Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stone fruit

I'm back already.  So much to share and I'm on a roll.  Plus it's about 38 degrees outside, far too hot to be shovelling cow manure onto the garden, which was my original plan for the day.
We have had a hot and dry spring and summer this year but that seems to have suited the stone fruit:  there were lots of apricots...
and a good haul of nectarines..
After making enough apricot jam to last until next year I still had lots of apricots to use up so instead of stewing them I decided to make caramel apricots, which can be eaten as a pudding,
or put in a tart.

About a kilo of apricots, stoned and halved
250ml water
125g castor sugar
50g butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split

Put the sugar and water in a frying pan and cook to a light golden caramel.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, then try not to stir it while it is bubbling away.  Don't walk away because it will burn in a matter of seconds.  As soon as it starts to colour nicely, take it off the heat and let it sit for a minute, giving the pan a bit of a swirl so the colour is even.  Stir in the butter  and vanilla bean then add the apricots and return to a gentle heat for 6-8 minutes until the apricots soften.
These are bloody delicious just with ice cream and some toasted nuts but you could also use the crumble topping  I mentioned last time.  This also works with nectarines....equally delicious.

While we are on the topic and because I had a couple of requests, here is the recipe for the Nectarine Cake I put on Insta the other day.  You could do this with apricots or plums, I'm sure.  


About 1 kg of nectarines (it doesn't matter if you don't quite have a kilo)
200g butter, room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 teasp vanilla extract
3 eggs
250g SR flour 
1 teasp baking powder
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 180C and butter and line a 22cm springform pan.
Peel the nectarines by dropping them into a pan of boiling water for about a minute.  Remove and let them cool slightly before peeling and halving, removing the stones and cutting into quarters.

Cream butter, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Sift flour and baking powder and add with the buttermilk and fold gently until well incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan then arrange the nectarines on the top.  Bake for approx 45-60 minutes until cooked when tested with a skewer.

While it is cooking gently melt the honey and when the cake is cooked brush with honey to glaze (you could also use apricot jam).  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing the side of the pan.
So make the most of the last of the stone fruit, which I noticed is still in the markets.
I also wanted to share a couple of podcasts that I have been listening to...both are totally addictive and I can't wait to go on a long drive of do the ironing so I can listen.  And I hate ironing.  I am a bit slow of the mark with the first one, Serial, which came out a little while ago, but I started listening to it late last year and have been trying to catch up ever since.  Two fascinating stories analysing possible miscarriages of justice; I won't go into too much detail because it will sound more boring than it is but see what you think...only proviso is that you must start at the start.

The other one is Chat 10 Looks 3, a chatty discourse between Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales in which these two engaging super women "talk about books, television, radio, movies, food, politics and whatever else they feel like".   I have been onto this one for quite a while.  It is hilarious and haphazard: taped at their houses, or in a car, or a random ABC office and is always fascinating.  Both of them have demanding, deadline-driven jobs in journalism, write books, produce television shows,  keep abreast of politics and have young families so how on earth they manage to even read a book or watch television is beyond me.  How I would love the intellectual dexterity to actually remember the book I have just read, let alone chat wittily and intelligently about it....and I no longer have small children (which usually causes a degree of brain rupture) as an excuse.

It may only serve to confirm any feelings of inadequacy that you might harbour but it definitely worth a listen.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Well hello blog, fancy meeting you in this dusty dark corner of the internet.  It has been a long time I know, and I was even thinking of abandoning you, but you have been saved by the honey.  More on that later.  I took this photo of the sweet peas back in the Spring, which is when I started writing this post.  The Summer has been busy but there's been lots of action in the kitchen and with Autumn approaching I thought I'd get back into it.
So much to report.  Since our last encounter I have learnt to make Komboucha,
which I will discuss in another post.
Have been to Marrakech:
And Chengdu in China
We  had a visitor on the verandah:
I have also been watching a bit of this:
and spent a bit of time here
It is horribly dry here and I am in a state of despair about the garden.  There has been little rain here since September and the farm is looking pretty parched.   In all the time we have been here I have never known this dam to be dry:
I haven't been able to keep the lawn green at all, and it went brown just before Christmas.  Some of the trees in the outer garden that don't get watered may not make it.  Oh well, I suppose it is February and it is southern Australia, so to a degree it is to be expected but I really cannot wait for it to rain.
At least I have been able to keep the veggie garden going...
But getting back to the honey.  I am delighted to announce that the beehive I was given for my birthday has yielded a spectacular 30kgs of honey from two extractions.
It is really very good honey, and I can say that because, let's face it, it's the bees who do all the work. My contribution comes from making different flowers available in the garden all year for the bees to go about their business.  So needless to say I have been trying to use it in some different recipes, but really, on toast, with butter, is hard to beat.


2-3 pears (not too ripe), peeled, cored and quartered
1 tblsp butter
1 tblsp brown sugar
1/2 teasp cinnamon
1/4 cup verjuice
another 1 tblsp butter
1/4 cup good quality honey
1 teasp vanilla extract
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
toasted hazelnuts or crumble topping to finish

Melt the 1 tblsp butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat.  Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir until well combined. Add the pears and cook for a couple of minutes until golden on both sides.  Remove pears from the pan and place in a serving dish.
Add the verjuice to the pan and boil rapidly for a minute or two stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced slightly.  Stir in the remaining butter, honey, vanilla essence and the lemon rind and simmer for a further couple of minutes.  Pour the sauce over the pears and top with hazelnuts or crumble topping.

Crumble topping:

You can make this in a big batch and keep it in a container in the freezer.  Then use it to sprinkle over any fruit or ice cream to add a bit of crunch.

50g SR flour
15g ground almonds
35g castor sugar
100g cold butter

Preheat oven to 180c.  Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
Whizz above ingredients in the food processor in short bursts till it resembles chunky breadcrumbs (don't over do it).   Spread the mix onto the tray and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Check and give it a good mix around, it will brown on the edges first.  Cook until evenly golden, about 10 more minutes.