Sunday, 31 May 2015

Search for the source of your food


 https://www.facebook.com/FlavourCrusader

I have just discovered this website after reading a very well written article in the Life section of the Weekend Australian today by Laura Dalrymple, about how important it is to know the source of our food, the importance of buying locally grown produce when possible, and not being "anaesthetised by choice and abundance" or by the packaging on foods we buy.

Local produce at the farmers markets in San Sebastian, Spain. When travelling overseas,
I am always impressed by the habit of shopping  daily at the local markets.

At home, we are growing as much of our own produce as we can in our own backyard, and some of the front yard as well, however it is realistic to expect that in suburbia we are still dependent on purchasing many items from the local markets, supermarkets, or IGAs.

Spanish artichokes


As retirees with more time on our hands, we are swapping or just giving away surplus produce excess to our needs. This not only reduces waste, but it also feels really good to share.

Cured meats for sale at the San Sebastian markets

I'll see how the Flavour Crusader website develops, but I am becoming increasingly passionate about this whole issue.

As Laura says in her article, "the decisions we make at the check-out are proving to be the most effective change agent in the retail sector. Never underestimate the power of one."

The flower markets-San Sebastian

Friday, 29 May 2015

Corned Beef Fritters

CORNED BEEF FRITTERS

Ingredients:

1 cup self-raising flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
(Just double the above ingredients for more fritters)
Italian parsley
Leftover corned beef approx. 4 thick slices, cubed
1 tomato
1 onion

Let's cook fritters:
  1. Sift the flour into an average sized mixing bowl
  2. Add the egg and the milk
  3. Beat until mixture is smooth with no lumps

Prepare the batter filling:
  1. Dice or slice your corned meat
  2. Slice an onion very finely
  3. Dice a ripe tomato finely
(If you just prefer cooked meat in your fritter it is still delicious if you omit the tomato and onion)

Heat a frying pan at this stage and add a shallow layer of frying oil.
Add the meat and onion and tomato to the batter mixture and mix in lightly ensuring that there is enough mixture for each fritter to contain meat, and tomato and onion.
Chopped parsley may be added at this stage but that is optional.
Add tablespoons of the batter mixture to the hot, shallow oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. Check that there is still no uncooked batter in the fritter by pressing the fritter lightly with a spoon. If some batter oozes out, they need to be cooked longer.
Drain the fritters on absorbent paper and keep warm in the oven on a very low heat while the others are being cooked.
Serve at once with tomato sauce.

Best wishes

Pauline






















Saturday, 23 May 2015

Ginger Syrup Cake



This Ginger cake embraces the sweetness of  golden syrup, and the heat and spice of fresh and ground ginger. It is always a winner with a cuppa or as a dessert, especially as the weather starts to cool down and has always been a favourite cake of ours.

We dug up some fresh ginger from our garden, picking just enough to make the aromatic Ginger syrup.

I offered to take this cake as dessert for our after tennis dinner party, which happened to be our lovely friend Chris's birthday as well. Chris loves ginger, and really enjoyed her birthday cake.


Chris and her  Ginger syrup birthday cake


Ingredients:

120 g unsalted butter
250 ml golden syrup
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
220 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
250 ml milk
2 free-range eggs, beaten
Icing sugar, for dusting

Ginger Syrup

1/2 cup caster sugar
125 ml water
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Let's Cook

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Grease and line a medium sized square cake tin. Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat; remove. Sift flour, ginger, mixed spice, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
Add milk and egg and mix until smooth. Gradually add butter mixture and stir.
Pour batter into tin; bake for 50-55 minutes or until risen and firm to touch.

Ginger syrup:

Combine syrup ingredients in small saucepan, boil, stir, reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove cake, pierce with a skewer; spoon over hot syrup. Cool, dust with icing sugar.

This recipe is taken from David Herbert's recipes, however I have doubled the ingredients to serve it as a dessert with thick fresh cream mixed with Greek yoghurt, and swirled with homemade strawberry jam, or ice cream

Just halve the ingredients if you wish to make a smaller cake in a standard loaf tin.

Happy cooking,

Best wishes

Pauline

Monday, 18 May 2015

Honey Roasted Cherry Tomatoes





This is such a simple recipe, and although tomatoes are officially out of season at present, I just managed to buy some beautiful cherry tomatoes at the supermarket  at a reduced price because they had passed the use by date, however were still in excellent condition. This recipe is taken from the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookery book, and whilst I am not vegetarian, we are reducing our meat consumption to what it was, and a dish like this marries beautifully with risotto, grilled or roasted vegetables, or just to quote Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, "piled on toast with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt on top." Perfect. So simple and so delicious. The original recipe uses 1 tablespoon of honey, however I think this could even be reduced to 1/2 tablespoon if you prefer things a little less sweet like me. This depends on how sweet your tomatoes are as well.

Ingredients:
500g cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon clear honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Preheat the oven to 190 deg. C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a a medium roasting dish or pie dish. Halve the tomatoes and place them, cut side up, in the dish. Ensure they fit snugly with little or no space between them.

Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it with the honey, olive oil and a good grinding of pepper. Because I had quite large organic garlic cloves from nearby Eungella, I mashed them up in my pestle and mortar with the salt and mixed the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.

Spoon the gooey, garlicky mixture over the cherry tomatoes.

Roast for about 30 minutes, until juicy and bubbling.

Divine.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Pickled beetroot


PICKLED BEETROOT

An early trip to the local market in wet, windy conditions, and I arrive home with all locally grown produce. Because of the wet weather, and the temporary relocation of the market stalls to an uncovered area, only the local, noncommercial growers seem to be present today, making it much easier to sift through what is grown locally, versus what the larger commercial suppliers have sourced from down south. There is so much more transparency about what we are buying and eating, if food can be sourced locally, and isn't packaged.

The secret ingredient which sets this pickle apart in flavor and intensity is the cinnamon stick. All the flavors will develop in the jars over the next couple of weeks resulting in a very aromatic and tasty beetroot pickle. I only finished with two jars of pickle, because the the beetroot weren't very large this time. However, there was enough pickling mix for four jars. Your jars will need to be wide mouthed to accommodate the beetroot slices.

I promise you that after making Pickled Beetroot and tasting it, you will never buy commercially canned beetroot again.

Let's pickle:

Ingredients:

4 large beetroot

Pickling Liquid:
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cracked pepper or peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mixed spices (can include 1/2 tsp celery seed, 1/2 teas. mustard seed)
2 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp salt

Preparing the beetroot for pickling:
  1. Cut off the leaves and clean up any blemishes. Don't peel them or cut into them at this stage as the red juice will bleed into the water. Wash the beetroot completely and cook in lightly salted water for 20 to 30 minutes. This depends on the size of the beetroot. If a cooking skewer passes cleanly through the beetroot then they are cooked.
  2. Cool the beetroot and then remove the skin using a knife, but some of the skin will just rub off in your hand. Use gloves if you don't want pink hands at the end of this.
  3. Slice the beetroot, or cut into wedges or julienne strips.Slices should fit neatly into a jar, and are a great addition to a  steak burger. Beetroot wedges will look more impressive at a Dinner Party.
Sterilise your bottles:
  1. This is most important. Everything you work with must be warm to hot.
  2. If the bottles have already been just washed in the dishwasher that should be enough, or for safety's sake place them in a preheated oven at 130 deg. Celsius for 20 minutes as well. I place a tea towel on a biscuit tray, and lay the bottles and the lids on the tray, making sure they don't touch each other.
  3. If they haven't been recently washed or sterilised, wash them in hot soapy water, carefully removing any traces of former contents, rinse in clean water, and then sterilise them in the oven as mentioned in no. 2.
  4. Never place hot pickling mixture into cold bottles or they may crack.

Preparing the Pickling Liquid:
  1. Place the pickling mix ingredients i.e. (everything except the beetroot) in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste it to ensure it is to your taste. Strain it then to remove all the seeds, however they will sink to the bottom of the pickling mixture.
Final steps:
  1. Pack the beetroot into your hot sterilised jars and top up with the vinegar mixture.
  2. If bubbles appear, just keep packing down the beetroot slices with a spoon until the bubbles disappear.
  3. Seal the bottles and keep on your kitchen bench for a couple of days or pack them away in a cool place.
  4. They will be at their best to eat after a couple of weeks after maturing in the jar, and up until three months.
  5. After you open the jars for the first time, store them in the frig after that.







Thursday, 14 May 2015

Growing Rosellas in the Tropics

GROWING ROSELLAS IN THE TROPICS

Rosella plants

Rosella pods ready to pick in a couple of weeks
Growing rosella plants from seed is very easy. Last year I dried and saved some seeds from our first crop of rosellas. These were the rosellas which I didn't consider good enough for jam, however they produced enough seeds for a future planting, I just dried the seeds on absorbent kitchen paper in my sunny laundry for a couple of weeks and then stored them in a plastic container in the crisper of the refrigerator until I was ready to use them. In September 2014, I planted the seeds in the front garden in an area that wouldn't be invaded or require much attention and left the seeds to their own devices. After Christmas. four or five healthy plants had sprung up and should this year provide enough rosellas for a decent batch of jam.

Rosellas from the 2014 harvest
Growing rosellas in the tropics is fairly uncomplicated, however it has been a very dry summer this year, and whilst we were away overseas for 6 weeks in March/April 2015, the sprinkler system stopped working at some stage in the rosella patch and with no rain falling the rosellas looked a bit neglected when we returned home. However, they are very resilient, and now with some frequent watering and TLC they are starting to produce what promises to be a good crop.

I harvested a few ripe seed pods this morning before the ants destroy them, cut off some dry leaves, fertilised the bushes with some fish emulsion and they are looking a lot healthier. I am hoping that within a couple of months, I will have enough rosellas to make some more rosella jam. Always a winner, and still my favourite jam.If I don't have enough for a worthwhile quantity of jam, there should be some available at the markets. I am hoping I will have enough to make some cordial as well.

http://happyretireeskitchen.blogspot.com.au/p/the-rosella-harvest-has-begun.html

Best wishes

Pauline

Monday, 11 May 2015

Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker or Crock Pot


BEEF STEW






Beef pies, yum, who doesn't like a meat pie?

This very tasty and easy beef stew  can be easily adapted to meat pies or French casseroles served in mini Cocettes, or with the addition of dumplings, can feed crowds of people. Matthew and Myrtille gave me a set of Baccarat mini Cocettes for my last birthday, which I just love, and I  know I will be using them regularly for mains and desserts. Now  that the weather is cooling off in the Tropics, it is time for a good beef stew, with pastry of course. Buy your puff pastry and make either individual beef pies, or a large one. Enjoy the left over beef stew on toast for brekkie the following morning.



As I write this, I am reminded of our visit in April 2015, to Goddards, the famous and historical pie shop established in Greenwich, England in 1890. On a cold day, their hand made meat pies, served with mash and mushy peas, and gravy  make the trip very worth while.
Meat pies with mash, mushy peas and gravy at Goddards in Greenwich, England



BEEF STEW in the SLOW COOKER or CROCK POT
Ingredients:

1 kilo good quality chuck steak, cut into 1 inch cubes (ask your butcher to do this)
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 chopped onion
1 1/2 cups beef stock
4 thinly sliced carrots
1 chopped stalk celery
3 diced potatoes, optional

Method:
  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients i.e. flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl
  2. Add diced fresh meat to slow cooker bowl and coat with the flour and dry ingredients
  3. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, onion, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, carrots and celery. Also add
  4. potatoes if required
  5. Add the lid to the pot, and cook on a low setting for up to 10 hours, or a high setting for 4-5 hours. this varies depending on the age and style of your slow cooker. If you can resist taking the lid off the pot, except to perhaps stir it once, it will cook much faster and more economically.
  6. Check that the meat is tender and cooked right through before serving.
  7. Serve with home made bread to mop up the gravy.




The Cutty Sark, the fastest and most famous tea clipper built, now in dry dock at Greenwich.

Monday, 4 May 2015

FRIENDSHIP TEA CAKE


FRIENDSHIP TEA CAKE


Ten days ago I met Herman the German. He is a sourdough cake, who starts life as a sourdough starter, and grows on the kitchen bench for 10 days. He has his own website which can be found at:  http://www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com/


My long term foodie friend Julia, visited me at home with some of her deliciously cooked Herman Friendship cake  and a portion of her Herman sourdough starter. I have stirred, fed and nurtured Herman all week, and on the weekend, Herman multiplied to four, and the cooking began. Two friendship cakes and a loaf of sourdough bread later, Herman is officially a member of the family. The cake is delicious and keeps well in the freezer and also makes a sensational dessert with the addition of cream, ice cream etc.

Herman Sourdough bread:




My sourdough bread exceeded all of my expectations. I followed Cheryl's advice from Herman's website, and started the kneading process after lunch, letting it rise overnight, and then cooked the loaf for breakfast the following morning, using half strong white flour, and half Laucke's Multigrain Soy and Linseed bread making flour. No bread maker involved. The smell of the sourdough bread cooking throughout the house early in the morning was heavenly.




The recipe for the bread can be found at Herman the German's website.

Friendship Tea Cake

Ingredients:

1 Herman sourdough starter
1 cup of sugar (8oz or 225g)
2 cups of S.R. Flour (or 2 cups plain flour and 2 heaped tsp. baking powder)
Half teaspoon salt
2/3 cup  of cooking oil (160ml)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla essence
1 normal can pie apple (or 2 cooking apples cut into chunks)
1 cup raisins (200g)
2 heaped tsp. cinnamon
2 heaped tsp. baking powder

Optional:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Method:

Mix everything together in a large bowl,  including the sourdough starter and spoon into a large greased baking dish. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter. (This last step is optional but well worth it.)

Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180 deg. C. Test the middle with a clean knife. I find it cooks beautifully in this time, however you may need to cover in alfoil and bake for a further 20 minutes to ensure it is cooked properly in the middle.

In 9 days time, I will have four Herman sourdough starters, which means more bread baking  and other variations. There are lots of recipes available on his website. If you have always wanted to try a sourdough starter and make your own bread, this really works.

The Herman Sourdough Starter Mix:

150g (5oz) plain flour
225g (8oz) castor sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
275 ml or 1/2 pint of warm milk
55ml (2 fl oz) of lukewarm water

Method:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes and stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl in a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours.
  6. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.
From the Herman the German's website: YOU CANNOT PUT ME IN THE FRIDGE OR I WILL DIE.IF I STOP BUBBLING I AM DEAD.

Day 1 - Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel
Day 2 - Stir well
Day 3 - Stir well
Day 4 - Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.
Day 5 - Stir well
Day 6 - Stir well
Day 7 - Stir well
Day 8 - Stir well
Day 9 - Add the same as Day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the fourth portion.

What a great idea to be able to give one away to a friend, accompanied by some Friendship tea cake.

Do you think dear Reader, that one of the nicest things in life is when a friend arrives unexpectedly with some home cooked goodies to be shared and enjoyed?



Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Rose, a Hybrid Tea. The flower, a gift from my neighbour.