Planning at this time of year is difficult because Melbourne’s summer weather can be so fickle. With my birthday last week, my family visited a couple of weekends back to share afternoon tea in our backyard. We were lucky because the weather was a mild 24 C.
Birthdays are the perfect excuse to indulge so I made my favourite Walnut Fudge Cake and Grubs. My mum made some scones (including a few gluten free ones with GF flour for my niece) and brought her own home made apricot jam and whipped cream. We also had a fruit platter that I think my sister brought. But I wanted to make something a little lighter than my chocolate treats. I found a recipe for Apricot and Cheese Balls in Vikki Leng’s A Vegetarian Feast.
I made the Apricot and Cheese Balls in the morning before everyone arrived. The recipe said to let the mixture sit for 30 minutes but after this time it was still quite gooey and hard to roll into balls. I think next time it would be better to cool the mixture in the fridge for a few hours so it firms up more. The balls were nice on the day but I think they were better the next day after more time in the fridge. Not that many were eaten at the afternoon tea but I loved having them in the fridge over the next week - they were absolutely delicious and refreshing during the heat wave. They tasted predominately of dried apricot after sitting overnight rather than of the cream cheese.
I have a photo* of a beautiful plate that my family gave me for my birthday and wanted to tell you the story of my parents buying it. On our recent trip to Daylesford, we had stopped in an Art Gallery which had a display of Onta Pottery from Japan. I admired a plate and my mum had asked if I would like it for my birthday. It was lovely but I always feel a little concerned about if I have room for extra in our place. I swithered and we left empty-handed. Later I thought maybe I should have asked them to buy it after all because I kept thinking about it.
When I opened the present, my mum and dad told me how they organised it. While we were wondering around Daylesford, my mum disappeared and my dad said she must be looking at prices in a real estate agents window. Meanwhile I kept browsing in the giftshops, little knowing that my mum had gone to get the plate and asked my dad to keep me occupied. It was such an unexpected and delightful surprise and even better served with some intrigue!
Unlike the pleasant weather for the afternoon tea, I was less lucky that my actual birthday fell in the middle of the heatwave. Weeks before, E had been organised and booked us a table at Shakahari, one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne. However the air conditioning struggled with the heat - the staff apologised for it at the end of the meal – but I can’t help but think this is why I didn’t enjoy their food as much as usual (although when we left we realised that it was even hotter outside). I considered a separate post on Shakahari but I decided to wait for another time when it is cool enough for me to have my favourite chocolate pudding for dessert and take more note of the meal. The photo is of an interesting stuffed injera which I had for starter. Between us we also had tempura avocado, madame fang’s croquettes, laksa, and cheesecake.
So I was glad I had an early celebration with my family because my actual birthday was just too hot to be hugely enjoyable – but I managed to keep a small piece of my lovely walnut fudge cake aside for the day – and chocolate cake can’t fail to cheer me up! Meanwhile for those fellow Aussies feeling the heat, I highly recommend these Apricot and Cheese Balls as great hot weather snacks.
* Finally I have got through my backlog so this post has the first photos from my new camera and I am still puzzling over how to sort and edit photos on my new mac - makes me miss my PC!
Apricot and Cheese Balls
(From Vikki Leng)
250g cream cheese (I used low fat), softened
1 tbsp honey
⅔ cup (60g) coconut
Mix cream cheese and honey to combine. Mix in apricots. Place mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (preferably a few hours) to firm up a little. Shape into balls and roll in coconut. Keep in fridge. They will last for at least a week.
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