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A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival 2022: an Australian’s Perspective

It’s not a surprise to readers of this blog that I love Shetland. I fell in love when I first visited in 2019.

These northerly islands with stunning scenery, rugged coastlines, windswept beaches and marvellous unique wildlife capture the imagination.

I love the islands’ Viking heritage, too, evident in archaeology, language and place names.

But it’s the food and food culture that really draw me to the islands. An abundance of local produce, a cultural shared food heritage from the many influences of sea locked islands and a generosity of spirit to share and connect with food make for some wonderful food experiences.

So it was with great delight that I learned that the Taste of Shetland Food Festival was back again as a live event in 2022.

The pandemic has put on hold so many festivals and celebrations, and when a food festival returns from a place I hold dear, there was only one thing to do – book my ticket and fly from Australia!

So a week in Shetland – some walks, tours and good restaurants – culminating in a fabulous foodie weekend. I crammed a lot into one Saturday in the Clickimin Leisure Complex in Lerwick as I already had my Sunday organised going to Unst, with Chris Dyer of Garths Croft, which was another unique cultural experience in Shetland not to be missed.

So here’s a snapshot of my day and some photos which I hope capture the spirit of the Festival. First up, after the official opening, Nick Nairn, Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstration:

A highly entertaining and informative session where Nick cooked lamb tikka skewers, sassermaet meatballs and miso salmon. All highlighting local Shetland ingredients. Nick knows his stuff and I’ve never laughed so much in a cooking show!

Next, a wander round the stalls. So many fabulous food and drink providers showing off their products! I could have eaten half of Shetland in a walk around. And I possibly did eat quite a lot of the lovely samples…

Too many providers to mention them all here, the photos will give you the idea. And lunch was a delicious beef pie from Scalloway Meat Co and a chance to sit down!

The afternoon was spent in two fabulous masterclasses, learning more about sourdough and bannocks.

Sourdough by Gus Dow taught this sourdough baker a whole lot more about the science of sourdough. Gus started with a Halloween pumpkin loaf fresh from the oven and then baked a couple of batard loaves, as well as showing how to make a sourdough starter. Great stuff!

Shetland Bannocks by Kevin Smith was the definitive workshop on bannocks for me, giving me insiders’ tips to shaping and cooking these notoriously tricky flour items. And I learnt some new Shetland vocab too. Can’t wait to try these new skills!

I also got to meet Marian Armitage, Festival Chair, “Proud Shetlander, home cook and award winning food writer”. Wow! My Festival experience was complete.

For more info on the Festival and A Taste of Shetland, click here for the website.

A great day all round, meeting, talking and eating – so congratulations to the organisers and to all involved for a successful 2022 Festival.

“Garths Croft Bressay Shetland”

Greenwich Bread

Here’s a quick recipe for bread that doesn’t require kneading. You can mix this bread up quickly, but it does require a long slow prove.

I’m travelling at the moment and currently in London, staying with friends. I haven’t made bread, let alone cooked, for two weeks! So I decided I’d whip up a quick loaf.

I used whatever ingredients were on hand – plain flour, rolled oats, yeast, salt and water, and sunflower and sesame seeds. All good for a rustic loaf!

It’s a heavy loaf, because of the rolled oats, which also made it difficult to get a good rise. But that’s part of baking a rustic loaf. You are not going dainty here!

I made this bread by hand, proved it in a makeshift tea towel and bowl prover, and baked it straight on a baking sheet.

The bread is named for Greenwich in London, and is pictured with the Thames in the background.

And if you’re interested in the famous original “no knead” bread recipe, my version is posted here.

Ingredients

325g flour

75g rolled oats

10g salt

10g dried yeast

325g water

20g mixed seeds for the topping – I used sunflower and sesame seeds

Method

In a large bowl, mix the flour and oats. Put the salt on side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Pour in the water and roughly mix until combined.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for half an hour. Without actually kneading, stretch and fold the dough over on itself three or four times. Cover the dough again with the tea towel, or with cling wrap or my favourite a plastic shower cap. Leave for 12 hours at room temperature.

The bread may not rise very much – I found the oats were a little heavy. This is no big deal. Now turn the bread out onto your work surface and roughly shape into a ball. Put into a bowl lined with a tea towel that has been liberally sprinkled with flour.

Cover again. Leave at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight – good to do if you’re making bread in the morning. If your bread did miraculously rise a lot on the first prove, put it in the fridge for this second prove. My bread didn’t rise significantly, so I left it at room temperature.

Half an hour before you went to bake, preheat your oven to 210 degrees C. Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.

After the second prove, turn the bread out of its bowl onto the baking tray. Sprinkle some flour on the top, then the mixed seeds, pressing them lightly into the dough. Lastly cut a cross in the top of the bread.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the bread is brown on top. The bread needs to be quite brown as an indication that it’s properly cooked inside.

Remove from the oven and let it cook for half an hour before tucking in! Great with loads of butter and raspberry jam…

Caramelised Onion Traybake

This is an easy and tasty dish perfect for lunch or my favourite, a simple supper.

It’s more of traybake than a tart, as it’s baked in a cake tin or pan. But there’s nothing to stop you from baking it in a traditional tart or pie dish, or even a normal baking dish.

The recipe came about because I had loads of beautiful red onions, plus a few brown ones on hand. I had just been to the Spring Harvest Festival at Vaucluse House run by Sydney Living Museums where I came away with a big tub of Vanella Cheese ricotta.

So caramelised onions on creamy ricotta on puff pastry was the go! Baked as a traybake made it easy to cut into slices for serving.

Not too tricky, give it a go!

Ingredients

3 large brown onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 red onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

300g ricotta

3 free-range eggs

Salt and black pepper

1 sheet of puff pastry (approximately 180g, if you’re using block puff pastry)

Method

Cut all the onions into rings. No need to be too precise – they can be quite chunky. Reserve the rings from two of the red onions.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the stovetop. Add the olive oil. Put in all the onion slices except the reserved red onion slices. Add the salt and brown sugar.

Cook for several minutes until the onions are soft and caramelised, turning occasionally. Now add in the reserved onions and cook for a further couple of minutes, until the onions have only just started to soften. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.

Grease your cake tin/pan or tart dish or baking dish.

Mix the ricotta, free range eggs, salt and black pepper with a spoon or fork. No need to blend or process.

Place the sheet of puff pastry snugly inside the tin/pan/dish, cutting it or stretching it to fit your dish. If using block pastry, roll out 180g into a shape to fit the size of the dish.

Soon the ricotta mixture over the puff pastry. Layer the onions on top, making sure the red onions you cooked last sit on the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden round the wedges and the ricotta is set.

Serve warm or cold, with a green salad and crusty bread. You can freezer left over slices too.

Chocolate Frangipane Kugelhopf

This delicious loaf was inspired by the idea of a babka. It’s got a similar filling in an enriched dough, but it’s much easier to make as it shaped into a simple ring.

You could change the fillings to fruit, or jam or custard for instance, but who doesn’t like chocolate hazelnut spread with an almond frangipane paste?

And it does use a small quantity of sourdough starter, for flavour, but you could easily leave this out if you don’t have any on hand.

Ingredients

Dough

500g strong flour

7g instant yeast

10g salt

50g caster sugar

50g sourdough starter

275g milk

1 large free range egg beaten

50g butter

Frangipane

50g butter

50g sugar

60g ground almonds

1 large free range egg

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

150g chocolate hazelnut spread – store bought

Orange Drizzle

Juice of 1 orange

50g water

75g icing sugar

Method

For the dough, put all the dough ingredients except the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid. Mix with a dough hook or wooden spoon to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Knead the dough using the dough hook of the electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Add the butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. You can soften the butter in the microwave. Mix using the dough hook until the dough is smooth, soft and windowpanes.

Cover the dough with cling wrap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 2-3 hours. The dough should have risen, if not quite doubled in size.

Make the frangipane filling while the dough is proving. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are blended and smooth. You could also mix this by hand, it just takes a bit more work.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a large rough rectangle.

Spread the frangipane over the rectangle, then the hazelnut chocolate spread on top of the frangipane.

Roll the dough up along the long side, then join the ends of the roll to make a circle. Move the ring to the baking tray.

Put the tray into a large plastic bag to prove. Place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours.

Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan or 180 degrees C non fan forced. Add a cast iron pan of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking.

Take the tray out of the plastic bag and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the Kugelhopf is golden brown but not burnt.

Once baked, remove from the oven.

To make the orange drizzle, mix the orange juice with the water and icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

Spoon the drizzle over the top of Kugelhopf.

Eat on the day – although the Kugelhopf will keep well as it so rich!

Hot Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Pasta

When I first acquired Jamie Oliver’s book, 5 Ingredients, I cooked many of the recipes, as they were simple to make up and used only 5 ingredients give or take a staple or two!

This recipe lives up to expectations. The main ingredient, hot smoked salmon, is versatile. You can buy it in the supermarket, and as the salmon is already cooked, you can pop it straight into any number of dishes.

I was recently reminded that we need to buy environmentally responsible salmon. In Australia, Petuna and New Zealand King Salmon are good brands to look for and are available in supermarkets.

Ingredients

350g fresh asparagus

300g dried taglierini or angel-hair pasta (I used the latter)

250g hot-smoked salmon skin off

1 lemon

100ml creme fraiche (Jamie recommends half fat if you can get it. Just use full fat if you can’t get half fat)

Method

Use a speed peeler to strip the top tender half of the asparagus stalks into ribbons. Finely slice the remaining stalks, discarding the woody ends. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Meanwhile, roughly break the salmon into a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the sliced asparagus stalks, and toss occasionally until the pasta’s ready.

Finely great half the lemon zest into the salmon pan, squeeze in half the juice, then toss in the drained pasta, a good splash of the reserved cooking water and the crème fraiche. Add the asparagus ribbons, toss again, then season to perfection with sea salt and and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges, for squeezing over.

Blueberry and White Chocolate Crumble Muffins

Blueberries, white chocolate, crumble, what’s not to like? These muffins are a winner, as they’re easy to make and even easier to bake.

They can be whipped up quickly for breakfast or a snack. But remember, as I’m sure you know, muffins should not be overmixed, so mixing by hand is the way to go.

Ingredients

Muffin mix

350g self raising flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

50 g castor sugar

50 g brown sugar

100 g white chocolate, chopped

2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

200mls buttermilk

125 g butter

250g blueberries

Crumble topping

50g rolled oats

20g ground almonds

40g brown sugar

60g flour

35g roughly chopped almonds

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

65g melted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C fan forced. Grease a 6 cup Texas muffin pan or a 12 cup ordinary size muffin pan. Depending on how big you make your muffins you may end up with excess mixture so be prepared to bake an extra muffin or two of either size.

Combine the flour and spices into a large bowl. Stir in the sugars and white chocolate. Combine the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter, and stir into the dry ingredients until just combined. Be careful not too overmix or muffins will be tough.

Fold in the blueberries.

To make the crumble, put all the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir until combined.

Spoon the muffin mix into the muffin pan, and add a generous spoonful of crumble on top of each one.

Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes for larger muffins and 15-20 minutes for regular muffins, or in the case of each size, until a skewer inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Bishop’s Bread

This egg rich loaf, part bread, part cake, laden with colourful glacé fruit and flaked almonds is a truly festive bake for religious occasions, such as Easter.

It’s an Austrian recipe, called “Bischofsbrot”, the name alluding to its Christian origins.

I became interested in this recipe after reading about in a publication of Sydney Living Museums, that wonderful organisation that looks after many historic properties in Sydney and NSW. The link to the original recipe is here.

The recipe comes from Rose Seidler’s recipe collection. Rose was the mother of the renowned architect Harry Seidler, whose family emigrated to Australia in 1946. There are a number of Rose’s recipes written in German in the SLM collection.

Curator and colonial gastronomer at SLM, Dr Jacqui Newling has researched and baked the recipe, from a translation by Avril Vorsay. This certainly whetted my appetite to give it a go!

It’s a pretty simple recipe – the hardest part is probably separating the eggs. It’s traditionally baked in a loaf tin, but I baked mine in 16cm/6.5 inch springform tin. This made a higher, round loaf.

Another thing to remember is that you need to wait a day before you cut it. I guess that patience is a virtue!

Ingredients
140g butter, softened, + 1 teaspoon
extra butter to grease the baking pan
140g icing sugar, sifted +extra to dust the loaf after baking
6 eggs, separated
200g glacé fruit, diced*
Zest of 1 small lemon*
100g slivered or blanched almonds
140g plain flour, sifted, + 1 tablespoon extra to dust the fruit

*You can replace the glacé fruit with
a mixture of colourful dried fruit such
as apricots, apples, sultanas and
cranberries, soaked in freshly boiled
water for 15 minutes and then well
drained. Replace the lemon zest with
store-bought mixed peel for
additional citrus flavour, colour and
texture.
Note: Bishop’s bread needs to be
made a day before serving.

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan forced). Grease the base and sides of a loaf tin* with 1 teaspoon of butter and dust with a little flour.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Dust the fruit and zest with a tablespoon of flour and toss to lightly coat the pieces (this helps to prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake). Stir the fruit and the almonds into the bowl, and fold in half the flour. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold them through the batter with the remaining flour, being careful not to overwork the batter.

Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 40–50 minutes, or until the loaf is nicely browned on top and cooked through. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the loaf – the skewer should come out clean and dry.

Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack and dust it with the sifted extra icing sugar.

Note: Once completely cooled, store the loaf overnight in a container covered with a cloth. Do not slice until the next day.

*or round springform cake tin

Hot Smoked Salmon with Coconut Rice and Greens

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Another recipe from the vault. Jamie Oliver is a source of simple but innovative recipes and Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, which came out a while ago, was the inspiration for this salmon, rice and greens dish. The recipe’s based on his Green Tea Salmon with Coconut Rice, and Jamie’s Killer Kedgeree.

Hot smoked salmon is readily available here in Australia from supermarkets. I buy it often as it’s a quick fix meal that’s very versatile.

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cup boiling water

1/2 lemon

Handful of coconut flakes

A large handful of sugar snap peas

A large handful of green beans

3 spring onions

A scattering of shelled pistachios

1 hot smoked salmon fillet

Method

To make rice, combine the rice, coconut milk, boiling water and lemon in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until rice is almost cooked. Turn off heat and leave rice to finish cooking while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cook the sugar snap peas and beans, separately, in the microwave, until just cooked but still crunchy.

Assemble the dish by placing the cooked rice minus the lemon half in a bowl. Flake the salmon fillet and scatter over the rice. Top with the coconut flakes.

PS The coconut rice is sensational and I’ll be cooking this again!

Arrange the sugar snap peas and beans on a serving platter to accompany the fish and rice, scattering with sliced spring onions and pistachios.

You can serve this salmon and rice dish with any vegetables and garnishes you like, or that takes your fancy.

Very Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Everyone loves lemons, and this cake has lemon at every level! It’s tangy, sweet and moreish.

This is another buttermilk cake. I find using buttermilk gives cakes and pastries a depth of flavour and better keeping qualities. I’m a big fan.

This is a pretty large cake, for making in a large bundt tin, or large round cake tin or fancy rose Nordic Ware mold as I did. If you wanted to downsize for a 20 or 21 or 22cm cake tin, just halve the ingredients. ( For the eggs, use 3).

It’s a great cake so try making it in bundt tin at least, to make it special. Oh, for the photos I added a few “little roses” to the big one. These are also Nordic Ware molds. The recipe for these little cakes is here.

Ingredients

Cake

250g butter

300g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1

5 large free-range eggs

300g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

300mls buttermilk

Lemon drizzle

Juice of 1 lemon

50g water

75g caster sugar

Icing

Juice of 1/2 lemon

200g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Lightly grease the mold or cake tin with butter. Sprinkle with flour to evenly coat. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cream the butter and sugar well in an electric mixer, on medium speed. Add in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest and juice and mix on medium until combined.

Add the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and buttermilk and mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared mold/tin. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with foil for the remainder of the bake.

While the cake is baking, make the drizzle by combining the lemon juice, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside until ready to use.

Remove the cake from the oven. Pierce the top with a skewer and drizzle half the lemon drizzle over the top. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Release from the mold or tin onto a wire rack. Turn right side up onto a serving plate. Paint the cake with the remainder of the lemon drizzle with a pastry brush.

To make the icing, mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar to make a drippable icing.

When the cake is completely cold, drip the lemon icing over the cake – no need to be too precise!

It’s a moist cake so it’s great on its own, but serving with a dollop of cream wouldn’t be amiss either!

Apple Caramel Cake

While this cake may seem a bit complicated – making caramel, toasting nuts, it’s actually quite straightforward!

What makes the cake do-able is because it’s all made in a food processor! Which doesn’t mean you couldn’t make it in an electric mixer. You would just need to finely chop the nuts first, by hand or in a processor.

It’s an upsidedown cake, the caramel apples on the base become the top. The cake is nutty, with a distinct caramel flavour and a hint of spice. It’s incredibly moist and keeps well too.

Ingredients

2 apples

Caramel

100g caster sugar

40g butter

Cake

100g mixed nuts

125g butter

75g raw sugar

75g brown sugar

3 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

125mls buttermilk

150g self raising flour

1/2teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm or 22cm springform tin, depending on what size you want your cake. Mine was baked in a 20cm tin. Line the base with baking paper.

Peel and core one apple and half of the other one. Cut into thin slices.

To make the caramel, melt the sugar slowly in a heavy based saucepan. Once the caramel has melted and turned a toffee or tea colour, take off the heat and very carefully add the butter in pieces. Stir the caramel but be careful as it will splutter a bit. Once the butter is added beat the mix mixture well for a minute.

Pour the caramel over the baking paper lined base of the tin. Place the apple slices over the caramel in an overlapping circle.

For the cake, toast the mixed nuts in a frying pan for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Cool for a few minutes, then place in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.

Add the butter and sugars to the food processor and mix until amalgamated. Add the remaining half apple cut into pieces, and all the other ingredients to the bowl. Process for a couple of minutes until everything is amalgamated. You made need to scrape the bowl down part way through the process.

Spoon the mixture on top of the apples and caramel.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Carefully turn out the cake. Remember this is an upsidedown cake so the bottom is the top! If the apple come out a bit higgledy piggledy, just rearrange as necessary. Don’t worry it’s meant to be a rustic cake!

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