Sunday, February 24, 2019

633/1038 - Ajo blanco - white gazpacho from Malaga

I have spoken before of our friend with the incredible garden. He has previously provided us with herbs, fresh trout from his aquaponics set up and various vegetables which we have always put to good use. Yesterday's gift was these unbelievable wine grapes which smelled like nothing I have smelled before; almost as if they contained some kind of exotic perfume. I must have put these beautiful grapes to my nose at least twenty times to inhale the incredible aroma. 

I immediately took a look to see which recipe would inform our dinner and am so pleased I found this one! Gazpacho is served cold and so putting it together was a breeze...if you don't count the disclocated thumb I suffered when I closed the lid of the thermomix. But that's another, and completely boring, story.

Thinking I would need to purchase the Spanish sherry vinegar, I was surprised to find this bottle at the back of my pantry, amusingly propping up a shelf which had lost one of those annoying little pegs which plug into the wall holding it up. Sometimes I think perhaps I do have too many specialty ingredients in my house! 

As much as I adored the flavour of this soup, unfortunately it contained a ridiculous amount of ingredients to which I am intolerant. It has been a very long time since I have ingested milk in its natural form and was taken by surprise when I began nodding off as I attempted to create this blog post last night. I was absolutely kicking myself that I didn't think to froth the milk before I included it as the frothing process stretches the protein in the milk and stops me from having a sleepy reaction. No matter. One strong coffee later I was at least able to stay awake for the rest of the evening and revel in the fact that this soup was absolutely fabulous. 

The most incredible smelling wine grapes

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

632/1038 - Cream dressing for strongly flavoured firm salad leaves

I have no idea if I have mentioned it before (memory is not what it used to be!) but Monday night is burger night in our house. No matter how quiet our weekends have been I always seem to be exhausted on a Monday. It is therefore probably no surprise that my husband's offer to make burgers for us on a weekly basis was music to my ears!

Two of our family members eat burgers the traditional way; inside a bun and piled as high as a large mouth will accommodate. The other half eat them deconstructed and sans bun. This dressed cos was the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful but rich beefy patty topped with fried egg, cheese and fried onion.

This was the first night in a long while I have allowed cheese on my burger given that cheese is one of the foods which provokes an unwanted reaction. The main problem with cheese is that it completely saps my energy (weird, I know!) but because I did not have any study planned this was not an issue. Of course I did need to go to bed shortly after dinner but the fabulous taste was more than worth it.

The dressing included an incredible combination of cream, red wine vinegar, dijon, lots of crushed garlic, olive oil and, because I am now in love with the flavour, mountain pepper. Too often we eat our vegetables and salad undressed (because it's good for you!) but last night saw my little family devour almost two heads of cos due to the wonderful taste of the dressing. A mammoth effort and a tribute to this wonderful little recipe. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

631/1038 - Bunya nut and pumpkin soup

Realising I finally had a moment to myself, I decided to crack out another of my bush foods; this time the humble bunya nut. 

The bunya nut comes from the bunya pine and drops to the ground encased in an enormous green cone, along with many, many kilograms of its buddies. The pods inside are peeled to reveal the bunya nut which, like chestnuts, needs to be boiled or roasted and then peeled. Enter my trusty Stanley knife! After a thirty minute boil the flesh came away easily from the skin which was a huge relief given that I had thawed exactly the required amount.

Bunya nuts before they are peeled
I decided to roast the pumpkin instead of boiling it as I wanted to make sure the soup had plenty of flavour. Because of this, I decided that the soup boil time was not necessary and decided to simply sauté and blend the firm ingredients, add the water (half of the recommended amount) and adjust the seasoning after only a few minutes on the heat.

Some beautiful mountain pepper which had been gathered by my gorgeous in-laws was finally dry enough to grind and so a good pinch of this was added for flavour along with a tiny handful of dried saltbush.

Of course some roasted pumpkin seeds never go astray and I couldn't resist harvesting them as I dissected the pumpkin. My trusty dehydrator is so handy for getting rid of the excess moisture from the seeds before roasting but this process can also be done in a very low oven or simply by leaving them to air-dry if time is not an issue.

We were unexpectedly invited to a dinner party last night and so this soup was shared with more people than expected. I was quietly pleased when one of the diners asked if the soup was based on a lovely chicken stock, knowing that no stock had been used and that all of the flavour came from the beautiful batch of ingredients.

With a huge bag of bunya nuts in the freezer, this fabulous soup will definitely be on the repeat list. Meanwhile, today will see the rest of the roast pumpkin turned into mini pumpkin cupcakes.

Thanks be to an incredible cultivar!

Roasted pumpkin seeds for topping 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

630/1038 - Poached apricots

It appears I have started and finished the apricot chapter in record time. 

As well as an absolute ton of the best jam I have ever made, we now also have an enormous jar of poached apricots in the fridge. I actually made them last month but have only just pulled my head up from my study to write this post. (Last exam was yesterday, hurrah!)

Poached fruit is so very versatile and so far I have eaten it with ice-cream, alongside my fresh apricot tart and now as an addition to my morning smoothie. This particular concoction had a strawberry, banana and soy milk base and was topped with dried quandong, coconut, poached apricot and a sprinkle of chia seeds. Of course it was absolutely delicious! 

With the addition of  a (large-ish) splash of French brandy in the apricots, I had to warn my son regarding eating apricots before driving as he is on a 00 blood alcohol restriction right now. The brandy is a necessary addition though, providing the most wonderful, and slightly surprising, flavour.

That's 26 of 125 chapters DONE!