Friday, January 27, 2012

Meat-free, Wheat-free, Chinese New Year!

In my family we like an excuse to celebrate, any excuse at all really! Chinese New Year always comes hot on the heels of Christmas and New Year and as we're already in party mode, it's hard to resist! We have a few paper lanterns, decorations and this cute beanie bear that my Mum brought me as a hostess gift the first time we had a Chinese New Year Dinner.

It was a warm evening so these Watermelon Daiquiris from The Hungry Australian blog were a lovely start to our festivities!

We followed the cocktails  with Vegies in Besan Flour Batter with Sweet & Sour Sauce on a bed of Rice, these were really yummy! My daughter who is now vegetarian & Wheat intolerant used to love Sweet & Sour Pork, these vegies were the next best thing!

We finished off with Melon Balls in a Kaffir-Lime Syrup.


One thing leads to another, leads to another........

When I made a triple-chocolate-truffle-cake recently for my brother's birthday, I needed Bacardi for the truffles, then when I saw Watermelon Daiquiris on The Hungry Australian blog, I knew exactly what to do with some of the left-over Bacardi!
I was planning a Chinese New Year dinner and these colorful, fun fruity beauties seemed like just the thing!

While I was cutting up the Watermelon I remembered a recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickle which I had seen in the December issue of Good Taste magazine, I pulled it out and happily I had everything I needed to make it.

I peeled the dark green tough skin off the rind, sliced it into thin strips and soaked it overnight in 2 and a half cups of warm water with 2 tablespoons of salt dissolved in it.

The next day I drained and rinsed the Rind and added it to a pot with a cup and a quarter of Caster Sugar, three quarters of a cup of Malt Vinegar, half a cup of Water, a few slices of Fresh Ginger,a Cinnamon Stick and half a teaspoon of cloves. This was heated while stirring to dissolve the Sugar and then simmered for 45 minutes, I then spooned it into a sterilised jar.

This is a really lovely Pickle, sweet, spicy and syrupy, my only problem was that it didn't make a lot, I used about 500gms of Rind but it cooks down a lot and this amount only made 1 jar! Next time I will use twice as much rind with the same amount of everything else.

Just perfect with creamy Brie and a Cracker!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake...

My big brother turned fifty yesterday, he didn't want a big fuss, just a happy family dinner at a favorite restaurant, I decided that he at least needed to have a big, fussy cake!

This cake is adapted from a recipe I found in The Essential Baking Cookbook by Murdoch Books, it was fun to make but did take a bit of time and patience, nothing but the best for my Bro! First I turned the oven on to 160C, oiled my favorite springform tin and lined it with baking paper.

I creamed 280gms Butter with 500gms Caster Sugar until it was light and fluffy, 3 teaspoons of Vanilla Essence was added and beaten in along with 4 Eggs (one at a time).

I sifted together, 115gms Self-Raising Flour, 340gms of Plain Flour, 3 Teaspoons Bicarb Soda and 135gms Cocoa, this was folded in alternating with 420mls of Milk. I put the mixture into the prepared tin and put it in the oven for an hour.

Once the cake was cool it was glazed with 250gms Dark Chocolate, half a cup of Cream and two thirds of a cup of Caster Sugar, melted together in a small saucepan and simmered gently for a couple of minutes. I let it cool down a bit before spreading it on the top and sides of the cake.

The Truffles were made by blitzing 400gms of Madeira Cake into crumbs, adding 3 tablespoons Strawberry Jam, 4 Tablespoons Rum, 4 tablespoons Cream, and 75gms of melted Butter. 350 gms of melted Dark Chocolate was mixed in and then the mixture was chilled in the fridge for about an hour.

I rolled the chilled Truffle mixture into Walnut sized balls and put them back in the fridge for another hour.

One third of the balls were dipped into White Chocolate, one third into Dark Chocolate and the remaining third into Milk Chocolate, they all went back into the fridge until they were set.

I piled the Truffles on top of the cake using a bit of melted chocolate to stick them on, and there you have it, one very Big, Fussy, Very Chocolatey, Birthday Cake!

 This month’s Blog Hop event, Death By Chocolate, is being hosted by Christina! The Hungry Australian We hope you this fun exploration of Death By Chocolate desserts.  Check out all of the other delicious Death by Chocolate submissions below.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Meat-free, Wheat-free Monday, Ricotta & Herb Flan...

I love Ricotta! It's so versatile, this is one of my favorite ways to use it, it's so easy and yummy!
I brush some Olive Oil into a flan dish and sprinkle on Sesame Seeds to give the flan a bit of a crust, if the flan doesn't need to be gluten-free you could use breadcrumbs.

I mix about 750gms of Ricotta, 2 Eggs, Salt, Pepper and a big handful of chopped Fresh Herbs, whatever I have growing that I think will go well, this time I used Oregano, Chives and Thyme.

.I also add about half a cup of Shredded Tasty Cheese and a handful of Toasted Pine Nuts sprinkled over the top of the flan.

The flan goes into a moderate oven for about 40 minutes and comes out browned on top and absolutely delicious! It's nice hot, or at room temperature.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January Food Swap....

This morning was the first Harvest Basket food swap for the year, it was great to see everyone there looking rested and relaxed after the Christmas break.
I didn't have a lot to spare from the garden so I took some Preserves which always seem to be popular.

I took...

  • 1 jar of Beetroot & Orange Relish
  • 1 jar of Peach & Ginger Chutney
  • 1 jar of Pickled Zucchini Slices
  • Rosemary
  • Bay Leaves
  • Radicchio

I came home with...
  • 1 Punnet of Blueberries
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Beetroot
  • 2 Zucchinis
  • 3 Plums
  • 1 Tomato
  • 3 Figs
  • Beans
  • Basil
  • Sage

I'm looking forward to doing some cooking this afternoon with this beautiful produce!

Friday, January 6, 2012

In My Kitchen...

This post is inspired by Celia at fig jam and lime cordial I have been checking out what's in Celia's kitchen every month for a long time and have decided that 2012 is the time to get involved!

In my kitchen is a lovely red teapot, some Good Morning Tea from T2 and some pretty cups to drink the tea out of.....

In my kitchen are....

6 bottles of Fresita Strawberry Infused Wine which I won courtesy of Jennifer at delicieux ... wait, make that 5 bottles, we drank one on New Year's wait...would you believe 4 bottles left now...

In my kitchen is...

 a jar of the most amazing Muesli ever, my lovely daughter Rose made it for us for Christmas, it's chock full of Dates, Figs and Macadamias...and a few Strawberries from the Garden.

Just outside my kitchen because the light is better out there for a photo is a new red food cover and some teatowels which I picked up when I was food shopping (one of my favorite pastimes!).

Pickled Zucchini Slices

We aren't overrun with Zucchinis yet but we are starting to get a steady supply of little ones so I thought I'd buy a couple more and make some Pickles. I have used this Sally Wise recipe before, the pickles are lovely, not too strong, great to have with cheese & bikkies.
Start by chopping up Zucchinis (about 5), Capsicum and an onion or 2, sprinkle half a cup of salt over them and cover with cold water.

Once the vegetables have soaked for 5 hours or overnight, put 3 cups of vinegar (I used a mixture of White  & Malt), 2 cups Sugar (I used Raw), 2 teaspoons Curry Powder a teaspoon of Mustard Seeds and a Teaspoon of Fennel Seed. Bring this to the boil, drain the Vegetables and tip them in.

Once the pot comes back to the boil, turn off the heat and place the Vegatables into sterilised jars.

Fill the jars nearly to the top with the hot Vinegar mixture and seal.

When it's the first batch for the season it's hard to wait but I try to leave them for a week before I use them as I think the flavor improves with a little time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Potato Pizza...

I brought home some Seed Potatoes from Food Swap a few months ago, stuck them in the ground and pretty much left them alone to do their thing. Today I had a bit of a dig and found lovely Potatoes, ready to eat!

I had already planned to make Pizza Bases today so I thought I'd try a Potato & Rosemary Pizza, I've never had one before but had heard that they are good.

Once the bases were ready to bake, I arranged thinly sliced Potato, some shredded Mozzarella, Fresh Rosemary and sliced Garlic from the garden and a drizzle of Olive Oil.

Ten minutes in a hot oven and I had one of the best Pizzas ever!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We had a quiet New Year's Eve last night, we ate outside using our new outdoor dining setting for the first time. It was a beautiful evening, we started with little Ricotta & herb Tartlets.....

Sweet Potato & Bean Salad, Barbequed Prawn Skewers and Barbequed Haloumi......

We finished off with Strawberry Macarons, I had promised myself that I would never make Macarons again as I find the whole process just a bit too stressful, however I received a beautiful little glass cake stand for Christmas and it was just screaming out to have Macarons piled on it!

    Happy New Year!