Wednesday, March 17, 2010

introducing hildegard

there's a new arrival at the little brown house. she comes from a varied and far-stretching background although given that she's around 500 years old (and looking damn good for her age too, if we might say so) that isn't really surprising. in her time she's been a saint, a healer, a witch, a philospher, an arguer-with-mighty-fat-know-all-men, and cookie baker extraordinaire (to name but a few of her professions) and she comes to us with a killer eye for fashion and a feisty feminine wisdom we don't know how we ever did without. given all the things she's done and seen, it's hardly surprising she looks a little intimidating. but please, don't be shy! if you're in wanaka pop in and introduce yourself to hildy and if you're lucky she might even share a wry comment and a knowing wink with you. xx

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

well done natalie!

a few weeks ago we sent you all word of the "haiti fundraiser dinner and auction" our friend natalie was organising and held in wanaka on the 17th of february – many of you came along on the night or sent donations even if you couldn't be at the dinner and we, along with natalie, would like to thank you warmly for this. it's thanks to the support of everyone who cares that events like this are such a success, so pat yourself on the back! and what a success the evening was! because we know you'll want to hear, we'll let you know just how fantastic a fundraiser it was: natalie's dinner and auction raised a grand total of $5000 along with a further $2000 raised by a mt aspiring college mufti day ... all $7000 of which went to the new zealand red cross relief effort in haiti. the people at red cross were so impressed with natalie's effort that they've asked her to work on their fundraising committee in dunedin. we're not surprised at all. we'd like to congratulate natalie and thank her for showing us all that (yes, it sounds corny but you have to admit it's true) just one person can make a big difference. xx (p.s. natalie is the one in the middle of the photo, aided by her trusty fundraising sidekicks outside wanaka new world prior to the dinner and auction.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the best chocolate birthday cake ever!

our family is a chocolate one and if a birthday or special event appears during the year, it is almost always celebrated with chocolate almond cake. although we may branch out once in a while with some other chocolatey alternative, it is the chocolate almond cake that is our unfailing favourite.
which is why it was the birthday cake of choice for niki's birthday tea party here at the little brown house just a couple of days ago. even though niki's birthday cake disappeared almost as soon as it came out of the oven, it's a pretty safe bet that, should you come to the lbh, you'll find a slice of chocolate almond cake waiting for you (we love it so much we pretty much always have one here!).
and it's not just the finished product that is fantastic with this cake - it's the whole process of making it. there's something intensely therapeutic and definitely a little bit magic about heating up and slowly mixing the glossy, dark chocolate. the smell of it fills the kitchen and i challenge any self-respecting chocolate lover to resist this cake.
and don't worry about serving it with anything because it is just perfect by itself (although, if you want it is a stunning match with balsamic strawberries).
chocolate almond cake
180g dark chocolate (only the finest please. at least 70% cacao)
175g butter, softened
125g unrefined sugar
200g ground almonds
4 eggs, separated
for the icing:
100g dark chocolate
50g butter
heat oven to 150 degrees celcius. line a 25cm springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
break chocolate into pieces and melt in a copper (or other heatproof) bowl over a pot of simmering water. don't boil the water or you'll burn the chocolate.
cream together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy. add the ground almonds, egg yolks and melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
whisk the egg-whites until stiff, then add them to the cake mixture and fold everything together with a big metal spoon (be careful not to break the air in the egg-whites). pour into the cake tin and bake for 35mins (the middle should be a little squishy). allow to cool a little before removing from the tin.
to make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter together in a big heatproof bowl over simmering water then drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the promise of mousse

a few days ago, two gorgeous women all the way from coff's harbour wound their way up the beautiful wildy garden path and stepped into the little brown house. and my, how their visit made our day! beautiful luella and virginia (who had been sent up by the lovely lydia from gallery 33 with strict instructions to try our hot chocolate) came bearing warmth, enthusiasm and a fantastic sense of humour. they totally rocked our socks ... so much so we wanted to share their lovely smiles with you too! we sent them safely home with the recipe for our hildegard intelligence cookies and virginia left us with the promise of her chocolate chilli mousse recipe (ahhh! bliss! watch this space: we too promise to share!). wanna know what really made our day more than anything? well, according to virginia, the little brown house is "heaven on a hill". aw shucks ... we've got to admit that the whole "heavenly" aspect is thanks to lovely people like these two ladies and all of you. xx