Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Move over Maggie Beer


Don't get the wrong idea. I am not trying to put Maggie Beer out of business.

I love Maggie. LOVE her!

I'm just saying, that if you can make your own quince paste, then why wouldn't you?

In fact, I think Australians owe Maggie a big thank-you for introducing us to the delights of quince paste in the first place. Really is there any better picnic food than crusty bread, quince paste and a local brie? I think not. It certainly is one of our families favourites.

This recipe is from here. I knew this recipe worked, as we have been in enjoying this yummy quince paste over the last year. There are lots of good step-by-step photo's here.

Puree the quince paste.

Ruby red and ready for the molds.

Wrap in waxed paper.

Ready to be sealed and stored in the fridge. 

Quince Paste 

Makes 3-4 cups

• 1 1/2 kilograms quinces (peeled, cored and roughly chopped)
• 1/2 cup water
• 800g caster sugar

Grease 12 1/2-cup capacity ramekins with oil or line them with plastic wrap.

Put the quince and water in a large heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally. When the quince is tender, allow it to sit and cool for 10  minutes. Process the quinces (with the the water) in a food processor until smooth. Return the quince puree to the saucepan and add the sugar. Stir for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 3 1/2 hours or until mixture is ruby red, very thick and glossy. It should leave the side of pan easily and stick well to a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Cover and set aside for 6 hours or until set. Loosen with a butter knife and wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

The quince paste will keep for up to 4 months in the fridge.

Monday, July 23, 2012


When Grandma gave me a bag full of chokos grown in her garden, I wasn't quiet sure what I was going to do with them all.

A few days later, I borrowed a Woman's Weekly cookbook from the library, within it's well thumbed pages was a recipe for choko pickles - perfect. I had never heard of choko pickles before, but the ingredients where similar to a couple of my favourite recipes: sweet mustard pickles and tomato relish.

It is yum. If you like pickles that is. I am sad now that our (always flourishing) choko vine has not come back to life this year. I have always loved having a choko vine growing over the back fence. We've always had plenty to give away (my own Granny loves them), but now I have discovered a great way to preserve them. Best get myself a new plant!

After buying a favourite cheese on sale last week, I made myself a special lunch, a ploughman's lunch. It made a nice change from the usual sandwiches: cheese and pickles or ham, salad and pickles.

I made a simple ploughman's lunch. This is how I like it. It would have been good if I had some homemade pickled onions or perhaps a pork pie. Maybe next time. As it was just me, home alone on a Wednesday lunchtime, I served my lunch with a cup of tea instead of a pint. I thought that was still a very English thing to do, don't you?

And not to go off on a tangent here, but while we are on the subject of the English. Thank-you Mum for my new (old) willow pattern china. As you can see I am putting it to good use.

Ploughman's Lunch 

for as many people as you like

• cheddar cheese
• ham or cold roast meat
• pickles
• crusty bread
• butter
• apples
• pickled onions
• pork pie (optional)

Arrange on individual serving plates and serve.

Choko Pickles 

makes 5-6 x 280ml jars

• 1 kilogram chokos (peeled, cored and finely diced)
• 2 onions (finely diced)
• 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
• 2 teaspoons curry powder
• 2 teaspoons mustard powder
• 2 cups white sugar
• 2 cups white vinegar
• 1 tablespoon cornflour

Combine the choko, onion and salt in a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal) and set aside to stand overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash your jars in hot water and put into the oven to sterilise. When ready to cook, rinse the vegetables and drain well. Place the vegetables into a large saucepan and add the curry powder, mustard powder, sugar and vinegar. Stir over a high heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, and leave to cook, uncovered for 45 minutes or until the pickle is thick. Stir occasionally. Use a cup to scoop about a tablespoon of the vinegar liquid from the pickles. Add the cornflour to the cup and blend until smooth. Stir the cornflour mixture through the pickle that is still on the heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir occasionally. 

Remove the jars from the oven and pour in the hot pickles. I usually ladle my pickles into a pouring jug and then pour it into the jars. Hold the hot jars with a tea towel and be careful! Seal immediately and leave to cool before labeling. Store in a cool, dark place.

I read this Woman's Weekly Tip (after) I had cut up my chokos: Wear disposable gloves when preparing your chokos, as they will leave a sticky residue on your skin - yes they will!

Even though I have not cooked these sweet mustard pickles lately, I though that I would share this recipe anyway. We always have homemade pickles or chutney of some sort in the fridge. If not made by me, there is usually a jar or two from this lovely person (see some of Mrs Gooseberry's preserves we have been eating here) or some from my mother in law.

The last couple of batches of my yummy tomato relish (my favourite of all) has been a little runny, so I will make it again before I post the recipe. 

Sweet Mustard Pickles 

makes 4-5 280 ml jars

• 1.5 kilogram mixed vegetables – cauliflower, beans, red pepper, cabbage, carrots, onions, celery (finely diced)
• 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
• 600 ml white vinegar
• 3 cups white sugar
• 2 teaspoons curry powder
• 2 teaspoons mustard powder
• 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
• 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
• 1 cup plain flour
• 1 1/2 cups water

Place the vegetables into a large glass or ceramic bowl (not metal), sprinkle over the salt and add enough water to cover the vegetables. Set aside to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash your jars in hot water and put into the oven to sterilise. When ready to cook, rinse the vegetables and drain well. Place the vegetables into a large saucepan with the vinegar and bring to the boil. Cook on medium high heat for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Combine the remaining dry ingredients (spices and flour) with the water to form a smooth paste. Remove the pickles from the heat and slowly stir through the paste. Return to the heat and cook until thickened, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the heat again and leave to sit for 10 minutes before bottling in hot sterilized jars. 

Remove the jars from the oven and pour in the hot pickles. I usually ladle my pickles into a pouring jug and then pour it into the jars. Hold the hot jars with a tea towel and be careful! Seal immediately and leave to cool before labeling. Store in a cool, dark place.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remember this?


I have just realised that it was back in May, when I posted this ambitious cooking list. Do you remember it?

The choko's were made into choko pickle, the quinces were made into quince paste, the lemons were made into lemon curd and the Thai curry pastes were made.

All of the oranges and mandarins were gobbled up by my little monkeys, long before they could get anywhere near the jam pot. As have every other bag of citrus bought since! But I will be making marmalade soon. I didn't make any last year and recently had to buy it. This will not do, even the good quality store bought marmalade doesn't come close to homemade.

The cabbage, also, was not used as I had intended. When I read this line, in a book: "Making sauerkraut is like making beer." I decided to give it a miss. I was still battling my head cold and attempting a fermention process just seemed like too much hard work at the time. I didn't even have anything to store it in.

Instead the cabbage found it's way into soups and salads and this super yummy Scottish dish, Rumbledethumps.

I'll be honest, I made this recipe because of the name, Rumbledethumps. Just say it out loud - you see, I had to make it.  I'm not sure I was expecting to like it so much, but I did. I'd say eat it anytime; breakfast, lunch or a simple dinner, as an accompaniment or alone. Perfect peasant fare for those dark and gloomy winter days.

However, my kids were not so convinced, even when I said 'Rumbledethumps' with my best Scottish accent! They just couldn't find the fun in cabbage.

Hopefully you will.

This recipe is from Heather Williams of the Castle Hill Show Society and comes from 'The Country Show Cookbook'. I will write up the other recipes that I have cooked over the next week. I have been having a lot (A LOT) of trouble with my computer, which is why the recipes are piling up next to my computer instead of being shared with you.


serves 4-6

• 450 grams potatoes (peeled and roughly chopped)
• 60 grams butter
• 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
• 250 grams cabbage (finely shredded)
• salt and pepper
• 80 grams cheddar cheese (grated)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Oil a 23cm baking (pie) dish. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered until the potatoes are tender. Drain in a colander and leave to sit for about 4 minutes before roughly mashing. Set aside. 

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and gently saute the onion until soft and golden. Add the cabbage and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and season to taste. Stir to combine and then remove from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of grated cheese and transfer the cabbage mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Jamaican Curried Goat

In order to redeem myself, I had a second attempt at a goat curry this weekend.

When I think of goat curry, I think - full of flavour. Which was sadly missing in my Malaysian curry. I also think - Caribbean. I took these books from my shelf for guidance and inspiration.

Not happy to just use a recipe this time, I did what I do best. I made it up. Using the best parts of about 20 different recipes both found in books and on the Internet.

I knew if I wanted to make anything even halfway authentic, I would need to make my own Jamaican curry powder. So after a few hours spent researching my recipes, I bundled up the kids for a trip to the spice shop in town. We bought giant bags of the required dried spices and then went on to buy the next thing I needed to make the perfect curry.

Enter my new favourite toy- the spice grinder.

Oh, what joy! The smells that came from my kitchen were amazing! This curry was a pleasure to make - and it will be an easy dish to make in the future, now that my spice powder is made up.

Can I tell - YUM YUM YUM YUM!

Even if I do say so myself.  

Now lets discuss heat. A Caribbean curry is hot, with the inclusion of scotch bonnet chillies, that would blow my head off. I have drastically reduced the amount of chilli to my liking, using regular chillies, but it is up to you how hot you make it and I have added options in brackets in the recipe.

Jamaican Curry Powder

makes about 1 cup

• 5 tablespoons ground turmeric
• 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
• 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
• 2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
• 2 tablespoons star anise seeds or 5 whole star anise
• 1 tablespoon chilli powder (maybe two or three)
• 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (maybe two)
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• 1 tablespoon allspice berries
• 1 tablespoon cloves
• 1 tablespoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon nutmeg
• 1 stick cinnamon

Put all of the whole seeds (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, anise seeds. peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves and cinnamon) into a dry frying pan. Toast over a medium heat until the color of the spices darkens slightly and the spices are fragrant. Remove from the heat and allow the spices to cool to room temperature. Grind the spices in a spice grinder, then mix with the remaining ground spices. (I used a whisk for this). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Jamaican Curried Goat (or Lamb)

serves 6

• juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime
• 1 1/2 kilograms goat meat (cut into bite sized pieces) - or lamb shoulder

for the marinade

• 2 teaspoons ground allspice
• 3 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder
• 2 onions (diced)
• 4 shallots (chopped)
• 4 tomatoes (diced)
• 2 chillies left whole (use up to 5 chillies or 2 scotch bonnets)
• 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger 
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• salt and pepper

to make the curry

• 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 2 potatoes (peeled and cut into 5cm cubes) 
• juice of 1 lime

Place the goat meat in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon or lime juice, place the bowl in the sink (under the tap) and wash the goat meat with water. Pat dry with paper towel and set aside. Put all of the marinade ingredients into a large bowl and add the meat. Mix well and leave to marinade for 4 hours or overnight.

Remove meat from the marinade, scraping off any excess marinade. Reserve the marinade mixture. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy based pan and brown the meat. This may need to be done in two to three batches. Once browned, return all of the meat to the pot and add the reserved marinade, chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours. After 1 1/2 hours add the potato. Once the meat and potatoes are tender, stir in the lime juice and serve.

Again, in order to be authentic I made Rice and Peas to go with the curry. This recipe is from here. (do you remember this fantastic cooking show?) And yes, the name is correct "rice and peas" even though red kidney beans are used in the recipe.

Rice and Peas

Serves 8 -10

• 1 cup dried red kidney beans (soaked overnight and drained)
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 onion (finely chopped)
• 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• salt and pepper
• 1 litre hot water
• 3 cups long grain rice (rinsed)
• 1 cup coconut milk or cream

Heat the oil in a heavy based stockpot and sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the drained beans, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and 500 ml of the hot water. (the hot water stops the beans from breaking up.) Cook for about an hour until the beans are tender. Add the rice and the remaining 500 ml of hot water. Add the coconut milk and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Leave to steam on a very low heat until the rice is cooked, this will take about half an hour. Check regularly to ensure that there is enough steam to cook the rice. Add a small amount of warm water if necessary.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wouldn't that 'get on your goat'?

Is there anything worst than spending a day in the kitchen, only to discovered that dinner is a BIG disappointment? That is what happened last night.

Yesterday was our first 'at home' day in all of the (school) holidays, I was itching to cook. I had defrosted some goat I'd bought from a local butcher a few weeks ago. I thought that an easy Malaysian Goat Curry would be the perfect dinner. Unfortunately, the delicious Asian flavours, like kaffir lime leaves, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and coconut, were completely washed out by the water added (as per recipe) The leftovers have been put in the freezer, with some playing around, I think that there is the potential of a very nice Asian-style goat soup - hopefully.

And for the vegetables? I had green beans and snow peas in the crisper and and some of these eggplants ready to use. I made a very simple Chinese bean stir-fry by tossing the beans with chilli, garlic and soy.

Surely this couldn't go wrong?

Well, it was OK, but not great. However, the eggplant saved the night! I made a Thai eggplant dish that I hadn't cooked for years. YUM! I pretty much just ate a lot of this and jasmine rice.

At the last minute, I decided to make roti bread to go with the curry. I did a Google search and just cooked the first recipe that I found. It was a bit hit and miss. There certainly was a lot of excitement around the frying pan as the kids gathered to watch the roti puff up in the heat. Unfortunately it took us a few goes to get the roti to 'puff.' I think it all comes down to the right heat and also how thin you make them. My first few were, perhaps, a little too thick. So back to the drawing board on that one. But with a bit more research on Google and I'll be trying them again soon.

All was not lost, at least I can share the eggplant recipe with you. Enjoy.

Stir-fried Thai Eggplant with Basil

serves 4

• 2 eggplants (cut into four lengthwise and roughly chopped)
• 1 bunch thai basil leaves
• 2 tablespoons peanut oil
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 2 red chillies (finely chopped)
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon sugar

Heat the oil in a wok. Stir-fry the eggplant until almost cooked. Add the garlic and chilli. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir through the basil leaves. Serve immediately.

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