A Beautiful Weekend

The last few days have been just lovely. I had an early rise on Friday morning so that I could take a train to Melbourne. It wasn’t the warmest of trips, but when I arrived in Melbourne I headed straight to the Queen Victoria Markets where I had arranged to meet my wonderful friend, Ora. Before we met up I had been trying to buy duck necks and duck bones with no success, so gave up and headed to my favourite bakery to pick up, what I believe is the best gluten free Turkish bread you can get. Just as I was finishing my purchases. Ora phoned to see where I was. I looked down the walkway a little and there she was, as usual, bright and colourful.   When we met we embraced and chatted a little, and she wanted to know what I needed to get next. When I told her about the duck neck and bones, she took me to the stall where she and her husband buy their poultry and game. It was fantastic!   I got my duck carcasses, duck necks with skin on, duck breasts, duck thighs and quail. On hearing what I wanted to do with the duck necks, the gentleman ensured that the necks had the skin on and also gave me his card suggesting that I phone ahead with my order whenever I am coming to town, and they will make sure that they have everything that I need. I was delighted.

From the poultry stall we headed to a stall I knew very well. It is where I head when I need mushrooms, and when they are in season, that amazing black funghi that grows underground among the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. I was so lucky, they had just received fresh truffles this morning, yesterday there were none. How lucky am I! I select three lovely black delights and they are carefully wrapped in tissue and placed in a glass jar that I place in my handbag for safekeeping. We chat a little about what I will do with three truffles, and I tell the lady that I will use some fresh, the remainder will be frozen for use at a later date. Truffles, do not last long and go soft, so the best thing to do with unused truffles, is to freeze them whole in a container and then, using your trusty truffle slicer, slice them while they are still frozen. You should not thaw them out before using them. Just shave them directly into the dish that you are cooking. She was very interested in what I was going to do.

Something that I like to do, is place truffles in a jar with Arborio rice for a couple of days, the rice then takes on the delicious aroma of the truffle ready for making mushroom risotto with shaved truffle.

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The other thing I do is place some eggs in a jar with whole truffle. With the shell being porous, the yolk and white are infused with that sensational flavour. Making the eggs perfect for making delicious omelettes or scrambled eggs.

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When we leave the market, Ora insists on carrying one of my bags. I am going to a “Christmas in July” function with friends/colleagues at my previous place of employment and have baked a gluten free fig and onion relish, blue cheese and pear tart, as well as a gluten free rhubarb swirl yoghurt cheesecake topped with mulled wine and pear jelly, cream and toasted coconut. So my bags are heavy and I feel very guilty that she is carrying one of them for me. We stop off for a most welcome cup of tea at one of her favourite cafés near the market and have a lovely long chat before she very kindly drives me to my old work place, which is where we met and formed such a great friendship.

I spent a lovely afternoon eating beautiful food and catching up with past colleagues and great friends, before my husband came to collect me and we headed to our son’s apartment where we would spend a wonderful night with he, his fiancée and our gorgeous little grandson. Our son prepared a delicious meal of salmon and noodles.

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His fiancée had everything lovely for us and made us so welcome, and our adorable little grandson kept us well amused and entertained.

The following day, my husband returned home early, while I got to spend more time with our beautiful family, before returning home. On the way home I spent time listening to my French lesson to pass the time and help me with the learning process.

When I arrived home in the early evening, I set to stashing the goodies that I had purchased at the market the previous day, and then to making a delicious mushroom and black truffle risotto.

Slide1I think it was one of the best risottos I’ve ever made. Fortunately just before heading to Melbourne I had made a very large batch of chicken stock so it was put to good use, and I had such a wonderful time preparing the mushrooms, stirring the risotto, and finally adding the pièce de résistance, the beautiful black truffle to the risotto, along with some lovely, slightly thicker slices to the top just before serving.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto

Queen Victoria Market

A beautiful bunch of carrots

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The quandary of what to make with that beautiful bunch of carrots picked up from the Stratford farmer’s market on Sunday…

I wanted a light Sunday evening meal and did not want to have any meat in the recipe. I looked through books, looked on-line, and nothing really grabbed my attention… The flavours just weren’t right. I gathered ideas, a little from here, a little from there, keeping in mind what was available in the pantry, fridge and freezer, and this is what I came up with.

Roasted Carrot and Beetroot Salad with Poached Egg, Carrot Top Pesto & Dukkah

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I had recently made fig vinegar and hadn’t had the opportunity to try it out. I had beetroot from a previous farmer’s market, beautiful fresh eggs picked up from the farm gate near Sale, and then there was fresh goats cheese in the fridge. I had heard about using carrot tops to make pesto, but the recipe I found wasn’t what I was after, so I changed it totally, adding coriander instead of basil, more garlic, pistachios in place of walnuts, and using quite a bit more parmesan cheese and olive oil as well. I also wanted to use cumin and dukkah, so now had the makings for a beautiful salad.

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Fig Vinegar

I only wanted to use the cumin on the roasted halved carrots, I made a dressing using my fig vinegar and coated ribbons of carrot in that before roasting them. The rest of the dressing was used to coat some fresh leaves later in the recipe.

The carrot top pesto was amazing, and the left overs are now in the freezer ready to be used on another salad, in soup, on pasta or drizzled over a roasted vegetable pie. I used a slice of sour dough for my husband’s salad and for me, I used a slice of my own Gluten free bread.

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Carrot Top Pesto

 

A little work, but these carrots deserved it, they were simply beautiful. The salad was a great success.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

 Links:

Roasted Carrot and Beetroot Salad with Poached Egg, Carrot Top Pesto & Dukkah

Fig Vinegar

Carrot top Pesto

 

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A ride to market

What a glorious day it was on Sunday; the air was crisp, the sun was shining and there was barely a breeze. The perfect day for a bike ride, and with a little farmer’s market on in the next town, that’s where we headed – Stratford.

It’s a relatively easy ride along a “rail trail”, that is if you are used to riding a bike and are fit – I am neither! The scenery is beautiful, as is the bird life along the way. At one stage we stop alongside a paddock where a large flock of black swans are feasting, and among them are two beautiful ducks. We couldn’t resist getting the camera out and trying to get a photo, even though these gorgeous birds were some distance away.Slide1

After a few distractions along the way, we finally make it to the market which is set up in a little park, nestled on the banks of the Avon river. It is a very small market, just a few stalls, a honey stall, second hand book stall, craft stall where we find a gorgeous gift for our beautiful great neice’s second birthday, an apple stall and a bag of beautiful crisp red apples are purchased, there’s also a bric-a-brac type stall, a native plant stall, an art stall and finally the vegie stall. I have bought vegetables from this stall holder before and they were beautiful, they keep fresh for much longer than normal, probably because they are much fresher than what you buy at the shop! I walk along and decided to get a couple of leeks – I have leftover cooked chicken in the fridge from last night’s dinner, so will probably make a chicken and leek pie during the week. Then I choose some salad. I want a cabbage, so they climb onto the back of the truck and find a lovely one for me, and finally… I cannot resist the beautiful bunch of coloured carrots that’s laying on the table – I know I have plenty of carrots at home, but these are different. We chat to the stall holder and he tells us that people get confused when they see the white or cream carrots, often thinking they are parsnips!

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All done, we load our purchases into the basket on my bike, the apples go into my husband’s backpack, and we head off home. I soon discover a problem with the load in the basket on the back of my bike… For a relative beginner bike rider, I find it throws me off balance in certain situations, and almost come to grief as I struggle up an incline. So decide if faced with that scenario again, I’ll get off and wheel the bike. We stop as we cross the bridge over the Avon so that I can take some photos, but I don’t think that they do the scenery justice, I just love this place.

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Further along the track we look across to the mountains and there are little specs of white, I wonder if it is snow?

Finally back home from our 20 km round trip, we put the bits and pieces away and head to the garden for a while, where I begin to think about what to do with those beautiful carrots for our dinner.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Waste not, want not!

Like many people, I hate waste!

Last weekend I picked up a bunch of beautiful organic white turnips from the Farmer’s Market in Sale. The tops looked amazing, which got me to thinking about conversations I used to have with a friend I worked with. She told me how members of her family would collect greens for their cooking. Probably some of these greens we would call weeds. So I went in search of my Greek cook book and found a recipe for “Wild Greens Pie” or as I would call it “Weed Pie”. The recipe calls for a mixture of wild greens, including dandelion, mustard, chickweed, rocket, wild fennel, beetroot greens etc. I decided I would make something similar, but use the turnip tops, and some rainbow chard that I have in pots (my vegie patch is yet to be established). I should also have added some sorrel, but forgot I had it in another pot! In the fridge I had some of my homemade cheese just waiting for the right recipe, so instead of feta, I used that.

For the pie crust I used my Savoury Potato Pastry . I love this pastry, it’s gluten free and uses mashed potato. So whenever I have leftover mashed potato,I whip up a batch and freeze it, so generally always have a batch ready to whip and use. One day I had some leftover sweet potato mash and used that instead of normal potato. It was the perfect crust for an Indian style curry pie that I topped with slices of roasted cauliflower. I now have some blue potatoes – now that would make for an interesting crust colour! Anyway, I digress… This is the first time that I have actually used this pastry for a full pie, I generally only use it blind baked for savoury tarts and quiches. It worked perfectly, I was so happy, and now can’t wait to use it to make my Gran’s savoury mince slice. She would bake it and serve it cold, particularly for picnic type meals. It’s delicious, and guess what, it has white turnips in it.DSC03385

So, my “Weed Pies” used up the turnip tops, which most of us generally toss away, left over cheese and left over mashed potato…

 

 

 

As I said, “Waste not, want not!

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

 

I love how food evokes such wonderful memories…

We have wonderful friends in France, and it was my dear friend, Véronique, who taught me how to make brioche.   Her brioche was nothing like that found in Australia, it was light, delicate, sweet, buttery, everything that a brioche should be. When we returned to Australia I was very enthusiastic and excited to make it myself, however it took quite a few attempts to get the finished product to be anything like my beautiful friend’s, I had to find fresh yeast and try out different flours, etc, until I got the recipe right. Since then, over the years, there have been many, many, many batches of this beautiful sweet bread made in my kitchen.

I used to make it quite regularly for my family and friends, and took it to work for special morning teas. It is always a hit, very popular indeed. However, life got busy and I had stopped making it as often.

Recently I managed to get some fresh yeast, and have started making it again, much to my husband, Gary’s, delight! Now when I get fresh yeast, I make a batch and freeze it, taking one out every couple of days for him to have with his breakfast.

Last night, I made the dough, popped it in the fridge overnight, and then this morning, I finished the dough, shaped it, popped it into the little brioche tins,DSC03362

let it rise,

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and the end result is…

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This final photo reminds me of sharing delicious home cooked food with our wonderful friends in country France. The times we spend with them at their home, and also the time they took us to the early morning dawn service on Anzac Day in Villers-Bretonneux. An experience we will never forget.

I was actually lucky enough to try Véronique’s Brioche, because at that time, I had not been diagnosed with Coeliac disease, but now I get to cook it and watch others enjoy it   Alas, now my challenge is to try and make something similar (it will never be the same) that is gluten free.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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