Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Boiled Cherry Fruit Cake




Boiled fruit cakes are excellent to fall back on when in a rush, and knowing that I will want cake in the house when I return from being away this is perfect. I'm packing, so this is all being done hurriedly, however it is so reassuring to know that there will be some fruit cake in the refrigerator when I return, as fresh as when it was made, and possibly even tastier as the brandy does it's work over time.

However, next time I make this cake, I will leave the cherries whole rather than cutting them in  half, as they seem to have disappeared amongst the other fruit. Although this hasn't affected the flavour, there is such delight isn't there with finding a few whole cherries when eating fruit cake?

This cake mixture makes two good sized round cakes. I only made these yesterday, and half of this one has disappeared already. Needless to say Neil loves fruit cake. I have another one though to take with me as well.

If I ever write a recipe book, I'm sure it will be filled with all of the wonderful recipes that friends have cooked and shared with  me over the years. This is Paul's delicious fruit cake recipe which I have been wanting to try for a long time, and can also be made into large muffin size cakes and given to friends as Christmas gifts. He has done this, and sold them at a Christmas school fete, where they all sold as soon as they hit the cake table.

Add a few nuts, some more brandy, some ribbons, and some icing and this fruit cake could stand proudly as your Christmas cake.



Let's Cook:

Boiled Ingredients:

250 gms butter
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of water
3/4 cup brandy
1/2 kg sultanas
1/2 kg raisins
2 pkts glace cherries, left whole
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice

Place all the above ingredients in a large saucepan, melt the butter and slowly bring the ingredients to the boil. Simmer until the fruit softens, add 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda, stir, and remove from heat to cool. I generally leave fruit cake mixtures to cool overnight.

Let's cook:


In a large bowl add the following:
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1 1/2 cups SR Flour
3 eggs plus the cooled fruit  and mix thoroughly

Cook in one tin or two, or even muffin tins. It is preferable to line the cake tins with two layers of brown paper to prevent them from burning.

In two tins, cook for one hour and ten minutes at 160 degrees.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Sweet Corn and Zucchini Fritters For Brunch





Fritters are such an old favourite from a bygone era, however they are still on the menu at many of the better coffee shops. Just by serving them with a side salad and a tasty relish, the price escalates to around $15.00 a meal or even more, and yet they are so easy to cook in your own kitchen using your own combination of ingredient, and depending on what you have on hand. Canned sweet corn has become a staple in my pantry, and as I always have  an abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs on hand, corn marries well with those to make lots of savoury meals such as fritters, muffins, and quiches to mention a few. Leftover chopped cooked meats such as chicken and corned silverside can also be added. Perhaps I am addicted to the natural sweetness and the crunch that corn brings to most of my creations. If you manage to grow your own sweet corn instead of needing to buy the cans, then you are set to go.

After our early morning coffee this morning Neil and I went for a meander through our vegetable and herb garden which inevitably led to a weeding, watering and tidying mission. This is when I really enjoy the early morning solitude of the garden, the surprises it yields, the twittering of our visiting birds and the crispness in the air. During this time, part of my brain is already planning meals for the day, future projects, wondering how my children are managing and what our friends and family might be doing. However, pottering in the garden is a very relaxing and rewarding pastime where I can escape from all of the political and commercialised issues we are bombarded with these days. Thank goodness the frenzy of Christmas marketing hasn't started yet although decorations are appearing in the shops already, heaven forbid! My Mum always used to say that gardening is great therapy, without paying a fortune for it. How true!

Back to reality. The light bulb in our frig has blown necessitating an excursion to find the right bulb, not easy for something so small, and before we know it, breakfast time has passed and we have moved into the brunch time frame. Within half an hour of arriving home, the bulb is installed in the refrigerator by my wonderful handyman husband, and my homemade fritters are cooked and ready to be demolished. A side salad of greens from the garden, fresh Bowen tomatoes from the markets, and some spicy tomato relish and we are ready to enjoy our brunch at home at a fraction of the cost of eating out. Another productive and fulfilling morning in the retiree's garden and kitchen. I must add though that not eating out much when we are at home, makes it all the more enjoyable when we are travelling, especially for moi, who does most of the cooking.

Sweet corn and Zucchini fritters

Ingredients:
420g can corn kernels, drained
1 small zucchini, grated or approx. 150g.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup self raising flour (or a combination of plain flour and baking powder. 1 cup of flour + 2 teaspoons of baking powder, sifted together)
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or other favourite herb (optional)
2 spring onions, finely chopped or garlic chives (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Let's cook:
  1. Lightly mix together the corn, zucchini, eggs, spring onions, parsley and milk. 
  2. Gradually stir in the sifted flour and cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan, over a medium heat. Place heaped tablespoons of the fritter mixture in the pan and cook in batches depending on the size of your pan.
  4. When you see small bubbles starting to appear on the surface of the fritters, it should mean they are nearly ready to flip over.
  5. Using a non-metal spatula flip them over once, until nicely golden and cooked through. Keeping them all the same size will ensure that they all cook at around the same time. 
  6. Drain each batch as it is finished on some paper towel on a plate and cover with alfoil to keep warm, until all the fritters are cooked.
  7. Serve three fritters to a plate with a small side salad, and a spicy tomato relish or with chopped avocado, and coriander and relish. Whatever you prefer really.
Delicious. Enjoy!

Best wishes and happy cooking,

Pauline





Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Broccoli Timbales


For recipe click here:

Broccoli is on sale for only $2 a kilo at the supermarkets at present, and at that price I bought heaps of it. So today is broccoli day. It needs to be prepared and cooked up before it turns yellow in the frig. I suppose that is the only downside that if it isn't absolutely fresh when purchased it will turn yellow quickly. Also it needs to be washed very well before cooking, unless it is grown organically, as the farmers use lots of insecticide and high-nitrate fertilizers during the growing process.

Broccoli must rate as the number one vegetable in nutrient content, as well as being very easy to prepare. I mostly just cut it into flowerettes, steam it for 4-5 minutes, or until it has turned bright green and tender, and serve as is or with a small knob of butter if I am feeling decadent. It is high in caretenoids and Vitamin C and contains B complex, calcium, phosphorus and potassium as well. Sally Fallon who has written a great book called Nourishing Traditions, says new research proves that it is also rich in chromium, a mineral that protects us against diabetes. It is also a great source of fibre, which is so important for a healthy gut and has a few anti cancer agents thrown in as well. At that rate it seems we should be eating lots of it.

I thought I would cook something different with it today and timbales in the French style of cooking sounds perfect and can be applied to lots of chopped vegetables or chopped meat as well. There is also  a recipe for a Lemon Sauce at the end of this page, which I think compliments this dish beautifully, but I am saving that for another day. I know I will be cooking this again.

Ingredients:

Serves 6

1 large bunch broccoli
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons good quality sour cream, or creme fraiche
4 eggs. lightly beaten
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  1. Steam your broccoli until just tender and coloured a deep green
  2. Place the broccoli in your food processor and pulse a few times until well chopped.
  3. Add the butter, sour cream, eggs and onion and blend well.
  4. Season to taste.
  5. Pour mixture into six well-buttered moulds, or ramekins or even muffin tins.
  6. Fill a baking pan with boiling water to a depth of halfway up the moulds. Place moulds into the baking pan and bake uncovered at 180 deg C, or 350 deg F for 20 minutes until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean.
  7. Loosen timbales gently with a knife around the edge and turn onto individual plates or a warmed platter.
  8. Garnish with any green herb such as a fine dill leaf or flat leaf parsley. Dill compliments the flavour perfectly.
If you are serving these as an entree or for a special occasion, and you are not counting the calories,  it will be delicious and very effective to serve them with the lemon sauce given below. However, I think this would work very well served as a main course with fish.

Lemon sauce:

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon powdered chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup cream and lemon juice, and let this stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

For the sauce, combine flour and butter  to form a paste. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the lemon-cream mixture, powdered chicken stock and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Whisk butter mixture into the cream mixture until it is smooth and the mixture has thickened. Add snipped dill. Remove from the heat and set aside. Serve around the base of the timbales.

For other broccoli recipes try the following which are also delicious:

Broccoli Bites, great for kids:-