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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leeks


Harvested some leeks and garlic to make mussels in white wine. Very easy:
IN a large heavy bottom pot saute leeks, garlic and thyme in some butter and olive oil until soft. Add wine, a bay leaf and black pepper and let that reduce down a bit. Then add 1/4 cup cream and bring back to the boil. Add your mussels and cook with the lid on, stirring occasionally for about 10 mins. Have loads of warm crusty bread on hand to soak up the delicious broth.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leunig

I've been away too long from my lovely blog. And this beautiful poem by Michael Leunig made me remember that the garden can be a great teacher of life's little problems:

THE SUMMER PALACE

Make a little garden in your pocket,
Fill your cuffs with radishes and rocket,
Let a passionfruit crawl up your thigh,
Grow some oregano in your fly.
Make a steamy compost of your fears,
Trickle irrigate your life with tears,
Let your troubled mind become a trellis,
Turn your heart into a summer palace.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Truffle

I had a lot of fun at the Manjimup Truffle Kuffle a few weeks ago. At the end of the day they were selling small truffles cheaply so I picked up this little beauty - 18g for $10! I made a pretty standard risotto of chicken and mushroom, adding garlic and chives. And using Granda Prado Parmesan.
I had some truffle butter left over from a tasting plate my friend insisted I take, which I used to soften the leek and saute the rice first. Then I put 'microplaned' truffle into the risotto during cooking and later on top when I plated up. Yum, it was truly delicious.
It was also great the next day, we were fighting over it for lunch. I think risotto reheats really well. This maybe because I like mine quite 'soupy' and the rice still a little'al dente' so that the next day it is not too stodgy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloom or Boil


I've been wanting to do more with edible flowers in a creative way for a long time. Look at this georgous platter of nasturtiums on what looks like cream cheese, perhaps flavoured with herbs. The basil and dill leaves really set it off for a truely whimsicle statement. I just wish my nasturiums were flowering now so I could do a similar thing this weekend for my dinner party. But it's nearly winter now and I find myself cooking typical comfort food to snuggle in with. The slow cooker comes out and here is my version of Coq au Vin:


2 carrots
12 pickling onions
2 sticks celery
8 portabello mushrooms
6 chicken thighs
3 chicken legs
Prepare and chope celery and carrots. Peel and leave onions whole (or halve if large). Slice mushrooms. Saute the lot until it just starts to colour. Set aside. Then, dust chicken with flour & brown in a little oil in 2 batches. Set aside.

3/4 cup red wine (I use Shiraz)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup pasta sauce
2 bay leaves
several sprigs of thyme - stripped
pepper

Put all of this into a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Take the legs out before they start to fall apart (otherwise you had bits of knuckle and other gross stuff floating around) or don't use them. Scatter generously with parsley and enjoy with the rest of the Red.
This is even better the next day!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Autumn

Autumn here 'Down Under' and the days are filled with soft light and gentle rain. Here's a view from the top of the garden looking through a Chinese Pistachio through to the Silver Birch.
And looking up through a Maple by the pond to the cubby. I havn't tweeked these photos at all because I just wanted that subtle, natural light. Take time out to enjoy the beauty of trees wherever you are :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Washi

I've joined the growing band of Washi Tape lovers
They are beautiful Japanese tissue tapes that are
great for journalling and playtime. They came beautifully packaged in little tins wrapped in tissue and stickers.
So adorable!
As soon as I have my paper addiction under control, I'll be back out in the garden to plant up veggies for the coming season. In the meantime - Cut and Paste and Draw :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Cake

I made this orange cake for some visitors dropping in yesterday on their way camping. It's full of sugar and white flour but 'HEY' it's Easter. It's a super easy food processor recipe if you'd like to try it:

200g Orange (weigh it as it effects the consistency)
175g butter (chopped at room temperature)
3 eggs
1 cup castor sugar
2 cups self-raising flour (sifted)

Cut the unpeeled orange into segments, remove the pips and process until finely chopped. Add the other ingredients and process until well combined.
Spread into a greased and floured ring tin and bake for 45mins in a mod (180c) oven. Stand for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing if desired.

Icing: 60g soft butter, 2 tsp grated orange rind, 2 tlbs orange juice, 2 cups icing sugar. Beat well.

As you can see I couldn't help myself from tarting it up with calendulas, roses and of course rabbits!  

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

This beautiful song is sung by a talented singer songwriter from Australia's Southwest and now living in U.K. I'm proud to say I knew her when she was a little girl and she's from our hometown.

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Cover Art

http://emilybarker.bandcamp.com/track/first-time-ever-i-saw-your-face?permalink

Friday, March 16, 2012

Journalling

One of my favourite passtimes is getting 'my art on' in my journal. I have a few on the go at once depending on my mood. I have been working on a small moleskein one for 2 years and have just finished it. Here's a taste.....

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.  ~John Updike

Friday, March 9, 2012

     SALAD WITH  ‘SPRING’
Eating plenty of salad will surely put a ‘Spring’ in your step. Think about variety of colour, texture and taste in every mouthful.  Here is a handy acronym I came up with to help create perfect salads.
j  S  easonal Vegetables and Fruit
k  P  rotien
l  R  ice
m  I   nject Flavour
n  N  uts and Seeds
o  G  laze  ...
j Include a range of diced, seasonal veg: red capsicum, green leaves, radish, spring onion. Include some lightly steamed or finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower or beans.  Don’t forget leftovers like roasted pumpkin or beetroot. Also add some chopped fresh fruit.
k Add healthy protein: a tin of beans or chickpeas; low fat dairy or egg; chicken, fish or lean meat.
l Use brown rice, Quinoa or other healthy grains.
m Put in your favourite fresh herbs (lots of parsley is so good for you!), a handful of dried fruit, some sprouts, chopped jalapeƱo   or whatever you have that will give it a kick along.
n Chopped nuts, seeds that have been toasted in a dry pan or add Chai or sesame seeds.
o Think glaze not dress – a splash of flavoured vinegar or a spritz of citrus juice mixed with a few seasonings.

Here is a great healthy food site I came across:  http://thestonesoup.com/blog/ It has loads of wonderful salads and vegetarian food :)

Bliss Balls


I wanted to share this recipe with you as I've had a few friends ask for it. I find it's a great little snack, particularly when eating light. I often have a salad for my lunch and I find that I can get a 'sweet craving' later in the afternoon. One of these does the trick providing a natural sugar hit with nutrients too.

This can be adapted to whatever fruit and nuts you have on hand. Just keep the proportions pretty much the same: 250g fruit & 150g nuts/seeds.
You do need a food processor or at least a good stick style blender.
You can substitute the cashew butter (which can be pricey) with tahini or other natural nut butter as long as it doesn’t have any added salt or sugar; And substitute the maple syrup with honey but the Maple Syrup gives a lovely depth. Here is one of my favourite combinations.
Ingredients:
100g dates (make sure the pits are removed)
100g sultanas (or dried cranberries)
50g crystallised ginger
50g Pecans (or almonds)
50g Hazelnuts
50g toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds or combination
1 dessertspoon cashew butter
1 dessertspoon Maple Syrup
½ cup Desiccated coconut

Method:
Get ingredients ready –
If using crystallised ginger, rinse off the sugar and chop finely.
‘Toast’ the nuts by spreading them onto an oven tray and cooking for 8 min in a mod (180c) oven. Cool and roughly chop.
‘Toast’ the seeds by dry frying in a shallow frypan (no oil) stirring often for 3-4 mins until browned.
Spread the coconut onto a dinner plate and put aside for later.
In the food processor, in this order-
Put in the sticky fruit e.g. dates & sultanas.  Pulse several times until well combined but not ‘mush’.
Next add the ginger if using along with the nuts and pulse as before until well combined, but the mix still has small chunks and texture.
Then add the seeds and the ‘binders’: cashew butter and Maple Syrup. Pulse carefully until the mixture comes altogether in a ball or mix by hand at this stage. You are aiming for little bits of identifiable fruit & nuts not puree. 
Making the balls-
Take out about a heaped tablespoon of the mix and roll in your hands (keeping your hands wet with a little water helps here).
Put them straight onto your plate of coconut. When you have done about half, wash your hands and the roll the balls around to coat them. Lift them out and repeat with the remaining half.
Store them in the fridge in an airtight container.
Enjoy X

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Perfect Peach


The tropical gardens and coconut-husk barbecued seafood of Bali is still in my nostrils....BUT It's lovely to be home and in the garden again. While it's still very hot, the summer veggies and fruit are performing beautifully. We have had a few peaches from a tree still recovering from a severe prune by the man of the house. They were so perfect and fragrant that I made them into a centrepiece for a lunch-party I was having.
There have been loads of small plums which I have been stewing up and eating with yoghurt for breakfast. And cherry tomatoes which are still coming despite the bushes suffering from severe heat stress when the watering-pipe connector had fallen off. These little tomatoes I have been roasting with  olive oil, salt, and chopped basil. I put a tray of them in the oven on 100c first thing in the morning and they are done by lunchtime to perfect soft sweetness.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cheese Biscuits

I have been making cheese biscuits for a while now but I have never been 100% happy with them until NOW! This recipe is the best yet and they are easy to make in a food processor. I got the idea for putting different toppings on them from my friend Jude.
125g cold butter, diced
150g sharp Cheddar cubed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp Curry powder
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Using the shedding attachment of the processor, add butter and cheese through the chute.
Remove shredder and attach all purpose blade and add the other ingredients - but reserve 1/8 cup of the flour for rolling out.
Pulse until the mixture is well combined and forms a ball.
With your hands roll into a 30cm log, wrap in cling film and refrigerate until very cold.
Slice into thin discs (I made 22) and top with whatever takes your fancy. I used Nigella seeds, dried dill, fennel seeds and smoked paprika.
Bake for 12-14 min at 180C (fan forced)
These are so delicious with a cold glass of white wine and make a lovely change to cheese or dip when visiting friends for a catch-up drink.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Zucchini City

Well, it's no great achievement to grow a few zucchinis. They are the most forgiving of the summer veggies. I even water mine overhead and they don't seem to fall victum to fungal attacks until well into the hot weather.
Picking them when they are the size you want is another matter entirely. It's almost like if you don't get time to harvest in the morning, by evening they are too large!
I read somewhere that each little zuc has the same number of 'flavour cells' in each one, so when they get enormous, they just don't taste nearly as nice. Small and tender they are lovely in salads or pickled. Up to 30cm (1ft for you imperial people) they are great for fritters and the like. And over 30cm, I reckon forget it.
I picked this lot from the garden and found I had some feta in the fridge. This is such a great standby as it keeps for months in a vac-pack and is useful for lots of vegetarian stuff like filo pies, pasta and salads. Here's my favourite little fritter to use up all those zuccs - they are also lovely cold.
Zucchini Feta & Mint Fritters
3-4 20-30cm zucchini
1 leek or bunch of spring onions sliced
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
3 tbls wheat or potaoe flour
2 eggs
100g feta
1/2 cup of chopped parsely
and nearly as much mint

Grate the zucchini by hand or in the food processor, while you saute the leek or onion in 2 tbls oil . After 5 min add the garlic and zucchini. Cook down slowly on a gentle heat stirring occassionally. When its nice and soft (about 10-15 mins) take it off and drain the liquid out through a colander or coarse sieve. Squeeze a little to get rid of excess moisture. Return to the pan and sprinkle over the flour and half the herbs and cook through quickly, stirring for a few mins. Then let it cool right down in the fridge.
Lightly beat the eggs and add to zucchini mix with the cubed or crumbled feta, last half of the herbs & pepper. Stir through gently, cover and let it get really cold before shaping into fritters and frying in a non-stick pan with a little oil if needed.
I serve these with a simple avocado, cue, tomato salsa dressed with lemon juice, chilli sauce and basil.

I didn't have much mint in the garden (it has got a little dried out) so I made up the difference with Thai Basil.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beauty in small things


I've been back in the studio not to paint yet but sew. Finishing some bags I started before Christmas took over. When I went to my sewing table I couldn't help but notice how my sewing things (with a little tweeking) made the prettiest still life. Hmmm... inspiration.
I've noticed this before I think...


Veni, Vidi, Velcro (I came, I saw, I stuck around)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012

Crayfish Rice Paper Rolls
I've been away on our boat for 2 weeks on Rottenest Island. The weather was allsorts but the boys did a lot of diving catching crays and Dhufish. I'm not a huge fan of large crustacians BUT I came up with this idea of making them into rice paper rolls. I made a spicy dipping sauce and they were just the ticket with a glass of bubbly.
I have been in the kitchen all week since I got back home- I do miss creating recipes from the garden. I came home to a dozen cucumbers so I sliced lots into a spicy vinegar mix to keep in the fridge. I used a few different vinegars, chilli, garlic and celery seed. No salt - they taste great!
Didorf Salad
I couldn't wait to get my new dome sprouter going again so I filled that up straight away and today I created a Didorf Salad: Red Apple, celery, feta (low-fat), toasted hazelnuts (local) with Adzuki, fenegreek and alfalfa sprouts. I just tossed it in a light mustard viniagrette.
Summer Veggie Gnocchi
Other must sees this week was the first of the zucchinis with what's left of last years potaotes turned into veggie gnocchi with loads of fresh herbs including fried sage leaves. I've made this before many times and find I can knock it up in 30-40 mins - preparing the other ingredients while the spuds boil. Gnocchi needs a light touch so mixing and rolling out should be quick and rustic. I like to saute the cooked gnocchi in the garlicy oil I have done the veg in. Then put it all back together at the end. It gives the gnocchi a browned-off look and better texture. Of course a few shavings of good parmesan are essential too!