Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More from the garden

I can't tell you how stunning the roses have been this year.  They obviously don't mind the dry spring which is making our lush green pastures go "off" (brown) in a flash.
It is a busy time in our region at the moment.  Lots of people are making hay..
Canola is being windrowed, farmers are gazing at the sky for some rain to get the summer crops going and we are shearing..
Love this before and after shot

I have been in the garden trying to keep it all tidy, which mostly has involved watering and pulling out all the forget-me-nots, which are lovely at the start of spring when nothing else is out, but really earn their name when they are finished:

Last time I said I'd give you the recipe for the sticky buns that I made for the garden group that came a couple of weeks ago.  My fond memories of Sticky Buns goes back to my teenage summers at Robe, where a local cafe served "Dog Team Tavern Sticky Buns", which were considered by all as the most decadent indulgence and I spent much of my hard earned waitressing money consuming them.   Many years later I was given the recipe by a mutual Sticky Bun fan from back in the day and discovered they contained of all things mashed potatoes and involved yeast and dough and really they just looked too hard.  I found this simpler (though not quite the same) recipe ages ago in a book by Ina Garten and have never had the chance to make them until the other day.  They are impossibly delicious and ridiculously easy.  There is a lot of sugar and butter involved so if you are trimming down for the beach, look the other way...

STICKY BUNS -  Makes 12

165g room temp butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tblsp melted butter, melted
1/2 cup or so of brown sugar
1 tblsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins or sultanas

Preheat oven to 200c.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper and put your muffin tray on top.
Cream the 165g butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar in and electric mixer.  Place a dessertspoon of the mix in each muffin cup and sprinkle with the nuts.
Put a sheet of pastry on floured board and brush with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with half the filling amount of brown sugar, 1/2 the cinnamon and half the raisins or sultanas.
Roll it up, trim off the ends and cut into 6 even pieces and place in the muffin cups.  Repeat with the other pastry sheet.
Bake 30 minutes until golden.  Allow to cool for five minutes then invert onto the baking sheet below.  Spoon out any filling that is left behind and put on the top of the buns.  Then hide them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Just so you know.  I started this post about, oh, two weeks ago and haven't had a spare second to finish it.  This how far I got:
We have been busy with lots of sheep work lately.

I cooked an interesting salad for some Chinese visitors we had yesterday.  It had been so warm earlier in the week I thought a salad would be a good idea.  Of course it was a cool day and soup would have been better, but the salad worked well.

6 chicken thigh fillets, cut in half
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tblsp rice vinegar
Juice of one lime (or lemon)
2 teasp castor sugar

1.5 cups jasmine rice
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, extra
About 1/4 cup olive oil
Mint, basil and coriander, a good handful of each, plus more for garnish, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted in a dry frying pan
1 long red chilli, seeds removed if you prefer, sliced
2 mangoes flesh chopped
1/2 cup cashew nuts, toasted
6 spring onions, chopped
Lime wedges for garnish

Preheat the oven to 180c.  Season the chicken thighs, place on a baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes until the juices run clear.  You could also just fry them in a pan on the cook top if you prefer.  While they are cooking mix the ginger, rice vinegar, lime juice and sugar.  Make sure you taste it to get the balance right, the measurements are only a guide.  When the chicken is cooked and cooled slightly, slice it into smaller pieces and place in a bowl, adding the pan juices.  Pour over marinade, mix together and leave for an hour or so (doesn't matter if it is for less time).

Cook the rice with a teaspoon of salt according to the packet instructions.  
While it is cooking whisk the lemon juice, lemon zest and oil in a bowl, and season well.  Taste and adjust if necessary.
Drain rice and refresh in cold water.  Transfer to a bowl and add most of the dressing, chopped herbs, toasted coconut, chilli, mangoes, chicken and most of the nuts and toss to combine.
Turn the salad out onto a pretty platter and finish with a drizzle of remaining dressing, extra herbs, cashews and spring onions.  Scatter lime wedges around the edge.
That is where I got to.  It seems like months ago, the last fortnight has been frantically busy, either travelling to Melbourne for Cup Week festivities or head down in the garden preparing for a bus group who visited this morning.  Visitors to the garden are an excellent motivation to get things tidied up and I was very proud of how lovely it all looked today.  I have been dying to pick some roses, but have resisted the urge so that the bushes look full and lush....a job for this afternoon.
I made a little morning tea...
Next time I will tell you about the goodies I cooked, especially the sticky buns...