Tag Archives: Memories

Apricots

I still remember the joy of fresh bread, lashings of homemade apricot jam, and the cream! Fresh cream, real cream, not the homogenised, pasturised stuff from the supermarket shelf – just fresh, runny cream, no sugar, not whipped, just pure fresh cream dribbling over the edge of the bread.- Oh the memories …

We now have two apricot trees in our garden, a Moorpark – supposedly rich in flavour making it great for fresh fruit, jam, drying, stewing and juice, and a Blenheim, said to be one of the most flavourful of apricots around! However, like all of our fruit trees, they have only been in the ground for six months, which means that we must be patient, and wait until they grow before we see a nice crop.

blenheim-moorpark-r

We did have a tiny surprise though – just after Christmas I spotted one solitary little apricot. It had been hiding and growing out of our sight and, fortunately, out of the sight of the birds. I watched it carefully, trying to make sure that the birds did not beat us to it. Then early last week, when I checked on it, I discovered that a grub had made it’s mark – I hadn’t counted on that, so quickly whisked it off the tree, and took it to the kitchen, where it became a simple little sweet treat to finish our evening meal – A simple apricot pastry.

Given the lack of fruit from the garden at the moment, I am constantly on the watch for a good buy, and was delighted to read a little add in the local newspaper for apricots. I made a call and was able to pick up 10kg, which lead to a couple of heavy days in the kitchen! But from that 10kg, we now have 14 jars of apricot halves in a light syrup, 15 jars of Worcestershire sauce, and 10 jars of apricot jam in the store.

There were a few left over so whipped up an apricot and pine nut tart – gluten free.

You know, apricot jam is not only great as a spread, but it can also be used to flavour meat dishes too, and the apricot halves can be used to make delicious sweet treats such as clafoutis, charlottes, tarts etc, but will also used in savoury dishes, including a favourite – Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger! As for the Worcestershire sauce, it’s always handy to lift an otherwise dull dish!

So now that the store is stocked up with apricot preserves, it is my plan to highlight some of them in recipes over the coming months.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

slide1-r

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!

slide1-r

Links:

Nougat Glace

dsc04315-r-r

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, fun, love and food

Christmas morning dawned and we woke to the voices of children, our grandchildren, not all of them, mind you, the last one would arrive later in the morning along with other treasured members of our family.

Preparations had been underway for some time, and the day before, late afternoon, our Christmas began with the arrival of my husband’s daughter and her family from Roma in Queensland – it had taken them three days to get here. We were so excited to see them and have them join us in our new home for Christmas. This year was going to be very special with all of our children and grandchildren together with us for this special time of year.

It was going to be a hot day, but there was a lot of cooking to be done. A huge slab of pork belly was prepared and put in the oven, it needed to cook slow for a couple of hours. Chickens were filled with handfuls of fresh herbs and placed on a spit out on the terrace.

Meanwhile the vegetables were prepared – trays full for roasting, and others for the steamer. I had made a the day before and we also made a beetroot, orange and fresh herb salad.

The arrival of our son and his family from Melbourne, created great excitement with the family from Queensland meeting their little cousin, Cooper for the first time. There was a lot of catching up.

The cooking continued, electric fans were dusted off and set up to try and cool things down. Cream was whipped, Irish Mist Cream prepared to accompany the plum pudding which was bubbling away on the side burner of the BBQ alongside the chickens.

The vegetables were placed in the oven and the temperature bumped up so that we would have beautiful pork crackle.

The last of our guests arrived, my two gorgeous sisters, Sonnie and Jan, together with my beautiful mum and our great-nephew, Aussie. With everyone here, it was time to think about carving and serving, but alas, the oven was not cooperating with the quantity of food in it, the veg weren’t cooking fast enough and the crackle was definitely not happening!   The oven could not go any higher – Our lunch was going to be late, but what could I do!

The ham that I had cured and smoked was retrieved from the fridge – it would be served cold alongside the corned silverside, they were both carved. The chickens were carved, salads placed in bowls, veggies steamed, gravy made and finally the pork had to be carved, even though the crackle was not as I wanted – there was very little left, and the meat was succulent, tender and moist.

People gathered around, filled their plates, and then everyone decided to sit around our kitchen table, which comfortably seats six! Chairs were seconded from throughout the house and squeezed wherever they would or might fit, our table was surrounded by fourteen – it was amazing.

After the meal was finished and everything cleared away it was time for something the children had been waiting for all day…. Gifts from under the tree – they couldn’t wait… Everyone gathered in the sitting room and Jan, Chris, and I played Santa, handing out gifts, to some particularly eager little ones, and some almost as eager older ones – it was mayhem, but wonderful mayhem.

Unfortunately time was close for Chris and his family to return to Melbourne, so we quickly served a little dessert for them to eat before they left.

Once they left, Pavlova with lashings of cream and fresh berries, cheesecake heaped with cherries, peaches, and various other fresh fruits, and of course, the plum pudding with Irish Mist Cream, brandy sauce and icecream were set out for all to enjoy. As we were enjoying our sweet treats, Sonnie walked in and said “don’t eat the cream – it’s off!” Everyone stopped, and then it dawned on them that there was nothing wrong with the cream – it is her favourite and she was just trying to stop eveyone eating it.

So that was our Christmas feast – family, fun, love and food, one cannot ask for anything more, can one.

The afternoon continued with time to cool off in the pool, and I was surprised that people were interested in eating again later that evening. So brought out a platters of local cheeses, fresh fruit, cold meat and fruit cake, and we all sat around the table on the back porch and nibbled and chatted. Before setting up beds for all, for a good night sleep.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

slide1-r

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

 

Paddock to Plate!

Part of what I am about is using local and home grown produce as much as I can, so recently I purchased another side of lamb from Forge Creek Lamb, and while you can select the cuts that you would like, I prefer to dress the lamb myself. You see I was raised on a sheep and grain farm about 500 km from where we now live, so am quite familiar with the various cuts of lamb, having observed and helped my mother and father dress many during my childhood and teenage years. One thing that I learnt was that there was very little waste. My mother was meticulous ensuring that all the meat was saved and frozen, even the tiniest of skerricks! Fat was rendered down and the fresh dripping was used to fry the BEST fish and chips – usually redfin fish that dad had caught, the bones were used to make stock for soups, the little bits were used to make pies, and so on.   So with that memory, I set to work.

Firstly I set up my kitchen – bowls each for meat to mince, casserole meat and sausage meat set up close to where I would be dressing the meat; a baking dish for the bones; a bag for the fat (I think we’re probably a little more wary of animal fat nowadays, so mainly use olive oil and peanut oil for frying) were close by; my stand mixer was set up and the mincing attachment placed in the fridge; knives steel, hacksaw and chopping boards were layed out; an area with my vacuum seal machine was set up with various sized bags at the ready; and, finally a pile of tea towels were stacked up. Then I set to work….

So this is what happened

  • The loin was boned out and tied at one inch intervals, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and then popped in the fridge for a while, before being cut into little noisettes.
  • Little cutlets were cut, their long rib bones were boned from the flap before being trimmed, and all of the excess fat was removed.

dsc06222-r

  • The flap takes time as there is quite a bit of fat to be removed, and invariably you will end up with the odd hole here and there, but they are easily filled with some offcuts. When it was done, it was laid out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap and then rolled up ready for packaging and freezing. The flap is delicious filled with lamb sausage mince, rolled and wrapped in prosciutto and then cooked at low temperature for a while . It makes for a delicious hot meal with veg, but alternatively makes an amazing sliced cold meat for sandwiches or salad.
  • The shank was removed from the shoulder and Frenched.
  • The shoulder was partially boned out.
  • The neck takes quite a bit of work, removing the ribs and cutting the meat away from the vertebrae. But it is well worth the effort with the finished product rolled and slow cooked for a delicious warming meal.
  • The hind shank was removed from the leg and Frenched.
  • The hind leg was totally boned out and butterflied in readiness for summer family gatherings. It will be cooked on the BBQ.

dsc06230-r

  • The chump was boned out.
  • Larger off-cuts were set aside for casserole and stir-fry
  • Smaller off-cuts were minced
  • Fattier off-cuts were minced together with seasonings to become sausage mince.
  • Finally the bones were roasted and then placed into a large stock pot with water, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and peppercorns and left to simmer away for a few hours. After being strained and allowed to set in the fridge, the fat was removed and the stock was pressure canned in Mason jars for use at a later date.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and I can’t lie, it is! But I have a beautiful product to work with and the most amazing childhood memories to guide me along the way. I hope that my efforts have ensured that the lamb I cook has been treated with the utmost respect – from paddock to plate!

dsc06231-r

Now with all this beautiful Forge Creek Lamb in the freezer, I have the delightful task of coming up with the best way to prepare and serve it. The first meal that I prepared with it used the little lamb noisettes. I simply pan fried them to pink and placed them on a small disk of fried potato.

To accompany these little noisettes we had steamed peas, baby broad beans and asparagus topped with roasted baby rainbow carrots. On the side I put a little roasted beetroot and goats cheese, and to finish it off, I prepared and a delicious sauce with the lamb stock, white wine and aromats. I was so happy with this plate of food, inspired by the lamb and a trip to the local farmer’s market where I purchased all the vegetables to accompany it.

Of course we had to have dessert – Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – a berry and cream pie with the first strawberries from our garden.

The work still continues on the corner patch, it is now fenced and has a gate. We’re still waiting for the timber to box the beds, but hopefully it will be ready next week! I have managed to get a few things planted though, including a Boysenberry.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – Berry & Cream Pie

Slow Cooked Lamb Chump

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Glossary

Corner Patch

Forge Creek Lamb

 

Aussie’s 18th Birthday Celebrations.

Last weekend we hitched up the trailer, packed up some food, a couple of birthday cakes, bedding and a little wine and hit the road. We had a six hour drive ahead of us, as we headed to central Victoria for a weekend of camping, birthday celebrations and loads of fun. When we arrived at camp, those that had already arrived had settled in around the camp fire and were enjoying pre-dinner drinks, so instead of unpacking we decided to join them. But finally thought it prudent to get unpacked and set up so that we could start thinking about dinner.

In planning for the weekend, Dave, Sonnie, Aussie and I had prepared a meal plan so that we knew what food to bring. The main thing was to keep it as simple as possible…

  • Friday night – pizzas cooked in the camp pizza oven that Dave says was inspired by me. (apparently I suggested that a pizza oven would be great at the camp site, so Dave googled and then set about making one, a few years ago) we would also cook sausages cooked at the camp fire.
  • Saturday lunch – homemade bread cooked in the pizza oven, rissoles, potatoes cooked in the camp oven with toppings, and coleslaw.
  • Breakfasts – everyone to look after themselves.
  • Saturday night – birthday dinner at the Logan Pub

13939407_10208694780598884_8744332955621302759_nAs we unpacked and set up, Sonnie, Cath and Aussie prepared the pizza toppings, and when I got our Esky out I sent down the food that I had bought to add to the evening. Everyone got to make their own pizzas selecting from the toppings available, and Dave was in charge of cooking them in the pizza oven – What a treat… What an eye opener for Fabien, a friend and chef from Paris who was visiting with us for six weeks. With the sausages cooked at the camp fire, we all sat around enjoying some laughs and catching up on recent happenings. The night was freezing, everyone was tired, so we all decided to head off to bed for the night.

The next morning we were up nice and early, the DSC03986night had been a very cold one, and the campfire was inviting, as was a nice hot cup of tea. Brekky for our family was bacon and egg sandwiches. The fun was beginning. There were quad bikes and motor bikes to ride, a drone to fly, the camp fire to keep burning, the pizza oven to get fired up, wood to cut, more people arriving etc. etc. While the men, or should I say, boys, hooned around on the bikes, and cut wood, Cin learned how to ride the quad bike and she and Chris took our grandson Cooper to see the bah bahs (AKA sheep). For the rest of the day that is all he wanted to do – go see the bah bahs…

As the morning wore on it was time to make the bread, so, using bread mixes, I added the yeast and water, and worked the dough making it ready to set it aside for its first rise – I did this by placing the dough into very large, floured pots and setting them close to the camp fire. When they had proved and doubled in size, I knocked them down, formed them into loaves and set them on trays, again, covered by the large pots and put them back by the fire for their final rise before they went into the pizza oven. While this was happening, I sat and individually wrapped a stack of potatoes in foil ready to be cooked. When everything was ready, Sonnie and I jumped on the quad bikes and took off while Dave, Jan and I’m not sure who else looked after the cooking of the bread and the potatoes.

When we come back the bread was cooked, and all that was to be done was to cook the rissoles that I had made, put out bread, the amazing coleslaw that Sonnie had made, and

the toppings for the potatoes, and let everyone help themselves. It was a late lunch and I can tell you, there was not much left at the end of the meal.

Late afternoon we took to whatever mode of transport was available and went and watched as the sunset on what had been a wonderful day…

13669310_10209824035938238_471569794602212137_o

Sunset Perfection (Photo by Chris Malyon)

But all was not finished.   There were cakes (Chcolate Mud Cake and Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake) to be decorated before we set off then we set off to the Logan Pub Aussie’s 18th birthday dinner. (They sent a bus to pick us up from the middle of a paddock, in the middle of nowhere, and took us to the pub.) We settled in and had a great meal, cake and a lot of banter before we all headed back to the camp site. After more time around the camp fire, it was time to turn in and get some rest.

DSC04055

The next morning we had to break camp fairly early, as we had to get back home and prepare for the next trip in a couple of days time. There was a lot of work to do and very little time to do it in…

Happy Birthday Aussie, we hope it was the best one yet!

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

BBQ Beef Rissoles

Thai Flavoured Pork Rissoles

Our Mum’s Dressing for Coleslaw

Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake

Save

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.

DSC03575

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.

DSC03578

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.

DSC03464

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