Tag Archives: Friends

A Gluten Free Cooking Class

This week I held a one-on-one cooking class for a wonderful new friend, and fellow volunteer from the Garden for the Community at Stratford, Maggie. She wanted to learn how to make my gluten free Weed Pies – I continue to be fascinated how popular these pies are. I did a blog on them last year and whenever I serve them up they are a hit – they have been served at lunches, morning teas, even the opening of the local Stratford Shakespeare Festival a couple of months ago!

Anyway, I suggested we hold the lesson in her kitchen so that she could use her equipment, and if she didn’t have similar equipment and/or appliances to what I have, we could adapt the methods accordingly. I had forwarded the recipes for the Gluten Free Potato Pastry and the pies earlier so that she could have all the ingredients necessary, and also asked her to have two litres of milk on hand for the cheese.

On the morning of the lesson I decided to write up a recipe sheet for the cheese also, and took that along. When I arrived we sat in front of the wood heater with “Puss” her gorgeous grey cat, and enjoyed a warming cup of tea and a chat – we’re very good at the “chat” side of things…

Finally we went to the kitchen and started. First to be made was the cheese, based on the recipe for Queso Blanco from the book Home Cheese Making in Australia, the milk was placed into a saucepan, and stirred and watched, until it reached 80˚C. Vinegar was then added and stirred through, the lid placed on and it was set aside for a little while we got onto cooking the potatoes for the pastry.

When we checked pot, the curds hadn’t formed as I would like, so we added a little more vinegar and started to gather the ingredients for the pastry, and mash the potatoes before setting them aside to cool. This time the curds were perfect and Maggie carefully ladled them into a colander lined with a couple of layers of muslin, the corners were pulled together and tied with string, before hanging the cheese, in its muslin bag, over the pot to drain until we were ready to use it. All the time we were working, or should I say, while Maggie was working, we continued to chat and share stories about our life experiences, cooking, gardening etc.

It was now time to gather the ingredients for the filling for the pies – I couldn’t wait! We ventured into her gorgeous back yard which is filled with fruit trees, a magnificent chicken pen, and many beds of various shapes and sizes for vegetables and herbs. We wandered around while she explained what all the trees were, I got to meet her gorgeous girls,

we checked out all the herbs and veggies, and then we set to work gathering weeds and leaves for the pies. I had spied the nettles and suggested that they would be perfect for the pies, Maggie donned the gloves and gathered them while I gathered some chic weed and mallows to add to our collection of nettles, chard, bok choy, broccoli shoots, carrot tops etc. Finally some fresh herbs were added to our gorgeous basket of greenness and we were done.

Back in the kitchen we picked the leaves from all the greens, with Maggie very carefully taking care of the nettles. They were all washed and then chopped finely. Onion and garlic was added to a little oil in a pan and sautéed before the weeds were added and allowed to cook down a little.

With that done, the pastry needed to be made – with everything in the food processor, it quickly come together and was ready to roll out to line the lightly greased pie tins. Maggie took the cheese down, placed it into a bowl and salted it before adding some of it to the greens together with a couple of beautiful fresh eggs. The mix was seasoned and tasted, and it was decided it still needed a little more seasoning. Meanwhile I had rolled out the pastry, lined the tins with it, and had them resting in the refrigerator, and we had even remembered to turn the oven on!

Finally the pies were filled, the pastry lids put on and sealed. Finished with an egg wash and a scattering of sesame seeds they were set into the oven to bake.

Time for a very late lunch of Maggie’s delicious pea and ham soup in front of the fire – well kind of … With all our time in the kitchen and the garden we hadn’t been giving any attention to the fire and it had kind of gone out!. A little kindling, a couple of fire starters, and we were back in action. With Puss at my feet we settled down in front of the fire, enjoyed our soup and chatted some more.

Half an hour later, the pies were out of the oven, so with the main part of her dinner prepared, it was time for me to go home and start doing a little work there.

I love teaching people how easy it is to cook, how to use what they have and adjust a recipe to that end, I love teaching tips and tricks, and sharing my knowledge, I also love learning from others.

Oh and the verdict from Maggie – “Delicious”

Queso Blanco

  • Servings: Makes 250g - approx.
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I make this cheese for my weed pies and ravioli ignuedi recipes. I shorten the hanging time to an hour and it gives the perfect cheese for these recipes – not too wet!

Ingredients

2 litres of full cream milk ¼ cup white vinegar 1 tsp of cheese salt, or salt to taste

Equipment

Stainless steel pot large enough for your two litres of milk Dairy thermometer Stainless steel perforated spoon Stainless steel ladle Tight weave cheese making cloth Large stainless steel or enamel colander String Somewhere to hang your cheese – an overhead cupboard door handle is ideal

Directions

Place your two litres of milk in the stainless steel pot and heat milk by direct heat to 80˚C. Remove from heat.
Add the white vinegar and stir well. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. There will be a clear separation of the curds and whey. If this separation has not occurred add a little more vinegar.
Line a large colander with your tight weave cheese making cloth. Carefully ladle your curds and whey into the lined colander and drain for a few minutes. Tie the corners of the cheese making cloth together and hang, using the string, to drain for a further six hours or until the whey stops dripping.
Remove the cheese from the cloth and place in a bowl. Salt to taste.

Notes:

You can use skim milk, but you will not get as much cheese. The salt is important not only for flavour, but it acts to preserve the cheese. The cheese will last up to two week in the refrigerator. I make this cheese for my weed pies and ravioli ignuedi recipes. I shorten the hanging time to an hour and it gives the perfect cheese for these recipes – not too wet! This is similar to lemon cheese but has a milder flavour. This style of cheese is used in Mexican cooking and also for making béchamel style sauces and pairs beautifully with tomato based dishes. I like to crumble the cheese through salads and over smoked salmon tarts. Source: Home Cheese Making in Australia, V Pearson (2015) p42.


Weed Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity of Savoury Potato Pastry
  • 350 g mixed greens (refer to note below)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 150g dry ricotta or feta
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg beaten (for egg wash)

Directions

  1. Rinse the greens and remove any yellow or damaged leaves.
  2. Finely chop the onion and any stems, and then finely slice the leaves, keeping separate
  3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and stems, sauté until soft, then add the leaves and put the lid on the pan and cook until the leaves have all wilted. Set aside to cool. Drain off any liquid.
  4. Preheat oven to 200˚C (Fan forced).
  5. Combine the cooled greens with the cheeses, eggs and oregano, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Lightly grease the pie tin(s).
  7. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking, paper, and line the pie tin(s).
  8. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes, before filling.
  9. Cover with pastry, make a little hole to allow steam to escape, brush with egg wash and bake 25 minutes, until golden.

Notes

  • For your wild greens, use a combination of dandelion, mustard, chickweed, rocket, wild fennel, beetroot tops, turnip tops, silverbeet or rainbow chard. You could also add some fresh herbs if you want.

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Mini muffin sized weed pies baked for a morning tea recently.

Until next time…

Happy gardening & bon appétit!

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Figs

 

Figs evoke such wonderful memories…

 

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To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean. (Elizabeth David)

The beautiful big fig tree down by the creek at our old family home – we always knew that if the creek flooded in the spring and/or summer that we would have a wonderful crop. Then there is the Christmas cake and pudding that I make every year, that has a jar of fig jam included in the recipe – I am happy to say it is always fig jam from our store cupboard. And who could forget a day at the races in the country, with my beautiful friend Sophia, where a platter scattered with fresh figs, feta, walnuts and prosciutto, drizzled with honey was handed around to get the day started. This is where I totally fell in love with the flavour of the fresh fig.

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A great fig should look like it’s just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet. (Yotam Ottolenghi)

We both have very fond memories of our time with an elderly couple in France where I received some of the best advice ever. Over breakfast, we were talking about the fruit grown on their property and how it was stored… Genevieve told me that the apples were stored in the old stone chapel across the way, and, in fact, we were eating the last of what they had stored away from last season for our breakfast. I asked, what to do with excess figs, apart from drying them or making jam etc. She told me that she just threw them in a bag in the freezer, then whenever she was cooking a roast, she would grab a few out and scatter them around the roast as it cooked – she assured me that they would keep their shape and not become mush, and she was spot on!

So whenever anyone asks if I could use some figs, I never turn them down. I bring them home, wash them, and throw them in a bag in the freezer.

This year I don’t know how many kilograms we have received, but I recently weighed what is left and there are still 11 kilograms frozen and waiting for me to use. I follow Genevieve’s advice and toss them around a roast, but I also take them out and dehydrate them. Occasionally I grab a few, slit them down squish in some feta and wrap them in prosciutto, grill them and then scatter with some toasted walnut and drizzle with a little honey or fig vinegar glaze.

Last week the weather turned very wintery providing the perfect opportunity to use some of the figs from the freezer, together with some dried figs and fig vinegar. This Slow Cooked Pork Scotch with Figs and Fennel Seeds was the perfect warming meal on such a bleak, cold day. The pork just fell apart and was perfect with all the sticky figiness!

Slow Cooked Pork Scotch with Figs and Fennel Seeds

This delicious winter warmer was inspired by the onset of winter and the need for some yummy comfort food - the thought of combining some delicious Coltish Pork with figs and fig products I had been making over the last month or so seemed obvious!

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork neck
  • 150g diced onion
  • 80g diced celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup fig vinegar
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • ¼ cup dried figs, diced
  • 2 cups pork stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 150˚C.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, pound the fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt to a powder.
  3. Cut the pork neck into four even sized, thick slices and season lightly with the spice powder.
  4. Heat oil in a large heavy based, ovenproof pan or casserole and fry the slices of pork in two batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from pon and set aside.
  5. To the same pan, add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender. Add the remaining spice powder and stir.
  6. Turn up the heat and the fig vinegar and diced fig, stirring to deglaze the pan. Cook until the fig vinegar has reduced by half, then reduce the heat, and stir in the sage.
  7. Place the pork in a single layer in the pan, add the stock and bring back to the boil.
  8. Cover with the lid and place in the preheated oven for 1½ – 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  9. When the meat is cooked. Remove it to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  10. Skim the fat from the juices in the pan, then place the pan over a medium heat to reduce the sauce to a nice syrupy consistency.
  11. Serve hot with steamed greens, creamy mash potato, and if you wish, some grilled fresh figs.

Notes:

  • Source: SBA’s Kitchen
  • If you do not have pork stock, I would suggest using chicken stock.
  • I prefer to purchase the pork neck in the piece and portion it myself, but you could ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • If you do not have fig vinegar, try using a combination of cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar.
  • I love to support our local farmers, so purchase my pork from Coltish Pork. It is wonderful to get to know the producer and become friends with those who are providing such a wonderful quality of product to work with.

 

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Finally just this weekend we had our great friends, Caitlin and Paul visit, and to start a long, leisurely evening meal we prepared a Salade de Chevre et Figues. I love it so much when our guests join in the food preparation – I had such fun cooking and chatting and catching up.

Of course there is always a good supply of figs waiting in the freezer so that I can make another batch of fig vinegar, which is fast replacing balsamic vinegar in a lot of dishes in our meals.

Until next time…

Happy cooking & bon appétit!

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Generous Gifts

I love coming up with new recipes to highlight new produce, and this weekend we received a wonderful gift of home-cured meats from a friend. Mike, Chris and Mon, our son’s future in-laws, visited from Melbourne and came bearing beautiful gifts, including beautiful flowers, some wonderful wine and Mike’s cured meats.

The flowers went straight onto the table, they were so pretty, and the meats were put to good use as the foundation of a couple of amazing anitpasto platters, one as a starter to our evening meal, the other for a light lunch on the terrace.

Meal times were wonderful chatty affairs and we spent a lot of time getting to know each other better, talking about family, funny experiences, food and gardening. Previously we only seemed to catch up at family gatherings where there was little or no time to talk and get to know each other.

On Saturday while they went visiting, I took the opportunity to race into the local farmer’s market -I wanted a little something to send home with them, and the vegie patch is really not quite up to speed at the moment. I also needed to top up our supplies of Wuk Wuk steak.

When they returned they came bearing another gift, a wonderful heritage apple tree for our garden, a Ribston Pippin – another lovely thoughtful gift. Ribston Pippin - Feature ImageI have already worked out where it is going to live and how it will be espaliered… We were so pleased to be able to give them a bag of fresh local produce – potatoes, beetroot, zucchini, corn, eggs, etc. as well as rhubarb from our garden and some Jalapeno Chili and Sprouting Broccoli seedlings. But after they left I was kicking myself, as I also wanted to give them some preserves from the store! Oh well, next time, they will be returning in March to help with some repairs to our home, and there are some cooking projects on the agenda as well.

Now… I wanted something different to cook to highlight one of Mike’s cured meats. Inspired by a recipe Endives Rôties au Roquefort, Chips de Jambon from Saveurs no 234 p59, I created Roasted Belgian Endive (Witlof) with Shadows of Blue Cheese and Mike’s Prosciutto, a recipe highlighting a luscious, creamy local blue cheese, Mike’s amazing prosciutto, and my fig vinegar. It’s a wonderful entrée with the bitterness of the endive, the crispness of the prosciutto, the creamyness of the cheese, the salt from both, and the sweetness of the fig vinegar all complementing each other.

This is a recipe that will definitely be reappearing on our table in the future.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Nougat Glacé

Nougat Glace evokes memories of special times spent with beautiful friends. Some years ago, my amazing husband decided I needed to get away, so whisked me off to France for a much needed ten day break and opportunity to be with my best friend, Véronique. Below is a little piece I wrote in my diary about our arrival…

As we pull into the Auxerre station I notice Véronique and Yannick waiting for us on the
platform and wave madly, Véronique notices me and as we go to step off the train they are waiting at our carriage door. We hug and kiss each other – it is so good to be together again.

In the car we chat all the way back to their home and our luggage is quickly stowed in their little gite where we will sleep during our stay, and quickly note the log fire burning in the living area. This is heaven.

Over at the main house we sit down to lunch, the first meal of what is going to be a four day gourmet feast! Our meal starts with Yannick’s walnut wine, a delicious tipple that I have now learnt to make. As sip on the aperitif, we continue to catch up and nibble on chips and pistachios. Entrée was then served – a terrine of foie gras with brioche, all made by my wonderful friend. Next on the menu was a main of braised veal with vegetables from their garden, which was followed by a selection of local cheeses and a basket of bread.. Finally for dessert, nougat glace, a delicious homemade icecream, served with raspberry coulis. I have to add that throughout the meal, Yannick produced an incredible array of wines, carefully selected to complement each course – what a wonderful welcome!

So what is Nougat Glace?   It is a delicious creamy frozen mousse of Italian meringue and whipped cream, that has a selection of dried and/or glace fruits, and nuts carefully folded through. The nougat flavour is created by adding honey to the sugar syrup used when making the Italian meringue. Often made with praline, I prefer to make it with lightly roasted nuts, which cuts back the sweetness a little. It is generally served with a raspberry coulis and little sprigs of mint to garnish.  If you want to impress at a dinner party, this is the way to go, everything is prepared ahead, all you need to do at the last minute is melt a little dark chocolate and plate it up!

As I mentioned, this is a very sweet ice cream, so we find that the tartness of fresh raspberries and a little drizzle of good quality 70% chocolate, helps to balance the sweetness a little. Of course you must use a beautiful honey in such a special treat, and our preferred honey is macadammia honey – just delicious!

Nougat Glacé

A frozen mouse of meringue and cream with all the flavours of nougat. This delicious sweet treat is often served during the Christmas festivities in France. A perfect dessert for the summer.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 300 ml pure cream, very cold
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 40 g sugar
  • 40 g pistachio nuts
  • 40 g blanched hazlenuts or almonds
  • 40 g golden raisins
  • 40 g dried cranberries
  • 40 g dried blueberries

To Serve

  • 250 ml raspberry coulis
  • 50 g 70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 200 g fresh raspberries
  • sprigs of mint to garnish

Directions

  1. Beat the egg whites until stiff.
  2. Meanwhile, place the sugar and the honey in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat slightly and continue to cook until the mixture has reached 117° C.
  3. With the mixer beating slowly, pour the honey syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites, then increase the speed and continue whipping until the mixture has cooled.
  4. Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  5. Cut the raisins and into pieces.
  6. Chop/crush hazelnuts and pistachios.
  7. Line a cake mould with parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  8. Gently fold the egg whites into whipped cream, and then gently fold through the fruit and nuts.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared mould and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Place in the freezer for at least 12 hours, to freeze.
  11. To serve, turn out onto a flat cake plate, drizzle with a little melted dark chocolate and garnish with raspberry coulis, fresh berries and mint leaves.

Notes:

  1. If you prefer, make a praline from the nuts as folows:
    1. Line a baking tray with baking/parchment paper.
    2. Combine 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water in saucepan and heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Increase to medium-high heat and cook without stirring until mixture turns golden caramel brown.
    3. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the nuts just to coat them in the caramel.
    4. Immediately, pour the mixture  in a thin layer onto the prepared baking tray.
    5. Allow to cool completely and harden.
    6. Break into one to two inch pieces, enclose in a clean tea towel and then crush using a rolling pin – be careful not to overdo it and turn it into a powder!
  2. To blanch hazelnuts:
    1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
    2. Roast in oven for 5-10 minutes, until the hazelnuts are aromatic, lightly roasted and the skins start to crack.
    3. Place the hazelnuts into a clean tea towel and gently rub together, to remove the skins.
    4. Spread the shelled hazelnuts, in a single layer, on a baking tray.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Links:

Nougat Glace

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The Little Gite – a perfect little home away from home in the Burgundy countryside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome visitors in the garden

Again, we have been busy in the garden…

The pool garden renovation is now complete and it looks wonderful, thanks to a lot of hard work put in by Gary, and the help of local tradies Johnno and Nic.

Finished!

I just helped by making lunches.

Lunches for the workers

All bar the fencing had been completed when some more wonderful friends arrived from Melbourne for a weekend break. It was so good to see my dear friend Beth again – it had been about seven months since we had seen each other. She and her husband, Steve, arrived late Friday afternoon, after battling the traffic to get out of town and we soon settled in for a lot of talking and a bit of eating. I had our dinner all but prepared when they arrived. A shoulder of lamb from Forge Creek Lamb was slowly cooking on the stove top with the veg prepared as well, including a favourite of Cauliflower Cheese, this time done with goat’s milk, and goat’s cheese, as well as a little parmesan. Dessert was a favourite, crème brulee.

Saturday morning after a lesson of poaching eggs in water, we all went to a farmer’s market in nearby Sale, stopping off on the way to buy some more beautiful fresh eggs for Beth to take home. The wind was quite strong and some of the stallholders weren’t prepared – we all hopped in and helped one dismantle her gazebo before it ended up the other side of town! But from then it was a nice, but blustery, stroll along, checking out what was on offer and for me, to collect my orders from Coltish Pork and Wuk Wuk Beef. Don’t you just love buying from the local farmers. Poor Gary was seen doing a few trips back and forth to the car with our meat and some lovely fresh vegetables!

Using some of the market purchases during the week

Back home we decide to have a BBQ lunch – albeit quite late. Which meant that a variety of sausages picked up at the market were now bound for the hotplate. Fortunately with the Natural Pork sausages being onion and garlic free, everyone could enjoy a sausage. We did, however, also add some of our home smoked hot and cold salmon to the table, along with a nice fresh citrusy salad and a gluten free pull-apart that I made up quickly.

We all enjoyed sitting out on the terrace, chatting, and after a lovely relaxing afternoon and weren’t sure that we’d be able to manage dinner! We did… So just a simple meal of Scotch Fillet (from the farmer’s market) with some mash and green beans, and for dessert… Chocolate Fondant with homemade Raspberry Sorbet!

Chcolate Fondant - Recipe Feature Image

Now whoever tells you that Chocolate Fondant is difficult to make is wrong!!! I have a book that I absolutely love,dsc05899-r “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Band. Elizabeth is an American Journalist based in France and she writes the story of how she went out to lunch with a Frenchman, fell in love and ended up living in Paris. I love this book so much, that I have two copies! Earlier this year when my mother was visiting I wanted to make Chocolate Fondant for her birthday dinner, but horror, we could not find either copy of the book anywhere! Both my husband and I scoured the piles of books (at that stage we didn’t have our bookcases) but to no avail. So there was no Chocolate Fondant, just Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake for the occasion. Not long after both copies came home – I had leant one copy to each of my sisters!

Anyway I digress!

During one of our wanders around the garden, Beth commented on the wasp/bee like insects that were thick and very active around the roses and the Kaffir Lime, I made the comment that maybe they liked aphids, as there were very few to be seen, which is unusual. So after they left I did a little research and discovered that they were Hover Flies, and guess what, they love aphids – I quickly declared these little insects to be welcome guests in our garden.

Moving on, this week Gary and I have erected our garden shed, mainly Gary, I should say. Although I was seen up a ladder on more than one occasion! I love our little shed, it fits perfectly with our house and garden, and it will be right down in the corner patch for quick and easy access.

As we were carrying the shed panels down to the Corner Patch, I was pointing out new flowers in the garden and Gary commented that he loved that even though we were in the middle of doing something, I could still take the time to look around and find things! I must say I am easily distracted in the garden, which is what happened as I was heading back to the house for something and noticed a large number of orange butterflies on the white hebes (a little research and I discovered these to be “Wanderer” Butterflies and apparently they are not so common in this area) – more welcome visitors in the garden. I just had to sit on the lawn and try to get a photograph – I failed as you can see.

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When I was not needed I worked at moving more dirt and setting out two more little beds, which will soon be home to rhubarb and asparagus, as well as being home to my treasured strawberry pots.

Finally, as a treat one night this week I made a delicious meal using another cut of Forge Creek Lamb Sumac and Garlic Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes and Yoghurt Sauce. I so love it when a recipe idea comes together so nicely.

Sumac and Garlic Lamb - Recipe Feature Image

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Pool Garden

Chocolate Fondant

Sorbet

Sumac and Garlic Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes and Yoghurt Sauce

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