Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tiny Little Apple Puddings

Hey Ho! Christmas will be upon us soon and I will be taking a couple of weeks off, so I am rushing to get my last two posts written before then.

Donna Hay made these beautiful little puddings and I really wanted to try them out. Gorgeous as they were, I found them a little too sweet for my taste. They were very quick and easy to make requiring just what you have in your fruit bowl and pantry. I found that this recipe made 8 puddings but if you use ramekins to make them instead of muffin tins you would probably only get 6.

I also found the cooking time to be less than quoted in the recipe, but again that will vary from oven to oven.

So if you are looking to impress a few of your friends without spending a lot of time in the kitchen, then try this. Served with ice cream or cream or Crème Fraîche, life couldn't be any sweeter



Little Tiny Apple Puddings

Please note the changes I made to the recipe are in italics.

Ingredients

1 very small  Pink Lady Apple
100 g caster sugar
110g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Golden Syrup
100g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g butter melted
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla


Grease 6 ramekins or 8 large muffin tins

  • Take the apple and cut it into 1 cm rings, leave the peel on
  • Add 1 teaspoon of Golden Syrup to the muffin pan then place a slice of apple on top of the Golden Syrup.
  • Add batter mixture until it reaches the top of the muffin pan (they will rise a little higher than this)
  •  

Leave in the tin for around 5 minutes, take out and invert on to a small serving plate to show the apple on the top and serve.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Kitchen Gadgets

My apologies for a slack posting month, but it has been a very busy time for some unknown reason. I am endeavouring to speed up posting this month because I hope to have a couple of weeks break over Christmas to play with ice cream recipes and enjoy the time with my family.

How many kitchen gadgets do you have that you simply can't live without? find myself in love yet again with another little bit of plastic!

I am being deadly serious. Most times I get by with a cheese grater, a few sharp knives, a micro planer and an apple corer. Today, I was reading about this fantastic gadget - a Julienne Peeler and I knew I just had to have one. Ok, so I am fast becoming a kitchen gadget junkie! 


I headed down to my local kitchen shop to see if I could snaffle up one. My Kitchen is a great little shop in Main Street, Blackwood. They have the most amazing array of products that you would generally only find in a much larger store. It is a sheer delight to wander in and browse, but it isn't long before your eyes are drawn to something that you haven't seen before and you know that it is something you must have. 


My Kitchen has been in operation for close on 17 years and the current owner Karen, has been here for around 10 years. It just proves that this little shop has definitely provided the right service and products to it's local community over a long period of time.

Here is a peek into the world of My Kitchen.




































So now back to my Julienne Peeler.




So why is this gadget so amazing. Well check these pictures out. I do own a Mandolin and it slices thing really finely and good sized julienne cuts for stir fries but this product is truly wonderful and completely different.



In celebration here is a quick salad, using my new peeler. And if this doesn't make you want to run to your handy kitchen supplier and buy one, then nothing will.


So humour me and  give it a try it!




Zucchini  and Cucumber Salad with *Herb Dressing

You will need:

2 - 3 zucchini
1 long continental cucumber
basil, chives, parsley - 2 tbls of each finely chopped
1 tbls capers finely chopped
3 tbls pine nuts, roasted in a dry pan
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1 carrot
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbls lemon juice  
salt and pepper
2 tbls olive oil
1 tbls white wine vinegar
1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese 

Using your Julienne Peeler, process the continental cucumber , zucchini and carrot. Place in a colander and add a pinch salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes. Wash off the salt and squeeze dry the vegetables.  Place these in a bowl with the chopped capers, pine nuts and shaved parmesan.

Using a stick blender, blend herbs, garlic, yoghurt, lemon juice, vinegar, oil.

There should be a nice bite to this dressing. Adjust seasoning to suit with lemon and salt and pepper.

*This dressing was inspired by my friend Terri. When we worked together, one of the dressings Terri loved to make was a green, herb mayonnaise. Well Terri, I have taken out the mayonnaise and replaced it with yoghurt. Let me know what you think.




Monday, 24 November 2014

Walking the Wet Lands at Banrock Station**

Banrock Station is a big wine producer situated at Kingston - on -the - Murray, 3 hrs drive north east of Adelaide. It's property is bounded on one side by the River Murray and sweeps up on a low escarpment to the east. Possibly resulting from the erosion of the river in the distant past.

The eastern side of the river banks form a natural wetland area which in the past was flooded every year. The river weirs have reduced flooding and this has affected this natural environment.

*Since 1994, Banrock Station have been restoring this environment by removing domestic livestock, reducing natural wetting and drying cycles, removing feral animals and planting thousands of native plants.

The area houses a vast vineyard, cafe/wine tasting area, wetland centre and walking trails. The trails take you right through the area, with side hikes to bird hides and water holes. You can walk on the Boardwalk 4.5 kilometres or the Wetland Circuit walk of 8 kilometres.

We wanted to do the 8km walk so we could see the whole of the wetland area. We saw one brown snake on the boardwalk which did not seem to want to move out of our way, but after a bit of gentle persuasion with a big stick, moved into the water and swam off.

Along the route we spotted a few kangaroos, one which had a joey. The joey did not spend much time out of the mother's pouch after we walked towards them.

Overall it was a nice walk. Not a lot to see and it was getting quite hot by the time we got back to the Cafe. We walked 10 kms in total, saw 1 snake, lots of snake and lizard tracks and 6 kangaroos. There were a few black swan, cormorants and ducks but overall a bit disappointing. Maybe if we had walked in winter we would have seen more wild life.
Here are some photos I took along the walk.


We spent one night in Barmera and took a few photos from a lovely side of Lake Bonney, recommended by Jack Miller, a long time resident, photographer and tour guide.





* Taken from Banrock Station Pamphlet.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Whose Idea Was This Anyway?**

I am not sure I am even qualified to be writing this. I am starting out - it's taken me 65 years to get here and I have no idea if I can do this.

It started with a mad rush to the head when I went walking to get a bit fitter and to find out how bad the arthritis was in my knees. I also have a back problem - lower discs pretty stuffed and I was spending a lot of time in physiotherapy  and feeling immensely fed up.

I was researching walking for fitness and I came upon this lovely website from the UK, written by a guy called George. (That was my dad's name. so I knew it would be good) It was filled with information about walking and everything you could possibly want to know about how to walk, where to walk, what to wear and what to carry.

So I emailed George and struck up a conversation about walking and I got quite enthusiastic. But the furthest I had ever walked in one go was about 3 - 4 kms and that seemed pretty exhausting .

Visiting Europe and UK in June/July, I found myself doing a lot of walking.  There were quite a few short hikes around Cumbria, Hadrian's Wall and of course a lot of mileage in and around London. There is so much to see and do and walking is the best way to see and do it.
Aira Force, Hadrian's Wall, Cows at Greater Strickland, Wass Water,
 Stone Circles, Castlerigg, Keswick, Cumbria
When I got back from UK, I overheard someone in my Pilates class talking about planning a long distance walk in the England and very quickly the seed was sown.

Initially I started to walk two or three times a week only 1 -2 kms just to get a little fitter. I added  Pilates classes twice a week, that really helped my back and I began to extend my walking distance. In August I clocked up 85 kilometres. The longest stretch being 8 kilometres and a lie down for a day after.

So here I am! It is October 2014 and I am planning to take a long distance walk in UK around September 2015 - There I have said it and it is out there. There is no changing my mind or not doing it!!!  All I need to do now is to get fitter and stronger while still protecting my back and knees and save some money.

This blog is a record of what I am doing to get fit enough to walk and highlights of the walk. I might post on a monthly basis or just when I feel I have achieved something worthwhile.  If there are any other crazy people of my age that get the idea that they would like to walk too,  this may be the motivational tool they need. You can all learn by mistakes too!

Please send me any hints and tips to keep me moving, nice things to make and eat on the trail and any other words of wisdom. A bit of encouragement will help too. Leave me a comment.




Sunday, 16 November 2014

Grapefruit Syrup Cake - Must Eat!

While visiting Poland earlier this year, I was very surprised to see how often grapefruit and especially ruby grapefruit figured on the breakfast menu. They did not appear at lunch or dinner and I could not detect the flavour in anything else that I tasted. They were big, sweet, juicy and very colourful. In fact they were probably the best grapefruits I had ever eaten.  I do think we have under-rated  grapefruit compared to other citrus and I am endeavouring to research how grapefruit can be used in different ways.



So how long have grapefruits been grown and from where did they originate?
I am very happy that you ask these questions, because I have the answers.

Grapefruits are a cross between a pummelo (or pumelo) and an orange and like all other citrus fruits is a member of the Hesperidum family. (a large modified berry with a thick peel) As they grow, young grapefruits hang in clusters on trees. The clusters resemble clusters of grapes and it is thought that this is why they were so named. Grapefruits were first grown in Barbados and it is thanks to a Captain Shaddock a 17th century ship commander that brought the seeds of the pummelo from the East Indies to the West Indies.* And from there they spread across Europe and to the rest of the world.

* http://www.vegparadise.com   

In Australia ruby grapefruits are sometimes used in salads combining well with kale, cucumber, spinach or avocado, but it has fallen out of favour since the 1970's when a grapefruit with a cherry on top and lots of sugar was the given entree to any successful dinner party. I wonder why?

I hope you enjoy this recipe because it is going to be my last cake post for a while - sad, boo hoo!  Time to switch to a super healthy, summer menu. I am endeavouring to go back to low carbohydrate, high vegetarian protein for a while. (Just watched a 'Catalyst' programme) and they have a new thinking that the old thinking was pretty good! Less carbs more fat and protein. Yes it is very confusing for us all.


Don't worry, there will be some treats in here too. If you are in the northern hemisphere, then don't be afraid because I am giving you a heads up for next summer. If you are hankering after something a little more robust, then leave me a comment and I will see what I can do.

I must admit that this cake turned out much better than I had hoped for and I will certainly be trying to use more grapefruit in cooking.

















Ruby Grapefruit Syrup Cake

Ingredients

Cake

2 cups plain flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 tbls grapefruit zest
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup  oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Syrup
1 cup grapefruit juice
2/3 cup caster sugar
Glaze
3/4 cup icing’ sugar
2 tbls grapefruit juice

Preheat oven to Fan forced 170/350 F. Coat 9×5-inch (22cm x 12cm) loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a bowl rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. 

Using a whisk or electric beaters, add the eggs to the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and the whisk leaves a trail. 

With the mixer/beaters running, add the milk, then the oil and finally the vanilla, then with the beater on low, add the dry ingredients, until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the syrup: Combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then continue to simmer for 1 minute. Cool.
When you remove the cake from the oven, transfer to a wire rack (still in the loaf pan). Immediately use a skewer to poke deep holes into the cake (about 3/4-inch/2 cms apart). Brush the cake with the syrup, pausing as necessary to allow it to soak in. Keep brushing the cake until you’ve used all of the syrup.



Let the cake cool for 10 minutes after you’ve brushed it with the syrup, then turn out onto the cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the glaze: In a medium bowl, stir icing sugar and grapefruit juice together until the glaze is smooth – it should be thick but with a pourable consistency. Drizzle over the cake allowing the glaze to drip down the sides. Allow glaze to set before serving. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Pear and Chocolate Tart

Some enormous pears appeared in my Aussie Farmer's fruit box last week and I could think of nothing better than to make this delicious tart.

Pears are so versatile. Often used in savoury as well as sweet dishes, available all year round and very nutritious.  Pears are very high in fibre and half of the pear's total dietary fibre as well as its antioxidant and anti inflammatory phytonutrients are found in the skin, so it's best not to peel them. Because they contain less acid than apples, dentists seem to prefer you to eat these because they do less damage to your teeth.

You can find pear varieties in many colours from green through to red, gold and brown and each variety has its own properties and qualities.

Pears are another member of the rose family and lets face it aren't roses good for just about any occasion!

It was very coincidental that I had just bought a book called 'Australian Pears', which contains delicious recipes from some of Australia's finest chefs.

I decided to try  Guy Grossi's Chocolate and Pear Tart because I really wanted a show stopper and I felt the need to compliment my beautiful pears. However, I did change the recipe ever so slightly and I would now possibly cut down on some of the cocoa in the pastry just a little, to better fit with my palette. 


This is how I interpreted the recipe and the changes I made. It was delicious! I will certainly be trying more pear recipes from this book and I have my eye on an Upside Down Pear Pudding. I will let you know how it goes.


 Guy Grossi's Chocolate and Pear Tart

Pastry

100g butter
200g flour
60g cocoa (I would use 40g next time)
2 eggs (I actually only used 1 very large egg)

Place flour and butter into a bowl and rub in to resemble breadcrumbs. Sift in the cocoa powder and add sugar.
Lightly beat egg and add enough to bind the dry ingredients together. Turn onto bench and knead very slightly. Cover and chill for 20 minutes.

Filling

4 pears (I used Packham's)
200g dark chocolate 70%
100g butter
4 eggs separated (I used 3 large)
200g caster sugar (I changed it to 150g)
2 tablespoons of marmalade (This was omitted from the original recipe)

Take a deep flan ring 28cm and grease it. Roll out the pastry to 5mm thickness and line the flan ring by pressing into the flutes. If it starts to break a little, don't worry, just press it together and ease it into the ring. Brush the pastry with marmalade. I used a slightly bitter orange marmalade. Once cooked the marmalade tasted as though I had added a liqueur.

Cut the pears into quarters and remove the cores. (I had to peel mine this time, but you can leave the skin on if you prefer) Arrange on the base of the flan.



Pre-heat oven to 180º.

Melt chocolate and butter together over a low heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture. Pour this over the pears and bake for approximately 40 minutes until nice and crispy.








Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Green Tea Biscuits

Are you a green tea drinker?  For a very long time I turned my nose up at any mention of green tea. Then I became hooked. Trying every variety I could find in the supermarket and specialised tea shops. One of my favourites is a Japanese Lime Tea. Full of flavour, slightly smokey and very smooth to drink.



Recently there has been a move to incorporate a particular green tea into a greater range of culinary recipes.  Matcha - is the finest Japanese Green Tea Powder there is according to the web sites I have read. So I was delighted to find some available at Kim Wang Asian Grocery, 62-63, Grote Street, Adelaide. I am sure you will find this in any Asian Grocery store near you.

Matcha is made from tea plants which have been grown in the shade to allow a  slower growth and an increase in chlorophyll. Hence the amazing green colour. Although green tea is still widely drunk in Japan today, there has definitely been an increase in the use of this in cooking. I am not sure if this is a new phenomenon or a resurgence of something long past.

Since the early 2000's Matcha has appeared in coffee latte mixtures , milkshakes, cakes and ice cream and its popularity is due in part, to it's high anti-oxidant properties.

Today,  I am sharing with you a biscuit recipe using Matcha Green Tea Powder. I am making these as part of another photo shoot and wanted to use something that was bright green. I am unsure if the recipe will work with any other green tea powder, so you are on your own if you wish to experiment. But take my word for it, Matcha green is almost fluorescent and you may need your sun glasses to make them.

A reminder also that the powder sticks to everything and you may be surprised to find it in places you did not think possible.


 Biscuits with Matcha Green Tea Powder


Ingredients

240 g plain flour
15g Matcha Green tea Powder
150g butter softened
130g icing sugar
1/2tsp salt
2 egg yolks
100g unsalted pistatchio nuts


Weigh out the Green Tea Powder.


Sift the flour and the tea powder into a large clean bowl.
Cream butter and sugar together, adding the egg yolks one at a time and beating between each one.


Add flour into the mixture in two or three batches. Add nuts, mixing well to a stiff dough. 


Turn onto a board or bench top, roll up into two long sausage shapes, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours to rest the dough and to make it a little firmer.


After 2 hours, take from the fridge, discard the plastic wrap. Cut into rounds about 2 centimetres thick. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Preheat your fan forced oven to 150º/300F and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until slightly brown.
Slide each one carefully onto a cake rack until cool. Store in an air tight container for a few days.
This recipe made 33 biscuits.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Cauliflower, Leek and Fennel Gratin

Once the seasons begin to change, it's the time we think about changing our menus. Not just because we are tempted with new seasonal fruit and vegetable but because the weather often dictates what we feel like eating. That beautiful Pumpkin Tagine we enjoyed only a couple of weeks ago now seems too heavy for a 30º day and our body longs for something lighter.

Adelaide summer has started early this year and we have already had some mid to high temperatures. Salads of some kind or another will play a huge role on my menus in the next few months but i am avoiding peaking too early!!!

I've been playing around with ingredients that combine well together in a dish that you wouldn't consider too heavy at this time of year. Something light yet satisfying and this is the combination I came up with. Team this with a green salad, some lightly cooked asparagus or a dish of green beans and you have a very quick and easy meal that will satisfy the taste buds as well as the wallet.


Cauliflower, Leek and Fennel Gratin

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream
2 small leeks finely sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
small bulb of fennel sliced using a mandolin
1/4 cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 tbls  flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls butter

This made 6 little gratins but you could make just one big one.


  • Combine the breadcrumbs with the chopped parsley and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  • In a large pan heat butter and oil, add fennel, garlic and leek and continue to cook on a low heat for 5 - 10  minutes until the leek starts to brown.
  • While the leeks are cooking, either steam or microwave the florets of cauliflower until they are barely cooked. 2- 3 minutes in a steamer/25 seconds microwave.
  • Add white wine and cauliflower to leeks  and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Take off the heat and mix in parsley, sour cream and remaining Parmesan.
  • Spoon this into greased dishes/pie plates and cover with a sprinkling of the reserved breadcrumbs and Parmesan mixture.
  • Cook in a preheated fan forced oven 180º/370º for approximately 25 - 30 minutes until the topping is golden. Serve immediately.




Sunday, 19 October 2014

Yeast Fruit Scroll with Basil

Something in a recipe caught my eye; Basil in a yeasty fruit bun - no way!

But I tried it and something went horribly wrong with the recipe and what was suppose to be a soft yeast dough turned into cardboard. I followed the recipe exactly, or so I thought. The taste was pretty good, a little too sweet for my palette but the fruit combined with a hint of basil was fantastic.

I wanted this to turn out well, I had been longing for a very fruity yeast bun and it was not going to get the better of me.

A couple of days later, I decided to try again but this time I combined my own sweet dough recipe and a combination of fruit that I liked and just added the basil and sugar to the base of the dough.

My dough recipe allows you to make it and store it in the fridge for between 3 hrs - 3 days ahead of time and providing it is covered and refrigerated it is still very easy to use even after 3 days.

Oh my goodness, I am in heaven. Here is a doughy, fruity, sticky, basily (if there is such a word) bun you can eat by itself or with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. It won't last long once your friends or neighbours get a whiff of this, so get in first and help yourself to the biggest slice.
And yes, I did use a lot of flour and eggs and fruit, but it was well worth it because the second time around it worked a treat.
  1. Yeast Fruit Scroll with Basil
Ingredients
  1. Make the dough first because it needs to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours and this will give you time to prepare everything else.
For the  Sweet Dough

1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
60g butter
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp dried yeast
1 egg
2 cups plain flour, sifted

Scald the milk in a saucepan over a low flame ( Take the milk temperature to 82º C or 180º F) Take it off the heat and stir in the sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm.
Measure the warm water and put it into a large bowl which has been warmed. Add the yeast and stir until it is dissolved. Add the lukewarm milk mixture, the beaten egg and half the flour. Beat vigorously until the mixture is smooth and stir in the remaining flour. Add this stage the mixture looks a little ragged, but it should be the consistency of a thick batter. Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
*Basil Sugar

1/2 cup caster sugar
6 basil leaves

In a pestle and mortar add the sugar and basil leaves, pounding until the leaves and the sugar are well combined and the sugar is green. Set aside.

Filling

zest of 1 lemon
2 tbls lemon juice
4 tbls soft butter
1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries and blueberries combined
*Basil sugar

Topping
1 cup icing sugar
lemon juice extra

Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, lemon zest and butter with the basil sugar and mix together.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to measure a rectangle about 45 x 35 cms 18 x 14 inches.

Spread the basil sugar over the entire dough area evenly. Then sprinkle the fruit over the dough leaving a small edge clear all the way around. Once you have done this, start to roll up tightly from the long edge, like a swiss roll. Once you have done this pinch the seam to seal it.  Then place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm it up.

Using a sharp serrated knife cut it into about 10 even pieces and place in a small pie dish or sandwich tin which has been greased. At this point, it may feel a little strange cutting up the dough and if the filling seems to be seeping out, don't worry because it will leave a lovely jammy kind of crust.

Bake in a preheated oven, 180º  fan forced / 375º and bake for 20 - 25 minutes


Leave it in the tin to cool and then add the icing.

Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice until it is creamy and runny and drizzle on the cool scroll.




Then, take out a slice for yourself before anyone else gets the hint that you have made it. Prepare for the rush of people wanting to taste it.









Monday, 13 October 2014

Vegetable Biryani with Dahl

At the last Census in India in 2011, the population was assessed to be over 1.2 billion people. That is one hell of a lot of mouths to feed. You can understand then why the staple food is rice. A commodity which grows very well under Indian conditions, which has been helped by development in seed types that allows for multiple cropping periods. Rice is easy to cook. It takes up the many spicy flavours of cardamom, turmeric, ginger and coriander beautifully and gives rich deep flavours and piquant aromas.

There is some dispute over how a Biryani came to be in Indian cuisine, whether the name was originally from Persia and the style of cooking was brought to India or if the dish originated in the southern Indian states. Either way, thank goodness it has made its way into our lives and this Biryani is something worth taking your time to make.

One of the great things about cooking any kind of Indian food is the fantastic aroma it gives to the kitchen and of course yellow hands from turmeric and saffron : )

My good friend Gene, queen of Indian Cuisine, has recommended adding pumpkin (butternut squash) to my Dhal because it add another dimension, so that is what I have been doing recently. She is right of course, it does add an extra something.

I have used tinned chick peas to make this a faster recipe but if you have time you could use natural chickpeas soaked in water overnight, drained and used.




Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients
olive or vegetable oil
400g tin of chick peas drained
2 tblsp 
1 carrot chopped
a handful of green beans  trimmed and halved
2 large tomatoes chopped
1 potato peeled and chopped
200g basmati rice
1/4 cup sultanas/currants or raisons
Fresh coriander leaves for serving
3 cardamom pods, crushed
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seed
1 onion finely chopped
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbls grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
pinch of saffron soaked in 1/4 cup water


  • In a large pan heat oil, then add onions and cook slowly until they are a nice golden colour.
  • Add all spices, except for saffron and bay leaves and cook on low for about 1 minute adding a tablespoon of water if they are starting to stick.
  • Add bay leaves and saffron, all the vegetables and 3/4 cup of water. Cover and cook over a low heat for around 15 minutes. If the water evaporates quickly then add extra water. When the vegetables are just about cooked add the rice, chick peas, sultanas and salt and pepper. Add 11/2 cups of boiling water. 
  • Mix well and cover and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Check to see how well the rice is cooking. Keeping the lid on tightly, turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 -15 minutes. 
  • Fluff up suing a fork.
Serve with Dahl and Yoghurt. This serves 4 - 6 people




Dahl
Ingredients

2 tbls oil
1 large onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
300g prepared pumpkin or butternut squash(peeled and chopped)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup red or orange lentils washed
350ml water
salt
juice from 1/2 lemon

  • Take a large pan and heat oil. Add onion and cook on low heat until soft. Add garlic and all the spices. Cook 1 minute, adding a tablespoon or two of water if it starts to stick.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and pumpkin and mix well so the spices coat the vegetables. Stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the lentils and water. Bring to the boil, cover and on a low heat cook until the pumpkin is cooked. Add more water if it starts to evaporate too quickly. It should take around 25 minutes.
  • Add salt to taste and lemon juice. 
  • You can leave the pumpkin in pieces or mash it into the lentils, whichever you prefer.
Serves 4 - 6 people  Cost in total $4.50

















Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Orange Ice Cream with a hint of Cardamom

Summer is on it's way already and the predictions are that it will be yet another dry hot summer. Beach, swimming, eating on the terrace and a variety of scrumptious ice cream.

We are well into a very nice spring. A little rain and a lot of sun. The vegetable garden is planted, there's blossom on every tree and the world is beginning to look a whole lot rosier.


The bees have moved into the garden to gather pollen from this lovely Crab Apple
I was having a chat to a neighbour last week and they offered me some Tangelos from their very full tree. Tangelos are not my favourite citrus but I knew my husband would love these to make marmalade. I decided to take a little fruit and try making some Tangelo Sorbet. While the quantity was small, the taste gave a pretty good hit. Spurred on, i  found many other citrus sorbets. In fact I was surprised to find so many different recipes in my books.

I have never made citrus ice cream before, so after talking with some friends and researching ideas, I came up with a lovely orange ice cream. I was due to photograph oranges for another project this week and it made sense to use the fruit up while it was still fresh.

The difference in the recipes I consulted called for orange juice or orange zest, orange peel or making an orange syrup. I chose a mixture of juice and zest and included some lemon zest and juice too.

A found a Belinda Jeffrey recipe that contained Cardamom, so I combined this with another recipe that I had pulled out of a magazine 15 years ago and never used. There's a first time for everything. I also investigated recipes from a lovely book I have had for a long time, Ices, the Definitive Guide. This book is a collection of over 200 ices; from Gin and Tonic Sorbet to Stilton Cheese Ice Cream. Not sure the latter would suit my palette.

This recipe does contain cream, not the perfect healthy recipe. But if you only have a little ice cream occasionally, teamed with a normal healthy diet, it wont do you any harm. Besides orange juice contains, vitamin B6, Vitamin C,  folate and Potassium - so this is my justification!


ORANGE ICE CREAM WITH CARDAMOM SEEDS

Ingredients


500 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
125 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
250g caster sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
grated zest of 2 oranges
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (available from health food shops)
600ml of whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cardamom


  • Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar in a bowl and whisk together until they are light and fluffy. 
  • Take the freshly squeezed juices and put them through a sieve to get rid of any pulp and then add them to the egg mixture. Place this into a medium saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly. Do not allow it to boil. Use a sugar thermometer to check that it does not go above 90 degrees. The mixture will thicken slightly until you have the consistency of runny custard.
  • Remove from the heat, strain and cool slightly. Add the grated lemon and orange zest, cover and place in the fridge until completely cold.
  • Stir in the orange blossom water.
  • Lightly whip cream.
  • Once the mixture has cooled , add the cream and mix thoroughly. Turn this all into your ice cream maker and churn according to manufactures recommendations. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.
  • Leave overnight before serving allowing the ice cream to harden off and for the flavour to develop. 
  •  If you do not have an ice cream maker, then you can use your freezer. When you add the cream, freezer until semi frozen, take out and whip up again and re freeze. This should work just as well.
This is one of the nicest ice creams I have made for a long time! I am now investigating Lemon Sorbet and Chocolate Gelati!

Here's my taste tester Katie! She seems to be really enjoying the ice cream.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Roasted Almonds

Before I get stuck in to this week post, let me just say that I have been so busy trying out new recipes that I have not had time to update my blog. I will be more diligent in the next few weeks because I have heaps to share with you.

Settle down to watch a DVD, grab a beer or two and a few handfuls of these nuts and you are in seventh heaven. If you are inviting friends over, you can make these well in advance and have them out on your coffee table with drinks, before they arrive. Be warned you will have to make a lot otherwise you will eat them all yourself before your guests arrive.

I hate to remind you in October, that Christmas is just around the corner and this would be a great little nutty present you could make and hand out to friends. I know that most people appreciate this kind of home made gift and you will be content that they will be eaten and not taken to a Charity Shop in the New Year.


Here are two super little nutty recipes that will get you some great compliments and a tick of approval from nut lovers everywhere.


For both of these recipes you will need to use natural un-roasted, unsalted nuts.







Roasted Almonds with Black Sesame Seeds


I tasted these at a function the other day and I so loved them that I decided to try my hand at recreating them. They turned out pretty well.

400g natural unsalted almonds
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup maple syrup

Except for the nuts, mix all other ingredients together in a large bowl.
Then add the nuts and coats them all really well with the mixture. Either use your hands or a spoon.

Lay some baking paper onto a baking sheet and spread the almonds into a single layer.
Bake in a pre heated oven 160c degrees/325F/3 for 15 - 20 mins. Watch the timing carefully because they can burn very easily. Allow to cool, then separate any almonds that are stuck together and place in an airtight container until ready to use.


 Roasted Nuts with Herbs


11/2 cups almonds
2 small egg whites whisked
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon of garlic powder or 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic
3 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
11/2 tablespoons sugar
sea salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + a little extra
Few sprigs of fresh thyme

Whisk egg whites until light and frothy. Add nuts and mix. Add spices, herbs and sugar and mix well. Add 1/4 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese.



Using a baking sheet lines with baking paper, spread out the almonds in a single layer. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Add a good sprinkle of sea salt and cook 15 - 20 minutes in a preheated oven. 



Again be very careful to watch the timing of these because they will burn really quickly.

While they are still hot, add another little sprinkling of extra Parmesan cheese and leave until completely cold before packing them into air tight containers.






Monday, 22 September 2014

Mushroom Pies

Looking into the fridge the other day, contemplating what to cook for dinner. Mushrooms! I had 4 large brown, gorgeous looking mushrooms which caught my eye.  One of my all time favourite summer mushroom recipes is a sort of mushroom Streudel made with phyllo pastry, but because it involves sour cream I don't cook it too often. I am still wanting to throw off a few kilos, so I am trying to be a bit careful.
I did a search in the fridge to see what else was lurking there that needed to be used immediately and what I came up with lead me to this -  Mushroom Pies. Mushrooms are great for vegetarians because they contain essential vitamins and minerals and are a good source of protein; And are low calorie,

I use mushrooms almost every week. If they are not being chopped into a salad, then I am adding them to eggs for omelette, into casseroles, blended to make dips and on their own, lightly cooked with lots of black pepper.




Incidentally over the past week I have been reading about raw foods. I was interested in seeing how a mix of water and cashew nuts blended together would make a creamy sauce; one that could be added to any casserole or stew to give it a nice creamy consistency. Time to add this to my mushrooms to make a pie filling. I also had a little bought puff pastry that I was desperate to use up and this helped enormously as I was in a screaming hurry to get some food on the table.

I used a combination of the beautiful large brown mushrooms, and a mixture of things I had in the fridge; you can use whatever you have but this combination worked really well. You could add cooked broccoli, frozen or fresh peas, finely chopped carrot etc etc.

This is what I made and it was pretty delicious. I made enough for 4 servings, but it would be easy to add extra ingredients or less, depending on how many people you want to serve. My little pie tins took 1 whole sheet of puff pastry each. Depending on the size of yours, you will have to calculate how many you need.


Little Mushroom Pies (with whatever)



Ingredients

5 large brown mushrooms chopped
1 brown onion finely chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped
1/2 a leek finely slice
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 cup water
1 tbls olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh thyme and parsley chopped finely
4 sheets of ready made puff pastry (I used Pampas)
a little butter for greasing the pie dishes
a little water for the pastry edges
  • Take pastry out of the freezer and defrost ready for making pies.
  • Place the cashew nuts and water into a blender or if you are using a hand held stick, into a bowl and blitz until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan and cook onions until soft, add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add leek, celery, salt and pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes. Turn the heat up a little and add chopped mushrooms and cook for 6 minutes.
  • Cut out your pastry for a top and a bottom to suit your pie tins. Grease pie dishes while you are waiting.
  • Add the creamed cashew and water mixture and stir until all is coated. Adjust seasoning and add chopped parsley and thyme and stir in well. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
  • Heat oven to 200ºc Fan forced.
  • Line pie tins with pastry, add filling. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the pastry with water and add the pastry tops, pressing down along the edge to seal or pinch them to make a scalloped pattern. When all pies are completed, take a sharp knife and add a small v shape in the middle of the pastry to allow steam to escape.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 20 -25 minutes, until pastry is nicely brown and has risen well.
Serving 4 people: estimated cost $8, that is $2 per head, add more if you serve with extra vegetables or salad.