6 June 2011

Porridge.

With maple syrup and cream.

That is all.

25 May 2011

Poached pears in mulled wine syrup

I rarely drink alcohol, but I love cooking with wine! This is one of my favourite dishes when the pears come into season.

Thing is, I don't have one hard and fast recipe, or even quantities of ingredients. I cook to taste, to suit my mood, what's in my cupboard, how much time I have... so I find it hard to settle on one version of this dish to post. I don't like to reduce things. Well, except sauces and poaching liquids. I'll reduce the hell outta them ;)

So go with your own tastes, especially when it comes to spices, sugar and orange. Remember clove is strong and so is star anise; if not used to spices, only use one or two cloves and a bit of a star anise.

Ingredients:
Pears
Cab Sav or Merlot (or whichever red wine you have available)
A couple of Cinnamon sticks (or more if you like)
A few Cloves
A few Cardamom pods
1 Star Anise (any more will overpower the dish; use less if making a small serve)
Thick slices of Ginger
Bay leaf
Vanilla pod or two, split
Oranges (or orange juice)
Sugar
Mascarpone for serving (you can scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pods and mix them with the mascarpone if you fancy)

Take four pears (or however many will fit comfortably in your saucepan and stomach). Slice across the bottom so that they will sit upright in the saucepan. Peel them, but leave the stems on. (the alternative method is to core them, reserving the stems for decoration later).

Slice the oranges, or juice them - or juice one or two, then slice another. I tend to usually juice them, then slice off thin shavings of the peel, avoiding the pith.

Place pears, wine, orange juice, peel, and spices in a saucepan. Ideally you want a saucepan which will is taller than the pears standing up, and not have too much empty space around them which needs to be filled with liquid. You don't have to use a whole bottle of wine; I usually use about half or less to cook two or three pears. If there isn't enough liquid, you can add water - you'll only reduce it later. If the pears are too tall, you can cook them on their sides and turn them every few minutes. You can add sugar to taste at this point, but remember the liquid will get sweeter as it reduces. I usually add at least a couple of tablespoons now (sometimes a lot more, depending on the wine), and then add more later if needed. Generally the more sugar you use, the more syrup you'll end up with.

Simmer until pears are soft; this could take ten minutes to half an hour, depending on your pears, your patience and how soft you consider to be 'soft'. If the liquid reduces in this time, don't top it up, it'll just take longer to reduce after. Just roll the pears over on their side and turn every few minutes to get an even ruby colour.

once they are cooked, take them out. You can keep them somewhere warm or just set them aside. Take the peel out. And the star anise out too. And the other spices if you think their flavour is infused enough for your taste. Then add some more sugar if it's not already quite sweet, and boil it. For as long as it takes to reduce right down. For me, it's reduced enough when it can coat the back of a spoon, though that is deliciously dangerously close to the point where it becomes a kind of sticky mulled wine soft candy.

Coat your pears in this; it should pool around the base but also leave a lovely syrupy residue on them. Serve with a big dollop of mascarpone.

Oh and if you got fancy and cored the pears first, fill the holes with mascarpone instead and stick the stem back in the top. :)

30 April 2011

Spiced rosewater and quince syrup

Recently, a pile of quinces appeared in my fruit bowl. My dad had picked them from a tree on the side of the road.

I've never used quince before, but I love quince jelly. I was a bit uncertain about how to make jelly though, and looked for another way to use them.

Turns out I don't much like quince as a fruit; the texture is somewhat dry and fibrous. But I loved the liquid they were boiled in! Reducing it turned it into a thick ruby coloured syrup; it's delicious poured over pancakes, and as a bonus I found that a couple of spoonfuls of it works marvellously to sooth a sore throat.

So here is my recipe for quince syrup. This makes a cup or less of syrup; to make more simply double or triple all ingredients, or add extra sugar.

Ingredients:

2 quinces
6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
4 thin slices of ginger
2 tablespoons of rosewater
8 tablespoons of sugar
water

Cut the quinces into quarters. Put all ingredients into a saucepan with enough water to cover. Boil for 4 hours, or until the colour is a deep reddish pink. Remove quinces and spices, and continue boiling until the liquid is reduced to a syrup and can coat the back of a spoon.

Store in the fridge.

19 March 2011

Consolation

When I was a child, blackberries were everywhere. We would traipse through creeks and along railway embankments with buckets covered in an old stocking and pick and pick and pick, coming home with scratched legs, purple stains around our mouths and a bucket of blackberries to boot.

But blackberries are not native, and choke the life out of all the local plants. Late in my childhood a massive campaign was started to poison them all; suddenly, wild blackberries were unsafe to eat, and gradually disappeared.

But one property near my house has a huge blackberry hedge. They never poison it, and I don't care. Because for a few blissful months of the year, just as I'm sad about summer ending, I can console myself every time I wander past by picking as many ripe blackberries as I can fight the wasps for. It's my favourite berry, and reminds me of my childhood. I find enough to sooth both hunger and thirst within minutes as I wander along the hedge towards the bus stop.

It makes the turn of seasons all worth it.

27 February 2011

This summer

was not so warm... although the heatwaves which make railways buckle and koalas die of thirst are no fun, I kind of feel ripped off when I have to wear gloves for all but three weeks of summer.

I miss the tropics.

15 January 2011

My favourite thing in summer

A big jug of iced lemon myrtle tea with rosewater. Yum.

10 December 2010

Sweet haloumi with strawberries

I struggle to write recipes because I rarely measure anything... I just get an idea about what might taste good and throw it together. With this one, use as much of the first three ingredients as you can, then as much of the last two as you like.

Sliced haloumi
Strawberries
Butter
Cinnamon
Honey

Fry the haloumi in butter until golden brown. Take off heat, add cinnamon and honey. Serve with fanned strawberries.

15 November 2010

Best lentil dish ever

1/4 cup rice

1/2 cup red lentils
1/4 cup soaked green lentils
1/4 cup soaked French lentils

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 small chopped red onion

1 cinnamon stick

400ml beef stock

3 small smoked ham ribs

2 bay leaves

Fry onion in oil with cinnamon stick until translucent. Add other ingredients and cook until brown and green lentils are soft, then reduce until thick.

serves one

1 October 2010

A somewhat nautical analogy

When I talk about feminism with the men in my life....

I feel like myself and all the women I know are trying to stay afloat
in the ocean

and the men are sailing around in boats, saying "I just don't see
water in my life. My feet aren't even wet"

while pissing over the sides

and some of them don't mind us hanging onto the edge

(as long as we don't complain about them pissing over it onto us.
Because our complaining would make them too uncomfortable)

but they won't stop others stomping on our fingers because they just
don't see boats as a problem in their lives

and they say it's not the ocean that separates us. They say it's not
the boats that separate us. They say they'd be quite happy to share,
if our fingers are strong enough to hang on.

But if we're not strong enough, well there's nothing they can do to
help. Because the only reason we're drowning is because we want to see
water. We want to see boats. And if we don't have a boat of our own,
well we should make one out here in the ocean. And since we're
choosing to drown rather than make a boat, obviously that proves we
didn't actually want a boat at all.

10 September 2010

Borlotti and Sage Dip

This savoury recipe can be served as a dip with toasted pita bread wedges or used as a spread for sandwiches. The beans can be mashed to a smooth texture or left a bit chunky according to personal preference.

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 10 mins


Ingredients:

Directions:


  1. Mash the Borlotti beans, adding olive oil half way through the process.
  2. Add the sesame oil, sage, and semi-dried tomatoes and mix thoroughly.