Thursday, 31 December 2020

Tropical Ginger Ice Cream and Happy New Year

Happy New Year. May 2021 bring to you sanity and light, hope and happiness, and most of all, good health. When the heat is on here in the tropics, and it sure is now, we all yearn for ice cream. Everyone in our family loves ginger, and when Mr. HRK suggested to No. 1 daughter when she was home on holidays, that we make some ginger ice cream, she sprang into action. Using the stem ginger I made earlier in the year, and our home grown fresh ginger, this ice cream was ready in 24 hours. It was the creamiest, zingiest (is that a word) and most ginger flavoured ice cream we could manage. Believe me my friends, this is heaven in a bowl. For my stem ginger recipe click on this link. This ice cream is perfect for New Year and holiday celebrations. Change the flavouring if you must, but treat yourself to some homemade icecream, there will be no going back once you have.

Ingredients:

2 cups thickened (heavy) cream

1 cup full cream milk

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1 whole clove

4 large egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons finely chopped stem ginger and 1/4 cup stem ginger syrup

Method:

1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, clove and the salt. Bring to a simmer and scald to  70-75 deg. C, 160-170 deg. F.,  testing with a thermometer to ensure correct heat,  and add the grated ginger, and let that steep for an hour and slightly cool. (Fresh ginger can curdle the milk if the milk isn't scalded.)

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the steeped cream mixture into the yolks, then whisk yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the cream. Return the pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until  mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 75 deg. C or 170 deg. F. on a cooking thermometer.)

3. Strain through a fine-mesh colander into a bowl. Cool the mixture  to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Churn in a chilled ice cream machine, according to manufacturers instructions, adding the stem ginger during the last few seconds of churning.

Swirl the ginger syrup through the ice cream.

Store in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to eat, or serve straight from the machine for a soft serve.

Serve with extra chopped ginger and syrup if that is what you like.










My batch of stem ginger in syrup


Warm wishes and Happy New Year,

Pauline



Sunday, 6 December 2020

In my Christmas Kitchen 2020

 My friends it's been a cooking frenzy in my kitchen this last week, preparing for Christmas and the arrival of our daughter and family. Sore feet, music constantly playing, lots of water and the occasional vino, have ensured the marathon is completed. So here are just a few photos, and  very sincere and warm wishes for a wonderful festive season from Mr. HRK and me. I might not be back on the blogging platform until the New Year but I will be reading what you are up to. This is my December contribution to the wonderful Sherry Picking's In My Kitchen series. Thanks Sherry. 

This is my latest Christmas fruit cake, no fiddling with the photo at all, and a very nutty presentation this year.  I could have even added more nuts.

Recipe is on my blog. Link to Christmas cake recipe

Christmas cake ready for the oven

I made the next cake especially because my daughter loves it, as do I. This is a Coffee and Walnut cake or slice. Old fashioned cakey goodness, with lots of coffee icing this time. A bit flattened because it is already in it's protective container. Link to the Coffee and Walnut Cake

Another fruit cake to get us through until the ceremonial cutting of the Christmas cake, I know, does that sound like an indulgence? This is my Boiled Cherry Brandy Fruit cake, our friend Paul's Mothers recipe. A real goodie this one. Link to the recipe here. I think it could double up as a Christmas cake really.


Also the plum puddings are made, 4 hours of simmering away in the big pots. The most difficult part of that exercise is keeping the water simmering at a constant heat. Well worth it though.

What I love about this time of year is the smell of mangoes in the refrigerator, and eating them as well. Now that the mango chutney is made, there's lots of mango eating to be achieved and some mango ice cream to be churned.

Walks on the beach with  Locky our Border Collie have been a welcome respite during the warm weather. We are lucky to live so close. He is having a little holiday for a few days with good friends whilst we have a little dog free holiday, and we miss him already.



Oh I nearly forgot, last week I made another edition of Nigella's Apricot Rosewater Almond cake with Cardamon when 9 book club friends came over to our house for our bookclub meeting, and the cake was delicious as always. We discussed A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles, which I read twice, and loved it even more the second time. So if you can get your hands on it over Christmas, I highly recommend it. It is a sublime read, with lots of wonderful references to Russian food and wine and music from the 1920s, just after the Russian revolution, written from a food lover's perspective. It is also a real book of manners and gives an insight into the history of the time. It is work of fiction though.


Apricot Rosewater Almond Cake with Cardamons

Ingredients:

Serves 8-10

150 grams dried apricots
250 millilitres cold water
2 cardamon pods (cracked)
200 grams ground almonds
50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams caster sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
nonstick spray or sunflower oil for greasing

For Decorating

2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios

METHOD:

Grease and line a 1 x 20 cm/8-inch round spring form cake tin
  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and drop in the cracked cardamon pods, still containing the fragrant cardamon seeds. Bring to the boil, and keep it bubbling on the stove for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it as at the end of 10 minutes  the saucepan will be just about out of water but mustn't boil dry. The apricots will absorb more water as they cool. 
  2. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the apricots to cool.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C./160 deg. C. Fan, or Gas mark 4/350 deg. F.
  4. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, and set them aside on a plate for a while. Discard the cardamon husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  5. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the saucepan including the apricots into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  6. Open up the top of the food processor, scrape down the batter, and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, however if the cake is browning  too early, cover it loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark. I didn't need to do this. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  8. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you are using apricot jam to decorate and this gives a beautiful gloss and flavour to the cake, warm it up a little first to make it easier to spread. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Then sprinkle with the pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before releasing from the cake tin and removing to a serving plate.
That's all folks. Even if yours is a quiet Christmas, I hope you can manage some food indulgences, after all it is the festive season. The Australian government is urging us Aussies to drink more wine to support the suffering industry, no problem mate. Yippee, it's holiday time.

Warm wishes,

Pauline






Thursday, 3 December 2020

Ricciarelli or Italian Almond Biscuits


The Christmas Countdown is on for us. My daughter and family arrive on Monday from Cairns which is such a joyous thought, however that means lots of cooking, cleaning and organising, but as much time for blogging. I wanted to try these little Italian biscuits which my friend Christine baked during the week for our Mahjong afternoon tea, and given more time I would have baked a second batch, if only just to improve the presentation of them. Please believe me though that these biscuits taste absolutely amazing, are gluten free, and are my favourite new biscuit for Christmas. I learned a lot cooking this first batch. I will be halving the sugar back to 125 g in future as Christine did. If you are a really sweet tooth, well go for the full 250 g by all means,  but I find that with the reduced sugar I can eat two of them. Next time I will make them into attractive little rectangular parcels which is a pretty look. I also reduced my oven heat to 160 deg. C for these, however next time it will be 180 deg. as Sylvia Colloca suggests, as I like the slightly crazed and cracked look that  results. Given all of that though, these are delicious and will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks. 

If you make them and I urge you to,  I suggest you bake a double batch, as they will disappear very quickly.

 Makes 16-18

Ingredients:

300 g (3 cups) almond meal

250 g caster sugar (125 g is enough sugar)

2 egg whites

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

icing sugar, for dusting


Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C fan forced and conventional. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix the almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and lemon zest and mix through to create a paste (using your hands is best here.) Pinch off pieces of paste and shape into 3 cm x 4 cm rectangles (give or take). This mixture is very pliable. I like to make mine look a little bit more interesting by placing indents of my fingers around the edges and then a slight thumbprint in the middle. Dust in the icing sugar to coat well, then place onto the lined tray, leaving room for spreading. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits look slightly marked or crazed and the bottom is firm.
  3. Cool on a rack. These biscuits keep for weeks in an airtight container, so you can double the ingredients if you like and make a bigger batch.

This is an Italian family recipe by Silvia Colloca for SBS food.

Last night Mr. HRK and I attended a Christmas concert at the Conservatorium of Music here in Mackay, which was a beautiful sparkly event and was hosted by the brilliant Professor Judith Brown who is also a remarkable pianist. Community choirs, and graduate and current students all dressed up and blinged up and performed on stage. Judith reminded everyone of the true meaning of Christmas. The Conservatorium of Music is a Faculty of the Central Queensland University. Before I retired, one of my roles at the University was as the Music Librarian for the  Con as we call it, and as part of that role I attended lots of the student concerts and got to know the talented staff and students very well. This year has of course been a difficult one for music students and performers everywhere, as there have been no concerts permitted or avenues for performance, because of the pandemic. So last night was very special for them and for us, and I realised  all over again how much I love attending concerts, and just how important music is for the soul, and yes I always have music playing when I am cooking, do you? Bring on Christmas!

Happy Christmas baking my friends,

Warm wishes

Pauline


Thursday, 19 November 2020

Pasta Liguria with pesto, new potatoes, and green beans


With this recipe we are travelling in the kitchen to Liguria, in northwestern Italy, where it's Mediterranean coastline is known as the Italian Riviera. Liguria's most famous specialities are pesto and focaccia, which can be served plain, or with tasty variations like onion, olives, sage, cheese etc. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame in his veg everyday cookbook, says that this is a traditional pasta dish from Liguria using a delicious homemade pesto. Making your own pesto takes this dish to a whole new level. I am still to find a bought one that I like, but they must be available somewhere I suppose. 

For this recipe I used Hugh's recipe for pesto and combined basil and parsley, however just basil or just parsley would be fine. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a lot of fresh coriander, use that for an equally delicious pesto. This recipe can be prepared in two stages which saves a lot of time at the time of cooking. I made the pesto a few days ago and kept it in the refrigerator, and if you missed the recipe on my In My Kitchen November post here it is. If the pesto is already made, this recipe is cooked up in a jiffy. Another good thing is that this is a one pot dish after the pesto is made. I should also add that I only used the bowtie pasta for this recipe because that is what I had in the pantry. It's a fun pasta to use though.

It also makes a delicious meat free Monday dish that the whole family will love.

Pesto recipe:


Basil Pesto ingredients:

50 g pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted (I used pine nuts this time)
A large bunch of basil (about 30 g), leaves only
1 large bunch of parsley (about 30 g), leaves only
A few mint leaves (optional)
1 garlic clove, chopped
50 g Parmesan, hard goats cheese, or other well flavoured hard cheese, finely grated
 (I use parmesan)
 Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
100-150 ml extra virgin olive oil
A good squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

Extra virgin olive oil, to trickle over the top (optional)

Method:

Put the toasted pine nuts into the food processor along with the herbs, garlic, grated cheese and lemon zest. Blitz to a paste, then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until you have a thick, sloppy puree. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and season with salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Sometimes I make a  pasta dish using this pesto with new potatoes, and green beans. Delicious!

Lets cook some Pasta. 

Serves 4 generously

Pasta with Pesto, New Potatoes and Green beans Ingredients:

300g new potatoes, I used "baby spud lite" potatoes from Woolworths (no promo intended)

300g pasta, such as farfalle (bowtie shape) or any pasta shape,  or penne, trofie, orecchiette 

200g green or French beans

50g stoned green olives, roughly sliced or chopped

Salt

Method:

Put a very large pan of well salted water onto the boil. Salting the water heavily (2 tablespoons), is believed to help maintain the bright colour of the beans, and keep the potatoes firm. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into thick matchsticks (like thin chips).

Add the potatoes and pasta to the pan and cook until the pasta is al dente - Probably 10-12 minutes. This should be the right amount of time for the potatoes as well, however I wasn't quite sure and so I added the pasta, cooked it for 2 minutes, then added the potatoes, cooked it all for 5 minutes and then added the green beans for 4 minutes. Perfect timing! The most important thing here is to keep the integrity of the potatoes so that they don't cook too long and break up. If the pasta is the type that cooks very quickly, put the potatoes in a few minutes before you add the pasta. 

Carefully drain off the pasta and vegetables, and let them steam off for a minute or two, then add the pesto and mix thoroughly but gently. Check to see if more salt or pepper is needed, I added a good grinding of pepper.

(If you are worried about the timing though, cook each element separately in the same pot of boiling water.  First the potatoes, when almost done take them out, then the green beans, take them out when almost done, keep the water going and add the pasta until done. Then gently mix everything together.)

Divide between 4 serving bowls, and scatter over the green olives. Grate some parmesan cheese over each bowl and add  an extra trickle of olive oil if you like. Serve with an extra bowl of grated cheese on the table. Mr. HRK and I are having leftovers for lunch today. Yum, can't wait.

I really hope you try this recipe as it is absolutely delicious and so simple to make.

As always your comments will make my day, so please let me know what you think in the comments box.

Happy eating,

 Pauline



Friday, 13 November 2020

In My kitchen, November 2020

Beautiful Jacaranda trees growing in our street

It's a lovely time of year with the Jacaranda trees in flower and my Dancing Lady orchids (oncidiums) producing beautiful golden sprays of colour this year. I feel as if I have lost a week though, as I started this post a week ago and then we received news that our brother-in-law was in intensive care in Rockhampton which is in Central Queensland, following surgery. Jim is blind and has been for over 20years, he is incredibly independent though. But his blindness adds extra complications to any health issues. Knowing that Jim's children and family in NSW wouldn't be able to visit him because of Covid restrictions and other family couldn't get there until Monday we drove down, after all Mackay is only 350 kms up the road from Rky. Rockhampton is my hometown, so it is always nice to go back,  perhaps under better circumstances though. We drove home yesterday after 6 days of visiting the hospital, and Jim seems to be doing quite well in rehab at the Mater Hospital now so I'm so pleased we could be there for him. The staff at the Rockhampton Base Hospital provided excellent care for him. 

Dancing Lady orchids


A highlight of the trip though was that Mr. HRK and I found a grove of Common mango trees where we took our dog Locky for a walk each day, still green but ready for picking, and perfect for making mango chutney. So my handyman husband repaired Jim's specially designed mango picker,  and on Wednesday we picked two bags of mangoes. We needed enough mangoes for 2 kilos of mango flesh. Jim also has a thriving Bowen Mango tree in his backyard, so we picked all of those for him and brought back just a dozen for ourselves. Common mangoes don't have the lovely pink blush around the stalk that the Bowen mangoes have, as they ripen then turn yellow.

A bowl of Green Common Mangoes ready for cooking.

It's interesting though that the mangoes in Mackay are still not ready for harvesting despite being further North, Rky has surprisingly had more rain than us. So today in my kitchen can you guess what I've been doing all morning, yes my friends, making mango chutney as some of the mangoes have started to ripen already with the warmer weather around. The mangoes need to be very green and hard for making chutney or the flesh will just break down too easily in the chutney. The result, 13 jars of spicy and sweet mango chutney which I am very pleased with. Mr. HRK peeled them while I sliced them up, and then I cooked up the mixture in a large pot, outside in our patio BBQ area on the gas burner, our outdoor kitchen. It took 45 minutes. So it's Mango Madness here in the North, or anywhere where there are mangoes growing, heralding the beginning of the Christmas preparations. Traditionally mango chutney is eaten with ham on Christmas. Day. However we eat it all year round. 
Click here for my Mango Chutney recipe on a previous post.






All the ingredients are in the pot, ready for cooking



My latest batch of mango chutney still to be labelled and stored.

Just before we left for Rockhampton, I made this delicious Chicken, Tomato and Basil traybake using up some fresh tomatoes given to me by my wonderful friend Irena. It was delicious.  I'll put up the recipe one day soon. 






My sweet Italian basil is growing beautifully this year, so I made some pesto from it. It was so delicious, the best pesto I have ever made, mainly because I think the basil was so fresh. The pesto is all gone, so I need to make some more. However here is the recipe I used from River Cottage Veg everyday, written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A great recipe book and never far from my kitchen.





Hey presto we have delicious basil pesto


Basil Pesto ingredients:

50 g pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted (I used pine nuts this time)
A large bunch of basil (about 30 g), leaves only
1 large bunch of parsley (about 30 g), leaves only
A few mint leaves (optional)
1 garlic clove, chopped
50 g Parmesan, hard goats cheese, or other well flavoured hard cheese, finely grated
 (I use parmesan)
 Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
100-150 ml extra virgin olive oil
A good squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

Extra virgin olive oil, to trickle over the top (optional)

Method:

Put the toasted pine nuts into the food processor along with the herbs, garlic, grated cheese and lemon zest. Blitz to a paste, then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until you have a thick, sloppy puree. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and season with salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Sometimes I make a  pasta dish using this pesto with new potatoes, and green beans. Delicious!

Below is my Brassia Rex orchid in flower at this time of year. It's quite an un usual flower.


Nasturtiums from a friend make a lovely posy in a vase in the kitchen. This is the last of them now unfortunately that the Summer heat takes it's toll on some garden plants.


 I started sewing a couple of weeks ago, and made this book bag for Hugo our grandson, and sent it in a Christmas parcel over to the Falkland Islands with a book inside of course. I really enjoy sewing once I get started. This is an easy project and very useful. I'll be making some more for the children in the future.


I've written this post as part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Sherrys Pickings. It is worthwhile dropping over to her posts if you haven't already

We are so fortunate here in Queensland that life continues pretty much as normal now, however we are aware that the the Covid pandemic situation overseas is still very concerning. You are all in our thoughts and prayers and one of the biggest global challenges now is to produce and distribute a  reliable vaccine that immunises populations across the world against this dreadful virus.

That's all folks, have a safe weekend. My next project today, soaking the fruit and nuts for this years Christmas cake.

Warm wishes,

Pauline.


Sunday, 1 November 2020

Gingered Garlic Pork with Stir Fried Vegetables


This is the perfect meal on a hot and sticky day like we are experiencing today, it's light and tasty. I love the way we Aussies describe a day like today, it's a Stinker, or it's Muggy and we are always hoping for rain or a storm. Luckily here in North Queensland, so far we haven't had any of the awful hailstorms that have started in southern Queensland. Some poor people's homes have been wrecked by huge hailstones.  We haven't had any of the rain either unfortunately, no doubt though it will come eventually.  My Dove orchids are starting to flower, and they are often pretty accurate that it will rain.

It's the annual and famous Melbourne Cup horse race tomorrow here in Australia, on the 3rd November, always on a Tuesday. It will be a very different type of Melbourne Cup to what we are used to watching, no fashions in the field, in fact no-one on the field, except the horses and their jockeys, perhaps a trainer or two as well.  The yellow roses around the track are looking as beautiful as ever, and will be better than ever due to the lack of people around in the lead up to the race. I heard this morning that the roses are going to be donated to health workers in Melbourne, who have done such an amazing job during this corona virus pandemic. Besides doing the job they are trained for, there is a lot of extra stress that pervades hospitals during a pandemic like this. I might not have any yellow roses, symbolic of the Melbourne Cup, but I do have some lovely yellow gerberas flowering. The original plants were my Mothers, and have been broken up many times over the years, so this gerbera is an oldie and a goodie, before all of the new varieties appeared in nurseries.



Anyway onto cooking something  spicy and sweet. Let's get some pork on our forks.

Ingredients:

Serves 4, however just halve the ingredients if you are cooking for two or even one. Leftovers are delicious.

2 tablespoons grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

 4 lean pork fillets (approx. 125g each.)

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 medium  onions

1 large carrot, finely sliced like matchsticks

2 zucchinis, sliced

1 red capsicum

4 teaspoons cornflour

300g snow peas

200g bean sprouts

Method:

Combine the first four ingredients, (ginger, garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce),  in a bowl, mix to combine, and add the pork fillets to marinade in the refrigerator overnight.

On the day of cooking, prepare and cut up the vegetables ready for the stir fry. Once that is done, let the oven do most of the work with the pork.

Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C /Gas Mark 4. 

Drain the pork, and reserve the marinade. Cook it in an oven proof frypan if you have one, otherwise just in a non-stick pan until browned all over. Either transfer the pork to an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or transfer the oven proof frying pan to the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Less washing up. Just be very careful of the hot handle on your frypan when you take it out of the oven.

These pork fillets are browning off beautifully in the pan.

Remove and slice the pork diagonally.

Heat the oil in a wok, and add all of your vegetables, except for the snow peas and the bean sprouts. Stir fry them over a high heat until tender. Blend the cornflour with a little water and add to the reserved marinade and add to the vegetables in the wok. Add the snow peas and the bean sprouts, and stir lightly until the sauce boils and thickens.

Serve the vegetables with the pork and some brown or white rice. Yum!

This is the raw pork fillet I bought, so I just chopped it into four pieces. They come in a variety of weights.


Speaking of a stinker of a day in the heat, have you ever seen one of these? It is a kind of fly catcher, is a fungi, and it stinks, let's not mince words. It is a member of the Stinkhorn fungi, and it appears in many shapes and sizes. 


I noticed it first thing this morning, when I walked past the front garden with Locky after our early morning walk, so it was about 6.30 am. It was nice and fresh then, with flies crawling all over it, like bees to the honeypot.  I didn't get close enough to smell it, but apparently they do smell and we have had them in our garden before. The shape is well rather rude really isn't it? Ours looked phallic and draped in a lacy skirt. I was amazed by its perfect formation. No need to go into more specifics, I'm sure you can see what I mean.  Wood chip and organic matter provide the ideal habitat for Stinkhorn Fungi, so mulched gardens are likely to support the occasional outbreak of these strange but fascinating growths. So as we are all mulching our gardens to preserve the moisture throughout the Summer, the Stinkhorn Fungi are revelling in the perfect environment. However they are also helping to break down the organic matter for the benefit of the surrounding plants. As the sun comes out they start to dry up and lose their  freshness. I can't wait until tomorrow morning to see if it has a revival. If you are really interested, the Stinkhorn Fungi is part of the Clathraceae family. I just know you will be checking your gardens tomorrow morning for these impressive works of garden art.

I had intended to put up another meat free Monday recipe today, but this delicious pork was last nights dinner recipe, so the meat free Monday dish will be on the menu tonight, hopefully.

Just a quick comment for my blogger friends. I haven't been able to download photos from the computer photo files to my post today, so I downloaded them from Google photos where I edit them. I'll see how that goes, hope they don't disappear. 

Stay safe and thanks for dropping by, 

Pauline