Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

The best avo dip in the universe

January 2, 2012

I saw Carol Selvarajah make this on SBS at least 15 years ago and wrote down the recipe. It’s MUCH nicer than guacamole, IMNSHO and a great way of getting a lot of healthy foodstuffs into your family.  MissN knows that I will make it on request, ripe avocadoes being available.  I usually have all the other ingredients.  We are growing our own chillies and I look forward to using them.. maybe my next dip.

“Asian type” avocado dip

Whizz together in a food processor (a stick blender works well too)
1 avocado
1/2 granny smith apple, core removed
bunch coriander (cut off roots, use stems)
small brown or white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
some ginger – about a half inch square piece or the equivalent (peel it with the back of a teaspoon)
some green chillies (one long green one, seeds removed is a good base to work from)
1/2 cup coconut milk powder
a dollop of tamarind paste (HP sauce is a good substitute)

This is wonderful! We like it with corn chips.

Jude 2

Blueberry Lavender Muffins – Skywatch Friday

January 20, 2011

The last stop of our recent (December)  Tasmanian trip was Barnbougle Golf Course, near Bridport, about an hour north east of Launceston. C tried to pretend that the Tasmanian trip was for the purposes of a blissfully relaxing child-free (MissN was on exchange in China) driving holiday but no-one was fooled.  We all knew that the  purpose of the trip was for him to play golf at Barnbougle, which has been hailed as Australia’s finest golf course and one of the top 100 public-access golf courses in the world. (He also managed to get a game at the very newly opened – like 3 weeks before – adjacent Lost Farm course.  His verdict is that Barnbougle is better and that he would like to visit both again SOON.)  Hobart, Freycinet and Cradle Mountain were added to the itinerary to legitimise the golfing and make it seem as though we went to Tasmania on holiday.  (Love ya, sweetheart! You may play golf any time and place you choose,)

I don’t do golf.  I did walk around MOST of Royal Adelaide with him last April but by the 13th hole I was wilting and bailed (went to find coffee at Semaphore).  So I left him to enjoy the stunning scenery of Lost Farm and the joy of hitting two little white balls into the dunes and I headed off to Bridestowe Lavender Estate which was about half an hour’s drive away (maybe less) through pastoral scenery and the very neat and prosperous looking town of Scottsdale.  Much of Tasmania is wild or empty but this corner (patch?) is very ordered, farmed, green and quite lovely.  Like a more hilly England.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

The entry fee was $7 pp (during flowering season, Dec-Jan, otherwise free) which I thought was expensive, seeing as almost everyone would spend money in either the cafe or the shop or both.  The estate was stunning scenically, the display was informative, the cafe good (I had scones with lavender cheese and lavender tea) and the shop was to die for. I restrained myself into merely buying a lavender deodorant, a bottle of essential oil (yes, it really is essential!) and a tin of culinary lavender.  You know me – if it’s an unusual ingredient, I buy it and find how to cook with it.

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

They had recipe cards!  I picked up a few (lavender brownies and  lavender baby cakes to be tried soon).  A batch of lavender blueberry muffins was my first attempt at cooking with lavender and they were a huge success.  The lavender flavour is very aromatic and goes perfectly with the blueberries (which can be found on special at the moment at about $3 a punnet – usually fresh blueberries are prohibitively expensive here).  It’s a moist (maybe the yoghurt?) muffin and not too sweet.  Just perfect with a cup of Darjeeling.  I will be making them again – soon.

Lavender blueberry muffins

Lavender blueberry muffins

Blueberry Lavender Muffins

(Recipe from Bridestowe Lavender Estate)

2 cups self-raising flour

1 TBS BRIDESTOWE CULINARY LAVENDER

1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup plain yoghurt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 TBS melted butter

I usually substitute spelt flour for plain flour and use soy milk but didn’t bother this time as I didn’t have a yoghurt substitute, and so the muffins wouldn’t be dairy free anyway.  Sometimes you just have to break the diet!

Lightly beat the egg and mix with the yoghurt and butter (make sure the butter has cooled and the egg and yoghurt are at room temperature or the butter will solidify).  In another bowl, mix the sieved flour, lavender, blueberries and sugar together.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together.  Stir in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin.  (I use the silicone thingies…)

Bake at 190 C for approximately 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

And next morning whilst C played Barnbougle I went birdwatching on the beach

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

where I saw fairy terns with chicks and hooded plovers with chicks (both rare and endangered birds and life ticks for me) and sooty and pied oystercatchers and kelp and Pacific gulls, went walking in the wildflower reserve (where I saw more birds and numerous wallabies),  had coffee at a lovely cafe in Bridport,  and feel in love with the place.  Roll on next golf trip!

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Skywatch Friday – a fun Sunday afternoon at McMahon’s Point

October 23, 2009

MissN and I attended a Women’s Event at my church back in March where the men cooked for us gals and shared their recipes.  MissN has been making Simon’s Thai red curry ever since, both with fish and with chicken!  The session finished at 4 and we had 2 hours till evening service at 6 and so decided to go down to McMahon’s Point (I used to catch the ferry to and from McMahon’s Point to Drummoyne when I worked in North Sydney many years ago) and chill. We had fun!
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I love how the clouds in this photo dominate both the bridge and the Opera House! Spot the train crossing the bridge!  We watched the ferries

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and the water taxis

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MissN decided to act like a 3 year old and had fun rolling on the grass.

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and behaving like a kid.  She does that well.

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She isn’t quite grown up yet.  But then neither is her mum.

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I think we will always have fun together.

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You can see more Skywatch Friday posts here.

Cucina povera – a peasant soup of beans and greens

October 22, 2009

Cicoria e Fagioli

I cook simple food: rustic, hearty, unadorned, unprocessed, from simple robust ingredients.  The food of peasants.  Cucina povera.   It’s frugal, delicious, healthy, Here is one of my favourite recipes – for curly endive and cannellini bean soup.

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It’s so easy, frugal, quick, delicious.  Dinner in 10 minutes!  The recipe I use is from one of my favourite cookbooks The Food of Italy by Claudia Roden and from one of my favourite regions in Italy – the Abruzzi (where the recent devastating earthquake was), where we spent a few days in 1993.   Pescasseroli, where we stayed, was magical: snow and scoiattoli (squirrels) and cent erbe and cream puffs at the Hotel Pinguino

Here is Antonio Carluccio’s recipe  (which is very similar to Claudia Roden’s), sourced from here which I have adapted

200g (7 oz) dried cannellini beans, or 1 x 425g (15 oz) can cannellini beans
1/2 bunch curly endive, washed and root end removed
6 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the dried beans to soak for 12 hours or more in a large bowl (they increase in size). Drain them and boil until done in fresh unsalted water. Salt at the end of the cooking time. If using canned beans drain them from their liquid and save the liquid to add to the soup. Wash the endive and cut it up into short lengths (about an inch long).

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, fry the garlic without browning, and then add the endive and chillies. Keeping the heat high, stir-fry for a minute or two, coating the endive with the oil, then add the drained cannellini beans, half of the liquid from the can, some salt and water to cover.  Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan (I don’t cover mine – the colour keeps better if the soup isn’t covered) and reduce the heat. Simmer until the endive is tender.

Toast some stale bread (preferably Italian) and put a slice in each soup bowl.  ladle over the soup over the bread, swirl some olive oil on top and serve with grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

I’m eating leftovers for lunch as I type…

Climate Change – Food should not be from afar

October 15, 2009


In the interests of climate change, Food from Afar is not to be taken literally!  My commitment is to exotic food and the food of the various cuisines of the world but not to imported or processed food, both of which add considerably and unnecessarily to the expenditure of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gasses, which speed up climate change!

Aug09 008My passion is for simple, nutitious, delicious, frugal food (like this miso soup), bought in as unprocessed a condition as possible, mainly vegetarian,  cooked or prepared simply from fresh, mainly unprocessed ingredients with as little waste as possible.  My reasons – health, frugality, reducing our carbon footprint, reducing waste. And the results – delicious.  No cardboard food!

Our next step is the development of an organic vegetable garden.  We have a tiny backyard but one big enough to grow some vegies.  The biggest challenge is the lack of sun.  We did grow some vegies in pots last summer.  The next step is setting up some no dig beds.  Suggestions for shady gardens welcome!

Why is it so important to do what we can to halt or slow down climate change? Have a look at the top 100 effects of climate change. Consider how it will affect the poor of our planet and what responsibility we have to be stewards of the planet God has entrusted to our keeping.

For those who deny climate change is caused or exacerbated by man: it’s easier to argue against the evidence for climate change and our role in it and how that is connected to how we care for (or NOT care for) our planet and it’s
peoples, animals and lands than to change our wasteful and harmful practices.  It comes down to selfishness not to change or ant to change.

Conversely – what will it cost our descendants if we don’t act collectively NOW?  God will call us to account for our materialism/selfishness/wastefulness. I am convinced of that.

For John and Maggy – soup and brownie cake

June 2, 2008

Hospitality is not one of my gifts. For various reasons related to my childhood and personality, I am not comfortable “entertaining” people in our home. But I am good at encouraging people, and I have been challenged to get out of my comfort zone with regard to extending hospitality to friends and to-be friends.

But – I can cook. I love cooking for my family and I do regard it as one of my gifts. If I could, I would bless John and Maggy Dobbs with some soup and my rich brownie flat cake.

I got this recipe from epicurious, one of my favourite recipe sources. It’s an intense flavoured soup (don’t leave out the anchovies and rosemary – they make the soup), but with a freshness and lightness that belies the fact this is a complete meal in a bowl. It conjures memories of a dinner in Monteriggioni on a cold night in ’93 (even though I have no memory of what we ate that night).

Bean and Swiss Chard (silverbeet) Soup
from: Soup: A Way of Life | November 1998
Barbara Kafka

Clearly this is an Italian soup. Biete is Swiss chard, usually green, although I have a fondness for the drama and beefy taste of the red-stemmed kind.
Servings: Makes about 5 cups (1.25 litres); 4 first-course servings.

1/2 pound (225 g) Swiss chard (silverbeet) or kale, trimmed ( I remove the thick white stalks)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
2 flat anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil (I use much less)
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (I mince them finely)
1 cup (225 g) cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans (chick peas are good too!)
4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock [or Garlic Broth for a meatless soup]
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (60 g) small shell macaroni (I use Orgran rice and corn fusilli)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a medium saucepan, cook the chard with 1/2 cup (125 ml) water and the salt over medium heat until tender. Drain the chard, reserving any liquid that remains. Coarsely chop the chard. (I don’t bother cooking the chard – I just add it raw)

Very finely chop anchovies together with the rosemary.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale gold. Stir in the anchovies and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the chard and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat it with the oil. Stir in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni. Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.

For dessert, I would serve rich brownie flat cake. I make this at least once a month. The recipe is apparently from Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald. My friend Fiona gave it to me a couple of years ago, and it’s now the cake I bake most. It makes dessert when served with berries and cream or mascarpone.

Rich Brownie Flat Cake
125g butter
100g dark chocolate
3/4 cup sugar (I use castor – superfine to you North Americans)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour (I use spelt or pharoah flour as I am wheat-free)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt butter and chocolate (I do this in the microwave). Cool.
Whisk sugar and eggs, stir into cooled chocolate mixture with the vanilla.
Stir in sieved flour and nuts.
Bake for 30 minutes in 170C (325-350F) oven in a 21cm lined round pan.

And I have been praying about a song for John and Maggy. I have been praying for them with most songs I have heard or sung the last week or so. But this is the one I offer them today. And tomorrow. And the next day. We sang it at “church” last night.  It’s one we sing often. This is a good version. I couldn’t find a Hillsong version on youtube, except a subtitled one. But this one should have you singing.

Love Wendy