OMG – Shiitake and Asparagus Carbonara Gnocchi

All weekend, as I was showing people our shiitake mushroom growing area, I was keen to pick the 2 big fat mushrooms that were well and truly ready, but thought better of it as they do look pretty impressive sitting there growing out of the oak logs. These 2 pics aren’t of the current logs, I forgot to  take a photo of them, but these are of the ones I had at our last house.

Shiitake sneaky!
Shiitake sneaky!

Shiitake 5The two mushrooms had grown so much we were concerned they may have hit the ‘too far’ point but we went ahead anyway. Tonight’s dinner was going to be potato gnocchi with a shiitake and asparagus Carbonara style sauce. Along with the shiitake I picked some asparagus, a big spring onion,  some parsley, found a couple of eggs, and I bought some light cream and bacon to add to the sauce. While the potatoes were baking in the oven at 180c, I prepared the Carbonara style sauce.

Shiitake mushroomsThese mushrooms were very big, slicing them was like slicing steak!Shiitake MushroomsCarbonara style sauce

This is for half if using 1kg potatoes as as I froze half of the uncooked gnocchi

  • About 500g of mushrooms sliced. Our 2 shiitake weight about 350g and I added about 8 normal mushrooms to the mix.
  • 3 rashers of good bacon or similar sliced
  • 1 onion or a couple of spring onions whites chopped.
  • Couple of asparagus spears cut into 3cm sections
  • S&P
  • 4 garlic cloves (more or less as you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 300ml container light cream (can’t bring myself to write ‘Lite’)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • handful of Parmigiano Reggiano (I bought some excellent parmesan while in Melbourne)

Method
Into a pan drizzle some olive oil and when hot add the bacon and onion, fry until transparent.

Add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms and allow to cook until softened.

Add the white wine and cook off for a few minutes

Add half the cream and simmer, don’t allow to boil.

In another small bowl mix the egg yolk, rest of cream and the handful of parmesan. Rinse the cream container out with a little water and add to the sauce.

Let sit until just about ready to serve. Make your gnocchi.

Make your gnocchi.

1kg is of hot baked potatoes (I used Gippy gold but desiree would work well)

4 egg yolks

200g plain flour

pinch of nutmeg

S&P

  • While potatoes are still hot remove skins and put potato through a potato ricer or food mill. If none of the above, mash or even grate but don’t add any liquid.
  • Turn onto floured board and very gently mix in the flour, egg yolks, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
  • Gently bring the dough together but DO NOT overwork it. If it is extremely sticky, back of with the mixing but gently incorporate some flour. Err on the side of caution, too much flour = golf ball gnocchi!
  • Divide dough into about 6 pieces and roll each pice into a long piece as you would if you were rolling out play dough and cut each long pice into little pieces about 2.5cm (1″) in size. If you don’t have gnocchi paddles you can skip this bit but if you do it is a nice finishing touch to run the pieces over the paddles to create indentations that collect the sauce better.

Shaping GnocchiI picked up my paddles when in Melbourne. Place the shaped gnocchi on a tray or cloth that has semolina sprinkled over it until ready to cook. Have a big pot of salted boiling water ready!GnocchiI only cooked half of this mix tonight, I have frozen the ‘ready to cook’ gnocchi for next time I get the urge. For cooking, divide into smaller batches of about half or a quarter and add to the boiling water. When the gnocchi rises to the top of the water it is ready.

Turn the heat back on your sauce, set to low. Add the asparagus and remaining cream, cheese, egg and nutmeg mix, stir through. Very gently heat while gnocchi are cooking. DO NOT BOIL!

As the gnocchi pieces come to the surface of your pot, scoop them out, drain lightly and add to the sauce mix. Repeat until all gnocchi is cooked.

Serve with chopped parsley, I was a little too over zealous tonight (you could stir this through the sauce) and some extra parmesan if desired.

GnocchiThis was undoubtedly the nicest gnocchi and sauce we’ve had in a very long time. The shiitake mushrooms have a delicate flavour but they add such a great meatiness to the dish. By blending both varieties you create both flavour and texture. Very enjoyable!

Sourdough sharing, garden and exteno update.

It has been great to be able to share some sourdough loaves with our friends at their social gatherings over the last couple of weekends. Home-made bread always seems to go down so well!

After being away for 5 weeks, it took a couple of days to re-invigorate Phoenicia (my pet name for my starter) into action by feeding her twice a day, she was back in form and rearing to go after 3 days. Good sourdough culture is pretty resilient and strong and can easily be revived after quite a long time if it has been kept refrigerated. IMG_8423-002With this dough made of 80% bread flour and 20% rye flour, I made an assortment of loaves to share and 2 loaves for ourselves.IMG_8433 I have quite a few people ask how I manage to bake the bread in a barbecue. It has taken quite a bit of experimenting but I seem to be coming up with some fairly consistent loaves these days. This cold weather does mean a lot of watching as there is a massive amount of heat loss in the barbecue. It then leads to over-tweaking which can lead to easily burning. It is usually only baguette style loaves I do in the barbecue as they just won’t fit in the ‘toy oven’.

I shape the loaves and prove them on a couche (heavy linen cloth but you can use a T-towel) until about 30 minutes before baking. Barbecue is then turned on, I light the two outside burners on medium and the 2 centre burners on low. I have a large floor tile over the hot plate and grill rack to diffuse the heat and an old cast iron pan with hot rocks in it which will be used as a steam injector when baking. These 2 loaves are ready to be slashed/scored and baked.

IMG_8442 They then go into the barbecue on a little rack to lift off the really hot base and I pour about a cup of water over the hot rocks to create steam then close the lid. The 2 middle burners are now turned off, just the 2 outside ones remain on. These 2 loaves were cooked for 8 minutes then turned and the outside burners turned to low, then cooked for a further 15 minutes.IMG_8444This is the Sunbeam barbecue I use, it’s been a great workhorse for about 10 years.IMG_8443 Finished loaves included, an olive, chilli and cheese loaf, a rosemary baguette which I sprinkled sea salt on top of mimicking Carol Fields’s ‘panmarino‘ yeasted loaf which I baked last year. 2 plain baguettes and 2 crusty 900g loaves. This is the basket of goodies ready to take to a party.IMG_8450Things obviously didn’t stop growing while we were away! This is my garlic bed which has had self-sown poppies decide to take up residence. I thought I eliminated these last year but obviously not.IMG_8418-002 Now that’s more like it!IMG_8421I found a couple of giant celeriac which I’m yet to cook. I hope they aren’t too woody, they may end up frozen and used as stock flavouring if they are.IMG_8419-001In the greenhouse I was greeted with loads of cheery rocoto chillies so these along with  a couple of red capsicum, were turned into some Turkish red pepper paste. I’ll let you know how that goes later!IMG_8414 I was very concerned that my precious oyster plant had croaked it but I notice some new little shoots appearing. This must be a perennial, I can’t find much info on the internet so if anyone can share their expertise I would love to hear from you.

IMG_8416The eucalyptus caesia (silver princess) turned on a beautiful show for our return. The wattle birds are loving this tree.IMG_8412-001and what a delight seeing some cheery jonquils in flower.  IMG_8408It is nice to be home and to get back into the exteno for its final stages. Floors are now done so kickboards can go on, bench tops in this week, architrave and skirting boards ordered, painter booked and most exciting part is I can organise for the oven to be delivered. Ironic isn’t though, our son, who is our plumber left the week before we got home to go on his 12 week honeymoon. One day the planets will align.FloorsIt is lovely to be home!

In My Kitchen – January 2016.

Welcome to 2016 where a very busy year is staring us straight in the smacker. To start the year, we have a grand baby due to arrive (literally any tick of the clock), a wedding in February, hopefully a working kitchen soon after that and a holiday to Greece and Turkey in May. I’m also hoping to hold some sourdough bread workshops once we have a kitchen, so I’m trying to wrap my head around the best way to present information that is most useful to participants. Thanks to Maureen over at Orgasmic Chef who has kindly taken over the co-ordinating of In My Kitchen while Celia has some ‘being gentle to herself’ time.

I’ve had a peek at a few other IMK postings and I can definitely say I’m not going to wow you with delightful Christmas goodies and gifts. In My Kitchen this month is very down to earth and some may even say “boring”. Never mind, here’s what’s In My Kitchen this month regardless.

Harvests:

Cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, beetroot, capsicum and in a couple of days there will be corn. We are chook sitting for our son, so I think I will have to turn some eggs into pasta over the next couple of days.

Egg Cucumber HarvestI love pickled cucumbers so I made some bread and butter cucumbers (not sure what the difference between the two is). I have been using this recipe that I found over at Liz’s Suburban Tomato Blog  and it’s a winner. Bread & Butter CucumbersPickled beet and cucumbersI also pickled some beetroot using this blend of pickling vinegar. This was enough for 500g of beets.

    • 750ml malt vinegar (can blend types to suit)
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Boil all together, let cool then strain and pour over cooked beets that you have sliced or cut to desired shape and size and packed into sterilised jars, seal. Let mature for a couple of weeks before using. I really like the flavour of star anise with beetroot. Served with some feta or add greek yogurt, blitz it and you have a delicious dip in a matter of seconds.

Garlic.

I’ve followed a tip from Francesca at ‘Almost Italian‘ and this year not plaited my garlic harvest but just bundled the heads together and hung them. This was so much easier than plaiting and I think they look pretty good! I have not bought garlic for years now and I just love having it on hand knowing it’s been grown with no chemicals, no bleaching agents or sterilising agents to reduce the chance of it sprouting on the shelf. Nearly 100% of supermarket garlic is imported and the growing conditions are very questionable.

Garlic harvestAs well as this stash (it should last 12 months) I have kept enough aside for planting. I usually plant in March. This is much earlier than many recommend, but I have had great success since doing so.

Garlic for plantingWe have been picking tomatoes since mid November. Most have been from the greenhouse but they are now coming in from the wicking beds as well. We have to pick as soon as they get a slight blush because the birds are onto them like a flash if we don’t.

TomatoesI have about 15 compost buckets on my kitchen table. I take responsibility for collecting the compost bin from the staffroom at work  (sadly, I don’t have to compete with anyone for the privilege of doing this). I bring the bin home, add the goodies to the compost then usually forget to put the bin/bucket back in my car to take back to work. I’ve given them all a good scrub and airing and they are ready to be returned for the new year. I really wish I could create a swell of enthusiasm among others on staff to be more involved in sustainability and waste management, but there just isn’t any interest or sense of purpose  for doing so at all.

Compost binsClean out the fridge soup! There were many bits and pieces that were getting close to needing to be used or piffed (compost only, not rubbish bin) and as the weather was nice and cool today I made soup. This meant I could use up some celery, pumpkin, sweet potato, stock, and turkey that were sitting in the fridge. I added a stubby of passata,  some potato, my favourite zing szechuan (sichuan) pepper  and served the soup with some sliced chorizo I had grilled, flat leaf parsley and some of my ‘Maurizio’ sourdough

IMG_3585that had been grilled, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with garlic.

Clean out fridge soupHappy New Year to all fellow IMK’rs out there and to any new participants. I am really looking forward to see what 2016 will bring to everyone.

Sledging the kitchen. Osso bucco and Asian style Chicken Soup

I couldn’t stand it any longer! After spending most of my ‘free from paid work’ Monday out in the garden, I was itching to come in and start getting rid of the stinky old cupboards in the kitchen. I’m doing this in stages, no hurry as we haven’t locked in any start date for the build. I just have to see them gone! So out came the sledge hammer, wrecking bar and normal hammer. The tiled bench top was first to go, very satisfying smashing that!

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Then it was a matter of methodically working through dismantling the rest of the framework. Things were built so well when this was made, the size and quantity of the nails is amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to find that behind this cabinet is some beautiful baltic panelling that is still in great nick. How could anyone cover up this with that awful cabinet?

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The hole in the floor is the access point to the old brick, butter cellar. I’m still working out how to integrate this into a usable asset in the new kitchen.

Butter cellar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was very satisfying! Little by little I’ll keep chipping away!

Weekend food wrap.

On Saturday I participated in a Middle Eastern Vegetarian cooking class at Relish Mama in Cheltenham.  I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon, chef Tony Chiodo was a great source of information, the venue is set up beautifully and it was just nice to be in a real kitchen with things like having water connected, clean floors and a real cooktop. Aaaaaah, heaven. I got a few design tips too, added bonus.

Tony Chiodo- Relish Mama
Waiting for the fun to begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday night I made an Osso Bucco style stew. If mammoths still roamed the earth, I imagine that their shanks would be about the size of these cuts I bought at the Dandenong market. I only used 2 and it would easily have fed 6 people. Served with mash and broad beans cooked in olive oil, garlic and lemon. A bit of sourdough to mop up the juices. Can’t beat it!

Osso Bucco

Chicken and No Corn soup.

Tonight I felt like I needed an asian style soup to warm me through. I didn’t really feel like having noodles or dumplings in it, so I just went with using some of the asian style stock I made a few weeks ago using chicken feet as the base. To this I added some finely diced carrot and celery, chilli, grated ginger, black pepper, fish sauce, a bit of water to extend the volume and 3 chicken thigh fillets. The chicken fillets poached while the stock simmered away and when cooked I shredded them, stirred in some finely shredded, freshly picked kale and 2 eggs to thread through the broth. Just what I needed, not a big fan of corn in soup anyway!

Asian Chicken Soup

 

 

Pork buns, shed bases and birds.

Shed Bases.

With our extension/reno scheduled to begin later this year we are going to be in an interesting position with management of a few things such as having a laundry and cooking area, storage and generally keeping things manageable while works are under way. We decided to have an extra garden shed put in place which will be used as storage for the mower, camping stuff and lots of shelves will be incorporated to take boxes that may need to be stored until they can come back into the house. We’ve sited this shed at the back and will be able to screen it almost completely with planting. Added bonus is that it will screen neighbouring properties.

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We are lashing out and having this shed installed, something we have never done before but the cost is reasonable, it means it will be done and dusted and our list of jobs is so long it just seemed sensible.

Birds

We love having native birds as part of the garden. When we first came here there were no birds apart from sparrows and the dreaded Indian mynah, we have been gradually increasing bird attracting plants and every day we are thrilled by our feathered visitors who are increasing rapidly. This morning I was mesmerised listening to a magpie who was sitting and ‘chatting’ away just outside the bedroom. I found this magpie video of a warbling magpie that captures it beautifully, I could listen to them for hours. Along with bird attracting planting we are ensuring we have water available for birds, bees, lizards and every other ‘critter’ that is welcome. here. We are establishing an area in the back corner that I have labelled as the ‘bus stop’ and Mr ATMT is currentLy working on. We bought a cast iron bird bath that will be positioned centrally in this area. The bricks we claimed from the neighbours garage when it was demolished are slowly being integrated into the landscape.

CAST IRON BIRD BATH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buns

This morning I picked some lemon grass, spring onions, broccoli raab and I had some cabbage that needed a purpose. There was some pork mince in the fridge that also needed using so with these all being a good base for asian dishes I thought I’d have a go at making steamed pork buns. We have dumplings quite a lot so something a little different was appealing. I have never had steamed buns before and had no idea what to expect.

I made a filling of pork, cabbage, ginger, spring onion, char sui sauce, chilli and garlic and made Pork bun dough using this recipe.

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The dough worked really well, I was happy with this.

Pork bun dough

Divided into 16 pieces which I filled with the pork and ginger filling,

Pork Buns

Into the bamboo steamer on a small piece of baking paper and steamed for 15 minutes.

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No idea if this is how they are supposed to look but they were as light as a feather to pick up and to eat. Served with some soy and sweet chilli sauce, I wish I’d been bothered to make a proper dipping sauce, I think it would have made all the difference.

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From the photos I’ve found they look pretty much like they should. Any pork bun experts are welcome to give me their thoughts!

Back to work tomorrow, I need some motivation!

 

 

Countdown to Kitchen Lift off is imminent – IMK June.

Woo hoo! Very excited here at ATMT. After 3 long years of trying to sell our property at Fish Creek (Fishy), which is a quirky and delightful town close to our fabulous Wilsons Promontory (The Prom) on the southern tip of Victoria.  We have just had settlement, money is in the bank and we can now proceed in ernest with the reno at this ‘New Old House’. Very sad to be losing the association with the property that I ran as a self contained accommodation facility for about 12 years, but I want to put some energy into this project now. This photo is of the iconic ‘Fishy Pub’, famous for the fish on the roof!

fishypub1

 

So, what is in my kitchen this month?

PLANS, PLANS, PLANS! Although we have been preparing for this time for a while, we didn’t want to get to bogged down with the detail until we knew how many $$$$ we had to play with. Massive price reduction to sell meant that what we could do here was affected.  Since we moved in (2 years) and while the Fishy property was on the market this place  has been listed as a Heritage Protected Property, so have had to go through planning approval for any changes. That’s all done, now we need to get final plans drawn up and the building permit issued. When that’s done, we are aiming to start in Spring, couldn’t handle no back half of the house in winter! If I was really optimistic, I would be saying things like I hope to have a kitchen by Christmas, but I doubt it. So consequently in my kitchen are plans and wish lists. I’ve been collecting pictures and ideas that will all be used for tips and ideas in the final mix. If you look closely, you can see a little  spot on the plans marked ‘Kitchen’!

PlansBecause I’m so excited, I got a bit carried away thinking about how I will be able to bake things like croissants, puff pastry, more than 6 sausage rolls and maybe even 2 loaves of bread at a time. My bench top Sunbeam Pizza Bake N Grill has done well, but gee, I’m over it! So, to assist in making all the lovely pastries I plan to make, I decided I needed a good heavy-duty rolling-pin. Probably should have checked the measurements first! The one I ordered online from Amazon is what I will label as my “2 & 1/2 wine bottle pin”. Love it even though it is a monster!

IMG_0966We are still on the quest to find some tea that was as delicious as the assam tea we bought while in India. Not having much luck but when in Melbourne last weekend we bought home a few to try. There are also a few  tomatoes that are trickling in from the greenhouse.

IMG_0969We went Melbourne to celebrate Mr ATMT’s 60th birthday last weekend (Post coming later) and I did the clean out the fridge “what can I use up to take as nibbles routine”. Quite amazing what you can throw together when you have to. These were the most beautiful marinated mushrooms I’ve ever had. Quartered the mushies, cooked in microwave for about a minute and a half. Meanwhile into a pan went some olive oil, about 6 garlic cloves and a chopped up chilli. Heated just enough to slightly cook off the garlic and bring out the chilli oil. This was then poured over the mushrooms, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, the lemon zest of  1 lemon and about 1/2 a tsp of the leftover Spicy Tibetan Sauce I made to go with the Rick Stein Curry I made earlier in the week. Into a container until we used them and they were beautiful. Shame the photo is fuzzy!

IMG_0940I also found some leftover lamb mince, so I threw this in with some chopped rosemary, onion, garlic S&P and an egg to make little meatballs. Served with my tomato relish they were lovely.

IMG_0944Some brownies packed to go with our cuppa, these were made using Annabel Langbein’s brownie recipe. Once again a never fail!

IMG_0951I’ve recently been reading a few different bread making books and currently have Ken Forkish’s Flour, Water and Salt  on loan from the library. Good read so far.  I’ve split ‘Phoenicia’ in half to make a rye starter as well as a basic white. She’s happy with the separation.

IMG_0973Well, I didn’t think I had much to report this month and yet now I feel like I’ve been waffling on for ages. Because we are heading into the wintry blues I thought I’d close with a shot of some of the vibrant colour we experienced in India.

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Thanks Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for your hospitality and generosity with the IMK community.

Don’t be fooled-Winter in the garden is busy!

It’s been many moons since I last did a Garden Share Collective post. I just don’t know where the time has gone, I blink and another month has passed me by!

We can no longer kid ourselves that summer has gone (didn’t really have one), and Autumn too is racing out the back gate being replaced by what appears will be a cold winter. As the sun shines and sparkles on these icy cobwebs in the early morning I revel in the changing seasons.

IMG_0722A couple of things to share this month:

A new bed and repositioning of the spud bath. The bed beside the chook house that had corn in it over the summer has been fed and garlic is planted in it. The bath across the back previously took the spot where the stepping stones are and I have moved it to make this area a little more attractive and easier to access and use. I can now get to the worm farm and one of the closed compost bins much more easily. There are a couple of small  spaces that I will fill with bee attracting flowers. Love that camellia!

IMG_0780I must admit I love winter in the garden, the feeling that everything has stopped kicks in and you then turn something over or see the cool climate crops return a harvest and you realise just how much does continue on. The sweet potatoes in the greenhouse are starting to die off and I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many and what size sweet potatoes I get.

IMG_0838The broccoli heads are starting to form and the garlic in this raised wicking bed is well and truly on track.

IMG_0852There are a couple of plants I’ve had to put some frost protection in place for. This is a Davidson’s Plum, the other is a tamarillo that I thought I had lost last year but it came good over the warmer seasons.

IMG_0824The couple of beds that you walk through on the way into the veggie patch are slowly showing signs of the seasonal changes. The nectarine on the front right is resisting yet the yellowing plant rear left is a cherry that has just about dropped completely. There are bulbs and irises poking up through the mulch, exciting. No eggs from the free loading chooks ATM though!

IMG_0903The last of the grapes harvested and slipped into the mouth with a sigh of appreciation.

Grapes

Looking forward to having a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to plant more, tidy up and plan for the spring. I’m looking forward to reading the other GSC posts.

http://www.strayedtable.com/grow/garden-share/

 

Weekend Roundup-Spicy soup and reno update.

We have so much on the go at the moment we don’t know our arses from our elbows! With having finally sold our Fish Creek Property,we’ve been working to empty and clean there ready for impending settlement this week (everything crossed!). Both of us are really under the pump at work and finding it heavy to handle, might have to review that very soon I think!

We have also felt a bit like the reno has hit a bit of an impasse, so we made a concerted effort to do a few jobs. Mr ATMT started painting the snug and I have been hanging the wallpaper to the bottom of the walls. Coming together nicely, the bottom colour will be a matching tone of the top colour but lighter. Think dark blues and mustard seed tones for drapery and accessories. It actually looks more a coffee colour than it is in the photo!

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We have been searching on Ebay for ages waiting for a suitable sized gas log fire to go into the lounge room fireplace. As much as it breaks my heart (kidding) to remove the lovely white bricks that are circa 1960, we will get over it. This is the fireplace with the modern brickwork. I know,  gorgeous, why would we want to remove it?

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We finally managed to secure a gas log fireplace in an as new condition for a couple of hundred dollars. Much better than a couple of thousand! We opted for gas log (this unit has faux coal) in this fireplace as we already have 3 other wood fires. It’s a welcome option on the nights when it’s not really cold but you need some warmth and a sense of fire. Now to source a mantel fitting to the era of the house. The unit included a cast iron insert that the burner will  sit into. This photo just shows the burner with the faux coals. As these fireplaces were built more for coal than wood it should fit the style of the house really well. Bit excited really!

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With the cooler weather setting in, especially at night, it is soup season. We could live on soup I think. We are very partial to potato and leek soup but on checking the supplies in the cupboard and the harvest from the morning I opted to make a potato, onion and red lentil spicy soup. This was delicious and so easy.

Spicy Potato, Onion & Red lentil soup for 2 plus.

4 potatoes, 4 medium to large onions, 300 ml stock (I used home made veggie), 1/2 tspn cumin, 1/2 tspn garam masala, 1/4 tspn chilli powder (or more if you like a bit more kick), 4 garlic cloves, 1/3-1/2 cup red lentils, S&P and extra water. I also added a couple of shiitake mushrooms I’d picked in the morning.

Peel and roughly chop potatoes, peel and slice onion, peel and roughly chop garlic. Heat a little olive oil in a pot and add onion and garlic, cook till clear then add spices, cook a few more minutes then add potatoes. Mix around then add the stock, lentils and enough water to cover the lot. Bring to boil then stir and turn heat down to a gentle simmer. Cover and let simmer until the potatoes are cooked and start breaking up. I served this with parmesan, chopped thyme and some sourdough croutons. Mr ATMT managed to make the croutons! Simply cut the bread into the size of crouton you want then place on a tray in the oven at about 160 until they are dry and crisp. This is a great way to use stale bread of any description. Hearty and warming for 2 tired souls on a cool night! What’s your favourite soup?

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In My Kitchen- Oh dear another month gone by!

Not too much happening here at the moment – just seem to have lost my mojo! Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this forum. Never cases to amaze me how some people churn out the most wonderful dishes and have stocked in their cupboards some lovely little gems!

This month the Autumn season was in full swing and consequently there are changes in what is available to use in the kitchen. I was lucky enough to have some beautiful quince dropped off to me by George & Jenny who own and operate Tarra Valley Foods in Rosedale Victoria. They make and sell a huge range of preserves, all of which I have tasted are wonderful. If you are ever heading down the Princes Hwy towards the NSW border, make a point to seek them out! They also have a great range of preserving history displayed. These little beauties are headed to become quince jelly and I’ll also do some oven slow poached quince. Lightly spiced with some lemon, star anise and cinnamon it makes a lovely desert.

Quince

We spent the Easter break camping at Castlemaine, an historical town in the area where gold fever was prominent in the formative years of Australia. This region is full of lovely old architecture and there are also some great markets to be visited.  I really like the Wesley Hill Market as it has a great range of fruit & veg, preserves and also a great eclectic assortment of crafts, preloved goods and it generally has a nice buzz to it. I picked up these,

Wesley Hill Farmers Market

The Splitters Creek olive oil I bought last time we were there was beautiful, didn’t even taste test this time, hope it’s still up to the mark! Tried to find a link but sadly they don’t seem to have any web presence.

The two other bottles are a Persian style pickle and some garlic which has been pickled using date vinegar. No idea what will I will do with them but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Before we left I had made dumplings from scratch. Had never made the wrappers before and they were a great success. Won’t stress over that again, just takes a bit of time to roll the dough out.

Dumpling wrappers

The left over dumpling filling of pork, ginger, zucchini, spring onion and sesame oil made nice little meatballs to go with our always favoured camping breakfasts. This breaky was sourdough toast (Celia’s starter of course!), poached egg, dumpling stuffing meatballs and grilled tomato served with tomato pickles and a really strong brew of tea.

Camping breakfast

Now to make a cuppa and take a peek at what’s in everyone else’s kitchen this month!

 

Hangin’ in the hammock. Spelt, flowering gums & books.

What an absolute cracker of a weekend  it’s been weather wise! Autumn is my favourite season, but  I especially love it when the weather has been as lovely as the last couple of weeks. We’ve had cool, almost balmy nights, sunny days ranging from 18-30 degrees with just a slight breeze, promises of cooler nights advancing by the dew that’s on the grass and cars in the morning and the golden tinge of colour change in the leaves of the trees. Perfect camping weather, hope it holds for a few weeks.

I was not going to miss the opportunity to enjoy this weather while I could, so in between all the weekend chores and jobs I took time to retreat to my beloved hammock and have some ‘smell the roses’ time.

If I was asked to make a short list of my favourite things to do, reading, camping and hanging in my hammock would be top of the list. If I can do all at the same time I’m in heaven!

I recently borrowed a book from the local Mobile Library and although a very different genre to my beloved crime mystery I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book was ‘The Briny Cafe’ by Susan Duncan and it is a nice story based around some Aussies who live off shore from the mainland and have a strong community  that they cherish and we get to share their lifestyle. I loved the tone of Susan’s writing and have since read the sequel, Gone Fishing which I found just as delightful. So, on to reading her ‘memoirs’, Salvation Creek which I have also enjoyed immensely. Close to my heart, we all are or have friends in the same places she has been and I felt it a very honest and light-hearted approach to disclosing her unbelievingly difficult experiences. Close to the end of the book, I was in between stretch and folds of my bread dough, stirring of the tomato and plum sauces so I treated myself to a stretch in the hammock with a ‘coldie’ (aka chilled beer), my book and a relaxed attitude. Heaven!

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Coming back in between tasks, I picked a few things to go in our dinner that I hadn’t planned. Lemons, lemongrass, capsicum, zucchini and some potatoes. Found some chicken in the freezer  so we had a chicken, lemon, lemongrass, capsicum, zucchini, thyme and potato bake. Threw in some small tomatoes to add sweetness and served on rice cooked with lemongrass and some star anise. Wasn’t a dribble maker, but it was fresh, tasty and hearty.

IMG_0407 IMG_0411My sourdough bread bake this weekend was a 50% spelt flour mix, in a 68% hydration dough. We bought this flour at Callington Mill in Tasmania last September, its best by date has passed but it looked ok, smelled ok and performed well in the loaves.

IMG_0449While lying in my hammock I was positioned so I could keep peeking at this beautiful flowering gum. We had to remove a large flowering gum tree when we moved in and I hated doing it. This one is a smaller grafted variety and the shape of the leaves, buds, flowers and I presume  the resulting gum nuts are so beautiful. Not usually a pink kind of girl! First time its flowered, beautiful.

IMG_0427As I’m putting this post together there is a leg of lamb in the slow cooker laced with 2 heads of garlic, lots of rosemary, a cup or so of balsamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar and stock. Smells beautiful! Will let you know how it goes.

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Ahhh, love Autumn.