Trifle. Or is it just a cake in a glass bowl?

It all started a few weeks ago when I was clearing out cupboards and posted on Instagram and Facebook a call for ways to use some old crystal bowls I have and am never likely to use for a number of reasons.

CrystalThat horrible dilemma when you really don’t like something, you can’t imagine ever using them again but they do have sentimental value and aren’t worth anything to sell. Some have been wedding or engagement presents and  have emotional ties.  If I gave them away I would prefer they go to someone I know or who is part of the family. I don’t usually have any issues discarding things I cannot see value in keeping, but these have worked their way into and under my skin. I think it stems from being brought up thinking these things were ‘the good’ stuff only to be used for special times and they demonstrated we weren’t poor when people came to dine.

I had many interesting responses on what to do with them or how to repurpose them, ideas such as creating some garden ornaments similar to these,

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or a bird feeder like this,

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or even as pretty vessels for burning tea light candles in.

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There was even a suggestion some could be used as the missile for the annual smashing  of our Christmas gingerbread house (cheers Stuart). That, I wasn’t going to entertain! Glass in the grass is not good when you don’t wear shoes.

Then came the trifle ideas, many voted that the larger bowl was definitely a candidate for trifle to be served in. My niece is a really good cook and sent me a couple of links for some nice sounding recipes, one was a limoncello one that looked pretty good. Celia reminded me she had a recipe on her blog that was easy as well as delicious and Francesca said she had a whole book dedicated to trifle and would like to send it to me. The selection in this book has to been seen to be believed, I will revisit this in the future I think.

img_0678I’m not convinced about trifle, childhood memories still make me gag at the thought. I hate custard, not the good stuff like creme pat, but the packet or store-bought goo labelled as custard. I also have memories of soggy peaches stuck into horrible, grainy  cake that tasted like sawdust. I do remember though that I liked the jelly and cream, especially if it was a nice dark jelly like port wine etc. Convinced by my cheer squad that a good trifle is great and I should go for it, I decided that my quest was to create a trifle to share with guests at our Australia Day BBQ. The research began and I must have looked at 100’s of recipes but could not decide on a finalist. I started to see the pattern of ingredients emerge so I winged it, convinced we would end up with yet another soggy, grainy mess.

Basically I was making a black forest cake in glass bowl.

This was my concept,

  • Layers of chocolate cake which had been sprinkled with booze which is traditionally kirsch in a BFC.
  • Thin Layer of  chocolate mousse
  • Layer of cherry jelly made using the juice from canned cherries and a splash of booze
  • Layer of black cherries
  • layer of whipped cream

Pretty simple  really. So this is how I did it, I made a jelly using the juice from the 2 cans of black cherries thickening it with corn flour and throwing in a splash of rum.

I made a simple chocolate mousse but thinned it down slightly so it wasn’t too thick. This was the alternative to custard part of the creation.

Annabelle Langbein’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake was baked  in 2 small round tins rather than one big springform tin.

Cream whipped, what can go wrong?

My cake was cut and ready to start assembling the layers in the bowl  but not unexpectedly, I had not been able to get Kirsch at any of the bottle shops. My next option was Cherry Brandy but no, not available either. I considered making cherry juice but gave that a miss. I took a leap of faith and decided to use some white rum as we had a supply of it in the cupboard. So here we have my Black Forest Rum Chocolate Trifle.

But look at the bowl………………..please ignore the creamy smudge. I know you wouldn’t notice it if I’d used the cut crystal but that’s karma I guess.

Chocolate Black forest Trifle After all of that I just couldn’t bring myself to use the crystal. I just don’t like it but I do think it might make a nice bird feeder! This was a winner with all of our guests, people could take a small spoonful portion or dig in and take as much as wanted. The rum was an absolute winner and I think that will be repeated if I make this again. There was no graininess, just boozey, chocolatey, creamy, rich yumminess. Now, a couple of days later the flavour and texture has improved even more. Verdict by Mr ATMT is that it was a cake in a glass bowl, a delicious cake in a glass bowl, but not a trifle. My internal psyche must have overruled I think.

Here are a few of our Australia Day BBQ snaps. Beautiful afternoon, great people and some great food for sharing. As well as my Black Forest Chocolate Trifle I made a Pavlova and peeking in the background is a lammington roll that a friend brought along.DessertsI baked a selection of sourdough breads. From L to R, baguette, baguette, sesame loaf, tomato paste, thyme and feta, baguette, caramelised onion and parmesan loaf (DELICIOUS) and a roast tomato focaccia. I believe the focaccia was great but the vultures devoured it too quickly to sample.img_2247 I was going to say we are so lucky to have such a beautiful area to share these events with family and friends, but it is mostly due to some very hard work on our part to create this space. Australia Day 2017

All worthwhile and we are lucky, very lucky.

 

 

 

 

 

Catching up.

Well, what a cracker of a weekend weather wise. How could anyone want for any better than we have experienced this weekend in West Gippsland? I’ll start my little catch up post covering how we spent today in the back yard enjoying the most wonderful sunshine and balmy weather. I did say this year was going to be busy and yep, it is!

Menu for lunch today was: (With limited photos, too nice a day!)

Pork Belly which was a marriage of Bill Granger’s Crispy Pork Belly with Caramel Vinegar and Annabel Langbein’s Crispy pork belly. I had never eaten nor cooked pork belly before today, in fact I never used to eat pork at all. I think I suffered from that condition where you are fed crappy quality food as a child and the memory of how awful it was sticks forever. I would always say pork smelled like a pig sty and all but gagged when it was cooking, but I never get that anymore. Anyway, I was quite nervous at the prospect of cooking this so I went for using Bill’s Caramel Vinegar Sauce to serve and Annabel’s method for cooking. With my not so reliable cooking equipment, I liked the idea of cooking the pork in the milk bath. What a great result. I cooked it in the gas pizza oven, after I had carefully scored the skin and blow dried it with my hairdryer. Annabel said it is important for the skin to be very dry so I dug around in a cupboard to find the hairdryer for this job.

Scored pork bellyIt was baked in the gas pizza oven at 240ish for about 40 minutes, I then added enough milk to the roasting pan to cover most of the meat section, being careful not to cover skin. This went back in the oven turned down to low (I had to occasionally open and close the door to maintain a low temperature) for about 2 hours . I then removed from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. I wish someone had offered the tip that it is easier to cut if you actually remove the bone plate first! I eventually got a system going and we were off and running. Crackle was wonderful and the meat was sticky, juicy and beautiful.

Pork bellyI roasted some potatoes and pumpkin in the barbecue, spuds were the beautiful Dutch Creams form Wendy and Tony at Thorpdale Organics. Yes, they are as good as Wendy always tells us. I par boiled them first and let them completely dry before roasting after applying a light dressing of olive oil. You can also get these potatoes and much more great organic produce at The Trafalgar Spud Shed. Remember to take a bag and save on plastic waste.BBQ Roast vegetablesI baked a herb and chilli loaf in the barbecue as well. No chance that stayed around long enough for a photo. My youngest son just devours this when he sees it.Herb sourdough loaf I also served my now favourite, freekah with roast tomato, hazelnut  and capsicum salad along with some green beans. The caramel vinegar sauce of Bill Granger’s was an absolute knock out. Asian overtones, syrupy, sticky and decadent. Definitely a do again recipe.

IMG_6888 Dessert was very light, slow cooked quince which I’d cooked with sugar, star anise and cinnamon and topped with greek yogurt, crumbled ginger nut biscuit and grated lemon zest. Some fruit and chocolate nut bread thinly sliced to mop up the quince juice and it was surprisingly good. It looks a bit strange in the photo as the crumbled ginger nut and lemon zest is a bit clumped.IMG_6896The feeding frenzy in the sun, beautiful day, family and friends. Perfection!IMG_6880

A couple of bread bits.

I made an experimental loaf of bread using dates, figs, a couple of prunes, macadamia nuts, skim milk powder and using Chad Robertson’s standard Country Loaf recipe (well almost). IMG_6875I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, it looks a little dry in this pic but it wasn’t. I sliced it thinly and served it with our slow roasted quince dessert but I think it would be beautiful if toasted and served with a mashed banana on top.

IMG_0403Along with the chocolate fruit and nut bread, the herb bread and our weekly bake, I made a couple of loaves for our guests to take home. These were just basic white sourdough loaves which always go down well and I like offering them as a gift.

IMG_0404When you bake or create something it is always recommended that you record how and what you did so that if you need to recreate you can, or if you have problems you can possibly work out what may have contributed to the problem. When I was making a lot of cheese at home I was pedantic at recording every single step I did. I find I don’t have the same discipline with bread making. I do make an effort and sometimes I manage to record everything including ambient and dough temperatures but more often than not I end up with a little scribble that looks like this. Hope I never need to know what the 500g in the prune and cocoa mix is for (it is flour but I didn’t get that far). I also haven’t recorded that I added dates, figs, prunes, macadamia nuts, I think some cranberries……see I should be more committed.

IMG_0405I must admit I have Maurizio envy, look at his entries recording his bread making. I can only aspire to as good as he with both baking and recording. Sigh………

theperfectloaf-mybestsourdoughrecipe-3The exteno

We are both rather ‘over’ the reno at the moment, what’s that thing athletes go through when they are close to the end of an event and find it hard to continue? I think we are at that point, along with just being plain tired (which leads to doing silly things like busting sinks) and in need of some R&R. All is going well apart from the hiccup of busting the new sink.

IMG_6868IMG_0392Working when tired makes you do stupid things like topple tall cupboards over before they are secured. I like to think this sink actually saved me from injury as I was working below the cupboard that fell and the sink broke its fall. See the new wormy chestnut floorboards peeking though? Not showing any more yet!

Chick Peas, Pulled Pork, Tortillas, Bread and Garden.

Yep, it’s been a busy weekend! I love it when you get to achieve everything you set out to, it is incredibly satisfying. It certainly helped that the weather was absolutely beautiful. After 10 days of non stop rain and misery the sky was blue, no wind and the temperature got to about 19 today.  This is my son’s dog enjoying the warmth as did we!

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I’d been feeling a bit under the weather Thursday and Friday so it was great that I felt energised and raring to go for the weekend. First up I chooffed off to the Warragul Farmers Market to stock up on some goodies. This market has developed well and even though we are entering winter, there is still a great range of produce and a really strong sense of community from every one who attends or sells there. I love it! I bought some beautiful organically grown carrots (see recipe later) and leeks from Thorpdale Organics  (forgot to take a pickie), organic milk and paneer from Miranda Dale Dairy, chicken from Mirboo Pastured Poultry, Eggs from WillowZen, who claim their pullet eggs are sensational poached. I’ll report back on that later! Apples (I always forget the business name but they are very friendly),  Mushrooms from Gippsland Mushrooms, Saffron grown in Mirboo, just up the road, chorizo sausages and surely something else! No need to go into those awful big ‘not so super’ markets at all!

With the shopping stowed away I spent a couple of hours in the veggie patch trying to bring a bit of control back into it. I hadn’t done much over the last few weeks and found it very therapeutic getting out there and getting stuck into it. I tweaked the area where last season I had put a bath to grow some potatoes. It is now a better use of space and gives me a spot to put a chair so I can just sit and contemplate. It also means the worm farm and compost bin are easier to access.

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Some gravel fill in between the pavers and some bee attracting flowers planted, it should come up quite well. I also gave the greenhouse a good clean up. I noticed there was quite a big build up of muck on the panels which would be reducing the mount of sun coming in. With the cold season I need to capture as much warmth as possible,  so some hot water, truck wash, broom and a good high pressure blast of water and it is back to looking loved.

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Belated Mothers Day Lunch.

We were in Sydney for mothers day, so the kids came home today for lunch. I was really happy with today’s  meal. I often don’t enjoy eating what I cook but thoroughly enjoyed these dishes. Eating while sitting out in the lovely sunshine consisted of:

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Spicy Pulled Pork– Pulled pork is such an easy and cheap way to feed a group. I put a pork shoulder in the marinade/rub  in the slow cooker pot Friday morning before I went to work, put in fridge until Sat night then turned the slow cooker on low and it was beautifully cooked by Sunday morning. I do cover the meat with some baking paper to keep it moist while its cooking. It just falls apart and is so juicy and tender.

Spicy Pulled Pork

The recipe had ‘Cebolla en escabeche’ (picked onion) as an accompaniment. The pickling being achieved by soaking onions in lime and orange juices. I didn’t have limes so substituted green lemon juice and it was fine. Love the colour!

Cebolla en escabeche

Last week when I was at Herbies Spices in Sydney we sampled a lentil and kidney bean dhal using his ready made blend. I bought some of the blend and used it to make a chick pea dish to go with lunch today. So easy, add some oil/ghee to a pan, add 1 finely chopped onion and soften, add 2 tablespoons of the spice blend and cook out for a minute or so. Add drained chick peas (2 X 400g cans), tomato passata (I bottle mine in beer stubbies so that would be 375ml), 1/2 the juice from the drained peas and cook until required thickness. I also threw in a couple of the last cherry tomatoes. If too thick, add a little water to thin. You can also add some yoghurt but I didn’t and it was still lovely. Served with coriander on the top. Beautiful.

Chick Pea Dahl

An interesting side dish  I made was a carrot and radish (turnip) salad only I couldn’t get radishes at the farmers markets so I used young turnips which have a similar spicy element to them. Put the carrot and turnip through the V-Slicer, took about 2 minutes to make. Winner-It was really nice!

radish and carrot salad

Home made tortillas, Annabel Langbein’s recipe of course!

Tortlllaswhich were used as a wrap for the pork, chick peas and side salads. Some greek yoghurt, bean sprouts and tomato relish as well and it went down really well.

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Lastly are a couple of photos of the pretty spider webs I saw when I ventured out early Sunday morning. Hope your weekend was as fulfilling as mine!

Gate cobwebs
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Goat Curry, Pulled Pork, ganache and….

I haven’t ever cooked goat before, so when we were at the Dandenong Market last week I could not pass up buying some ‘goat curry’ cuts when I saw it. I knew I wanted to try it either as an Indian curry or as a middle eastern tasting dish so onto the internet. The first recipe I found when I googled was Rick Stein’s Goat Curry so that was that settled. I love Rick Stein, haven’t made many of his dishes but he just seems like a delightful man.

We weren’t disappointed at all. I thought the flavour might be a little light on because there is minimal spicing in the recipe but no, it was delightful. Served with rice, greek yoghurt and some of the leftover flour tortillas from Fridays Lunch.

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Friday’s Lunch

Let’s just say one of my better lunches! Pulled shoulder of pork made with a rub of salt, cumin and Garam masala, . Before I went to bed Thursday I chucked it into the slow cooker on low with a cup of stock, some onions, garlic and star anise. Removed from slow cooker about an hour before serving. I served this with a simple tomato salsa made of tomatoes, capsicum, black pepper and spring onions and an asian flavoured slaw salad that was really nice. Some Annabel Langbein flour Tortillas that were used as wraps, some plum sauce and tomato pickles on the side as well. Was really lovely, tasty and light.

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Dessert was not so light! Brandy snap ‘shells’ with chocolate ganache, quince that had been slow roasted for about 7 hours with sugar, cinnamon and star anise. A plop of double cream on top, yummo.

Quince brandy snaps

I resisted having another serve of this for breakfast so I compromised,

Banana, ganache sourdough

Sourdough toast spread with ganache and mashed banana. That is better for me isn’t it?

Coming together and enjoying the harvest.

More blooming concrete!

More concrete!We purchased three established cut leaf silver birch trees to fill a gap behind ‘the patch’ and while Mr ATMT was digging holes to plant them he came across MORE  concrete down about a foot from the surface. This is what we have been using as the pavers in the pathways. Wish we knew what the original purpose of this was! The area leads into what was once stables and it is too consistent and level to be fill. With this house having once been the doctors residence and with a neighbouring house being the original hospital we wonder whether there was a linking path or drive between the two. The concrete isn’t very thick so wouldn’t have heavy use to cope with unlike our driveway that you land a jumbo jet on!

Can see it taking shape…..happy with that!View from drive

View from drive way into back yard. Reclaimed concrete become pavers leading into ‘the patch’, new grass seed has had first hair cut.IMG_1617 View from top of last shot showing the mulberry tree, the newly planted cut leaf silver birches and our keepers of the gate.IMG_1628

View from rear of yard back to driveway. Couple of chairs under the mulberry tree, a fence will be installed around the vegie patch making this a quiet haven of tranquility once planting is established. IMG_1646

I moved 2 compost bins full of compost and leaf mold which nicely mulched this bed around the new trees. Very rewarding indeed.

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Lawn area. In total we have moved in about 25 meters of fill and topsoil to make this yard level. Lawn seed now sown and we anxiously await its appearance.

Waiting, waiting, waiting……. Oh so patiently.

Cherries

First cherries forming. I’ve never grown cherries before so am really excited to see these little cherubs appearing. I am even more chuffed because this tree was one I created when I attended a grafting workshop year before last. Supposed to be on a dwarf (or smaller) rootstock than normal.1st Tomato

First tomato fruiting. This plant is one that has kept going in the greenhouse since last autumn. I cut it back and fed it well and it isn’t far from harvesting.

Bean attacked!

Bean attack! The first sign of beans I posted last week has been cut short (pardon the pun!) by some munching critter. Not sure if its earwigs or something else. My potato crop foliage is being decimated by earwigs and none of the usual traps are working at all. Anyone got any suggestions?

RaspberriesFirst sign of raspberries producing. Don’t tell the earwigs.

This weeks harvests.

First spuds

First bandicooted spuds (potatoes), shallots, asparagus, parsley, silverbeet, coriander, mint, lettuce, thyme, oregano, beetroot leaves for salad and some good old faithful lemons. Getting more and more all the time.

IMG_1669I also picked my first bunch of roses at this house. Stunning! The dark pink one is called ‘Blue River’, massive flower and nothing like the tag but it is beautiful.

In the kitchen.

Slow cooker stock

The sharing of knowledge, tips and hints available to us now because of the internet is quite mind-blowing. I spend a lot of time reading others blogs and posts and I have to say the best tip I’ve learned is how to make stock in the slow cooker. I read this post and it ‘just made such damned good sense’ that I have been doing it ever since. I had run out so on went the slow cooker full of stuff I’d collected in the freezer and a bag of chicken carcasses I bought last time I went to the Footscray Market. Freezer fully stocked up again (ooh, another bad pun!).

Goats cheese and asparagus tart.

Asparagus and goat cheese tart

I’ve been reading a lot of Annabel Lanbein’s recipes lately and her common sense style really appeals to me. I found her recipe for asparagus and goat cheese tart and made a few adjustments so I didn’t have to go to the shop. Basically the only things the same as her recipe was that I used some goats cheese, asparagus and some eggs. Everything else was pretty much substituted for what was at hand.

I used puff instead of shortcrust pastry, ricotta instead of cream cheese, sour cream instead of cream, left out the parmesan to keep a bit lighter, added a slosh of milk to compensate for thicker sour cream and oh, I did also use parsley! Served with a hot (warm potato salad) made from our freshly picked potatoes (microwaved for 4 minutes) to which I added some S&P, lightly fried off shallot, mushroom, capsicum and snow peas. I then stirred in about a tablespoon of sour cream and it was beautiful. A couple of bits of lettuce and some beetroot leaves with chopped tomato and it was a lovely dinner. So satisfying putting together food you’ve grown.

With the left over tart mix I thought it may make good muffins so I added some grape-seed oil, a couple of handfuls of SR flour, a handful of grated cheese, some finely chopped shallot and a bit of milk to thin mix. I sprinkled a bit of parmesan over them in the last couple of minutes. This was a winner! Really  nice, light and tasty.

asparagus and goat cheese muffins

Covered a lot this weekend. Looking forward to a day off on Tuesday and spending it with my family getting together, having a few champagnes and bets on the Melbourne Cup! Hope I back a winner!