liberazione (April 25th) holiday, the MotH has a truncated work week. The extra days off has been nothing short of a godsend in terms of garden work and odd jobs around the house. We ventured out only to my father-in-law’s for Easter brunch. FIL is not in the best of health, but even with his aches and pains, he proved to us that he still has a sense of humor when it comes to his share of dessert.

Which brings me to the cake above. Simnel cake is the blonde sister to Christmas fruitcake. Traditionally made for Easter, it has a load of raisins, currants and dried cherries in the mix, but it doesn’t sit as heavy in the stomach. A thin layer of marzipan goes into the middle (before baking) and on the top (after baking), whereupon 11 marzipan balls are placed on top.

As I was cutting the cake and explaining to my FIL that the 11 marzipan balls represent the 12 Apostles minus Judas, he suddenly perked up and said with a big smile, “I would like a slice, but not Judas’…” Honestly, he can pick at his food like a bird but when it comes to sweets, FIL is a sugar fiend.

The remainder of April is predicted to be a mix of sun and rain. Fine by me, but I do hope the month of May brings stable weather – we’ve got a treehouse to sleep in!

Beet inspo salad

Curiosity piqued and eyebrow raised to the sky (seriously, my right eyebrow takes on a life of its own) by a blood orange slices, roasted beets and pecan comment on this post at Kat’s blog, this salad is the result of what happens when you make a go of merging a couple of great recipe ideas, plus your own.

Kat whipped up a blood orange vinaigrette to dress some wilted swiss chard, then topped it with spicy pecans, and gorgonzola dolce. I have a surplus of mandarin oranges in my fridge so I made a creamy mandarin vinaigrette to go over a salad of farro, roasted beets, blood orange slices, toasted pecans, and crumbled gorgonzola piccante. Voila! Beet inspo!

Mandarin orange dressing (best made a day in advance to allow flavors to blend)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons mayo
1 tablespoon chopped wild fennel tops (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and whisk to blend completely.