Tag Archives: Family

Birthday Bonfire

This year our cousin’s husband, Colin turned 70, and to celebrate, their annual bonfire became a very festive affair. Held on the property where our grandparent’s home once was, people travelled from everywhere to join the party – the yard looked like a caravan park when we pulled in on the Saturday night.

To get there, Gary and I left home at 10 am and travelled to Melbourne where we stopped to pick up my sister Sonya. Then we continued on to Stawell and had a lovely visit with my mother for a couple of hours before finally arriving at Navarre just after 6. It was dark and cold. But with the power and water turned on, we soon had the house warmed up and dinner cooking. We were all a tad weary…

After listening to the rain on the tin roof through the night, we were wondering how the bonfire would fire up the next night, however when we got up in the morning, the rain seemed to have cleared, even if the skies hadn’t! Sonnie and I had work to do… Sonnie had made the birthday cake and had to decorate it, she had also made a pavlova that needed to be finished off. I needed to make a dessert as well. This is where the fun started….

Sunset at Navarre

Firstly I set to making the dessert, it was to be a gateau of rhubarb, apples and almonds. The recipe for the base was in French, but I knew that I could follow it. I had brought all the ingredients from home including rhubarb from our garden and bottled apples from our store. So I drained the apples and got the rhubarb into the oven to bake. Then it was time to make the cake. With the mixer uncovered I got all the ingredients ready and got to work. The egg whites whipped up beautifully. Following the recipe I then whipped up the egg yolks and sugar, and added the dry ingredients – ughh, the mixture seized – what to do… I grabbed another egg and added that in, it helped to loosen the mix a little, so then I started to fold through the egg whites, not perfect, but it would have to do. With the mixture poured into the lined tin, it went into the oven to bake while we set to cleaning up the mess! The timer went off and when I took the cake from the oven, I saw that it was very uneven and very thin in one corner, really – what next. I shouldn’t have been surprised though. The house is very old and the land is subject to flooding… The cake looked OK, even if a little lop-sided.

 

Next it was Sonnie’s turn. She needed to make the butter cream for the birthday cake. The problem here was that the mixer seemed to have only one speed – very fast! So with the butter in the mixer, the bowl was almost ready to take off!! Then the icing sugar went in, or should I say, went out, up, and everywhere, including over Sonnie! We threw a tea towel over the whole thing to try and calm the situation down a little. All we could do was laugh. With persistence, the butter cream was made and Sonnie set to decorating the cake. She dropped a couple of little round sweets on the floor and they all rolled to one corner – yes, we decided that the reason for the crooked cake was because we were in a crooked house.

Our other sister Jan arrived and we all had a lovely afternoon sitting and chatting, then set to filling the pav and finishing off the cake. I carefully sliced a slither from one of the higher corners and used some of the fruit syrup to attach it to the lower corner. Sonnie whipped the cream for both the pav and the cake and we decorated them.

All ready, we just needed to await the arrival of the younger members of our family – they were all traveling from Melbourne and running a little late. Sonnie rang Sandra to find out what time they wanted us down there, it was about 6 pm when she rang. They had already finished the main and were on to the speeches. Sonnie, Jan and Gary quickly loaded the cake and desserts into the car and headed down, while I waited for the kids to arrive. Finally with everyone there, we joined the rest of the family at the bonfire and, as usual, it was a wonderful friendly night.  We got to catch up with members of our family, listen to music, and all the time, we were kept warm (at times very hot) by the roaring bonfire.

As we were to late for the food, when we got home we quickly prepared a supper of soup and fried rice, before all turning in for the night.

Oh and I have now translated the recipe as it was written in French, and yes, I had followed the instructions. So the version here is a much revised version!

Gateau of Rhubarb, Apples and Almonds - Gluten Free

I offered to take a dessert to a birthday party. I wanted to use rhubarb from our garden because it was looking amazing. A magazine arrived from France early in the week and had a recipe for a rhubarb and strawberry cake and that was my inspiration for this beautiful cake.

Ingredients

  • 500g rhubarb
  • 5 medium sized apples
  • 1 orange
  • 60g sugar
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • For the cake
  • 200g almond meal
  • 50g custard powder – gluten free
  • 1½ tsp baking powder – gluten free
  • 6 eggs
  • 140g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. Wash the rhubarb, trim the ends and cut into 2 cm pieces and place into a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Pare two very thin strips of zest from the orange using a sharp knife, or a peeler and then juice the orange.  Tuck the rind in amongst the rhubarb, sprinkle over the brown sugar, and drizzle with the orange juice. Bake for 20 minutes until the rhubarb is tender. Carefully remove the rhubarb from the dish and strain the juices and set both the juice and the rhubarb aside.
  3. Meanwhile peel, core and quarter the apples, add to a saucepan with the 60g of sugar and just enough water to cover the apples. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender, gently turning them now and then so they cook evenly.   Strain the apple and set aside the fruit and the syrup.
  4. Place both the rhubarb juices and apple syrup into a clean pan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the syrup is reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
  5. Preheat oven to 190˚C and line a swiss roll baking pan with baking paper. Separate the egg yolks from whites. Place the whites together with the salt into the large bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed until soft peaks form. Add yolks and beat, then add the 140g of caster sugar gradually. Beat well. Sift in the almond meal, custard powder and baking powder and carefully fold through the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Turn out on to a wire cooling rack and remove baking paper. Allow to cool completely.
  6. When you are ready to assemble the gateaux, whip the cream, 1 tbsp of caster sugar and the vanilla bean paste until stiff peaks form.
  7. Heat a pan over low heat and add the flaked almonds. Carefully toast until they turn golden. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside.
  8. To Assemble the cake, spread a little of the syrup over the cake, then spread a layer, no thicker than 1 cm of the whipped cream on top of that. Arrange the apple and rhubarb on top of the cream, sprinkle over the toasted flaked almonds and drizzle with the remaining syrup.

Notes:

  • Baking the rhubarb helps to retain its shape and stops it going mushy, it also intensifies the flavour.
  • I like to cut each apple quarter into chunks before arranging it on top of the cake.
  • You could replace the whipped cream with crème pâtissière

Until next time…

Happy  cooking & bon appétit!

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Links

Gateau of Rhubarb, Apples and Almonds – Gluten Free

Mrs Collins’s Pavlova

Another Garden!

While I have been a little quiet of late, I haven’t been idle! Earlier this year I started to do some voluntary work at a local community hub in nearby Stratford. This little hub called Segue, combines a café, gallery and shop where you can purchase handcrafted goods produced by local artists. There is also a bookroom and a little rummage and rescue room as well.

When you approach the entrance to Segue you will notice a long narrow alley that runs between two buildings, this is where you might find me working. In this alley there are plantings of various vegetables, fresh herbs and flowers, but at this time of year the garden is looking a little bare. That being said there is a good supply of rhubarb and kale, and plenty of different mints to select from. Over the last couple of weeks, the gardens have been dug over, composted manure added, and finally some plantings for the winter, mainly brassicas, but also some peas and snow peas along a brick wall, where they will benefit from the winter sun, and broad beans where the tomatoes were planted, to help improve the soil.

In preparing the soil, the Jerusalem artichokes were lifted. Having never eaten or cooked Jerusalem artichokes before so I started scouring recipe books for ideas. They are said to be similar to potatoes, but with a nutty flavour. I finally decided to make a soup. As I was making it, new ideas popped into my head, and the final result was absolutely delicious – we will certainly be having this again.

Jerusalem Artichokes - 2

Freshly dug Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Bacon

This recipe was created with fond memories of my late brother-in-law, Bruce - he just loved Jerusalem artichokes. I think he might have enjoyed a bowl or two.

Ingredients

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 250 diced brown onion
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 35g butter
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 100g bacon, cut into julienne
  • 10g chives, finely chopped, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper
  • Double cream for serving

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium/low heat.
  2. Add the onion and celery and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is tender.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Then add the artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the artichokes are soft.
  6. Meanwhile fry the bacon in a frying pan until crispy.
  7. When the artichokes are soft, puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy.
  8. Add chives and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and stir through.
  9. Season to taste with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  10. Serve in individual dishes and top each with a teaspoonful of double cream, some crispy fried bacon, chopped chives and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese

Notes:

  • Time involved:
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 40 minutes
    • Serving Time: 5 Minutes

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I have two large boxes of Jerusalem artichokes sitting in our garage, and over the next couple of days they will be cleaned, sorted and bagged because, another thing that I have taken on at Segue is the weekend produce and plant table. The table is normally set up on a Saturday morning, just out the front, but this weekend it will be on Sunday, as it is the annual Shakespeare Festival. I have prepared bags with a copy of the recipe for the soup attached to the front, and will have them on the table for anyone who is interested. The produce sold from the table is all home grown and very, reasonably priced. I am also hoping that we will have plenty of kale and rhubarb to offer along with other bits and pieces and some pot plants too.

So if you are every passing through Stratford, that’s Stratford in Victoria, Australia, take a break and come on in, have a coffee, or just take a wander through the garden. You never know, you might even see me there…

Until next time…

Happy gardening, happy cooking & bon appétit!

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Oranges 1 – A recap!

The oranges are gone, well, with the exception of the few that have been set aside for our breakfast fruit over the next week or so. Overall things went really well, and we have some lovely goodies stashed in the store for future use. We’ve also enjoyed some orange flavoured meals as well.

That being said, the marmalade proved to be my nemisis. The first batch didn’t set and discoloured!  What to do… Add Cointreau to the mix, and lable it as Orange and Cointreau Syrup for use with desserts – I have to say it goes deliciously with date pudding !

So what was the problem?  More pectin you say? That’s what I thought, anyway. So I saved all the pips from the oranges and lemons used in all the other recipes – I had a lovely little pile of them by the time it come to revisit the marmalade. Neither Gary, nor I, could understand what happened to the first batch, it’s never happened before…

With everything prepared, I started again – it was looking beautiful, time to test for set, and again… it just wouldn’t set and turned dark. Fearing it would burn, I took it off the heat and bottled it. The next morning when I checked, it was syrup, nothing like the lovely jelly like consistency of marmalade. By this time I thought I knew what the problem was – while the pot I was using was big enough, it was tall and narrow, not wide and squat.

Not wanting to waste the fruit sugar and time and effort, this time we decided to try and cook it a little more. It just got darker, and again wouldn’t set. Finally, I had to bite the bullet and use commercial pectin (I have plans to make my own in future, but didn’t have time at this point). Set was reached, it doesn’t taste too bad, really, just sweeter than usual and it looks like treacle!  A new wider, shallower, preserving pan style, pot has now been ordered and is on its way. I am hoping that by using it, we will avoid any more marmalade dramas.

So what was cooked? You will have seen some of the goodies in previous posts, but here is the list in full…

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There is one more recipe brewing, but it is going to take another couple of weeks – Collette’s Vin D’Orange. I will put up a post about it when its ready, and let you know what it is like.

Finally given that Jan provided all the oranges for this little marathon, I thought it only propper that I share the recipe for this delicious dessert that she has shared with me – Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream.

Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream

This simple little dessert is the perfect way to finish a meal. It can be prepared ahead - adding the Yoghurt Cream and pistachios just before serving.

Ingredients

  • 6 large navel oranges
  • 6 fresh dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs pure icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 55 g (1/3 cup) pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped

For the Greek Yoghurt Cream

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 125 g light cream cheese
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthways
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) pouring cream
  • 1 tsp pure icing sugar

Directions

  1. To make the yoghurt cream, place the yoghurt, cream cheese and honey in a bowl. Use a small sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until combined. Place the cream and icing sugar in a bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until soft peaks form. Fold into yoghurt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to chill.
  2. Cut top and base from each orange. Use a sharp knife to remove skin and white pith. Holding each orange over a bowl to catch any juice, cut along either side of the white membranes to remove orange segments.
  3. Combine orange, dates and mint in a bowl. Sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon. Toss to combine.
  4. Divide fruit among serving plates and serve with pistachios and yoghurt cream.
  5. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

Notes:

  • My sister Jan passed this recipe to me, she received it from her friend, Mandy, who found it in Australian Good Taste – September 2011, p.80 .
  • Allow 2 hours chilling time.

 

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Links:

Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Sticks 

Nana Mac’s Potato and Orange Salad

Orange and Mint Jelly 

Orange Cordial

Spiced Oranges

Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream 

Sugar Coated Candied Orange Sticks 

Zingy Citrus Mocktail

Nana Mac’s Potato and Orange Salad

My mum has been telling me about Nana’s potato salad for the last few months, and with the oranges on hand, I called and got the recipe… It was boiled potatoes, diced; orange, diced; white salad onion, finely diced; and the dressing was the only dressing I knew when I was growing up – cream, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Of course there were no quantities given.  Mum and I chatted a little and I told her I planned to change the dressing, add fresh herbs and use some different potatoes – she wants me to let her know how it went.

A delicious, refreshing salad of potatoes, oranges and fresh herbs.

Nana Mac's Potato and Orange Salad

This recipe was inspired by my grandmother's recipe for potato salad.

Ingredients

  • 250 g Purple Avon potatoes (or similar)
  • 250 g Sebago potatoes (or similar)
  • 4 oranges
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped chives
  • 2 handfulls of baby rocket

For the dressing

  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sugar, to taste
  • salt and pepper

For Serving

  • 1 tsp finely chopped mint
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chives

Directions

  1. Peel the potatoes and place into a saucepan. Cover with cold water and add a little salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until just tender.
  2. Meanwhile cut top and base from each orange. Use a sharp knife to remove skin and white pith. Holding each orange over a bowl to catch any juice, cut along either side of the white membranes to remove orange segments and set aside. Using your hands, squeeze the off-cuts of the orange over the bowl to get as much juice as you can from them, discard the off-cuts.
  3. Prepare the dressing by adding the mustard, white wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the juice and then whisk to combine, season with salt and pepper and add a little sugar if needed.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and cut them into wedges, while they are still hot. Add the potatoes, mint, chives and oranges to the dressing and, using your hands, gently toss to ensure the potatoes and oranges are well coated in the dressing and herbs. Set in the fridge to cool.
  5. Just before serving, drain any excess dressing from the salad into a small bowl, add the remaining tablespoon of olive and whisk together. Add the rocket and toss to coat with the dressing.
  6. Place half the rocket into the base of a serving dish.
  7. Add the remaining rocket to the salad, and, again, using your hands, gently toss through.
  8. Arrange the salad on top of the rocket in the serving dish and scatter with the finely chopped mint and chives.

Notes:

  • Purple Avon potatoes are a purple fleshed potato.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Source: Nana Mac’s Potato and Orange Salad

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Oranges 1

My beautiful sister Jan, recently visited us for a little holiday. Jan lives in the north of the state of Victoria, very close to the great Murray River, and a wonderful citrus fruit growing area – about six and a half hours drive from here! When I knew that she and her friend, Heather, were going to come for a visit, I asked if she could pick up a couple of bags of oranges, thinking that they would be the same size as those you can pick up at fruit and vegie shops – 3 kilograms… When she arrived, I was presented with 2 bags of oranges – each weighing about 10 kilograms! 20 kilograms of oranges for $12 – that is crazy!!! Of course, I was not allowed to pay for them, but now the challenge begins…

I have given some to visitors, and we have eaten quite a few, and I think I have had to throw about 6 out! I have made old fashioned butter cake – gluten free, which after a couple of tries, is pretty darned good. The orange cake has been iced, sliced and frozen, so that we can have cake when we feel like it.

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However, over the next week there will be a lot of orange based recipes being prepared, and at times, concocted in my kitchen. On the list so far:

  • Orange marmalade – a must for Gary;
  • Orange and mint jelly – already half made;
  • A delicious refreshing citrus mocktail – which could easily be turned into a cocktail for those who must;
  • Orange cordial;
  • Sauces;
  • Salads;
  • Desserts, etc!

Oh, and a little tip, for an easy way to peal oranges, that I read about in an old recipe book of mine The Times Calendar CookBook by Katie Stewart, 1975. This works beautifully, but would probably only do 4-6 oranges at a time, because they still need to be hot for the peel and pith to come away cleanly.

To peel oranges:

Score the peel of the oranges into quarters with a sharp knife. Put all of the oranges in large basin and cover them with boiling water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then drain and peel away the skins. Using this method, both the outer peel and the inner white pith will come away from the fruit. If any white pith remains, simply scrape it away with a knife.

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I have also tried this method on lemons and it worked just as well, so would imagine it could be used on most citrus – grapefruits, limes etc.

I hope that you enjoy seeing everything orange from my kitchen over the next week!

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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