Saturday 27 June 2009

Soup and Cake for Lunch

Yesterday I was wondering what Jarvis Cocker thought about the death of Michael Jackson. Sylvia and I had a relaxing day after a busy week. We had done a little socialising, been into my office, had her 4 month check and immunisations. But yesterday we spent most of the day at home. It was a day to hang the washing on the line, make soup and listen to talkback on the radio.

Everyone was talking about the death of Michael Jackson as though it was the most important thing to happen last week. Even more important than UteGate, our weird and wonderful Australian political scandal where the leaders of the government and opposition spent a lot of hot air telling each other to resign over cronyism and a faked email.

While I am sad when any human dies, I didn’t think the death of Michael Jackson was as momentous as some of the media commentators would have us believe. I was never a fan. Of course I tried to do the moonwalk but never even bothered to perfect it. The song I remember most fondly is Ben, a sweet song about a rat. I think I liked it particularly because it reminds me of going to see sentimental movies such as Storm Boy and Benji on school excursions. I think that Ben was also on the album my dad bought, thinking it was a woman singing!

E mentioned that no one does covers of Michael Jackson songs. No covers but I can think of a spoof that amused me when it was a hit. Weird Al Yankovic’s single Eat it was number 1 in Australia. I loved the line “Have some more yogurt, have some more spam / It doesn't matter if it's fresh or canned / Just eat it”. One of the high profile Michael Jackson stories that comes to mind for me is when Jarvis Cocker wiggled his bottom at Jacko and ended up in jail overnight. So you see why I was wondering about what Jarvis thinks now!

But when it comes to posterity, I feel that the Farrah Fawcett haircut has every bit as much claim to history as the moonwalk. It seemed sad that no one was talking about her. When I was a child Farrah Fawcett was the picture of glamour for young girls like me. So I was more saddened by her death on the same day as Jacko.

These were some of my thoughts as I listened to the radio while I ate lunch. Sylvia was kicking on the rug with her toys and I sat beside her to eat. While many days I have a dull lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, I was pleased with my efforts yesterday. I made soup and had home made cake and fruit after.

The soup was an easy one, inspired by my recent onion soup and a yen to try cooking with that beastly vegetable, celeriac. It is one of those unusual vegetables that fascinates me but I am never sure what to do with it. I had found its ugly face impossible to resist in the supermarket so I had to use it.

I roasted the vegetables and pureed them with the last of my home made stock from the freezer. I added some yoghurt but next time I might try milk or cream because the sourness of yoghurt was a little strong for the subtle root flavours, although I did like the creaminess. The celeriac had a pleasant nutty mild celery flavour. It was an easy soup to make while looking after Sylvia because it required very little attention (unlike my wee girl).

After the soup I had a slice or two of Cheese and Apple Cake. I had seen it on Not Quite Nigella. It is worth reading Lorraine’s post for the amusing reflections on historic recipes. She found this recipe in a National Trust cookbook. Lorraine used pears but I fancied apples. I omitted the almonds but have put walnuts in the recipe as I think I might use those next time.

The idea of cheese in a sweet cake intrigued me. But despite the strong smell of cheese from the cake box each time I open it, the cake does not taste as strongly of the vintage cheddar cheese as I had hoped. Nor could I taste the apple much either. In fact the cake was mostly buttery and sweet. Just E’s type of cake but not so much mine. I’d prefer the apple and cheese without the sugar. Although I did like the occasional chewy bits of cheese. It is just the right sort of cake to have for an afternoon tea with a cuppa. Or to sandwich between some soup and an apple for lunch.

Celeriac, Potato and Watercress Soup
Serves 3-4

1 celeriac, peeled and chopped
4 small potatoes, chopped
1 onion, peeled and halved
slurp of olive oil
500ml stock
1 cup water
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bunch watercress, roughly chopped
¼ cup yoghurt or cream or milk

Place celeriac, potato, and onion in roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some seasoning over it. Roast at 220 for about an hour or til soft. Trasnfer to large saucepan. Add stock, water and garlic. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add watercress and stir a couple of minutes till wilted. Puree with hand held blender. Stir in yoghurt, cream or milk.

Cheese and Apple Cake
(Adapted from the National Trust Historic Cake Recipes via Not Quite Nigella)

125g butter
180g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g green apples (I used 2 small granny smiths), peeled
120g good cheddar grated
3 tablespoons plain yoghurt
60g chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour (or wheat flour)
1⅓ cups white wheat flour
⅔ cup cornflour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180 C/350 F. Grease and line a 2lb-loaf tin.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Grate apples over bowl so the juice goes in as well as the flesh. Discard the cores. Stir in cheese and yoghurt and walnuts if using. Fold in flours, bicarb soda and baking powder till just combined.

Spoon batter into the prepared tin. Bake for about 1 hour until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

On the stereo:
New Wave playlist – various artists


  1. Id forgotten all about the Jarvis Cocker incident, it did make me laugh at the time.
    The only cover I can think of was Alien Ant Farm's version of Smooth Criminal I loved it an played the cd over and over.

  2. Oh what a meal you had there. Celeriac is such a lovely veg to cook with. I love it in soup...

    I have made cheddar cheese and apple muffins before. They were to my taste, but mr. B. was not a fan. Wonder why.

  3. Thanks Flower - I don't know the song or band but interested to hear there are covers out there

    Thanks Anh - I would like to cook with celeriac a bit more - it seems so right for soups but I want to try it roasted too. I took the cheese and apple cake to my parents yesterday and they said they could taste the cheese but it was a bit dry after a few days and needed to be buttered.

  4. I don't think I've cooked with celeriac before. Glad that your soup turned out. It sounds good! And I've always wanted to try baking something sweet with apples and cheddar.

  5. Oh, Jarvis. HOW I love thee.

    I too had forgotten that Jacko incident - wish I'd recalled it on Friday. Interesting to see how his life parralleled that of Elvis toward the end. Is there anyone out there who seriously believes he had a skin condition that bleached him to a shade of Caucasian white?

    Well, I cannot believe that your little girl is four...lovely soup and thrilled to hear all is well from the doctor.

  6. Sounds like a lovely day--and happy 4th month b-day to Sylvia! (how time does fly!!). I felt the same way about the Jackson coverage. And I LOVED that Weird Al song, too!

  7. Thanks Ashley - strange that you say you would like to bake with apple and cheese - I was tempted to try your apple scones with cheese - maybe I still will

    Thanks Lucy - it is even more freaky that not only did his life have some echoes of elvis but he even married his daughter (I remember hearing it on the radio alarm one morning and thinking I was having a very weird dream)

    Thanks Ricki - maybe we need weird al to do us a version called Blog it :-)


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