Monday, January 25, 2021

Mango, Lime and Coconut Panna Cotta

Australia Day tomorrow in the land Down Under, always the 26th January, when Aussies celebrate a Public Holiday by heading to the beach (whilst still practicing social distancing of course and avoiding the stingers here in North Queensland), or by having friends and family over for a late barbie in the arvo, playing some backyard cricket, and generally kicking back with a stubby or two (a bottle of beer that is), and some of the men might still be wearing stubbies (short shorts). It will be red wine for Mr. HRK and me, and celebrating how lucky we are to be living in this large sunburnt country of huge climatic extremes. I know I am glossing over the political arguments that always arise in the lead up to Australia Day, but I think I'll  leave that to the media and the politicians.

Lamb is often the meat of choice on Australia Day for the BBQ, or seafood, however we will be enjoying beef ribs this year with our good friends who are doing the marinating and we are doing the cooking.

It's my job to provide dessert, and generally host the meal, so whilst I still have some of the delicious Caramel Mango and Coconut Ice cream from a previous post still in my freezer, I also still have a few of the fresh mangoes in the frig that we picked ourselves. A chilled mango Panna Cotta  with sweet fresh mango seemed perfect as it can all be prepared the day before, and perhaps we will have just a smidgen of ice cream as well. The two desserts really are a perfect pairing, as the ingredients are quite similar, both cold, and will complement each other beautifully. Add a couple of meringues in place of the pavlova if you have them, and we are set. My friends are you still enjoying mangoes this summer? It is a short season for them from November to March approx., however they can be bought frozen now, so we can enjoy mango desserts all year round. No complaints here. As we had a few extra, we sliced and froze some mangoes last week, so now we can eat them throughout the year, much more reasonable than buying frozen mango at the supermarket.


300 g fresh diced mango (2 cups) , or thawed frozen mango

600 g Vanilla Custard, homemade or from a carton

70 g caster sugar (1/3 cup)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (60 ml)

1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest

6 g small gelatine leaves (about 4)

2 cups (560 g) coconut flavoured yoghurt, lactose free will be fine

1 medium ripe mango (430 g), extra, thinly sliced for garnish

 100 g mini meringues for garnish if using


Pour your custard into a large bowl. I'll admit I guiltily bought the custard for this dish, as I was also baking sourdough bread this morning so time was at a premium. 

Then process the diced mango until smooth in your food processor.

Place the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water until softened, allow about 5 minutes. Do this as close as possible to coincide with the lime mixture being taken off the heat, which is the next step.  Squeeze the excess moisture from the gelatine, and add the gelatine to the saucepan of heated lime juice and mango puree. Stir until the gelatine is dissolved.

Place the sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and just 1/4 cup of the mango puree in a medium saucepan. This mixture needs to be stirred over a medium heat until it reaches just below simmering point. You will see some steam start to come off the surface, but no bubbles. Allow about 3 minutes for this.

Now you need to work quickly. Immediately whisk the lime mixture, including the softened gelatine, into the custard. Spoon in the yoghurt and the remaining mango and whisk until smooth.

Strain this mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug. This might take a little time because of the sieving process, and you will be left with a small mixture of thick fruit pulp and custard in the sieve. It is quite tasty and nice with any leftover yoghurt, waste not want not. The panna cotta should be smooth and lump free.

Select 6 x 1 1/4 cup (310 ml) shallow bowls or ramekins, and pour the panna cotta mixture into them . Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight until set.

I made these dishes late in the morning before lunch, and they were beautifully set by 5 pm that afternoon. Garnish the dishes with sliced mango, and mini meringues or whatever you wish really. Some toasted coconut flakes would also be nice. There was some multitasking this morning, with three sourdough loaves baked, whilst I did the prepping for the panna cotta. \

After I had taken the photo for this post, I said to Mr. HRK, " I think I might have put too much mango on the panna cotta for the photo." He said, " You can never have too much mango." Always helpful, he said, "I wouldn't use the toasted coconut flakes next time." 

This is the cob loaf I made this morning, and two other sandwich loaves to be sliced for the freezer.

Happy Australia Day, and to my Australian friends and any Aussies overseas,  how are you celebrating tomorrow?

Warm wishes


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Two memorable days in Valparaiso, Chile

I was reminded this week that around this time only last year we were in Valparaiso, Chile, which is about 80 kilometres from Santiago, and home to the Chilean Navy. Valparaiso is often referred to as the garden city, and indeed it was, however I remember it mainly for its spectacular seafood and zany and colourful street art. As none of us can travel overseas yet, I thought I would share our photos with you vicariously, and travel down memory lane or the streets of Valparaiso once again from our lounge chairs.

One of the highlights of our two days in Valapraiso was lunch at a beautiful little restaurant called Espiritu Santo, where I ate the best Ceviche I have ever had and Neil enjoyed a plate of black ink squid. I never thought I would see him order a dish like that but he loved it. Firstly though, every meal there must begin with a Pisco Sour, the traditional drink of Chile, and this one was based on wine. 

A very fresh and delicious Ceviche at Espiritu Santo, comprising all local and unfrozen seafood, and in true Chilean fashion scattered with corn and avocado. Every mouthful reminded me of the ocean. The secret to this Ceviche, was the freshest possible seafood caught just that morning and "cooked" in lots of lime juice.

Fresh Black Ink Squid which Mr. HRK really enjoyed.

There was also some very impressive original art painted on the wall inside our shipping container apartment at the Wine Box Hotel.

Beautiful gardens are an attraction at the entrance to Valparaiso.

Naval ships at the port

After a delicious complimentary breakfast at the Wine Box Hotel on their rooftop restaurant, we walked it off up and down the hills admiring the street art adorning the many houses. Valparaiso is full of surprises and the art makes a real statement. It is one of the many features that Valparaiso is renowned for.

For those of you that love cats.

Paintings of beautiful birds were very effective

I loved this  painted street, very huggable.

There were a few photograph sessions to send home.

What fun to have this painting on the front of your house.

A beautiful rose in one of the front gardens.

Waiting for a much needed coffee after walking all of those hills.

We continued to walk to the famous house of controversial Chilean Poet Laureat Pablo Neruda, very interesting, and yes there were more stairs.

This is the Naval Academy at Valparaiso.

On the drive to Valparaiso with our guide, we indulged in just a little wine tasting at Casablanca. Chilean wine is very good.

After revisiting my photos, I wonder how the restaurant, the hotel, and the people we met there are coping with the impact of Covid 19. I fear that they have had a very difficult time of it. I am so thankful we visited when we did, a once in a lifetime experience.

 I am making this fresh salad today which reminds me somehow of Chile where corn is added to everything. They also grow beautiful capsicums and other vegetables in the fields between Santiago and Valparaiso. If I add some cooked quinoa to this salad as well,  it will really embrace my memories of Chile and indeed Peru.


1 roughly chopped Mango, or any firm mango
1 cup chopped cooked pumpkin
2 tablespoons chopped coriander of more if you really are a coriander fan (to taste really)
1 drained can of corn kernels
4 shredded lettuce leaves
2 cups roughly chopped cucumber
1 chopped red capsicum
2 cups finely chopped carrot
1 cup cranberries
1 drained can chickpeas
1 punnet chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped shallots or more if you like the zing
1/2 cup baby capers (optional)
1 cup cooked quinoa


Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate. Add the pumpkin, mango and tomatoes just before serving if you prefer so it is all perfectly fresh, however this keeps in the refrigerator very well for a few days.

Warmest wishes,


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Salted caramel mango and Coconut Ice Cream Crumble Bars

Mangoes and ice cream are delicious together, and because I am still in holiday mode I am using plain bought vanilla ice cream for this recipe. However you can use your own homemade ice cream if you feel like making it and well done if you do.There's still some mango madness here in North Queensland with local mangoes ready for the picking. What we cook and feel like eating is often dependent on the weather at the time, whether it is hot and humid like it is here in Summer, or very cold, as our Northern Hemisphere neighbours are experiencing. 

At the moment here in tropical Queensland, fresh salads and fruits are a mainstay and a colorful salad is the preferred option for a meal. Hot desserts can be too heavy to eat in our climate right now unless dining out in an air conditioned restaurant whereas in the cooler climates, I know you are all enjoying delicious warming foods like sticky date puddings. However one exception to all of the rules is ice cream. Ice cream is enjoyed everywhere, whether its cold, hot, temperate or in between, the main difference being that in our climate we need to eat it faster before it melts. No problem there. When I saw this recipe in a Coles supermarket catalogue before Christmas I wanted to make it straight away. However as we travelled to Cairns for Christmas that didn't happen. Local mangoes are ripening very late here, possibly due to the dry conditions last year, and paying $2.50 for a supermarket mango isn't an option for me when we can buy them for $10.00 a bucket at the markets or pick them from a friends tree, which is what we have just done.

This photo is of mangoes that we have just picked straight off the tree. The mango tree is located on a cattle property near where we live and is a very large tree. As you can see they have some imperfections which you don't see on mangoes purchased at a supermarket and are all different sizes. This is the reality of mangoes growing on large trees on privately owned property. They often look like this before they are washed and cleaned for the market.Time will tell when they ripen if they all make good eating. So far they are delicious. The fruit is ready to pick when the skin changes from green to yellow, or red or pink depending on the variety of mango. Most of the mangoes growing in our area are Bowen mangoes, which have a beautiful red blush on their skin. We try to pick them when they are still hard, as otherwise the flying foxes will raid the tree and eat them overnight.  One of the tricks to hasten ripening is to wrap them individually in newspaper and then they will often ripen indoors on the windowsill or in a tray or bucket in a week.

Mangoes wrapped in newspaper ready for ripening

The mango trees are often very large, and it's important to be well prepared before picking mangoes as they can also release a lot of sap from the stem when they fall from the tree. This sap can burn our skins if we aren't careful, so long sleeves and gloves need to be worn for protection. Its also snake season so shoes are essential,  as often the trees are in the paddocks on large properties, not that we have seen any snakes, but they are around. The most essential piece of equipment is the mango picker, which are often homemade and comprise a hook at one end,  which hooks over the top of the mango. This hook is attached to a large pole like a broom handle to reach the top of the trees, and there is also often a long sock attached so that the mangoes have a soft landing into the sock. A good pull by the hook and the mango will come away from the stem. However often they land on the ground without any damage. Picking mangoes is a labour of love, and this annual event is one we have grown up doing over the years. Mr. HRK is taller than me and is very good at it. Commercial mango farms have a much more streamlined procedure for picking as you would expect.

Let's cook:
Serves 16.  Preparation 20 minutes (+ cooling & 4 1/2 hours freezing time.)
Cooking 30 minutes.


3/4 cup (165 g) brown sugar

2 cups (300 g) plain flour

1 cup (75 g) shredded coconut

2/3 cup (60 g) rolled oats

250 g unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup (80 g) finely chopped dried mango

50 g unsalted butter, extra

2 large mangoes, stoned peeled, and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (110 g) brown sugar, extra

1 tsp vanilla

1tsp sea salt flakes

2 Litre tub vanilla ice cream, softened

270 ml can coconut cream


1. Crumble:

Preheat oven to 180 deg. C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the sugar, flour, coconut and oats in a bowl and stir to combine. 

Add the melted butter to the bowl and use a round-bladed knife to stir until just combined. 

Spoon this mixture onto a lined biscuit oven tray. 

Bake, stirring occasionally, for 30 mins or until all of the mixture has cooked.

Stir in the chopped dried mango. Cool.

2. Caramel salted mango

Melt the extra butter (50 g) in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the fresh mango, extra sugar (1/2 cup) and vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens and  becomes caramelised. Sprinkle with the salt and place on a tray to cool.


Grease a 20 cm (base measurement) square cake pan. Line the base and sides with baking paper, allowing sides to overhang. Separate half  the baked oat mixture and spread over the base of the lined cake pan. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 mins to chill.


Ice cream

Next combine the softened ice cream and the coconut cream in a bowl. Add the mango mixture and gently swirl to marble through the ice cream.


Spoon the ice cream mixture over the oat mixture in the pan. Smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture, pressing down gently. 


Place in the freezer for 4 hours or until firm. When ready to eat, cut into pieces and serve straight away.

There is no need to serve anything else with this however a couple of fresh or frozen mango  pieces on the side would be delicious.

The Life of Locky

 Dressed in a Queensland Scouts bandana which belonged to my Mum

Warm wishes,

Pauline x

Friday, January 1, 2021

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.


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


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,