More than 2 months have passed since we adopted our cat, Gata after a big storm in reality and in my heart as well. We needed to change a lot of our ideas about cats and also about ourselves during this time. One of them was the plan of keeping her outside then she landed quickly on our sofa on the first rainy and cool day. Experienced pet-keepers know very well: the same time we are teaching our four-legged one, they are teaching us as well. I have learnt from her a lot about my rigid way of thinking, my prejudices, my fears and again, the power of love. And she learns our rules, accepts that Beeper our dog can be quite grumpy when having a bone in her jaw and we create rituals together, which gives the sense of security for all of us.
Gata definitely has a personality and I suspect she is not even a cat, better a catdog, a kind of mixture of a dog and a cat. She ignores any attempt of calling her by “chh-chh-chh or “here-kitty-kitty-kitty” , however she listens to “come”, “keep away!” (from the kitchen counter), and “where is your mouse and turkey leg?” (the least is a broken part of Beeper’s toy) and “dinner time!”.
Beeper and she became sisters by heart and Gata, unlikely to her race, chases Beeper in order to get her playing tag. Sometimes she hides herself behind fallen leaves and attacks little dog with a movement of a ninja when she passes by with her rubber elephant toy in her jaw. You can only recognise Gata by telltale sign of her ears, while lying in the middle of the carpet of leaves.
She is a good observer, she learnt that the best place to communicate with me is the kitchen because there is a high probability that I am around. Throughout the years I learnt the different types of dog barking, now I specialise in cat’s meow and try to find out what she tries to “tell” me. “I am bored” or “I will very soon jump on the kitchen table, just saying, I know it is forbidden!” or “I am hungry” or “ I want to go out”, or just simply: “love me”.
She is interested in photography and not only in kicking the lens cap I left on the table by accident. While I put my camera on tripod and choose settings she jumps on the little chair next to me than climbs up on my back to my shoulder and curiously looks at the display. I don’t exclude the possibility that she becomes a food photographer. She is also a perfect model. When she jumps on the window pane and I direct the camera into her direction she knows very well, that she needs to turn elegantly at the moment of exposure and stare into the lens. She is definitely a born talent.
Now I can only smile when thinking about the books and articles I read about cats at the beginning. Again, I realised that best way to learn and understand somebody- be it a two-legged or a four-legged- is to listen and not to give up.
This statement is valid for many things in life, for the birth of recipes also, for instance. Last weekend we have a family meeting at my boyfriend’s family, and his mother, Erzsi told about an apple cake she recently baked. I was enchanted by the idea of creating my own version of a cake, which consists of a base of shortcrust pastry, a vanilla custard and apples, as the last part of the apple recipes series on the blog. What if my own version will be inspired by the lavender crème brûlée, which was a very popular dessert in my bistro Bistro 181 and use my our apples from the orchards?
I soon get the answer to this rhetoric question, ingredients start to tell their tales. I I add lavender blossoms to the custard from the bouquet I got as a housewarming gift from a friend, Ákos. I use smaller Golden Delicious apples that we picked from the tree whose fruits got ripe as first this year.
The test baking is love at the first sight, but I draw conclusions and don’t give up to make it even better. Once again kneading, stirring and baking and I also get some help. Gata is my assistant in photography and my boyfriend, Áron my Nr. 1. test eater takes a careful look at the final product and we sit down at our dining table. The lavender custard is light and creamy, the apples are just as sour as necessary and shortcrust pastry cracks at every bite.
After all, what else could I wish for myself and four ourselves, than a loooots of two months like the recent ones, with dog and cat and recognitions and… apple cakes….
Lavender apple cake
For the shortcrust pastry:
250 g all-purpose flour
125 g cold butter
50 ml cold water
1 pinch of salt
For the custard:
300 ml cream
60 ml milk
3 egg yolks
50 g powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of dried lavender blossom
500 g apples
juice of a lemon
Mix flour, salt in a big bowl and make a well in the centre. Grate butter or cut it into small pieces and mix with the flour properly until it forms small crumbles. Add cold water, egg and knead well to get a flexible dough. Wrap it into a plastic foil and refrigerate for an hour.
Peel apples, core them and cut into half. Put them into a bowl with cold water and the lemon juice to avoid that they brown. In a saucepan bring milk and cream to boil. Remove from heat, add lavender blossom and let it rest to 10 minutes so the liquid will absorb the aroma of the blossom. Pass the cream through a fine-mesh sieve, discard lavender flowers. Whip egg yolks with powdered sugar until it gets white than add milk-cream mixture while stirring continously.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Lightly grease a 28 cm non-stick round cake tin with removable bottom and line the bottom with baking paper. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to 3 mm. Line the bottom and sides of the cake tin until the top of sides and pick the bottom with a fork on a few spots. Bake for 10 minutes. Arrange apples on top and pour over the custard. Bake for further 25-30 minutes until the custard has just set.