Sunday, 15 December 2019

Homemade Creamy Whole Egg Mayonnaise and a Creamy Blue Cheese Dip

It's the Silly Season and all of the Christmas parties are  happening right now, and this often means taking a plate of nibbles along. I would like to share with you the most delicious dip recipe based on Blue Cheese to make your life easier. This dip can also be made well in advance so will be a perfect addition to your Christmas Day celebrations as well. So instead of taking along a cheese platter, why not take this Blue Vein Cheese dip with crudites, you will be very popular when you do.

At this time of the year, the cost of food goes up at the supermarkets, and I find myself buying extra  food items as Christmas cooking is high on my agenda. This becomes expensive and one of the items  added to many party foods is mayonnaise. Save yourself some money and make this mayo at home and you will know exactly what ingredients are in it. No preservatives at all. It is a cinch to make, it emulsifies in seconds, and is delicious. I made a double batch this time as I know I will be using more of it over Christmas. This is the easiest method for making mayonnaise, and I promise you that once you have done this, you will never spend the money to buy Whole Egg Mayonnaise again.

I used 80 g of my homemade mayo in this Blue Cheese Dip recipe, so I thought I would post both of them together. My trusted friend from Tropigal blog shared these two recipes with me, so thanks Julie.  I am also making my Prawn Cocktails for Christmas Eve, and this mayonnaise will be delicious in  the Rose Marie sauce.

Homemade Mayonnaise Ingredients:

1 egg
1 tablespoon mustard - Wholegrain or Dijon
1 tablespoon acid e.g. Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt to taste
1 cup Light Olive Oil

Put all of the ingredients into a tall receptacle, such as the one that comes with the Stick Blender, or your Easiyo yoghurt container (which is what I use) and blend from the bottom up with your stick blender. It emulsifies in seconds.

N.B. Experiment with oils, but Virgin Olive Oil is too strong.

Store in the refrigerator for as long as needed or as long as it lasts.

Blue Cheese Dip

80 g mayonnaise I used homemade mayo from the recipe above
80 g Blue Cheese, finely chopped if it's a hard cheese
80 g sour cream
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
pinch of salt

Whizz it all up.

This dip tastes even better the longer you chill it before serving.

Life is pretty busy at present before Christmas holidays, so this will be my last blog for a while, I think, unless I find some time and just need to write. I know I will be cooking, that's a given.

Thank you to all my blogging friends, who have taken the time to share their recipes and lives with me and also to those who take the time to read and comment on my blog. Your interest and kind comments make it all worthwhile. It's been a great year, and I've enjoyed your online friendship. Have a wonderful and meaningful Christmas everyone, and I hope 2020 brings you good luck, good health, happiness and rain.

Best wishes


Monday, 9 December 2019

It's All about Christmas In My Kitchen

Here in Tropical North Queensland, our verandahs and patios become as much a part of our kitchen and eating area as our inside kitchen does. We spend a lot of time outside in our outdoor kitchen. So I thought as part of my In My Kitchen series for Sherry's Pickings, it was appropriate to showcase my latest orchid which is flowering in my outdoor kitchen. I had moved it to the front garden to hang under our mandarin tree, hoping that aspect would encourage it to flower and it has. However it is a sad part of life that passers by take a fancy to beautiful flowering plants in pots and walk off with them. Fortunately this hasn't actually happened to me but it has to other keen gardeners in our neighbourhood so I'm not taking any risks.. So my beautiful purple Vanda Pachara Delight is now brightening up my outdoor kitchen.

During the last couple of weeks, I have been preparing for Christmas. Christmas cooking has become a tradition for me each year, and most years as a minimum I  prepare a large pot of mango chutney, a large Christmas Fruit cake and a Plum Pudding. My dear Mum used to be the provider of all of these Christmas goodies each year, and whilst I really enjoyed the results, I regrettably couldn't be there to  be involved in the preparation. She also kept chickens, baked bread and preserved her own chutneys and relishes in abundance. However thankfully she handed down her recipes to me, and I have become her I think in some ways, not as good a cook perhaps, but taking on the same simple values. She was a wonderful role model for me, and each year as I spend time in the kitchen, and embrace our Christmas traditions, I think of her, and I also hope that I continue to be a good role model for my children as well. Because I have already shared the recipes for these goodies on my blog, I'll just share a few new photos and the links to the recipes for new readers. I am rushing to meet the deadline so that I can submit this to Sherry's Pickings In My Kitchen series. Heck, I've just realised I have until the 13th December, a reprieve, so that's good at least I've started and have a week to finish this. (Written a few days ago.)

It's mango season and it looks like it will be a good crop. Last week I was out picking green mangoes with a friend for the annual batch of mango chutney.

Here's moi picking mangoes
These are the unripe (very green)  Common mangoes collected sustainably from trees in a nearby park, peeled, ready to be chopped for the chutney.

A pot of Mango Chutney on the outdoor gas burner, simmering away for this year's edition of mango chutney. Here is my Mum's recipe if you would like to give it a try. It is delicious. I made 15 jars from this batch, I haven't labelled the jars yet so a photo of them would be pretty uninteresting.

My Mum says in her Christmas cake recipe if a spoon will stand up in the mixture, it is the right consistency. I love that old fashioned wisdom now. And in this photo, this is her original tablespoon used in all of her cooking, standing up in the mixture.

Here's the cake in her original very large Christmas cake tin,  ready to go into a slow oven. It cooked beautifully and I am still adding a little rum to it occasionally for preservation purposes of course. If you do look at my Christmas Cake recipe, I triple the amount of Rum these days. I think it must have been on ration when these recipes were written, ha, ha. In my recipe post link, I have cooked the mixture in smaller cakes for gifts, however it also works very well in a large square baking tin.

My plum pudding fruit mixture is still soaking in brandy on my kitchen table, with the newly acquired bottle of reasonably priced JP. Cheney French brandy sitting besides it for frequent topping up. I'll let it sit for about four days and then make the mixture and boil it. Here is the original recipe if you would like to take a peek. I have never deviated from this recipe as we all just love it, although this year I am making half the mixture as it will be a small family Christmas, the smallest for a long time.

Then at the end of a long cooking or working day, what could be nicer than a relaxing cup of Lavender Latte for a change. I first saw this promoted on Not Quite Nigella's amazing blog where she made a beautiful lavender, blueberry and lemon cake using this in the ingredients. I haven't made the cake yet even though I was intrigued, but I bought a couple of packets of the latte mix and it will be added to Christmas presents this year. I love Lavender, however we can't grow it well here.

Every year at Christmas we buy a bottle of Baileys Original Irish Cream, not the copycat stuff, as this  was a Christmas tradition for Mr. HRK's Dad to buy each year. So we have it already in the kitchen, and we will make a toast to him as we sip a wee glass of Baileys after Christmas lunch and Dinner.

Mr. HRK roasts his own green coffee beans, and this batch are an Ethiopian bean called Yirgacheffe Special Prep. Here they are freshly roasted and waiting to be put in the coffee grinder for our morning cup of coffee. Our Rancilio coffee machine makes a delicious cup of coffee from these beans.

We are not really Coffee Snobs, this is just the name of the Australian company that gives us the best service and we can buy our beans very economically and sustainably through them. The beans arrive in zipped cotton bags, and I am thinking of converting these bags into beeswax wraps. Not pretty but quite frugal, don't you think?

When we need a second cup of coffee during the day we are now making a plunger coffee with our newly purchased plunger. Why buy instant when we can use our own coffee grinds in the plunger?

Yesterday, my day was turned upside down, in a good way really, when we realised that our beehive was ready for another honey extraction. Our local bee expert paid us a professional visit to advise Mr. HRK on a couple of things, and when the hive was opened it was obvious that the bees have been working very hard, despite the dry weather and all of the frames were full of honey comb. So Mr. HRK and I scraped the frames during the morning in the garage, strained the honey throughout the afternoon in the kitchen, and then started bottling last night. The photo below is some of the frames which have been scraped of comb and honey are ready to put back in the hive. Mr. HRK has just put them back in the hive this morning. So my kitchen has been the centre of our cottage industry honey operation since yesterday. We don't have a licence to sell honey as that gets complicated so some of it will be Christmas presents.Thankfully most of the work is now done and I have time to write this. Phew!

This is a tub of beeswax straining through a stocking, waiting to be melted down and purified in the slow cooker.

Next thing,  I need to prepare some sourdough for our next loaf of bread in a couple of days. But first I need a nice cuppa.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Golden Almond, Pear, Raspberry and Maple Cake

Cakes are healthy too. You just eat a small slice.
- Mary Berry

This is a Matt Preston upside down cake recipe, which I found in his book, 187 recipes that will make you incredibly popular. That would be really nice Matt. I've already made the Burnt creamy cheesecake out of this book, and that made me quite popular at the time, and I think this cake might as well, it's a keeper. I'll be making it again.When I saw the recipe, I felt a cake challenge coming on as it steps outside my comfort zone, with ingredients like almond meal (no flour at all), oat bran,  canned pears, and frozen raspberries or fresh if you can get them. Then I discovered it has also been published online for Delicious magazine, albeit a couple of variations to the original printed recipe which I compared and then came up with this recipe. Once I managed all of that I decided it would perfect to bake for yesterday's afternoon tea and I'm so glad that I did,  as it was my turn to host Tuesday Mahjong.  Gosh it comes around quickly.

Yesterday was the hottest day we have experienced in Mackay for some time. At 36 deg. C and with the Mahjong ladies arriving at 1.00 pm the air conditioning was turned on for the first time and Mahjong was played in our lounge room. There were just four of us yesterday so we played for 3 hours, just stopping for afternoon tea and cake, and everyone won a couple of games  so it was a very enjoyable afternoon. We really moved into the Mahjong zone. Mr. HRK was the perfect barista on duty, and drinking his espresso coffee flat whites adorned with coffee art, and eating cake in the airconditioning was a treat. Do yourself a favour and make this cake, it exceeded my expectations and was delicious. And it was cinch to make. It is half fruit and half cake and the frozen raspberries make it blush unashamedly. I wasn't expecting so much colour. I couldn't find any fresh raspberries in the shops here this week, otherwise I would have served it with fresh raspberries as well and they would have made the photo even more attractive. Never mind, it tasted great.

Let's Cook:


Serves 8-10 but only just as they will want two helpings

100 ml light olive oil, plus extra for greasing the cake tin
2 tablespoons good quality authentic maple syrup
3/4 cup (125 g) brown sugar (or white)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (100 g) almond meal
1/2 cup (75 g) oat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
350g of canned pear pieces, weight of fruit after draining the can (or two large poached pears)
40-60 g frozen raspberries, or fresh if in season ( I used 60 g frozen for this one, hence the blushing colour. 40 would be fine)
creme fraiche, ice cream or mascarpone to serve

Let's Cook:

Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C. fan forced
Lightly grease the sides and the bottom of a cake pan or loaf tin with olive oil or oil spray, approximately 30 cm x 12 cm, and line the sides and bottom with baking paper. (I used my large loaf tin which is these exact measurements that I bake my large loaf of bread in.)

In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, sugar, olive oil, vanilla and eggs.
Stir with a spoon or whisk until well combined.Stir in the salt, almond meal, oat bran, baking powder and cinnamon.

Dice 150 g of pear into small pieces and stir it through the cake batter.

Cut the other 200 g of pear into small wedges and arrange on the bottom of the pan in a row. (This might already be done for you in some brands of canned pear, it was for me.)

Scatter the raspberries into the cake pan and pour the batter on top.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove your cake from the oven and leave it to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a  knife around the inside of the pan.

Place a serving plate or board over the pan, turn it upside down on your bench, and gently remove the pan. Because of the baking paper it will slide out easily.

Remove the baking paper.

Serve the cake warm or cold on its own, or with creme fraiche, mascarpone, or with ice cream if it is for dessert. I thought it tasted really delicious when it had cooled down on the kitchen bench with creme fraiche. Even plain Greek yoghurt as a healthier alternative would be delicious served with it.

To my blogging readers, keep cool in the Southern Hemisphere, and warm and dry in the Northern Hemisphere.

Warm wishes