April 11, 2009
Filomena's Choc-Marble Cake
Two doors down from me lives this lady and her dear husband Romano who originally come from Europe. There is a mixture of cultures between the two of them including Croation, Istrian, Ukrainian and French. Whenever I shut my gate and walk down to Filomena's gate, I feel like I have left the shores of Australia. As I close her gate behind me I am immediately transported to another world, the European world, or more precisely Filomena's world. Her home is a rare place that exists in this fast-paced, modern, clinical western society. I feel privileged to know her.
To say that Filomena makes and does everything herself is a gross understatement. This lady grows and tends to a huge vegetable garden. There are fruit trees dotted among the one and half acres and the front of the house is scenic and picturesque with lovingly tendered flowers, native trees and bushes and carefully placed garden ornaments. A large statued trickling water fountain greets me as I make my way to her back door. The front door is more for display than use.
Down the back, along the creek there is a huge pen containing a variety of fowl including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, roosters and up until a while ago there were even peacocks. When fowl meat is required for the dinner, out comes Filomena with her boots, her protective jacket and her big axe. After a scuffle in the henhouse, a bird is caught, off comes its head and the work begins. The hot water, the plucking of feathers, the removal of gizzards, oh what a sight! She moves and works with such purpose and focus and gets the job done efficiently and speedily.
As you can imagine Filomena is pretty handy with a knife too. Apart from the obvious culinary uses; I digress and reflect upon other knife possibilities. I remember years ago when Filomena had to travel one hour to reach her workplace for nightshift. At the time there was a rapist on the loose targetting female drivers. Never one to be the victim, Filomena empowered herself, sharpened her knife, put it in the glove box and exclaimed, "I'm ready for him"! By golly she meant it too. It's too inappropriate to repeat the step by step plans Filomena had for him but it aint pretty. Fortunately for the rapist he was caught not long after.
This amazing lady has such strong convictions and beliefs and her world of food is a testament to how they live. Filomena insists on only eating organic foods and knowing the source of where her food comes from. She is also into making her own potions and medicines with herbs, leaves and god knows what else, but that is another story.
Filomena turns 69 in a couple of days and I think she will easily make one hundred living the life she does. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the Filomena story goes, but I better get on with one of the home made treats she whips up and puts out onto the table whenever I go over for coffee. I particulary like her marble cake because it is so moist and uses olive oil. Secretly I think I am fooling myself that because there is olive oil in it, it must be good for me. Well, whatever the case, it tastes pretty damn good. I hope I do you justice Filomena.
Sretan Rodjendan (happy birthday) and Zdravo!(Good health).
Filomena's Choc-Marble Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 tepid milk
1/2 light olive oil
1tsp cocoa powder
ground almonds & butter to coat the baking tin
Preheat oven to a moderate temperature. Thoroughly butter the baking container (I use a kugelhopf tin); then coat with finely processed almonds.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks, sugar & vanilla extract till light, pale & creamy. Will take up to 10 minutes.
In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, whip up the egg whites till they just hold their peaks.
Add the olive oil, milk & flour to the egg yolk mixture.
Using the beater from the electric mixer, fold through the ingredients with your hand till well incorporated.
Beat some of the egg white into this mixture; do not worry about being too heavy handed. This will now allow the remaining mixture to recieve the rest of the egg whites folded through more gently.
The mixture should be pourable and not at all firm.
Take out a small quantity of mixture and whisk in the cocoa.
Half fill the container with the vanilla mixture, drizzle the cocoa mixture over this; then finish off with the remaining vanilla mixture.
Bake in the oven for approx. 35 to 40 minutes. Take out; rest on a wire rack till the cake has completely cooled.
Gently hit the sides of the tin to help release the cake. You should not need any utensils to loosen the cake. Invert onto a dish. This cake is almost sponge-like, however unlike a sponge it has a much longer keeping time.
I would enjoy Filomena's cake with a strong black cup of Turkish coffee. And believe it or not; a very small whack of plum brandy. I have no choice in the matter because the woman simply does not understand the word "no". Cheers Filomena.