Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam in the making

Strawberry Jam in the making

We are in the midst of holidays at the moment and while the weather is warm it’s certainly not hot. I am not complaining, to me these sunny days are what makes a perfect summer. It’s warm and if you were in a sheltered spot it’d be hot, but the evenings are cool and make for good sleeping.

Yesterday was a very lazy day so today we needed to get out of the house and off to the market as we’d used up all our leftovers and we were all going a little bit stir crazy. First stop was Aldi. Now I have sung their praises before and today was no exception. Punnets of strawberries for 99 cents! Yes you read that right. It’s not even worth driving to pick them yourself for that price.

I figured these were going to be the eat them now or make something with them kind at that price so the kids and I went over them with a fine tooth comb and just as I was about to remind Sophia to be careful because she dropped a punnet and they opened up we discovered a mouldy one in there – nice one Soph. So with 9 punnets in tow I was prepared to come home and make either Jam or Sorbet.

Jam won out as I don’t have an ice cream machine. I removed all the stalks and cut the berries in half and ended up with 1800 grams or 1.8kg of fruit after the kids sampled some. I knew you could make jam with roughly equal quantities of fruit and sugar.

So for this amount of fruit which was washed after hulling and placed in a Very large saucepan I added 1.8kgs of white sugar and the zest and juice of two limes. Add this to the saucepan and cover for an hour or so to allow the sugar to bring out the juices. Then bring it to the boil and then simmer and stir for 20-30 mins or until you can feel it start to thicken. Definitely DO NOT walk away from it during this time, the last thing you want is for the sugar to catch or for it to boil over. Truth be told I started in the saucepan you see above and had to transfer it to a deeper pan as it came to within millimeters of the rim…

I put a saucer in the freezer and as the jam started to thicken I drizzled some onto the saucer and put it back in the freezer for 5 mins. When you can push it with your finger and it leaves wrinkles you know it’s ready.

That amount of fruit has yielded a small jar, 4 larger size jars and one enormous jar of jam and a bit extra which we’ll need to use now as I have run out of jars and I am seriously regretting donating my collection of jars to the op shop when we moved!

Now all we need are some scones and cream to go with our jam. Happy sunny days!

 

 

Birthdays are FUN

Tomorrow is Zachie’s 5th birthday so we had a party for him on the weekend and it was a rip roaring success. He was in heaven seeing all his friends in the one place, declared they’re all his BEST FRIENDS! I went the traditional route of pass the parcel and hide and seek but for the most part the kids just played and had fun.

Image

On the menu there were funfetti cup cakes  which I have made before and my helpers do love to put the 100’s & 1000’s on them. A fruit platter with Truck watermelon, Little Sausages in pita bread, and slow roasted lamb souvlaki with Baba ganoush and Tzatziki. Jelly Oranges & a Prime Mover Road Train birthday cake!

Truck Watermelon

Just like my Mummy used to make :)

Just like my Mummy used to make 🙂

I wanted to be able to prepare almost everything but I thought it would be fun for the kids to be able to make their own little souvlaki. So I roasted two mini lamb legs and served them with some roasted potatoes and all the bits that go with them.

Needless to say I got a mouthful, hubby reported it was all fantastic! 😀

Slow Roasted Lamb

You will need

2 mini lamb roasts (or 1 big one)

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

50 g butter

handful of fresh oregano, chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

250 mls of water

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Make a couple of incisions in the lamb and slot in some of the garlic, put the lamb into your roasting pan and season, sprinkle over the oregano, remaining garlic and pour over the lemon juice, olive oil and add the water to the bottom of the pan. Put the butter in knobs over the lamb and roast for 15 mins on each side.

Then turn the oven down to 160 degrees Celsius, add the potatoes to the pan and toss in the juices and cover and bake for at least 2 & 1/2 hours or until done. You want the lamb to literally fall off the bone and be able to break it up with a fork.

Baba Ganoush

This is really too easy for words, once you’ve made it a couple of times I think you can play around with the quantities and be guided by your tastes. I used 3 medium size eggplants to make enough for 20 people.

You will need:

3 medium eggplants

1 large clove of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

400 mls natural yoghurt

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil

smokey paprika

Place the eggplants over the gas burner on your stove and allow them to “Cook” for 10 mins on each side or until they start to collapse in on themselves. It’s important to keep an eye on them though. Once they’re charred all over remove from the heat and place in a plastic bag and allow to sweat for 10 mins.

Then carefully remove the skin from the eggplant, you need to make sure that none of the charred skin remains otherwise your dip will taste burnt rather than smokey. Set the eggplant aside.

In a mortar and pestle crush your garlic with 2 tsp of salt, then add some of the eggplant (this depends on the size of your mortar) you can fork it as well, but you want it chunky and not completely smooth. Transfer the mix to a large bowl and add the tahini, yoghurt, any remaining eggplant and lemon juice.

Mix well and pour into your serving dish/bowl. Make a little well in the centre and pour over some olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of paprika.

Prime Mover Birthday Cake

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Thanks to Peppa Pig the kids are having this tonight for dessert. Zachie requested by asking Mummy do we have any apples? Do we have any Blackberries? Yes, yes Zachie we do… why? Can you please make apple and blackberry crumble?

Apple and Blackberry CrumbleI made a small one probably enough to serve 2-3 or 4 for kids. It’s a very easy dish to make and takes no time at all!

You will need

Apples

Blackberries

Sugar

Water

Butter

Plain Flour

I worked on equal parts of apples to blackberries, for this one it was 2 Royal Gala apples to about a cup of blackberries. (If you’re using frozen make sure they’re Australian Grown and packaged to avoid any nasty chemicals, or better yet use fresh ones.

Simply stew the fruit in about 1/2 a cup of water. When the fruit is soft but still holding it’s shape add sugar to taste and reduce the liquid. Pour the fruit and syrup into an oven proof dish. Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. While the fruit is cooking rub butter into the sugar and flour so that you have the consistency of wet sand. I used approx 1 cup of flour to 1/3 cup of sugar and 100g of butter, you want the crumble mix to hold together if you crush it in your hand.

Sprinkle over the fruit and bake for approx 20 mins or until golden brown.

Serve with either ice cream or cream.

 

A Christmas Spin on the Chelsea Bun

Yellow Cherry & Sultana ScrollsMerry Christmas and a VERY Happy new year to you all. I have to apologise again for my lack of posting – I have struggled to find time to write with working etc I must say I have missed it and I am looking forward to more regular postings. That said Christmas is always my chance to get creative in the kitchen. We don’t do traditional in our house and we haven’t for a long time, but now we don’t as we’re a pork free house so no Ham’s etc and Turkey is well and truly overrated in my opinion.

So this year we went with Steak – Angus Scotch Fillet – Jamie Oliver’s Lamb Lollipops which are just gorgeous, this year we didn’t make all the trimmings, but had salads etc on the side. Prawns of course, paprika potatoes & delicious desserts which I will share in another post.

The above scrolls were made for our Mother’s Group Christmas party which ended up being a breakfast as all the kids are early risers and it just made sense. So I brought a fruit salad dressed up Christmas style and these scrolls.

Christmas Fruit Salad

We have had copious amounts of Yellow Cherries and I have made jam and stewed the remaining which I used to make these scrolls.

You will need:

2 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

2 ½ cups plain flour, sifted

½ cup warm milk

185g softened butter

1 Tbsp sugar, extra

1 tsp mixed spice

1 egg

¼ cup soft brown sugar

good handful of sultanas

about 1 cup of stewed fruit – I used Yellow Cherries.

1 Tbsp milk, extra for glazing

2 Tbsp Sugar, extra for glazing

Glace icing

½ cup icing sugar

1-2 Tbsp milk

What to do:

Combine the yeast, sugar & a couple of tablespoons of the flour in a large bowl, add the milk and mix well. Set aside in a warm place until it’s frothy and thick. This should take about 10 minutes.  While you’re waiting for the yeast to activate sift the remaining flour into another bowl and rub in the softened butter with your fingertips until it resembles coarse sand or breadcrumbs. Stir in the extra sugar & the mixed spice. Add this to the yeast mixture with the egg and mix well using the dough hook on your mix master. Work the dough until it comes together to form a smooth ball.

Lightly oil your mixing bowl put the dough in and cover with cling film and place in a warm place to allow to prove for an hour or until it’s at least doubled in size.

Pre heat your oven to 210°C 415°F or gas 6-7. Ensure your mixed fruit is finely chopped if you’re making your own. Beat an extra 50g of butter with the brown sugar & mixed spice until it’s light & creamy. When your dough is ready, knock it back and roll out to approx 40 x 25cm (16 x 10 inches) rectangle, Spread the butter mixture all over the dough to within 2cm of the edge of one of the longer sides, spread the stewed fruit all over the dough and then sprinkle the sultanas all over it.

Roll the dough from the long side, firmly and evenly to enclose the fruit. Using a sharp knife cut the roll into evenly sized pieces about 2 ½ cm thick. Arrange the slices onto a well greased oven tray with the seams facing inwards. Flatten slightly, cover with cling film and set aside to rise for 30 mins or until they’re well risen again. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown & cooked. When they’re almost ready stir the milk & sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, brush this mix over the hot buns. Cool & mix the icing sugar, drizzle over the buns. You should get about 12 – 15 smallish buns.

Enjoy! I am also thinking they’d work wonderfully with stewed apricots or any other stewed fruit!

Home delivery Fruit & Vegies

A few weeks ago we had lunch with a friend when her box of fruit & vegies were delivered to her door, looking at what was available all freshly picked and packed got me thinking… With 2 small children, one of whom has taken to questioning every purchase we make at the supermarket and constantly saying we need this, we need that has started to wear a bit thin with me, add to that working part time as well and feeling a little like there are not enough hours in the day I decided that I’d give the home delivery option a go.

I love going to the market and hand selecting our fruit and veg and I think I will still do that but this option gives us more than enough fruit & veg for the week, it’s seasonal which is fantastic, it’s organic – even better and compared to organic prices at the market it’s very reasonably priced. It will also ensure that we actually only buy what we will use for the week rather than having too many of something or another and things going off in the fridge before we can use them.

I have noticed that even though it’s only 2 days a week that our children are in child care they don’t seem to be eating as much as what they would have done if they were at home all week, that an by the time my working week finishes it’s Thursday which is normally the day I head to the Preston Market for a shop.

Anyway, after our box of goodies was delivered yesterday I made spaghetti bolognaise with organic carrots, celery & onions. Zachie ate a pear & an orange both of which he said were Delicious Mummy! So I do think I am on a winner, I just need to remember to let them know – no broccoli or cabbage, that’s the great thing about this service you can say I don’t want Chinese greens, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, chard, silverbeet etc (all of the things we aren’t really fans of or wouldn’t use in day to day cooking.)

I will still head to the market today to buy cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh bread etc but give or take a few items (which you could add to your order) we’re set for the week! Happy days people!

You can check out Victoria Organic Delivery here if you live in Melbourne or even Victoria as they deliver it seems to most places.

We got 6 Apples, 5 Bananas, 3 Zucchini, 5 large Potatoes, 4 Pears, 3 Onions, 1/2 a bunch of celery, 3 heads of broccoli, 1/2 a cabbage, 6 mandarins, 4 oranges, a bag of gourmet lettuce, 3 kiwi fruits & 2 avocados.

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the cabbage??

Custard Apples

Last Thursday we went to the market and Zachie asked me what that was, pointing to a Custard Apple, “is it a prickly pear Mummy?”  (Just quietly, I don’t think he’ll ever forget the pain of touching a prickly pear). I explained that it was a Custard Apple, but that I didn’t know what it tasted like as I’d never had one, can we try it Mummy?

I asked the lady at the fruit shop what they’re like and she said they’re delicious, although you need to let it ripen a little like an avocado. So we bought one and today it was ready for eating, the skin had gone a bit black in places and the stem was easily pulled out intact which does make me wonder whether that’s a sign that they’re ready to eat?

Anyway, I peeled it & in our excitement I forgot to take a photo of what they look like inside, but it was delicious, very sweet, possibly a little too sweet, but I could see it working in a smoothie or fruit salad and apparently they work in curries too.

I don’t know if I will buy another one, but it was great to have a try of something a bit different and even more fantastic that both kidlets including the neighbour’s kidlet tried it!

Check out www.custardapple.com.au/ for some more information about Custard Apples & what you can use them in.