In My Kitchen

Well another month has disappeared and I’ve yet again been a slack old thing and missed doing the couple of blog posts that did flutter around in my head. Oh well, thank goodness Sherry over at Sherry’s Pickings keeps us motivated by hosting In My Kitchen where we can both share and have a sticky beak at whats going on in all the kitchens out there.

It was time to process some more pickled onions so I purchased a large bag of pickling onions that appeared Ok on the outside, but much to my chagrin as I started peeling them it was obvious the majority were rotten in the centre. I was left with about a quarter of the bag and started the brining process using the lovely little weight I brought home from Turkey to keep the onions immersed. After a day of soaking, these onions went into the compost too. I was thrilled (not), it really hurts preparing onions, even more so with no result to be had. The clay weight worked a tree though! I can’t remember where I spotted this Disney cake to give credit, but I think it’s a ripper! My daughter didn’t accept the challenge to make it, wonder why? My last post was about how we were going to have our garden open as part of the Baw Baw Sustainability Network’s Creative Harvest event. We had a sensational weekend, talking all things food gardens with 117 people, had some lovely artists working in our space promoting the Arts side of the event and lots of laughing. This platter I served while they worked away under the mulberry tree. Every now and again they got ‘plopped on’ by falling mulberries! Here we are in between visitors coming  through. After the 40 degree day the day before, it was a bit of a struggle on so we welcomed these little gaps! I made some mulberry jam for the first time since we took over this place. Other years we have not been able to compete with the birds but the tree has been absolutely loaded so there has been enough to share.  I have also frozen many berries whole to be used as needed throughout the year. This is a great way to be able to throw some food to the little fella without filling him up on sugar. They can be thrown into pancakes, tarts and pies and slowly cooked until they make a lovely natural syrup. A couple of jars of jam is enough for us for the year. I made a couple of hundred dumplings for my son’s birthday and because pleating so many  would take ages as well as hurting my fingers,  I invested $1.50 in this dumpling press. I also used bought wrappers which fitted the press perfectly and I have to say I was very impressed with the result. Glad about that, didn’t want it to only be used as a play dough tool. I had a lovely Instagram friend come to collect a grapevine cutting I had started for her and she rewarded me with this lovely little lot.  In front are some Luisa Plums and I am smitten. They change from this colour to deep red as they ripen and the taste is unbelievable. I think one of these will be finding a spot here next season.The beans and cucumbers went into a salad along with some of my tomatoes, spring onions, with an Asian style dressing, fresh mango on the side and pork rolls in rice paper that I made after I ran out of dumpling wrappers and still had filling. Had to do quality control for the party food of course!So that’s it for In My Kitchen this month. Thanks Sherry for the opportunity of sharing.

I had decided not to pick any more mulberries this season but then I thought I should make the most of every opportunity, albeit small, as you never know if you’ll be around for the next season. An important reminder by a lovely man who sadly won’t be able to pick mulberries next season.  R.I.P. Shane.

Hokkaido Milk Toast (Japanese style), Lentil Curry and Lamb Momos

I was a little selfish this weekend, (yes, it’s all about me)!  Although I was conscious that there was plenty to be done  with our reno and in the garden, I opted to do a little cooking. I was in need of a change from the normal weekend sourdough bake so I made some Hokkaido Milk Toast (Japanese style) bread that looked interesting.

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This bread is reputed to be soft and fluffy, suitable for sandwiches and more typical of the supermarket fluff on shelves in the major ‘not so super’-markets. Very interesting method used to make this dough. You create  some tangzhong, which is exactly like making glue from a bit of flour (50g), 5 times quantity in water (250 ml) and cook over heat until 65 degrees or lines form when stirred. This is then cooled and added to an enriched yeasted dough, kneaded by machine and shaped, proved and baked. The result was not disappointing even though I misread the recipe and added the entire amount of tangzong. A bit of tweaking with some extra water and turned out OK. The bread had a distinct sweet aroma while baking and I thought this would prove to have a sickly sweet flavour but no, it was fine. Will definitely try this again, it was a nice change and my occessional hit for some vegemite on fluffy bread was satisfied!

Milk toast dough Vegemite bread

Lamb Momos with Tibetan Chilli Sauce.

I’ve borrowed Rick Stein’s India cook book from the library, so I’m test driving as many recipes as I can before it goes back. This way I can see if I like it enough to invest in buying it. I don’t buy a lot of cookbooks these days unless I know the food is going to be good and that I can go on a bit of a journey when I read it. This book certainly takes me on a journey. The photos put me right back in India and I can hear the crazy sounds and noise of the buses and traffic. The colours are stunning and I remember the smells and hustle & bustle that is everywhere in India. I made the Lamb Momos (Nepalese Dumplings) with Tibetan Chilli Sauce last night and tonight the Spicy Lentil Soup with Squash (pumpkin) tomato and green beans. Golly those Tibetans must have a strong constitution! This sauce was very fiery but also had a really good flavour. The momos dough was beautiful. I loved these but I think I’ll cut way back on the chilli next time!

Lamb momos

Momo Yum!
Momo Yum!

Tonight I made Rick’s Spicy Lentil Soup and once again it was beautiful. I had to make a few comprises as I couldn’t get either fenugreek or asafoetida anywhere locally. Will put those on my list for my next trip to Dandenong Market. I opted to leave off the tarka topping due to lack of fenugreek, but it didn’t detract from it’s delicate flavour. I served this with rice but I think it would be good, (although not traditional) with cous cous or even cooked with pasta in it.

Rick Stein's Spicy Lentil Soup

Zen with our brunch!

As I’ve mentioned before, we really enjoy our Sunday morning brunches, especially when we can eat outside. Today just made it into that category and I got to cook some pullet eggs I bought at the Warragul Farmers Market. What are pullet eggs you ask? These are the eggs laid by chickens who are just coming into laying age, the “P” plate chook you could say. Not as big as normal eggs but don’t be deceived by that! The flavour, colour and creamy texture of these eggs was beautiful. Free range farmed at local Willow Zen Farm,

Willow Zen Pullet eggs.
Willow Zen Pullet eggs.

I look forward to having them as a regular brunch item. I poached the eggs and served them on my sourdough toast along with mushrooms that were cooked in butter/olive oil with a  small chilli finely chopped and in the pan. Some chopped coriander, ground pepper and a dash of white wine vinegar stirred through before serving. Look at the colour of those eggs!

IMG_0882 Poached eggs

Out in the garden.

I discovered a few hidden bunches of grapes in the berry hut this week. This variety is a slip grape, put the grape near your mouth and slip it out of its skin! With a  lovely hint of honey flavour, it was indeed a pleasant discovery!

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The other exciting discovery was in the greenhouse. I didn’t think I would have any success with growing sweet potatoes. Yes, I’ve had plenty of green on top but getting tubers is difficult in this cool climate. Well lookie here…………………

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes

I might just have some success this year!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Dumpling week.

Seems my inner self has been in need of dumplings recently. Is it because the seasons are changing and dumplings are a halfway dish between summer and winter food? Is it because I haven’t travelled for a while and dumplings represent in one form or another every nationality and culture possible. I may be hankering to experience some new ways to have dumplings. Can’t think of any country that doesn’t have a dumpling dish of some sort. Even us Aussies have the great ‘GSD’, Golden Syrup Dumplings, if cooked well are a lovely dessert treat.

My humble attempts this week were pretty PP really. Didn’t make my own wrappers just grabbed a pack from the Supermarket. Having said that, it is a massive step forward that they were actually stocked at the Moe major. Won’t hold my breath for the local supermarket stocking such basics, they seem to be reducing their range of products rather than offering more.

Anyway, Sunday night was pork, ginger and zucchini wonton style dumplings served with a traditional asian dipping sauce. This style of dish is one of my favourites. Easy, reasonably healthy and can be tweaked so you can use whatever is at hand in the filling.

Pork Dumplings

For the filling I used 500g minced pork, 1 grated zucchini (juice squeezed out), 2 crushed cloves garlic, 3 spring onions chopped finely, generous teaspoon of sesame oil, pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of finely grated ginger. All into a bowl and really mix it well. Squeeze it through your fingers and make sure it is really well mixed.

Place a spoonful onto each wrapper, (packet had about 30) then moisten edged and bring sides together to seal. I usually use round wrappers but it was nice for a change to see a different shape.

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Popped them into the steamer on the what I now believe to be the perilous gas cooker.

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While dumplings were steaming I mixed up the dipping sauce using:

  •  1 small finely chopped red chilli with seeds removed,
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 5 tablespoons (100ml) light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (shaohsing)*
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 crushed garlic clove

When dumplings seem cooked, (about 10 minutes) place onto platter, scatter with chopped spring onions and drizzle some of the sauce over. I found these wrappers not as nice as usual, bit glassy but they tasted ok. Tended to stick more than I’m used to. Filling and dipping sauce was lovely!

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Potato Gnocchi

My next dumpling fix was potato gnocchi. Hadn’t made gnocchi for a long time and it is one of those dishes that should never be purchased in packets and only ordered out if you know it is light and fluffy as it should be and not like marbles that are chewy and tough. I microwaved a couple of potatoes (600 ish grams), mashed them lightly and then let to cool. Mix the egg through the mash first to make it smoother and easier to add flour.

Potato gnocchi

I added about 100g flour, a pinch of pepper and salt and gently mixed it all together. Don’t overwork it, just enough to hold together. Turn out onto a floured board and rolled into play dough type snakes. Have a large pot of boiling salted water ready. Cut bite sized pieces off the snakes, if it is for a more formal occasion you can shape them with little marks but for our casual meal I didn’t bother. Toss the cut gnocchi pieces into the boiling water and when they float they are ready.

Potato gnocchi

I must admit I let the side down with the sauce for this dish. Just some tomato passata, onion, zucchini and eggplant which should have shone but I didn’t do too well with developing the flavour. Nice but lacking oomph! Didn’t take a photo, didn’t think it worthy!

Phoenicia-Fantastic and Flying!

The sourdough starter I got from the lovely Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has developed beautifully. Phoeny is extremely resilient and has a bit more tang to the taste than my Vessie. I made 2 loaves of basic white at the weekend and they were both tremendous. Thanks Celia!

Sourdough bread

20150315_194522A batch of tomato sauce and that will probably see the major crop of tomatoes done. Can’t believe it’s still only March and they seem to have stopped. Hopefully a few stragglers will continue, enough to keep us in tomatoes on sourdough breakfasts for a while.