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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Boozy Sultana and Raisin Slice

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I have had some sultanas and raisins macerating in vodka in the pantry left over from a Christmas party where I made Christmas pudding vodka shots, from a recipe from the  wonderful Hairy Bikers:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmas_pudding_vodka_45343

So I used a basic sultana slice recipe to use up the fruit and tweaked it to make this rather boozy slice! I think you could add a lemon drizzle icing for aesthetic effect rather than taste enhancement.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 level tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1 cup sultanas and raisins soaked in vodka, muscat or port
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 generous tablespoons golden syrup
4 tbl butter or olive oil spread

Method

Line a swiss roll tin with baking paper and preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Heat butter/olive oil spread and golden syrup together until melted in the microwave and  allow to cool.
Sift flour and cinnamon together into a bowl, add sugar, macerated fruit, beaten egg and golden syrup mixture, and mix well until combined.
Press into lined tin and bake for 25 minutes.
Let slice cool completely in tin before cutting into slices.

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Roast Beef on French Bread with Sweet Onion and Raisin Chutney

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Roast scotch fillet on French bread with greens, cherry tomatoes and lashings of onion and raisin chutney. A perfect weekend lunch – my lunch today in fact! Very easy and quick to prepare, if you have the chutney already made and bottled.

Another early Saturday morning walk to the Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield yielded some lovely produce – fat red and brown onions, Jerusalem artichokes, baby salad greens, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and French bread. The artichokes will be savoured later this week.

Sweet Onion and Raisin Chutney from July 2013 delicious. magazine.

Ingredients

100 gms raisins

300 mls sweet fortified wine (I used Pedro Ximenez sherry)

100 mls sunflower oil

1.5 kgs large onions, halved, thinly sliced (I used 1 kg only – it seemed to be enough – and a combination of red and brown onions)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

125 mls white wine vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Place the raisins and and wine in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Immediately remove, then set aside to soak for 2-3 hours (or overnight).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes or until the onions are soft and starting to colour and stick to the pan.

Add the sugar, cook, stirring frequently for a further 30 minutes or until the onions are a rich brown colour.

Add the vinegar and soaked raisins, including the soaking liquid, then cook stirring often, for a further 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat, and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Spoon into sterilized jars and seal.

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Roast Scotch Fillet

Ingredients

350 – 500 gms piece scotch fillet (this is enough for 1-2 large sandwiches)

Sea salt and black pepper

1 tbl olive oil

1 tbl butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Place a heavy based baking dish in the oven to heat through.

Thoroughly coat the fillet in salt and pepper on all sides. Drizzle with the olive oil over all sides. Place in a hot frying pan, searing quickly on all sides to caramelize the fillet. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C. Place in the baking dish in the oven with the pan juices, adding the butter.

Cook 15 – 25 minutes depending on the weight of the meat and how well cooked you like it. The piece of beef I cooked was 350 gms, and I cooked it for 15 or so minutes for medium rare.

I used the skewer test – checking for “doneness” by inserting a skewer into the meat for a few seconds, removing and placing against my lip – cool means underdone, hot means cooked fine, scalding means overdone! I’m sure there must be a website somewhere that explains this principle a little more clearly!

Remove from the oven when cooked to your satisfaction and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing thickly.

Sandwich

Assemble the sandwich with the following ingredients or whatever takes your fancy:

French bread stick, butter, roast beef, cherry tomatoes, baby salad greens, sugar snap peas, sweet onion and raisin chutney, plenty of salt and pepper.

Can be eaten in the sunshine with a glass of something white and chilled or inside with a more robust red. I chose the latter…

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Mandarin and Passionfruit Cake with Buttered Macadamias and Candied Orange

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I am always interested in cakes which incorporate fruit into the bake as this ensures a moist cake and one with good keeping qualities. I used Annabel Langbein’s Orange Lightning Cake as the basis for this recipe.

The inclusion of mandarins gives a sweet juiciness; the passionfruit pulp adds tang and gives the cake a lovely chartreuse colour.

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The topping is smashed macadamias toasted in a mixture of coconut sugar and demerara sugar and a little butter, and candied orange – from my store cupboard on this occasion – although the process is easy enough to do yourself if you have the time.

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Ingredients

2 mandarins (unpeeled)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125 gms softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
Pulp of 2 passionfruit

Topping
1 tbl coconut sugar
1 tbl demerara sugar + 1 tsp for scattering over cake
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
A knob of butter
3 candied orange slices

Method
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease a 20cm spring form tin and line the base with baking paper.
Cut the mandarins into quarters, remove the seeds and blitz in a food processor until finely chopped.
Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda soda in 1/2 cup water and add to the food processor with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Whizz to combine. Add the passionfruit pulp and pulse several times to just combine.
Pour into prepared tin and place in oven.
Topping
Heat sugars in a frying pan over a low heat until dissolved. Add macadamias which you have bashed with a mallet or rolling pin, and cook until coated with the sugar mixture. Add the butter and toss the nuts in the butter/sugar mixture for a minute.
After about 30 minutes, gently open the oven door and scatter toasted macadamias over the cake while the cake is still in the oven. Close oven door and bake for a further 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean ( about 45 minutes bake time in all). However be sure to check before the 15 minutes if you see  – or smell – that the cake is cooking quickly. Leave to cool in tin before removing to serving plate.
Finish the topping by scattering the cake with a little demerara sugar and candied orange slices.

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Pumpkin, Leek and Wild Garlic Soup

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A visit to the wonderful Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield this morning and the tempting produce available made me want to make soup. I was quite taken with the wild garlic featured on one particular stall, so I created a soup in which it could feature.

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Pumpkin and leek go well together, and the garlic gave the soup a mild yet slightly pungent flavour. A definite improvement on traditional garlic or onion!

This soup allows you to be flexible with quantities – be creative!

Ingredients

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

A knob of butter

2 heads of wild garlic

1 large leek

Generous grind of rock salt or to taste

1/4 medium-sized pumpkin

500 mls chicken stock

Black pepper

Sour cream and thyme leaves, to serve

Method

Heat oil and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Fry roughly chopped wild garlic and the leek with the salt. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic and the leek begin to soften.

Add the pumpkin chopped in large chunks to the saucepan. Pour in the chicken stock, and season with black pepper. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Turn heat back to medium, cover with a lid and cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 – 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, leave to cool for about 10 minutes, then blend with stick blender in the saucepan until the desired consistency. I usually like my soup a little chunky, but on this occasion I opted for a smoother consistency.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh thyme leaves.

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Blueberry and Cumquat Cake with Sugared Pecans

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The basis of this cake is a recipe from Annabel Langbein in the July 2013 delicious. magazine – Blackberry and Orange Teacake. I had some cumquat marmalade left over from a bottling session earlier in the week, plus some frozen blueberries on hand, so I used these to add my stamp to the cake. The recipe called for chopped almonds – I’m a big fan of pecans, so I used these instead in the topping.

Ingredients

125 gms softened butter

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

2-3 tbls cumquat marmalade (or substitute any citrus marmalade)

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp bicarabonate of soda

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup caster sugar

To serve: a handful of blueberries, a sprinkling of caster sugar (optional) and thick cream.

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C or 150 degrees C fan-forced. Grease a 20cm spring form tin and line base with baking paper.

Cream butter, caster sugar, vanilla paste and eggs in a food processor until thick and pale. Beat in sour cream and cumquat marmalade, reserving a good teaspoonful, then add alternately SR flour and milk in 3 batches. Combine the bicarbonate of soda, remaining marmalade and 1 tsp water in a small bowl, then pulse into the cake mixture.

Spoon into the cake tin using a spatula, then scatter the blueberries (reserving a handful),  and chopped pecans over the batter. Lastly sprinkle over the brown sugar, making sure the nuts are well covered. The nuts will caramelise nicely during baking.

Bake for 45 minutes, then gently open oven door and scatter remaining blueberries and caster sugar over cake. This is to ensure that some of the blueberries sit on top of the cake  – some will have sunk into the mixture during the initial cooking.

Close oven door and cook for a further 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the tin before unmoulding.

Serve with more berries, a sprinkling of sugar if desired, and lots of thick cream!

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Artist and Artisan’s retreat – Idyllic Southern Highlands

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I was lucky enough to spend some time this week with my old and dear friends, the Artist and the Artisan, partners in life and in so many varied creative activities.

The Artist can turn her hand to anything artistic, but ceramics feature strongly in her work. The Artisan can build anything – from a house to a kiln to a chook pen, and is a pretty mean chook handler to boot!

They inhabit what could only be described as an idyllic retreat in the Southern Highlands. Five acres of beautiful parkland, complete with its own Hansel and Gretel forest, as well as manicured lawns, lush flower and vegetable gardens, and abundant fruit trees, make you wonder whether you have entered a fairytale country from some distant northern land. The surrounding open spaces and view of Mt Alexandra and the bush remind us that we are indeed still in rural NSW.

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Nestled in these gardens is the house, early 20th century, quaint and idiosyncratic, once a residential institution, and now owned and under loving restoration by the Artist and the Artisan.

Behind the old house is the gem of the property: a large and light filled studio, home to many of the Artist’s own works and those of her creative friends, as well as works of other established artists, and a wonderful place for communal entertaining.

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On this occasion the Artist had invited some friends who are keen potters to spend the day glazing their works and firing them in the kiln which resides in the back garden.

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I was there to enjoy the day, the beautiful repast and to photograph my latest baking creation, Blueberry and Cumquat Cake with Sugared Pecans.

I also got to glaze my own ceramic pot – my very first foray into the world of ceramics – I think I’m hooked! A fabulous day all round!

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Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes

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I found these cupcakes in one of my current favourite cook books –  The Great British Bake off: How to Bake. I have, as usual, tweaked the recipe a little.

           Ingredients

175 mls semi-skimmed or full cream milk

100 gms of dark chocolate

60 gms unsalted butter, at room temperature

125 gms caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature

150 gms sifted self raising flour

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put paper cupcake cases onto a baking tray.

Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan.

Chop the chocolate and add it to the pan with 1/3 of the caster sugar. Leave it until the chocolate is melted on a low heat. Stir frequently. Once the chocolate is melted remove from the heat.

In a bowl beat the butter, sugar and food vanilla in a food processor until light and and creamy (at least 3 minutes).

Gradually add the beaten egg to the mixture, beating well after addition. 



Add the flour and the chocolate/milk liquid alternately in 3 batches to the mixture in the food processor, pulsing briefly after each addition.

When the mixture is amalgamated spoon into cupcake cases.

Bake for around 15-20 minutes until cupcakes are risen and a skewer in inserted in centre of cupcake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the baking tray for 2 minutes. 
Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

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Vanilla Icing

 

Ingredients

75 gms butter

Enough icing sugar to make a stiff butter cream

1 tbl milk

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

 

Method

Cream the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla paste in the food processor until light and fluffy. Add more icing sugar to ensure the icing is firm enough to ice cakes. Add a drop or two more milk if icing is too stiff.

Ice the cupcakes in a decorative or rustic way, according to taste or skill!

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