Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Lunch: Ploughman's lunch - including my new love, Branston pickle

Photo: Andrew Gale

1. Bread; 2. Dark stout; 3. pickled vegetables (including onion, cauliflower, pickle); 4. boiled egg; 5. salad and cheese plate (mushroom, eggplant, onion, lettuce, tomato, rubicon red cheese); 6. Soft drink (I can't drink stout!); 7. Branston pickle; 8. Egg Mayonnaise; 9. Cold sliced beef cheek; 10. Beetroot

So, it's the last Sunday in winter *hooray!* but unfortunately it does spell the end of Sunday Roasts for the season. Instead I decided on a whim to make a "Ploughman's Lunch", despite no actual evidence of any sort of ploughing activity on behalf of either Food Critic Andrew or myself. So according to Wikipedia, a "Ploughman's" is a "cold snack or meal originating in the United Kingdom, comprising at a minimum of cheese (usually a thick piece of Cheddar, Stilton, or other local cheese), pickle (called "relish" outside the UK), such as that made by Branston, breadbap), and butter. It is often accompanied by a green salad; other common additions are half an apple, celery, pâté, crisps, diced hard boiled egg or beetroot." And have a look at these Ploughman's.

Now, I'd never actually tried Branston Pickle before, and to tell you the truth, I didn't think I would like it at all. But it was the Best thing ever! l think I am in love. So is Food Critic Andrew. I can see us fighting over the last teaspoon full!

Anyway, you can see from the picture, I couldn't decide whether to use a baguette of a fresh loaf - so I bought both. We ended up using the loaf, so next time I'll just make/buy one of those. There always is far too much bread in our house! So basically it really just is another version of anti pesto. Let's call it "Anglo pesto", in deference to it's traditional roots... This is definitely something I'll make again - nice and simple. And this of course explains why my fridge is rapidly starting to overflow with condiments. I am thinking of renaming it "The Condimenteria".

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Novotel Barossa Valley - 5 course degustation

Food Critic Andrew and I were lucky enough to travel to the 2009 Barossa Food and Wine Festival, courtesy of Sunrice last weekend. It was just a flying visit! – 2 nights – and we attended the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort Gourmet weekend dinner, which was held in association with Langmeil wines. Now – I don’t know too much about wines – but these wines were absolutely fantastic, and it was lovely to meet Paul Linder from Langmeil, and his lovely partner, Natalie during the course of the evening.

The Barossa is a really wonderful place, and I’d recommend that everyone visit at some point. Lush rolling hills, and the locals are just about the friendliest, easy going people you’ll ever meet. The evening started off with some delightful canapés including shots of spiced cauliflower foam, which was paired with a sparkling Ondenc Cuvee. The General Manager of the Novotel welcomed us all, and Paul Linder gave us a wonderful talk about the winery and some interesting facts about the different wines chosen for the evening.

Shellfish ravioli (in a Blue swimmer crab bisque, which was so smooth …I wish there had been more of it!) was the second course – which in turn was followed by a Ballotine of Waechters duck with chestnuts and mushrooms. The ravioli was paired with a GWH Viognier – and the duck with a Cabernet. Next came my favourite course – braised aged beef cheek with celeriac and black pepper. The beef was so tender and tasty –I hope that I can convince them to share the recipe with me! This one was paired with my favourite wine of the evening – the 2006 Orphan Bank Shiraz. Now this wine is very special – as I understand it – the grapes come from a small lot of vines that were planted in the 1800's.

The next course was dessert – a Blue cheese crème brulee, which was served with pecans, dried figs and caramelised pears. This was an ingenious course – Food Critic Andrew said that the brulee went perfectly with the aged Shiraz that was served. I'm not really a fan of really strong cheeses, but the pairing was excellent.
Many thanks to the wonderful people at Sunrice, the Novotel Barossa, and Paul at Langmeil Wines. Of course - to everyone that made our weekend fantastic!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Deluxe dark chocolate mud cupcakes

So now that I'm feeling progressively better, I'm back into the baking with a vengeance. I currently have some Cinnamon and raisin bread in the oven, and last night I made up some dark chocolate mud cupcakes for a bit of dessert loveliness. They were indeed delightful! These get 2 thumbs up from Food Critic Andrew!
This is adapted from "500 cupcakes" by Fergal Connolly.


300g dark chocolate chips

300g unsalted butter

5 eggs

115g caster sugar

115g SR flour
strawberries, as well as whipped cream or ice cream for serving

  1. melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave, stirring to ensure that it is smooth. Leave to cool
  2. Beat eggs and sugar together until mixture is pale and thick
  3. Fold the flour into the egg and sugar mixture
  4. Stir in chocolate/butter mixture
  5. Spoon into cupcake pan, and bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated, 160 degree Celsius oven
  6. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then remove, and serve topped with your choice of whipped cream, ice cream and strawberries. Let's be honest though - you could ice them, service just topped with some icing sugar sprinkled over, or however you please!
If they aren't all eaten, they should last up to 3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fantastic quick, featherlight scones

Photo: Andrew Gale

Now, I've made many, many scones, but none as delicate and as featherlight as these.

When I choose a scone recpe, it needs to have half a dozen ingredients or less. These are wonderul - and are just enough for a small group. Makes about 8 scones, depending on how big you like them!


1 and a 1/2 cups SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup thickened cream
1/2 cup lemonade

  1. Sift flour into a bowl
  2. Add other ingredients
  3. Mix
  4. turn lightly onto a floured bench
  5. roll out with your fingers until dough is about 2 cm high on a floured bench
  6. Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter, and place on a greased tray.
  7. Cook in a pre-heaated 220 degree celsius oven for 10-12 minutes
  8. Serve with jam, and whipped cream

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rum balls (including a non rum, and a peppermint variation!)

Now these are the yummiest, most easiest things to make. I've had the flu recently, so I've been taking it very easy with my experiments, and making some very comforting things. Perfect for a couple of desultory flu ridden folk. Oh goodness, I can't wait to feel better. But - you're not here to listen to my whining about my various maladies- bring on the sweet stuff! As we speak, I have some dough in the fridge, and can't wait for another go at Turkish pides tomorrow evening. I made Salmon cakes tonight - I'll blog them tomorrow - they are the most wonderful, comforting meal in the world.


1 packet girl guide biscuits (or a packet of Arnott's Nice or Marie biscuits)
1 tin (395g) condensed milk
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoon cocoa
1 tsp rum essence (optional, or you could use 1 tsp peppermint essence instead)

1/2 cup shredded coconut to roll them in


  1. Crush all ingredients together and mix.
  2. Shape into balls, and roll in coconut (the peppermint ones I rolled in some flaked chocolate, since I have some hanging around)
  3. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavours mix in together

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lemon tart and homemade ice cream

Meh. I've had a touch of the 'flu recently. I went to the Dr, and he doesn't test for that nasty bacon related 'flu anymore (too many people have it) so I just got a sick note for work and was on my way. However, I've neglected to post some of the yummy-ness that I made over the weekend just past. I made some amazing lemon tart, which I served with a homemade (and ZOMG! it was so easy!) ice cream. I also made some rum balls for Food Critic Andrew, which I must say are thoroughly enjoyable. And the lemon tart - well, here is that amazing dessert. I made these with lemons from a work colleagues tree. Thanks, James!

Ice cream


600 ml thickened cream
395g tin condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence


  1. Mix cream and condensed milk together, and beat with a stick mixer, until quite thick
  2. add vanilla essence, and stir thoroughly
  3. Freeze. At one hour, then a couple of hours later, remove from freezer, and quickly mix with a fork. (This prevents crystallisation, apparently). I'm not even sure this last step is needed. Next time I'll make some, and not do this part, and report back.
Lemon Tart:



1 packet of your favourite plain biscuits (I use Girl Guide Biscuits! I think it is about 200g)
100g melted butter


395 g tin condensed milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup thickened cream
Juice and zest of two lemons

  1. Mix the base ingredients together, line a pie dish and refrigerate until needed
  2. Mix filling ingredients together, and our over prepared base
  3. Bake for 30 min in a preheated 180 degree Celsius oven
  4. Remove and serve chilled with homemade ice cream, or cream, or whatever you like!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rosemary bread - perfect savoury bread....

My friends at Aire Valley Guest House, who do the most wonderful food and accommodation, have graciously allowed me to share with you their Rosemary Bread Recipe! I love baking, because the smell of yeast reminds me of last years bio-tech classes. Enough with the nerdiness:

I thought I would give it a try to accompany Sunday lunch (which was another Corned Beef...We are big fans of Corned Beef in this house, so it got yet another run.) The weather here seems to be well on its way to Spring so perhaps we are nearing the end of our Sunday Roasts for yet another season. I am keen to keep going with a sit down Sunday Lunch though - and have a lot of recipes that would certainly fit the bill quite nicely.

This recipe is slightly adapted (I wasn't sure if they used fresh or dried yeast, so used dried ,and made sure it was activated beforehand; I also changed the quantities for home use, and egg washed, then sprinkled the loaf with salt , pepper and rosemary before baking) with thanks, from Martin and Annabel of Aire Valley Guest House:


7g dried sachet yeast
500g bakers flour
tsp sugar
pinch salt
1 hand full of fresh rosemary
300 ml warm water
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper


  1. Mix yeast, sugar and approx 100ml of the water together, and leave for 15 min, until the yeast is bubbly.
  2. Mix the baker’s flour, sugar, and salt together in a big bowl
  3. Add the rest of the warm water bit by bit to the flour (you may not need all the water) and mix and knead until you have a good consistency.
  4. Put in a warm place and cover for 45 to 60 minutes until doubled in volume.
  5. Take a hand full or so of rosemary crudely cut. (Reserve some for the topping). Knead rosemary into bread mix and shape
  6. Brush beaten egg lightly over top, and sprinkle salt, pepper and rosemary across the top
  7. Bake in preheated oven, 220 degrees Celsius for 30 to 45 minutes. If larger rolls use 180 degrees and cook for longer.
It's absolutely divine - I'm sure this photo does not do the recipe justice!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eating ethically - or resisting the siren song of cheap cherries

I've been seeing a lot of very cheap cherries at my local supermarket, and I'm dying to make some Cherry Clafoutis or some other divine dessert with them. But alas, I'm resisting the urge because of the fact that they are 1) out of season in Australia and 2) product of the northern hemisphere, and I'm trying to eat seasonally and locally, as much as possible. So *sigh* I'll just have to wait until Christmas time to do so. The idea of eating locally has really taken off recently, and for my own part, I've been trying to not buy fruits and vegetables imported from overseas. Australia has one of the most forgiving, and varying climates, so we have an abundance of food all right here, on our doorstep. Obviously, cost is a huge factor here, and I'm not sure I have the resources (time and money) to only eat foods produced in a certain radius from our doorstep, but if I can at least avoid imported fruit and vegetables, then I feel as though I'm making a contribution in some small way.