Tag Archives: Salads

The Bard’s Banquet

I write this post from the opposite side of the world – my favourite place to visit – France.

Last year I was asked if I would head up the catering for the banquet at the 2018 Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Victoria. After talking to Gary about it, and asking my sister, Sonya if she would join me, I agreed. This was a voluntary role, and we would be catering for up to 120 people, including the volunteers and musicians. There would be four courses, but the meat would be managed by someone else. Continue reading

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

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!

Links:

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The Vegie Patch – Six weeks later!

It is six weeks since I announced that The Corner Patch had now become a Vegie Patch, and look at it now.

With the Christmas Festivities in full swing, I was struggling to find time to get out to work in it, but somehow managed to steal an hour here and there, and while most things have been planted much later than they should have been, they appear to almost be growing before our eyes.

All the fruit trees have now been trimmed and tied to the wires to train them for the espaliered fruit edging of the area, and, with much persistence, Duchess, for the moment, has been blocked from the area – every now and then, I’d hear a noise, or see a movement, and there she was, making her way along the edge totally oblivious to the fact that I was there! But letting her know she had been discovered and best leave, she would show me where she was entering thus giving me another job to do, in blocking her route!

Some of the plants in the patch have travelled with us, and are siblings of plants that my parents grew quite some years ago – rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus, I also continue to try and grow everything from seed. Having the plants from my parents makes the vegie patch an even more special place to be.

All of the strawberries (except the three pretty pink flowering ones) are siblings of those that my beautiful dad, who is now with the angels, gave to me many years ago, and the asparagus, my gorgeous mum nurtured to what is now a good sized patch at our old family home.

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It was so hard to leave the asparagus run up to fern – but if we want to have a bounty of this delicious treat we must be patient – hopefully next year!

 

The rhubarb, well, I think it’s from plants that we had growing when I was a child, and that is a long time ago! I still remember the bowls of rhubarb and custard our mum would put before us to finish a meal. We were very lucky…

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The rhubarb patch.

I persist with growing almost everything from seed – unfortunately I had to admit defeat on a couple of fronts, although having planted more seed, maybe should not have caved so early. But I am so excited to say, that given I had a lot of seedlings ready to go, we are already enjoying the fruits of our labour at meal time – strawberries with our breakfast; salads using various leaves, edible flowers and fresh herbs; snow peas in our stir fries, rhubarb and strawberry compote with our yoghurt; and our one solitary apricot became a little dessert to finish an evening meal this week.

They say that gardening is wonderful for your health – how true. You can exercise, relax and wind down almost simultaneously! You are providing flowers to fill your vases, food for your table and nutrition for your body! What a wonderful and giving hobby it is…

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Links:

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

Sustainable Gardening Australia

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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…

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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.

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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

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