Sunday, April 27, 2014

Old-fashioned Boiled Fruit Cake

Fruit cake is traditionally a favourite despite cake fanciers always experimenting with variations of cake recipes. It certainly still comes into its own at Christmas time. This is my Mum's recipe for Boiled Fruit cake, and as it has been a nostalgic week with Easter and Anzac Day so close together I decided to bake it, along with the compulsory Anzac Biscuits of course. Boiled Fruit cake is such a great standby for surprise visitors, or just to have when you are feeling needy with a cup of tea or coffee, and keeps fresh for a few weeks.

 This is an economical version compared to some, originating from the 60's or even earlier I suspect. The Christmas Fruit Cake recipe is much richer and needs lots more time, ingredients and work than this one.


115g (4oz) butter or margarine
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 pkt Mixed Fruit (375 g.)
2 teasp. Bicarbonate Soda (Carb. Soda)
1 teasp. Mixed Spice
1 teasp. ground Ginger, or finely chopped crystallised ginger (if  liked)
1/2 teasp. ground Nutmeg (preferably grated fresh)

Place above ingredients in saucepan and boil for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn't burn. Allow to cool.

Add ingredients listed below to cooled mixture in saucepan:

1 cup S.R. Flour - Sifted
1 cup Plain Flour - Sifted
1 teasp. Vanilla
1 large beaten egg
2 tablespoons Bundy rum (opt.) or 1 tablespoon marmalade

When saucepan mixture is quite cold, add above ingredients and mix in well.

Pour into well greased loaf tin or round cake tin lined with 2 layers of brown paper to prevent  burning. Decorate the surface in a pattern with whole blanched almonds if desired.

Cook in oven for 1 1/2 hours at 160 deg. or until a skewer comes out clean.

When still hot, pour 1 tablespoon of rum over surface of cake.

It is preferable to keep the cake for a week before cutting for the flavours to really develop. I need to make two cakes to ensure that at least one cake doesn't get cut and eaten!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Classic and Original Zucchini and Bacon Slice

Zucchini slice was originally created, back in the 1980's to assist very busy Mothers to cook a healthy, nutritious and very tasty savoury slice for the family, requiring no precooking of any ingredients, just some grating and slicing. It became so popular, that  you could depend on  there being a Zucchini slice at any family gathering or party.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Rosella Harvest has begun

The Rosella harvest has begun

My rosella plants are beckoning for attention. Once again this morning I have been sidetracked from writing the difficult conclusion to my latest family history chapter by my garden, specifically my rosellas. As Neil and I wander around the garden, our freshly brewed coffee in hand, and with rain showers imminent, he remarks that some of the rosellas look as if they are ready to be harvested. After all he has some experience in this area having volunteered once when he was in his still in his teens to assist a struggling family near Byfield, Yeppoon,  with harvesting their rosella farm. So of course I quickly perform a couple of google searches, and yes it looks like some of them are ready although there still isn't that much information on when to precisely harvest this precious commodity. Three weeks after flowering seems to be the consensus of opinion, when the fleshy red calyx, is surrounding a still green seedpod, however when all of the flowers erupt at different times this is a difficult thing to gauge.Also, all of the fruit are different sizes, some nice and large, some quite small, even though their seedpods are nice and green and are calling out to me to be picked. So I oblige.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homemade Galangal Pickle

Galangal Pickle

Galangal pickle, homemade, and a luscious salmon pink colour, as I had hoped. It has taken four hours concocting this Asian delicacy, but well worth it. It takes three hours down time though waiting for the galangal to tenderise in the salt, while you can be doing other things, and the rest is the actual bottling and cooking  time. This recipe is for long-term pickles that will keep in your pantry for at least 12 months. As you can see, this recipe, when almost doubled makes 2 large jars of pickle and around 8 large roots were needed for that amount. An essential piece of equipment for this pickle is a mandolin, as the galangal needs to be sliced paper thin. This can only be achieved on the freshest, tenderest sections or knobs of the root. You will know that the galangal isn't tender enough when the mandolin refuses to slice it. This is my first batch, and I am so pleased with it that I will be making more, however because it will also make great gifts, and is somewhat of a delicacy, it should be packaged in small jars. A little bit goes a long way.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Persian Yoghurt Rice Baked with Chicken (Tahcheen-e morgh)

Persian chicken and rice, cooked with saffron, orange-flavoured water, and yoghurt. This is an impressive layered rice dish, full of exotic Middle Eastern flavours, that is great for special occasions. Left over chicken from the Sunday roast can be used, instead of fresh chicken. The meat should still be marinated, whether raw or cooked, for at least 2 hours, as it really does help to develop the flavours. Serve it with an eggplant dish as an accompaniment.

(Recipe adapted from Saraban: a chef's journey through Persia, by Greg & Lucy Malouf)

Click here for recipe

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cauliflower and Potato Curry with Chick Peas

Cauliflower and Potato Curry with Chick Peas (recipe)

Cauliflower must be in season again, as they were very cheap at the supermarket yesterday. So, abiding with my self sufficiency philosophy to try and cook and eat what is in season, as well as from my garden, without being obsessive about it, I decided to adapt this recipe which I found in the  latest Feast magazine. Cauliflower is quite a bland vegetable when cooked and along with potato, needs lots of Indian spices to bring it in an exciting way to the table.. By adding fresh curry leaves, fresh turmeric, and fresh ginger from my garden, along with a tin of chick peas, to the cumin seeds and other ingredients it is a healthy and exciting vegetarian Indian dish.

I will be serving it with a lamb Raita curry and some great mango chutney.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Eggplants and chillis - today's harvest

Chillis and eggplant, working in harmony together
Companion planting works

Chillis, eggplants, and a variety of herbs are the survivors in my garden after all the rain we have had in North Queensland over recent weeks. I have harvested, just today, the first beautiful, aubergine coloured large eggplant, a variety of smaller Lebanese eggplants and lots of chillis. And of course I still have  tomato plants which are looking stronger each day, including my Amish Paste Heirloom variety.

Having lost a few punnets of seedlings over the last few weeks when I was very keen to start planting, I am now resigned to the fact that planting seedlings in the Tropics before Easter is a waste of time.However, some of my tomato and coriander seeds have germinated during the wet so all is not lost.

I now have plans to make some chilli jam, and it is definitely time for another moussaka and some
 baba ganoush.

There are lots of recipes available for chilli jam, however if you have made it and enjoyed success I would love to hear from you.