Saturday, 31 August 2019

Chocolate Eggplant Brownies, a Father's Day surprise package


Eggplant in Brownies, what next? When I saw this Brownie recipe including eggplant, and I had a large glossy black eggplant languishing in my fruit bowl which needed to be used,  my interest was piqued. This is the result. I seem to be including fruit and vegetables into the cakes, and desserts I make more and more these days, reducing calories, adding fibre, trying to stay healthy,  which also means I can still feel as if I'm indulging on a regular basis  without feeling guilty. Do you know what I mean? There is a plethora of Brownies recipes in circulation now, some including cooked beetroot, pears, or whatever your little heart desires really. I wanted to make Mr. HRK something nice for a Father's Day treat, as our children aren't in town, and Father's Day is a good excuse to make something special.

It's well know amongst our friends that Mr. HRK isn't a fan of eggplant unless it is very well hidden, so baking this brownie was a risky venture, however my friends honestly, eggplant in this recipe is so well integrated with the other ingredients such as the dark chocolate that it is undetectable and I love cooking with dark chocolate don't you? Brilliant Dr. Mosley, you have come up with a winner. This is my version of his recipe. I prefer using hazelnut meal which I think marries with the chocolate beautifully, however I have also made this with the almond meal and it is still tasty. Of course a Brownie without any sugar in it, isn't going to be as sweet as the traditional one, however it still suits my palate to enjoy it with a nice coffee, and served with the Raspberry Chia Jam it transcends into a delicious choice for dessert or for morning or afternoon tea. It is such a cinch to make, I recommend that you try it.

 Let's Cook:

Ingredients:


1 medium eggplant, about 200g, peeled and diced

150g dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
60g coconut oil
60 soft pitted dates, diced
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
80g ground hazelnuts or substitute almonds if that is what you had on hand





Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 deg. C.

Microwave the eggplant until it's soft, only a couple of minutes, or steam it for 15 minutes  until soft.
Put the eggplant in a medium-sized bowl and stir in the chocolate and coconut oil.
The warm eggplant will melt the chocolate and oil, yes it really does. Add the chopped dates and salt.
Using a hand blender, blitz the mixture until it's smooth, or use your food processor.



It will now be cool enough to add the eggs and baking powder.
Blitz for another minute or so, then mix in the ground hazelnuts.

Spread the mixture onto a medium-sized slice baking tray lined with baking parchment, and bake in the preheated over for bout 20 minutes. It is cooked when a knife or skewer comes out clean.

Serve the brownies with Raspberry Chia Jam, recipe below, or even just some Jam such as Raspberry or Rosella or some full-fat organic Greek Yoghurt.

Oh and I nearly forgot, to serve them,  I dusted the brownies with sifted icing sugar.

Raspberry Chia Jam

This is a delicious fruity low-sugar jam, which is easy to make, and can also double as a coulis stirred into yoghurt.


30-40g pitted dates, finely diced (or substitute with 1-2 tsp maple syrup)
125g raspberries (frozen or fresh)
2-3 tsp chia seeds (depending on how thick you like it)

Heat the dates gently in a small pan with 2 tbsp water for about 2 minutes, stirring to form a smooth paste. Add the raspberries and chia seeds and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Mash the raspberries with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. The jam can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.



 On a Spring gardening note, this is my first  Hippeastrum  Lilly to come out in flower for Spring. I broke up a lot of bulbs this year, gave many away to friends, and planted some out in pots. This red one is in a pot and is flowering before those in the ground so I might do more of that next year. This was taken in full sun hence the shading on the red petals. If you have the space, these make a  beautiful show planted en masse, and are very hardy. I can't grow tulips in the tropics, so I grow Hippeastrums. Only two sleeps until Spring, and I can't wait.

Best wishes

Pauline

xx


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Moroccan Orange Blossom, Cardamon and Yoghurt Bundt Cake



 This is a special occasion Bundt cake combining aromatic cardamon and cinnamon, with orange blossom water and yoghurt, and some pomegranate seeds for glamour.It might sound fancy, but it's a cinch to make as no electric mixer is required for this recipe just a whisk, a mixing spoon, a large bowl and a Bundt cake tin. It tastes so amazingly good, that I am tempted to change years of tradition at Christmas this year, and replace my fruit cake with this light and exotic taste sensation, or perhaps I will make two to suit all tastes.  Add some red ribbon, ornaments and other adornments and we could have a Christmas cake.  

A slice of Bundt Cake with Mahjong anyone? Regular readers will know that most Tuesday afternoons I play Mahjong with a group of ladies, and an important part of the afternoon's enjoyment is that we also enjoy coffee and cake made by our hostess. It was my turn this week to have Mahjong at our place and so I decided it was time to make this cake again.

Bundt cakes have a firmer consistency than a lot of cakes and so they release from the tin very easily. They are called Bundt cakes because they are baked in a fluted style of tin with a hole in the middle which originated in America, however the denser type of cake mixture has more European roots from countries such as Germany. My tin isn't as fluted as some of the ones out there so the Bundt shape isn't as obvious. By any standards though it is a delicious cake and only takes 30 minutes to bake in the oven. The whole cake can be prepared and cooked quickly which will be great in our Summer heat.



I mention Mahjong occasionally and some of my reader friends express an interest in it so I thought I would give you a glimpse of some of the winning hands from last Tuesday, a mini Mahjong Masterclass if you like. I was lucky enough to win two of the games. It is surprising how many people are playing Mahjong now, and it doesn't need to be as competitive or as time consuming as the game of Bridge. I am told though that playing Mahjong on the computer is very different to playing with other people in the Western style like we do. We learn amongst ourselves and have two excellent books to refer to written by Patricia Thompson and Betty Maloney called The Mahjong Players Companion, and The Game of Mahjong illustrated. Some community groups including U3A also teach it if you are interested. I thought you might enjoy the names of the various hands which were the winning hands for us last Tuesday. So after the very pleasant Twittering of the Birds, which is the name for the shuffling of the tiles as they click away, we built our wall of tiles, aka the Great Wall of China, which can't be broken or the bad spirits will enter apparently,  and then the games begin.

Crazy chows.
The range of winning hands is vast however this is one of our favourite hands, and possibly one of the easiest as it gives players a lot more flexibility to move the tiles on their rack around . The tiles on the board below are from a winning hand of Crazy Chows. The tiles on this rack are made up of the three Mahjong suits, Spots, Bamboos, and Cracks, and are all numbered. This was one of my winning hands. A chow is a run of three tiles eg 3,4,5, however in Crazy chows the chow is made up of a tile from each suit. 
Crazy Chows

Crazy Chows again
A player is only allowed to win once with a Crazy Chow on any afternoon.

Ordinary Mahjong Hand. This hand might be called an ordinary hand but it is far from ordinary, and here we have tiles all in the same suit. Bamboos, Spots or Cracks and also some Winds and Dragons are part of the hand if we are dealt them. Achieving this hand is very satisfying, and a lot of fun, and because tiles can be picked up from the discard pile to add to your hand, it means more control over the game for the player with an ordinary hand. Before trying to learn the plethora of other Mahjong hands, I think this is the first hand a player should try and learn, providing a good foundation for the game.


An ordinary Mahjong hand, one of the most popular hands


In this ordinary hand we have a Pung of 3 spots, a chow of 4,5,6 spots,  a pair of East Winds, 3 Green Dragons (F), and 3 South Winds (S). 

Triple Knitting, which is matching one from each suit with the same number. This was also one of my winnning hands. I have to say that I knit better at Mahjong then with knitting needles.

Triple Knitting

Three Philosophers. This hand is made up of a chow in each suit, a mixed chow, and a pair in any suit. We all like this hand and it is easy to remember.


Another winning hand of Three Philosophers
A serious game in Progress here


The tiles are being dealt out to the players here. Each player has 13 tiles, the dealer starts with 14.



Big Robert. Lou won this hand below with a Big Robert. I don't know who Robert was but there is also a hand called Little Robert.This hand needs three runs of 4 tiles with a run in each suit, and a Pair of Winds. It's not an easy hand to achieve.

The Wind tiles are East, South, North and West, E.S.N.W, and feature in a lot of the hands.

Big Robert
Other popular hands are Wriggly Snake, Gerties Garter, Moon at the Bottom of the Well, Five Odd Honours, Green Jade, Hovering Angel and many more. The challenge is to remember the various hands and choose the right hand to suit the tiles you are dealt. I am also very fortunate that Mr. HRK made my wooden Mahjong racks from scratch, and they are state of the art with indicators at the corners of each one to help with building the wall straight. He's taking orders if you would like a set made, he just doesn't know it yet:) I'm not sure what he would charge though. He really does a beautiful job.

Well after this little introduction to the game of Mahjong which I hope you enjoyed,  I think we should cook don't you?

Let's Cook:

This recipe requires a 2L (25cm)  bundt cake pan and Serves 6.

Moroccan Orange Blossom and Cardamon Yoghurt Bundt cake recipe


Ingredients: 
1 ⅓ cups (200g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup (125g) almond meal
⅔ cup (150g) castor sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup (280g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
150ml sunflower oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp orange blossom water

Icing:
1 1/2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tbs milk
1 tsp orange blossom water
I decorate this cake to serve with Pomegranate seeds or chopped pistachio nuts

Let’s cook: 

Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C. Grease and flour a 2L (25cm) bundt cake pan.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, yoghurt and oil until well combined, then stir into the dry ingredients.



Fold in the lemon zest, and 2 tsp orange blossom water. 

An important tip to remember when using a bundt pan is that you must grease and flour every area of the baking dish before you pour in the cake batter. Then before placing the pan in the oven, thump it a couple of times on the bench to remove any air bubbles from the batter. (Don't worry if you forget this step, I did.) Spoon mixture into the greased and floured bundt pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.


Cool the cake slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


The only thing I was worried about with making this cake was removing it from the pan when it was cooked. As it happened, this was simple. I eased a few of the edges away from the tin with a knife, tipped it upside down on a plate, and hoped for the best. It came out beautifully. 



Phew, out of the tin and it didn't stick to the sides at all.



The Icing on your cake:   

Stir the icing sugar, milk and remaining 1 tsp orange blossom water into a small bowl until you have a slightly firm but drizzling consistency.  Pour the icing into a jug, then drizzle over the cake, so that it covers the surface and drizzles over the side of the cake. This will also be easier if you rotate the cake slowly as you pour the icing over the surface.When the icing is nearly set, sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds, or even just chopped pistachio nuts, or both, then serve. 

Below is a photo of the same cake I made almost four years ago now, and I think this is possibly a better photo than my latest one, but not as much icing. Bundt cakes don't necessarily need any icing, but I do like icing with my cakes don't you?




My daughter is getting married in two weeks in Cairns to a wonderful young man, so yes I am in somewhat of a spin, and working through a list of things to do, and we are very excited. I sent her a photo of this cake thinking it would be nice for Christmas in Cairns suiting the warmer weather, and she has suggested it would also be nice to have in the house as a prewedding cake, so I will be making another one shortly. 

Warm wishes and stay safe,


Pauline


xx

Friday, 23 August 2019

A Simple Curry in a Hurry: Chicken Tikka Masala with Minty Yoghurt Raita



Just when we think Winter has gone for another year, another cold snap surprises us, and believe me, in the Tropics a minimum of 4 degrees has us snuggling, reaching for comfort food, and dreaming of a curry. Curries though can be high calorie, and at my stage of life I need to watch the calories in between celebrations.  This curry is a low calorie one, taken and adapted from Dr. Michael Mosley's suite of low calorie recipes, apparently this one only serves up 427 calories, not too bad eh? If you are not watching your calorie intake though, just add lots of different condiments and plenty of rice, because my friends  this curry isn't lacking in flavour or appeal in anyway. We are growing fresh ginger, chillies, mint and silverbeet, perfect for this meal,  so I have harvested these fresh from my garden for this recipe. And if you make your own yoghurt, use it in this dish and the raita, it will be perfect.

If you are a little time poor,  marinating the chicken  can be done the night before, so that it can be quickly cooked the following day. I also made the masala sauce earlier in the day so that it could cool well before  blitzing it with a hand blender.

This recipe serves 2 people however I double the ingredients so that we can enjoy it again a couple of days later and it will taste even better as curries improve in flavour.... (Just adapt the quantities easily to serve more people at your table)

Ingredients prepared and ready to start cooking. Chicken is already marinating in the fridge.

  Ingredients for Chicken Tikka Masala:

(Recipe for Raita is below this one)

1 tbsp tikka curry paste (a good quality one)
4 tblsp full-fat yoghurt, Greek or whatever you have on hand
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (around 350g) cut into roughly 3 cm chunks
1 tbsp coconut or canola oil (I used coconut)
fresh coriander, to serve
1/2 red chilli, sliced to serve (optional)

Ingredients for the Masala Sauce:

1 tbsp coconut or canola oil (I used coconut)
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
15g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tbsp tikka curry paste
1 tbsp tomato puree

Method:

Combine the curry paste, yoghurt and 2 generous pinches of sea salt in a bowl. Add the diced chicken and mix until well coated in the marinade. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer or even overnight.

Make the curry sauce. Add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes, or until softened, then stir in the garlic, ginger and tikka curry paste and cook for 1 1/2 minutes or more. Pour 300ml water into the pan, stir in the tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and use a hand blender to blitz the sauce. (I would try and make the curry sauce at least 30 minutes in advance so that it can cool slightly before attacking it with your stick blender or it might splatter.  If you don't have a stick blender you can leave out the blitzing, however the sauce just won't be smooth and creamy. )Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil (1 tbsp), in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the marinated chicken for 3 minutes or until lightly browned, turning regularly.



Add the prepared sauce to the pan and bring to a  simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Add a splash of water if the sauce thickens too much.

 Sprinkle with coriander and chilli if using, to serve.

Steamed silverbeet freshly picked from our garden
Serve with steamed greens, brown rice or Australian buckwheat, and with a portion of Minty Yoghurt Raita.

Minty Yoghurt Raita

This Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/3 cucumber (around 135 g)
150g full fat live Greek yoghurt
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Method:
  1. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways  and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Coarsely grate the flesh onto a plate or board and then transfer to a bowl
  2. Add the yoghurt and mint, and season with a good pinch of sea salt and lots of ground black pepper. Mix well and leave for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavours to mix and develop.
  3. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
This can also be served a s dip, just add 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped,  if you wish for a bit more zing.

Our dinner, Chicken Tikka Masala, steamed silverbeet, Minty yoghurt raita, and cooked Australian buckwheat. Much better than takeaway and easier on the wallet.



We are living a fairly simple existence at the moment, enjoying some gardening,  reading, cooking and eating, walking Locky our new dog,  and occasionally playing some tennis and mahjong. I hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy the simple things in life as well.

Take care and stay nice.

Pauline

xx

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Orange Yoghurt Cake, Simply Sweet



Do you feel like whipping up a delicious cake for afternoon tea today, after all it is Sunday. I always feel that if there is any day you can justify indulging in morning or afternoon tea with cake, it's today. This is a traditional kind of cake, but with the addition of yoghurt and beaten egg whites, and topped off with delicious orange flavoured icing and grated orange zest. With all of the citrus around, and oranges in my fruit bowl, my choice of cake had to be orange. The yoghurt and egg whites give this cake a very light but firm texture and it will keep fresh in your cake tin for a few days, if you can hide it that is. In my house, cake never lasts long, but it's really nice to know it is there to offer our friends who might just call in for a cuppa.




I know I just said that Sunday is a perfect day for cake for afternoon tea, however I made this cake for last Tuesday afternoon when our weekly Mahjong "tournament" was being held at my place. We take turns in each others homes. So Chris, Marj, Jill, and Lou all arrived for Mahjong, we played a couple of games and then Mr. HRK my resident barista did his thing and made us all perfect flat white espresso coffees, with a little coffee art added as well, which went beautifully with the orange cake. Nobody wants tea when he makes coffee. Neil roasts the imported coffee beans himself at least once every week, and then using our Rancilio coffee machine, he  makes a very nice coffee. However he does say that it is really the Italian Coffee Grinder that makes the difference. I am very lucky, as each morning I am treated to a great coffee here at home. We rarely go out just for coffee here in Mackay, unless I occasionally meet a friend for a catchup. It certainly saves a lot of money and honestly I think that there are a lot of coffee shops around now serving very average coffee. Do you go out for coffee much my friends, or do you prefer to have it at home as well?




Orange Cake recipe

Ingredients:

125 g butter
1 good tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup plain yoghurt

ORANGE ICING

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
30g softened butter
2 tablespoons orange juice, or a little more if needed

 Let's cook:

Grease a 14cm x 21cm loaf pan, line the base and the sides with baking paper. Grease the paper well.

Cream the butter, the orange rind and the sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. ( I have a small portable mixer just for this kind of job. My kitchen aid bowl is too large to mix this quantity. )

Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.

Meanwhile mix together the orange juice and the yoghurt in a separate small bowl.

Transfer the butter, sugar and egg mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in by hand half the sifted flour and half the orange juice and yoghurt which you have mixed together. Stir in the remaining flour and yoghurt mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a clean and dry small bowl until soft peaks form. This won't take long at all at a high speed. Fold lightly into the cake mixture in two lots.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

Bake in a slow oven (150 deg. C.) or (300 deg F.) for 75 minutes, and test it with a skewer to see if it is cooked.

Stand for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool. Spread the cold cake with icing.




Orange icing:

Combine the sifted icing sugar and butter in a medium sized bowl. Stir in enough juice to mix the icing to a spreadable consistency. If it is too moist, add a little more icing sugar until it is a spreadable consistency. Remember the cake must be cold before you spread the icing onto it or it will all slide off.





Have a great Sunday wherever you are.

Best wishes,

Pauline

xxx








Thursday, 15 August 2019

Roasted Cauliflower, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad



The humble but oh so versatile Cauliflower is in abundance at the moment and very reasonably priced,  and should be the star of the show in this salad. However, the pink pomegranate jewels are definitely trying to steal the limelight, but it's not a competition really. I was so taken with the perfect looking and reasonably priced caulis at the markets that two found their way into my basket, and that is how this recipe evolved. I roast cauliflower all of the time now with just a little olive oil, it is a very easy way of cooking that accentuates all of the wonderful flavours, and that forms the basis of this salad.

 Cauliflower is the perfect foundation for a beautiful salad, in Winter or Summer. However some colour was needed, and the baby spinach and glistening pomegranate jewels came to the party in that regard. All that was required then was a little more earthiness and substance, and lentils happily obliged. Add a light dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, some delicious coriander and my favourite Pomegranate molasses, and I had an easy but very nutritious salad. The quantities here will feed a crowd, so feel free to halve them at the very least, however this salad keeps very well for a few days in a covered container in the frig.

It won't be long before soups are out and salads will definitely be in here, as today the weather is quite balmy. Perhaps there is one more cold snap which will take us by surprise, but bring on Spring.

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower (about 1 kg), cut into florets
2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
300g lentils (use brown or Puy) or whichever other variety you wish
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup coriander leaves
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 pomegranate, seeds extracted
Pomegranate molasses

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 deg. c

Coat the cauliflower in olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the lentils. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until just tender. Be careful not to overcook them or they will turn to mush. Drain the lentils well.

Combine the roasted cauliflower, lentils, baby spinach, coriander, a drizzle of olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice and season well with sea salt and black pepper.

 Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with a few drops of pomegranate molasses.

I'll give you a few ideas of other dishes that I  have made to go with the Cauliflower salad, however they are just suggestions.  When I make a new recipe, I also tend to go to a couple of other dishes which I know will work well for me and that makes life a lot simpler.



This salad is also delicious served simply with my smoky Baba Ganoush. You can find that one here, just leave the Pomegranate seeds off the Baba Ganoush if you are already serving them with the Cauliflower salad and substitute some chopped mint or coriander, or even toasted sesame seeds.

When I made Cauliflower salad the last time,  I also made a Moroccan Chickpea Salad, and my Curried Beef Lasagne which everyone seems to love.  All of the flavours worked beautifully together, and there were lots of delicious leftovers. What's not to love about leftovers?

https://happyretireeskitchen.blogspot.com/2018/12/moroccan-chickpea-salad_2.html



https://happyretireeskitchen.blogspot.com/2018/11/curried-beef-lasagne.html



There's a lot happening for us at the moment with the family, with comings and goings, so this is a rather short story today. I hope you have something really nice planned for the weekend and I'll be in touch soon.

Warmest wishes,

 Pauline

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Blueberry and Coconut Scone - International Scone Week 2019 - #ISW2019


I have just been reminded about International Scone Week from Tandy, who writes the wonderful Lavender and Lime blog.  ( Anyone can become part of #ISW, just go to Tandy's blog for information.) So my creative juices started flowing and I remembered this fruity scone recipe I had been wanting to try. Sometimes a wholesome, fruity and delicious scone is just what is required to have with a cuppa, a comforting reminder of a bygone era, except that blueberries weren't as readily available back then as they are now. Most people I know have a favourite scone recipe which they can create at a moment's notice when time is at a premium. Mine is my reliable Damper Scone recipe, very Aussie.

However when I saw the photo of this scone in a Donna Hay Fresh & Light magazine, I had to try it and now it is securely part of my recipe repertoire. We all know the health benefits of blueberries, and this scone is loaded with them, including dried blueberries which I generally don't buy but they combine very well here with their frozen counterparts. Donna also uses Coconut Sugar in her recipe, but as I didn't have it I used Raw Sugar instead and it was fine.

Buttermilk is the secret ingredient, resulting in a light and fluffy textured scone, and a delicious flavour. You can save money by making your own with vinegar and milk, it is so quick and easy. Whenever I have bought a carton of Buttermilk previously, I never seem to finish the whole carton which is a waste of money. See my tip below for making your own. I was surprised at how light and fluffy these turned out, given that they are made with wholemeal flour, another healthy addition.



If you try this recipe and think the mixture is too moist before pouring onto the tray, don't be tempted to add more flour. I'm glad I didn't although I very nearly did. You will just need well floured hands to mould it into the circular shape. Scones always go down well, don't you think?

Ingredients:

2 cups (320g) wholemeal self-raising flour, with extra for dusting
20 g of cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup (45g) raw sugar (Use coconut sugar if you wish)
1/3 cup (65g) dried blueberries or 1x70g packet (or nibble the extra 5 grams)
1/4 cup (20g) shredded coconut
*1 1/3 cups (330ml) buttermilk (make your own by using 1 tablespoon plain vinegar to 1 cup of milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup (160g) frozen blueberries

*TIP: It is so easy to make your own buttermilk and save money as well. Pour 1 1/3 cups full cream milk into a small jug or bowl, and add 1 1/3  tablespoons of plain vinegar to the milk. (No need to be terribly exact with the vinegar measurement.) After 5 minutes you will see the milk starting to curdle.

Let's cook:

Preheat oven to 200 deg. C. or 400 deg. F.

Place the flour and the sugar in a large bowl and mix to combine.

Add the butter and using your fingertips mix the butter into the flour until you have what resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the dried blueberries, and shredded coconut and stir it all lightly together to combine.

Scoop out a well in the centre of the dry mixture, add the buttermilk and vanilla, and using a butter knife, mix the dough together until nearly combined.

Add the frozen blueberries and mix to just combine. Over mixing will toughen the scone dough.

Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper and lightly dust with flour. Mark out a 20 cm circle on the tray. I used a large bread and butter plate to do this by laying it on the paper and drawing around it.

Turn the dough out onto the tray. Lightly dust your hands with flour and bring the dough together into the round circle and flatten it out to fill the 20cm round.



Use a sharp knife, and cut the dough into 8 even pieces.

Cook for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

This scone is sweet enough for me, laden with fruit,  without the need for extra jam and cream, I like eating it with a mature cheddar cheese. However Mr. HRK went for the jam and cream.  Would you have yours with Jam and Cream or prefer something savoury like cheese with it?  Either way this recipe is delicious warm from the oven and very easy to make.

Happy International Scone Week to you all, and enjoy your scones.

Best wishes

Pauline





Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Rhubarb Fool with Crunchy Granola topping


This is an Australian version of Rhubarb Fool, and might I say a healthier recipe for this traditional British dessert. It also works well for breakfast, if you like yoghurt and fruit style breakfasts, even though rhubarb is technically a vegetable often served as a dessert. It is a simple dish to bring to the table, combining honey with the bright, tart flavour of rhubarb, and layering the rhubarb compote with yoghurt, or even thickened cream if you wish. The nutty granola topping exceeded  my expectations and has the wow factor, and is also great to snack on. Rhubarb is in season at the moment, so it is an economical buy and easily found at the supermarkets or Farmers Markets. It doesn't grow well where I live because of the mild Winters and humidity once Spring arrives, so I try to track down a supplier which sources well from down south.  However in cooler Australian climates and the Northern Hemisphere where you are spoilt for choice, good quality rhubarb will cook up beautifully. This is a cinch to make and a dream to eat.

When I saw the very talented Paul West, demonstrate this dish on the ABC lifestyle program Gardening Australia, I was fascinated as we have spent quite a lot of time in England over the years, but I have never been offered Rhubarb Fool to eat although I had heard of it. The Fool originated in England in the 15th or 16th century, so it's a classic. By now there are many interpretations out there of how it can be served. I like to eat elements of a dish separately, and then if I want to mix them together I can. Many of the recipes combine the rhubarb and cream or yoghurt together in the serving dish and that could be easier I suppose, but I like to be able to identify the individual flavours. How about you my friends, do you prefer to have them mixed together or served separately, and have you ever eaten Rhubarb Fool before? Is it too much of a pun to say that any fool can make this dish?

This recipe can also easily suit gluten free diets.

Let's cook:

Ingredients:

Serves 4

6 rhubarb stems or a small bunch, leaves removed and base trimmed, chopped into 5 cm lengths
1/4 cup lemon juice (Half a medium sized lemon, half an orange will also work)
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons local Australian honey ( or your local overseas honey)
2 tablespoons Natural yoghurt or thickened cream (A ratio of 3:1 - yoghurt and thickened cream is delicious and still on the healthy side.)
1 tablespoon finely chopped Stem Ginger in Syrup (If you are passionate about ginger like I am, you can also add some interest and heat by adding some finely chopped and drained stem ginger in syrup to the rhubarb or through the yoghurt, about 1 tablespoon, more if you like it hot)  I love to make my own Stem Ginger in Syrup and here is the link to my recipe. LINK

Method:

Place the chopped rhubarb pieces into a cold fry pan, and arrange in one layer
Add the water and lemon juice to the rhubarb
Drizzle the honey over the rhubarb
Heat the fry pan to a medium heat, and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is softened but still holding it's shape
Remove the rhubarb from the heat and allow to cool




Crunchy Granola recipe:

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons local Australian honey ( or your local overseas honey)
1/4 cup flaked or slivered almonds
2 tablespoons pepitas or linseed
3/4 cup Macadamia nuts, roughly chopped (a must)

Method:

Place your pan on a low heat and add the coconut oil and the honey.
Add the flaked or slivered almonds, the pepitas, and the macadamias. Cook over a steady heat for 5 minutes to toast the nuts.

Allow to cool.

So delicious
To serve, place two tablespoons of yoghurt into a small glass or bowl, and top with one generous tablespoon of rhubarb and a little extra syrup. Finish with one tablespoon of granola. I made this for the two of us and there were plenty of leftovers for the next two nights.

Presentation:
  • Doll it up at the end with a couple of mint leaves, or something pretty and edible. If you decide to go without the granola, traditionally it can also be served with a shortbread biscuit, just for something sweet and crunchy.
Best wishes, 

Pauline


Sunday, 4 August 2019

Perfectly Golden Passionfruit Curd



To my way of thinking, if you are lucky enough to have passionfruit growing or if you are given some by a friend like I was, then it's compulsory to not only eat some, but also to make some passionfruit curd. Here's how it went, and two delicious jars later I was thrilled with the result. This is a precious commodity, and the store bought stuff just doesn't taste like this does. Each month for me it's all about cooking with whatever is fresh and in season and whatever happens to arrive in my kitchen as a gift is a bonus. 

  It is only just August, but already there are little hints of Spring being just around the corner. There are occasional warm days in amongst our chilly ones and already shoots and tiny buds are appearing on our trees. Recently we pruned back our potted Mulberry tree, and already there are shoots and small mulberries appearing which is very exciting. Perhaps we will have a small crop of mulberries this Spring.  Unfortunately we just don't seem to be able to grow our own passionfruit well, so I rely on the local markets or donations. This recipe is from the wonderful Stephanie Alexander's recipe, her recipe book The Cook's Companion is never far from my kitchen.

Let's cook:

If like mine, the passionfruit you have aren't absolutely full of pulp, add the pulp of a few more to the saucepan. When I was stirring the eggs and pulp into the butter mixture waiting for the magic to happen I still didn't think there was quite enough pulp and seeds in the mixture, so I added the pulp of a couple more at that point and it worked perfectly.



Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
60 g butter
2 eggs, well beaten
pulp of 6 passionfruit

Method:
  • Sterilise two small jars for this recipe and keep them hot in the oven.
  • Stir the sugar and the butter in a small saucepan over a low to moderate heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. 

  • Add the beaten eggs and the passionfruit pulp and keep stirring continuously over a low heat until the mixture thickens. This process might seem to be taking ages, then all of a sudden it happens quickly.


  • Pour into your hot, sterilised jars and store for up to 2 weeks, until used. However mine sometimes store up to a month in the refrigerator.
This recipe is suitable for making small batches if you don't have a lot of passionfruit or need a couple of jars specifically for another recipe. However if you want to make a large batch and have lemons as well, my recipe which I sometimes make and which is also delicious will make enough for gift giving as well. You can find my other recipe here. They both taste delicious eaten straight from the spoon.

If I can get my hands on some more passionfruit whilst they are in season,  I'll be making the long-time favourite, pavlova filled with unsweetened whipped cream and absolutely smothered with passionfruit. This dessert always brings smiles to faces around the world. 

Thanks for dropping by and have a wonderful week.

Best wishes

Pauline