Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's been cooking...

I think I have solved my photo problem, it may only be temporary.  Frantically busy, but hopefully things will calm down now that a) lamb marking is finished and b) it is school holidays.  I have cooked loads of things in the last couple of weeks but they have either failed (honeycomb....twice...let's not talk about it) or I haven't photographed them (amazing slow cooked shoulder of lamb, sensational meringues).  I have, however,  made homemade baked beans, which were easy and quite delicious:
I never buy baked beans because no-one in the family showed any interest in them so when my daughter    had tinned baked beans recently and announced that she did indeed like them, I thought I should show her what they really should taste like.

BAKED BEANS.  Should serve 4.  They also freeze well.

350g cannellini beans (give them a rinse and cover with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil while you get everything ready)
olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, diced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
1 red capsicum, deseeded and diced
1 can of chopped tinned tomatoes (400g)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
chopped parsley to serve

Optional: I have seen recipes that include a ham hock during the cooking.  This adds flavour, but you don't need extra salt.  Also you can add a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup before serving.

Preheat the oven to 150c.  Strain the beans when they have come to the boil, and run under the cold tap.
Heat oil in a heavy pot and cook the onion gently for a few minutes before adding the garlic, bacon and carrot.  Cook for five minutes, stirring, then add the capsicum.
Add tomatoes and beans, bay leaf, paprika and salt and pepper.  Pour over about 1/2 cup of water or enough to cover the beans comfortably.
Put in the oven and cook for approx 4 hours, stirring every now and then to make sure there is enough liquid (just add some more water if they are looking a bit dry).  I left these in the Aga for most of the day, which is, of course, the beauty of the beast.
Good on toast or with a salad.

The other thing I have had a go at is sweet chilli sauce, which I was inspired to make after seeing some beautiful red chillies in the fruit shop the other day.  After a bit of googling, this is what I came up with.

SWEET CHILLI SAUCE - Makes a couple of small jars

6 large red chillies
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup rice vinegar
salt to taste

Finely chop the chillies, retaining most of the seeds (or all of them if you like it hotter) and chop up the garlic.  Put in a saucepan with the ginger, sugar, rice vinegar and salt.
Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve sugar.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until it is nicely reduced and syrupy.
Pour into sterilised jars and seal. I would recommend jars with a wide neck, a least big enough to spoon out the sauce, as it is quite thick.   This should keep for up to two years, if kept in a cool spot.
Pretty flowering gum

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The last of the blood oranges

Sorry for the recent lack of correspondence.  My computer is misbehaving and not loading my photos with the pleasure it used to.  Not sure why.

Here are some more spring flowers in the garden.  The warm weather has really got everything going.
Quince blossom complete with bee
Pity that in the last week we have had rain and even some hail so we have had a bit of a return to winter.  Still the garden always appreciates a drink.  Now that lamb marking is in full swing we are guaranteed to get some rain.

This winter I have been able to get organic blood oranges from our wonderful local deli, Pronto in Warrnambool.  They are so beautiful and I have been making sorbet, putting them in salads and enjoying the juice.  As we were recently given some local olive oil to taste, I thought it the perfect opportunity to try the Blood Orange and Olive Oil cake that I have been eyeing off at Smitten Kitchen.
This cake is well worth making.  It is easy and I'm sure would freeze well.  I did use less sugar, and I did find that the orange pieces sank to the bottom, but it doesn't really matter.

BLOOD ORANGE CAKE (from Smitten Kitchen)

3 blood oranges
160g castor sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
a scant 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cup (220g) plain flour
1 teasp baking powder
1/4 teasp bicarb soda
1/4 teasp salt

Preheat the oven to 180c.  Line a loaf tin (the one I used was 23cm x 13cm) with baking paper.
Grate zest from two of the oranges and put in a bowl with the sugar.  Mix together.
Peel and segment two oranges, catching juice in a bowl.

Squeeze juice from remaining orange and add enough buttermilk till you have 2/3 cup liquid in total.
Add to sugar and mix.  Whisk in eggs and olive oil.
In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt.
Mix wet ingredients into dry, gently using a whisk if you need to get out any flour lumps.  Pour into tin.
Bake 45-50 minutes till a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes then take out of tin to cool completely.  It would be good with some greek yoghurt or cream on the side.
The other thing I am loving in this seasonal transition is the last of the broccoli.   Since there is only so much steamed broccoli you can eat I have been roasting it and pan frying it till it's nice and crispy and using it in salads.   I originally saw this at the stonesoup and have been running with it.
Here I just threw it in with some poached chicken, salad leaves from the garden, some toasted flaked almonds and a slice of grilled haloumi for good measure.  And some dressing (vinocotto, olive oil, s & p).  It made a delicious and healthy lunch.