Smells like Olympic spirit


Hello, we've been flat out over the past few days with events and birthday parties up at our Farm Kitchen so while I gather myself and get tomorrow's post on Jerusalem Artichokes all's a nice little recipe for cut out biscuits in the Olympic spirit! It can be found over on my Tuesday 'Cooking with Kids' column for Village Voices.

The Friday List and honey buns


Weekday Carnival from Finland is my find of the week

A great round-up of covetable cookbooks

Chocolate and custard peanut cream from Citrus and Candy...wowsers.

Bali's food markets by the lovely Fliss of Udder

We are cooking for lots of people this weekend; both at the Farm Kitchen and a 5th birthday party for Alice, so I turn to Hugh for inspiration

A pizza truck like this would be very welcome at our front gate tonight at around 5.30pm

Milk and honey pudding. Yes please

How to make great granola every time 

Take me to this Turkish village for profiteroles please...via a new favourite food blog, Cafe Fernando

These tarts look so beautiful, maybe those of us in the middle of winter could make them with a dollop of jam or some frozen berries instead?

My posts elsewhere this week
Baking our own olympic rings at Village Voices
Prosciutto and egg pies over at Justb
Chorizo and haloumi pasta for Village Voices

Honey and spelt buns

These buns are lovely warm from the oven and spread with butter and jam. If you have little people in the kitchen, this is also a great recipe to cook together as the dough is easy to knead and very forgiving. I've made these with dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries instead of the sultanas and both options were very popular, the first slightly more so. The recipe is founded on one given by Nikki Duffy in the wonderful River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook.

1/2 cup milk
50g butter
4 tbsp honey
250g wholemeal flour
250g spelt flour
3 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sultanas
1/2 cup apple juice
2 eggs, beaten

Bring the milk to steaming point in a small saucepan, remove from heat and stir through the butter and honey. Whisk well and then set aside for the butter to melt and then the mixture to cool a little. Combine the flours, yeast and spice in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mixture, the apple juice and one of the beaten eggs. Mix into a dough and then turn this out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for between 5 and 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in this in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and sit in a nice warm place for one hour. The dough should have almost doubled in size by this time.
Turn out the dough, divide into about 12 small balls about the size of a golfball. Place these on baking trays lined with paper and return to that warm spot for another hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C. Brush the buns with your remaining beaten egg and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Raising the jar - Lesley Russell


Lesley Russell runs the Orange Regional Cooking School, and is a wonderful chef and asset to our area.  She's also a big advocate of bottling and preserving fresh produce, and this apricot cobbler is a great reminder of why it's worth spending an afternoon in late summer putting away the season's excess for the winter months.

Lesley's apricot cobbler

This is a variation of my mum’s delicious apple sponge pudding; when the cake batter is dobbed on top of hot cooked apples.  This is the reverse; the cake batter is spread on the base of the dish and the fruit goes on top. When it bakes, the two meld together and only need an extra scattering of sugar and a pour of good cream; serve it warm straight out of the dish. I used last summer’s apricots but plums or peaches will be fine.  If you don’t have any of your own, tinned fruit will suffice; but only until next summer when you can start preserving! 

120g butter
120g caster sugar
2 eggs
250g SR flour
1/3 cup (6 tablespoons) milk
Preserved apricots, plums or peaches

Heat the oven to 180C and butter a 20cm x 25cm shallow baking dish. Cream the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition. Add the flour and milk and mix together to form a fairly stiff cake batter.

Spread this mixture over the base of the dish. Arrange pieces of fruit over the batter leaving gaps here and there.  Don’t worry if a bit of juice comes with it, it makes the cobbler more moist.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes; test some cakey bits with a skewer to make sure they are cooked through. When the cobbler comes out of the oven immediately scatter it with more caster sugar. Allow to cool slightly, then serve at the table straight from the dish with lightly whipped cream. Serves 8 – 10

Where the wild things are


We spent most of yesterday out on the farm with a picnic and some friends. It was a bright, cold winter's day and loads of fun. The kids went wild and didn't stop running all afternoon while we kept warm with some beautiful local red the point that our entire household was out for the count by 8pm. I woke this morning to a kitchen bench piled with baskets of cold, greasy plates, bowls and chopping boards - always the worst part of a picnic.
For lunch we had our new venison salami (available from next month at the farmers markets), caraway lavosh with cheddar cheese, pear and parsnip soup, lamb chops and salsa verde with mustard greens (recipes all below). Dessert was an apple cake and marshmallows.

Caraway Lavosh

This recipe is an adaption of one given by Annabel Langbein in her fantastic book The Free Range Cook. Also beautiful with fennel seeds or poppyseeds.

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
4 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 165C and line a tray with baking paper. Mix the flours, seeds and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and oils. Mix well until you have a nice soft dough. Divide this into five balls. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out each ball as thinly as you can. Cut into uneven squares and bake, in batches for 10 minutes each (or until just beginning to turn golden).

Salsa Verde with mustard greens

This sauce is just fantastic with pretty much anything - on crackers, lamb chops, tossed through warm potatoes, with fish...etc etc. I made this version with mustard greens from our garden (the only thing I seem to be able to grow at the moment, probably because they are a weed).

1 cup parsley
1 cup mustard greens
1 cup olive oil
2 tbsp capers
6 anchovies
juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 red onion
1 hard boiled egg yolk

Blend all ingredients until as smooth as possible and keep in a jar in the fridge for up to a month.

Pear and parsnip soup

A simple white soup with really lovely, gentle flavours. This one is great for kids.
1 brown onion, diced
3 cups parsnip (peeled and roughly chopped)
1 pear, peeled and roughly chopped
50g butter
3 tbsp cream

Heat half of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about five minutes, stirring often. Tip in the parsnip and pear and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in a cup of boiling water (or enough to just cover the parsnip and pear), reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about half an hour or until parsnip is soft. Blend with remaining butter until smooth. Stir through cream and serve.

Apple Cake

This is a pretty basic cake but great for picnics as it travels, slices and eats beautifully.

150g butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
grated zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural yogurt
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup apricot jam (I used Lynwood's Apricot and Vanilla)

Preheat the oven to 180C, grease and line a 24cm round cake tin.  Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold through the orange zest, vanilla, yogurt, cinnamon and flour, taking care not to overmix. Spoon batter into prepared cake tin and top with the apple slices. Finally, pop the jam in your microwave for about 30 seconds to soften a little and brush all over the apple slices. Place in the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. You might find the apple slices start to caramelise a little too much during the cooking time, in this case just place a sheet of lightly greased foil on the top of your cake about half way through cooking to protect them from burning.

The Friday List


Small Measure comes via North Carolina and is a real find. A really lovely blog with loads of ideas and information on everything from preserving to making your own cheese and keeping happy chooks.

The program has just been released for this October's Parkes Rural Women's Gathering. I'll be there doing a workshop on social media. Come if you can, it will be a great weekend.

This  buttermilk bundt cake from Smitten Kitchen looks amazing

I've just discovered a whole bunch of amazing new food bloggers via the Summer 2012 issue of Foodie Crush. Wowsers....impressive stuff

Another beautiful blog about country living

Whole bean vanilla cookies from 101 Cookbooks

And now for a little armchair travel to.... Helsinki’s produce markets

This looks like a great little day trip

My posts elsewhere this week
Oven-roasted ratatouille with 15-minute flat-bread on Village Voices
Pumpkin, pear and ginger loaf on JustB
Make this easy winter dinner party this weekend..

Raising the jar - Michael Manners


Michael Manners is one of Australia's most celebrated chefs and has always been a great friend and supporter of our farm and venison.  It was a freezing, drizzly winters' day last week when Alice and I visited him at his Molong home. We found Michael making terrines in the kitchen and his clever wife Josephine Jagger-Manners at the easel painting.

Unfortunately the quiet industry of this scene was interrupted as soon as we stepped inside. I left the door open a fraction too long allowing the dogs to sneak in, whereupon Alice stirred them up so they jumped all over forbidden couches.

Ever the hostess, (during their restaurant years Josephine would run the floor and Michael the kitchen), Josephine quickly calmed the dogs, gathered Alice up and set her to work on her own painting while Michael and I talked terrines.

For over 45 years Michael has been promoting local produce through his restaurants in Sydney (Upstairs), the Blue Mountains (Glenella then Table Manners) and then Orange (Selkirks). These days he caters for private functions and makes beautiful charcuterie and ready-made meals to order, through his Manners and Borg line (the Borg referring to our very own super butcher here in Orange, Michael Borg). Between her own painting, Josephine also teaches art and craft classes and can be contacted here.

Michael Manners Pork and Prune Terrine

This is delicious served with drinks or on a picnic with some nice bread and a few cornichons. The salt and pepper quantities given here may seem a little heavy handed but as Michael says, this terrine is to be eaten cold so needs extra seasoning. Michael's rule of thumb is 15g salt per kilogram,  3g per kilogram of pepper and 1g per kilogram of nutmeg.

12 prunes
100mls brandy  500g coarsely minced pork
150g diced chicken breast
150g minced veal
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
75mls cream
1/4 cup thyme and tarragon leaves, finely chopped

Soak the prunes in the brandy overnight (not in the fridge). Preheat the oven to 150C and line a loaf tin either with caul fat or baking paper. Mix all ingredients (except the brandy-soaked prunes) together in a large bowl, combining well. Pack half of this mixture into the prepared loaf tin, lay the prunes across this and then cover them with the remaining terrine mixture. Wrap up either with the caul fat or baking paper then cover tightly with foil. Place the loaf tin in a large baking tray and pour boiling water all around to make a 'bain marie' so that the water comes about 3/4 up the sides of your loaf tin.

Bake for 1 hour, if you have a meat thermometer, an internal temperature of 80C is what we are after.

The Friday list and an apple curd


My posts elsewhere this week
An easy and tender pumpkin and beef casserole on Village Voices
Date, walnut and chocolate power balls on Justb
Slow-roasted pork and Paling Yards Grove olive oil over at the Country Style blog
A 20-minute weekend supper menu

 Apple and lemon curd

Still using up my haul of lemons from last week....this recipe comes from The River Cottage's Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin. I'd never heard of using apples in a lemon curd before but the results are just beautiful. The original recipe calls for Bramley apples which we can't source here so Granny Smith's are the next best thing. And Pam is right when she writes it's like eating an apple custard. I love that this recipe uses the whole egg, that it always sets perfectly, and mostly how good it tastes spooned over Greek yogurt or a gingerbread loaf cake.

450g Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons (you need 100ml strained juice)
125g unsalted butter
450g granulated sugar
4–5 large eggs, well beaten (you need 200ml beaten egg)

Put the chopped apples into a pan with 100ml water and the lemon zest. Cook

gently until soft and fluffy, then either beat to a purée with a wooden spoon or rub
through a nylon sieve. Put the butter, sugar, lemon juice and apple purée into a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture is hot and glossy, pour in the eggs through a sieve, and whisk with a balloon whisk. If the fruit purée is too hot when the beaten egg is added, the egg will ‘split’. One way to guard against this is to check the temperature of the purée with a sugar thermometer – it should be no higher than 55–60°C when the egg is added. If your curd does split, take the pan off the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth.

Stir the mixture over a gentle heat, scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes, until thick and creamy. This will take 9–10 minutes; the temperature should reach 82–84°C on a sugar thermometer. Immediately pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal. Use within 4 weeks. Once opened, keep in the fridge.

Raising the jar - Kate McKay


Kate McKay is one of those cooks with a natural instinct for flavour and putting food together. She's the lady behind jam and relish range Lynwood Preserves and is also my oldest friend. 

Alice, Tom and I are just back from a few days over at Collector (about three hours from Sydney, towards Canberra) with Kate and her family. Lynwood Preserves was founded 18 years ago by Kate's mother Robbie Howard (above), also an artist and wonderful cook. If ever you stopped at (the now closed) Lynwood Cafe on the way to or from Canberra from Sydney, you might have met Robbie and been lucky enough to try some of her beautiful cooking. She now writes a regular recipe column for the Canberra Times newspaper and many of these can be found here on the Lynwood website.

Kate took over the business a few years ago and produces some of the best jams and relishes going. She's constantly developing new flavours and recently added a quince jelly to the range. My favourite is the apricot and vanilla jam which is particularly good on crumpets - something we discovered on Monday after a session in the kitchen. We used a recipe by Gourmet Traveller magazine, but because we didn't have a crumpet ring, thinned the batter a little with some water and made them more like yeasted drop scones. Kate's girls Lucie and Sophie and my two polished off a big plate-full with jelly while we had ours with butter, jam and lots of tea.

Having spent many happy school holidays in Collector with the Howard family when I was younger, it was really lovely to be back with my own kids. Thanks Robbie, Alan, Kate and James! For information on purchasing Lynwood Preserves please contact Kate or check out their online store.

Guest posting for Country Style...


Local is Lovely is over at the Country Style blog today! Here is my guest post about our visit to Paling Yards Grove

The Friday list (and a lemon cake)


We have just arrived in Sydney for the Pyrmont Growers Market tomorrow and a trip to the zoo for the kids. Whoot whoo. Happy weekend everyone.

Online magazines to read
The new Australian e-mag Artisan  looks fantastic...
Kinfolk Vol 4 came out this week. To mark it's release the editors released this video, it’s so lovely, I watched it twice and then felt I'd had my fix of sunshine for the day.

Recipes to make
This chocolate mint ice cream pie might be the go for Alice’s upcoming birthday.
Cardamom twists and coffee for breakfast on Sunday please
Pickled cauliflower from White on Rice Couple
These pretty watercolour biscuits would be a great school holiday project.
Tiger in a Jar makes breadsticks and films the process. Like all their work the results are so beautiful.

Beautiful food blogs
Nordljus is a blog about Scandinavian food and living by a Japanese woman living in the UK.
This great Australian blog is full of healthy and delicious recipes from the clever Lisa Taylor...
Thank you JustB for introducing me to the lovely Freutcake 

My writing elsewhere this week
Beetroot chocolate whoopie pies on Village Voices
Swedish meatballs with dill potatoes and sour cream sauce over on JustB
Venison chilli with cheesy polenta topping on Village Voices

Lemon and almond tea cake

A friend down the road has the hugest lemon tree, and this year you can barely see the leaves for the fruit so I didn’t think they’d notice if I took a few for this cake.

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
zest of 2 lemons
90g plain flour
90g almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs

for the syrup
2 tbsp caster sugar
juice and zest of one more lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin. Rub the caster sugar and zest of the first two lemons between your fingers until you have a fragrant, yellow mixture. Cream the butter and lemon sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and almond meal together. Fold this into the creamed egg and sugar, add the juice of the two lemons and mix gently. Spoon batter into prepared cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for 35 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer comes out clean. To make the syrup, place the zest of the extra lemon, plus its juice in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and pierce it all over with a skewer, pour over the syrup so it seeps in through all those holes. Let cool a little and then cut yourself a slice to have with a pot of earl grey tea.

Note - this cake keeps well for up to a week if wrapped in foil so I’d recommend making two while you’re at it as it also makes a great school morning tea, work snack or even pudding if served with some thick yogurt or cream and raspberries.

Who let the dogs out?


Yesterday, Alice, her friend Milly and I, visited the Good family's trufferie near Millthorpe. It was the first day of their truffle season, and I think speak for all three of us when I say it was the coldest we have ever been.

Wind blew sheets of drizzle in every direction and the temperature was a numbing two degrees but, it was to the girls' credit that they joined us on the hunt without (much) complaint. It might have been the hot chocolates Loretto made us drink in their cosy cottage before we set out and/or the excitement of what was to come, but either way, the cold became bearable as soon as the hunt began. We ran behind the dogs, sniffing the dirt they scratched up and helping Greg mark the spot with paddle pop sticks which would alert Loretto and her mother to a possible find.

As their name suggests, the Good's are really good people. Generous and switched on, they produce up to 10kgs of truffles every July from their 2000 trees.

Most of these go to Sydney restaurants while Orange locals can source them by request from Slice of Orange. We were very lucky to take the day's first truffle home, and on Loretto's suggestion I put it straight into a jar of eggs and then stored these in the fridge. The truffle will infuse the eggs with it's aroma and in a day or two provide us with a beautifully scented omelette. The Good's also suggested I keep it very simple when matching my truffle to food. Shaved over creamy mashed potato is Greg's favourite while Loretto likes hers over scrambled eggs.

We are to have ours for supper tonight shaved into salted, softened butter then spread on toast fingers and dipped into eggs. The leftover truffle butter has been wrapped up in baking paper and will be given to a friend.

Truffle butter soldiers with boiled eggs

40g salted butter, softened (the nicest you can get)
1/2 a fresh black truffle (about the size of a marble)
A loaf of beautiful white bread
eggs, one per person

Boil eggs for five minutes each (or to your liking). Meanwhile, slice bread into thick pieces and toast until golden. Using a microplane grater or similar, grate the truffle into the softened butter and very gently mix together. Spread the butter on hot toast fingers and eat immediately. Oh yum.

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