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Lemony Snippet

14 Aug

It’s raining outside and I have a large bag of Meyer lemons from my nana’s tree. Meyer lemons are my favourite thing of all time and I love winter for the abundance of these bright, citrus globes that make their way to my table after I visit my nanna and raid her garden (I often return home yeilding loads of kumquats, lemons, bay leaves, proteas and native flowers and odds and ends from the local op-shops).

Meyer lemons have a thinner and darker yellow skin than the common Lisbon and are sweeter. Almost like a cross between a mandarin and a lemon. Because of their smooth, soft thin skin, they do not have a long shelf life and so are not really sold commercially. The flavour evokes memories of long, hot summer days reading books in a hammock, sipping  lemon cordial from vintage anodised cups at my mum’s. Mum would have got the lemons from someone’s tree, but they were often in boxes at op-shops available to “help yourself”, as the old ladies would bring them in. They have a delicious, old fashioned taste that I just adore and a salad dressing made with dijon, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice makes my happiness levels soar and my taste buds sing!

So here’s a little lemony recipe for you to try out:

This one took about 10 minutes to get all of the ingredients mixed together and into the oven, so I can get back to crocheting with a piece of cake and a cup of tea and listen to the rain and think of summer days…

Lemon Chia Yoghurt Cakes

1 1/12 cups sugar

2 Eggs

3/4 cup sunflower oil

1 cup greek or natural yoghurt

zest of 2 lemons

juice of one lemon

1/2 tsp of salt

2 cups SF flour

2 TBS Chia seeds (or poppy seeds)

In a bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs and lemon zest. Stir until well combined.

Add yoghurt and lemon juice and mix well.

Sift in flour and salt and fold through. Stir through Chia.

Divide amongst cupcake papers using 1/4 cup amounts per paper (I got 16 cupcakes)

Cook for about 30 minutes at 180C or until a skewer comes out clean.

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In the summer time, when the weather is hot

14 Feb

BBQ’s play a big part of the Australian summer and burgers are a pretty popular thing to cook on a BBQ and coleslaw is pretty standard salad to be served alongside. It gets pretty boring after a while.

But then, you change it up. You add some different flavours and it’s all fresh and new you are suddenly the star of summer with your amazing Thai Chicken Burgers!

To assemble these, I was inspired by Banh mi,  the Vietnamese sandwich served in glass fronted cabinets on every street in Vietnam. Banh Mi is a crusty white bread roll, usually with fresh herbs and salad, pate, cream cheese, and various meats like BBQ pork or crispy chicken. It is assembled to order while you wait and it’s a quick and delicious snack to grab on your way.

These too are pretty quick and easy to make. I think less than half an hour from start to finish and I make the salad while the burgers cook.

THAI CHICKEN BURGERS

600g chicken mince

1 lemongrass – white part only, chopped

4 coriander roots – washed well, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 red chilli – optional, finely shopped

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp sugar

In a mortar and pestle (or a food processer), crush the lemongrass, coriander roots, garlic and pepper to a fine paste. Mix the paste,  fish sauce, sugar and chilli (if you want) with the chicken mince. Divide the mince into four and BBQ or panfry in sesame and sunflower oil.  The sugar will caramelise and give nice brown colour to the burger, but it may also make it stick to the pan a little bit, so be careful when  you flip it.

Tip: shape your burgers according to the shape of your bread. If you have long rolls, make them long, if they’re round, make ’em round. It makes eating a burger a bit easier when your  burger fits your bread and you get less of those empty bites.

COLESLAW

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 julienned carrot

1 small julienned  daikon radish

2 sticks finely sliced celery

a handful each of fresh coriander and thai basil

4 finely sliced spring onions

Combine in a large bowl.

DRESSING:

3 tbs kewpie doll mayonnaise

1 tbs lime juice

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1 crushed garlic clove

Mix dressing ingredients well together and pour over the vegetables. Using your (clean) hands, toss the salad. Your fingers are the best salad tongs!

Spread a crusty white roll with some cream cheese (I love the ‘laughing cow’ brand, which is the one usually used in Vietnam in Banh Mi). Pop in one of those fragrant, juicy burgers, top with the ‘slaw, some slices of fresh tomato, a few batons of cucumber, a scattering of coriander and a few pieces of crunchy lettuce, like iceberg or cos and voila! Eat, and enjoy with a nice cold beer or a fresh coconut.

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Getting Raw

10 Jul

I woke up extremely early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I decided to do a bit of ‘baking’ instead so I could take a little treat in to work today.

I say ‘baking’ as I made a raw, vegan brownie which doesn’t involve any cooking at all. What do you call baking and cooking when it’s raw food? A question for the ages…

Chocolate Brownie

300g Date paste

50g Almond meal

60g crushed nuts (I used pecans)

1/2 cup cocoa

2 tsp coconut butter

water

 

Chocolate Sauce

1/3 cup coconut oil

3 tbs agave syrup

vanilla

6 tbsp cocoa powder

Put date paste, almond meal, cocoa and coconut butter in a food processor and pulse until all mixed. It should form into a dough ball. Add a tsp of water if too dry.

Put mixture in a bowl and knead in the crushed nuts (at this point I also added 50g of pepitas because I like them and for more texture).

Press into a square cake tin – I used a silicon one so you can get it out easily, otherwise, make sure you line the tin so you can lift it out easily  – and freeze for half an hour.

Meanwhile , mix together the chocolate sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Remove brownie from freezer and top with chocolate sauce and sprinkle with nuts or coconut and freeze for a further 10 minutes.

Press out of tin, cut into pieces and enjoy!

I strongly recommend using a really good quality cocoa as that is where all the delicious, rich, chocolatey goodness comes from.

I am going to add some dried banana next time to the brownie recipe, but I also think dried raspberries would be amazing. You could also add some dried peel, orange zest and a bit of juice instead of the coconut butter, or even a splash of liqueur.

Really, the possibilities are endless!

(I found the chocolate sauce recipe  here at www.pure2raw.com which is a great site for raw food recipes. Have a look!

I was inspired to make these by  browsing the recipes here and adapting them to what I had available: http://www.yummly.com/blog/2012/07/10-delicious-raw-vegan-desserts )

Where I make tomato relish and pick up crochet (again)

18 Mar

Well it’s been a busy few months with Christmas and holidays and work and new babies (not mine) and birthdays and celebrations  and catching up on my reading and even a brief overseas trip to Thailand. Needless to say, I have once again neglected my blog to enjoy the long summer days. But, alas!  Summer has come to an end. The days are shorter, the weather doesn’t know what to do with itself and I am spending more and more time on the couch with wool and tea.

I have re-learned how to crochet  as I had deserted it in disgust at my wretched attempts  of failure but have since been taught what I have been doing wrong (thanks Kree!) and now I am realising the sweet simplicity of it and how easy it is to create different shapes and textures. And so, I have retired my needles to the back of my cupboard and have become a ‘hooker’.

Last week I made a huge batch of tomato relish in my new 14L pot – an 11th anniversary present from my gorgeous partner – and now have several jars sitting around the kitchen.  And as I was learning how to crochet in rounds, well I combined my two hobbies and I made bonnets for the jars.

You see, my housemate’s friend has a pickle club and she was heading there today. I was planning on going, but was too tired and also Frankie Magazine was going to be there doing a piece on the club and I definitely did not feel like being there for that! All the people who attend  seem to be graphic designers and make these amazing labels that look so professional, so I thought I would make mine look ridiculously kitsch as I didn’t think brown paper and twine would fare so well.

So I downloaded a free ’70’s style font off the net and printed off some poor quality labels that were colour-coded to match my ‘bonnets’ and voila! I have retro style preserves. So groovy.

I think the funniest thing about them is that my printer is so terrible that the colours look really faded and so it appears as if the jars have actually been sitting around since the 1970’s. I love them for how ridiculous daggy they look!

My housemate, Padma, made amazing  eggplants stuffed with walnuts and pomegranates  from a middle-eastern recipe and covered the tops in arabic newspaper. I thought they looked gorgeous!

The aim of pickle club  is to take 6 jars of your preserves and they all go into the middle and then you choose 6 of someone elses to take home. Two of my jars went off today without me as Padma was two  short and she bought home: beetroot marmalade, preserved lemons, piccalilli, pickled zucchini, pears in ginger syrup and a plum spread. I can’t wait to see what they all taste like!

Tomato Relish

I doubled the recipe when I made it this time and it only just fit into my 14L pot. It does cook down though, but you will need a very large and heavy-based pot to do this in. I BURN IT EVERY SINGLE TIME WITHOUT FAIL! So my suggestion is: PAY ATTENTION! Do NOT wander off to do the weeding or some knitting or read a book unless you set a periodic timer so that you remember to stir it!

So here’s the recipe for ‘Kathy’s Tomato Relish‘ (not doubled), which I have taken from Stephanie Alexander‘s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ which is my kitchen bible.

1 tablespoon  cloves

2 tablespoons whole allspice

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

5 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

30g salt

600ml wine vinegar

1 kg sugar

Tie cloves, allspice and peppercorns in a square of muslin.

Put all ingredients EXCEPT SUGAR into a large, non-reactive stockpot.

Bring to the boil and boil steadily for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and continue to boil, stirring every 20 minutes or so for a further 2 hours.

Remove the muslin bag and press it well over the pot to release all of the juicy flavours before discarding it.

Pass the relish through the coarse disc of a food mill and, using a funnel, bottle at once into hot, sterilised jars.

Cap and allow to cool before storing.

حب السعادة والثروة (happiness, love and wealth)

3 Aug

Dinner tonight was at a Lebanese restaurant called ‘Rumi’.

Delicious!

The $45 banquet included (and this is not everything) slow cooked shoulder of lamb seasoned with rose petals and coriander served with a syrupy, sweet mint sauce. The lamb was so tender it fell to pieces as you picked it up and it just melted in your mouth.  Sigh!

Spiced, battered cauliflower deep fried into delicious golden brown balls were one of my favourite things of the night served alongside whole soft shelled prawns and succulent soft meatballs in  a tomato sauce with labna.

Small char-grilled quail were served on skewers resembling swords and yes, we had a mini sword fight. Mature, I know. But how can you resist?

Possibly the hardest thing about the night was that I am currently on a self-imposed alcohol ban so had to refuse the wine. I did have a ‘Rumi’ cocktail (vodka, pomegranate juice, lime and sugar) but I asked them to make it a virgin. It was so refreshing and delicious that I forgot that it didn’t have alcohol in it so I could happily pretend I was drunk.

Dessert comprised of rose and pistachio Turkish Delight,  sweet, plump apricots soaked in arak and stuffed with labna and a choice of sweetened Turkish-style coffee flavoured with cardamon (heaven!) or mint tea. They very nicely threw in a couple of complimentary bottles of sweet, pink moscato as we were celebrating a birthday. I promise I only had one little sip, just to taste!

I’m so satisfied and full from all of that lovely food, but  I wouldn’t refuse another round.  Anyone want to go again tomorrow?


Note to self: I must go and by some of those little swords. They make eating delicious little birds even more fun. En guarde!



In the beginning there was cake.

24 Jul

Stuck on the wall at my maternal grandmother’s house was a motto: “Life’s too short: eat dessert first”. So this is where I thought I’d begin: with dessert.

I can remember the first cake that I made ‘all by myself’ :  a simple chocolate cake at my mum’s house when I went and stayed on the weekend. It was a warm summers day and I would have been perhaps 8 at the time.  I can recall getting annoyed at all of the little summer  flies that were buzzing around the room and the way the afternoon sun looked as it flickered softly through the window onto the table.  The cake was iced with a good old cocoa icing and covered in hundreds and thousands and was taken with me when my dad came and picked me up.

We went from my mum’s to one of my dad’s friend’s house and the cake was sliced up, shared around and proclaimed delicious. I, on the other hand, was disappointed. It was grainy and in my head I thought it was full of all of those little flies that had been pestering me while I cooked and I refused to finish my slice!

I don’t remember baking  a cake for quite a while after that, but eventually I started again and got a little obsessed. I began by making simple cakes that you basically threw everything into a bowl and  beat it and baked it,  to understanding a little more about what made a great cake. Like discovering how to  cream butter and sugar together prior to adding the other ingredients; experimenting with different spices; and making my own variations by adding handfuls of nuts or dried fruit to the batter. Sometimes it worked, some times it didn’t. I learned from my mistakes and tried to move on.

My grandmother and her mother used to drop around ice-cream containers full of slices and biscuits that used to go into our lunchboxes.  The containers would contain nutty hedgehog, lemon slice made from lemons from the tree, drop biscuits that would leave a slightly bitter feeling on the tip of your tongue from the bi-carb in them and of course chocolate cake – so similar to that which I made with my mum.

That first chocolate cake was most likely made from mum’s old school Home Economics cookbook which was full of good old fashioned recipes that were simple and easy to make (she still has a copy lying around that get used pretty frequently). I have a similar copy, old and covered in food that I make anything from scones to pickles from. Last Christmas I decided to make hampers full of homemade preserves and that book sure came in handy!

When my great-grandmother passed I inherited all of her old cookbooks, full of newspaper clippings and with handwritten notes. My dad informed me that a lot of the notes were taken by her husband as he would patiently jot down what she dictated! Admittedly I haven’t made anything from these yet. Maybe I’m a little scared that I will spoil the memory that these recipes evoke, but I am comforted by the fact they are there and waiting for me when I feel the time is right.