Thursday, July 15, 2010


Some pics of the holidays.  The July holidays often present a problem if you don't have travel plans as the weather is generally awful.  Luckily we had some lovely days, mostly when we were at the beach visiting the grandparents.  We also had some fine lamb chops over the hot coals in the paddock:

And these got a bit of a workout too:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


How do people get time for this blogging caper? It has been frantic here with school holidays and the house inundated with a steady stream of visitors so barely a spare second has presented itself for replying to emails let alone beautifying the blog. I believe I need a maid.

Needless to say there has been lots of cooking going on. I do adore to have people to stay, and get inordinate pleasure from getting the house ready, organising the food and doing the flowers. The latter is, I confess, not my strongest suit, but I'm getting better. The thing is, in the country, you need to grow the flowers before you arrange them, which is a challenge in itself. Thank god then, in depths of winter, for daphne and camelias:

Back to the food. Lately I have been cooking lots of casseroles and slow cooked lamb, soups and quiches and puddings with the beautiful fresh rhubarb from the garden. We have had chops in the paddock, dinners for 12, shooting lunches, big breakfasts and family dinners. Lots of old favourites but a new hit was my Duck Pie:

First I scattered an onion, two sticks of celery, clove of garlic (all chopped) into a roasting tray with a rack and plonked the duck on top. Actually I used two lovely ducks that a friend had grown on his farm. (You could probably use wild duck if there is a duck shooter in the family, but bear in mind they are more gamey and not as fatty and will need some extra butter/oil). Add a teaspoon of chopped juniper berries and some chopped rosemary and season with salt & pepper. Pour in 350ml white wine and roast 40 minutes, basting half way through.
Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Drain most of the fat from the roasting tray, trying to keep the nice brown juices.
Pull off the meat and chop up. I took off most of the skin but left it on the breast. Put back in the roasting tray. Discard carcass or use for stock.
Add 50ml vinocotto, 125ml verjuice and 1/2 cup chicken stock and cook over a moderate heat 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups of either silver beet or spinach and cook until wilted. At this point it was all looking a bit runny for a pie so I added a tablespoon of cornflour to some stock and stirred it in while bubbling, then added 1/4 cup cream. Season well and stir in some chopped parsley. You could also add some lightly fried portobello mushrooms if you wish, or if the amount of duck looks a bit lean.
Then put it in a pie dish and cover with puff pastry. For pies I usually use Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry (don't forget to let it rest in the fridge before you roll it out), and bake at 200 for about 35 minutes until golden brown. This should serve about 4-6.

Now I need to address that large pile linen in the ironing basket....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The first few weeks of winter have been, well, wintry. After weeks of still, glorious autumn, cool mornings and bright sunny days, we have now plunged into the classic, western district winter.This is the last of the roses. I love winter, especially at the start and I haven’t got sick of setting the fires and collecting kindling and loading the woodbox. I will not have the same view in 6 weeks time when we have run out of wood/kindling/pinecones/patience and I do have to admit the going outside to get wood at 6.45am (in the dark) to light the fire in the kitchen may wear thin. We live in a very old, cold bluestone house with no heating (except for open fires) so woollen jumpers and ugg boots are the order of the day.

Recent cooking adventures have included:

Lime marmalade made from some limes given to me by a friend. I didn’t have a recipe so I just used my usual orange marmalade recipe and hoped for the best. The result was very limey, but reminiscent of the classic Rose’s Lime Marmalade which was the intention. It did set beautifully, although next time I think I’ll use less actual fruit. I prefer a clear shred marmalade with very thinly sliced fruit. It is utterly delicious upon toasted grainy Van Leuven bread and very hard to resist at breakfast.

I had a go at pork rillettes, a new experience which will be repeated only next time I won’t call in at the neighbours for a drink on the way back from footy training and leave the pork belly in the oven for an hour more than required (I forgot to turn the temp down as well, which didn’t help). The temptation then was to say bugger the rillettes and have the pork belly for dinner as I could have eaten my fist and it smelled amazing. I was a bit heavy handed with the orange rind as well, so they will need some tweaking.

My garden helper had kindly given me two lovely small pumpkins that she had grown in her garden. I cut the top off one of them, scooped out the seeds and sloshed in some olive oil, melted butter, garlic, toasted pine nuts and chopped sage, put back the lid and baked in the oven for 1 hour. Yum. Great with a roast.