February 25, 2012

Miss Phryne Fisher's tea cake and julienne soup

Miss Fisher from ABC's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

To celebrate the release of ABC's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, I am posting a couple of recipes from 'A Question of Death', one of the books from the series based on Phryne Fisher. The Honourable Phryne Fisher captivates with a Lulu bob, green eyes, Cupid's Bow lips and diamante garters. She is Melbourne's most elegant sleuth in the 1920s and the book, and now television series, follows Miss Fisher on her adventures in solving crimes. Taking place in a most glamourous era, Miss Fisher indulges in extravagant hats and shoes, freely sips sinfully strong cocktails and escapes the most persistent of suitors.

Her author, Kerry Greenwood, began writing mysteries on her quest to become a published writer. On some advice, she changed her tactic from historical writer to mystery writer. In forming her character for her new mystery novel, Kerry decided she wanted her heroine to be just like James Bond, with fewer gadgetry and a more lavish wardrobe. Kerry wanted to create somewhat of a role model, a woman who didn't doubt herself and worry about neglecting her diet, doing more exercise or the perils of growing fat.

The following recipes are taken from my copy of 'A Question of Death', which is a beautifully illustrated Phryne Fisher collector's item, with extracts from Miss Fisher's various titles, recipes, fashion tips and general Miss Fisher trivia.

The first recipe is for a elegant tea cake, which is actually very low in fat and can be made gluten-free, dairy-free or even vegan by making the relevant substitutes. The second is for another low-fat recipe and one that makes me feel instantly comforted just by reading the recipe. It's for soupe julienne, made with matchstick vegetables and warming chicken broth.

An illustration from 'A Question of Death'
Miss Fisher's Tea Cake
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • a pinch of salt
For the topping:
  • 1 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
  1. Cream the butter and sugar. 
  2. Gradually add the egg to the creamed mixture, then add the flour and milk alternately, half at a time, and beat well.
  3. Place mixture in a greased sandwich tin and bake for 25 minutes, until golden and spongey.
  4. Turn cake out onto a cake cooler and while warm, brush with topping.
Soupe Julienne
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of brandy
  • 1 litre of strong chicken stock
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  1. Chop the onion and cut all other vegetables into matchsticks.
  2. Cook onion in a little olive oil until soft then add vegetables, stirring.
  3. Add brandy to deglaze.
  4. Add chicken stock, herbs and pepper and simmer for one hour.
  5. Remove herbs before serving. 

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