Sunday, 17 April 2016

Halva with Cinnamon - a kind of healthy sweet treat

Cinnamon Halva is a lovely dessert that is kind of good for  you
as it has semolina as the main ingredient.
Semolina is high in fibre and protein whilst having low GI. It is also a good source of vitamins E and B.

I made this recipe recently before leaving for work and a friend of my son who is of Greek origin said "this is not like any Halva I have had before, but it's good!" 

This is the first time I have made Halva but when we were children my mother would buy some for us to consume.  Mum's neighbour's Barney and Ilsa who would be almost 100 years old if they were still with us, were Jewish immigrants.  Barney was from Palestine and was playing soccer in Australia when World War II broke out and he was unable return to his home.  Ilsa was also from Germany but it is unclear how she arrived in Australia.

Every morning Barney, Ilsa, Moyna (my mother) and another buxom German lady Susie (Ron Crosby's wife whom we referred to as 'Bing') would gather most mornings at the small beach nearby for a quick swim and chat.  Susie liked to constantly sun bake topless which was quite unusual for a small town in the 1970's.
 
They were such characters with very interesting, varied stories. Ilsa was lucky to escape Germany and could tell of horror stories of concentration camps, the lack of food and provisions and how sad it was during the days of persecution.  This unique  couple also told brilliant, original stories of how it was for them growing up in Europe and the happy childhoods they had before war broke out.
 


Barney loved Halva but Ilsa was not a cook by any means so it was only when it could be purchased locally that Barney could enjoy this sweet delicacy.

When I came across this recipe in a Greek cookbook it brought back fond memories of Ilsa and Barney and I certainly had to make it, for their memory, as much as for my family and guests.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Halva with Cinnamon

125g butter
1 cup (160g) semolina
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 1/2 cups (625ml) water
1 cup (220g) castor sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
extra slivered almonds for garnish

Heat butter in a pan, add semolina and nuts, cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until semolina is lightly browned.  Remove pan from heat.
In a separate pan combine water and sugar, stir over heat without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to boil, simmer, uncovered without stirring for 5 minutes.  Gradually stir  the hot syrup into the semolina mixture, add cinnamon, stir over low heat until smooth and bubbling, cook stirring for a further 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover pan with folded tea towel, then place on lid and stand for 15 minutes.
Grease base of  a 20cm round cake pan, cover base with baking paper, grease paper.  (I used multi baking paper on the base of a silicon round cake pan.)  
Spread mixture evenly into pan.  Place pan on wire rack, stand 5 minutes before turning Halva onto serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.  
Sprinkle more slivered almonds on top for garnish. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is amazing how we remember people through food,
do you have a favourite recipe that evokes fond childhood memories?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx



Thursday, 7 April 2016

Chilli Jam - as hot as you dare



With a long hot summer there are always chillies in abundance and almost everyone likes chillies.

Last Friday, during my weekly tennis match I was given a bowl of fresh birds eye chillies.
They were plump and bright red, smiling with happiness - oh wait, that was me - thinking of what to create with this gorgeously gifted bunch of chillies.



Vegetables and fruit are always better when given or received with no expectations.

After dinner last Friday night I was ready to create a chilli jam concoction.
This is the perfect Chilli Jam, with well rounded flavours to accompany all cuisines.



When two of the young adults in our house came down to snack on baklava for supper that evening 
I proudly pushed my bottle of chilli jam under their noses with pride, waiting for a positive reaction. They couldn't smell anything and looked at me in confusion.

Note:
It takes a week for the flavours to meld and the aroma to blossom but the taste is immediately divine.


Here it is, the best Chilli Jam ever ....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chilli Jam

2 whole bulbs of garlic, unpeeled, preferably organic
1 1/2 red onions, unpeeled
1 large cup birds eye or other red chillies (300g) 
1 cup vegetable oil  (250ml)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly squash the garlic bulbs with the flat of your knife to break them apart a little but not separate them.  Wrap the garlic bulbs in foil.  Also wrap the unpeeled red onions in another piece of foil.  Place fresh chillies in an oven proof dish.
Place all in the oven, the garlic and onions on top shelf with the open bowl of chillies on the second shelf for 20 minutes in total.  Roast for 10 minutes, turning over the chillies.  Check after another 5 minutes and toss chillies again.  After another 5 minutes they can all be removed.  You want the chillies to be slightly browned but not burnt.    Leave to cool before opening the foil packages.
Remove stems from the chillies but leave seeds intact.
Place chillies, onions and garlic into a food processor and puree until roughly blended.  Stir through the sugars and salt.
Heat vegetable oil in a large non stick saucepan over medium heat.  Pour in chilli paste and stir continually for 5 minutes until it is all blended and the sugar is dissolved.
Pour into a hot 400ml sterilised jar, topping up with all of the vegetable oil so it forms a barrier on top of the chilli paste to preserve the gorgeous jam.
Let cool and store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 4 April 2016

Limoncello - a delightful liquer best made at home

My hubby and I were intently discussing if Limoncello was an aperitif or a digestif....



The first time I tried Limoncello was on the morning of a dear friend's birthday when we popped over to share our birthday wishes and she had just created a new batch of Limoncello.  We sipped on our shot glasses, toasting our friend's birthday and I was informed that Limoncello was designed to "cut through the fat" after a meal, thus assisting digestion.  Our friends considered it to be a digestif.

The warmth of that one glass of Limoncello and the memories we shared remained with us all day.


Stored in a beautiful glass bottle they keep it in the freezer so it could be served icy cold.   Since then I have discovered other people keep shot glasses in the fridge and the Limoncello in the pantry so it is always served cool; but never over ice.



Just before Easter I was fortunate to be given a bottle of 90% grappa which was immediately put to good use for limoncello.

With some ripe lemons I made my own limoncello.  My dear Italian friends say that you must wash the lemons and peel the skin away within 2 hours of picking the lemons for maximum oil content.    I don't know that you need to be that serious as my liquer was purelu delightful and the lemons were store bought!  The exceptional lemon flavour is exquisite with just enough sugar to enhance the flavour while the alcohol adds a warm depth and undercurrent to this welcome digestif.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Limoncello

750ml grappa (or vodka)
5 lemons
3 cups water, boiled and then cooled
2 cups white sugar

A large glass jar

Wash the lemons in warm water then dry.  Peel the skin thinly away, you don't want any white pith in this mixture as it can become sour.    Place lemon peel into the grappa or vodka in a large white jar.   Pour in the sugar and cooled water then stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Put on the lid tightly and store in a dark place for 5 days.
Remove, strain and bottle.
This will keep indefinitely.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I made candied lemon peel with the lemon strips after they were drained and these were delightful.

Have you ever made your own liquer?  
Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 21 March 2016

Wagon Wheel Slice Home Made

On Saturday evening we had dinner guests, which is not unusual for a Saturday but quite late in the afternoon, somewhere between shelling the prawns for entree and cooking borlotti beans for a side dish I decided to make this wonderful recipe I had recently seen on a website for a delicious Wagon Wheel Slice.   


 
 
 
It was 6 pm when our guests arrived, the kitchen was in total chaos as I was just into the second stage of soaking the gelatine for the marshmallow layer of this amazing Wagon Wheel Slice.  Luckily Kathy came to my rescue and proceeded to add her capable attitude to my kitchen to restore order to this room.

Wine was poured to accompany cheeses, fig pate, crackers and our very first home grown olives for the year which were now ready to enjoy.  We all nibbled and talked while I soaked the gelatine for the marshmallow mixture.  The first time the marshmallow didn't work so I threw it out and washed out the bowl to start afresh.

 I soaked the gelatine for the next attempt at marshmallow which worked out fine.  The gelatine/water mixture has to go firstly into the bowl before pouring the sugar on top.

 
Here is the marshmallow poured over the raspberry jam on top of the biscuit base. 

We had plenty to eat anyway starting with nibbles followed by a fresh prawn entrĂ©e.  After the main meal consisting of a mixture of delectable barbecued meats with potato salad, bean salad and coleslaw; dessert was not deemed necessary.  Kathy had brought over her home made avocado ice cream but we were so full and could only try her green ice cream.

After dinner was cleared away we sat outside with the remaining wine plus a pot of green tea with the evening lit by a big candle as it was Earth Hour (no electricity for 1 hour) talking and laughing.  The perfect Saturday night at home.


There was this amazing Wagon Wheel slice for morning and afternoon tea on Sunday taking over some for our friends claiming it was "last night's dessert".

I cannot take the credit for this recipe but certainly recommend it and for those who don't have a thermomix this recipe can easily be converted, i.e. food processor for the base, stick blender for the marshmallow with a glass bowl over simmering water for the melted chocolate (or microwave at 1 minute bursts at 80% power).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Wagon Wheel Slice Recipe        (posted by Thermofun)
Ingredient
Base
  • 60g unsalted butter cubed
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 210g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
Jam
  • 1 cup raspberry jam (approx.)    {N.B. I used 2/3 cup raspberry jam}
Marshmallow
  • 3 tsp gelatin powder
  • ½ cup water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
Chocolate layer
  • 200g dark chocolate                    {I used 70% dark cocoa cooking chocolate}
  • 20g coconut oil
Base 
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 3cm-deep, 16cm x 26cm slice pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 2cm from edge on all sides.

  1. If using raw sugar for the caster sugar mill it at this point (while you have a dry clean bowl) and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in TM bowl 1 min / 70° / speed 1.
  3. Add sugar and egg and mix 30 sec / speed 4. Scrape down.
  4. Add flour, baking powder and salt 10 sec / speed 4. Scrape down. Mix again 5 sec / speed 4.
  5. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 15 mins or until golden.
Jam layer   Spread warm base with jam.
Top layer

  1. Grate chocolate in TM bowl 10 sec / speed 9.                      Scrape down.
  2. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in TM bowl for 3 mins / 50° /speed 1.
  3. Scrape down edges and melt for a further 2 mins / 50° / speed soft.
  4. Pour melted chocolate on top of slice.                                  
  5. Refrigerate 30 mins or until set.   Stand 10 minutes

To clean Thermomix bowl:

  1. Pour a glass of milk in the TM and mix 5 sec / speed 8.
  2. Heat milk 5 mins / 80° / speed 4.
  3. Enjoy warm chocolate milk.
  4. No wasted chocolate! :)
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     

Have you too had dessert the following day and
 is this Wagon Wheel Slice reminiscent of your childhood?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Fresh Fig Pate


Summertime is when figs ripen and figs are my very favourite fruit.

At times there are quite a few ready at once and to preserve them for eating you can cook them into a pate or paste.   This method is easy, no fuss and results in a beautiful firm but spreadable delicious fig spread that lasts for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.


 
Fig pate spread on crackers with a slice of gorgonzola cheese
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fresh Fig Pate

1kg of fresh figs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup of white sugar
juice and rind of 1 lemon
Firstly, slice each fig lengthwise into 6 pieces, or 8 if the figs are large.
Place these into a non stick pan with the water and bring to a boil.
Turn temperature down to a mild simmer and cover with a lid.
Stir occasionally for the next 45 minutes until the figs are soft and mushy.
Let cool then puree with a stick blender or in your food processor.
Return to pan with the juice and grated rind of 1 lemon and 3/4 cup white sugar.
Cook over a medium high heat for five minutes, stirring constantly this lets the pate develop a deep colour.  Then turn to a very low temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
The colour turns to a deep brown and is done when it is of a spreadable consistency.
Turn into a loaf pan lined with non stick baking paper, and smooth top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  The next day you can cut the slab into smaller sections and store in airtight containers in your fridge.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

See the moist texture of this
delicious fresh fig pate
that is perfect for spreading onto
crackers, pumpernickel bread
or sandwich wraps.

There is no need to remove the seeds
they add to the delightful
flavour and are visually attractive.


 
Remember to give some to a friend to share the joy.
Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Mango Chutney Home Made


Everyone likes Mango Chutney

We love to have a side dish of Mango Chutney with the many curry dishes that I often cook.   My parents prefer to have mango chutney served with a cold slice of ham or corned silverside.   I have a dear friend who slathers it on her toast for a tasty delight.



However you enjoy it, the constant here is that everyone loves mango chutney.

Being summer with the lovely Queensland mangoes readily available and that whenever any of my friends travel north they always bring me back a jar of Mango Chutney,
I thought it best to make some jars for the coming year.

 I made a small batch of 5 jars recently and gave all but 1 bottle to friends
so this time I thought to stash it all in the preserve cupboard in the laundry.



Mango Chutney 

8 mangoes, peeled and flesh roughly chopped
750 grams brown malt vinegar
750 grams white vinegar
1.5kg raw sugar
7 cloves garlic roughly chopped
750 grams onions chopped (about 5 medium sized onions)
300 grams ginger scrubbed and finely chopped
400 grams sultanas
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 dried chillis chopped 

In a large non stick saucepan put all ingedients except mangoes and bring to a boil with the lid on.  Reduce to a simmer and add the chopped mangoes.  Bring back to a simmer and without the lid simmer for 1 1 /4 hours stirring occasionally.
While it is simmering sterilise jars in your oven, placing them into a cold oven and turning it off when the temperature reaches 150 °C.  Place the lids in a bowl and pour over boiling water and let sit 5 minutes.
Pour hot mango chutney into hot jars and seal.
Label and date when cold.

This mango chutney will last for at least 2 years stored in your cupboard unopened.
Place in refrigerator after opening.

I am so happy to have a batch of mango chutney for the coming year.
Do you like to preserve fruit when it is season too?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Koulourakia



These are a sweet treat but they can also be made as a savoury version.
Traditionally cooked in Greece as an Easter treat but certainly lovely all year around.


My 60cm oven stopped working and I wasn't too fussed as I have a 30cm oven as well and you can cook everything in this as long as you have the right sized baking pans.
I finally decided to get the big oven fixed as you couldn't cook two cakes in it at the same time and suddenly my urge to bake has increased substantially.

Especially now that Summer is upon us with glorious time to spend at home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Koulourakia

200g butter
200g
1/4 cup orange juice
grated rind of 1 orange               
                             
                             
3
1 teaspoon vanilla essence       
500g                            
1 teaspoon bicarb soda     
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves                       
                                                          
sesame seeds for sprinkling   
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until fluffy - about 5 minutes. 
 In a small bowl mix the eggs with the orange juice and rind.  Add the egg / orange juice to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
In a cup add vanilla essence to the milk.
Add the baking soda to the flour with the cinnamon and cloves and on low speed add 1/2 of flour to the butter/sugar mix until it is incorporated.  Add 1/2 of the milk, mix then add 1/3 more of the flour.  Keep mixing, add rest of milk.  Mix.  Then remaining flour until it is all moist.
                                                     

These will keep for up to one week in an air tight container at room temperature.
Enjoy with a cappuccino, cup of tea, chocolate milk or a sweet glass of vin santo.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx
            

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Aubergine, tomato, potato

This is a recipe loosely based on Aubergine (Eggplant), Tomato, Potato
that Yotam Ottolenghi has featured in his latest sensational book "Plenty More".




Believe me, there are Plenty More Flavours going on in this recipe.
The original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi has poached eggs on top for a more filling dish.



In spring time you are on the cusp of crossing over from comforting soups with crusty bread to lighter salads with crusty bread.  We have home grown tomatoes and little else compares to the taste of sun ripened tomatoes, with the last Winter Aubergine and store bought potatoes still covered in dirt to keep fresh for longer. 

When hubby asked what was for lunch on this Sunday I said, tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes.  Hubby prefers potatoes to be crisp and stand alone but nonetheless he kindly ate his share of this dish.  Plus, I was cooking lunch.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

aubergine, potato, tomato

Loosley based on the recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in "Plenty More" 

Tomato topping
Mix all of this together in a bowl for the flavours to combine
 
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, or 4 medium tomatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon Sriracha sauce
 
2 medium or 1 large aubergine cut into 3cm chunks
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cm slices
mix of 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup sunflower oil for frying
 
Dressing -Whisk together in a little bowl
80g tahini paste mixed with about 3 tablespoons hot water until it is pourable
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch of salt
 
Garnish
2 teaspoons sumac
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
 
Heat the oils in a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the aubergine in batches until brown, approximately 5 minutes, turning once or twice.
Drain on a paper towels.
 
Then fry the potato slices for approximately 10 minutes turning several times until the potatoes are all light brown and soft.
Drain on paper towels.
 
Place potato slices in the bottom of your serving bowl, drizzle with half of the
dressing.   Layer the aubergine on top and pour over the remaining dressing.
 
Pile the tomato mixture on top and sprinkle with sumac and coriander, salt, pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.
This is a perfect dish for lunch or a light supper, filling and delicious.
Although it took a little time the result was well worth it and I will be cooking this again.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


December Garden Share Collective, fresh and fruity

There is an abundance of variety in our garden as we roll into December.
From peaches to snow peas and cabbage
there are always vegetables to gather and enjoy.
 
 

The ample November rain certainly helped all things green to grow and prosper.


                     Beautiful cabbages, both red and green have been flourishing.


Endive, or escarole has self seeded from last year. 
Lucky for us and the chickens who also adore this peppery green.


A myriad of lettuce I simply pick the leaves each day and let the plant keep growing.


Chard or silverbeet grows all year long and is a very healthy vegetable.


Asparagus spears peep through the ground. 
They are nearly finished now but have been growing for our dinner for the last 3 months.



My little Thai chilli bush growing in a pot now has red chillies.
These are welcome after using frozen and dried ones for the last month.


Hanging snow peas


 
Small broccoli florets that keep popping up for weeks after the main head has been picked.


The small bush in front is a dwarf coffee tree whilst behind in the centre of the picture is my pomegranate and it is already flowering with some fruit golf ball in size.


These are self seeded nasturtiums, but please admire the gorgeous blue crane in the foreground.  I noticed yesterday he/she bought a mate and I am very happy they are now a pair.


 
Look at these little olives, this one is a grafted kalamatta.
Our bees have been working very hard fertilising every single olive bud.


 
We have picked probably 200 peaches from this one tree.
The tree is netted with fruit fly netting and there are two fruit fly traps inside the netting.  Luckily there have been no fruit fly in the peaches although there a few fruit flies in the traps.  The netting stops the birds and flying foxes eating the peaches as well.  These are sweet, juicy and yellow on the inside.


Tomatoes.  Yum.  We are picking them early to also help deter fruit fly.


As long as there is a blushing of red, the tomatoes will fully ripen inside on a sunny window sill.
 
Here are my December garden highlights posted as part of the Garden Share Collective.  You can see other members gardens here.


 
 I almost forgot to show of my first organic garlic bulb.
I planted two rectangular containers during the winter solstice (22 June) and will harvest them all in two weeks time.  There will be a BIGGER patch planted next time.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 16 November 2015

Zuppa di Fagioli - Bean Soup

                                     Zuppa di Fagioli


"Fagioli" literally means "beans" in Italian.  My family revere this simple dish of beans and pasta in fresh chicken stock.   Just a mention of "Fagioli" for dinner will bring a tender smile to the toughest of men and fond memories are created over a bowlful of this simple, humble bean soup from Calabria.

The title of Zuppa di Fagioli has been reduced to simply "Fagioli" but to my family we know it is bean soup and we will always bond over a delicious bowl of this healthy soup.


This is delicious, wholesome and so very good for you with different types of beans.


Here is the chicken stock bubbling away and filling the kitchen with an amazing smell.



This is also a one pot dish and is wonderful for the end of a busy day, or Sunday lunch with the extended family, always served with crusty, warm bread and virgin olive oil.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Fagioli

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes
1/2 zucchini peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
1 litre fresh chicken stock (I freeze home made chicken stock in batches)
          or 1 litre water with 5 teaspoons dried chicken stock
1 bay leaf
150g shell pasta - any shape is fine
100g spaghetti broken into 5 cm lengths
1 tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin cannelleni beans, drained and rinsed
handful fresh green beans, cut into 2.5cm lengths
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh parmesan, grated for garnish
 
In a large non stick saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium low heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until translucent but without browning (Soffritto).  Add the garlic, fry 1 minute and then the tomatoes, frying all together for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.
Add the potatoes and fry until the potatoes are covered in the tomato mixture.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Insert the bay leaf and zucchini, bring back to a boil and add the pasta slowly while stirring the whole time.  When it is boiling again reduce the soup to a high simmer, lid off.
After 15 minutes check that the pasta is cooked and add the drained borlotti and cannellini beans along with the fresh green beans.  Bring back to a simmer and put the timer on for 5 minutes.
Check the green beans are cooked, taste for seasoning, remember that the chicken stock is quite salty so you may just need to add freshly ground black pepper.
Remove the bay leaf.
Sprinkle with the parsley, drizzle with a  little more virgin olive oil and serve accompanied by a bowl of freshly grated parmesan and your rustic, crusty bread.
 
                                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
Do you have a special family soup that always creates this feeling of warmth and fondness?
 

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, 27 September 2015

October Garden Share Collective - welcome to rain and warm weather


Spring is always amazing in the garden, the longer, warmer days ensure you get out and weed, plant and reap your gardening rewards.

There is huge delight in picking the very first asparagus spear for the season.  There is one bed devoted to asparagus and every year they pop delightfully out of the ground.


We can grow spinach all year long but the Spring spinach is more lush and prevalent than the winter spinach.


This is the first time I have successfully grown Australian organic garlic.
It was planted on the winter solstice (24th June 2015) and will be harvested around the summer solstice on the 1st December 2015. The garlic seems to like the raised heavily composted/mulched soil and it is easy to keep the weeds at bay in a pot like this one.


A cross view of the biggest vegetable bed.  Broccoli, cauliflower, endive, lettuce, cabbages, sorrel, spinach and rainbow chard all growing in harmony.


These little beauties are coffee pods.  They turn from a bright green to red when they are ripe.  This is from my dwarf Arabica tree.   Roasted in an open pan, then grinded and put into the cappuccino machine, the flavour is unique and fresh.


One budding peach tree.  So pretty and it will be so productive producing at least one hundred peaches.  Peach trees are netted when the fruit is nearly at full size to keep the birds and fruit fly away.



Broccoli is also a staple in our garden, it will grow all year long, easily sown from seed.  These are the side shoots that appear after the big broccoli head has been picked and they are just as succulent and tender as the broccoli head.


Snow peas grow for a long period, give them a support to climb up and just keep picking snow peas for months. Occasionally fertilise the with a liquid fertiliser to keep the snow peas growing in abundance.



Here are some highlights of my October garden.  This is posted as part of the Garden Share Collective, you can see other member's gardens here.

Buon appetito, enjoy, Merryn xx

Friday, 17 July 2015

Pork and Beef Ragu

 I have been having technical problems lately including the shift key on my laptop doesn't work, the USB cord that connects my iphone to the computer only works spasmodically so I have had problems downloading photographs form my phone.  Then I spent 30 minutes removing a paper jam from the desktop printer this morning, googling to find out how to open the back of the printer when finally I had the insight to just unplug everything and turn it upside down to find a delightful arrow where I could open the back and remove the offending paper.  Sometimes common sense has to prevail.

As we have had a chilly few days with temperatures as low as 10 C it has been good weather for warm comfort food, such as this amazingly good tasting Pork and Beef Ragu which I have wanted to share with you since winter started in June.




This is a classic dish, which has become personalised over time and is always welcome at our table.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pork and Beef Ragu


500g pork neck, fat removed and chopped into 2 cm pieces
500g beef chuck steak, fat removed and chopped into 2 cm pieces
1/3 cup olive oil to fry
1 large onion
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup red wine
500ml passata - red tomato puree or 2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cloves
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
continental parsley chopped, to serve

Pasta of your choice to serve.

Heat a high sided non stick pan over medium high heat and fry the meat in batches until browned, remove to a plate and set aside.
Add a little more olive oil and fry the onion and bay leaf.  Drain off the juices that have collected on the plate with the meat and return the browned meat to the pan.
Stir, then pour over the red wine, keep stirring for 2 minutes before adding the tomato puree and cloves.  Place on lid and bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer, add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until meat is tender.  Stir occasionally and remove cloves if you can find them.

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and pour in your pasta, stirring.  Put timer on for 12 minutes depending on the variety used.  Bring back to boil and stir occasionally.
 I cook spaghetti for 12 minutes and penne for 14 mins.

Drain pasta, place on your serving plate and pour ragu over the top.  Serve sprinkled with parsley and grated parmesan cheese.  Along with crusty bread, a bowl of olives and a fresh salad on the side, Your dinner is served and your guests will be delighted by this amazing pork and beef ragu.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tell me how do you deal with your computer problems?

Buon appetito, enjoy, Merryn xx



Monday, 6 July 2015

July Garden Share Collective all about avocadoes and limes

This is such a wonderfully warm Australian winter with enough rain and plenty of sunshine.
There are so many vegetables and fruit to pick including limes, avocadoes, mandarins, oranges and lettuce.

Chillies, long red cayennes and jalapenos


The middle garden bed is proudly displaying lettuce, rocket and fennel.


Tomatoes of all shapes and sizes are so fresh and delicious.


Where tomatoes grow, so do weeds.  
In this case chickweed is omnipresent and requires continual attention.


I have just picked the first custard apple, it weighs 1.250kg and will taste delicious.


There have been so many limes, continually picked now for 3 months.
I prefer to cook with limes rather than lemons, preferring the sharp citrus flavour of limes.


Lemonades on the dwarf tree, they will be ripe this month.


Cauliflower heads slowly but surely growing.
These look so perfectly white and uniform.


Broccoli heads also growing, still two weeks away from picking
but so green and firm.  They will be delightful.


Spinach, always growing, being picked for us and also as greenage for the chickens.


Look at this Sorrel "Bloody"  I recently purchased.
I have grown the normal sorrel, with a slight lemony flavour but
this sorrel "bloody" has a peppery flavour similar to rocket. 



I love that there is always so much diversity in the winter garden.
Snow pea plants are 60cm high and will soon put out flowers.
Corn is almost ripe for picking.
The citrus are so plump and sweet.

This is part of the Garden Share Collective to see other members gardens it is fascinating seeing with other members grow, click here to see the other Garden Share Collective Members gardens.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx