Friday, June 19, 2020

Golden Pumpkin, Zucchini, and Olive Loaf

With the weekend almost here, I want to share with you an idea for Sunday brunch, or brekkie if you are out of bed on a cold Winter's morning, or even lunch.  Those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere and coasting into a balmy summer, will be enjoying a breakfast in the golden sunshine hopefully. This is a nutritious vegetarian loaf for everyone which provides a blank but tasty canvas for a myriad of toppings, or for none at all if that's your preference.  Whatever you fancy really and it is a very pushy recipe. If you can reign in a cheffy apprentice from somewhere to grate the pumpkin for you that will cut your preparation time. I tried grating chopped pieces in my food processor but that didn't really work, but  a good firm pumpkin is very easy to grate, just watch those fingers. I always use my food processor to grate the zucchinis though, much safer.

Half a Kent (Jap) pumpkin
The knife in the top photo has had an interesting evolution and probably shudders now when it is close to a pumpkin. The blade used to be much longer with a pointed tip as with a normal carving knife, that is before I tried cutting into a large, very firm Jap pumpkin with it. The blade snapped, thankfully with no injuries incurred, and with Mr. HRK nearby to the rescue he extricated the knife and blade from the pumpkin for me. No harm done. I must say that this all happened about 6 months ago, well before his hand accident. He then reshaped, sharpened and tidied up the blade,  and now it is such a useful knife with a very strong blade. Great for cutting pumpkins. I love buying a whole large pumpkin with a lot of potential, but cutting that first slice requires some care and muscle.

Such a tasty little morsel on my breakfast tray
 Feed this loaf to your family and they will also be eating lots of nutritious ingredients and vegetables without even realising it. Carrot can be substituted for the zucchini, and Mr. HRK suggested adding some blue cheese to the ingredients, wonderful with a cheese platter and a glass of good red. I'll try that next time I make it. Even though this loaf tastes really light, the mixture needs to be cooked well and nicely browned as it is a big loaf. This is based on the wonderful Maggie Beer's recipe from her Recipe for Life cookbook, and I have added a few extra ingredients for a little added flavour.  I'm not a big salt eater, but I thought it needed a little extra salt, so I have added a small amount and a pinch of salt bush flakes from the Australian outback, just because I have them.


Serves 8-10

80 g black olives, pitted, make it 100g if you really like olives
3 cups (375 g) coarsely grated pumpkin (I like to use a Jap or Kent pumpkin)
1 cup (135 g) coarsely grated zucchini
3 tablespoons unhulled tahini
5 free range eggs
70 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (240 g) ground almonds
1 cup (90 g) organic rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon (pinch) salt bush flakes (optional)


Preheat the oven to 165 deg. C (fan-forced). Grease and line  a 13 cm x 23 cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Place the olives in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl.

To the bowl add the pumpkin, zucchini, tahini, eggs and olive oil. Mix and combine well.

In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt, thyme, salt bush flakes, rolled oats, baking powder and nutmeg.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin. Scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin.

Serve warm or leave to cool completely.Slices of this freeze beautifully, so cut into 1.5 cm thick slices and freeze in portions in zip-lock bags. We love it toasted.

The toppings to eat with this loaf are only limited by your imagination.  Serve it toasted for breakfast or brunch topped with avocado and eggs of your choice ( poached, scrambled, or fried).

I enjoyed it one morning for brekkie with sliced banana on top, and Maggie  Beer suggests ricotta and sliced tomato. If you like hummus, add some rocket leaves and you have a fast and healthy snack, or just serve it warm with butter. It is also very tasty served with my homemade spicy tomato relish as a topping. Yum! If you have some pumpkin tucked away in your crisper, do you think you would like this recipe?

Eat well my friends and I hope you have a relaxing and safe weekend.

Warm wishes


Monday, June 15, 2020

In My Kitchen, June 2020

It's a very special day In My Kitchen today as our beautiful twin Grandchildren, Finn and Evie, who live in the Falkland Islands, turn 1 year old, such a milestone for our babies that started out in the world quite premature. Our day started at 7 am with a birthday video call to our son and his family and the children in the Falkland Islands. Mr. HRK thankfully, even after his hand accident a week ago, can still make a really good cup of coffee so first of all we had a coffee from our Rancilio coffee machine. Needless to say we don't go out for coffee, even though restrictions are lifting here in Queensland thankfully, and 20 people are now allowed in coffee shops at the same time. That number could change again for tomorrow though, but it's reassuring to see businesses in Queensland starting to operate again.

This Emu coffee mug (or perhaps its a Cassowary being Far North Queensland) is also very special to me as my daughter bought it for me for my birthday last year, when we were travelling up to Cairns in Far North Queensland, through a delightful but very rainy little town called Tully. We stopped at a nice little florist and cafe in the main street of Tully and did a spot of shopping as well. The happy bird is always smiling at me.

The twins had their very own iced birthday cakes flavoured with orange in their home this morning made by a beautiful Italian chef in Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands, and yes they had a small piece each, which they demolished very quickly. So that we could truly be part of the celebration I made my Pumpkin, Orange and Prune cake which featured in a recent blog post of mine. We enjoyed that one so much last time that I decided to make it again. We lit the candles, sang happy birthday again which the twins rocked to and it was lovely.

After making this cake, I still had half a pumpkin left, so I made a Pumpkin, zucchini and olive loaf using grated pumpkin and zucchinis from our garden, which was really delicious. We enjoyed it toasted with a variety of toppings such as avocado, banana, cooked eggs or even hummus. So versatile. Recipe to follow soon hopefully. The butter dish in the photo was my Mum's and has a matching lid. It works really well.

Those of you who regularly read what I write, and thanks so much to you all and to your feedback which I really value, might remember my recipe for delicious Lemon Tapioca Pearl Pudding, where I was questioning whether or not sago could now be found anywhere as it's not available anymore in supermarkets where I live. It was always Lemon Sago pudding when I was growing up, and I suppose I feel a bit of food traitor cooking it now by using tapioca.

Lemon Tapioca Pearl Pudding with some vintage utensils of mine
So I went on a research mission into Downtown Mackay to the Indian Supermarket, the Asian/Italian Supermarket and the Bulk Foods Store, and a couple of cafes, and had a lovely morning discovering all kinds of interesting potential cooking products, where the best bulk foods are sold, and kitchen utensils. Hallelujah,  I found many packets of Sago seed (Sabudana) in the Indian Supermarket. So yes very soon I will be making the real Lemon Sago pudding from the real sago now sitting in my pantry. The sago seeds are twice the size of the tapioca seed, so the proof will be in the pudding as to which works best. A blogger friend of mine said that this is an old fashioned pudding, and yes it is, but it is delicious, and everything old is new again.

Finally, I have a new sourdough bread making book acquisition (sorry library talk, I can't help myself) that I have been waiting for, for ages, just delivered today. The mail has been so slow hasn't it? Not that I do much online shopping, but so many shops and the libraries have been closed, and it seemed safer to order online. I can't wait to read it. I am quite happy with my sourdough bread making, but would like to learn more. I hope this will inspire me to get back to it, and try a few new things.

We have started harvesting zucchinis from our garden, just enough for our use at present which is great. This one below, one of the first, we measured at 30 cm, nearly 1 foot long, as we  didn't see it on the plant until it was quite big. They taste so fresh and delicious and can be eaten raw.

Just outside my Kitchen, a bowl of madarins picked off our tree. This cattleya orchid of mine has been in flower for over a month, and whilst it is now fading slightly still has a beautiful fragrance.

Planted from seed, Pak Choy make delicious eating in a stir fry or just blanched. It's a race to pick them though before the grubs claim them for themselves. Footy season has started minus the crowds, and you can see which NRL team we barrack for by Mr. HRK's mug. Of course, we are Northerners.

Is it an aging thing or what? I now seem to love marmalade on toast. This 3 fruit marmalade was gifted to us by our friend Lulu, and it is delicious. Of course I love our fresh honey on toast as well.

I use so many eggs in the kitchen, that I have started keeping the eggshells in a bowl and crushing them up all at once when they have dried, for the compost heap. The worms love that they are already crushed up for them.

Mr. HRK is recovering well after his accident with the table saw last week, and thank you to those of you who sent kind messages. I saw this sign in the hospital, and think it is a great idea, whether you are healing or not. Our brains need a break.

That's it folks, I hope you have enjoyed my kitchen story. I felt a bit flattened as well after Mr. HRK had his accident, but we are starting to bounce back and he is being very patient with not being able to do all of the  things he normally can. Candle making from our very own beeswax is in this week's plan. Watch this space.

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series for June hosted by the lovely Sherry from Sherry's Pickings.

Thanks for dropping by, hope you have time to relax,  and have a great week.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

How to make your own Quince Paste "Membrillo"

Dear Readers, Please allow me to introduce a fellow foodie and good friend, Mr. Paul S. who every Winter provides us with a welcome gift of his Quince Paste, and then little batches sometimes come our way during the year as well, proving that it keeps refrigerated in the tropics very well.  He has been doing this for a few years now, that I know of. The quality is always exceptional and as I have plenty for our use and don't need to make any more, I have asked Paul to be  a guest writer on my blog this week. I have complete faith in this recipe and he enjoys writing about food as well.

(Paul). As an avid follower of Pauline's blog, I am honoured to be invited to be her guest on the Happy Retirees Kitchen blogspot. Towards the end of each autumn I search the markets and greengrocers for one of my favourite fruits, one in short supply in the tropics - the humble quince. I first came upon quince paste on a cheese platter, a "Maggie Beer" product that was perfect with King Island Brie!  Subsequently, in Spain, I found large blocks of the same "membrillo", which they used to sweeten stews and curries. I love it on a cracker with any soft cheese, any blue cheese, any cheese in fact.

Below is a photo of crates of quinces taken by Paul at a market in Fes in Northern Morocco where he and Mrs. S were on holiday last year. Morocco is truly quince land.

This is a very simple recipe, but not an easy one to make. Quinces are initially extremely hard, so peeling and coring the yellow fruit are a chore. As the peeled fruit discolours easily, keep your sliced quinces in water. The fruit has to be softened by boiling - it is rock hard to begin with! Once the sugar is added, the mixture requires regular stirring for around three hours! You keep stirring until the thick mixture is a deep red in colour, and all the water has been evaporated.

Quince paste makes a welcome gift, as Mrs. HRK can attest!



8 quinces (peeled, cored, and chopped)

Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of water
5 cups of sugar


Place the chopped quinces, water and lemon juice in a large heavy based saucepan/pot. Place on high heat to steam the fruit. When the quinces are soft, use a stick blender to blitz to a slurry. Add the sugar and start stirring, continuing regularly to ensure the sweet mixture does not stick to the bottom.

After the quinces have turned to the bright red colour, pour the mixture into a cake tin or similar, cool, and then refrigerate into a firm block which, kept in the fridge, will provide for 12 months of cheese platters.

Photo 1: The quinces have softened, the blender has liquefied the fruit, and the sugar has been added.

Photo 2: After an hour of stirring, the mixture has started to gain colour around the edges and base.

Photo 3: The beautiful red colour has finally arrived, after all that interminable stirring

Photo 4: In a cake tin or mould, your quince paste is ready to cool and refrigerate

If you have read to the end of Paul's quince cooking journey, and I thank him for doing this, I have to tell you it's been an interesting few days.

 This post for me will always be tinged with a little shock and drama. As I was almost finished loading this story and ready to post at 5 pm on Saturday, Mr. HRK appeared at the door holding his hand upright, rather pale, and said "I've hurt myself and it's serious." I had heard him using the table saw in his shed but that happens frequently as he is a DIY kind of guy. You never know how you are going to react in this situation do you? However I managed to dial 000, the ambulance paramedics came, he was taken to hospital emergency,  and by the time I was allowed to see him, two fingers on his left hand, index and third finger had been cleaned and bandaged up, and he had charmed all the nurses.

 He had surgery on his hand Sunday morning,  and recovered well. He has managed to damage the bone on his index finger and that finger has now been amputated to just above the knuckle and the finger next to it is damaged but just has to heal. After all these years of his constructing so many projects in his shed using a variety of equipment, this shows it can happen to anyone. He is home now, and life will be pretty quiet for him now for a while as his hand heals. It could have been a lot worse. The paramedics and the staff of the Mackay Base Hospital have been absolutely wonderful and we are so thankful for that. It's life in the slow lane now for us for a while.

Thanks for dropping by,


Friday, June 5, 2020

Spiced Pumpkin, Orange and Prune Cake

This cake is full of pumpkin, spice and all things nice, including half a cup of our home produced honey. Pumpkins are at their best right now, which is Autumn/Winter here in the Southern hemisphere, although because they are available all year round, it's easy to think that pumpkins don't have a season at all. However Autumn is it's time. When buying a pumpkin, the deeper the colour when it's cut, the riper and more delicious it is likely to be. My preference is always for the Kent or Jap pumpkin and that's what I used for this cake, one I bought from the local farmer's market. 

The beautiful orange colour of the cake in the photo below shows how rich the pumpkin I used was and the flavour comes through as well. If I was making this cake in summer I might not add the spices, it is a versatile cake mixture, however in Winter spices are just a must, aren't they? I've also iced this cake and sprinkled desiccated coconut on top as pumpkin and coconut are great together.

Fresh from the oven
Let's cook and soothe the soul.

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C. Fan forced.

250 g butter
1 teaspoon orange zest (1 orange)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup good quality Honey from where you live (not heated or blended) or Maple Syrup
3 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup mashed pumpkin, not butternut (cooled)
1 cup diced prunes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
2 cups Self Raising flour
3 tablespoons milk if required for a softer consistency

Cream butter with orange zest in a large bowl.
Add sugar and cream with butter and orange zest until light and fluffy.
Add eggs separately, beating well after each addition
Fold in pumpkin, orange juice, honey and prunes.
Then fold in sifted SR flour and spices.
If mixture appears to be too stiff, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until a softer consistency. This might be needed if you change the ingredients slightly. 
Pour into a greased and lined 22-23 cm spring form cake tin.
Bake for 50-60 minutes at 160 degrees C. Fan forced depending on your oven, but definitely check if it is cooked after 50 minutes. Insert a toothpick or fine metal skewer which will come out clean if it is cooked.
Delicious with orange zest icing
This cake is delicious iced with an orange zest flavoured icing, but is equally enjoyable just served with yoghurt and a dusting of icing sugar.

Orange Icing:
3 cups sifted icing sugar
3 tablespoons warm milk
1/3 cup softened butter
2 teaspoons orange juice
4 teaspoons grated orange zest

Ice when the cake is cool and removed from the tin. Mix butter into sifted icing sugar with a large spoon and add milk and mix.
Add orange juice and zest. Mix until mixture is smooth and all the icing sugar is mixed in. I like my icing for this kind of cake to be a little stiff and not runny, so if it is too runny and would run down the sides of the cake, I keep sifting icing sugar into the bowl, a tablespoon at a time,  until it is the right consistency for me.
However if you like more of a soft frosting to cover the whole cake, mix the ingredients in your Kitchen Aid or with a hand mixer until smooth, and cover the whole cake with frosting.

Garnish with finely chopped pistachios if you like. I just added a little desiccated coconut  for this cake.

Thanks for dropping by and have a wonderful weekend wherever you are,

Warm wishes