Milky Drinks

Shakespeare Under The Stars

When Shakespeare’s Pop-up Globe came to Melbourne recently I was hoping they would stage Macbeth or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They didn’t. Happily the two shows we did see, Around The Globe In 60 Minutes and Henry V, were awesome so I wasn’t disappointed.

When it was announced that Shakespeare’s Pop-up Globe would be going to Sydney, I was annoyed to see that both Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream were going to be performed. There was only one thing to do – go to Sydney!

I’ve never read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I had a rough idea of the plot. One thing I knew for sure was there were fairies. Imagine my shock when Titania, Oberon and Puck came onto stage, not as fairies, but as New Zealand Maoris. That was some surprise! It was then that I remembered that the Pop-up Globe began in Auckland, New Zealand. I was disappointed that there would be no fairies on stage, but also excited as I’m a big fan of New Zealand. I was very curious to see how this twist would play out.

If you had no idea what A Midsummer Night’s Dream was about, having one section of the play spoken in Maori would have been very confusing. Happily my limited knowledge of the play allowed me to follow what was happening on stage. It was jolting but fun to hear Maori spoken alongside Shakespearian English and to see traditional Maori costumes among the Elizabethan ones. If that wasn’t weird enough, the actors performing the play within a play were dressed as Aussie tradesmen. By the end of the performance I felt like I had been on a wild ride! I couldn’t wait for our next visit to the Globe.

It’s no surprise that Macbeth, a play that features three witches, is one that I have read and seen many filmic adaptions of. Unlike A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this was a more traditional production. The roles of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macduff were brilliantly acted and gave me new insights into characters I thought I knew well. There was a school group in the audience, standing in the front section. Watching them, wide-eyed as the characters drew us into their emotional rollercoasters, was a stark reminder that Shakespeare was a playwright and his works are best enjoyed on the stage.

One of the reasons I love Macbeth is the witches and they did not disappoint! They commanded the stage and sent chills down my spine with their wicked performances as the three weird sisters. Like wraiths they moved, swayed and stalked across the stage while treating us to eerily sung songs that vibrated through our souls. At one point in the play the witches left the stage and came up behind the group of school children. Weaving through the audience, they scarily reached out to the school children while the children shrieked and tried to run away. I wonder if I was the only one in the audience who wanted to run down and join the witches? The whole play was a grand spectacle from start to end. It was well worth the trip to Sydney. I hope I get to see more performances of this incredible play.

Posset
To aid in the murder of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth drugs the possets of his guards so they will stay asleep while their King is slain. Modern possets, like my Lime Posset, are delicious, creamy desserts. The possets Lady Macbeth drugs were drinks made with warm, spiced milk mixed with either wine or ale. Some possets have beaten eggs added, much like an eggnog. As a fan of eggnog, I just had to add egg to my posset drink. However, unlike Lady Macbeth, I didn’t add a sleeping potion 🙂 

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Ingredients (per drink)
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup ale
freshly grated nutmeg for serving

Instructions
Combine milk, cinnamon, cloves and mace in a saucepan.
Gently bring to the boil over low heat.
Whisk together the egg and sugar in a heatproof bowl until fluffy.
Whisk the hot milk slowly into the egg.
Return to the saucepan.
Add the ale and whisk until warm but not boiling.
Pour into heatproof mugs.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg.

A Twitch Of History

Growing up I hated learning history in school. Our lessons seemed to be focussed mainly on memorising dates which made history boring and devoid of life. Happily there was one place that taught history in a fun and exciting way. That place was my lounge room and the vehicle was Bewitched, one of my favourite television shows.

Throughout the eight seasons of this magical show, a bevy of historical figures were zapped into the future and forced to deal with the modern world. At other times characters were zapped back in time to experience history first hand. During the ensuing mayhem I learned so many things, not only about history, but about race relations, class prejudice and gender politics.

One historical lesson I thoroughly enjoyed was when Samantha and Darrin go for a holiday to Salem, Massachusetts. One of the places they visit is The House of the Seven Gables, an historic New England home and the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s gothic novel of the same name. This episode features a spooky bedwarmer that follows Samantha and Darrin back to their hotel room at the Hawthorne Hotel, named after Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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Bedwarmer from the historic Altona Homestead in Melbourne

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born Nathaniel Hathorne in Salem on July 4th, 1804. It is believed that Nathaniel added the “w” to Hathorne to distance himself from his great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, a notorious lead judge in the Salem witch trials. Nathaniel used his ancestors as inspiration for many of his novels which explore colonial times and puritanical beliefs. He died on May 19th, 1864.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s deathiversary this Saturday is a special one for me. Last year I fulfilled a childhood dream to visit Salem Massachusetts and The House of the Seven Gables. I did this on July 4th, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthday. It was also Independence Day which added to the magic. My trip to Salem, and other parts of America, was so inspirational that I have written a book about it. I’ll be doing the final edit on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s deathiversary.

Before visiting The House of the Seven Gables for my own spooky adventure, I stopped in a cafe called Gulu-Gulu for a fortifying steamed milk drink. My version has a touch of Halloween pumpkin because I can never think of Salem without thinking of Halloween 🙂 

Pumpkin Pie Steamer

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Ingredients
I cup milk
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, (homemade or canned)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix*
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
whipped cream for serving (optional)

Instructions
Place the milk, pumpkin and spice mix into a blender and blend until smooth and combined.
Pour into a small saucepan.
Whisk over medium heat until warm.
Add the maple syrup and keep whisking until the milk is simmering but not boiling
Poor into a heatproof cup and top with whipped cream if desired.

*Pumpkin pie spice mix is a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and sometimes allspice.

This is my version:
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
Store unused spice mix in a spice container or small jar.

You can experiment with your own version but cinnamon should be the dominant spice.

Slow Chocolates and Warm Memories

As I wind down my reminiscing, I can’t help but think of the warm and nurturing hot chocolates we ended our evenings with at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. To symbolise my slow journey back through my past, I thought a slow cooker hot chocolate would be great. Don’t worry if you can’t drink it all in one go. Allow any leftovers to cool, then refrigerate until cold. It makes a great chocolate mousse!

IMG_0015.JPGSlow Cooked Hot Chocolate

Special Equipment:
Slow Cooker
Stick Blender

Ingredients
300ml double cream
2 cups of milk
200g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, give the chocolate a good whisk making sure you scrape any chocolate from the bottom and sides into the mixture. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
Turn off the slow cooker and very carefully blend the hot chocolate with a stick blender.
Serve piping hot.

Deathly Delights For Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th again and for some the day is seen as unlucky, for others it means nothing, and for people like me it’s a time to dip into mythology and try out a few recipes!

13 is sometimes considered the Devil’s number, but in a tarot deck the Devil card is actually 15. It is the Death card that is number 13. Ancient Egyptians believed there were 12 stages of life and the 13th stage was death and transformation in the afterlife. For them, 13 was a lucky number. The number 12 is often associated with completion, so it makes sense that the number 13 can symbolise death and rebirth into a new cycle. This is part of the Death card’s meaning – transformation and renewal.

Death

The Dracula Tarot

One of the key symbols in the Death card is the white rose. White roses epitomise purity, humility, reverence and innocence. They symbolise new beginnings and are therefore popular at both weddings and funerals.

For this Friday the 13th, I thought I would play around with the rose from the tarot Death card and the dessert called Death by Chocolate. There are so many ways this could have gone, but I really felt like a nurturing milk drink. I concocted two Death by Chocolate Delights – because I really couldn’t choose between them 🙂

Rose Water Iced Chocolate

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
1 scoop chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Place the milk and rose water in a glass and stir until combined. Add the chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate and Rose Water Milkshake

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
3 scoops chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Add the milk, rose water and ice cream to a blender or milkshake maker. Blend until smooth.

Bitter Sweet

In my exploration of the five flavours through drinks, I’ve saved bitter for last. Not just because it is my favourite emotion – I mean flavour! – but because it was the most difficult. Like sweet, bitter has so many of my favourite flavours such as beer, wine, tea and coffee. How could I narrow down a drink with so many offerings? With great difficulty.

After contemplating a citrus sangria, a root beer float with real beer and numerous tea infusions I finally settled on a tried and true bitter combination – mocha. Chocolate and coffee are great companions and both can be bitter. I chose to celebrate their union in stages. A marriage of fresh brewed coffee blended with melted chocolate is topped with a dollop of cream infused with instant coffee and sprinkled with cocoa nibs. The result – a luscious, messy indulgence 🙂

Hot Mocha

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A bitter-sweet symphony of coffee and chocolate.

Ingredients
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 cup freshly made coffee
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
cocoa nibs for serving (optional)

Method
Whisk the cream and coffee together by hand until thick.
Place the fresh coffee and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and combined with the coffee.
Divide evenly between two heat-proof glasses or mugs.
Top with coffee whipped cream.
Sprinkle with cocoa nibs if desired.

Note:
The cream can sometimes separate when dropped into the hot mocha. You can allow the mocha to cool slightly before dolloping the cream or you can enjoy it as a buttery, creamy mocha.

A Tasty Sour Note

I hope this won’t leave a sour taste in your mouth! Actually I do – but hopefully you’ll like it. The next flavour on my list is not sweet but sour 🙂

Sour is a bit of a pleasure and pain taste, but in the right proportions it really brings a recipe to life. Interestingly I love sour foods from the dairy range such as cheese – especially cream cheese and goat cheese – buttermilk, creme fraiche, sour cream and yoghurt. I’m not partial to sourness from fruits or vegetables although I do love sour cherries and occasionally really lemony tarts. So when exploring sour drinks I steered away from citrus based ones like the Whisky Sour and went for dairy based ones.

Fermented dairy products are popular drinks around the world and are thought to be helpful for digestion. They have been around for thousands of years and have been made from a variety of different dairy products such as camel milk or mare milk! While researching these drinks I was reminded of a drink that I used to make for myself, which I called Moon Milk because it was so white. My Moon Milk was simply yoghurt mixed with milk and seasoned with a pinch of salt. This led me to choose a yoghurt based drink to celebrate sourness. Indian lassis and Turkish ayran are probably the more well-known yoghurt drinks, but I chose Persian doogh, mainly because I have newly acquired and much loved Persian relatives. I also love how the sourness of yoghurt is tempered by the refreshing mint.

Doogh

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Ingredients
1 cup yogurt
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sparkling water
Ice cubes for serving.

Method
Place the yoghurt, mint and salt in a jug. Mix until the yoghurt is smooth. Add the soda water and mix until combined.
Serve chilled over ice.

A Very Sweet Equinox

It’s Equinox time – a time of balance and renewal when day and night are as equal as can be. In the Northern Hemisphere, the nights will now be longer than the days. In the Southern Hemisphere, the days will now be longer than the nights.

As I think of the long hot days ahead I think of drinks. So I thought it would be fun to play with the concept of balance through drinks and our sense of taste. Taste has five sensations – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Over the coming weeks I will explore each sensation through a drink. I’m starting with sweet.

Sweet is one of the easiest to work with as it is a pleasurable flavour and there are so many delicious sweet drinks around. But that is also a problem – with so much choice how do you choose?

One of my favourite sweet flavours is rose water. I thought a rose water cordial would be lovely. I was chatting to my friend who runs a bar about my thoughts for a sweet rose water cordial. He was brought up in Malaysia and told me about a drink from his youth – bandung. It’s a rose water syrup drink sweetened with condensed milk! Can you get anything sweeter than condensed milk? Possibly, but the thought of a rose water and condensed milk drink had me running from the bar to my kitchen. Here is my version of the very sweet, very delicious and very pink bandung.

Let me know what your favourite sweet drinks are 🙂

Bandung

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Ingredients
for the syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon rose water
pink or red food colouring

for mixing
1 cup condensed milk
1 cup water

Method
Boil the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves.
Add the rose water and enough food colouring to achieve the desired pink colour.
Add the condensed milk and water and mix until combined.
Chill in refrigerator before serving.