Monday, December 28, 2009

So the leftovers continue....leftover Christmas pudding

Anchovy and oregano flat bread

Finishing off seafood wasn't a problem... I de-shelled the prawns and froze them (they hadn't been frozen beforehand; they will become a prawn cocktail in about a week or so, though they look slightly too messy so I may change my mind) and last night I served an entire mezze platter for dinner served with flat bread that was made from a recipe from this new book Bourke Street Bakery, which I was lucky enough to find underneath the tree this year. I served cold chicken pieces, Oysters Kilpatrick as well as olives and various other salad-y bits found in the refrigerator.

There was a large amount of dough in the recipe, though I was tempted to halve it, I decided to make a vaguely Georgian Hachapuri (I took inspiration from Nigella Lawson's Feast: Food to Celebrate Life, which I perused whilst my coffee roasted). I just used what cheese was already in the fridge; low fat ricotta, danish feta and some Parmesan.

Ironically though, the one thing I seem to be having trouble finishing off is the Christmas pudding! Despite lashings of custard, I'm a bit over sweet things at the moment (probably a good thing, I'm feeling rather hefty of late). However, when I'm ready to revisit the pudding, there are a few ideas around the Internets:

Friday, December 25, 2009

What to do with Christmas leftovers? Tales of the over flowing fridge, and, our first christmas in Bega (and a recipe for Andrew's Mum's brandy sauce)

That is the question on everybody's lips right now; Christmas lunch is well and truly over, it's been picked over again at dinner time, and the tetris like game of finding room in the fridge has started all over again.

So what was the Christmas menu this year? Well of course it's Summer here, so for a lot of people, me included, seafood features predominately. We went very early in the morning to procure an assortment of local seafood, including prawns, and a big fat lobster. I work with a gentleman who has an oyster lease at Wapengo Lake so I ordered a couple of dozen from him.

I was getting a bit over excited about Christmas and really, really wanted to make Nigella Lawson's gravlax, however managed to restrain myself. I knew that what we had ordered would be far too much for the 2 of us, so consoled myself that I will make that another time....

I served a breakfast of bacon and egg muffins (an 'in-joke' for Food Critic Andrew and I), and of course lunch was this magnificent seafood affair, served with a big salad and fresh baked bread rolls. I fully believe that when cooking a Christmas lunch, whether for 2 or 20, relaxed is the key, unless of course you have an army of helpers! So aside from the bread and some puff pastry canapes, that was all the baking I did.

The pudding I made a few weeks ago and turned out lovely. Next year I am going to try a boiled pud. Santa was very good to me this year and I got a Sunbeam Mixmaster, and we made some of Andrew's Mum's Brandy Sauce in it to test it out.
Shirley's Brandy Sauce


1/2 cup whipped cream
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
pinch salt
3 tsp brandy


1. Separate the egg from the yolk
2. Adding a pinch of salt, whip the whites until soft peaks form
3. Slowly add the sugar whilst continuing to whip.
4. Add the yolks, mixing carefully
5. Fold in the cream and brandy
6. Serve over your favourite pudding immediately.

So, what of the leftovers? Well, that's entirely another story. We went for a nice long walk this afternoon and decided to fry up the seafood, some chicken and some bacon in some oyster and soy sauces, along with whatever vegetables we could find in the fridge, add it to some rice, and call it Special Fried rice. I hadn't actually overindulged at lunch time so as long as I controlled my portions here, I was totally fine. And I even had room for another small bit of pudding.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the ice cream disaster

Sadly, Isabelle, I have to admit that my foray into peppermint choc-chip ice cream making ended up a bust! So, it looked quite nice, but it was far too "eggy" (no spellcheck, I don't mean edgy. far from it) to contemplate without far too much mint choc chip "Ice Magic". Well, it wasn't entirely a bad idea - of course I had fun making it, and now think I will make some mint choc chip ice cream using the simpler condensed milk and cream route, instead of the modified buttermilk disaster that I tried with this one. What did work with this was when it almost finished freezing, added some "Ice Magic" and swirled it through; Food Critic Andrew's suggestion that far outweighed my crushed Hershey's Chocolate Kisses idea. Oh, well, we all learn from our disasters, yes? I'll keep you posted of course - and I'll see you soon. Is this what you had in mind?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mint choc chip buttermilk ice cream

So I've been a bit obsessed with ice cream lately, and for good reason! It's well and truly into summer here, and the only sweet thing worth eating sometimes is a scoop of cold creamy ice cream. Sadly, I've just moved away from Sydney as Ben and Jerry open up their first ice creamery at Manly. I'm a big fan of Ben and Jerry's whose ice cream I first discovered many years ago whilst living in London.

Anyhow, as I've said, I finally have room in my freezer so bought come ice cream recently. It didn't last long, and surprisingly, Food Critic Andrew was a big fan of the peppermint choc chip that I had bought. So when I had some spare buttermilk, and some Hershey's Kisses in the pantry, I realised I had to make some peppermint choc chip ice cream! It is cooling in the freezer right now, so I hope that it is succesful - we'll wait and see.......

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spiced cranberry muffins with pecan nuts

We've been in the new place for a week now - so I thought I should give the oven a real trial run before I attempted to make the best cheesecake ever (his favourite!) for Food Critic Andrew's birthday celebration. It is a fan forced oven and I was still getting used to it. Perusing the website, which I am a big fan of, I came across this recipe for Spiced cranberry muffins with pecan nuts. Now the recipe probably won't stay there forever, so I've copied it to this site as well, and hopefully the good folks over at the taste website won't mind too much. I've changed it slightly; I thought that there should have been more cranberry, less ginger. The tastes really develop overnight, so if you can make them before you go to bed for the next day!.

Instead of adding chopped pecans to the top (as per the "Taste" website recipe), I just added a half pecan and sprinkled demerara sugar over the top. They were rather delicious, and made me rather nostalgic. I grew up on a banana farm, and our wonderful next door neighbours, the Donnans had an avocado farm, with a grove of pecan trees (amongst other things). Their daughter, Kerry and I were similar in age, and were occasionally sent down to gather pecans from around the trees. We thought it was utterly great, because we were paid a small amount per bucket. We did spend a lot of time eating the pecans though, and probably didn't realise (or care) that we were eating into our profits. So whenever I eat pecans now, I am transported back to those carefree times. It is amazing how tone single taste can instantly transport you back to somewhere else. That is part of the beauty of food, I think.

This recipe made about 5 large muffins, and a dozen mini muffins. ( I really need to buy another mini muffin pan!)


1 and a bit cups (170g) dried cranberries
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
3/4 cup (155g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (70g) pecans, coarsely chopped
1 and a 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (185ml) buttermilk
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly whisked

halved pecans, extra to top
1 tbs demerara sugar, extra


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line 12 x 1/3-cup (80ml) capacity muffin pans with paper cases.
  2. Place the cranberries in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes to soak. Drain well.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, pecans, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cranberries in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil and egg together in a jug. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined (do not over mix). Spoon evenly among the lined pans. Combine the extra pecans and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when tested. Turn onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The importance of a routine (at least, to me!)

Ah, so I've finally moved into a new place (that's the view from the house! - looking north over farmland, Bega NSW here's another view, here) and my routine is slowly being re-established. I am trying to get used to a new oven, and restocking my cupboard. It's funny how the little things throw you. Even tonight, I made Food Critic Andrew a cup of tea, however of course I don't have any castor sugar in the house. (Add yet another thing to the list...) He is on the phone, so I took out demerara sugar and he'll have to live with that for the moment...hope it goes alright with Russian Caravn tea. Well it's late, and I had an early morning - a 5 am start! So I'm off to bed. I have been faffing around with the new fan forced oven, so am looking forward to baking up a storm in the next few days. It's also Food Critic Andrew's birthday on Saturday so I'll be digging out an old favourite of his...