More projects….

Cinnamon buns

Cornbread

Chilli

Penne with chickpeas and chilli

Pastitsio

More baking….Orange and saffron milk cake.  Lemon brownies with berries.  Parsnip apple and lime cake….and comfort food

My daughter in law Jenn is American and before she and my son Nick visited for a special birthday recently I asked her if there were any special foods she missed from home bearing  in mind it might be some time she sees the land of her birth any time soon.

20200526_131114She sent a recipe for cinnamon buns which I thought was easy enough as long as I built in the time factor as it was a yeasted dough and needed time to prove.  It was a very successful experiment and the buns were so DELICIOUS I knew I had to share them with friends and neighbours before I ate them all.  My Instagram followers heaped praise on them as well so make them for breakfast when the visited.  A friend suggested I try them with vegemite and cheese too which seems a very Australian interruption to try.  On further experimentation I have found a middle eastern version which is with tahini and has sprinkled sesame seeds on top.  I am excited to try that one too.

20200531_133039Cornbread is not a popular dish in Australian homes as it is in American homes…especially in the Southern states so when Jenn sent me a recipe for some I decided to make some to have with some spicy chilli soup for their visit.  Then a few other American foodie friends sent me their cornbread recipe so I was off and running.  I ended up making three versions including one which was made in a Dutch oven …much like I bake my sourdough.  Well it had sourdough starter in the recipe too.  There was one with bacon and corn.  I used both fresh corn which I roasted as well as creamed corn in another.  Fortunately these froze well too though the one I especially like was with corn, bacon and cheese!  And both fresh or easily pickled jalapenos added authentic flavour.

Besides the chilli soup which I must make again it was very flavoursome I made a simple chilli con carne.  This was a favourite when the kids were young and often was just a meat sauce left over with a can of  red kidney beans and some spices.  Now black beans are available in stores and cans of habanaros  too to add a more authentic flavour.  Sour cream, avocados and corn chips and it is a hearty meal on a cold wet day.  Comfort food!

It is well known I love to bake and with time on our hands but still encouraged to stay home in isolation I have enjoyed trying new and interesting bakes.  The supermaket stocks seem to be improving so finally sugar and flour is plentiful.  As well as toilet paper by the way.

Each fortnight….sadly no longer weekly I open the weekend The Age to find the newest recipe from Helen Goh (Australian and living in London with her family and who co-wrote Sweet with another of my food heroes Yothan Ottolingui).  Enough said!  I love the way Helen uses everyday and seasonal ingredients in a different way to make an exciting new cake or dessert.  Her saffron milk cake with orange is a winner and I am not a saffron fan.  And accompanying Helen’s  recipes are ones from Neil Perry.

A recent one has become a favourite with just a can of chickpeas, one of tomatoes and a load of cooked pasta all bought together with a decent hit of chilli and topped with a crunch of toasted sourdough crumbs with chopped parsley and a generous dusting of parmesan.  Excellent leftover food too.

20200724_110005Although I have a disgustingly large selection of cook books I also enjoy scouring The Age’s Tuesday copy of Good Food guide where I like to pick up new recipes.

20200522_132047Pastitsio is one of these recipes.  Last year I enjoyed a food trip to Greece  (one of my favourite countries…the beautiful islands and fabulous food) so when I saw this recipe I had to make it.  White sauce, macaroni and a lamb mixture mixed together and baked.

That is all for now…I will continue baking and add some more photos and reciper and in the meantime Be kind to each other and stay safe.  We will get through this….eventually!

 

 

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Tuesdaynightcookbook club for July with Mexican food

With no particular cookbook in mind we nosed dived into food from Mexico.  I had to admit that I had been to Mexico on two trips and they were both food trips.  And had been privileged to attend a cooking class so I had a distinct advantage here.

So when a friend announced she had bought a tortilla press I decided I would try my hand at making tacos for the evening.  It couldn’t be that hard surely.  Without going into details I gave up after several failures blaming the fact I could not find the appropriate flour!  The supermarket variety were just fine instead.  Especially as they were stuffed with spicy pork slow cooked overnight with lots of herbs and spices.  The accompanying pineapple salsa proved a wonderful combination.  But the lack of true Mexican chillies may have not made it totally authentic.

Of course we started with guacamole and corn chips whilst waiting for one last diner and then headed into a delicious corn soup.  Maybe grilled corn chowder would be a more appropriate name as it was a take on the Mexican street food snack elote. It is certainly a soup that I would recreate at home!

To go with the pork tacos we had a farro and pea salad, a black bean salsa, and a barbecued corn salad with some sour cream.  I love the small tacos too as one can have such a variety of flavours.

And if we weren’t suffering from a overload of corn there was corn ice cream.  Colourful and delicious and served with three milk cake.  A basic cake but made super moist with the addition of condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular full cream milk being poured over the cake when it comes out of the oven. ( but best not to forget to make holes in the cake …with a chopstick before you pour the milk mixture over it so the cake will absoth the liquid).

We had certainly dined well so I offered a small take home bag of sweet goodies for left at home family.  These included Mexican wedding cookies, alfajores, and cat’s tongues (lenguas de gato).  So the alfajores may not be Mexican….but hell they are so good I had to make them!

What is coming up for next month?  Vietnamese feasting! And already I am enjoying My Vietnam by Luke Nguyen.  Whilst we still can’t travel interstate let alone overseas this is a way to feel more connected in our isolation.  Maybe I will have better luck making baos than tacos!

The Mexican cookbooks I researched for our feast were My Abuelo’s Mexican Feast, Mexico and Taqueria

 

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Tuesdaynightcookbookclub…..April and May with Diana Henry

So after having a Tuesdaynightcookbookclub at home with each of us cooking something at home in April I thought that once we were ‘ allowed ‘ to have five people meeting I suggested we return to Diana Henry for another meal…especially as we did not all have photos of our food. My fault with limited technology knowledge.  I had never even heard of Diana Henry until recently and now i have five of her books.  You may not know I have a cookbook obsession.  Some women have an obsession with shoes or handbags  but for me it is cookbooks.

Our first ‘ at home ‘ Diana Henry cookbook club featured recipes from  her ‘ Plenty and ‘Simple ‘ which I thought appropriate as we were all having difficulties coming to term with this strange new world of Covid19.  I was convinced one day I had it and another night dreamt about having it but surviving….  Needless to say and fingers crossed we have all been well.  It was the birthday of one of our group though and so I made her a cake.  It was from Simple.….and simply delicious! Lemon and Ricotta  Ok….she snuck me a slice!  Quality control.  I also made the pumpkin and red lentil dish which was perfect for dinner for 1 in lockdown!

20200619_132110Onto May when we were excitedly getting ready for our cookbookclub dinner.  I made a Southern Italian cauliflower with fried bread crumbs, capers and anchovies. Roasting cauliflower is my favourite way to eat it…try making it into hummus.  Also Barley, parsley and pomegranate salad…so dessert was a chocolate cake with olive oil which was like a cloud cake!  Light and airy and delightful!

There was a potato salad and another dessert which was Baked apples with rye crumbs and mincedmeat (usually used for Christmas) and to start one of the best soups I have ever tasted Moroccan lentil soup with yoghurt and chile-fried onions.  And a pasta dish with broccoli.  So much goodness!

I have already posted about our June book club with Falestin.  It was another fabulous night too with exciting food and recipes.  Feel free to read.

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June cookbookclub – Falastin

Once again we were excited with another cookbook club dinner and with the highly successful Falestin  cookbook from Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley.  For those of you unfamiliar with his name, Sami is from Palestine and Tara Wigley cowrote 20200609_142653this though Sami worked with Yotham Ottolingui on several  books.

Some of ourdishes were musaqa’a (eggplant, chickpea and tomato), spinach pies, fritters (two types…cauliflower & cumin, and pea, spinach and za’atar and preserved lemon,) labnah, warm chickpeand green chilli sauce and pita, and Hassan’s eggs with lemon and za ‘star.  And my particular favourite beetroot and feta galette.

I can rec9mmend this book ( i am not being paid for this!) But two of my friends who cooked and came for this dinner have purchaes their own copy.  Just add za’atar, cumin, sumac, green chillies, feta and a lemon tree to your shopping list!  I personally have the Middle East on my travel list ….when ever that will be but in the meantime, enjoy FALESTIN.  Perfect for sharing and winterl

 

 

 

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Isolution

When we first were told we were in lockdown with the covid virus I thought fine.  A great opportunity to write and read and do those things I always wanted to do.  I was in the fortunate situation I could ‘ legally ‘ walk my dog as that constituted exercise and my goto coffee shop still operated as a takeaway drink…albeit not in my own coffee cup.  Then off home!

Then I decided I would start some ‘ projects ‘ doing things I felt I never had enough time for.  First cab off the rank and I decided this was the best time (like zillions of others) to learn to make sourdough.  After all I had time on my hands and although the local supermarket had empty shelves of flour, sugar, rice, pasta and of course toilet paper the little fruit and vegetable shop I frequented often had bags of 10 kg bags of bakers flour.  A neighbour gave me my first starter and a friend offered rye flour (and for those of you unfamiliar with ‘ feeding your starter ‘ it is the flour recommended.  I watched some u tube videos and messaged and emailed friends for advice and I was off.  I can report I still have my ‘L ‘ plates on and find making sourdough was more like learning a new language with various methods of procedures.  My bread has been eatable but lacks those ‘ears ‘and big holes  you see on sourdough bread sites but I am in awe really that one can make bread with just flour, water and salt and it is something that has been made for thousands of years and can be as basic or sophisticated as you want.

20200519_101028Another project was marinating olives.  A friend told me of a huge olive tree on a neighbouring street where the olives were not being picked!  What to do?  I suggested she drop a note in the neighbours letterbox to see if they would mind if she picked a few.  I figured she would have nothing to lose.  Moving on both my friend and I had buckets of these fat juicy babies which resulted in finding appropriate recipes for marinating them.  To salt, to cut and extract the pip, to bash them,  add lemon, vinegar, and more salt required a lot of discussion and preparation.   Now I have kilos of the things in various jars with different herbs and spices in olive oil waiting for sampling.

20200511_134313And then there were the quinces.  I have a quince tree and the fruit of which I am happy to share with feathered friends but became annoyed when they would eat a quarter of the fruit before moving onto another piece.  But we got there in the end and I was able to poach some and gift the rest.  With a sugar shortage I decided against making quince paste this year though added some of the poaching liquid to various sweet treats and cakes.  I do love having a large bowl of quinces in my house as it gives the most gorgeous perfume.

20200423_114851When I  saw a bag of bunya nuts on sale and a recipe for pesto i jumped at the chance to make something new.  There was an enormous bunya pine tree at the boarding school I attended many (many) years ago but I don’t remember the nuts from it.  However, it was a real project to actually peel then so I sought assistance from family.  The finished product was very delicious though it maybe something that will not be repeated in the near future.  No photos here.

As I write this, restrictions are slowly being lifted and soon we will be able to share a coffee and a meal with friends and family. Though I was fortunate to have family visit from interstate (where border restrictions were lifted) to help celebrate a milestone recently.  They hired a car instead of taking flights which we are still waiting for and we enjoyed some DELICIOUS food and wine.  Bring it on!

 

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