Easy Peach Chutney Recipe

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“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ” 
~ Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Hooray! I’m feeling much better. And so of course my thoughts return to cooking…

A lovely neighbour turned up a fortnight ago with a box full of white and golden peaches and some nectarines, fresh from their orchard. A few days later there was another. The fruit was ‘seconds’ – too ripe, a bruise, a bird peck, a blemish. Not good enough quality to send to market, but good enough for me!

So last week I ended up making jam and chutney to my heart’s content. I love a good chutney – one that’s full of fruit and flavour. Chutneys are versatile things.

This is an easy chutney for beginners and the taste is peachy! Fresh, clean and sweet with a touch of heat and spice. Oh, the cardamom – mmmm, what a heavenly little flavour buzz in your mouth. 🙂

Use this chutney with chicken and roast meats. Try it as an accompaniment to your favourite curry. It’s also fabulous with cheese. Cheese, crackers and chutney is a wholesome snack for yourself, but fancy enough to serve to visitors with a cup of tea, a beer or a glass of wine. Mix some with a little plain yoghurt or sour cream and you’ll have yourself a tasty dip.

This recipe is also vegan and gluten free.

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Ingredients:

1 kilogram of pitted, peeled and sliced fresh peaches, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1 brown onion, 1/2 cup of sultanas, 1 tablespoon of cardamom pods, 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, 2 large garlic cloves crushed, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce

Method:

Wash, pit, peel and slice your peaches.

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Lightly crush cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle. Remove and discard all husks. Grind the seeds so that they are fragrant but still mostly whole.

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Peel and grate the ginger root.

Place sugar, cardamom seeds and vinegar in a large non-reactive saucepan (such as stainless steel) and bring to boil, stirring.

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Reduce heat to a simmer and dump in the finely chopped onion. Cook for ten minutes or until onion is softened.

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Add in the peaches and stir well. As you can see, mine were a mix of golden and white peaches. This recipe works well with any variety of peaches.

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Add the crushed garlic, ginger, sultanas and sweet chilli sauce. If you prefer a mild chutney add a little less chilli sauce, and if you like it hot add an extra tablespoon or to your taste.

Leave to simmer for 45 minutes or until jammy in texture. Stir well every so often so it doesn’t stick to the base. Add salt to taste.

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Leave chutney to cool for ten minutes and then spoon into prepared jars (see note below). Place lids on jars. Label when cool.

Store in dark cupboard at least one month for the flavours to mature. Once open keep in fridge for one month. Unopened it will keep for a year.

A spoonful of peach chutney makes everything better!

A spoonful of peach chutney makes everything better!

Note – Preparing your jars: Clean jars and lids are essential for your jams and preserves. To sterilise your jars wash well in soapy water, rinse and then stand in a hot oven for ten minutes. Remove from oven and avoid touching neck of jar. You could also boil your jars and lids for ten minutes.Use tongs or a tea towel to hold them. Fill jars while hot. Wipe any excess from mouth of jar with a clean paper towel. Screw lids on while hot.

Easy Date Loaf Recipe

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 
~ Laurie Colwin

 

Our farm is a social place. The pace of life is slower here, and people have time for a chat and a cuppa. It’s also a place where lots of physical work gets done, and I like to have a cake tin or biscuit barrel full so that I have something tasty to offer any visitors or workers with their cup of tea.

This beautiful moist date loaf recipe is handwritten in pencil on the inside cover of an old cookbook I found in an op-shop in Gin Gin when I was still a college student. I wrote the recipe, given to me from memory by an elderly lady named Marge who was busy making cakes and sandwiches with me and a group of other women one long hot summer so we could feed the rural fire-fighting crews during a terrible bush-fire year. Marge wrote written the words ‘economical’ and ‘quick’ in blue pen at the top of the page because these are very important things for a young girl to know, apparently.

It is indeed both of those things – and delicious too – made from simple ingredients most of us have in our pantry. This date loaf packs well for travelling or school lunches and will keep fresh in a sealed tin for up to a week.  It also freezes well so I usually double the mixture, cook two and freeze one for emergencies.

I’ve sometimes served it as a simple warm dessert with a sploodge of cream or ice-cream. The date loaf is also very good served sliced and buttered. When it’s fresh it doesn’t really need the butter, but gee, it’s so good why wouldn’t you?

Ingredients:

4 Weet-Bix, 1 cup of chopped dates, 1 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter (60 grams), 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 egg, 1 cup of self raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 cup of boiling water.

Variations of this recipe used by my CWA ladies:

  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or ground cinnamon
  • swap out the sugar for 3 heaped tablespoons of golden syrup or treacle

NoteWeet-Bix are a popular wheat biscuit breakfast cereal in Australia. On other shores they are known as Weetabix.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a loaf tin (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) with baking paper.

Crumble the Weet-Bix into a large bowl. Add the sugar (or syrup if using instead), chopped dates, butter and bicarb soda. Pour the cup of boiling water over and leave to soften for five minutes.

Add the sifted flour (and spices if using) and egg.  Mix together well with a wooden spoon. The batter will be quite thick. If you are adding walnuts or pecans dump them in now and give another quick stir.

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Pour into the lined tin and place in the oven for forty-five minutes. Test to see if cooked through by inserting fine skewer in center of cake. If it comes out clean it is done, if there is still sticky residue bake a little longer.

Leave in tin ten minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. It slices best using a serrated knife.

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Easy Lemon Slice Recipe

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“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.” 
~ E.A. Bucchianeri

As promised, here is the first recipe in my ‘Slice Extravaganza’ series – the brainchild of my mother, who must be acknowledge for her great generosity in lending me the Family Recipe Book from which this recipe is taken. Thanks, Mum!

This is a delightful slice – a crispy, crunchy but delicate base with a tangy lemon topping.  Perfect with a morning coffee or an afternoon cup of tea.

It’s also a confidence-building recipe for kitchen beginners and young cooks.

Base Ingredients:

1 x cup of self raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 x cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of lightly packed soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) melted butter

*Note – for vegans, use a vegetable butter substitute.  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix.

Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a 28cm x 18cm (9 inch by 13 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then mix through the melted butter.  The mixture should be moist and crumbly.

base mixture

Press the mixture lightly into the tin. DO NOT PRESS DOWN HEAVILY!

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Place your slice into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the top is a nice golden brown colour.

Lemon Icing Ingredients: (Frosting for you USA folk!)

1 and 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar mixture (confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar),1 x tablespoon of soft butter, finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Additional coconut to sprinkle on top. (Shredded coconut is lovely for this!)

Method:

Mix the ingredients together with enough of the lemon juice to make a smooth, creamy consistency.

Spread the icing mixture over the slice while it is still warm. Sprinkle coconut over the warm icing and leave to cool in tin. DO resist cutting before it cools, or you will end up with a crumbly mess!

Dollop of icing

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Cut into squares to serve, and store in an airtight container.  I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s delicious!

ready to eat baking

Coconut and Jam Slice Recipe & Country Funerals

Our town had a funeral this week. This is the sort of funeral I don’t mind – an old lady, well-loved, dying of old age after a full life. Country funerals are always well attended, and country people are big eaters, so there needs to be plenty of food at the wake, especially for the folk who have travelled. I whipped up a couple of batches of this easy slice to take along – it’s a very old Australian recipe, still popular today.

The base is moist, a little heavier than cake, and then there is a layer of jam, and a good crunchy, sweet coconut topping. If you use gluten-free flour the base turns out a little firmer.

Because the lady who passed had been a long-standing member of our branch of the CWA (Country Women’s Association) we did the catering, and the wake was held at our local RSL hall.

Catering was a simple affair – a plenitude of home-made cakes, slices and biscuits, freshly made sandwiches, and several gallons of excellent tea and rather average instant coffee.

I use this slice recipe often when I’m expecting a crowd.  It packs well if we are out mustering, and it keeps well too, not that I ever seem to have any over.  It will also freeze nicely.  It can be made with gluten-free flour too, and still tastes fine.

When we were kids it was a favourite in our school lunch-box.

There is something very comforting about a cup of tea, a little bite of tasty sustenance, and a good long chat with friends.

Coconut and Jam Slice

Note – the pictures show a double batch so don’t panic if your quantities don’t look like the photographs!

Ingredients for the Base: 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour (gluten-free is fine), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 egg

Method: Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla to a cream, add beaten egg and then fold through flour until the mixture forms a firm base.  Press into a baking-paper lined 28cm x 18cm slice tin.

Topping:  1/2 cup of raspberry jam (it’s fine to use any flavour jam on hand – favourites of mine are apricot and plum), 1 cup dessicated coconut, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg.

Method: Spread the jam thinly over the base. I ended up using a jar of my Mum’s strawberry jam, as it was the only flavour left in my pantry besides marmalade (from prior experimentation not a great combination). PS. Great jam, Mum! xx

Then mix the beaten egg, coconut and sugar together in a bowl until moist and well combined.

Carefully spread the coconut topping over the jam layer, making sure you take it right to the edges.  Press down lightly with a wet hand or the back of a wet spoon.

Bake in a moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven) for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Check the topping in the last few minutes in case you need to adjust your cooking time.  It should look like the picture below.  BTW, this makes a wonderful dessert served hot with ice-cream or cream if you have visitors and few ingredients to hand.

Cool in the tin and then cut into squares and store in an air-tight container.  Here are the left-over edges and dodgy pieces (poor shapes or a bit broken) I deemed unsuitable for serving (the CWA has standards, thank you very much!) that stayed in the home biscuit tin for us plebs to eat. I quite like the edges.  They are crunchy and chewy where the jam bubbles up…  Enjoy! ♥