Saturday, 30 April 2022

Orange and Barley Salad followed by Coconut Lime Syrup Cake, it's a citrussy kind of day

This grain salad has citrussy hints of Spring cooking with orange and lemon, however in Sunny Queensland even in Autumn it is a beautiful Autumnal salad. If it's warm weather where you live, and you feel like eating a nutritious and delicious salad this is the one for you. It can be paired with any meat or poultry easily cooked on the barbecue for dinner, however we have enjoyed it just with a green salad for lunch, delicious. It's easy to go vegetarian or vegan with this salad if you wish, it's up to you. The servings are perfect for two people, so just increase the ingredient amounts accordingly if catering for more people.

Just throwing a different light on this salad

Ingredients:

Serves 2

1/2 (100 g) cup pearl barley

1 1/3 cups (375 ml) of water, or chicken or vegetable stock

3 tablespoons currants

1/2 cup (125 ml) verjuice or water

1/3 cup (55 g) slivered almonds

1 orange, in thin slices, with seeds removed and each slice cut into 8 pieces

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon almond oil 

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped mint

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled Persian fetta

Method: 

Place the little currants in a small bowl, cover with the verjuice or water and stand to rehydrate while the barley is cooking.

Cover the barley well with the stock or water and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce to a simmer, and cover and cook gently for 40 - 50 minutes until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Strain the barley, and place in a bowl with all the remaining ingredients, and combine well.

Serve with crumbled fetta on top,  more chopped herbs, or fish or grilled chicken or just serve on it's own with a salad. It will be delicious with any of these options.

Cooks notes:

The almonds bring a lovely nuttiness to this salad. You might prefer more crunch by using whole almonds,lightly toasted and coarsely chopped. I used what I had on hand.

It's well worth using the verjuice to soak the currants for extra flavour.

I added mint to this recipe as well as parsley, because I have it growing in a pot, never the garden, and the more fresh herbs the better I say. However don't stress if you don't have mint, it will still be very tasty.

I love the fruitiness of this salad, however if you don;t like fruit in salads like a close member of our family, leave out the orange.

After eating salad for lunch we needed some afternoon tea, which means cake. Continuing with the light and summery fruity theme, this Coconut Lime Syrup cake was perfect. To be honest, I had made it for my Mahjong ladies the day before, delivered a few slices to the door of a lovely friend and her husband who had Covid, and still had a couple of slices left for us to enjoy.

This is a refresh of a previous post I wrote about this cake a few years ago, new photos, but I make this cake quite often when in a hurry, and it never disappoints. 

Coconut Lime Syrup Cake

This cake has become such a firm favourite of ours and is timeless. We first tasted it at the Groove CafĂ© on Ipswich Road in Annerley, Brisbane, Queensland, when we were out having coffee quite a few years ago. I really hope this cafe has survived the Covid restrictions. We wanted to try out the Groove, as it had won numerous awards, had an excellent menu, and was unpretentious but served good food.

I searched and found this recipe which is pretty close to the original, and is such an easy cake to make, with no appliances needed except a saucepan on the stove to concoct the sensational sweet lime syrup. It is moist, light and citrussy, perfect for our hot summers and for any time of year really. Have I got you thinking about cake?

COCONUT LIME SYRUP CAKE

Ingredients:

125g butter, chopped
3 eggs, beaten at room temperature
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 1/4 cups desiccated coconut

Delectable Lime syrup ingredients:

3 limes (1/2 cup lime juice)
Grated lime rind
1/2 cup white sugar

Let's cook:
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C. Lightly grease and line a 6cm deep, 22cm (base) springform cake pan with baking paper.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat or heat uncovered in the microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for 1 to 2 minutes until almost melted. Transfer to a bowl and stand for 1 minute to sightly cool. Add eggs and milk. Stir until combined.

Combine sifted flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl. Add milk and egg mixture. Stir to combine. Spread mixture into pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.



Lime Syrup: 

Combine 1/2 cup lime juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Stir in grated lime rind.



Pour hot lime syrup over hot cake. Allow cake to cool in pan before releasing the sides of the cake pan. Cut into slices and serve. 

I read somewhere as well that for a special occasion and perhaps for dessert, a nip of gin can be added to the Lime syrup, which sounds perfect to me. I think the next time I make this cake I will try this, and enjoy a Gin and Tonic with a slice of lime at the same time. After 4 pm of course.

Warm wishes
Pauline












Thursday, 28 April 2022

Paprika Chicken Traybake with Fennel and Chickpeas (or Cannellini Beans), perfect for a mid-week dinner

Fennel, cream, paprika, garlic and oregano are the basis of a delicious sauce for this traybake. The delicate aniseed notes of fennel, subtly shine through this dish when cooked. When I was buying chicken pieces with no particular menu plan in mind, I took what I could buy, as chicken was still in short supply at the supermarket because of the Queensland floods and short staffing everywhere due to Covid. So I came home with three chicken legs and a chicken Maryland, which is plenty of chicken for a meal for the two of us and for leftovers the following day. When I saw this recipe a little later, it reminded me of the forgotten Chicken Maryland in the freezer, and also looked like a very tasty and easy mid-week traybake which was what I needed. The creamy fennel sauce is light but full of flavour and overall I was pretty thrilled with this meal.

Anytime is a good time to cook a traybake in my opinion, and especially when entertaining it's such an easy option, without any compromise at all on flavour. After all are there any cooks who don't appreciate being able to pop an easily assembled tray bake in the oven after a busy day? I substituted 200 g of cannellini beans which were leftover in the refrigerator instead of chick peas and they were a very tasty combination. I often have small amounts of chickpeas, lentils, barley and beans left over from other dishes, and they are often interchangeable when cooking. There is also plenty of the sauce for leftovers. Mr. HRK who is generally very hungry by dinnertime thought that being given a whole Chicken Maryland was a bit too much for him which surprised me, so when I bake this one again I'll use chicken thighs or breasts instead. However your hungry guests might appreciate a Chicken Maryland to eat.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in, or chicken breasts, or chicken legs, or a combination ( I allow 2 pieces of chicken per person) 

 1 medium fennel bulb, (abut 380 g) chopped and trimmed

2 garlic cloves, crushed

400 g can chickpeas (garbanzos) or white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

1 cup (250 ml) pouring cream

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup oregano leaves

Store bought Dukkah to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 250 deg. C (485 deg. F)

Place the chopped chickpeas or cannellini beans, fennel, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a deep-sided roasting pan. 

Add the stock and cream and mix to combine.

With a pastry brush, coat the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Position the chicken on top of the fennel mixture. 

Cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

To serve, sprinkle with fresh oregano and dukkah. This Native saltbush dukkah was a gift from our good friends,and was very tasty sprinkled over the chicken.


This recipe is originally from the very clever Australian cook, #Donna Hay, however I have changed a few things as we do.

We have  a vegetable garden growing well throughout Winter most years, and those of you reading this who live in the Northern Hemisphere will quietly chuckle when you realise that when you are busily starting to plant in your Spring after a very cold Winter, we are planting over here in Autumn. Summer is too hot here to grow most vegetables. This dish has reminded me to plant some fennel and dill in my garden for this Winter, as whilst I have managed to grow fennel before, it's not a vegetable crop that the tropics or sub-tropics is known for. Once the humidity of Spring and Summer starts, the fennel and dill crops develop a white powdered mildew, which is always very disappointing. However fennel thrives in the Mediterranean.

Warm wishes,

Pauline








Saturday, 23 April 2022

Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon Fruit Shrub


The idea for this refreshing drink started when we had an abundance of mandarins from our tree in our front yard. Some of you may remember a large branch broke off this tree recently during a storm. A couple of weeks later it was obvious the fruit needed to be picked, as the fruit was very juicy  even though the skin was still green. 

We then went to the local Farmers Markets and bought some Rough Leaf pineapples which were very sweet and juicy as well. Combining mandarin and pineapple juices into a fruit shrub seemed an obvious pairing to us, but then how about adding herbs for extra flavour. Tarragon is growing and flowering beautifully in our garden at present, so if the mandarins are ready for juicing and the tarragon is also in season and plentiful, let's combine them as well. As a result I brewed up a delicious Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon fruit Shrub.

A Shrub for drinking that is, is a way of preserving excess fruit and their juices using Apple Cider Vinegar as the preservative, and sugar.These are also called Drinking Vinegars, where the Acetic Acid in the vinegar acts as the preservative. The best Apple Cider Vinegar to use is Organic, Raw, and Unpasteurised available from most Supermarkets and Health Food shops these days. Apple Cider Vinegar is a Fermented food, and there is a lot of evidence to support that it is very good for us.

 Various historical accounts tell us that early Sailors from colonial America and England carried drinkable shrub on board their vessels to prevent scurvy. Consequently, the "shrub" was one of America's first drinks, as it was shelf stable without requiring chilling, water was mostly unsafe and the drink was healthy. It also probably gained popularity during the Temperance Movement in the U.S. The invention of refrigeration meant it no longer needed to be used as a preservative without refrigeration. Shrubs are now very popular to use in Cocktail Bars as mixers. It also makes a zingy refreshing drink, with just a tablespoon or two  mixed with cold Soda Water on ice, or sparkling Mineral water or just plain cold water on a warm day and the syrup will keep in the refrigerator tightly sealed for about 6 months. You can be as elegant or as simple as you wish when concocting a shrub, and there are plenty of recipes available.

Making shrub is a little like making jams, use equal amounts of sugar to blended fruits, and then add the same amount again of the Vinegar of your choice. This recipe is for a large quantity of fruit, however it is an easy calculation to work out the ingredients for a smaller quantity of fruit.

Ingredients: 

6 cups blended mandarin fruit

2 cups blended pineapple

10 sprigs Tarragon 

8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar

8 cups White granulated sugar

Method:

For this quantity, select a large pot.

Peel your mandarin and remove the white pith

Chop each piece of fruit into 8ths, remove seeds, and gradually add fruit to the blender, until you almost have a liquid. Add fruit to the pot you are using.

Follow the same method for the pineapple. However chop the pineapple into pieces, blend, and add to the saucepan.

To each cup of fruit liquid, add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of good quality Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix the fruit, vinegar and sugar together.

Add the Tarragon. NO need to chop up the tarragon.

Place the saucepan on the stove, and bring the fruity mixture to the boil

After it has boiled, strain mixture through a fine mesh colander into a large jug or bowl. You will then need to pour or ladle  your shrub from the jug into other sterilised bottles.

To remove the last of the juice from the remaining fruit pulp, bash it with a wooden spoon to extract the juice. Strain this liquid into a sterilised container.

The fruit pulp left over is also delicious to eat with ice-cream, or other fruits.

Apologies my friends if you have already seen this post. I posted it on my In My Kitchen recently, and I just realised that it was on my blog in draft form. So I'm publishing it which will mean it will be easier for me to find as well in the future when I make it again, and I will be making it again next year when we have more mandarins.

Pauline







Friday, 22 April 2022

Crunchy ANZAC biscuits and the Scent of Rosemary

Baking the iconic Aussie Anzac biscuit is an annual tradition, and a wonderful way to commemorate Anzac Day. With a respect for tradition, these must be called biscuits, not cookies. It's almost Anzac Day, always the 25th of April in Australia,  and a long weekend, when we remember the soldiers and family members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, those who also fought during World War II, the Vietnamese War, and others who bravely went away to war to defend our freedom, and also those who are still serving in many capacities to protect our country. 

 Whether you like your Anzac biscuits chewy or crunchy, both are achievable  by following a couple of different procedures. I prefer mine on the crunchy side, and as I live in a more humid environment on the Queensland tropical coast, I opt to bake the crunchy type of biscuit as after a couple of days if they last that long, the biscuits can become a bit chewy anyway because of the humidity, so it's best to start crispy. Either crispy or chewy, they are still delicious. My biscuits tend to be crisp on the outside, and a little chewy in the centre.

 Whilst I'm talking about the weather, it's well known that in our part of the world Anzac Day will more often than not be wet and rainy, it's always been that way. There's a lot of rain around the North East Coast of Australia at the moment, and this morning when I made these biscuits with rain showers still hovering around, I was thinking nostalgically of all those years when our children were still at school, and they would all proudly participate in the Anzac Day March through the City Centre with their school, sometimes in the rain. And we would stand there proudly as parents, watching them all march. 

To achieve crunchy Anzac biscuits if that's your preference, there are just a few steps to follow:-

  • Bake them at a higher temperature, 180 deg. which is a moderate oven
  • Use white caster sugar
  • And some cooks say to use vegetable shortening rather than butter, however I always use butter.
If you like them chewy, just bake them at a lower temperature and use brown sugar instead of white sugar, 

Anzac biscuits can spread during baking, so to ensure that doesn't happen, I now leave them in the frig on the baking tray to chill  for at least 15 minutes before baking.

Let's bake:

Grease two oven trays, and line with baking paper
Makes 25 biscuits

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats (90 g)
1 cup plain flour (150 g)
1 cup white caster sugar (220 g)
3/4  cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125g butter
2 tablespoons hot water, just off the boil
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Method:
  • Melt the butter over a low heat in a small saucepan and then add the syrup
  • Combine bicarbonate of soda and water and add to the melted butter and syrup. 
  • Combine the oats, sifted flour, sugar, salt and coconut together in a large separate bowl
  • Add the frothy syrup and butter mixture to the dry ingredients while still warm
  • If the mixture seems to be a bit too wet, just add a little extra flour and mix into the dough until it is a good consistency to form into balls. Or add a little water if it is too dry
  • Place a tablespoon of the biscuit mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, about 5 cm apart
  • Press down the biscuits slightly with a fork which may need to be dipped in flour, until they are the shape and size that you want. This is important if you proceed with the next step, of chilling them in the refrigerator
  • Place your  biscuit trays filled with biscuits in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, this will stop the biscuits from spreading on the tray which can happen with Anzac biscuits
  • Bake in a moderate oven, 180 deg. C, for 15 minutes until nicely browned. They will crisp up when they are taken out of the oven to cool. Leave them to cool on the biscuit tray until they firm up, as they will be quite delicate when hot out of the oven. If your oven is a really hot one though, reduce the temperature slightly for cooking.

This recipe made 25 biscuits exactly this morning and they are so delicious with a cup of tea.


Sprigs of rosemary are often worn by Australians on Anzac Day, as symbolic of the sacrifices made by the Anzacs during World War 1 at Gallipoli. Rosemary can be found growing wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and I have a thriving bush of it in our front yard.

Everyone has their own memories of family members and friends who they have lost as a result of war, and by commemorating Anzac Day and those who are now gone, we are hopefully reminding future generations of the futility of war. It has never been more important than now, don't you think?  When the Last Post plays on the bugle during the Anzac Day Dawn Service and throughout  Anzac Day, I always think of my wonderful Dad  who died too young as a result of World War II injuries in New Guinea, and I shed a quiet tear.

 Lest We Forget.

Thanks for dropping by,

Pauline









Wednesday, 13 April 2022

In My Kitchen, April 2022

There's a buzz in the air, not only from our happy Italian bees, but also as the weather cools down here, school is on holidays, and the Easter holidays are reuniting families around the globe. It's one of my favourite times of the year. We rarely travel away at Easter on the roads, and it is wonderful to be able to look forward to family arriving tomorrow. The refrigerator is full of food, ready to assemble, and we are aiming for a relaxed time together. 

I am joining Sherry at Sherry's Kitchen for her monthly and global In My Kitchen, and the sharing of this post to IMK. Today is the deadline to submit this post, so let's start writing. However, our thoughts and prayers are with those in the Ukraine as the madness continues over there, and hoping that over Easter we will see some resolution to this madness. And then there's the politics and impending election in our country, let's not go there.

On a sweeter and happier note, I made a batch of Ginger Nuts, these biscuits were crisp and spicy, just how we like them. I love to bake biscuits, and cakes too of course, with some of my favourite music playing in the background, these were out of the oven in no time at all.





A birthday celebration was a wonderful excuse to make this Avocado, Lime and Coconut Cheesecake. Locally produced Shepard Avocados are in season here in North Queensland, and I am using them whenever I can. They will start disappearing from our stores around the end of April, to be replaced by the Haas avocados, which often come over the ditch from New Zealand and are more perishable. My regular readers saw this cheesecake post and made some lovely comments, however if you missed the recipe and back story you can find it here at this link.


A Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon Shrub. it's a juicy story


One of our favourite times, at the end of the day is to sit outside in the courtyard enjoying a long cool drink. The idea for this refreshing drink started when we had an abundance of mandarins from our tree in our front yard. Some of you may remember a large branch broke off this tree recently during a storm. A couple of weeks later it was obvious the remaining fruit needed to be picked, as they were very juicy  even though the skin was still green. 

We had been to the local Farmers Markets and bought some Rough Leaf pineapples which were very sweet and juicy as well. Combining mandarin and pineapple juices into a fruit shrub seemed an obvious pairing to us, but then how about adding herbs for extra flavour. Tarragon is growing and flowering beautifully in our garden at present, so if the mandarins are ready for juicing and the tarragon is also in season and plentiful, let's combine them as well. As a result I brewed up a delicious Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon fruit Shrub. Perfect to drink as a refreshing afternoon cocktail.

A Shrub for drinking that is, is a way of preserving excess fruit and their juices using Apple Cider Vinegar as the preservative, and sugar.These are also called Drinking Vinegars, where the Acetic Acid in the vinegar acts as the preservative. The best Apple Cider Vinegar to use is Organic, Raw, and Unpasteurised available from most Supermarkets and Health Food shops these days. Apple Cider Vinegar is a Fermented food, and there is a lot of evidence to support that it is very good for us.

 A little history lesson? Various historical accounts tell us that early Sailors from colonial America and England carried drinkable shrub on board their vessels to prevent scurvy. Consequently, the "shrub" was one of America's first drinks, as it was shelf stable without requiring chilling, water was mostly unsafe and the drink was healthy. It also probably gained popularity during the Temperance Movement in the U.S. The invention of refrigeration meant it no longer needed to be used as a preservative without refrigeration. Shrubs are now very popular to use in Cocktail Bars as mixers. It also makes a zingy refreshing drink, with just a tablespoon or two  mixed with cold Soda Water on ice, or sparkling Mineral water or just plain cold water on a warm day and the syrup will keep in the refrigerator tightly sealed for about 6 months. You can be as elegant or as simple as you wish when concocting a shrub, and there are plenty of recipes available.

Making shrub is a little like making jams, use equal amounts of sugar to blended fruits, and then add the same amount again of the Vinegar of your choice. This recipe is for a large quantity of fruit, however it is an easy calculation to work out the ingredients for a smaller amount of fruit. This is how I made shrub.

Ingredients: 

6 cups blended mandarin fruit

2 cups blended pineapple

10 sprigs Tarragon 

8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar

8 cups White granulated sugar

Method:

For this quantity, select a large pot.

Peel your mandarin and remove the white pith

Chop each piece of fruit into 8ths, remove seeds, and gradually add fruit to the blender, until you almost have a liquid. Add fruit to the pot you are using.

Follow the same method for the pineapple. However chop the pineapple into pieces, blend, and add to the saucepan.

To each cup of fruit liquid, add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of good quality Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix the fruit, vinegar and sugar together.

Add the Tarragon. NO need to chop up the tarragon.

Place the saucepan on the stove, and bring the fruity mixture to the boil

After it has boiled, strain mixture through a fine mesh colander into a large jug or bowl. You will then need to pour or ladle  your shrub from the jug into other sterilised bottles.

To remove the last of the juice from the remaining fruit pulp, bash it with a wooden spoon to extract the juice. Strain this liquid into a sterilised container.

The fruit pulp left over is also delicious, but very sweet. You could enjoy it spooned over ice cream or through yoghurt at home.

Sourdough Baking

I've started sourdough baking again over the last few weeks and I'm loving it. I had a break from it for a while during the heat, however when my sourdough Mother is in the refrigerator, she needs to be fed at least weekly and thankfully she has stayed healthy and well as any good sourdough Mother should. I have three jars now, just in case. I'm going to try and dry some so if any Aussies would like some of my Mother let me know. We love to share.

Fruit and Nut Sourdough Toast 

This was absolutely delicious, and made great toast.

The recipe and story for this fruit loaf can be found here at this link:

Phew, I'm realising it has been a busy month. Mr HRK had more sinus surgery, and now he's very excited to have his sense of taste and smell back. It's just so great to see him enjoying the taste of my cooking, and to be able to smell the bread that's cooking, and the dishes on the stove. We take so much for granted when we can taste and smell wonderful food.

Did I mention bread? I'll post my favourite Sourdough bread recipe shortly, but on a day to day basis I like to bake a sandwich loaf  and let it rise overnight, so we have a cooked loaf  ready by lunchtime at the latest, sometimes brunch. I don't own a bread maker, I'm it, so each loaf can be different, but always delicious.


Risen, and ready for the oven

A bread loaf, decked out in her shower cap, ready for an overnight rise.

Another loaf using different flours, which looks quite different. Both were delicious though.


When time is short, this is one of my very favourite mid-week and healthy meals.
Bulgur wheat Risotto and with Chicken and Artichokes, is so very tasty and healthy, and low calorie and versatile. This time I added some left over broccoli, and some char grilled capsicum. If you prefer vegetarian, substitute some haloumi cheese for the chicken. You can find the recipe here. I love using bulgur wheat in my cooking. I also used half and half chicken stock and verjuice. Very tasty.

I haven't been out and bought any new stuff for my kitchen, it seems to have been too busy,  but are you like me and generally find nice things to buy when on holiday?

Last but not least this eggplant dish was delicious. Eggplants are finished in my garden with Winter just around the corner.

 Eggplant with Anchovies and crunchy breadcrumbs. You can find the recipe here at this link:

My beautiful Cattleya orchid, Rsc. Village Chief Armani "Red Dragon" is in flower for Easter. Such a beautiful surprise, I will enjoy her fragrance and colour this Easter.

Happy Easter everyone, from team Happy Retirees Kitchen, have a wonderful time over the holidays with family and friends. Safe travels if that's what you are doing. I'll be back after the holidays.

Pauline.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

The Freshest Coconut and Lime Ceviche for Easter

 

This Easter, if you like to enjoy Seafood on Good Friday as we do, why not make some   Ceviche for a seafood treat, it's fresh fish with a zing. Ceviche is typically made from very fresh raw fish which is "cooked" or cured in citrus juices such as lime or lemon. With other ingredients added such as fresh herbs and spices, it is a delicious, light and zingy starter for any meal, or can stand alone with a fresh salad as the delicious main meal. We used a very fresh fillet of Kingfish, about 500g, trimmed and cut into 1 cm cubes. The fillet needs to be at least 1 cm thick. However any firm white-fleshed fish could be used. With this recipe, the actual cooking of the fish is the easy part, as the acidulant in the lime juice  “cooks the raw fish

It is important to save your energy for finding a really good seafood distributor this Easter as the freshness of the fish is paramount to the success of this dish. According to Alasdair Nicolson, the talented Executive Chef at Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island, the safest way to ensure the freshest fish is to buy a whole fish and fillet it yourself, or go fishing to your favourite spot, as he often likes to do in the pristine waters around stunning Lord Howe Island. Or ask your seafood supplier to fillet the freshest fish available, after you have selected one that you like. Filleting a whole fish at home requires some experience and a very sharp knife. 

Ceviche might sound a bit fancy, but it really is a cinch to make with no real fish cooking involved, and you will be delighted with the result. This is a restaurant worthy dish that you can make in your own home.

Ingredients for  the Dressing for Ceviche crushed in a Mortar and pestle

1/2 bunch of Coriander and roots, washed and finely chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass
1 Clove of garlic
4 Kaffir Lime Leaves, finely chopped
2 chopped chillies, finely chopped ( not the hot variety)
Pound the above ingredients in a Mortar and Pestle or mince finely in a food processor

Cooking marinade

2 tablespoons of Nampla Fish sauce (or any other good brand)
Juice of 2 limes
(Fish Sauce and Lime juice needs to be balanced. i.e. same quantity of each, depending on how juicy the limes are)
Little bit of sugar, according to your taste
Kara brand Coconut Cream

Method:

Mix the Fish Sauce with the Lime juice and add the other finely crushed fresh ingredients to it to make the Sauce which will cook the fish.

Add the Sauce to the raw cubed fish in a bowl just before eating. The fish shouldn't be left to marinate too long in this mixture as it will completely cook the fish which we don't want.

 Then add about 2 tablespoons of Kara Coconut Cream to the fish mixture. This particular brand won’t separate as some Coconut Cream does when mixed with citrus juices and curry pastes. (This brand is also very good when making ice-cream)

Decorate your Ceviche with peanuts and black and white sesame seeds, and garnish to finish with sprigs of fresh mint and coriander.

For the Lord Howe back story and original post for this recipe click on this link.

Happy Easter to you all,

Best wishes

Pauline


Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Avocado, Lime and Coconut Cheesecake

 

This avocado cheesecake is creamy, tangy with lime, and beautifully garnished with fresh berries. It's cinch to make, and only the lime syrup needs to be cooked. I've used a Shepard avocado for this delicious  dessert cheesecake. They bring a creaminess which blends with the cream cheese beautifully.  They fill the Avocado gap at the start of the year  between when the Haas avocados aren't available but which reappear in May. The Shepard is perfect for cooking with, as once ripe, they won't oxidise when cut and will keep beautifully in the refrigerator for up to a week without going brown, unlike the Haas variety which browns and goes mushy very quickly, and needs to be mixed with lime or lemon juice pretty much straight away.  Have I already said that nowhere else in the world except Queensland and perhaps northern New South Wales, produces this unique Avocado, the Shepard? Avocados are so versatile, and are a brilliant ingredient in desserts.

 We might not be able to feed the Whole Planet with avocados all of the time, I wish we could, but here in Queensland, Northern Australia, we are revelling in them.The beautiful avocado is a little maligned at times by well meaning Climate Change scientists who maintain growing avocados is detrimental to the environment because of their high dependence on water and the number of road miles they need to travel to reach their destination for commercial sale. This might be correct in the Northern Hemisphere and remote regions of our country, however in Queensland, the Shepard avocadoes are in season at present, and avocado trees can be seen growing very well along the East Coast and up on the Atherton Tablelands, as a valuable, profitable and nutritious crop. Heck, a lot of Queenslanders even have an avocado tree or two growing in their large backyard. If we as consumers are clever about it, we can buy avocados from a supplier such as a local IGA or fruit market, which buys direct from the farmer, meaning the avocado isn't undergoing lots of road miles to reach the point of sale. 

Shepard avocados which have been sitting in my frig ripe, for 3 days now. The skin in this photo looks a lot darker than it actually is

Let's make a cheesecake:

Serves 16 at a pinch with thin slices, let's play safe and make it 12 slices

Preparation time 30 minutes (+cooling & 6 1/2 hours chilling time)

Actual cooking time 5 minutes

Ingredients:

200 g digestive biscuits

1/2 cup (40 g) desiccated coconut

100 g butter, melted

750 g cream cheese, softened

320 g can Sweetened Coconut Condensed Milk ( I used a Coles supermarket brand)

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and chopped

2 limes, rind finely grated  and juiced

1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice or tequila

1/4 cup (60 ml) boiling water

3 teaspoons gelatine powder

Lime Syrup

1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice

2 tablespoons orange juice or tequila

1/4 cup (55 g) caster sugar

Method:

Grease a 20 cm (base measurement) springform tin, lightly grease and line with baking paper.

Prepare the Base:

To prepare the base of the cheesecake, feed the biscuits and coconut into the food processor and process gradually until fine crumbs form.

Soften  the butter, add to the biscuit mixture and process until well combined. Spoon the mix for the base into the prepared springform tin. It now needs to be spread evenly over the tin. Use the flat-bottom of a glass to spread the biscuit bas smoothly. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until base is firm.

Prepare the Cream Cheese and Avocado filling:

Place the cream cheese and the condensed milk into your now clean food processor.  Process until well mixed.

Now add the sliced avocado, grated lime rind, lime juice and orange juice or tequila (I used orange juice this time) and process until smooth.

Place the boiling water into a heatproof bowl, and sprinkle over the gelatine stirring gradually as you sprinkle. Continue stirring until the gelatine dissolves completely. Add the dissolved gelatine to the avocado mixture into the food processor, and process again until smooth.Pour the avocado mixture onto the base.

Chill for 6 hours in the refrigerator until set.

Lime Syrup:

Combine the lime juice, orange juice or tequila and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Continue stirring the syrup for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high. Lightly boil and continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes or until the syrup thickens. Leave to cool.

To serve, place the cheesecake on a serving plate, add some beautiful fresh berries, and drizzle with the syrup and enjoy, I know you will.

I found this recipe in a  Coles supermarket recipe book, which I thought looked like a winner, however no advertising for Coles intended.

Backstory:

Shepard avocados, my favourite, are in season at the moment, are inexpensive, hooray, so let's  celebrate them and enjoy.  I'm thinking smashed Avo on toast, smoothies, added to your baked beans for a boost, Guacamole, avocado brownies, and this Avocado Cheesecake is a triumph. Shepards are ideal for dicing and slicing in salads, on sandwiches or even in a ceviche, delish. There are just so many opportunities to use them. My  French "daughter in law" likes to just eat them "au naturel" with a vinaigrette dressing, c'est delicieux.  For lunch we really enjoy chicken, egg, and avocado salad with a little balsamic vinegar. What's your favourite way to eat avocado?

Avocados need the right sub-tropical environment in which to grow, and deep,well drained soil. They can be found growing from Southern Queensland right up the East Coast to the Atherton Tablelands west of Cairns in Far North Queensland. The elevated Atherton Tablelands is a lush fertile region inland from Cairns, known as the food bowl, and one of it's most popular crops is avocados. Howe Farming Group is based on the Tablelands, and supplies the Coles supermarket, with over 4 million avocados annually, including Haas and Shepard. Their are other independent avocado growers up there as well, all supplying various farmer's markets and IGA's or selling direct at the farmgate. The air on the Tablelands is clearer, the temperatures milder, they get the required rainfall, and the volcanic soils are perfect for a variety of crops. Perfect. It's also actually a beautiful place to live and holiday at. Avocados are grown commercially as a lucrative crop along the coastal strip near Bundaberg as well, which has some of the best soils.

I live in Queensland, the Sunshine and Shepard Avocado state. Here are a few more facts about the Misunderstood Shepard Avocado: 

  • Avocados are a large berry not a vegetable, containing a single large seed known as the pit or stone
  • Avocados are the Good Mood Berry, so we can be in a good mood from January to April from eating only 1/2 an avocado a day, that's good news isn't it? However any avocados that you buy wherever you  live will give you the good mood vibe.
  • They contain a nutritious combination of vitamins and minerals to help your brain and nervous system perform at their best. I've already eaten half an avocado today, can't you tell?
  • There maybe no need for vitamins pills, check out this rundown of vitamins and minerals in only half an Avo:
    • (345 mg) potassium
    • (19.5 mg) magnesium, the super mineral
    • (60 mg) folate
    • (5.5 mg) sodium
    • (6.0 mg) Vitamin C
    • Vitamin B6
    • This isn't the complete list, but it is still impressive
  • You can eat too much avocado though, so everything in moderation
  • If it's soft around the top of the avocado, it's ready to eat
  • Shepard avocados stay green, even when they are ripe unlike the Haas, the skin of which turns black

There's no added sugar in this recipe except for the syrup, but I didn't miss it. Also, any avocados can be used for this recipe, I'm just feeling like a passionate foodie about the Shepard at present.

Hope your week is going well,

Warm wishes,

Pauline

This content was not solicited by anyone, nor was it written in exchange for anything. Thanks.