Thursday, July 2, 2020

In My Kitchen - July 2020

I've been doing a lot of cooking this past week, as we have had a succession of visitors here since Friday. It's great to see Queensland travellers on the move in Queensland, travelling North up the East coast to Cairns, soaking up our sunshine, although yesterday was rainy, but that's okay. In addition to three lots of visitors, including my brother and sister-in-law, we had 11 friends from our tennis group for dinner on Friday  night, and then my Mahjong ladies were here Tuesday afternoon for cake and Mahjong, in that order, ha, ha. It was a lovely afternoon, with the lorikeets putting on a dazzling display around our bird bath.

Melaleucas, Golden Pendas  and Fiddlewood trees are flowering in our suburb right now so lots of birds are dropping in for some much needed hydration and a bath.

 I cooked a double quantity of Chilli Con Carne and it fed everyone on Friday night, and then we ate the leftovers with 3 Brisbane friends on Sunday night. There was plenty of it. My daughter gave me this recipe, one of her favourites, which she cooks in her pressure cooker, and I have given you those pressure cooker instructions  if you are confident cooking that way. It does save  lot of time for very busy people. However I only cooked the kidney beans in the pressure cooker, and cooked the minced beef on the stove top. It is a cinch to make, tasty and not too spicy, and goes a long way. The Chorizo sausage and the Speck take this dish to a whole new level combining lots of earthy flavours.

Pressure Cooker Chilli Con Carne

2 cups (400 g) dried red kidney beans (or 1 can of kidney beans)
3 small brown onions
1 dried bay leaf
1.5 litres (6 cups) water
150 g (4 1/2 ounces) speck, chopped finely
1 cured chorizo sausage (170 g) chopped finely
400 g (12 1/2 ounces) minced ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 cups (560 g) bottled tomato pasta sauce or homemade tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

  1. Place beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and soak overnight. Rinse under cold water and drain.
  2. Combine beans, one of the onions, bay leaf and the water in a 6 litre (24 cup) pressure cooker and secure the lid. Bring cooker to high pressure. Reduce heat to stabilise pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure using the quick release method according to your pressure cooker, and remove the lid. Drain the beans reserving 1 1/2 cups (375 mls) cooking liquid ; discard onion and bay leaf. 
  3. Finely chop remaining onions. Cook speck and chorizo in cooker pot until browned. Add onion, cook stirring until onion softens. Add beef; cook stirring until browned. Add garlic and spices; cook stirring until fragrant. Return beans to cooker with sauce, oregano and reserved cooking liquid. Season to taste. 
  4. Bring cooker to high pressure. Reduce heat to stabilise pressure,cook 8 minutes. Release pressure using the quick release method, and remove the lid. Stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve chilli con carne with sour cream and sprinkled with coriander.

Chilli Con Carne

Cooking the Chilli Con Carne in a frypan on the stovetop is very similar to cooking it in the pressure cooker, but without the pressure, and it takes a bit longer. I cooked the dried kidney beans in the pressure cooker, or you could just use 1 can of kidney beans instead. Much easier.

Finely chop remaining onions. Cook speck and chorizo in frypan until browned. Add onion, cook stirring until onion softens. Add beef, cook stirring until browned. Add garlic and spices; cook stirring until fragrant. Add beans to frypan with sauce, oregano and reserved cooking liquid. Season to taste.

I quickly made a delicious fresh salad to go with it. You can find my recipe for this salad here. Every time I make it, it is slightly different depending on what I have on hand, but it is always colourful and delicious. Mangoes aren't in season so there are no mangoes in this one below.

This vintage cake tin belonged to my mum and now proudly sits in my kitchen. It has been so useful to store cakes, bread and whatever else I might need to store away.

It has been difficult until the last week or so to buy rye flour which I use for bread making so I have been buying it in bulk when I find it. This flour tin, also vintage,  was resurrected from the cupboard and is now being put to good use to store rye flour. All of these items can still be found when rummaging though antique stores in country towns and cities.

Last week Mr. HRK and I watched an amazing show on Australian ABC television, called Australia's Ocean Odyssey: a journey down the East Australian Current. There were three parts to the series, and lots of beautiful images from the show are available on Youtube. The photography was exceptional. The last episode featured lovely Lord Howe Island and the fatal impact that plastic in the oceans is having on the native bird life on the island. To see juvenile birds dying because their little stomachs are full of bits of plastic, not  just plastic bags, which the adult birds feed them thinking it is food, was very disturbing and really hit home the message for humans to stop discarding waste plastic which ends up in our oceans in all shapes and sizes. Lord Howe island is an incredibly environmentally aware and sustainable island which hosts many native animals and bird species that will become extinct if plastic pollution in our oceans continues the way it is going.

Honey, Yoghurt, and Chocolate Cake

On a sweeter note though, we were very fortunate to visit Lord Howe Island three years ago for their annual Food and Wine Week, at Pinetrees Lodge. It was an important wedding anniversary for us. Afternoon tea was served each day at the Lodge and we always made sure we were there in time for that occasion. Last Tuesday I made a Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake which was one of the cakes Pinetrees served us for afternoon tea. The first time I baked this, I used Tasmanian Leatherwood honey which was too strong for this cake. For the Mahjong cake,  I used honey from our backyard beehive and the cake was absolutely delicious. Here is the link to the recipe and a photo. The cake can be served with ice cream or yoghurt for dessert, but for afternoon tea I dusted it with icing sugar and decorated it with Nasturtium flower petals.

I also love this cookbook we were given as part  of the package for attending Pinetrees Lodge Food and Wine Week.

I  baked some chocolate Afghan biscuits over the weekend, which were delicious. Have you heard of them? My friend Chris baked them to have with coffee instead of Anzac biscuits back in April and I hadn't heard of them. It's a New Zealand recipe. I've been meaning to make them ever since. I'll put that recipe up soon.

I cooked Syrup Ginger Cake for Friday Night dessert, laced with slices of homemade Tropical Stem Ginger, and flavoured with beautiful warming spices including our homemade dried ginger. I didn't ice it this time but drizzled fresh ginger syrup all over the surface. It's always delicious and perfect for a chilly night. Leftovers were very nice to enjoy over the weekend.

Today, it's simple cooking my friends, and my classic zucchini and bacon slice using our home grown zucchinis is about to go in the oven. Its a cinch to make and a real classic.

It's also been bread making day, so a couple of sourdough rye loaves were proofing in their tins this morning and we had freshly cooked bread by lunchtime.
One loaf to be sliced for the freezer, the other for eating over the next few days.
Fresh out of the oven
This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Sherry's Kitchen, I hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for dropping by and please have an enjoyable weekend.,

Warm wishes,



  1. Everything looks so delicious, Pauline. Chilli Con Carne is one of my husband's favourite meals. The hearty sourdough rye loaves look amazing!! Last, not the least, you have a beautiful garden.

    1. Thanks Angie. I also like Chilli Con Carne cooked with stewing steak, but for a lot of people it is very expensive. I was so happy the bread turned out so well.

  2. hi pauline
    thanks for joining in and for the IMK mention. you have been busy! i love a zucchini slice, and make something similar quite often. i read about paralysis in rainbow lorikeets recently; they literally just drop out of the sky. some years ago we had one lying on our footpath and hubby threw it in the bin thinking it was dead but i bet it had paralysis. it's incurable, poor things. love your enamel container! and that cookbook. keep well and busy.

    1. Oh dear, I haven't heard about the paralysis in lorikeets, or even seen any sick ones. Sounds serious. Thanks Sherry.

  3. Pauline, that is a lot of cooking. I actually did bake something the other day which was a sourdough banana bread loaf which was quite nice but I had to put half of it in the freezer with just the two of us here. Seeing as toilet paper is becoming scarce down south once again due to panic buying I hope Queenslanders are sensible and don't empty the supermarket shelves once again.

    1. Hi Chel, Yes it's great to see the supermarket shelves well stocked again.I think everyone is still a bit nervous though. Sourdough banana bread sounds delicious, I noticed today the bananas were the most reasonably priced they've been for ages. Stay well and warm, Pauline

  4. All your bakes sound fabulous! You seem to really be back to normal, unlike here. We would not be able to invite people to dinner at all.

    be well... mae at

    1. Thanks Mae, It's good to see coffee shops and restaurants reopening here, and being able to invite friends over now is nice. I hope things improve for you in the near future. It's all such a worry still. Stay well, Pauline

  5. Everything looks so delicious.
    And, your garden is so beautiful. Love the birdbath.
    The other day I made a meatless chili in the pressure cooker. Next time I’ll try your recipe. 😊

    1. Thanks Nil, I love a good chilli, which is more earthy in flavour than hot. The beauty of this one is that you can also add as many vegetables as you like.The birds also love the birdbath. It needs refilling every day. Stay safe and well, thinking of you all over there, Pauline

  6. I see you slash your loaves before proving - I have not tried that. The cake sounds delicious. We are not allowed to entertain at home. But when we can that will be on my list of things to bake. I loved my visit to Cairns, such a stunning part of the country.

    1. Thanks Tandy. I think it is more effective to slash before proving, to prevent collapsing of the dough and it rises so much more quickly. I often do another little slash before baking. I hope things improve for you soon.

  7. Can I ask what substitutes for chorizo sausage in this recipe? I have always loved using both cumin AND plenty of chili powder in my bean chili. This looks awesome!

    1. Thanks Balvinder, a good chorizo gives the dish that wonderfully smoky paprika flavour, so you could just add some paprika to the mince mixture and substitute some more mince for the chorizo, or perhaps just add some other tasty sausage for variation and the paprika. A couple of teaspoons of paprika to start with, and see if that suits your taste. Hope that works, Pauline

    2. Yes, I Love smoked paprika and add it with the mince when I make pasta. Thanks!

  8. I love the sound of the cakes that you've made lately. All of those lovely spices and flavours! :D The cake and flour tins are also gorgeous.

    1. Thanks Lorraine, it's a wonderful time of year for making delicious cakes.

  9. Lotta good stuff in your kitchen. LOVE chili, so that particularly caught my eye. :-)

    1. Thanks KR. I haven't been buying much new stuff because it just isn't available here so it's nice to showcase some of my favourite vintage pieces. Yes I love a good chilli as well.


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