Sunday, April 26, 2020

676/1038 - Cumquat marmalade

Finally, the cumquat chapter has been started!

I have two cumquat trees which were given to me by my eldest and my husband last Christmas. The gifts were a lovely reminder that my family do listen when I share my yearnings with them but course it was also an insight into how little they communicate with one another! Unfortunately neither tree has yet reached the fruiting stage and so I was absolutely thrilled when a friend shared five kilos of her own fruit with me. 

The process for making this marmalade was quite different to the Seville orange version which I made all the way back in 2013. Cumquat marmalade still requires two days to complete but rather than the peel being julienned, the fruit is simply cut into quarters. Looking at my marmalade, I am not sure if I did this or if I simply cut my fruit into halves. The pieces do appear to be rather large but because the peel ends up lovely and thin it is very edible and not at all unattractive. 

As is sometimes the case with marmalade, I had some trouble getting it to the correct consistency. Enter a handful of trusty chia seeds and my perfectly oozy creation was complete! We now have a ridiculously enormous jar of marmalade in the fridge and so I am fairly sure once the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted I will be gifting little jars of liquid gold left, right and centre. 

My own cumquat trees (and one lime)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

675/1038 - Rocket and oregano pizza

We love pizza night! 

There is nothing more fabulous than having a meal that can be tailored to the preference of each diner. In my family, we each like our pizza toppings to be applied differently but a common theme is definitely to ensure the amount of topping is not stingy - the more, the better! This rocket and oregano version was a brilliant example of a generously endowed pizza. 

Preparation began with me drying oregano for the first time, which I did in my trusty (and much loved) dehydrator. The taste of home-dried herb is quite incredible and much more flavourful than the store bought variety which I suspect is the result of two things. Firstly, there is the fact that dried herbs lose flavour over time and my little batch was only out of the ground for a day before it was eaten. Secondly, I think we get more than we bargain for in the store bought versions. I remember many years ago reading the results of testing that had been done on various packets of herbs and the percentage of the expected herb in the contents of the packets was disturbingly low. While I don't think this is necessarily a problem in every case, I have no doubt a good amount of stem also finds its way into even the most expensive varieties, whereas my stems were discarded after the gentle removal of the oregano leaves and flowers.  

The home-made tomato sauce was another fabulous element of this pizza which I made from gorgeous fruit from our own little garden. I didn't bother removing the seeds which is a good method if you have the patience to spend a bit of extra time boiling the additional liquid from the sauce. By the time mine was done, the tomatoes had collapsed on themselves so beautifully there was no need to mash it. I have made this recipe on numerous occasions and its fabulous smell gets me every time - which is why it was so very difficult to leave this pizza to the rest of my family to eat. As it turns out, tomatoes are one of the foods that make me sick. In fact, they are up there with one of the worst culprits. Which is a damn shame because I generally eat tomato (well, ATE tomato) in some form on most days, and so it is with a heavy heart that on this night I left the tasting, and reporting of said taste, to my family.  

As I built the pizza, the addition of the rocket before it was cooked made me nervous and I was very much anticipating the creation of a pile of little burnt leaves. Thankfully, the recipe included clear instructions to add the sauce after the rocket, which provided the all important clue that the sauce was to provide the required protection for the fragile leaves. I made sure to slather it liberally and evenly and was thrilled to see that the rocket survived the intense heat of the chiminea and even retained some of its beautiful colour. With the addition of a crisp red onion layer, this pizza included a medley of flavours that were always going to please. By all reports, the pizza was a roaring success and was one of the first to disappear from the dinner table.  

Apparently the taste was made even better by the buttermilk crust - found in the basics chapter and a wonderful option for the impatient or time-poor cook. I am fairly sure not everybody was thrilled with our pizza dinner given the smoking our chiminea decided to do on this night, possibly due to the increased moisture in this particular batch of wood. A thick plume of smoke poured perfectly over the fence to where our neighbours were sitting and I am fairly sure the conversations dissipated not long after this began. Probably not a great way to maintain good neighbourly relations and definitely a good reminder to ensure our wood is well-dried in future.

To the next pizza night!

          Home-dried oregano                      A pizza I COULD eat 
                                                                 macadamia pesto, sweet potato,
                                                               mozzarella and oregano
                                                              with a buttermilk crust

Sunday, April 12, 2020

674/1038 - Rhubarb yeast cake

I was excited to harvest yet another lovely crop of rhubarb from our modest little edible garden and what a lovely smelling task that was! Rhubarb has a fabulous perfume that is difficult to describe and as I chopped my bounty into bite-sized pieces, I gained an enormous amount of pleasure from inhaling its heady aroma. 

While this cake took a bit of time to make, the majority of that was spent resting the dough. Dough based cakes done right are a pleasure to experience and eating this took me back to a time when I lived close to a bakery that sold a pretty fabulous version. The version they sold was a German cake called a Bienenstich, which translates to bee sting in English. Making (and eating) this rhubarb cake has inspired me to make my own Bienenstich and I absolutely cannot wait to see how it turns out. 

In the meantime, I have been gifted around 5kg of cumquats so to make I am planning to start (and possibly finish) the cumquat chapter in record time. The Bienenstich will happen but may just have to wait a little bit longer...

Sunday, April 5, 2020

673/1038 - Peach chutney

Before COVID-19, when our city was in a much more normal state, we received a lovely gift of a large bag of fresh peaches. Making chutney is something I have always wanted to try and this beautiful recipe satisfied this culinary itch very nicely.

We had the perfect number of peaches to make a half batch of this recipe, which meant the cooking time was reduced and I had a lovely chutney in under thirty minutes. The flavour was lovely and complex and we have enjoyed it on sandwiches and slathered on our meat and veg at dinner time. We also delivered a small container of chutney to the owner of the peach tree and as such, as I write this post I can confirm that our chutney stores are officially depleted. 

Given that this would have lasted for twelve months if stored correctly, chutney might just be that perfect kitchen distraction isolated people are seeking in this crazy, uncomfortable time. 

Stay well, everybody x