Saturday, 23 December 2017

Chocolate Rum Truffles or Christmas Trumffles



It's Christmas Eve and it's starting to feel like Christmas, especially when these delicious chocolate truffles are made and sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be enjoyed. My first batch only had 2 tablespoons of rum in them, however when they are refrigerated as we need to during a hot Queensland summer the flavour of the rum tends to reduce so I doubled the amount in the next batch and Mr. HRK and Shannon gave them the thumbs up, after trying a couple of them of course just to make sure. They are delicious with an afternoon  cup of  tea or coffee or an evening aperitif.

I hope you are enjoying the lead up to Christmas and that the commercial frenzy of the event hasn't affected you too much.

I have to admit that when I first starting making these  little balls I was calling them Rum Balls. However as often happens, the recipe evolved into more of a truffle like mixture so that is what I have called them. Shannon also reminded me that my classic Rum Balls used to always be made with Weetbix and had coconut in them. So do you prefer to make Rum Balls or Truffles at Christmas time or is there another traditional sweet family treat that you like to make?

Shannon has named these Trumffles as they are a cross between a Rum Ball and a Truffle, ha, ha.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Ingredients:

250g sweet biscuits, such as Mcvities Digestives Milk Chocolate biscuits or Arrowroot biscuits
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
4 tablespoons rum (I used Bundaberg Rum
Chocolate sprinkles and extra fresh desiccated coconut for coating in two separate batches

Method:

Drop your biscuits separately into the food processor through the chute whilst motor is running to make fine crumbs.
Place the biscuit crumbs into a mixing bowl. Stir in all of the other ingredients until well combined.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour until mixture is cold and firm.
Roll level tablespoons of the mixture into bowls. This may be easier if you dampen your hands first.
Lightly roll each truffle in either coconut or chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder.

As these may be served at a family gathering over Christmas, a special Kid's edition can be made minus the alcohol by replacing the rum with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and reduce the cocoa to 1/3 cup.

(This recipe is loosely based on one I saw on a Jamie Oliver Website, and then for some reason I couldn't find it again. )

I'd like to thank you for reading my blog and supporting me with your comments throughout the year. I'd also like to thank those bloggers who have inspired me throughout the year with their enjoyable and inspiring posts. We are all part of a very diverse, global and supportive blogging community, which I look forward to being part of in 2018.

This will be my last post for a while now, possible until mid-January.

Wishing all the best for a wonderful Christmas with family and a healthy, safe and rewarding 2018.

Bye for now

Pauline xx

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Everett's Lychee Farm at Mareeba, and Rusty's Market in Cairns, they've got it covered

We drove up the range to the Atherton Tableland from Cairns, which is inland and to the West, in search of the best Lychees and Mangoes, at the best price we could find. Lychees are at the height of the season right now, and Summer of 2017 has been a good season, as it has also been for Mangoes. Mareeba is the food bowl of the Tablelands, and as we approached the thriving township, we discovered Everett's lychee farm, marketed as F.N.Q Lychee. We drove through rows and rows of lychee trees covered in nets to protect them from the Flying Foxes and the birds and came to the distribution and sorting centre where there is an ordinary refrigerator storing  bags of Grade One lychees, and bags of seconds, all for sale to the public.






We bought a 5 kg bag of Grade One lychees which mostly had very small seeds, always a very strong selling point for lychees and they are delicious, we are still eating them. They were $8.00 a kilo, a good price for the best lychees available. There is a slight variation of flavour amongst them though as we discovered that in each bag there are a few different varieties: Fay Zee Sui, Taiso, Kiamana, and Soui Tung. All very juicy and delicious. We were told that large trucks arrive daily to transport hundreds of kilos south to the interstate Markets, and to Rusty's markets in Cairns. However, Rusty's only want the Seconds to sell to the public, which means it is then up to the consumer at the markets to sort through them and choose the best ones they can find. Everett's take great pride in the quality of their lychees as they are very serious commercial producers, and would  prefer for Rusty's to be buying their top quality lychees. However we have also bought lychees from the markets and they were fine. This saves Everetts from having to discard the lychees which aren't top quality.

F.N.Q Lychee is located at:
M & J Everett
209 Malone Rd
Mareeba, 4880
Phone: 07 4093 3120

Surely we don't always need to be buying the top quality in fresh produce if it saves us a few dollars.It doesn't have to look perfect to taste good. We found some 2nd grade lychees at Rusty's last weekend for $5 a kilo, a saving of $3.00 a kilo. By Sunday, the last day of the market, they may cost even less.

Whilst in the area, we saw this Strawberry Bowen Mango tree. The mangoes were a beautiful purple colour which we hadn't seen before. Unfortunately there didn't seem to be any for sale.


Rusty's Market in the centre of Cairns is a must to visit from Friday to Sunday, because if it isn't at Rusty's it just isn't grown in the region. I'll let the photos mostly do the talking however it is always fascinating to explore the bountiful produce on sale in this huge barn. I took photos of some of the more rare fruits and vegetables as well so that I can do some homework and discover what I can actually do with them in my kitchen. We will be staying with our daughter in Cairns until after Christmas so there will be more trips to Rusty's as it is the only place to shop for the fresh stuff.

Backpackers make a meal of it as well, as there are lots of plates of samples available, so a cheap and healthy breakfast is available if you have the time to wander around and sample. We haven't done that  for breakfast though. There are lots of delicious cooked foods available by some very clever people and that could be another story in the future.

 Very delicious and ripe Bowen mangoes. Ready to eat.


These ones are mostly still green and should ripen in a week.



I bought a loaf of the Dark Rye Sour Dough bread and enjoyed it. This artisan baker makes hundreds of loaves each weekend for the markets as many customers now prefer the health benefits of unrefined flour and sourdough.






I was quite fascinated by the very large Bamboo shoots in the shape of Rhinoceros horns from Innisfail, just south of Cairns. I'm not sure what to do with them though, ha, ha. Any ideas?





Dragonfruit  are delicious and very colourful, when peeled, sliced and served with a cheese platter.



Who doesn't love large bunches of exotic flowers such as the Heliconias, Strelitzias and Gingers. they look so perfect.




I've never eaten Jackfruit, have you?












Daikon can be used to make fermented Kimchi.


Amongst all of this excitement in the Far North, we have also been cat sitting our daughter's cat, Nala. Nala is a pedigree Tonkinese, which is a cross between a Siamese and a Burmese breed of cat. Shannon found her as a Rescue cat, and she initially was extremely shy and timid with us, however she is becoming used to us now. When we first met her, she would spend most of her time under the bed. Whilst she still doesn't like to be cuddled much, she is happy to be stroked and patted particularly around feeding time, and is a proximity cat,  always just sitting a little bit away from us. She loves her food.

Here is a photo of Nala. She is allowed outside for a play in the mornings and the afternoons.


Isn't she beautiful?



This is the photo of the pool in our daughter's Unit complex that we swim in most days and that we look out onto when we have our breakfast and morning coffee. It is such a welcome respite from the tropical heat. Nala generally sits by the pool as we swim and keeps us company. She loves to be by water as long as she isn't in it.

Stay safe my friends and I hope all is going well in your world. Thanks for dropping by.

Bye for now

Pauline

Monday, 11 December 2017

Easy Pecan Pie with Maple Syrup to enjoy for the Holidays


Pecan Pie is a traditional American dessert and Thanksgiving favourite, and whilst there are stacks of recipes and variations out there, this one is so simple without compromising on taste or quality. I really encourage you to give it a try, as it is just so quick and easy and delicious. My only concession is to buy a frozen shortcrust pastry base, as I am baking this in Tropical Cairns, and the thought of making pastry in the Tropical Summer heat of 33 deg. is rather challenging. I  bought a frozen pastry base which can be used for both savoury and sweet tarts, as I like the contrast of a slightly savoury base with the sweet filling.

Traditionally Karo Syrup is used when making Pecan pie in the U.S., however the maple syrup works beautifully and some books say it was used before Karo Syrup, a form of corn syrup,  became the preferred choice. Texas claimed the Pecan Pie as it's official dessert in 2013, as the Pecan nut is  the official nut of Texas. Just a little bit of history there.

The biggest challenge with this is being very careful with the pastry so that it arrives home and into the freezer without being broken. I bought two just in case. Well Murphy's Law prevailed, I don't know how it happened, but one ended up in lots of small pieces and the other one stayed in tact, thank goodness. Not to worry though, because as my daughter Shannon said, the second broken one can still be baked and sprinkled over other desserts, ha, ha. Waste not, want not.

While the pie is baking, the pecans rise to the top, leaving a gooey layer of sugary custard below almost like a light caramel, which contrasts well with the crisp nutty surface. To be honest, I haven't baked a Pecan Pie for a long, long time, although I had eaten this particular one before when my friend Chris made it. She very generously gave me her recipe. I think it will become a family favourite. I was cooking this for Shannon and Dan, and of course Mr. HRK, and as Dan is originally Canadian, I thought that he would appreciate this traditional dessert, and he certainly did.

This only took me about 10 minutes to assemble before placing it in the oven, and as I was also making lasagna for the main course, it was great to make a very easy dessert.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
Sweet short crust pie case (frozen)
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not imitation)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Method:

Preheat oven to 175 deg. F

Mix eggs, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla together.
Spread chopped pecans over your pie base and pour mixture over the top. (Sometimes the brand of pie case can be a little small for the mixture if the eggs are extra large and some spillage can occur so place pie on a tray.)

Bake in a moderate oven for 30-45 minutes. This depends on how hot your oven is. At home, I probably would have cooked this for 40 minutes, however Shannon's oven is quite hot and I took it out after 35 minutes as I didn't want to risk burning it.

Serve with a delicious ice cream.

Pecan Pie straight out of the oven

I was a bit worried about taking the pie out of the alfoil case as it was the first time I have baked a frozen tart shell, and I didn't want it to risk breaking it up. However next time I make it I will be brave and remove it from the alfoil, ha, ha.

Thanks for dropping by.

Best wishes

Pauline