Thursday, 31 March 2022

Fruit and Nut Sourdough Toast for Breakfast : makes 1 Loaf

This week I bring to you a fruity, hearty, and nourishing sourdough loaf perfect for Sunday morning breakfast. Sourdough is a slow-fermented bread that is beneficial to our gut biome, and doesn't need commercial yeast to rise. It's made with a live fermented culture, a sourdough starter, which acts as a natural rising agent. Once you have a sourdough starter in your refrigerator, "the mother"  you can start baking sourdough bread. There's no need to go to a coffee shop or a bakery to experience a delicious slice of raisin toast, you can make the equivalent yourself, only better, baked from scratch.  Chewy sweet apricots and nutty sunflower seeds combined with your own selection of dried fruits are a powerhouse lineup. You can use bits and pieces of whatever dried fruits and nuts you have for this recipe, so it's both economical and fun at the same time. I always have half full packets of dried fruit and nuts in my refrigerator, as they can go mouldy during our Summer, so this a perfect way to use them up. You can enjoy a thick, toasted buttered slice of fruit and nut loaf with a cappuccino on the side, in the comfort of your own home.

Baking with sourdough isn't a quick fix, but it's well worth it, for superior flavours, great crumb, the health benefits of sourdough yeast, and the self satisfaction of having achieved a great result. The moisture in the dried fruit will keep the loaf fresh for 3-4 days and there's no need to add extra sugar to the recipe. Store wrapped in a tea towel or alfoil in a bread bin. However if it is hot and humid where you live, I suggest you keep the loaf covered in the refrigerator.

The fruit should be chopped into small pieces as it will plump up when soaked. I always think that Sunday morning breakfast is special, so I like to prepare this loaf the night before, and bake it Sunday morning in time for breakfast, which can be a little late on a Sunday, don't you think? Your home will smell like the bakery up the road, delightful. Let's start baking, I'm in the mood, how about you?

 Ingredients:

The Dough:

A few days before you need to start baking, feed your sourdough starter until bubbly and active.  (Although mine is often bubbling after 2 days. Store at room temperature until ready to use.)

65 g (1/3 cup ) bubbly, active sourdough starter

325 g (1 1/3 cups plus 1 tsp) warm water

500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour

9 g (1 1/2 tsp) fine sea salt

Fruit and Nut Filling:

100 g (about 1 cup) mixed dried fruit which can include raisins, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries. All roughly chopped.

50 g (about 6 whole) dried apricots, diced

50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower or pumpkin seeds

10 g (2 tsp) pure vanilla extract

24 g ( 2 tbsp) sugar

1 g (1/2 tsp cinnamon)

Butter for coating the loaf tin

An egg for some egg wash

Preparing your dough:

Add the bubbly sourdough starter and the water to a large bowl and whisk together with a fork. Gradually add the flour and the salt and mix to combine with the sourdough. Using your hand, just form a dough which is still a bit dry, and a bit rough. It will look a bit shaggy. This is all you need at this stage. Smooth dough will come later. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour. Even two will be ok, depending on your commitments.

At this stage you might wish to feed your remaining starter with fresh flour and water for use with another baking project such as a loaf of bread, and store it in a warm place.

Chop up your dried fruit, and place the sunflower seeds and the fruit in a bowl and add just enough warm water to cover the mix. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla essence and stir to combine. You will need to drain this well before adding to the dough.

Adding the fruit and seeds:

After 45 minutes of the dough resting, add the drained fruit and seeds to the dough mixture in the bowl. Gently knead the dough in the bowl, until the fruit and seeds are incorporated.  This will only take a couple of minutes, if that.

Overnight bulk rise:

I use a plastic shower cap to cover the dough in the bowl however using a damp tea towel will be fine. Find a warm spot and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, this will take about 8 - 10 hours. That's why it's good to let the dough rise over night, while you are sleeping. Suggested temperatures for rising are 70 deg. F or 21 deg C. However don't lose any sleep over these temperatures being correct, just a warmish spot will be fine. 

Shape the dough:

In the morning, tip the dough onto a slightly floured bench. Using your finger tips, gently dimple the surface of the dough which will release some of the air. Roll the dough into a log, and tuck the ends underneath. Let this rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

Select a loaf pan, 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 inch) .Prepare your loaf pan by lightly coating it with butter. 

Using your lightly floured hands, tighten the shape of the dough by patting it between your hands and pulling it toward you until it will fit in the tin.

Now for the Second Rising!

This should only take 1 to 2 hours, not long at all.  Cover the dough in the loaf tin again with the shower cap. Let it rise to about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the rim of the tin. 

Preheat your oven to 230 deg. C (450 deg. F)

Time to Bake:

Add some egg wash with a pastry brush to the top of the loaf to create a shiny, brown crust. Egg wash is a simple mixture of egg and a little milk. Place the loaf tin on the centre rack of your oven and reduce the heat to 200 deg. C (400 deg F). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 

Check the loaf halfway through baking, and use alfoil to cover the loaf like a tent if the fruit is starting to brown too quickly. 

Cool the loaf in the tin for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and finish cooling the loaf before cutting into slices and spread with fresh butter.




Credit for the original recipe goes to Emilie Raffa from her book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, for the inspiration to make a delicious fruit loaf. This is a lead up to my Easter baking.Why don't you give it a try?

Happy baking

Warm wishes
Pauline

#sourdough #sourdough bread #baking #bread baking


Friday, 25 March 2022

Baked Eggplant or Aubergine with anchovies, parmesan and crunchy garlic breadcrumbs

 


These tasty baked globe eggplants or aubergines are delicious enough to be the hero and stand alone served with a salad, or will still hold their own as a part of larger banquet. This is such a delicious way to cook and serve eggplant. The peak season for growing eggplant in Queensland is from December to April, so they are still at their best right now. I was gifted these eggplant by our good friends who have a very sunny garden which really suits the growing of eggplant, so whilst the vegetables were still only a couple of days old, I needed to cook them. They need to be really fresh for this kind of recipe where they are baked and aren't cooked in a sauce. However being organic and home grown, they weren't as large or as consistent in size as those at the supermarkets. At the supermarkets they would be called the Odd Bunch, however I think they are the Perfect Bunch.

 I had spotted iconic Australian cook Maggie Beer's eggplant recipe during the week, and this was the perfect opportunity to cook it. I'm so glad I did because this is just the best way to enjoy eggplant and it's a cinch to make. I wish my photos were as good as Maggie's in the magazine though, however minus professional stylist Michele Cranston and photographer Con Poulos, it was just me, but  I'm pretty sure they taste just as good as the ones Maggie cooked. Next time though I will remember to leave the stalks on the eggplant, oops. Not that the stalk is edible, it just gives the eggplant a better shape in the photo. 

 I ate two of these for dinner, and Mr. HRK who can generally take or leave eggplant ate one and really enjoyed it. There is still a variety of opinion as to whether or not eggplant needs to be salted before cooking to remove the natural bitterness. Because these were so fresh I didn't salt them and I rarely do these days, and there was no bitterness at all.  

Let's cook:

Ingredients:

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking time 40 minutes

2 medium (600 g) eggplants

1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil 

4 (20 g) anchovies

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 cup (75 g) coarse sourdough breadcrumbs 

1/3 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated

2 tablespoons each of mint and parsley, coarsely chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 240 deg. C (220 deg. C) fan forced

With a small sharp knife, cut the eggplants in half lengthways, leaving the stalk in tact. Then remove the eggplant flesh carefully, so as not to pierce the skin of the eggplant.

Place the eggplant skins and the flesh on a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.

 Measure out 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and drizzle this over the eggplant. I also used a pastry brush to distribute the oil evenly over the eggplant shells and the flesh.

Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt and bake for 15 minutes. The skins should be crispy and the flesh tender. If the eggplants are very fresh, and hopefully they are, this might take longer than the recommended 15 minutes.

Select a small frying pan, add the remaining olive oil, and over a low heat gently cook the anchovy fillets and the garlic. This should only take a minute for the anchovy fillets to break down and the garlic to soften. You will also smell the heady aroma of the garlic and the anchovies cooking.

Add the breadcrumbs and cook for 2 minutes until they are lightly toasted in the pan. 

This is tasty enough to eat on it's own like this.

Remove the pan from the heat and combine the toasted breadcrumbs in a bowl with the cooked eggplant flesh and 1 tablespoon mint.

 
I used some extra mint because I love it.

 Spoon the eggplant mixture into the eggplant skins. Top with finely grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, and place the eggplants back in the oven for 10 minutes until golden.

When cooked, remove from the oven, place tray on a cooling rack and rest the eggplants for 5 minutes.

Before serving, add the remaining mint and the parsley to serve. I also added a few basil leaves because I grow them.

Cook's tips:

  • This dish isn't suitable to freeze
  • Small cubes of sourdough bread instead of breadcrumbs, might be an easier way to incorporate the sourdough, and works really well. One thick slice of sourdough bread cut into small squares works well, or use breadcrumbs.
  • If you really enjoy the flavour of anchovies, add another few to this recipe.
  • If your eggplant are over a few days old, draw out the natural bitterness by sprinkling them with salt and stand for 30 minutes. Rinse off the salt before you cook them. Because the ones I used were so fresh, I didn't salt them.
I just had to share a photo of my beautiful Cattleya orchid with you, I hope she brightens up your day. She is flowering on my patio at present.

Her name is: Blc. Haadyai Delight x Blc. Laddawan Beauty. I bought her from a local orchid nursery in 2021, and I am thrilled she has flowered for me again this year.


Have a wonderful weekend,

Warm wishes,
Pauline




Thursday, 24 March 2022

Simply Smoky Chilli


This Smoky vegetarian Chilli con Carne recipe has a secret ingredient, which you can't taste at the end, but is essential for the smoky flavour, along with the herbs and spices of course. The secret ingredient is espresso coffee. Mr. HRK imports green coffee beans through an Australian supplier, and then roasts them himself on an apparatus he designed to work in our outside Barbecue. Ingenious! When he is roasting the coffee beans, the aroma is intoxicating. The roasted beans then need to degas for a couple of days, if we can wait that long, although we always try to have  some roasted beans as a reserve. These coffee  beans are from Ethiopia, so the espresso coffee I was able to use for this recipe is full of flavour. 

There has been lots of publicity lately that the cost of coffee is set to rise astronomically, and when we were travelling recently we were very surprised at how a small cup of coffee can now cost up to $5.00 at some venues. At home, we rarely go out for coffee, so this isn't affecting us, except if perhaps I catch up with a friend for a coffee. I am spoiled with a very good flat white coffee every morning at home by my barista, so why would we go out for coffee? It's interesting though that the cost of buying a kilo of green coffee beans has only risen about $3 a kilo for us in the last 6 months. So where is the real markup occurring?
 
This Chilli recipe came to the rescue during the week, it was the perfect quick and simple dish to make after a trying day. All the ingredients came out of the stockpile. I realised mid-morning that my Facebook account had been hacked, first time for me, but thankfully Facebook were right onto it and helped me through the steps to rectify it. This hacking seems to be rife, as I have had similar hack messages on Messenger before from other contacts and haven't opened them. I had received a message the day before from my cousin and thought it was legitimate, and when I opened it I had that sinking feeling and realised that I would probably be the next to be hacked, and I was. Lesson learned. Then we found out that Mr. HRK needs to have sinus surgery next week, so we are isolating, as Covid is still very active in the community, and if either of us catches it, although we are fully vaccinated, his surgery will be postponed for 8 weeks. Anyway, that's ok, as I have lots of cooking, reading, gardening, piano playing and other projects planned. Besides all of that my friends, we are so fortunate to be living where we live. Autumn has arrived, the weather is beautiful, and my orchids are bursting into flower.

This recipe will be perfect for Meat Free Monday. We ate ours during the week and it was really delicious.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

 800 g canned tomatoes

800 g Black beans

2 spring onions

100 ml coffee espresso

1/2-1 teaspoon chilli powder

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 finely chopped capsicum

1/4 cup finely chopped broccoli (optional)

Preparation:

Dice the onion and mince the garlic

Ask your barista nicely to make  the coffee

Cut the spring onion into rings

Chop the capsicum finely

Chop up any other vegetables you may be using

Let's cook:

Saute the onion in olive oil on a medium heat for 3 minutes

Add the cumin, chilli, paprika powder,  garlic and cook for about 3 minutes

Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, capsicum and the coffee and simmer for 15 minutes. At this stage I added the broccoli, just because I had a little left over from a previous dish, it added a touch of colour and extra nutrition. However this is optional.

Simmer the tomato sauce for at least 15 minutes so that all the flavours can infuse. A good tomato sauce takes time.

Add the black beans. I prefer to serve this kind of dish with cooked Australian bulgur wheat, full of flavour and fibre, which I now cook in the rice cooker.  I also love to add a dollop of sour cream, some grated cheese and chopped shallots. Or you can serve the chilli with rice or bread and spring onions.

Cook's Tips:

  • The black beans bring a rich, full-bodied and earthy flavour and are full of protein and fibre.
  • If you are sensitive to chilli, start with 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon in this recipe or even use a chopped fresh green or red chilli. Even without chilli, this dish is packed with flavour and very healthy for you.
  • This dish lends itself to adding other vegetables, such as precooked eggplant (aubergine), zucchini, or broccoli. the more vegetables the better.
  • Sour cream or even yoghurt is a perfect accompaniment to serve with this dish.

I have added my ideas to this recipe, but the credit for the original idea and recipe goes to the Danish Fork Ranger blog. You can also check him out on  the Arc 2030 website.

Warm wishes,

Pauline

Saturday, 12 March 2022

In My Kitchen, March 2022

Let's start our day in the kitchen with a delicious breakfast. Large Portobello mushrooms can be prepared like toast, and that is just what I did with these. Only not toasted, but grilled. This is such an easy way to cook big, flat, fresh mushrooms. Mushrooms, goat's cheese, pine nuts, and freshly snipped chives from the garden, what's not to love about this vegetarian dish for a weekend brekkie? Add a little finely chopped garlic straight onto the mushrooms if you wish. This is also a perfect meal  for a Meat Free Monday dinner served with a delicious salad. They also make a surprisingly "meaty" accompaniment to anything from a baked potato gratin to a grain salad. 

Portobello Mushroom Toast with Goat's Cheese, Pine Nuts and Chives, a perfect breakfast treat

I try to cook mainly with vegetables that are in season, and cooking with mushrooms is an easy decision as they are available all year round now in our shops in the Southern Hemisphere. I hope it's the same for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. I'll only buy them though, if they are available unpackaged, as I don't see why they often need to be so heavily packaged in plastic. Storing them in the refrigerator crisper in a brown paper bag is the most sensible storage option.

Portobello Mushroom Toast with Goat's Cheese, Pine Nuts and Chives

Ingredients:

Serves 2

4 Portobello mushrooms 
Slurp of olive oil on each one
60 g soft goats cheese (Meredith Dairy soft goats cheese works well), or choose hard cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 handfuls of fresh chives, snipped



Method:

Turn the oven grill to high.

Place the mushrooms open side up on the baking tray, drizzle with the oil and season with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. 

Place under the grill for 3 minutes.



Remove the mushrooms from the grill, dot on the Goat's cheese and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Place the mushrooms back under the grill for a further 2 minutes until Goats cheese is further softened and pine nuts are toasted. The pine nuts need to be watched as they will burn if left under the grill for too long.

Sprinkle on the snipped chives to serve. 

Served with homemade spicy tomato relish, or any savoury relish, in my opinion these rival any meal served in a cafe for brekkie. Add delicious bread on the side if you wish.

Beef stir-fry anyone?

Given the unbelievably high price of beef at the moment, and showing respect for the mission by many that we reduce our meat intake for the sake of our own health and for the health of the planet, I now think really seriously about how I'll prepare the meat that I buy. This beef stir-fry with a citrus kick was worth the little extra effort required to take it from the level of a quick "throw all in the wok" stir fry, to one with marinated very tender beef, and delicious flavours with a kick of lime. You can find the full post on the recipe at this link. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Beef Stir-fry with a Citrus Kick

Recipe serves 4

Ingredients:

Preparation 15 minutes + 15 minutes marinating time. Cooking time: only 10 minutes because it's a quick stir fry.

400g - 500g rump steak, Scotch fillet, or even Sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain into 6 mm thick strips (marinating the meat will give very tender results). I used Rump steak.

2 tbs fish sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs vegetable oil divided

1/4 tsp cornflour

1 red capsicum, seeded and thinly sliced

200g green beans, trimmed and halved diagonally

1/2 cup (70 g) thinly sliced shallots

1 tbs finely chopped garlic

1 tbs finely chopped ginger

1 cup coriander leaves, divided

1 cup mint leaves

1 lime juiced, divided

1 tbs sugar

Steamed rice to serve

Method:

  • Prepare the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl by whisking it until the sugar dissolves. Place the sliced beef in another medium sized bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture and mix the sauce into the meat. Set the bowl of meat aside for 15 minutes to absorb the flavours. I marinated mine for 2 hours, covered the bowl and stored it in the refrigerator, until ready to use, as I had the time to do that. 
  • Whisk the cornflour into the remaining soy sauce mixture and cover.
  • Remove the beef from the bowl and pat it dry with a paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil to a large hot frying pan,  and add the beef, spreading it over the base of the pan in a single layer. Without stirring the beef or touching it, cook for 2 minutes until well browned. You can see why the pan needed to be hot to begin with. 
  • Stir fry the beef, and continue to stir and fry it for 40 seconds until cooked through. 
  • Transfer the beef now to a plate with a rim to catch the juices.
  • You are now ready to cook the vegetables. 
  • Add the remaining oil, (1 tablespoon), and the capsicum and beans and cook for 2 minutes until the vegetables soften slightly. Stir and fry the vegetables. You want them still quite crisp. Stir in the shallot, garlic and ginger,
  • Add the remaining soy sauce mixture, and the beef and the juices to the pan with the vegetables. Stir and fry for 1 minute until the beef is just heated through, the vegetables are tender, and the sauce has thickened slightly. 
  • Take your frypan from the stove and stir in half the coriander leaves, the mint leaves, and the lime juice. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to add the lime juice and at least one of the herbs.
  • To serve divide the rice among the serving bowls. Top the rice with the beef stir fry, and drizzle with the remaining lime juice and for presentation, sprinkle with the remaining mint and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with extra lime wedges if you have them
Regardless of what else is happening, I always find time to read. During a very busy time while we were away in Cairns, this book by Australian author and doctor Joanna Nell, was an interesting and relaxing read.  She navigated some of the politics in hospitals and how a dedicated group of volunteers found a way to deal with the bureaucracy. I enjoyed it. 



There's a strong synergy between a lot of what we grow in our garden, and what I cook with in my kitchen. We try to grow as much as we can given space constraints, and the time of the year. Let's face it though, growing our own produce presents challenges, and there's a lot of trial and error with growing fruit and vegetables for our own use.  However, growing what is suitable in our tropical climate is the key for us, that's not rocket science I know, even though at times we've tried growing a pomegranate tree, a finger lime tree (that should have grown well), vanilla bean vines, and other more exotic plants, but the pests and bugs can make life very difficult and know how to completely ruin our efforts. So here are a few photos of what we are having success with at the moment. These were taken before storms and showers over the last few days, and as I write this, Mr. HRK is out in the garden pruning and tidying up, and just enjoying the garden under slightly cooler conditions.

There's always a chilli bush or two growing in the garden, and it's great to be able just to pick them as needed for so many dishes I cook. If I had been in my own kitchen at home, I would have used one of these in the Beef stir-fry recipe above.


The odd bunch of chillies just picked. They still taste great though.


Edible ginger and turmeric thrive in the Summer garden in the tropics. 


The lush turmeric is flowering, and the pineapple sage in front with the pink flowers
 is such a survivor.

Our edible ginger is looking very healthy after the rain and will be ready for harvesting quite soon, however in the meantime it's great to be able to dig some up when required.


This Paw Paw tree below self seeded, so time will tell if it is bi-sexual, and actually bears fruit, or if it develops a disease such as bunchy top.I have high hopes for this one. Fingers crossed.


We have a cumquat tree, which is just beginning to flower. Can you see the small white buds on these two photos. I'm hoping that by the end of Winter there will be enough fruit to make some more 
cumquat marmalade.  It's so delicious and a precious commodity.



These are photos of some not so edible gingers growing in the garden, They bring beautiful colour, joy and biodiversity to our garden which is important.

This newly planted red ginger is growing in its own garden next to the cumquat tree.


This very happy lemon tree was the subject of a recent post of mine. I used the first lemons to make some very nice little lemon puddings.


If you missed the post about these lemon puddings here is the link to find it.


Lemon puddings with a topping of homemade lemon curd. Yum!

Our wonderful friends P & J, brought us back this bag of roasted coffee beans grown near Byron Bay. We are so excited about trying this coffee. They were in Ballina in New South Wales, and thankfully weren't trapped by the floods for too long as so many were.


A new Market basket that I bought will be very useful, when I head off to market.


I made my first sourdough loaf of bread for quite a while. Now that the weathers a bit cooler I'll get back into more baking. Bread is such a staple, and sourdough bread is good for our wellbeing. I wish I could send some bread to the people left in the Ukraine, I doubt they are in a position to be making bread. It's all so sad.


Hot off the press, we just discovered that our 15 year old Mandarin tree, was damaged during last night's storm. A large branch which is about 1/3 of the tree broke off. The tree is heavily laden with fruit, so we estimate about 100 mandarins were on that branch, and it was probably just the wind and the heaviness of the branch that caused it to break. So Mr. HRK has been busily sawing off the remaining branch. I am hoping I can salvage some of the green fruit to make jam or something else. Do you have any ideas? There is a hint of yellow on some of the fruit so they are beginning to ripen. If a cold snap comes during Winter, the remaining mandarins on the tree should be nice and sweet.

The broken branch to the left




I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event. If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month. Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens.

Watch this space for an update on our backyard Italian beehive, in a future post. There's been a lot of activity in the bee world in our back garden.

That's all for this edition my friends, there is work to do in the garden.
Have a nice weekend.

Warm wishes,
Pauline



Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Little Lemon Puddings


This lemon pudding dessert is the perfect finish to a delicious meal, tangy, lemony, citrussy, light and satisfying. My recipe celebrates the start of the lemon season for us from our backyard. The lemons on our potted lemon tree are now ready to be picked, and this lemon pudding is the perfect way to enjoy them. It's only a small tree with a small crop but growing very well in it's pot, located in full sun next to the bird bath. The lemons are large and very juicy and rather thin skinned. Whilst I adore Lemon Delicious self saucing pudding ,when lots of bush lemons are available, these little puddings are a nice variation using homemade lemon curd for the sauce. I prefer to make my own lemon curd, and as I still have a few jars in the freezer from last year, this recipe came together very simply. My recipe for Microwave Lemon Curd is at this link, (originally the wonderful Lorraine's recipe from 
(Not Quite Nigella) or good quality lemon curd can also be purchased from the stores and will work just as well. Please don't feel pressured to make your own.

Our little potted lemon tree. These precious lemons will be used for special recipes

Before cooking this recipe, ensure the ingredients are at room temperature.  I like to  pop these puddings into the oven at the same time as the main course is being served. They can cook while we are eating.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (140g) home made or good-quality lemon curd

125 g softened unsalted butter, with extra for greasing

125 g caster sugar

125 g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Custard to serve

Method:

Makes 6 puddings

Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C and grease six 1 cup (250ml) ramekins well with melted butter.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of lemon curd into the bottom of each dish. Place the ramekin dishes out of the way on your bench until needed.

Assemble your food processor, and add the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder, eggs and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Add the lemon juice, and give the batter a quick whiz until well mixed.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins, filling each dish to 3/4 full up the sides of each dish. 

Use a knife to gently smooth the tops of the batter.

Place the ramekins on a thick baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

When cooked, remove the whole baking tray from the oven. Carefully take the dishes off the tray,  and  ease the sponge cake away from the edges of each dish using a table or palette knife, or a small spatula.

Select 6 serving dishes, small bowls or plates, and carefully tip each pudding onto the plates. Spoon any remaining lemon curd from the ramekins over the cakes.

Serve immediately with warm custard, or thickened cream.

Cook's tips:

  • I suggest in the recipe to use 1 cup ramekins for baking these puddings. If you are serving a large main meal beforehand, I think you could use 3/4 cup ramekins and your guest would be happy. To be honest, I only have 4 of the 1 cup ramekins, so to test out the sizes, I also used 2 extra 3/4 cup ramekin's and this size was large enough for me to eat. So if you use the smaller 3/4 cup oven proof ramekins, this recipe could be stretched to feed 8 people. Also if you have plenty of lemon curd, add 2 tablespoons instead of two, but one is still delicious.
  • These puddings tip out from the ramekins very easily into the individual serving dishes, so don't worry about that being a problem. Just butter the baking ramekins well. However, the puddings can be topped up with custard or cream in the pots they are baked in, and eaten straight from the ramekins, if you don't have enough small serving dishes, or you want to be very casual. I found that there are rewards to be enjoyed with eating the puddings straight from the baking ramekins, the lemon curd at the base of the pot seems all the more intensely special. The dishes and the puddings will be hot though. 

When I first saw this recipe in a Delicious Australia Magazine, I knew I would have to make it. If you already have some lemon curd on hand, this is the easiest recipe to bring together. All of the cake ingredients are already in a home cook's pantry. If you don't have a food processor, well it could be whizzed up in a normal cake mixer such as a Kitchen Aid.

Up here in tropical Queensland we are still struggling with an unprecedented hot Summer/Autumn, and with no rain despite the promised storms. We are not complaining though, well not too much, when we see what is happening in the Ukraine, in the depths of Winter. Every morning and evening, the world news brings us more distressing news,  however it was quite miraculous to see yesterday on the news that an older lady escaped the Ukraine by various perilous means, and made it safely to Australia to the city we live in, Mackay. She is now reunited with her daughter and Australian family. That was so lovely to see.

I hope you enjoy this recipe my friends, it is a good one, and baking it gave me a lot of pleasure, as did eating it:) We started with six just for the two of us, and there is now one left to be shared, perhaps. Mr. HRK has really enjoyed them.

Warm wishes

Pauline




Saturday, 5 March 2022

Beef Stir-Fry with a Citrus Kick



My stir-fry will tantalise your taste buds, delivering a citrus kick to Aussie beef, crisp veggies, and fresh herbs. This meal has everything. Generally when I cook a stir-fry, it is because I am short on time. I cook the meat in the wok, whether it is beef, chicken or pork, remove it while I add the vegetables, ginger and garlic, add the meat back into the pan with some soy sauce and perhaps another Asian sauce, stir fry it until the vegetables are ready and that's it. It's always tasty, but now that I have made this recipe using lime juice in addition to soy sauce and fish sauce, and marinating the beef, there's no going back for me to a simple stir-fry. And when I buy my limes for a stir-fry, I might just buy a couple of extra for Gin and Tonics for us to enjoy as an aperitif before I start cooking. It doesn't get much better than that.

Sometimes it's Mr. HRK that cooks the stir-fry in the wok, outside in our BBQ area on the patio while I prepare everything in readiness. This time, because a little bit more of an effort was required, and I was still cooking in my beautiful daughter's kitchen, I prepared and cooked this meal. We were all thrilled with the result. 

We are home now, and the temperatures up here in North Queensland are soaring to 37 deg. C. some days. We are running our air-conditioner almost 24/7, however if we turn it off for a few hours in the morning and keep the house closed up, it stays beautifully cool. We can't ever remember the humidity or the temperatures being so continuously high here in Mackay, and with no real rain forecast for us, although it must be coming. However, south Eastern Queensland and now Northern New South Wales have been absolutely hammered by the recent rain event and have suffered significant devastation, and those poor people affected are now cleaning out their flooded homes and salvaging what belongings they can. The badly affected have lost almost everything. The Australian Army is spreading themselves thin trying to help those in need to clean up, as are available and well meaning residents and volunteers not as badly affected. It is all very sobering. I fear that these extreme weather events will be exacerbated as a consequence of the developing climate change scenario.

This recipe is my twist on one that I saw in a recent Coles monthly supermarket recipe book, originating from our very own Aussie chef Curtis Stone, who was wanting to move back to Australia from Covid stricken Los Angeles. I'm not sure if he has or not. These catalogues tend to promote the supermarket's  own home brand product, which isn't necessary to produce a a great result, and the photographs are always nice and inspiring. This recipe is perfect to cook during the Australian Summer, although it is no longer Summer, but the beginning of Autumn. Bring on the Autumn temperatures, please.

Recipe serves 4

Ingredients:

Preparation 15 minutes + 15 minutes marinating time. Cooking time: only 10 minutes because it's a quick stir fry.

400g - 500g rump steak, Scotch fillet, or even Sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain into 6 mm thick strips (marinating the meat will give very tender results). I used Rump steak.

2 tbs fish sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs vegetable oil divided

1/4 tsp cornflour

1 red capsicum, seeded and thinly sliced

200g green beans, trimmed and halved diagonally

1/2 cup (70 g) thinly sliced shallots

1 tbs finely chopped garlic

1 tbs finely chopped ginger

1 cup coriander leaves, divided

1 cup mint leaves

1 lime juiced, divided

1 tbs sugar

Steamed rice to serve

Method:

  • Prepare the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl by whisking it until the sugar dissolves. Place the sliced beef in another medium sized bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture and mix the sauce into the meat. Set the bowl of meat aside for 15 minutes to absorb the flavours. I marinated mine for 2 hours, covered the bowl and stored it in the refrigerator, until ready to use, as I had the time to do that. 
  • Whisk the cornflour into the remaining soy sauce mixture and cover.
  • Remove the beef from the bowl and pat it dry with a paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil to a large hot frying pan,  and add the beef, spreading it over the base of the pan in a single layer. Without stirring the beef or touching it, cook for 2 minutes until well browned. You can see why the pan needed to be hot to begin with. 
  • Stir fry the beef, and continue to stir and fry it for 40 seconds until cooked through. 
  • Transfer the beef now to a plate with a rim to catch the juices.
  • You are now ready to cook the vegetables. 
  • Add the remaining oil, (1 tablespoon), and the capsicum and beans and cook for 2 minutes until the vegetables soften slightly. Stir and fry the vegetables. You want them still quite crisp. Stir in the shallot, garlic and ginger,
  • Add the remaining soy sauce mixture, and the beef and the juices to the pan with the vegetables. Stir and fry for 1 minute until the beef is just heated through, the vegetables are tender, and the sauce has thickened slightly. 
  • Take your frypan from the stove and stir in half the coriander leaves, the mint leaves, and half the lime juice. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to add the lime juice and at least one of the herbs.
  • To serve divide the rice among the serving bowls. Top the rice with the beef stir fry, and drizzle with the remaining lime juice and for presentation, sprinkle with the remaining mint and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with extra lime wedges if you have them
Cook's Notes:
  • Please believe me, the lime juice adds a delicious zing and kick to this beef stir fry.
  • If you are having trouble finding fresh produce in the supermarkets or markets at the moment because of recent weather events, frozen beans added toward the end of cooking will be fine.
  • The quality of the beef will be much better if you buy it whole and slice it yourself. For a stir fry buy the steak or fillet as a whole piece, and slice it yourself, or buy from a reputable butcher and ask them to slice it for you. I have never had great results with beef that I have  purchased already sliced from a supermarket, which is being sold as stir-fry beef. 
  • Using coriander and mint leaves will produce superior flavours, however the first time I made this I only had mint on hand, and it still tasted amazingly good.
  • Please don't skimp on the lime juice, it's a game changer.
  • Whilst I love to generally cook brown rice or even cracked bulgur wheat whenever I can as a side for health reasons, with a stir fry like this one, white rice is the perfect accompaniment.
  • Marinating the beef for up to 2 hours before cooking, ensures very tender meat for a stir fry and is packed with flavour.
  • 400g of beef might be enough for you if you aren't big eaters, but I used 500g. 
  • If you are time poor, 15 minutes marinating the beef will be ok, however if you have plenty of time, marinate the beef for up to 2 hours before cooking for maximum flavour and tenderness.

We are being careful with what we eat at the moment, with low calorie meals being the preferred choice during the week. Stir-frys are a perfect option for healthy eating. Here's the breakdown per serve for you if you are interested:

Per serve:----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Calories: 309/ 1292 KJ, Protein 28g (56%),Fat 16g (23%),Sodium 1763mg (88%),Carb 12g (4%),Sugar 10g (11%),Dietary fibre 6g (20%)

Warmest wishes,

Pauline