Poached Pears with Honey and Turmeric

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” 
~  A.A. Milne

 

Here at the farm it’s been unseasonably cold and rainy as we head towards summer. That’s okay. It’s the perfect weather for poached pears.

This is a very simple dish to make, but the results are fancy enough to grace your table at a dinner party or special luncheon. Or you can eat them anytime! They are super when served warm but are also delicious cold. They are sweetly spiced and they turn golden from the turmeric.

Make extra. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Ingredients:

4 to 6 large firm ripe pears (Bartlett or Bosc are good varieties), 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of honey, 1 large cinnamon stick, 6 to 12 cardamom pods crushed with the back of a knife or a mortar and pestle, a 2 inch piece of ginger cut into slices, 5 cloves, a 2 inch piece of turmeric cut into slices, pinch of salt

(If you’re sugar-free use natvia or stevia instead of the honey, or just cook the pears in unsweetened apple juice instead of the water and honey mixture. No fresh ginger or turmeric? Just use a 1/2 teaspoon of each as dried powder)

Method:

  1. Peel the pears and find a saucepan that fits them snugly.
  2. Add the water, honey and spices to the pan and bring the liquid to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat and add pears.
  4. Poach the pears in the liquid for 20 minutes or until soft all the way through when pierced by a fork or skewer.
  5. Remove pears from liquid to serve.
  6. If you want a thicker syrup return the pan to the stove and boil the liquid until it is reduced by half. This syrup can then be drizzled over the pears.
  7. Serve with a spoonful of poaching liquid or reduced syrup. Excellent with yogurt, ice-cream or creamed rice pudding.

Fanny’s Whist Cake – A simple and delicious treat!

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.” 
~  Ray Bradbury

On Wednesday we mustered and did cattle work here at the farm. It’s always incumbent upon me to provide cake for smoko when the workers break for a cup of tea, and I have a host of favourite recipes to choose from. But our friend and her little boy were visiting later in the day. Eli loves cake, but mum was hoping it might be low sugar, so I decided to go through my old recipe folders and there I found a recipe I’d never made, one that was copied from my Nana Cody. My beloved Nana passed away in 2012, but she’s still a strong presence in my life – especially in the kitchen! Nana was always good for recipes and simple life wisdoms. This particular recipe was called Fanny’s Whist Cake. It was lower in sugar than most other recipes and seemed worth making. Well, I thought, why not?

The name of the cake was quite curious. First I googled Whist Cake but there is no such thing. There is a card game called Whist though – it’s a simple trick taking game that was a popular parlour game in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Perhaps it was a cake that Fanny liked to bake and take to her Whist games? Seems logical to me.

But who was Fanny? If she had been a friend of Nana’s I didn’t recall her ever being mentioned. I rang my sister, who is the family’s genealogy sleuth. Fanny Wheaton, Simone declared. She was Nana’s (our Dad’s mum, Joyce Cody, nee Heppell) grandmother. So that makes Fanny Wheaton my second great-grandmother. Here’s a photo of Fanny, circa 1915, courtesy of Jon Heppell who uploaded it to Ancestry.com. She’s the lady in black in the middle of the picture, holding the baby. Nana’s parents are Doris Minta Parish & her husband Frederick William Heppell, Fanny’s son (back row, right). Isn’t it wonderful to think that I am now baking her recipe, one that she was making over one hundred years ago!

So, is a cake made to a recipe that’s easily over 100 years old any good? My word it is! It’s a light and buttery cake, made interesting with the addition of dried fruit and a simple cinnamon-spiced crumb topping. It is quite firm to slice. We found it excellent served plain with a cup of tea, and our young friend Eli found it even better served with lashings of vanilla ice-cream.

I don’t think it will have very good keeping qualities so I advise that it is best served on the day it is made. We did eat the last of it the following day and found it a little drier, but still acceptable and very good buttered!

I hope you enjoy Fanny’s Whist Cake as much as we did. I’ll certainly be making it again.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter (115g or 1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup sugar ( 170g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour (300g)
  • 1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins – 88g)
  • 1/4 cup sliced glace cherries (40g)
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup warmed milk (58ml)

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, chopped (30g)
  • 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar (30g)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour (20g)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder ( 12g)

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to moderately slow (160 degrees Celsius or 325 Fahrenheit)
  2. Grease and paper line a 20cm round baking tin
  3. Make the crumble first by rubbing the butter, sugar flour and spice together with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Note: Make sure the butter is cold!
  4. Warm milk (Warm, not boiling!)
  5. Cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffy – sugar is dissolved
  6. Add eggs one at a time, beating slowly after each to combine
  7. Add pinch of salt
  8. Alternate the flour and milk in small amounts, gently folding in to the mixture.
  9. Add the dried fruit and fold through.
  10. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.
  11. sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter
  12. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until top is golden and cake springs back when lightly pressed in centre.
  13. Cool.
  14. Best served on same day.

 

Easy Sweet Potato and Apple Bake – Savoury

“I’m eating’ it quick… but I’ll remember it a long time.” 
~  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

 

I would love to say that I had a picture of this awesomely delicious little bake intact and looking as amazing as it did when it was still in one piece. But I don’t because we gobbled it up for Sunday lunch with friends, and it was only after the initial feasting frenzy died down that I remembered I hadn’t taken a photo when it was fresh from the oven. Still, this image will suffice. You can see the apple, the onion, the sweet potato and the spices. You can see how tasty it was. In fact I’m glad I took a picture when I did because even though we all declared ourselves groaningly full ten minutes later this bowl had been picked clean!

This bake will go well with any kind of roasted or barbequed meat or seafood or would make a great vegan main course. The layers of red onion, apple and sweet potato meld together into total deliciousness. We teamed ours with lamb chops and a fig and roasted tomato salad.

This bake would also make a lovely Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner addition.

Ingredients:

Choose enough ingredients to fill the sized bowl you’re going to bake in. Truly!

Sweet potato, apple (I used Pink Lady apples), red onion, butter or butter substitute, salt and pepper, nutmeg, one cup of stock, bone broth or a stock cube with water (I used some homemade chicken stock but use whatever you have to hand!

The ratio of sweet potato to apple is 2:1.

Method:

Peel the sweet potato and cut into slices no more than 1cm thick.

No need to peel the apple but cut into slices (not the core!).

Thinly slice one red onion.

Lightly butter your dish and then arrange layers of sweet potato, onion and apple to the top of your baking dish. Add a few extra dollops of butter to the top. Sprinkle salt and pepper and add some freshly grated nutmeg. Carefully pour in the stock.

Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees c) for one to one and a half hours or until well done – soft vegetables and browned on top. Cooking time will be less for a dish with only a few layers of vegetable, and more for a dish with deeper layers. You’ll figure it out. Enjoy! If you ever get leftovers of this it is also delicious served cold.

 

Fry-Up Bowl – An Easy Meal For Anytime!

 

“If you can eat with mates or friends or family, I mean, it’s such a brilliant thing isn’t it? If you feel really rubbish and you have a nice bit of food it makes you feel good, you know?” 
~  Jamie Oliver

 

Fry-Up Bowls are a favourite easy meal in our house.

To be honest they are not always 100% fried, and the ingredients often change, but they are always served in a bowl, so that’s something consistent I guess.

We eat this kind of food when a decent breakfast is called for. But it also works well for lunch and dinner, and is a fabulous way of using left-overs. In fact I often cook more food than can be eaten in one meal just so that I have left-overs to use at another. Don’t you?

Also, those potatoes? Totally worthy of being cooked ON THEIR OWN for immediate consumption when comfort food is called for or when the football is on!

Here are the basic ingredients:

Cold boiled potatoes or any leftover roast vegetables

Some chopped up green vegetables that I can quickly boil or fry

Salady things – chopped or ripped

Protein – This could be eggs; cold cooked meat from a previous meal; sausages, bacon, or any other meat that suits a quick fry-up.

Fermented Vegetables and a dab of butter to finish.

*Use variations of any of the above based on what you have to hand.

Method:

Squashed Crunchy Potatoes – Oh, we love these! I often boil up a heap of spuds, have some for dinner and then use others to chop into pasties or pies, to mash and add to the top of some savoury thing I’ve whipped up and some for fry-ups or as Squashed Crunchies. (Did I mention I’m the Queen of Leftovers?)

So, start with some boiled and well-drained or cold potatoes. Turn your oven up to HIGH and get out a heavy baking dish. Pour a good slug of oil into the pan and rub it around with your fingers to coat the bottom. Dump your cooked potato pieces into the oiled pan and then squash them down with your hand, the back of a spoon or a potato masher – whatever is closest. The potatoes will flatten and break up. Great! Now drizzle more oil over them and sprinkle with salt and a bit of herb (fresh or dried rosemary or oregano is good) and chuck them in the hot oven. Turn after ten minutes and cook again for another ten. You’ll end up with nice hot crispy potatoes that are still fluffy and soft in the middle.

While the spuds are baking put some hot water into a saucepan and bring to the boil (only do this if you aren’t frying everything – but know that frying everything is an option…) and get your frypan on. Add a little fat/oil to the frypan and then add any meat you are going to cook up or reheat.

Chop up any vegetables you’ll boil. I often use broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, brussel sprouts, carrots, green beans or asparagus. If you already have these as cooked vegetables from a previous meal you can reheat in the frypan. Put the hard texture vegetables in first – eg carrots and brussel sprouts (chop these dudes into halves or even quarters to speed cooking time) to give them a head-start with cooking. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini next and things like asparagus and beans just a few minutes before the rest are done. Drain when cooked and dump back into saucepan with a lid to keep warm. (Hint – I will often put an egg or two in their shells in with the vegetables if I couldn’t be bothered doing a fry up. When the vegetables are done just use a spoon to halve the eggs and scoop contents out onto your bowl of food. Three to four minutes for a soft yolk, longer for a hard yolk.)

Fry-up – your sausages, bacon or cold leftover meat will be well on its way to cooked or hot. Now you can add tomato, onion, mushroom, an egg or whatever else takes your fancy – or any vegetables that are pre-cooked and which need reheating. Turn occasionally to prevent sticking and allow even cooking.

To assemble:

Place some potato in bottom of bowl. Add some cooked vegetables and whatever you’ve fried up. Dab that butter on if you’re a butter kind of person. (Hint – pre-slicing cooked sausages or other meat makes eating it a whole lot better!) Add any salad items or chopped fresh herbs to the top, and a spoonful or two of fermented vegetables like kimchi or sauerkraut. Salt and pepper if you want. Eat!

 

Easy Puff Pastry Quiche

“Lunch makes me feel a bit better.” 
~  Suzanne Collins

 

Recently my friend Carly and I popped in to her parents’ house for lunch, and then a tour of her mum’s garden. Jewel made a lovely salad with fresh greens from her vegetable patch, and I took over a simple quiche that I’d whipped up from bits and pieces I had on hand.

(I also took a slab of my favourite fruit cake for us to have with a cup of tea. Rosco, Carly’s dad is a big fruitcake fan!)

Many years ago, when I was a college student, I worked in my holidays as a shearers’ cook on big outback sheep stations. The shearers and shed hands were mad for my quiche, but I didn’t dare call it that – far too fancy a name for them! Instead I called it Bacon and Egg Pie and they’d eat it with lashings of tomato sauce and not a lettuce leaf in sight.

This is a simple meal to throw together, and the puff pastry makes for a yummy texture combination with the silky egg filling.

Serve it warm or cold. It is also great for lunchboxes, will freeze well, or keeps in the fridge for three days.

You can also vary the filling to make this vegetarian, or to use up whatever is in your fridge.

I used a 24cm springform pan to cook my quiche, but you can use any dish that suits your fancy. Just make sure the sides are high enough to contain your filling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry or enough to line your serving dish
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1 onion, diced and sauted in a little oil until soft but not brown
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of diced ham
  • 1/2 cup of diced swiss cheese (if you’re cheese mad use a little more)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of thinly sliced zucchini
  • a handful of grated tasty cheese or parmesan for the top of your quiche
  • salt and pepper
  • a little oil or butter

Want to make this vegetarian? Omit the ham and use a cup of other vegetables of your choice. Capsicum (bell pepper) and broccoli are favourites of mine. Once you’ve made this quiche a few times you’ll be confident to change out the ingredients to make all kinds of flavour combinations.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.

Rub a little oil or butter around the inside of your pie dish and then line it with the pastry making sure. It’s okay to cut pieces to fit. Just overlap them a little and then press them together well. Also make sure that the pastry goes high enough up the sides of your dish. (It’s even okay if it sticks over the top a little. Rustic is good too. Mine’s rustic because I only just had enough pastry to cover the dish roughly.) Then prick the pastry base all over with the tines of a fork.

Now use baking paper to line the inside of the pan, and add some pastry weights. I actually use uncooked brown rice. You could even use dry beans. This is called baking blind, and you do this to enable the base of the pastry to be firm instead of soggy.

Bake the pastry for 10 to 15 minutes and then remove from oven. Drop the temperature of your oven back down to 180 degrees or 170 degrees for fan-forced. Leave your pastry shell to cool for ten minutes and then carefully remove the paper and weights. Replace the shell back in the oven for a further 10 minutes or until the base is golden brown. (Don’t panic if it puffs up. The weight of your filling will sink it back down again.)

 

Prepare the filling for your quiche while your pie crust is in oven:

  1. Dice your onion and then saute the onion in a frypan until pale, soft and slightly coloured but not brown.
  2. Chop your cheese and ham into small cubes.
  3. Slice your zucchini or any other vegetables you are using.
  4. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream and beat together with a fork. Add salt and pepper and mix again.

To finish the quiche add the softened onion to the bottom of the pie. Then sprinkle the cheese and ham into the dish. Pout the egg mixture over and then add the zucchini slices to the top of the egg. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on top and return quiche to the oven. Bake for thirty minutes or until quiche is lightly coloured and firm to touch.

Serve on its own or with a crisp salad.

Here’s the process in pictures:

Our Top Five Comfort Soups for You

That bowl of soup—it was dearer than freedom, dearer than life itself, past, present, and future.  

~ Aleksandr SolzhenitsynOne Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

 

Hi Everyone!

Nicole could not come to write her blog post today due to lack of stable internet connection, but sends her love with top five comfort soup recipes from Cauldrons and Cupcakes to warm your hearts.

1. Heal-All Chicken Soup

The beauty of this soup is that it’s a bone broth, and over time all of the fat and water soluble minerals and good bits dissolve into this magical elixir.  One of the things this soup is chock full of is glycine. The amino acid glycine is great for liver detoxification and regeneration.  Chicken soup is rich in collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), one of which you’ve probably heard of – glucosamine – stunning for artery, bone and joint health.  The gelatin produced from dissolving bones and cartilage in the making of this soup helps heal leaky gut, and also reduces your need for meat and protein.

In Chinese Medicine, bone broths are considered to support the kidneys and kidney meridians, and as such are also useful for healthy teeth, bones and adrenal gland function. So if you have adrenal fatigue this is a super recipe for you!”

 

2. Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder Recipe

“This one’s a household favourite – quick to make, hearty and satisfying – and it can easily be made as a vegan, gluten and/or dairy free, vegetarian or bacon-y delight. Just adjust the ingredients according to my suggestions and your preferences.”

 

3. How to make Bone Broth

Bone broth is essentially bones and vegetables simmered together over long periods of time to produce a rich flavoursome liquid. I make a big pot of this nourishing broth weekly, and it’s an important part of my healing regime. I’d always made my own stock, but after I began to understand the benefits of consuming bone broths I made them much more central to my regular meals. Maybe you should too!

 

Soup is one of those all-time comfort foods for a very good reason. Problem is, so many soup recipes take hours to cook. That’s why I love this one. It’s fast to make, economical, and entirely delicious. It takes less than ten minutes to prep the soup ingredients which magically merge together in just twenty minutes cooking time to produce a hearty, nutritious meal in a bowl.

 

“This soup can be made as vegan, vegetarian, low carb or paleo. I encourage you to experiment. It’s soup, people, not rocket science. Taste as you go, and adjust if necessary. Soup is nutritious, economical and easy. I hope that you’ll soon be making super and adventurous soups as a regular part of your household management plan.”

 

We hope you enjoy our little offering today.  Chelsi (Nicole’s VA)   xx

Vanilla Cake with Passionfruit Glaze

“Through enjoyment we endure.” 
~ Florence Ditlow

 

Looking for an easy, moist and yummy vanilla cake? My Nana Cody used to make this simple cake every school holidays when we were children. The only thing that ever varied was the flavour of icing she’d add to the top. It’s pretty much a foolproof recipe, which is one of the many reasons for loving this cake. Plus, it’s DELICIOUS!!!

When Nana married, my Gran (great grandmother!) passed her copy of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery and a notebook full of family recipes and household hints to Nana help her manage as a new wife. By the time I came along decades later both books had been very well used. The notebook was food-stained and stuffed with cuttings from magazines and recipes jotted down onto the backs of envelopes or notepaper from thoughtful friends. This Vanilla Cake from Nana’s notebook had an extra page beside it on which Gran Heppell had written several variations and suggestions for serving:

  • Serve plain and fresh with hot tea for workers or a slice with first tea before breakfast.
  • Good plain for an upset stomach. Crumb and add to milk for fussy children.
  • Split in half. Spread jam over bottom of cake and then a generous serve of whipped cream. Replace lid and dust with icing sugar to serve.
  • Fill with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream slightly sweetened and vanilla added. Dust top of cake.
  • Fill with lemon curd and a layer of whipped cream. Dust top.
  • For a marble cake split mixture into three bowls. Add pink colouring to one, and a teaspoon or two of cocoa to the second until a good colour is obtained. Add each colour in spoonfuls to greased cake pan and swirl together slightly with a knife blade.
  • Make a buttercream and add to it the pulp of one or two passionfruit. Fill sponge with buttercream and ice with a glaze to which more passionfruit has been added.

I wrote those notes carefully into my own kitchen notebook and have made many many variations of this cake ever since. It is always a good and easy cake to make, which never fails. Yesterday we had a farm full of visitors and workers, so I whipped the cake up in the morning, ready for smoko. By dinner there were only crumbs left in the cake tin!

Here’s Nana’s Mrs Beeton’s which is now mine!

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 grams of soft butter
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt

Cake Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Place the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer in the order given above. Wet ingredients must go in last!
  4. Mix at low speed for one minute or until combined.
  5. Beat at high speed for three to four minutes until batter is pale and creamy and smooth.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  7. Cool cake completely before filling or icing as required.

NB: Failure to adhere to ingredient order and placing flour in mixing bowl last may result in a cloud of flour covering you and/or the kitchen. You have been warned! And yes, I totally forgot and look what happened. 

To split the cake for filling use a large serrated knife and cut horizontally through the middle of the cake. Gently lift the top and place aside on a tea-towel or clean plate while adding filling to the bottom half of the cake.

Passionfruit Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 125 grams softened butter
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • Pulp and juice of one to two passionfruit

Method:

  1. Beat butter until whipped and creamy
  2. Gradually add icing sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. After the first 1/2 cup of icing sugar add a little passionfruit pulp. Beat well and then continue adding sugar, alternating with passionfruit. When the icing is very thick and creamy spoon onto the bottom layer of cake and replace top half of cake.

Passionfruit Glaze Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • the juice and pulp of one to two passionfruit

Method:

  1. To make the icing (frosting) sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the softened butter and the pulp of one passionfruit. Beat well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. If mixture is too stiff add extra passionfruit until the correct consistency is reached.
  2. Spread onto the top of the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.

Serve with a nice cup of tea, in the company of friends.

Or eat it all yourself. It’s up to you, really! 😀

Much love, Nicole xx

PS – Have you noticed how much Rufous seems to end up in all my food shots? He’s so like our old dog Bert it’s uncanny!