Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nearly autumn

I know when autumn is approaching, the belladonna lillies start to unfurl.
It is also when blood plums are at their best.  I bought some the other day and decided to make a pudding.  I snipped a recipe out of a newspaper ages ago but it ripped and I lost half so there was a degree of guess work in this.


This amount will do about 6-8 plums.  
60g soft butter
55g castor sugar
1 egg
40g almond meal
30g slivered almonds (flaked would work as well)

Preheat the oven to 170c.
Cut plums in half and place in an ovenproof dish.  I threw in a broken cinnamon stick for good measure.
Cream the butter and sugar and add the egg.  Fold in the almond meal and the almonds.  Dot the mix over the plums. 
Bake for about an hour until it is nice and brown on top.  Serve with cream.
This gaping hole is where my fridge belongs.  It packed it in last week so has gone to Mortlake for repairs.  We are operating out of the beer fridge which is inconvenient in itself, but the beer (and wine) is sitting on the laundry floor because we expected to be a temporary arrangement.  Thank god, though, for the beer fridge.
Been having salads galore lately.  Love this one in particular, with beetroot from the garden.  Just grate some carrot and beetroot (easiest in the food processor), add some grated ginger, and loads of chopped mint or coriander or both.  A drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and lots of salt and pepper is all it needs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Home grown

The agapanthus have been lovely this summer, they just love the blazing heat.  It's time to cut them back now though so they don't spread their seed.  An English friend once told me agapanthus are considered an exotic plant in the UK.  Here they are verging on a noxious weed!

We had a totally homegrown dinner the other night.  It was very simple, but really you just don't need to mess with food that tastes so good as it is.
I was quite chuffed with this.   The lamb was tender.  The tomatoes have been beautiful, the basil abundant.  The zucchinis have just taken off so need to be checked every day so we don't end up with marrows.  There is immense satisfaction in turning those tiny seeds into food you can eat, with no pesticides or herbicides, producing food that is so full of flavour.

I marinated a pork scotch fillet last night.  It was also very tender.  I meant to cook it on the Weber, but got distracted and forgot to light the heat beads.  So it went into the Aga.  
I didn't photograph the finished product as Tim was very late.  So when it was cooked (thank you digital meat thermometer) I put into the warming oven where it sat for 45 minutes.  Such is the wonder that is the Aga, it was still perfect when we carved it, incredibly succulent.  Here is the marinade I used:

3 preserved lemon rinds (make sure you rinse them and scrape off all the pith), chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
a few flakes of dried chilli (you can use fresh, I just didn't have any)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tblsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
chopped coriander.
Combine the above and thin it down with some water if necessary.

I cooked it on a rack beneath which I put a sliced onion and some fennel.  I then poured in about 1/3 cup of verjuice with 1/2 cup water.  It took about an hour.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sorry for the silence.  We've been away on a little adventure and it has taken a few days to regroup, recover and shuffle the kids off to school.  We did a bit of this...
and a bit of this:

We were not alone. Australians were there en masse, taking advantage of the favourable exchange rate.

It is always good to be home, it must have been so hot while we were away. It seems unbelievable that it is so dry here and yet in other parts of the country it just will not stop raining.  I had some fairies watering the garden which meant that what was left in the veggie garden was kept alive.
Beautiful basil...
and tomatoes on the way..
sweetcorn and zucchinis.

I have been busy making tuck to send back to school, bits and pieces for the school lunch box, pesto  and of all things, beef broth because I had the bones in the freezer, and who would have thought it was sooo good for you? (and here

I also made a Shepherd's Pie.  This really is family cooking at its most sincere.  I used the lamb leftover from a roast (teenager removed from the house = halved food consumption) and some potatoes from the garden.  It is very easy,  if I have enough meat I make two and freeze one.

Shepherd's Pie

The quantities are not really specific, as it depends on how much meat you have leftover.  

Olive oil
1 onion, peeled
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 clove garlic, peeled
About 300g cooked lamb
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato paste or homemade tomato sauce (or both, taste and see what you think)
1 tblsp worcester sauce
1 teasp Vegemite

In the food processor whizz the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till it's finely chopped.  By all means do this by hand if you prefer.  
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan and gently saute the vegetables for about 10 minutes until  they are soft, don't let them brown.

While they are cooking chop the meat into big chunks and whizz in the food processor (you could use a mincer).  Add to the vegetables with the rest of the ingredients and cook on for about 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper (it needs plenty).

Place in a suitable dish and top with mashed potato.  

Bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes till golden and bubbling.  Look the other way when your children add lashings of tomato sauce.
Doesn't the flowering gum look pretty next to the golden elm..