Yummy

Look what my darling Mr Bee made for me last weekend:

It is Sheila’s Pudding from Jamie Oliver’s Return of the Naked Chef made with Queensland winter-grown strawberries and frozen Victorian organic blueberries.  Heaven!

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We would just like to tell you that we do not use permeate

A couple of months back I had a little rant about permeate in milk.  It was in response to a story that had broken in the Australian press about how a lot of Australian milk has permeate added to it secretly.  Permeate is just a fancy name for whey which is what’s left of the milk when they make cheese.  It’s healthy and safe but when I, and from the ensuing furore most people, buy milk we want whole milk not bits left over from cheese processing.

And it seems the media  and the all the resulting shouting have had an impact.  I went to the supermarket last weekend and this is what I saw at the milk fridge….

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Carrot, fennel and chickpea soup

Baby it’s cold outside and this soup would have to be the leading contender for the 2012 “Go to soup”. You can see the 2010  “Go to soup” via the link here.

Recipe:

  • 1 large or 2 small leaks, clean and slice
  • 1 fennel bulb, chop in 0.5-1 cm thick slices, include the leaves if you have them
  • 2 medium carrots, chop in 0.5-1 cm thick slices
  • 1 cup of chickpeas, cooked or a 440 g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds – roughly ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 3 anchovies
  • ½ wine glass of brandy or a full wine glass of white wine
  • Water to cover plus a good quality stock cube or stock to cover
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop your vegies.  Add the oil and butter to a large saucepan and melt the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the leaks until soft.  Add the fennel seeds and sauté until fragrant.  Add the anchovies and remaining vegetables and chickpeas. Sauté, stirring until the anchovies have broken down and disappeared.  Add the alcohol and sauté until the alcohol has mainly evaporated.  Generously cover with stock, add the soya sauce.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the vegies are soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!  It has the most delightful hint of fennel with a background of umami from the anchovies and soya sauce.

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Quick Pick: Urban Organic

Have you heard of the new internet TV show Urban Organic?

Each episode is a  3 to 5 minute, professionally produced, interesting snapshot of what’s happening in the urban agriculture scene.

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This week (or two) in my kitchen

:: Soup season continues its yummy way through the cold using my frozen chicken stock from earlier in the year

:: Blueberry muffins! Nuff said 🙂

:: The best apply crumble I’ve ever made, flavoured with lemon rind and ginger, and this yummy fresh cheese stuff called quark.  I’ve had it before but never this good – must be the organic farmers’ market goodness permeating the flavour.  It tastes like thick rich sour cream but with less fat.

I hope the smells and tastes in your kitchen have been just as yummy.

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Soup season

It’s cold outside, wet too and there’s nothing quite like a big steamy bowl of soup with sourdough toast and butter.
I hope your autumn is not too cold, has a bit more sun in it than mine and you too have soup and toast (home-made of course).  And that goes double for those of you in springtime but without the soup and with some lovely springtime salad that is like bringing the sunshine into your meal.
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The great Australian milk scandal

Last week there was a bit of a milk commotion in the Australian press.  Did you know that up to 16 % of milk (which only has one ingredient listed on the label: milk) is actually a substance known as permeate?  I wonder if they do the same thing where you live?

Now I understand why conventional industrial milk tastes so different to organic milk.  Hmm, though that’s making the assumption the organic milk doesn’t contain permeate and since they don’t legally have to include it on the label, who knows?

So what is this permeate stuff?  Waste product from the cheese industry that they used to pour down the drain but now the law says that’s bad for the environment.  It’s apparently a greenish shade.  So those smart people in the milk industry said let’s turn a waste product into a resource and add it back into our milk.  It’ll make the milk more consistent, they said. Hmmm, me thinks this fancy named thing called “permeate” is really just that old-fashioned good thing called “whey”.

There’s nothing wrong with whey as food.  I have some in the fridge right now from a batch of ricotta I made.  It’s good healthy stuff.  But I do so object to them changing its name and secretly adding it to milk.  See milk is milk, the whole stuff, not the half stuff that is whey.  I don’t worry about the whey, I worry about the legal deception.

Why don’t they get their marketing people on to it?  I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to convince people that whey is a good thing to partake of.  Then they wouldn’t have to  lie.

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Mid-week wedding anniversary…saved

Last week was Mr Bee’s and my third wedding anniversary.  We both had a long hard work day and had hmmm, I admit, failed to organise anything.  On my way home I decided this just wouldn’t do and stopped off   at the David Jones Food Hall to find some romantic and tasty additions to what would have been just a reheated curry dinner otherwise.

And I can honestly say it made all the difference 😉

PS no champagne in the glasses because I arrived home before Mr Bee and arranged everything but didn’t want to fill the glasses in case he took too long to get home and we had flat bubbly.  I took the photo (and some others) while I was waiting.  Not long, only about 15 minutes before he came home and was very happily surprised.

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A bit of sunshine, a couple of bikes and an apple tree or two

Mr Bee and myself cycled the Tallarook to Yea (and return) length of the newish Goulburn  River High Country Rail Trail on Easter Saturday.  Despite the weather forecast, it was a beautiful sunny day and the rail trail itself was very good with gorgeous country scenery and lots of birds flying back and forth across the trail.

Along the track we took one of our breaks to eat some hot cross buns.  We surveyed the scenery and then I spied a tree with red looking fruit, and another and Mr Bee spied a third.  Just down a bit of slope were a number of self-sown apple trees heavily laden with ripe autumnal fruit.  There was nothing to suggest they’d been deliberately grown so we guessed they  had possibly come from when the trail had been for trains not bicycles and passengers may have thrown their apple cores out the train window.

Mr Bee braved the brambles and ruggedness of the slope (I on the other hand am a wimp) to bring back some apples.   He gallantly washed one with some of his drinking water and we both had bites.  And despite its dubious pedigree as having grown from a random seed, that apple was delicious.  It had the whitest, crispest flesh and was sweet but nicely balanced with a hint of tartness.  The only (small) complaint was a rather tough skin. We have four more apples that I might make a pie with.

So where on the track were those apples trees ?….. I’m not telling 😉

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Bee’s Hot Cross Buns

Making hot cross buns have been part of my Easter tradition since I was a little girl.  Over the years I’ve used all sorts of recipes from no knead to more traditional, changing up the spices, with and without an egg, you name it.  But the recipe I’m sharing here has become my standard.  I adjust it a little bit each year, but the basics stay the same.

If you’ve never made hot-cross buns before I do suggest giving it a go.  They’re also  a great way to get into bread making as it’s not quite so important that they rise as much as a loaf of bread.

Bee’s Hot Cross Buns

  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • heaped tbsp honey
  • 1 cup of slightly warmed milk
  • 3 cups white plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal (whole-wheat) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 60 g butter
  • 3/4 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/2 mixed peel
  • 1 cup water, warmed
  • 1 tbsp marmalade, apply jelly or apricot jam
  1. Combine yeast, milk and honey in a small bowl.  Stir until yeast dissolves and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy
  2. In a large bowl add the flours, salt and spices. Rub in butter. Stir in dried fruit
  3. Add yeast mixture and stir.  Add extra water and stir to form a rather sticky dough (you may need a bit more of less water depending on your flour etc)
  4. Cover the bowl and dough with a tea towel and leave in a warm spot to rise for an hour
  5. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you feel the constancy change to be smoother.  Expect to use a decent amount of flour here because the dough started off quite sticky
  6. Divide dough into 16 pieces.  Knead each piece a little as you shape it into a ball.  Place the dough balls in a buttered/oiled baking dish so that they just touch each other (like in the picture above).
  7. Cover the baking dish and dough balls with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour or until they approximately double in size.  When 15 minutes remain turn the oven on to 150 °C and make the flour paste (see below).
  8. Using a piping bag add crosses of flour paste to each bun
  9. Place in oven and turn up to 220 °C.  After 20 min reduce heat to 180 °C and bake for a further 10 minutes or until banging on the top of your buns gives a hollow sound.
  10. Place your buns on a rack to cool.  Microwave your marmalade for 20 sec  and then brush across the surface of your buns for a nice glazed look.  (You can sieve the marmalade but I normally just pick out the big pieces and don’t worry about it too much).

Flour paste: Mix together until smooth: 2 heaped dessert spoons of white plain flour, 1 dessert spoon of ice sugar and 8 desert spoons of water.  This makes just enough.

My crosses are always kind of splodgey looking.  But that’s the way I like it because it shows immediately that they are home-made and full of all sorts of artisan-like goodness and that they most definitely have not been made in an exacting commercial kitchen that skimps on fruit and uses preservatives.

Happy Easter everyone whether you commemorate it in a religious sense, are catching up with family or just enjoying a good excuse to have some chocolate eggs.

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