Pineapple Cordial

Lots of fun at Salamanca this morning with ABC’s Chris Wisbey and Tino Carnevale. Order of the day was for Tino to learn how to use a pineapple peeler and corer that also swizzles the fruit into rings as it goes. Looks like a lethal weapon but works like a dream.

The most recent versions of this dazzling kitchen implement now has an added piece that cuts the rings into smaller segments.

Tino mastered the task in no time at all, very impressive.

Pineapples are delicious at present, ripe and juicy. I’ve had the luxury of three beauties this week and so have made relish, sauce and cordial syrup.

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The cordial is made from the otherwise wasted core and peel of the pineapple. It’s simplicity itself to make and you’ll agree it’s well worth the minimal effort to do so.

It’s delicious served with one part syrup, four parts iced water or soda water and as part of a cocktail or cocktail, sensational.

After making the preserves only the cut-off tops of the pineapples remained. Robert has even planted those (somewhat optimistically I fear) in the garden in a very sunny spot. Time will tell how successful that exercise will be.

I’ve had some requests for the recipe for the cordial, so here it is.

Pineapple Cordial Syrup

1.5kg pineapple cores and peels
2 cups water
Juice and rind 1 large lemon
1½ teaspoons tartaric or citric acid
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger, optional
Sugar

Chop the pineapple peel and cores roughly and place in food processor. Process until the pieces are quite fine. Pour into a saucepan with the water., lemon juice and rind , tartaric or citric acid and ginger, if using..

Bring to the boil and then barely simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain though a colander, then the resulting liquid through a fine sieve, pressing down to extract maximum juice. To each cup of liquid add 1 cup of sugar.

Bring up to the boil , stirring, and simmer one minute. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal immediately.

To serve – use one part syrup to 4 parts water or soda water.

Store in the fridge.

Stall at our gate

If you are quick, there are bags of Stephanie’s fresh-made peanut brittle on the stall at out gate – $5 bag.

There’s also jars of the rhubarb and strawberry jam, banana jam (a little less tart than the previous batch) and a different-to-my-usual recipe tomato sauce.

The sweet cooking games continue

Well, what do you know! The rhubarb and strawberry jam made with fresh rhubarb and the dehydrated strawberry powder tastes pretty fine (thank goodness). It has a lovely little hint of sherbet – very flavoursome the jam is too. I will put some jars out on the stall at the gate in a few minutes when it cools a little.

Tomato sauce is almost done.

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Then Stephanie has rocky road on the go, along with several more huge trays of peanut brittle.

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It’s that time of the year!

And so another week (or is it two?) have passed in a whirlwind fashion. There have been two happiest of events in the last three weeks or so – two new grand babies – a girl and a boy, in that order.

There have been cooking classes here too, lots of fun with food, and of course these will continue right through almost to Christmas Day, then off and running again the first week in January.

Speaking of which …. next Saturday is a Gifts from the Kitchen class, conducted by daughter Stephanie. There is guaranteed to be a wide range of gifts to be prepared and packaged, all of the delectable edible kind of course.

Because Stephanie has an order for confectionery also, the last two days has seen lots of activity in the kitchen here. With Steph at the helm it was all hands on deck, with some extra goodies prepared for the family to enjoy.
It was great to watch granddaughter Charly pulling a batch of taffy, chanting: “Lift, squeeze and pull the taffy” as she worked.

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There are a few photos here to show some of the activity – the taffy of many flavours before and after pulling and packaging for instance. It’s amazing to see how the colour changes once air is incorporated through the pulling. The kitchen has been filled with the fruity, sugary aroma of the many flavours – raspberry, pineapple and salt water to name just a few.  Then there is peanut brittle of course. Lollipops too, then tomorrow will see another round of rocky road and coconut ice and so much more besides.

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This cooking school kitchen is wonderful, not only for the space it provides, but also because we can leave things in “limbo”, such as ingredients on the benches at the ready for the next round of frenetic activity.

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In the meantime beer is happily brewing in a corner of the kitchen, the small space Robert claims for his endeavours. It should be ready to share with anyone who calls in over the Christmas break. The rose petal “champagne” that I made a couple of weeks ago stands at the ready also, for those who prefer to partake of a more non-alcoholic treat.

This week a friend sent some strawberry powder to experiment with, what a treat! I’ve been awaiting inspiration, but now I’ve also been given some beautiful rhubarb – strawberry and rhubarb jam seems a good starting point  I’ve started it off already, but from the photo, perhaps I added too much of the strawberry powder?  Time will tell the tale when I finish boiling it up tomorrow.

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I made redcurrant jelly yesterday too – I love to serve this with turkey or ham, SOOO much better than cranberry. I’ll even have a couple of jars to spare for the stall, and little jars prepared to include in the Gifts from the Kitchen take home bags next Saturday.

And so another month is about to begin, the busiest of the year. Once the edible Christmas gift making is done, then it’s time for the huge influx of local produce.  Already there’s a hint of new season fruits coming in, so there surely will be weeks of bottling and jamming to come. Just perfect!

A Late Spring’s produce

I think it’s a case of being careful what you wish for.  During summer we were practically doing a rain dance, so desperate were we for a shower of rain to fill the tanks and freshen up the parched paddocks.

Now here we are in spring, inundated.  The once-dry paddocks are a mushy bog, with streams running through them, filled with the run-off from the hills and quarries behind us.  In the quiet of the evening, and even during the day, you can hear the once tiny stream that runs though our neighbour’s property raging as it gushes over the weir and down toward the Derwent River.

I decided to do a bit of mowing after a comparatively dry day or two – it was reminiscent of Paul Simon’s Slip Sliding Away.  I did a little better than Robert – he became bogged, but then to be fair, he was using the ancient ride-on mower that came with the property.  I was using the much better zero turn version.

Everything looks marvellous though – so green and lush.

Finally some spring produce is coming in.  Several kilos of fresh picked field strawberries arrived.  Then a friend brought us bucketfuls of beautiful, organically grown rose petals.  A marriage made in heaven.  Strawberry and rose petal jam.

Strawberry vinegar, ideal to use as a salad dressing and then strawberry chilli sauce soon followed.  And rose petal syrup to serve over ice cream or pancakes, and a brew of sparkling rose petal is now almost ready to drink.

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I’ve been able to get some lovely local cabbages too, and so quickly made sauerkraut, which is now fermenting away in jars on the bench.  A few days later, Kimchi joined the ferments on the go.

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The forecast tells us that the cool, rainy weather is soon to pass. In the intriguing way of our Tasmanian climate, by the end of the week we will be experiencing (for us) almost tropical weather with temperatures around 27 degrees for 3 or 4 days.

While I wait for more produce to mature (which won’t take long at that rate), I think it would be good to research edible weeds, as I’m sure that they will be the first to thrive now spring is finally on the doorstep.

ABC talkback – listeners’ Christmas cake recipes

Here are the recipes much requested from yesterday’s Jams and preserves talkback.

Marion’s Christmas Cake

This recipe originated with Marion’s mum, given to her by her washerwoman.

The recipe is very old and certainly tried and tested by many generations.

It seems a shame to convert from the imperial measurements, so have left them as Marion related them yesterday on ABC radio.

10 eggs

1lb butter

1lb dark brown sugar

1¼lbs plain flour

Finely grated rind and juice of one lemon

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 nutmeg, finely grated

¼ lb candied peel

¼ lb chopped almonds’1/2 lb sultanas

½ lb raisins

1 lb currants

Few drops vanilla

Beat the butter and brown sugar for 20 minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition (it is bound to curdle but that’s ok). Fold in the remaining ingredietns.

This cake can be cooked in one large tine (approximately 12 inch) or 2 smaller tins (8 inch).

Tins should be greased and have a sprinkling of dried breadcrumbs all round the inside. The excess should be shaken off and discarded.

Bake the cake slowly until cooked through at a medium-low oven temperature.

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Debbie also rang in with a recipe for a gluten free Christmas cake that she has perfected and is happy to share.  Here it is:

Debbie’s Gluten free Christmas Cake

 2 cups raisins

2 cups sultanas

1/3 cup glace cherries

¾ cup dried mixed peel

½ cup sherry (Apera) , port, brandy or double rum

1 lemon

250g butter

250g castor sugar

6 large eggs

¾ cup chopped almonds

2 ¼ cups de-bittered soy flour

1 ½ cups baby rice cereal

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons mixed spice

Grated rind one lemon

Whisk the butter ad sugar together until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the remaining ingredients.

Grease and baking paper line a 20cm square cake tin.

Bake at 150 degrees C for 3 hours.

The Disney Baby Shower

The second of the baby showers here last weekend, this time for daughter-in-law Emma.

Great reason for fun, food and friends to share in the happiness.

Other than the wind, it was a perfect day. As usual Herman the bread oven, driven by Robert, performed outstandingly with cooking innumerable pizzas for everyone.

I am not exaggerating though when I say that the wind literally blew toppings off some of those pizzas – a potato, garlic and rosemary pizza was especially victimised. It lost its potato slices to a particularly nasty gust and went flying across the grass.

Lots of food to share inside as well – Emma’s favourite Lemon Meringue Pie in abundance, and a marvellous cake decorated by daughter Stephanie, along with some pretty special Mickey Mouse kiss biscuits.

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For me there was extra special enjoyment in the cooking of the party food to those with gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance or diabetes. For instance – 3 types of rum balls – one batch normal, one for pregnant ladies (no rum) and one batch gluten free (hate to think of anyone having to miss out because of dietary restrictions).

Two types of fruit flan – one almost nil sugar, one gluten free and almost nil sugar. Little pavs (no cream) for the dairy-freers, gluten free sausage rolls and so on. One of Mickey’s cake ears was gluten free.

All this special baking was the best of kitchen fun.

Anyway, enough about the food.

Disney, of course, was the theme of the party, and Robert brought some older of the characters to life in paintings to decorate the scene (they too almost became casualties of the wind).

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pic7All turned out well however, a wonderful day, so now just to await the happy event of the arrival of the new little grand baby. If you look closely at the photo of the two daughters-in-law, you will see that we are especially fortunate to have two new grandbabies on the way. How great is that?

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Kitchen Capers

Lots of activity here in the kitchens.

Last Saturday Stephanie’s pasta making class was a hive of activity. All manner of pastas were made, from savoury with accompanying sauces, my personal favourite of gnocchi in a blue cheese sauce, and for dessert delicious little choc-orange and walnut crescents, deep fried no less, and then dusted with a little icing sugar, served with Chantilly cream. Decadent and delicious!

And that’s not to mention the lasagnes, cannelloni bakes and pesto pasta. There were ravioli too, filled with a tasty ricotta and chorizo mixture.

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I don’t know about anyone else who came along for the class, but I didn’t need anything else to eat until late in the afternoon next day.

It came to my attention yesterday that some of the staple preserves of my pantry were worse than low, non-existent. Simply can’t manage without the homemade sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce.

You know how it goes, once you start….. so now there’s a mixed berry cordial on the making, seville orange cordial at the steeping stage and I’m trialling a recipe for gooseberry jelly. I think it will be great for glazing little tarts, or simply served on scones or toast.

I found the recipe for the jelly in an old, old cookbook that some-one so kindly sent me.

With the luxury of Seville oranges, I decided to make some marmalade. I sneaked just a little (well, half a cup) of Robert’s best whisky to give a little extra something and indeed it tastes very good. However, I couldn’t be bothered taking out the pips from the the oranges and tying them in a muslin bag as should be done of course. Now there are a significant number of pips in each jar. Oh dear.

Maybe I can just refer to that as its “mark of authenticity”. That’s what my Nan used to say about her greengage jam.

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It occurred to me also that I’ve been cooking almost exclusively in or on Carmichael, the wood fired slow combustion stove in the cooking school, or else Herman, the outdoor bread oven that Robert built.

There is simply nothing like this way of cooking. For baking in these stoves I bought a new pot too, my new and absolute favourite kitchen piece. It’s a cast iron pot – 3.5 litres or maybe 4. It came with leather gloves to protect from the heat, handles (I took those off) a lid remover and a carry bag.

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I have to say it is exceptional. I have now cooked two pieces of pork in it (in Herman’s oven). No need to remove the lid to obtain amazing crackling, the fat renders out perfectly.

The pork is even more delicious cold, that crackling losing none of its crunch.

And so now with the aroma of gooseberries filling the house, I’ll look around for something else to cook.

Certainly is the Valley of Abundance!

Pasta class vacancies this Saturday, October 8th

For anyone who might be tempted to take up two spaces that have become available in the Pasta class this Saturday, here is what will be prepared:

A variety of egg pastas
Vegetable infused pasta – e.g. spinach, beetroot
Fresh gnocchi
Penne (using pasta press)
Fettuccini
Tagliatelle
Ravioli
Cannelloni
Lasagne sheets

These will be mixed and matched to sauces, fresh-made on the day, including:

Basil pesto
Napolitana
Spinach and feta (cannelloni bake)
Blue cheese
Zucchini, burnt butter and sage

Not to be overlooked are the delicious, deep fried sweet ravioli (filled with chocolate, orange and ricotta).

No-one (hopefully) can say they ever go away from here hungry.

The cost for the 4 hour class (9am till 1pm) is $160 per person.

Let us know if you would like to join us for a fun and food filled morning.  (Phone or email as pr contact details on this website).

The Indomitable Tom

There’s a little bit of an issue for young Jacob here – he gets (significant) sniffles around cats. However, despite this, he loves to sit in the fabric bean bag that old ex-feral Tom cat calls his own.

This week we were given a vinyl bean bag that I anticipated the cats would not like at all and so would be cat-fur-free. If by some remote chance a few strands of fur found their way onto it in passing, it could easily be wiped clean.

I put it out today on the lounge room in readiness for Jacob’s visit. Before he even arrived, Tom had claimed this as his property as well. Jacob was never able to sit in it at all.

Tom is very pleased with the new acquisition as you can see – had a ‘bath’, snuggled in and fixed us with a stare that dared us to try to remove him (not likely!).

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Jacob had to content himself with an arm chair and an antihistamine, which bothered him not one jot.

No prizes for guessing who rules the household here….