Friday, 16 March 2018

A day out at Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria


Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Homemade Blackberry Jam from wild blackberries
 One of the wonderful things about travelling are the unexpected surprises we find  which showcase the contributions that ordinary Aussies are making in our fantastic country. We are still travelling and had a great time in Tassie. I have some stories planned from there for later for this blog.  Now that we have invested in a dongle we have much more reliable access to wifi when travelling, particularly as we are camping some of the time and staying in cabins often Caravan Parks where the wifi signal isn't generally that strong for processing photos.

The beach and surf at Apollo Bay are stunningly beautiful. After breakfast this morning we walked along the beach,  and paddled in the water which wasn't that cold given the overcast conditions,  before driving up into the hinterland and exploring. This was our first day here without rain so we were making the most of it.




There we found a remarkable biodynamic cottage garden, called Otway Herbs, the owners of which send plants which they propagate to mostly cooler destinations along the East Coast including the Atherton Tablelands,  Maleny, around Sydney etc. This is where I bought the Blackberry jam that his wife makes, and where the blackberries grow wild. The owner was a very interesting man to  talk to and  passionate about Landcare, biodynamic farming and the preservation of native species in his area, some of which are now facing extinction due to previous land clearing.


What a great idea!
We also found an Artisan goat soap making farm, now called Karmic Goat Soap works, where I managed to take a few photos,  however the doors were open but no one seemed to be home.  There was a vast array of very impressive looking soaps for sale. Note the change of name on  the photo below. I suspect they also run soap making workshops if you are interested. The information on their wall explains how well they treat their goats and keep the family unit of goats together, ensuring healthier and happier goats and a richer milk supply. It all sounds very calming and holistic, and goat soap is supposed to be very gentle on our skin.

Goat soap













Mr. HRK enjoying the waves



Best wishes and I hope all is going well in your part of the world.

 Keeping on travelling.

Pauline


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Rye Sourdough Bread




This is a very quick post before we leave on holiday. I am taking a small quantity of sourdough starter with me.You just never know when you will be able to whip up a loaf of bread en route.

This is my latest recipe for Rye sourdough bread that I am using and I just love it. I want to know I have the recipe at my fingertips if I have a sudden urge to make a loaf. I love the flavour of rustic Rye and it is grown as a bread making grain. I use Laucke Rye Breadmaking flour at the moment. However, I will be researching where I can buy Rye flour more economically, probably online. Please let me know if you know of a reliable mill to buy it from.



Ingredients:

140g Desem (sourdough mother)
360g Bakers Flour (Laucke Rye breadmaking flour)
112g plain flour (or wholemeal for a heavier and even healthier loaf)
278g lukewarm water
31g oil
21g honey
10g salt

Method:

Mix the Desem,water, oil, honey and salt together in a container.
Combine the Bakers flour and plain flour together in a large bowl and make a hole in the centre of the flour.
Add the sourdough yeast mixture to the flour and mix to form a dough. Leave to rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
Remove from the bowl and knead a few times. Place back in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, and allow to rise in a warm spot for 3-4 hours until double the size.

Remove from the bowl, knead again a few times and place in a lightly oiled bread tin.
Allow to rise again in a warm spot for a couple of hours until it fills your tin.

Using a very sharp knife, make a few slits across the top of the bread to facilitate a better rise.

Place in a preheated oven at 220 degrees for 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 200 degrees for another 20 minutes.

 Remove from the oven and remove the hot cooked bread from the tin, very carefully,  and then place the bread back in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up. Remove and allow to cool before slicing. (Waiting is the hardest part)

This is a quick summary I have given of my bread making process. Seeds can be added to the flour or on top of the loaf if desired.

Please contact me though if you would like some more information.

Best wishes

Pauline

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Indian Vegetable Pakoras with Mango Chutney



Pakoras hmmm, well I moved outside my comfort zone a little by making these delicious Indian vegetable fritters. I've been wanting to try them for a while, using the Organic Besan (chickpea) flour that I had bought at the Organic and Natural Store just outside Mackay. If you are used to making fritters, you will enjoy making pakoras. When I first mixed up the batter it was a bit too runny so I added more flour and water together and added it to form a fritter batter consistency, as when it is added to the vegetables it will thin out slightly because of the liquid in the vegetables. Next time, I will aim for even thinner  pakoras. Perhaps the climate has something to do with the consistency of the batter. On a hot and humid day with rain threatening, batters, bread doughs and pavlova mixes are going to be affected. The consistency could be slightly different in a cold Northern Hemisphere climate. However despite all of that, these were delicious. We needed a meat free day, and these were perfect for lunch. In fact Mr. HRK loved his first taste of them so much he took over the cooking which I was very happy for him to do. I could then concentrate on trying to take an acceptable photo of them.

We were driving to Cape Hillsborough near Mackay with friends, where we planned to have lunch at the Old Station Teahouse which is on the way. To be honest, I don't feel the need to always buy Organic products. However the Organic store has many products which can't be found elsewhere, and now has an impressive little coffee and tea shop attached to the store with a very nice selection of cakes and slices. So we spent more time there than planned and I also admired the African woven baskets which are hard to find elsewhere. After the visit, I wondered why I don't make more of an effort to visit there more regularly.

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups of shredded or thinly sliced vegetables ( I used onions, carrots, beans and capsicum) Broccoli could also be used
  • 2 cups of chickpea (besan) flour
  • 1 1/2 - 2cups of water
  • 1 1/2 tsp cooking salt
  • 1/2 cup thinly cut mint leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • A good pinch of ground turmeric 
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying
  • 1 1/2 tsp cooking salt
Method:
  1. Place the shredded vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. Toss the salt through the vegetables and leave for 5 minutes, no longer, to soften the vegetables. Any longer and too much liquid will remove from the vegetables.
  3. Stir in the chopped mint
  4. In a separate jug, combine the besan flour, fennel and cumin seeds, and the ground coriander.
  5. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the flour and mix well. If the consistency is too runny add more flour, or alternatively if it is too thick add more water. 
  6. Heat up a thick based frying pan, add the vegetable oil.
  7. Cooking in batches, cook 1/4 cups of the mixture, flipping the pakoras over when bubbles start to appear on the surface. Flatten them out if necessary to form  fritters. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
  8. Serve the Pakoras hot, garnished with coriander, and with mango chutney on the side. My homemade mango chutney was delicious with these.
I haven't been blogging as frequently lately, as my laptop has been running very slowly because of a malicious My Way programme which attached itself to Google on my machine. It was driving me crazy. We have finally fixed it and I am back on track, with the NBN installation being a bonus.

We are also preparing for a long road trip to Tasmania, so there has been a lot of organising to do, arranging house sitters, mower men, cleaning the house etc. More about all of that later.

Happy Australia Day long weekend everybody. Hope the weather is kind to you. Despite this being an Indian recipe to promote multiculturalism in Australia, we will be having an Aussie BBQ tonight.

Best wishes

Pauline x

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Caponata, a Sicilian Eggplant Stew


 I've tried a few different Caponata recipes, because I love the sweet and sour tangy flavours typical of this Mediterranean vegetable stew. It's also a handy dish to make at home when I have extra eggplants. However in this version, my favourite so far, the sultanas add a piquant sweetness to the earthiness of the eggplant without adding too much sugar,which combined with the vinegar gives this dish the moreish factor. It can be eaten hot, warm or cold.

 Mr. HRK is always hesitant when it comes to  eggplant dishes. However, this one has won him over, and over lunch when I served it he surprised himself and me by saying still quite tentatively, because he couldn't quite believe it,  how much he enjoyed it. I used the white eggplants in this, which are always home grown by me or our friend Paul, however any type can be used, but they must be very fresh, preferably picked on the same morning. There is no room for any bitterness in this dish. That is probably the secret to  enjoying this one which is great because the recipe makes a large amount, some of which can be frozen for later.



I am indulging myself by putting this recipe on my blog for easy access and for your enjoyment too, as it is a version adapted from the taste.com website. I need to know I can find it really easily next time, when I have forgotten where it originally came from. However, I change the recipe slightly each time I make it, depending  on what I have on hand. This time I used lots of fresh tomatoes instead of canned as they needed to be used, and omitted the orange zest rather than make a special trip to the shops to buy an orange. I also only have basil growing now as it has been very hot and my parsley has died as a result. A lot of recipes, are just a guide and can be varied within limits. Despite the variations, this dish is still delicious and simple to make.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 medium sized white eggplants, or one large purple eggplant, cut into 2cm cubes
1 large red capsicum, diced into 2 cm pieces
5 large very ripe fresh tomatoes, or 1x400g can chopped tomatoes (I've used both at different times)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
350ml of stock, beef, chicken or vegetable , whatever you prefer or have on hand ( in an ideal world homemade is best)
1/4 cup (50g) capers, rinsed
1/4 cup pitted green olives (the Sicilian ones in a bottle are delicious)
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (40g) sultanas
1 tablespoon grated orange zest ( still delicious without this)
1 teaspoon caster sugar (if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup (40g) toasted pine nuts

Serve with char grilled slices of sourdough bread for an easy meal, perhaps with a poached egg on top.

There will be leftover capers and olives in the jars after making this dish. If you enjoy these types of flavours and I know you will, my Chicken Marbella recipe will use up the rest of the capers and olives. They will keep in the bottles for a while in the refrigerator, so you can plan ahead for this one as it is a special occasion Mediterranean dish.

Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large fry pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened, stirring all the time. Add the rest of the oil, and add the eggplant, cooking and stirring for 5-8 minutes, until the eggplant starts to soften but isn't dry.

Add the capsicum, tomatoes, garlic and stock and cook for another 15 minutes, until the vegetables start to cook together and break down.

Add the capers, olives, vinegar, sultanas, orange zest, sugar and some sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Caponata becomes thick and stewy.


Stir through the herbs and pine nuts and serve with some delicious char grilled or toasted sourdough bread. Treat it like a Bruschetta, it can be served hot or warm or cold, as a starter or as a main meal. If you like a glass of wine with your meal, a glass of chilled rose will hit the spot.

I also sometimes serve the Caponata with pasta as a sauce for a more filling meal. Add 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, and increase the amount of tomatoes to 2 cans so that the mixture is more like a sauce. I also increase the amount of  capers and olives to 1/3 cup of each and add lots of basil. It is so adaptable as a dish to enjoy at anytime of day!

It is the amazing Summer of tennis, and we are relaxing in front of the TV watching the Australian Open. Nick Kyrgios just won his match in a thriller which was great. Dasher is about to start playing so must go. Love the tennis, do you?

Thanks for dropping by.

Best wishes

Pauline

















Saturday, 13 January 2018

Pomegranate Chicken and Burghul Salad

A warm delicious chicken salad that takes no time to prepare at all, adorned with fresh and pretty pomegranate  seeds, is just the answer on a hot summer's day. This is the perfect addition to your salad repertoire for an easy Summer meal. Serve it with a crisp, cool green salad and everyone will think it took more time than it actually did to prepare. The chicken meat needs to be rested for 10 minutes before combining with the salad ingredients. Chopped pistachios or roasted pine nuts are the perfect Middle Eastern garnish to set the scene. I used pine nuts because the pistachios had mysteriously disappeared from my pantry, however next time pistachios will be on the plate.


Unfortunately pomegranates are seasonal, and we are seeing less and less of them in the supermarkets now in the Tropics. The seeds can sometimes be found packaged in plastic boxes  in the fruit section, just like the blueberries and raspberries.

We have a  1 year old Pomegranate tree growing in our garden, and we have high hopes for that tree, no pressure though.

Let's cook:

Ingredients:

8 skinless chicken thighs

Marinade:

2 garlic cloves
1/2 green chilli
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon olive oil

Salad:

1 1/4 cups couscous or burghul
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup (75g) currants
Splash of pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup (50g) pistachios, chopped, or browned pine nuts
Fresh Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

Method:

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Cook the burghul or couscous according to the packet. Fluff it up with a fork then stir through the mint and parsley, currants and molasses. Let your head go with the mint and the parsley for extra flavour.

Cook the chicken thighs: 

Heat a frying pan over high heat, add the thighs and cook on one side for 3 minutes or until golden. Turn over and quickly brown the other side. Then roast them in a preheated oven 180 deg. oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked right through.

Allow the chicken to rest, then shred the meat into bite-size pieces.



Transfer the burghul salad to a serving platter and top with the chicken, pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

This recipe was adapted from one I found by David Herbert when he was having a quack in the Weekend Australian newspaper magazine, ha, ha. It looked good to me. Thanks David, delicious as always.

Serves 4.

How do I love food? Let me count the ways....

Thanks for dropping by,

Best wishes

Pauline




Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Friday Night Special for a family


Tuna and rice are the basis of so many economical and tasty meals and this one has been a family favourite for years. Preparing fast, easy and nutritious meals is the way to survive the summer we are having. Sometimes they take a little bit of forward planning, for example with this dish having the rice cooked in advance, but that is easy particularly if you cook a stir fry the night before accompanied by rice. Just cook some extra rice and chill it overnight in the refrigerator. Mr. HRK's sister, Suzanne, gave me this recipe when all of our children were still at home and we were both working. It was always the perfect Friday night dinner after a busy week, which we all looked forward to. Who doesn't love Friday nights? The children also enjoyed it heated up for breakfast on toast the next day. There might be another name for this dish somewhere, as it is similar to a Kedgeree, but this is what we have always called it.

The milder tasting ingredients are very suited to children's tastes, however I have also added a chopped large red chilli, an extra couple of teaspoons of curry powder, and extra mango chutney as a condiment for a bit more spicy flavour when it is just Mr. HRK and me eating it.

I hope you can give this a try as it is simple to make but delicious, and improves in flavour overnight. It also freezes well.

Ingredients:

1 425 g can of tuna in spring water
2 tablespoons oil or butter
3 cups cooked brown or white rice (I prefer brown rice now)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
4 boiled eggs for serving if desired
1 tablespoon Mango or other fruit chutney (optional)

Method:

Boil enough rice in advance to make 3 cups of cooked rice, and chill on a tray in the refrigerator.
Lightly fry the onion in oil until transparent. Add the tomato and the curry powder and lightly fry for a few minutes or until tomato is softened and you can smell the curry powder cooking.
Add the drained can of tuna and stir through the other ingredients until warmed through.
Add the tomato sauce and the coconut and stir through the mixture.
Lastly, add the rice gradually and stir through until all of the other ingredients are distributed through the rice, keeping some chunks of tuna in tact.

This dish is also delicious with a tablespoon of Mango chutney stirred through it before serving.

Season with salt and pepper to taste if you need to.

Serve sprinkled with finely sliced coriander or parsley and sliced boiled eggs.


Best wishes

Pauline


(This is an original recipe by Happy Retirees Kitchen)

Friday, 5 January 2018

Strawberry Jam Drops, a weekend biscuit treat

Jam Drops may be retro, but they are still a popular biscuit to enjoy for morning or afternoon tea. This is a family recipe from my Mum's collection and probably dates back to the 1950's. When haven't Jam Drops been part of every home cook's repertoire? I have tweaked it slightly, adding vanilla essence, but I love the nutty flavour and aroma that rolling these uncooked biscuits in dessicated coconut brings to the plate when they are baked. It  is the browned coconut sprinkles that set this recipe apart. The whole family will love them.

Happy New Year to my readers of this recipe. I hope 2018 is healthy and fulfilling and everything you wish it t be.



 Jam Drops are a great way of using up extra jam, which sits patiently bottled in the refrigerator waiting to be noticed. We returned from Cairns this week, to shockingly hot weather, exacerbated by a very hot Northerly wind blowing which we aren't used to at all. However, I needed a sweet treat with a cuppa and rather than make a whole cake, I thought of biscuits which are quick to make and bake, and also to eat, although I can stop at one. These biscuits are nicely crisped on the outside, and chewy in the middle. I used my homemade strawberry jam in these which is quite thick, however any jam will do. To bring them up to children's party status in the past, I have also added hundreds and thousands or some other colorful decoration to the top of the jam filling, nice for a change. I'm sorry  I didn't think to do that this time for an interesting  photo.

The trickiest part with making these biscuits is rolling them into the right sized shape in the coconut. The mixture spreads during cooking, as you can see in my first cooked tray below, so they do need to be spaced out well. The ideal Jam Drop is round, with the shape not affected by it's closest neighbour. However it depends on how you are feeling as to how particular you want to be, and the shape doesn't affect the deliciousness of them at all. The second tray of 5 biscuits, is more like how they should look in an ideal world. There were 6 on that tray before Mr. HRK sampled them.

This is a recipe and a biscuit to be enjoyed whilst relaxing with your feet up.
 
Ingredients:

Makes about 25

1//2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups sifted SR flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup desiccated coconut
115g (1/3 cup)strawberry or raspberry jam

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 deg. C.

Beat butter and sugar to a cream.
Add well beaten eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla essence.
Lastly add sifted flour.
Take teaspoonfuls of mixture and roll in coconut.

Place each uncooked Jam Drop on a greased tray about 5cm apart, or on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Use your lightly floured finger to make an indentation in each ball. Add 1/2 teaspoon jam into the centre of each biscuit with a small spoon.



Place tray in oven.

You may need to turn tray around halfway through cooking for even browning.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until biscuits are cooked through and light golden.

Store biscuits in  single layers between sheets of non-stick baking paper, in an airtight container in a cool place if possible for up to 2 days. They won't last much longer.



6 cooked on a second tray and one missing already whilst still hot.




Below is the riginal handwritten recipe from my Mum's recipe book. This is the full extent of the recipe. What occurred to me when I was looking through her old recipes was how simple and briefly worded they were. Most of them were hand written and handed on through the family or friends.  The specific instructions on how to cook the recipe was communicated verbally and still is to a certain extent, and there was also an understanding that who you gave your prized recipe to could cook. Recipes in books and on line now often include so much detail, aimed at the beginner cook to those more experienced. Ingredients are also more complex requiring explanation. What are your thoughts on this? Is there sometimes too much wording and detail in the recipes of today? Or do you find all of that extra detail interesting as I do.



This was the complete recipe in my Mum's recipe book. Just four ingredients and a brief method. How times have changed.

Keep cool or warm depending on which Hemisphere you are living in.

Thanks for dropping by.

Best wishes,

Pauline