Sunday, 20 June 2010

Long Weekend eats: crumble and cake

The last week has been one of highs and lows. The joys of good cooking followed by the disappointment that we were too sick to feel like eating it. The fun of playing with my nieces on a holiday, which ended all too soon. So let me take you back to last Monday, the Queens Birthday holiday, when Sylvia and I visited my family in Geelong.

We arrived at my mum and dad's on Sunday night but after seeing Ashton and family, were too late to see my sister Susie’s girls. So on Monday morning they came over. Sylvia loved it. Next to them, her eating doesn’t seem quite so fussy. (Though throwing half a bowl of baked beans on the floor is a new low in her eating!) She had little cousins to push her on the swing, protect her from my folks’ dog Woody (who caused her to cry and cry) and amuse her in any way they could.

Susie brought over an old fabric tunnel for Sylvia to play in but she wasn’t too interested. Grace and Ella had a great time playing in their old tunnel. Interesting how kids can find new fun in old toys. Meanwhile I rekindled an old interest (thanks to a bit of research on the web) and showed Maddy how to latch hook. These girls love to play with my camera so here is a photo that we took of Maddy’s hands. You can see they are hands that love to create and craft.

All too soon the girls had to go home for lunch and Sylvia was tired so we hoped in the car so she could have a sleep on the way home. I brought mum’s cooking with me – a lovely honey gingerbread and leftover spanakopita. Mum had served the spanakopita on Sunday night with an eggplant dish like this one but I had other ideas for how to serve the remains.

I had decided to make a crumble using the remains of my beetroot and rhubarb that I had bought for the recent beetroot and rhubarb soup. Making the soup had helped me understand how rhubarb acted in a similar way to lemon in a savoury dish. I have used mustard with rhubarb before and knew that would work. So I started chopping up vegetables and thinking about other flavours. I had some horrid tomatoes that were only good for cooking and bits of cheese and seeds that had been hanging around for a while.

When I told E I was doing a vegetable crumble, he asked what was in it. Just whatever is in the fridge and needs using, I replied. Once I had all the scraps of vegetables in the mix, there was very little need for any additional flavouring as it was already quite tasty.

It was surprisingly good though quite intense. It was an excellent accompaniment to mum’s spanakopita. It was an excellent way to use up bits and pieces from the crisper like mushrooms, cabbage and beet greens. But after two nights our stomach turned against such flavoursome food. I put it in the freezer and have added a little tub of crumble into a pumpkin soup tonight.

On the same night that I made the crumble I satisfied a hankering for a chocolate sour cream cake. I have felt the need to find a good recipe for such a cake ever since I bought some sour cream quite some weeks ago. The sour cream had been used up before I first spied Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze and then saw Carla make a vegan version with some of her vegan sour cream.

I had been fascinated by the sour cream that Carla first made with tofu, mustard, dill and garlic because it also included umeboshi vinegar. I have a bottle of the vinegar that I bought on a whim ages ago and struggle to find uses for. I was interested to see Carla revisiting the tofu sour cream in a cake. I had to try this. It tasted slightly of tofu. But, following Carla’s instructions to use Japanese silken tofu, I got a wonderful creamy concoction that you can see in my recent soup.

The cake is one of those soft moussey fudgy cakes that is dark with lots of cocoa. I took one out to taste and let the other cool in the tin overnight. Both cracked but possibly due to my decision to use two rather than three cake tins. Even without frosting, it is quite rich.

Some of this one was sent some home to my dad, some came to work with my lunch and we still have about half a cake that is edible. It is a cake that with all the frosting could be made as a special cake but without it, is one that can knock about the house and linger in the freezer. I enjoyed the tofu substitution for added protein and less fat.

All in all, it has been fun experimenting with some new flavours and vegan substitutes but my advice is that this is not recommended in times of a delicate stomach.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: What does home mean to you?
This time two years ago: Novel Food 4: Drowned Broccoli
This time three years ago: Guinness Chocolate Cake for Bloomsday

Beetroot and rhubarb crumble
serves about 6
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium beetroots, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ red cabbage, diced green leaves from bunch of 5 medium beetroots, chopped into ribbons
  • 2 huge mushrooms, diced
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 400g tin of brown lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 5 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, chopped
  • ½ cup water, or as required
  • 1 cup oats
  • ¼ cup wholemeal flour
  • ¼ cup of a mixture of pumpkin, sesame and pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp soy flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 80g gruyere cheese, grated
Heat oil in a large frypan and cook onions for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add beetroot, carrots, celery and cook for about 15 minutes. Add garlic, salt, cabbage, beet greens, mushrooms, chickpeas, and lentils. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, rhubarb and water. Cook for 5-15 minutes until all vegetables are cooked and most of the water is absorbed into a nice sauce. It took me about 45 minutes from when I started cooking the onions but I noticed the beetroot were cooked after about 30 minutes so you could possibly do it in less time than me.

While vegetables are cooking mix all crumble ingredients and grease a large casserole dish. (NB I used two dishes but I think it is better to have the crumble piled up rather than quite thinly spread.)

When vegetables are cooked, tip into casserole dish. Bake at about 200 C for about 30-45 minutes until crumble is crisp and golden brown.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 2or 3 x 20cm cake
  • 2 cups plain white flour
  • 2½ cups castor sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (oops – it should have been baking soda aka bicarb soda)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used tofu sour cream)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line 2 or 3 20cm round cake tins. (The recipe calls for 3 but I did 2.)

Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the oil and sour cream to make a very stiff mixture. Then gradually beat in the water. The mixture will now be quite liquid. Stir in the vinegar, vanilla and eggs to make a glossy slightly thickened batter.

Pour batter into prepared cake tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes if using 3 cake tins. If you are using 2 cake tins like I did it will take considerably longer – I think it took me another 20-30 minutes. You will know when it is ready because the middle will spring back when touched and a skewer inserted in the middle will come out almost clean.

Cool in cake tins for at least 20 minutes or until cold. It can be eaten with or without frosting or icing. I used a chocolate buttercream frosting which I found very rich. I can’t imagine how rich it would be with the original recipe which called for a cream cheese peanut butter frosting and a chocolate frosting! Keep in an airtight container. After a week our cake is still quite edible though past its best.

On the Stereo:
Neil Diamond: the Greatest Hits 1966-1992


  1. I hope you all feel much better soon, and are able to enjoy these delicious dishes once again! I love the idea of a vegetable crumble - so clever! I've wanted to try savory rhubarb for a while now - thank you for the perfect way to get me started! You tofu sour cream sounds fantastic, and so healthful for baking, too!

  2. Many good vibes for wellness being sent your way! Really do hope you all start feeling better soon. This is the second time in recent weeks that I've seen a savoury crumble on a blog - I really hadn't ever considered such a thing before! (Crumbles in my mind are always my mum's walnut-brown-sugar-butter-on-top-of-apples-and-boysenberries/rhubarb.)

    P.S. I'm 23, and even I want to play in that fabric tunnel.

  3. Thanks Astra - I have tried a few other vegie crumbles and love them - but still feel a novice with savoury rhubarb and tofu sour cream but hope both of them help create more healthy food

  4. Hope you all feel better soon. Nothing is as miserable as being sick in winter. I love the look of the crumble - you know how I love my beets! I have never seen a savoury crumble before. but it is a neat idea. And the sour cream chocolate cake - yum! I can imagine how it might taste, because we have just made a very similar cake for TWD - I have brought the rest of it to work today so OI don't eat it all!

  5. Love the sound of the beetroot and rhubarb crumble. I've had veggie crumbles before but never one quite like this. The cake looks very indulgant too.

    Hope your soon back to full health

  6. Wow - LOVE LOVE LOVE all those baked goodies :)

  7. Thanks Hannah - my mum always made fruit crumbles and I do quite a bit but I love a savoury crumble - and I am sure there is room for a tunnel in the smurf kitchen!

    Thanks Cakelaw - had a look at your cake and it looks quite similar but butter and less liquidy - would love to try this one too

    Thanks Katie - this is more intense than most savoury crumbles i have had - in fact I think it is better as a side dish to a carb/cheese heavy dish rather than as a dish in itself like some crumbles I have had before

    Thanks Lisa - glad you are a fan of my baking - we both got a bit suspicious of the cake after getting sick despite it not being the cause (we didn't react to it just around the same time we made it)

  8. Johanna,
    I finished work early today - Early shift. So I have time to catch up with some of my blog reads, yours being one of them. So much to read and keep me occupied.

    I am fascinated with the crumble. Not the savoury part of it, but the inclusion of the rhubarb. I am intrigued. As you may know I picked up some Scottish rhubarb early this week. I too am hoping to use rhubarb in a savoury dish, this will be new for me. Lets see how I like it, then I may just try your crumble!

    PS Do hope your feeling much better.

  9. Thanks Mangocheeks - how nice to have you spend your spare time here - have enjoyed seeing your rhubarb creations and would love to see how you use it in a savoury dish - yes am much better now (as evidenced by the speed chocolate is disappearing in the house)

  10. Sorry to hear about your tummy woes! Hope you're back to normal now. :)

    I love the idea of a savory crumble--genius! And what s great way to use up veggies. The chocolate cake also sounds quite wonderful, though I hope you omitted the mustard and dill from the sour cream for it ;)

  11. As always I admire your adventurous cooking! I just went out to eat recently at a local vegan restaurant and tried homemade vegan sour cream, which I've never had. It was quite interesting and I'm not sure something I could get used to on its own but used in a baked good like the cake you made would be perfect. I love the cracked top on your cake!

  12. beetroot and rhubarb? what a surprise, looks yummy though.


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)