Sunday, 11 November 2018

Tropical Pavlovas and Pretty Golden Dancing Ladies


My Dancing Ladies are making a lovely golden show this year, with three of them flowering at the moment. They are from the Oncidium Orchid family, and when not flowering don't attract a passing glance at all, like most orchids probably. However when they decide to send out a long spike or two, I get quite excited knowing that in about a month a mass of golden blooms will emerge. These are all originally my Mum's orchids, and have been broken up, repotted and I've learned a lot as I went along.

Keep reading for my Tropical Pavlova recipe below.



I never water the Dancing Ladies at night, as the roots are quite fragile and like the sun to dry them off during the day. I've also learned that they like to grow either in hanging baskets, or in plastic pots with holes drilled around the perimeter of the pot so that the roots can find their way out of the pot to breathe. Despite those little tips, the photo below is of one in a terra cotta pot and it has flowered, although it didn't produce a long spike, but is a very pretty golden shade. Orchids can happily defy all established conventions when left to their own devices.




This one is a darker yellow growing in a hanging basket which needs repotting when it stops flowering.



Below is my Dove orchid, growing on our Golden Penda tree.  It began to break out into delicate white fragrant blooms on Thursday, and by Sunday it was raining. They are the most reliable weather forecaster around. A profusion of these white blooms is a wonderful sight, with the promise of showers to come. Their fragrance is delicate and intoxicating. However, along with the Bureau of Meteorology, they have been known to occasionally get it wrong, just saying, but not very often. If you have a Dove orchid, have you found this as well?




It's Pavlova time.



Everyone loves a good pav don't they, especially for dessert during the Aussie Summer. Pavlovas aren't difficult to make and the wonderful thing is that if by some chance it doesn't work out and has too many cracks in it and collapses, it can easily be converted into Eton Mess, one of my most favourite desserts. Or you can just buy meringues and make Eton Mess from them. This is my
 Eton Mess recipe. Easy peasy. A delicious and easy Summer dessert and ingredients are exactly the same. I believe the original idea came from Eton College in England, when a pavlova didn't work out and was reconstructed to become Eton Mess. I like the story anyway.

I think everyone in Australia and New Zealand for that matter, given the controversy about where it originates from, has their own Pavlova recipe in their cooking repertoire. I've certainly tried a few over the years, however these days my no fuss easy Pav  recipe to go for is this one my friends, straight off the back of the White Wings Cornflour packet. And it's great to know that if I have gluten free guests coming for dinner, cornflour is gluten free. Need to check the vinegar though. It's also nice to know that White Wings is still an Australian company, even though I notice that the ingredients in the packet are packed in Australia from imported ingredients. How does that happen?

I generally keep a container of 6-7 egg whites in my freezer. There is always something I have cooked which only needed egg yolks. Egg whites thaw beautifully for reuse.This recipe makes a marshmallow pavlova, crisp on the outside with a firm marshmallow filling. Yum.

A warning though, don't attempt to make a pavlova if there are rain showers hanging around, unless your air conditioning is on constantly, removing all of the humidity from the air. Pavlovas start to weep after cooking if their is too much moisture in the air, and then you will weep as well. If you intend to eat it straight away it should be ok.

Pavlova Ingredients

6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
6 tsps Cornflour
1 tsp White vinegar
To serve:
300ml thickened cream, whipped
Fresh fruit to decorate, hopefully including a couple of sweet fragrant passion fruit. I used strawberries, kiwi fruit, and blueberries. 

In an ideal world I would have had some beautiful passionfruit to add to the topping

Method:

Preheat your oven to 120 deg. C. conventional or 100 deg. C. fan forced. Draw a 20 cm circle in pencil on a sheet of baking paper. I use a 20 cm cake pan as a guide for this. Place the paper, with the pencil circle side down, onto a greased oven tray. Just a biscuit tray will be fine.

Have your Mix Master, Kitchen Aid or whatever you own ready to go with a whisk attached. I don't think a hand held mixer is really the go for the mixing of a pavlova.

Put the egg whites and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat with your electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy. Then add the cornflour and the vinegar and beat on low speed  for 1 minute longer.

Spoon the thick eggy mixture onto the prepared and lined tray, spreading carefully out to a 20cm circle to fit your pencilled shape.

Tricky part is over.

Bake in your preheated oven for 2 hours or until crisp. Don't worry if you see a couple of fine cracks in the crust. Turn your oven off. Then cool the cooked pavlova in the oven with the door left ajar for 1-2 hours.

Hold your breath, (just joking) and transfer the pavlova carefully to a serving plate. A miracle has occurred, it will be delicious.

Cover with whipped cream and decorate and enjoy.

Warm wishes, keep smiling and I hope you enjoy your Monday.

Pauline






Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Spiced Prune Compote



We used to simply call this dish Stewed Prunes, and whilst this recipe cuts back on the sugar and adds more heavenly scented spices, essentially it is a homely blend of stewed prunes, great for the constitution and promoting regularity, if you know what I mean. Cook this very easy combination of ingredients, and you will have a week's worth of delicious dessert at your fingertips, which just keep improving in flavour. It is also delicious served on your morning porridge, especially for those now experiencing cooler weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

As I cook this, I just love the beautifully rich and spicy aromas in the kitchen reminding me of baking Christmas cakes and Plum Puddings. Which reminds me, Christmas is just around the corner, so Christmas cakes should be next week's job.



Ingredients:

500g prunes, pitted or unpitted
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 strips of lemon zest
1 tablespoon Port (optional)
2 teaspoons Date Syrup (or substitute Maple Syrup or a mild honey)

Method:

Add the prunes to a large saucepan and cover well with water. Combine all the other ingredients and add to the saucepan.  Simmer for 30-35 minutes, ensuring that a gentle simmer is maintained so that the prunes don't boil dry. The prunes should be plump and luscious when they are cooked. I think they plump up more when they are unpitted. With that though comes a warning to everyone to remove the seeds as they eat them, and of course they should be removed before being given to children.

The flavours of this dish will develop even more over the next few days, if left in a covered container in the refrigerator. Extra honey or maple syrup can be added if you like it sweeter.

Serve with boiled custard, yoghurt, ice cream or whatever you fancy.



Bye for now,

Warm wishes

Pauline


Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Spring Cleaning Bookshelves and "The Book Thief"




I've been spring cleaning our bookshelves, this is a job that had to be done, no more procrastinating. I've worked in a lot of libraries over the years, and cleaned, tidied and weeded a lot of bookshelves, back in the days when libraries still had a lot of books, but when it comes to my own books, weeding them i.e. tossing them out, is never an easy thing, especially recipe books. So last week this was at the top of my job list. There's gentle weeding and there's serious weeding.



Building the discard pile. The first step is removing all of the books from the shelves, and sorting them into piles according to genre, on the kitchen bench. Or you could have piles of books stacked on the floor. Our house is open plan, with the kitchen next to the lounge and bookshelves, so it is easier to just stack them on our large kitchen island. As I sorted them into piles, I also made some decisions about what to keep and what to toss out, or rather pass on to the thrift shop. So there was a discard pile, growing by the minute. This is always a bit of a slow process though, as the book covers also need to be wiped down to remove dust, the pages all need to be flicked through, to remove any random $100.00 bills that might have been left in there for safe keeping or by a mysterious donor, and read and possibly remove those written notes that I have made and stuck in the recipe books. I am a note taker, so some books had notes in them.



I initially sorted the books into one pile of definite discards, which I left for a couple of hours so that Mr. HRK could also go through them. He wanted to keep a couple of his old trade books on metalwork and woodwork, other wise thankfully we totally agreed. So out they went in my reusable supermarket bags to the boot of the car. I have made that sound easier than it was. I found myself mulling over some of my recipe books, and of course I found a couple of good recipes in a few of them, but the date of them and the fact that I hadn't looked at them for years convinced me to toss them out. It used to be much easier to discard books in a work setting than from my personal collection, so out they went straight away into piles according to rough genres.  I don't get too serious at this point about sorting them, as I know this will take me the whole day. Hopefully the discard pile would gradually grow as I was intent on reducing my book collection by at least half.



Other things to check are the Publication date, although this isn't really relevant for some history books or even recipe books which could now be vintage or retro. Travel books  become out of date quickly so I had some Lonely Planets that were a quite a few years old. Out they went.

The condition of the book can be a factor. For a book to be valuable, it needs to be in very good condition. Friends over the years have kept old books thinking they would be valuable one day, however to be really valuable they need to be  kept in acid free archival paper, humidity free conditions, must in very good condition and ideally First Editions. I have some rare history books related to Mr. HRK's Genealogy research, wrapped in archival paper and stored in archival boxes.  However these aren't on the bookshelf and still they are not that valuable, only to us.



The Source of the book or where did it come from, and is there an inscription inside. Am I sentimental about this book?  Beware the Nostalgic Collection, however I allowed myself a couple of indulgences. This can be a trip down memory lane if done thoroughly, and can take a while but family book collections contain a lot of memories. This criteria was difficult to work around and I found some surprises.
 

I always knew that I had an old copy of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" , with an introduction by St. John Ervine, dated June 1923 sitting on our bookshelves. I had forgotten about the inscription inside the front cover which was to my Great Grandmother.  "To Mrs. De Landelles, With all good wishes from A. Bell and Jock." This one should be wrapped in archival paper and stored, as the pages are in pretty good condition although the cover is slightly damaged. This is a family treasure.

One of my favourite books to read was Jane Eyre. I read it several times during my teenage years. This treasured book of mine was a  school prize for 1st place in Grade 8 at my High School. That didn't happen again for a while ha, ha.

Then there are the Sunday School prizes with inscriptions from when I was a child; a copy of Cooking with Herbs and Spices by Rosemary Hemphill, dated 1977, which was a gift from my boss at State Library of Queensland when I left there to move North to Townsville after Mr. HRK and I were married. I still refer to that at times and it is quite special to me. Then there are some of our children's school award prizes, which should go to them now to sit on their bookshelves. It will be difficult parting with them though.


And there is a wine rack waiting to be filled.

Cleaning the bookshelves:

The books are removed and the shelves are all empty. I have the step ladder in place and then up I go to the top step,  so I can reach the top shelf, only three steps, and that's high enough for me. I clean the shelves first with a brush and pan and then wipe them down with with a cloth and a bowl of soapy water. Empty beautifully clean shelves is a sight to behold.

So the books were sorted, 8 bags of books to be discarded are in the boot of the car, and shelves are clean. A pretty good effort. I'm not looking at those bags of books again, and just to make sure, we took them straight away to the Incredible Tip Shop where they sell books and were very welcome.

The books to be kept were placed back on the clean shelves, with the middle priority shelves now filled with my recipe books, which after all are the ones I refer to most frequently. A few favourite photos and ornaments were scattered throughout the shelves decoratively, and the job is done.

It is often the size of the book and not the Country of Origin or genre which in the end determines where they sit on the bookshelf. In libraries, shelves are movable to accommodate books of different sizes, however at home they often aren't flexible,  so the larger and heavier books should sit on the lower shelves for our safety.

I placed the numerous copies of Australian Women's Weekly recipe books in a storage box on the bottom shelf and I think they will probably be weeded over time. I couldn't quite deal with that for now, there are still lots of great recipes in those.

My friends I could probably wax lyrical about this for much longer, but I know you are pleased that I''m not. I have promised myself that I will do this job each year to keep the shelves clean and the collection under control. In retrospect I had fun doing it, a lot of memories resurfaced,  I made a lot of decisions and drank lots of cups of tea during the process.



Job done! I'm pleased with the result although I'm sure an Interior Designer could work their magic with the decorating side of things, but then it wouldn't be my design, would it?

We haven't had a Book Thief in the house, thank goodness, I've been reading the Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, an Australian author. I feel I may have started this book years ago and the timing probably wasn't right so I never ventured very far with it. It's a Block buster movie now, however which is great for Markus.  I was inspired to read his book again after watching a TV interview with him, on One Plus One, an Australian ABC program where Jane Hutcheon interviews personalities and story tellers, mostly from Australia I think. He is quite unaffected by the success of the Book Thief and remains humble and philosophical about his success, and yet so enthusiastic and joyous about life and about writing. I found it a captivating interview. The Book Thief is essentially pitched at Adolescent Readers, however his storyline and writing style is captivating for old and young alike.  I'm looking forward to reading his next book, "Bridge of Clay" which should also be an entertaining read.

I might be a little quiet for a while now, my friends. No recipes today I'm sorry,  just recipe books. I had some dental surgery yesterday which will keep me quiet and on soft foods for a little while I suspect, however the freezer is full of soups and it will take a lot to keep me out of the kitchen for very long. I have a recipe for ice cream to try, so that could be the next thing..... And if you haven't been to the dentist for a while, I suggest you go for a checkup. Teeth are a precious commodity.

Bye for now,

Warm wishes

Pauline

Monday, 29 October 2018

Tasty Turkish-Style Tabbouleh




I made this Tabbouleh with quinoa as that is what I had on hand and it needed to be used, however wholemeal  couscous works just as beautifully. Quinoa is a delicious alternative. It's the time for salads here in the tropics, but then salads are popular and healthy anywhere and at anytime of the year aren't they? This salad choice came about as our Lebanese cucumbers have started bearing cucumbers (our first attempt at these), the mint and parsley are going gangbusters, and Mr. HRK with secateurs in hand, drastically pruned back the parsley so rather than let it go to waste, Tabbouleh came to mind. 

I try to base my meal choices on what we have growing or what is already in the pantry, without needing regular excursions to the supermarket for one or two items.

Home grown Lebanese cucumbers



Cooking cakes and sweets is a different matter. There are some items that just need to be purchased when I run out of them, as a cake recipe is pretty exacting.



Ingredients:

1/2 cup rinsed quinoa (tri-colour for impact if you like), or wholemeal couscous
150 ml chicken stock for extra flavour, (just water will also work well)
1 Lebanese cucumber, deseeded and diced
3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1 cm dice (I used 4 Roma tomatoes)
3 spring onions, green ends only, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, or about 1/2 bunch, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (not the stuff out of the bottle)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Add a crushed garlic clove if you like, but not necessary
*A large avocado cut into 1 cm dice can replace the cucumber

Method:

If using quinoa:-
Place the stock in a small saucepan, add the quinoa and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender to taste. Remove from the heat,and stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and leave it to cool.

If using couscous:- Place the stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and add the stock to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or something plastic free (preferably), to store the heat, and stand for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff it up and to separate the grains. Season it slightly to your taste, and set it aside until cool.

Gather the bunch of parsley, form into a tight bundle in your hand and finely shred the leaves with a sharp knife.

Do the same thing with the mint leaves.

My coriander in our raised garden is still growing well, so a little bit of that went into the salad as well.



Add the cooled grain, quinoa or couscous to the rest of the ingredients, and mix through gently.



Making The dressing:

In a smallish bowl, gradually whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice and garlic (if using) until it starts to thicken slightly and emulsifies. Stir the dressing through the tabbouleh ingredients and season with a little salt and ground black pepper if it needs it. A little salt will really develop the flavours.

Serving options:
For an easy meal, delicious just with a boiled egg
For a more substantial and complete meal if entertaining, serve with hummus, pitta bread and sliced lamb or lamb cutlets

On a nutritional note, eating salads like tabbouleh is a healthy alternative, as the herbs, parsley, and mint are rich in sources of Vitamin K and C, some beta-carotene, folate and flavonoids.  I feel better already.......

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count

And now for some twitching. We've been participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count this past week.  I think today is the last day and it's been great fun. It's too hard for me to take photos of the birds at the same time as I am entering the data into the phone app, however we have submitted 8 Checklists, Sighted 22 species, and sighted 204 birds just in our suburban backyard. So Mr. HRK and I take our chairs to the courtyard late in the afternoon, settle in with a cup of coffee and wait for the birds to start their afternoon pilgrimage to the Bird bath and then back to the Golden Penda tree and the Paperbark tree. We've had a couple of challenges differentiating between species, such as the female Australasian Figged and the female Blue-faced Honeyeater but I think we have given fairly accurate statistics of what we have seen which will paint a picture of the birds in our area for Bird Life Australia.

Highlights for us were: 23 Australasian Figbirds, 1 Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike,1 Nankeen Kestrel, 1 Whiskered Bulbul, 1 Rufous Fantail, 4 Torresian Imperial-Pigeons and 62 Rainbow Lorikeets. Except for the Lorikeets, these are ones we don't see very often.

A light lunch at home, Tabbouleh, stuffed capsicum, and a boiled egg, the lettuce is coming:)




Have a happy week my friends and keep smiling,

Bye for now,

Pauline

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Stuffed Bowen Bull Nose Capsicums {vegetarian}



Bull Nose Capsicums and Bull Nose Bell Peppers are one and the same thing. You probably know about the famous North Queensland Bowen mangoes which will be ready for harvest soon, but have you heard of the Bull Nose capsicums which Bowen is also famous for, as well as for the beautiful Bowen tomatoes. At this time of year Bowen is a profitable food bowl. I immediately thought of stuffing these capsicums when I first saw them, as they lend themselves to grilling, roasting and stuffing, or just chopped fresh for salads. Search your pantry stash of staple ingredients and it is amazing what you find. That is how this recipe came about.

Go straight to recipe here

My lovely foodie friend Julie, arrived on the weekend from Bowen with a farm fresh bag of Bull Nose capsicums, a large eggplant, and some Roma tomatoes, all from the farm shop just past Sandy Gully,  North of Bowen on the Bruce Highway. She is such a treasure. Living in Bowen has it's rewards for her and for me.

I had all of these ingredients on hand and so this recipe just evolved. White beans could be substituted for the Black beans, and the corn could be left out if necessary although it brings colour, natural sweetness and texture. I also enjoy the earthy flavours that the black beans bring to the taste buds, not to mention the fibre for the gut. I love the flavour of eggplant in this kind of vegetarian dish, and as I had a whole and very fresh globe eggplant, I sliced it, salted it, and baked it with a drizzle of olive oil and added some of it in small pieces to this mix. Mr. HRK isn't a huge fan of eggplant, and he's sticking to that story. So I have gone gently this time to test his reaction and he didn't even notice the filling contained some eggplant. Adding eggplant or not is up to you with this recipe, an optional extra. If we are thoughtful and curious with our cooking, the right flavours will evolve. Believe me my friends, this is a very tasty and pushy  recipe. If you like Mexican food, you will love these.

Bull Nose Capsicums, fresh, sweet and crispy
Now, for a little background story about these mysterious, and heritage Bull Nose Capsicums, as I know you must be fascinated by the name. They were named after their shape. They are smooth skinned and thin walled, and the skin tapers down to multiple lobes at the base, or a "bull nose". I hope you can see that in the photos below. Who ever named them had a great imagination, don't you think? Anyway, apparently they were one of the first crops grown by the American President, Thomas Jefferson at his Virginia home of Monticello as early as 1812 and seeds are still sown and sold there, or so I read. They would have been known as Bull Nose Bell Peppers and no doubt they were pickled by many of the settlers back then as well, however they looked different to the Bull Nose Peppers of today. According to the literature and photos available about them, back then they looked more like our common capsicum, only smaller.


Bell peppers called Bull Nose were definitely known to American gardeners in the 18th century. Paintings by artists such as Raphaelle Peale, in 1814, show that the pods back then were much smaller than they are today. Everything seems to have become bigger through time.

Mrs. Emlen's Pickled Mangoes is an inspiring historical read if you are interested in the history of food and language as I am. Apparently, many Americans still call Bell Peppers "mangoes", because to mango it meant to stuff and pickle it with a mixture of spices and shredded cabbage. I would be interested to hear from any American friends if this is still actually the case. Bell Peppers were also used in mango pickles, a recipe which traces back to their origin in India. However in India they are called capsicums.

Back then the Bull Nose Bell peppers may have been much hotter, according to recipes from the Virginia Housewife (1838:168) warning to be careful when removing the seeds and membranes. I wonder if she was really talking about the same Bell Peppers though as some articles say they were always sweet. This sounds like our chilli heat warnings today. It's fascinating to think that they are now grown so successfully here in North Queensland, where the hot dry conditions suit them, as the climate of India did.

I have some Bull Nose capsicums growing, my first crop, taken from seeds I dried and planted. We bought these capsicums from a roadside stall last year at Merinda, just North of Bowen, and to be truthful I didn't know what they were then but loved the flavour and the shape. The seeds have propagated very well into healthy plants, and whilst the fruit is still green and only half the size it might be, I am excited about being able to pick my own Bull Noses during this coming Summer. So many seedlings came up, exceeding my expectations, that I stuck a couple in my Kaffir Lime pot, and they are also doing very well. That's heritage quality for you I suppose.

Bull nose capsicums growing in our Kaffir Lime pot.

Bull nose capsicums growing in the garden with chillies
Let's Cook:
Serves 4
Ingredients:

8 Bull Nose capsicums or normal red capsicums
Salt and pepper
1 400g can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 400g can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 400g can corn kernels, drained (fresh would be even better)
4 thick slices of cooked eggplant, chopped finely (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 spring onions, finely sliced for garnish

Method:

I removed the seeds and membranes from the Capsicums, and they are currently drying out on the sunny windowsill in my laundry. They will keep in my seed bank in a zip lock bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, until I need to plant some for next summer.



The Filling:

In a large fry pan over a medium heat add a little olive oil, and add the the tomatoes, black beans, corn, eggplant, cumin, cayenne pepper and brown rice.



Season the mixture with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes. Have a taste to make sure it has the level of flavour that you like. Keep stirring the mixture to ensure it doesn't stick to the base of the pan, as the moisture will steam off and the mixture will bind together. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Spoon the bean and rice stuffing into the Bull Nose capsicums to fill, add the tops as lids. These types of capsicums aren't as easy to fill as the normal ones and I just pushed the mixture down into the cavity with a teaspoon and could feel the heat from the mixture as it found the bottom of the cavity.

These babies are ready for the oven
Add capsicums to a greased baking tray or one lined with baking paper, cover the tray with alfoil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and finely sliced spring onions to serve.  If you are using normal capsicum for this recipe, you might need to take a fine slice off the base so that they sit nice and flat on the plate.




Go straight to recipe here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Warm wishes,

Pauline

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Chinese Chicken Traybake with a Tropical Twist


This Chinese Chicken Sauce works well with baked chicken wings, chicken thigh cutlets or breasts, or a whole baked chicken. I generally bake the meat as per usual until half cooked, pour off most of the fat and then cover with the sauce and cook until the meat is cooked and the sauce has glazed.  It is important to watch it towards the end of the cooking time so that the sauce doesn't burn. This was a firm family favourite when the children lived at home and is still on the holiday menu repertoire.

 I hadn't cooked my Chinese Chicken recipe for a long time, and then our daughter called me the other day to tell me she had cooked it for her fiance, and he loved it.  She always enjoyed it when I made it at home. So here it is, and I'm so pleased I revived it from the exact original recipe. I've called it a traybake as that is what it is, however in the 90's we just called it Chinese Chicken. So easy and so tasty.

The ingredients seem simple I know, but if the balance is wrong it just doesn't taste right. If you feel like cooking something tasty and easy to try this weekend, that won't break the budget, this would be perfect.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

8 chicken thigh cutlets
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoons white wine or Chinese wine
1 tablespoon Rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or crushed fresh garlic to taste (I like a few cloves)
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or 1 sliced large red chilli
2 tablespoons low salt soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mango chutney (I use my home made batch, the Tropical influence)

Method:

Preheat the oven to moderate.

Place the chicken cutlets in a baking dish, skin side up and pour enough water into the dish to cover the base.



Bake the chicken cutlets for about 20 minutes or lightly browned. A lot of the fat should have been cooked out of the chicken and be in the base of the pan, and the water evaporated. the chicken skin will be lightly coloured. The chicken should only be half cooked.

Pour most (3/4) of the fat out of the dish.


Pour the chicken marinade over the chicken covering each piece well and place back in the oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven and baste the chicken with the sauce. The sauce will have thickened and will coat the chicken nicely.

This isn't really burnt, looks darker in the photo and was delicious
Place back in the oven, and if your oven is a hot oven reduce the temperature to 170 degrees, and be careful that the chicken doesn't burn, although the crispy bits in the dish and on the chicken are delicious.

Serve with boiled rice and Asian stir fried vegetables or even a fresh Wombok salad.

It's hard to believe it's Friday already. It's been a week of gardening and spring cleaning, a little rain, and now we have a couple of guys in our courtyard digging a hole for a large white post to be installed which will support a shade sail. That will be a nice addition for our Tropical Summer.

Thanks for dropping by everyone and I hope you all enjoy a relaxing weekend.

Pauline

Chinese Chicken Traybake is an original recipe by Pauline @ happyretireeskitchen.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

BLUEBERRY, WILD OATS & BANANA MUFFINS


Dear friends, beware, these are super healthy, in fact there is no sugar to be found in them, except of course in the fresh blueberries and bananas, oh and a little in the yoghurt. These are probably the kind of muffins you would find on the menu in a Healthy cafe in trendy Byron Bay (New South Wales) or Cairns (Queensland) but there they would be served with a drizzle of maple syrup or exotic homemade ice cream beside them.

 I don't count calories as such,  but it is Mr. HRK's birthday this weekend, which means some eating out and decadent treats, so this week we are pacing ourselves in anticipation. Do you do that, if not, I assure you it comes with the advancement of maturity, ha, ha. The weird thing is that when I am cutting back on sugar which I normally don't have a lot of anyway, my body just yearns for it, and these are perfect as they can be pulsed in the food processor in a jiffy, and cooked in 15 minutes. We ate these for brunch, however they are just as delicious for breakfast with coffee, or just for a snack in between meals. I found this recipe in the "CSIRO Healthy Gut" book and it intrigued me, as this isn't the way I normally cook, but these are a refreshing change, with all very healthy ingredients,  and a cinch to make.

Let's cook:

Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C. or 180 deg. C (fan-forced). I cooked mine in well greased silicon muffin trays, however paper lined muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin tray is a practical and attractive option.

Ingredients:

Makes 12

100 g natural Greek style yoghurt, lactose free if you must
2/3 cup (60g) raw rolled oats, not the fast cooking variety
2 bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
125 g punnet fresh blueberries
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Finely grated zest of 1 orange, preferably home grown but otherwise well washed

Method:

Place all of the ingredients except the blueberries, in the bowl of your food processor and pulse to just blend. The mixture will still be fairly coarse.

Fold the blueberries in gently.

Spoon the batter evenly into the paper cases, which will just half fill them, then bake for 15 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean. They need to be well cooked on top and set on the bottom.

Cool them in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.  They will need to be left in a silicon tray for at least 10 minutes, as the base will need to cool down and firm up because of the amount of fruit in the muffin. Carefully ease out from the muffin hole and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt on the side, and a very light dusting of icing sugar if you wish. They should also keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days for snacking on.

Eat these, enjoy and feel healthy and guilt free.

Thanks for dropping by,

Best wishes

Pauline