Advertisements
RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Fleetwood Mac: Rocking into Retirement

2DAEEE2E00000578-3285618-image-m-19_1445569357961

So we’re back in the Hunter Valley at Hope Estate for another concert from some Old Rockers. Fleetwood Mac were back in town. They had cancelled their 2013 tour after John McVie became ill. So it was good to see them back – and this was the best thing about the gig – Christine McVie was reunited with the band.

Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Christine McVie together again! The dream line-up.

Now I was sitting quite a way back, but with the help of giant video screens, it was obvious from the youthful appearance of the band members that “work” had been done. And quite a lot of work. Lindsey Buckingham looked like he had been embalmed… I found his orange colour quite disconcerting. Stevie Nicks looked good, she’d dropped some weight – but was she wearing a wig?? Can anyone of her age have that much blonde hair to swoosh? It was hard to see what John McVie looked like, he played bass upstage from the others. No Sting-like theatrics for this unobtrusive rocker. Mick Fleetwood looked just like always, he had apparently barely aged. Somewhat of a gentle giant, with the occasional manic moves on drums.

fleetwood_mac_1_1b3892r-1b38931

Christine McVie was the standout. The oldest of the bunch, at 72 she looked really great – and sounded great. 16 years away from Fleetwood Mac and the rock and roll lifestyle have clearly had their benefits. Slim, energetic, giving it her all in her own numbers, she did none of the annoying prancing and dancing that Stevie and Lindsey indulged in for far too much of their time on stage. We were here for the music, not the geriatric calisthenics. Christine was worth the trip.

20bddee3401e25c3002c451772784a31

It was a good concert but not a great concert. You got the feeling that they had done this gig time after time after time. There was no spontaneity, no straying from the set list. Even the stage patter sounded formulaic and rehearsed. Stevie greeted us with “I’ve never been to Hunter Valley”. We know, cause if you had, you’d know it’s The Hunter Valley.  The all important “the”.  And we know all about the Stevie/Lindsey dynamic, so we didn’t need to see some fake frolicking and lovey dove stuff during a couple of the numbers.

f01c9eb3-8631-478f-aeae-ad924631a9a6

But, all things considered, the Old Rockers gave us all the classics and pretty decently too. Lindsey’s guitar antics were pretty awesome and it’s clear he’s still got it musically. Mick’s manic drumming was pretty good too – highly energetic, what is he on?

 “Dreams”, “Rhiannon”, “Tusk”, “Sara”, “Gypsy”, “Little Lies” and “Go Your Own Way” were my favourites and they have stood the test of time. Stevie’s voice was a little low and husky, while Christine McVie sounded like she had just stepped out of the 70s.

The weather was not kind: drizzly rain and cool temperatures on what should have been a balmy spring night. The crowd was edgy, patrons were drunk rather than tipsy, and a scuffle broke out towards the end of the gig. We felt the 2 1/2 hour concert dragging. We were cold and wet and ready for the bus back home. Back at chez Shakey – Hunter Valley Country Lodge –  a hot shower and a liqueur muscat nightcap really warmed us up.

I’m sure the band would have slept well too, after the gig, dreaming of the money they had made on this tour, and perhaps thinking of retirement. Right? Right.

Oh, I should mention that the bonus at the concert was the support act Angus and Julia Stone. A great Australian brother and sister duo worth listening to.

Fleetwood Mac Hope Estate, 14 November 2015

 

 

Advertisements

Banana and Date Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

IMG_8859

Recently I made Figgy Banana Bread from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food. I love it because it’s got nuts and seeds, and I’m mad on both. Plus the banana, figs and apple in the recipe give it a beautiful natural sweetness. It tastes great and feels healthy.

I decided to make banana bread using the principle of the Jamie recipe with a few changes. I changed the figs for dates for a start as I wanted the kind of caramel flavor that dates bring. And I made it as a cake, or rather 2 small cakes, one round, one square. I iced the little cakes with luscious salted caramel buttercream icing. The “healthy” benefits may have been put to one side, but hay, you don’t have to be good all the time!

IMG_8839

So here is the recipe. The quantities make one one medium size cake or two small cakes. You could even make this cake in a loaf tin and forgo the icing and you will have nice  banana and date bread…

Ingredients

Cake

170g pitted dates

75ml vegetable oil

125g natural yoghurt

1 tbs vanilla extract

4 ripe bananas

2 large free-range eggs

150g wholemeal self-raising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

100g ground almonds

1 tbs sesame seeds

1tsp ground ginger

Buttercream Icing

100g softened butter

200g icing sugar

1 tbs salted caramel sauce (you can make your own – recipe below, or simply use dulce de leche or any caramel sauce with a little salt added)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease one round baking tin or two small tins or bake the mixture in a large loaf tin for the more conventional banana bread look.

Place the dates in a food processor and blitz till the dates are  really finely chopped. The add the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled and roughly chopped bananas and eggs, and blitz until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, sesame seeds and ground ginger and pulse until only just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin(s) and spread out evenly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for the large cake or 25 t0 30 minutes for the small cakes or until until a skewer inserted into the cake(s) comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When cool, remove from the tin(s) and ice generously with the salted caramel icing. I also drizzled the cakes with extra caramel sauce.

Buttercream Icing

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer or you can even use a food processor  When light, fluffy and creamy stir in the salted caramel.

IMG_8856

Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

200g white sugar

90g salted butter, in small pieces

120ml cream

1 tsp salt

Method

Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed  saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar turns into a tea coloured liquid as you continue to stir. At this stage the toffee/caramel flavour is achieved. If you take the liquid to a slightly darker brown colour, you will achieve that “burnt’ flavour – but beware it is really easy to actually burn the caramel!

Now add the butter very carefully – the caramel will bubble up. Stir the caramel until the butter is completely melted.

Pour in the cream while continuing to stir. The mixture will  bubble when cream is added. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the  salt.

Allow to cool before using. The caramel will thicken on cooling and thicken even more in the fridge. To ensure the caramel sauce is pour-able for the pavlovas, VERY carefully microwave to warm up on low heat. Or you could sit the container in a bowl of hot water to warm up.

Jamie Oliver’s Granola Dust and Breakfast Trifle

IMG_8905

IMG_8900

Granola Dust is from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food. It’s basically a granola mix blitzed in the food processor until the mix becomes pulverized. Great for serving with fresh fruit, or just sprinkling over muesli to add another texture.

I love adding Granola Dust to muffins as I did in my last post, Blueberry Granola Dust Muffins. They taste quite nutty, and healthy!

In the photo above, I made a breakfast trifle by layering mixed berries, Greek yoghurt and Granola Dust with a drizzle of honey, in a jar. You could do the same thing in a bowl.

These quantities for Granola Dust are what Jamie specifies in his book. I thought that sounded rather a lot, so I made a quarter of the mix – this gave me half a large jar’s worth of Granola Dust.

IMG_8515

Ingredients

1kg porridge oats

250g unsalted mixed nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews

100g mixed seeds such as chia, poppy,sunflower, sesame, linseed, pumpkin

250g mixed dried fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, sour cherries mango, apricots, figs, sultanas

3 tablespoons quality cocoa powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee

1 orange

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Place the oats, nuts and seeds in a large baking tray. Toss together and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway.

Stir the dried fruit, cocoa and coffee into the mix, finely grate over the orange zest, then in batches, blitz in the food processor till the mixture forms a rough powder or dust.

Transfer to a large glass jar (or jars) to store.

IMG_8543

IMG_8915

Blueberry Granola Dust Muffins

IMG_8782IMG_8785

A huge fan of the muffin, I have lately changed my “go-to” basic muffin recipe. As a fan of the baker James Morton, whose bread prowess I have talked about a lot on this blog, I recently acquired his latest book How Baking Works (And What to do When it Doesn’t):

http://www.amazon.com/How-Baking-Works-What-Doesnt/dp/009195990X

He has much to say about, well, how baking works, and lots of tips for the trickier aspects of baking.

I thought I had muffin-making down pat, using The Moosewood Cookbook recipe which has been my staple since forever, but James’ tips about weighing all ingredients, even the liquids, and a few other good pointers, have given me some inspiration to try his muffin-making method from the above book.

To make a really healthy muffin, I substituted wholemeal flour for white, added Granola DustJamie Oliver‘s pulverized granola mix from his Everyday Super Foods – and lots of seeds. I substituted honey for sugar. A very tasty and fruity muffin and good for you too!

But you could use sugar, and completely leave out the Granola Dust and seeds if you like  – they both add texture and a nice nutty taste but are not essential – and this recipe still produces a great blueberry muffin. Maybe bump-up the flour by 20g if you leave out the Granola Dust and seeds.

Ingredients

250g wholemeal plain flour

1 1/2tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

A  pinch of salt

40g Granola Dust (optional)

30g mixed seeds (eg poppy, sesame, chia, linseed) (optional)

150g blueberries

100g honey or golden caste rugar

1 free-range egg

100g milk semi-skimmed or full fat milk

100g natural yoghurt

100g sunflower oil

150g blueberries

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan-forced.  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers, or grease the tin with butter or oil spray.

In one bowl, add the flour, baking powder, bi-carb, salt, Granola Dust and seeds, mixing carefully to integrate the dry ingredients. Add the blueberries and mix to coat the fruit. Be careful not to break up the fruit.

In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, milk, yoghurt and sunflower oil.

Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a wooden or large metal spoon, gently mix everything together. Make sure all the floury mix is combined,  but be careful not to over mix.  No flour should be visible, but the batter should still seem lumpy.

Divide the mixture evenly into the papers or tins, and bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the muffins (bigger muffins take longer). When done, they should be golden brown and should bounce back when pressed firmly. Or carefully insert a skewer into the centre of the muffin and see if it comes out clean the muffins are cooked.

Cool the muffins in the tin before eating, advice I’m not particularly good at heeding!

I served my muffins with Greek style yoghurt and honey. Healthy and delicious.

IMG_8794

%d bloggers like this: