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.

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!

 

Yummy Sweet Treats for You!

“Love is like a good cake; you never know when it’s coming, but you’d better eat it when it does!”
―  C. JoyBell C.

 

Hello Lovelies,

Nicole is in bed today feeling sick. So I made her take a break and prepared this blog post for you. I hope you enjoy our top 5 yummy treats from Cauldrons and Cupcakes!

 

1Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe

“This pudding is one of the first desserts I mastered on my own, ably taught by my Nana when I was a small girl.  It’s a very child-friendly dish for little hands eager to help out with dinner. This is easy and fast to make, and you can use whatever ingredients you have in the pantry. The lemon zest in this recipe gives the pudding a lovely citrus-y tang.”

 

2. No-Bake Yummy Slice Recipe

“It’s a delicious combination of apricots, nuts, oats, seeds and a dash of chocolate, and there’s no baking involved at all – just a little heating of a few wet ingredients.  This slice has been a stalwart at my workshops, and it’s a great standby recipe for school holidays, or as a lunchbox treat.  I also like to give it as a gift. It makes an ample batch, which is handy because it seems to get eaten very fast.”

 

3. Nana’s Passionfruit Slice Recipe

“Each time I make this I think of my Nana and her friends, sitting drinking cups of tea, eating slice and chatting during the long days of the War, with the rations and limitations and hardships.

There’s a lot of comfort to be had in a cup of tea and a slice.”

 

4. Walnut and Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites – Fit for a Prince!

“A variation of a macaroon, these Bites are gluten-free and can also be sugar-free, so they are great for diabetics and people with food intolerances or following a paleo diet.”

 

5. Five-Minute Fudge Recipe

“A few years ago a friend gave me a recipe she uses to make commercial quantities of fudge for a fudge house.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was, or how great it turned out. And it only takes five minutes.”

 

We hope you enjoy looking at this and most of all cooking and eating these yummy treats! Nicole sends her love!

 

 ❤ Chelsi

Easy Orange Butter Cake Recipe

“Mma Ramotswe sighed. ‘We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.’
‘That is true,’ said Mma Potokwane sadly. ‘There are many temptations in this life, but cake is probably one of the biggest of them.”
~  Alexander McCall Smith

 

When you live on a farm it’s a different way of life to being in the city. When neighbours drop by it’s still a trek. If the tractor repair man comes he’s had a fair drive before he gets to us. The same for any kind of tradesperson. If friends are in the neighbourhood, having travelled to our part of the world for some other reason, they’ll often call ahead to see if we are home. And then all of them pop in for a cuppa.

If it’s morning, we’ll have morning tea. If it’s midday I can always rustle up extra food for lunch. Afternoon tea is a chance to stop on the veranda for a while to escape the heat of the day, or to pop inside by the wood fire to warm up before heading back out to the paddocks again. Any time’s a good time for a smoko break when friends drop by. (Smoko is not Australian slang for a cigarette break – smoko is a break from work, where hot tea is served, and something to eat.)

This orange cake is a smoko favourite. If we are working down at the cattle yards or heading out bush I will leave the cake un-iced so that it travels better. But at home, especially with visitors coming, the icing makes the cake just that little bit fancier.

Our orange trees are full of fruit right now, so it’s only a short walk for us to grab a couple sun-warmed and fresh from the tree.

This is a lovely, moist buttery cake with good flavour. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family do! It cooks up beautifully with gluten-free flour too. 🙂

Lots of love, Nicole xx

Cake Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, softened (If it’s cold, let it come to room temperature or you’ll be mixng it forever to get it to cream with the sugar. If it’s very hot – like Australia in summer – just remove from butter from fridge, cut into cubes and place into mixer. It will soon warm up on its own.)
  • 1 rounded cup of castor sugar (rounded means a little bit heaped rather than flat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tblspn finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups of sifted self-raising flour (it’s fine to use your favourite gluten-free flour if you want)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice

For the icing (frosting):

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tblspn softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice

Tip: For an extra flavour boost you can also use a good food-grade orange essential oil, 3 drops for the cake and 3 for the icing. I use Young Living essential oils, and I just love them!

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Beat the butter until soft in an electric mixer and then gradually add the sugar. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and thick. This takes a few minutes on medium speed.
  4. Add eggs one at a time on low speed, beating well after each one.
  5. Add orange zest and a couple of drops of food grade orange essential oil if you are using it.
  6. Stop the mixer and dump the sifted flour into the bowl. Mix on slow speed until well combined. Use a scraper to push the mixture on the sides of the bowl down into the batter if necessary and then mix again.
  7. With the mixer still on slow speed pour the orange juice in little by little until all combined.
  8. Spread the batter into your cake tin and smooth the surface, making the centre of the cake just slightly lower than the sides. This stops it rising too high when it bakes.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes and then check. Cake is baked if it springs back when touched in the middle, or if a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave a little longer if not quite done.
  10. Remove cake from oven. Cool in tin for five to ten minutes and then place onto a rack to cool completely.
  11. Place cake on serving plate.
  12. Add the orange juice, essential oil (if using) and softened butter to the sifted icing sugar, stirring well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Spread onto the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.
  13. If you want to be fancy you can add some extra grated zest, candied peel or orange slices, sprinkles, coconut or white chocolate curls to decorate the top of the cake (I usually don’t bother.)
  14. Serve with a good cup of coffee or a pot of tea. I especially enjoy Earl Grey or French Earl Grey with this cake, but Irish Breakfast is also fabulous.

Sicilian Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Cake Recipe #glutenfree

“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” 
~  Heather Wolf

 

Years ago I was travelling through a remote part of the Australian Outback. I stopped to refuel at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere, and when I went inside to pay for my fuel I was overwhelmed by the smell of coffee. Good coffee. Long before there were baristas on every corner of the globe.

I mentioned to the middle-aged man who took my money that the coffee smelled divine. ‘Do you want some?’ he asked me. ‘Mum’s just made a fresh pot.’

Of course I said yes, and soon I was sitting at a table under a tree behind the roadhouse, with the man, his wife, and his very elderly Italian mother. She had brewed up her coffee in a stovetop espresso machine, the first one I had ever seen. The coffee was served in tiny glasses. No milk, but there was sugar if it was wanted. To accompany the coffee the old woman produced half a cake on a covered plate, still glistening with cold from the refrigerator.

She cut me a wedge, scooped a small serve of vanilla ice-cream onto my plate and then poured a drizzle of syrup over my cake from a glass jar.

The cake was delicious. Moist and dense but not heavy, full of sweetness and lemon that paired beautifully with the robust black coffee. I was in heaven!

Neither the old woman nor the man’s wife could speak English, but I still managed to get the recipe for the cake, which I recorded on the back of a used envelope. I also had my first taste of limoncello, which this Italian family also made themselves.

I hope you enjoy the cake as much as I do! You can certainly eat it warm, straight from the oven, but I like it better cold. An added bonus is that it is gluten-free. It will keep for a week, refrigerated. It also freezes well.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs (or 4 small)
  • grated zest of 3 large lemons
  • 2 and 1/2 cups almond meal (I used ground whole organic almonds – the texture is still a little coarse, and the skins give a good flavour and texture)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you can cut back to 1/2 if you are not a fan of sweet cakes)
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • Optional but good – 2 tablespoons of limoncello

Syrup Ingredients

  • grated zest of one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan forced. Grease and line base of a 20 cm deep round cake pan with baking paper.

2. Place ricotta, eggs, zest, almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. This only takes a minute or so. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with almonds. Bake for 55 minutes, or until cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, zest and extra sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Use a fine skewer to poke some holes in top of cake. Pour limoncello over cake and then half the hot syrup. Keep extra syrup aside for serving. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Leave cake to stand in tin until cold. (unless serving warm – obviously!)

Serve warm or cold, with vanilla ice-cream, natural yogurt and a drizzle of extra syrup. I am a big fan of coconut yoghurt with this cake. That’s what is in the pictures below.

My favourite cup measure gifted to me by my Nana!

Getting my ingredients together

When you grate your lemon zest, try not to get too much of the white pith, which has a bitter taste

The cake batter, thick and not over-beaten

The prepared cake mix, ready for the oven

The syrup, in all its lemony goodness

Hot cake, skewered and with syrup poured over

Cake is served! Afternoon tea on the veranda.

Sicilian Lemon, Almond Ricotta Cake. Let the eating begin!

Easy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe

Chocolate-s

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
~ Charles M. Schulz

 

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake?

Actually, my husband! But even Ben loves this cake, declaring it ‘the best chocolate cake he has ever tasted’.

If you’re looking for a simple, easy, moist chocolate cake recipe that can be whipped up as easily as a packet mix but with so much more flavour and goodness – this is it.

It really is as simple as throwing the ingredients in a bowl, mixing together, placing in the oven and baking. Kids and non-cooks will have success with this recipe. So yummy. So easy.

The cake is dense and fudge-y. You could serve it plain, or dust a little icing sugar over the top, but for a real celebration the ganache frosting totally rocks. In fact it dresses up this simple cake so much that suddenly it could be a special occasion cake, a dessert cake, a fancy cake…

I’ve made this very successfully with gluten-free flour too. This recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients:

Cake: 1 cup of plain flour (can be wheat flour or gluten-free), 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 pinch of salt, 1 cup of soft brown sugar – lightly packed, 1 large egg, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Chocolate Ganache: 200 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa is great!), 200 grams of cream, 1 tablespoon of honey

 

Method for Cake:

Line a 23cm round, deep tin with baking paper. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa together in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and then mix until combined. Don’t over-beat. You can mix by hand or with a mixer (I dump everything in my Kitchenaid and beat on low speed for a minute or so). The mixture will be thick, and it will seem like the cake can never rise. Don’t panic about that. It will.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.

Cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre, or a skewer inserted in middle of cake will come out clean with no mixture sticking to it. If not quite done cook a little more.

Cool in tin. Remove paper and place on platter.

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Method for Ganache:

Place cream in a saucepan and heat until warm (not boiling). You should be able to stick your finger into the cream without burning yourself. Turn off heat. Break or cut chocolate into small pieces. Add to warm cream and leave to sit for a minute or two until melting. Stir to combine and then add honey and stir once more. Leave ganache to cool until it is thick but still spreadable. You can speed this process by placing ganache in fridge for ten minutes.

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Spread ganache thickly over top of cake. Decorate with sprinkles or other adornments if desired.

Store covered in fridge or a cool place and eat within three days. This cake also freezes well.

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