Sunday morning foraging has become part of our routine whilst the local farms still have beautiful produce before the heat of Summer takes it's toll. Most Sunday mornings we visit the farm truck of a local Mackay farm called Sweet As Fresh As, and indeed it is just that. This is what I bought yesterday, golden sweet corn, heritage cherry tomatoes (not in the photo), zucchinis, and strawberries. The pineapple is from a local pineapple farm and I purchased it from the corner shop near us. Pineapples are in season here at the moment and are very sweet. The strawberries are sweet and delicious and the corn hardly needs any cooking at all. It's nice and so easy here to bring home some fresh produce from local suppliers. It lasts much longer than what I buy at the supermarket,which travels a long way to get here. Buying what is locally in season and cooking with that is what I try to do.
Our daughter arrived home as a big Father's Day surprise for Mr. HRK, which was on the 6th September here in Australia this year, although I knew she was driving down from Cairns. Mr. HRK didn't, so its been a lovely week with her home, and lots of home cooking and stories and laughter. It's so good when you can pull off a surprise isn't it? Delicious Spring Lamb is in the butcher shops now at a very reasonable price, and when I baked a Leg of Lamb one night during the week flavoured with rosemary and garlic, I made this Cauliflower Cheese as one of the vegetable dishes to accompany the lamb. I always have lots of haloumi cheese in the refrigerator as Mr. HRK loves it and so I added haloumi slices around the circumference of the cauliflower cheese dish as I was a bit low on parmesan. It was really delicious, and the cheesier the better I reckon. By the way the cauliflower was also grown locally, and was so delicious I could also eat it raw.
A celebratory glass of champagne on Father's Day with our daughter was very nice. I made my
Tuna and Cannellini Bean Dip again as a snack to go with it and Shannon loved it.
Of course there had to be a cake for Father's Day and Shannon's arrival. I've been wanting to make this one for ages, and my friends we just loved it. The flavour of apricot in cakes is one of my favourites, as we can very rarely buy nice apricots this far North. So here is Nigella Lawson's fragrant and delicious Apricot cake. If you can't quite come at using Rosewater in this, just leave it out.
Nigella's Apricot Almond Cake with Rosewater and Cardamon
150 grams dried apricots
250 millilitres cold water
2 cardamon pods (cracked)
200 grams ground almonds
50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams caster sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
nonstick spray or sunflower oil for greasing
2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios
Grease and line a 1 x 20 cm/8-inch round spring form cake tin
- Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and drop in the cracked cardamon pods, still containing the fragrant cardamon seeds. Bring to the boil, and keep it bubbling on the stove for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it as at the end of 10 minutes the saucepan will be just about out of water but mustn't boil dry. The apricots will absorb more water as they cool.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the apricots to cool.
- Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C./160 deg. C. Fan, or Gas mark 4/350 deg. F.
- Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, and set them aside on a plate for a while. Discard the cardamon husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
- Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the saucepan into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
- Open up the top of the food processor, scrape down the batter, and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
- Bake for 40 minutes, however if the cake is browning too early, cover it loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark. I didn't need to do this. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
- Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you are using apricot jam to decorate and this gives a beautiful gloss and flavour to the cake, warm it up a little first to make it easier to spread. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Then sprinkle with the pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before releasing from the cake tin and removing to a serving plate.
With all of those very fresh zucchinis I bought, I just had to make Zucchini. Corn and Bacon Slice, a delicious family favourite. It was the week for our favourite foods.
Now I know I am cheating a little bit here, as this is supposed to be about My Kitchen, but I couldn't let the opportunity of my daughter visiting without us taking advantage of enjoying a High Tea at the Fifth Floor Restaurant during the week. It is actually a hospitality training restaurant for Central Queensland University which merged with TAFE a few years ago and now teaches hospitality which was always the domain of TAFE. I used to work for CQU so I still keep my ear close to the ground about what happens there, and this High Tea was reasonably priced, delicious and located on the 5th floor of the inner city CQU building with nice surrounding views. The hospitality students waited on the tables and did a good job. They also cook and serve very nice lunches throughout the month.
The High Tea Menu.
Spring is as much about gardening as cooking for us and we have been spending a lot of time gardening in the mornings. I collected a few bits and pieces form the garden to fill a vase to put on the bench in my kitchen, and the pretty pink leaves are from a Cordyline, which will strike shoots in a vase of water and can then easily be replanted. Cordylines bring very nice colour to the tropical garden. We have a couple of garden projects going on at the moment, but I will write more about that later.
I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month. I'm a bit late with this, but it is still the 13th somewhere in the world:) Or just head over to her blog and visit more kitchens.
Warm wishes everyone and have a lovely week wherever you are,