Thursday, 20 June 2013

Lemon syrup cake

I love this cake. It is easy to make,it works as a dessert or a cake and it freezes well. What more could you want, and of course it tastes great!
110 Grams of butter
1/2 cup of castor sugar
Lemon zest and juice of a half a lemon ( you want about 1/4 cup of lemon juice)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup of SR flour
1/2 teaspoon of bi carb soda
1/2 cup of buttermilk ( I add 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tarter to milk to make butter milk)
Cream the butter and sugar and add an egg.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Beat till it has a creamy consistency then fold in in the siftedd flour and bi carb and the milk.
Line a 21cm pan with baking paper.

Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for approx 30 minutes.
Whilst the cake is cooking make the syrup.
I don't have a stove top at the moment so I do this part in the microwave. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and zest and 50 Grams of butter. Heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.

Once the cake is cooked allow it to cool, just a bit, on a cake cooler,before transferring it to a serving plate.
Stab the cake all over with a skewer and then spoon the warm syrup over it.
It is now ready to serve.
As a dessert it is lovely with cream.
I usually make another batch of syrup so that I can pour some syrup over the warm cake as I serve it.
You will get so many compliments.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Beetroot dip

I have so many Beetroot that I decided to make a lovely dip to have with a few drinks.
I picked three beetroot, cut the tops and tails off and washed them thoroughly.
I would normally bake the beetroot as it intensifies the flavor but as usual I had not planned to make a dip this morning.
I have a big enough electricity bill with out turning the oven on to roast three Beetroot. I think I will try putting them in foil with a little oil and leaving them on top of the combustion heater next time. It's worth a try will let you know what happens.

For convenience this time, I cooked them in the microwave, I didn't peel them because that would allow a lot of the colour to leach out. I stabbed them all over with a skewer so the skin wouldn't burst ( and as it was it made a colorful mess of my microwave).

They took about 10 minutes until soft when tested with a skewer. To ensure they were cooked all the way through, I covered the plate with foil to keep the heat in, and left them for another 10 minutes.

I then peeled them, chopped them up and left them to cool.

While they were cooling I mixed together
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 dessert spoon of honey ( I warm this just to make it easier to blend)
Juice of a lemon
1/4 tspn of chilli powder
Level teaspoon of cummin
I then put the chopped Beetroot in my mini food processor and poured the mixture in.

Once it was all smooth I added a tablespoon of cream cheese and a dessertspoon of sour cream.

Processed it again and it was ready to serve.

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Sunday, 9 June 2013

Echidna Rescue

With 16.5 hectares to choose from why did he have to try and burrow into the dogs' yard. Harry ( the Spoodle) and Ripley ( Rottweiler, ridgeback cross) were not impressed with the attempted invasion.
The problem was the echidna had managed to tangle his quills in the wire.

So we tried to dig him out but he just burrowed deeper and deeper. And as we tried to lift him he just locked his big claws into the ground as anchors.
When we finally got him out the hole was quite impressive.

We put him in a box to move him somewhere safer.

Then released him in new digging spot.

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Sunday, 2 June 2013

Mushrooms galore

So many mushrooms wish we could eat them.

We have hundreds of mushrooms but are not game to eat them. They look like field mushrooms but when you scratch the top of some, they become bright yellow where they have been scratched.

Toadstools and puffballs galore too!

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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Limoncello Recipe Update

A month or so ago I started making limoncello as a bit of fun. I have just tasted the fruits of my labour, sitting in the garden, in the sunshine and it is to die for!

I shared the recipe I was using on my blog when I started making the limoncello and you can see that post here:

It's turned out beautiful and I can't wait to share it with family and friends.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Growing sweet peas in containers

I love sweet peas, their pretty colors and best of all their gorgeous fragrance!
I have great childhood memories of my dad growing them on enormous trellises and then picking bunches for mum and I.
I have tried to grow them since, without a lot of luck. Big trellises don't work in my garden and the dwarf sweet pea plants just flopped over all their neighbors in the garden, to the detriment of those plants.
When visiting a friend I saw a great idea. She had planted sweet peas around the edge of a large, round tub. Then she had made a teepee shape with fine twigs tied at the top. She then trained the sweet peas up the twigs.
I copied this idea last year and when they flowered they were beautiful. I had put the pot by the front door so the fragrance wafted into the house.
This year I was lucky enough to find a large frame at a garage sale and have used that.
The first rings were a bit high for my little plants to attach to, so I used some meat skewers and twine to give them a "leg up" so to speak!

Planting in a pot seems to help keep the bugs away that are very fond of soft little leaves. I am hoping for a lovely display again this year.

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cajun calamari

I love salt and pepper squid( calamari) but I have done a variation that I really like. I still do the usual prep, flour then egg, but the final coat is fine polenta with a spoonful of Cajun spices and a little salt mixed through it. How much cajun you put in depends on your own taste levels. Start with a teaspoon of cajun and try it.
The picture below is the coated squid rings ready to fry.

I shallow fry it. When cooked, a generous squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice, a side salad, a glass of wine and enjoy.
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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Preserved lemons

I love preserved lemons. I make a delicious salad dressing with them and also a tangy breadcrumb crust for fish. Here is my very simple recipe for this very useful addition to the pantry.
The first task is to find organic lemons, the best are those from someone you knows tree. They must be unwaxed. Wash them to get rid of any dust or spray. Cut off the stem and the point at the other end and then quarter the lemons.

Prepare your glass jars for the lemons. Make sure they have a tight fitting lid and that they are scrupulously clean. They must be sterilized and I find the easiest way to do this is to put about a tablespoon of water in the glass jar ( do not put the lid on) and microwave on high for approx one minute. Take care when removing from the microwave as it is very hot. Drain the water out and the jar is ready.
I always wear gloves when I do this for two reasons. One to keep everything clean and secondly the salt is very drying on your skin.
I pack salt around each quarter and put in the jar, I use the handle of a wooden spoon to position the lemon quarters.

I wedge the lemon quarters tightly in layers in the jar and then on top of each layer I put a generous layer of salt.
Keep going till the jar is full.

Juice enough lemons so that you can fill the jar with lemon juice.

I use a skewer to release air bubbles as I pour in the lemon juice, once no more bubbles come out you will know you have got rid of all the air bubbles. Clean around the top of the jar with paper towel. I then put a piece of baking paper over the jar so that the metal lid is not in contact with the lemon juice.
Now put them away in a dark cupboard for six weeks.
And as they say here is one I prepared six weeks earlier.

In the picture below I have scraped the pith and lemon from the skin. This is shown on the right, on the left are the skins which I will use in recipes. Once I have opened the jar I keep it in the fridge.

This is my preserved lemon salad dressing recipe.
Put all the ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. Keeps well in the fridge.
1/2 cup of light salad oil
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1 dessert spoon of sugar
2-3 of the lemon skins finely chopped.
1/2 teaspoon of the preserved lemon juice.
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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Home made Limoncello

I have long been a fan of this delectable Italian liqueur so, since I had a lot of lemons, I decided to make some.
It was very simple and here is the recipe that I used.
1 bottle of vodka
9 lemons preferably organic and definitely not waxed.
350 gm of sugar
150 ml of water.
The first step was to rinse the lemons to ensure there was no dust or dirt on them. The recipe said to grate the zest off of the lemons but I found that too much of the bitter pith was coming off too.

I reverted to peeling the zest off very thinly with a vegetable peeler. The water and sugar went into a saucepan and I dissolved the sugar over a gentle heat. (Stir and watch this well or it will either boil over or catch).
Once the sugar was dissolved, I removed it from the heat and allowed it to cool. Now I needed to sterilise a large jar with a tight fitting lid and I have always found the easiest way to do this, is to put a small amount of water in the jar and microwave for 1 minute.
Be careful removing the jar from the microwave as it is vey hot. Tip out the water and you are ready to go.

I added the lemon zest to the sterilised jar and poured in the vodka. Once the sugar syrup was cool, added that to the jar too. Gave it a good stir and put the lid on and placed the jar in a cool dark place, where it will need to stay for 30 days.
Twice a week I will need to take it out and place the jar on a flat surface and spin gently several times so that the contents are mixed.
In a months time I am to strain the contents of the jar through muslin or a fine sieve to get rid of the zest. I will then be able to, hopefully, bottle my lovely Limoncello. I did sneak a taste and it was very good already!
And so as to not waste all the lemons that I only used the zest from, I juiced them and made lemon ice locks. When frozen I will transfer them to a Tupperware container and they will be great for drinks or for when lemons are scarce.

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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Gorgonzola cream sauce

Gorgonzola cream sauce. Spectacularly simple. In fact when I was told about this recipe, my usual " that's never going to work " thought process kicked in. However I tried it with great success. All you do is bring cream to boiling point and then add chopped Gorgonzola to the hot cream. A small amount of gorgonzola goes a long way !
Stir till the cheese melts and then serve over pasta or vegetables. I made a roast pumpkin pasta dish and poured the cream sauce over it. It was so good!

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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Lebanese spiced eggplant

Recently I tasted a great eggplant spread at the markets in Darwin. It was served on zattar bread with labnah on top. A squeeze of fresh lime juice completed this wonderful taste treat.
I wanted to recreate it when I got home,but I did not have a lot of luck finding a recipe. I had thought that pomegranate molasses was part of the recipe and I managed to track down a bottle. Let's just say I think this must be an acquired taste!
After trial and error I have developed my own recipe. The family loves it!
It's very simple and the taste intensifies the longer it is left.

First I peeled the eggplants ( I had two large eggplants) and sliced them thinly. I sprinkled the sliced eggplant with a dessert spoon of ground coriander,a dessert spoon of ground cummin, a dessert spoon of Cajun spices and salt to taste. Finally I added a tablespoon of minced garlic and a good slug of local Fleurieu peninsula olive oil.

Toss the eggplant to coat all the slices well.
The next step was to char the eggplant.
I found the easiest way to do this was to use my George Forman grill and it was a great success. The oil that drained off I just kept adding back to the eggplant on the grill.

Once it was cooked and had a bit of colour I placed it in a covered container, added about a tablespoon of a really good aged balsamic and a little more olive oil. Keep it in the fridge. It would probably last about a week or it might last longer but I wouldn't know, I ate it all in 4 days.
I bought a wonderful loaf of artisan bread from "The Wild Loaf " at the Adelaide Central Market. Their new quinoa and chia seed loaf was the perfect base for my spread. Bread sliced thinly, topped with my eggplant and labneh, a generous squeeze of lime juice and it was wonderful. Even if I say so myself!

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Labneh Lebanese cream cheese made simply at home.

"This is the Lebanese version of cream cheese and is a lot tastier and lower in calories and additives than commercial cream cheese.
It is sort of a cross between cream cheese and yoghurt. I made mine with low fat Greek yoghurt. Next time I will try making it with Kangaroo Island sheep yoghurt.
I first tasted this at the Darwin markets with an amazing eggplant pickle that contained pomegranate molasses and other spices. It was served on a zattar pitta bread. Trying to develop this pickle recipe myself as I can't find one that tastes the same as I remember.
The good news is that you don't need any special equipment to make this cheese and it is very easy to make. The most important thing to remember is that everything must be scrupulously clean.
The concept is to strain the whey or liquid out of the yoghurt. Rather than using a colander over a bowl I used my stainless steel saucepan and steamer and it worked well.

I lined the steamer with a double layer of immaculately clean, undyed muslin and to be sure it was sterile I soaked it in boiling water.

2. I spooned in the yoghurt and sprinkled it with rock salt and gently stirred it in.

Put the lid on and place in fridge.

If you are using bowls and a colander then tie the corners of the muslin together to keep it covered. If you want the whey to be forced out faster, put a plate on top as a weight.
4. Leave for about 12 hours in the fridge.

When well drained it will be the consistency of cream cheese.
Spoon and scrape from the cloth, drizzle a little good quality olive oil over it and store covered in the refrigerator until needed.

You can mix in fresh or dried herbs, minced garlic, cracked pepper or anything you would use to make a herbed cheese. It also makes a great base for your favorite dip recipes.
Or you could add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some cumin and spread it on pita bread.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Fruit drinks from Darwin markets

I fell in love with the fruit drinks at the Darwin markets along with the food! Not really being a fan of fruit, other than berries and bananas in milk drinks, I was surprised to see fruit drinks made with water and ice.
Now that I am home, I am experimenting with mixes to get my drinks right.
The one I fell in love with was mango, banana, lime and ginger.
I have been using Buderim ginger refresher until I experiment with making my own ginger syrup, or try using fresh ginger.
For this I will need to get really young pink ginger and will need to go the Adelaide central market for this.
Today I made a peach, watermelon, lime and ginger drink. The lime and ginger makes the drink so refreshing.

Just peel and chop the fruit roughly and place in a blender, cover with ice water and about a large soup ladle of ice. Juice a lime and add this along with about two tablespoon of Buderim refresher.

Lots of short bursts in the processor seems to work best, at least that is what they do at the markets.

More if you are a ginger fan like me. Drink is best drunk with a straw, as it settles out, but I just used a swizzle stick.

I am addicted, and so refreshing when made with water and ice. From a dietary point of view, getting the benefit of the whole fruit. Enjoy and I look forward to experimenting with lots of different fruits.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Darwin experience

I have always wanted to visit Darwin in the top end of Australia. I very much wanted to come in the wet season, which is supposed to be now. This year the monsoon is late so we have missed out on seeing the spectacular lightning storms Darwin is famous for. But the holiday has been great.
From the crocodile tours....

The amazing waterfalls,some of which are crocodile free, and you can swim in them.

We made the mistake of doing the crocodile tour the day before we went swimming in the waterholes! Did not make for a comfortable experience.

There is so much natural beauty!

Strange cup shaped mushrooms that collect the rain.

Large bats are hanging in all the trees.

Feeding the fish at Doctor's Gully.
I love Darwin and can't wait to come back.