Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Firstly, we bought a jar of ginger honey straight from the beekeeper from Pride of Oak. The honey was runny, liquid gold and our friendly beekeeper had steeped chunks of fresh ginger into the jar before sealing it. The flavour was divine.
Our second treasure was Willowbrae goat's yoghurt. I first discovered Willowbrae at the Sydney Specialist Cheese Show in May this year. They are a small goat farm in the Hawkesbury who hand milk their 100 goats daily to produce some of the most delicious curds, yoghurts and soft chevre cheese.
I’m a huge fan of goat's cheese so I thought I should take the next step and try the yoghurt. It was very pungent and tasted very much like goats’ cheese. Not for the faint hearted!
Immediately upon tasting it, I thought the yoghurt would make an excellent and unique dessert.
And what perfect timing for my first entry to Jihvā For Ingredients (JFI), a monthly blogging voyage to find a gastronomic zen using a theme ingredient.
In the words of Indira from Mahanandi, who first started this event:
What is Jihvā ?
Jihvā, the Sanskrit word means taste, desire and deep longing. This powerful word also represents tongue and taste buds.
What is Jihvā for Ingredients?
I believe for Jihvā to happen, it’s all in the ingredients and how they are cooked. Jihvā for Ingredients (JFI) is online monthly food event, celebrating the ingredients and what they can do for our Jihvā.
This month the JFI host is Vineela from Vineela’s Cuisine and she has chosen “Milk and Milk Products” as her theme ingredient.
When I first started blogging I noticed there was a proliferation of food blogs in the USA, but once I started delving into English language blogs I discovered that Indians are fanatic foodies!
India’s abundant variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices lends itself easily to so much diverse cooking ingredients and styles. From an Australian perspective, so many Indian ingredients are rare and the recipe outcomes are utterly amazing.
I love the idea of taking part in JFI because it was originally an Indian inspired event that has become global. Now I have the opportunity to learn some of the amazing and regionally diverse cooking styles from India and all over the world!
¿What was life like before the internet?
My contribution to my very first JFI is my own little invention inspired by my market purchases: Goat's Milk Yoghurt & Ginger Honey Fool.
This led me to wonder: where did the name “fool” come from? It’s a strange name for a dessert, but then “trifle” has similar connotations. If internet search engine results are to be believed, this dessert was called a fool because it’s light and not overly substantial. Just like the trifle.
I was nervous about my flavour combination, but it turned out to be totally delicious. The goat's milk yoghurt was tangy and the ginger honey evened it out beautifully. I recommend this highly as a light, summer dessert.
Goat's Milk Yoghurt & Ginger Honey Fool
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4.
250ml (1 cup) goat's milk yoghurt
190ml (¾ cup) thickened cream
60g (¼ cup) superfine caster sugar
2 tablespoons ginger honey*
Fruit to serve
1. Over a medium heat, stir sugar and cream in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Cool to room temperature.
3. Add the yoghurt and honey then whisk until smooth.
4. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until cold.
5. Serve with fruit such as strawberries, mangoes, plums, peaches or even passionfruit pulp. (In my photo I garnished it with slices of candied cumquats.)
Note: *Ginger honey is simply honey that has had pieces of fresh ginger infused in it.
I encourage everyone to visit Vineela’s recap to discover some of the wonderful milk based recipes out there in the blogosphere!
Monday, 28 August 2006
This week’s Recipe Carousel is called "made from scratch". These seven recipes are all about taking raw ingredients and turning them into products that most of us buy in the supermarkets.
Some of the recipes take patience and perseverance, but are nonetheless exciting and amazing and ultimately worth the extra effort.
Squid Ink Tagliatelle. We’ve all seen how to make pasta, and some of us have made it ourselves (pasta machine or not), but how many of us can say we’ve made the famous black squid ink pasta? Rowena in Italy (Rubber Slippers in Italy) shows us how with a pasta machine passed onto her by her mother-in-law. Photo courtesy of Rowena.
Soft Goats' Cheese. Fanny in France (Food Beam) is studying agronomic sciences and for her compulsory farm placement she spent two weeks at an idyllic goat farm. Here she milked the goats, made cheese and cuddled a lot of little kids (goat kids, not human kids). She also blogged a step by step account, including photos, of how to make soft goats’ cheese (my favourite). Photo courtesy of Fanny.
Tahitian Vanilla Bean Marshmallows. The first time I saw this recipe from J in Singapore (Kuidaore ) I was astounded. Marshmallows were just one of those things that came in packets and it didn’t seem possible to make them at home. This recipe, and the fact that someone outside a factory made it, completely inspired me. This is one of the recipes from my first Recipe Carousels that I think deserves to be listed again in a relevant theme. Photo courtesy of J.
Lemongrass & Saffron Soda. I was so amazed by this innovative recipe from Danielle in the USA (Habeas Brûlée). She actually makes soda using water, sugar, cream of tartar and champagne yeast, flavouring it with saffron and lemongrass. Her big tip is to leave the soda fermenting long enough until the bottles scare you because you think they'll explode. Her second tip is that explosion is a real possibility! This recipe also comes with a bonus for ginger ice cream to make a soda float. Photo courtesy of Danielle.
Paneer. India’s famous cheese is a vegetarian’s dream because it’s completely rennet free (rennet being an enzyme found in mammal stomachs which causes milk to curdle and form solids i.e. cheese). Indira in India (mahanandi) shows us how to make paneer and it couldn’t be easier. You can have your own paneer in a day, ready to fry up, cook in the tandoor or add to curries. Photo courtesy of Indira.
Soy Milk. This is another product I imagine comes only from tetra paks in the supermarket. Ulrike in Germany (Küchenlatein) proves that home made soy milk is a detailed but worthwhile process that tastes much better than the store bought stuff. She soaks the beans, then boils them and presses them. She even links to recipes you can make with the okara (leftover pulp). Photo courtesy of Ulrike.
Limoncello is a deliciously sweet liqueur from Ilva in Italy (Lucullian Delights). Limoncello is one of Italy's most famous exports and the drink is synonymous with summer and the Amalfi coast. I have had the pleasure of tasting a homebrew Limoncello when I was in Italy in April (thanks Paola!) and if Ilva's recipe is anything similar you can be sure of a delicious digestivo. Photo courtesy of Ilva.
Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own "made from scratch" recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).
Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.
Saturday, 26 August 2006
Jonas likes the curly variety while I lean heavily towards the flat-leaf.
When we decided to start a little herb garden we had to compromise and buy one of each. We planted them in one big pot and eagerly watched them growing, secretly hoping that our own favourite would outgrow the other.
The curly took off and burst with vibrant colour and height. The flat was wimpy, limp and sickly. I was very nervous. Then suddenly the roles reversed and the flat snapped the attention, gained colour and left the curly for dead. In the end the curly was shaded out of existence and flat-leaf parsley rules supreme in our home!
But it’s not nice to gloat.
For this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Kalyn’s Kitchen, I am using my glorious flat-leaf parsley in one of the most delicious recipes I have discovered: stuffed calamari!
I really love calamari and for about 5 years I have always wanted to attempt stuffed calamari in the Spanish style. It worked out perfectly and I was so pleased.
I got the recipe from a book called "Spanish" by Pepita Aris (Hermes House), but I admit I did tinker with it a bit. Below is my own version.
Based on a recipe by Pepita Aris. Serves 4.
2 large calamari tubes
100g squid tentacles or calamari pieces, chopped finely
50g diced ham
½ cup long grain rice
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
2 chopped tablespoons parsley (flat leaf)
250ml (1 cup) dry white wine
1 bay leaf
Parsley (flat leaf) for garnish
625ml (2 ½ cups) passata
125ml (½ cup) dry white wine
1 dried chilli, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped finely
1. To make the tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan. Cook onion, chilli and garlic over a gentle heat until soft. Add passata and wine then cook for 10 -15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Make sure the calamari tubes are clean.
3. In a frying pan heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft. Add ham and squid pieces and fry for around 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in rice and parsley. Season well.
5. Using small skewers or strong toothpicks, seal one end of each calamari tube.
6. Divide the rice mixture and fill each tube. Stitch the ends shut with toothpicks or skewers.
7. Blot the calamari with kitchen paper to dry. Dust lightly with flour then fry in a little olive oil until coloured on all sides.
8. Transfer calamari with spoons to casserole dish lined with some of the tomato sauce. Arrange calamari then top with tomato sauce.
9. Add bay leaf and wine to casserole pot. Cover and simmer for around 30-60 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Make sure to turn calamari if they are not completely submerged in the tomato sauce.
10. Serve sliced into rings and garnished with parsley.
Variation: At step 4, some people add raisins, toasted pine nuts and ½ beaten egg. This adds an additional flavour and the egg binds the ingredients together.
Serve with a chilled rosé!
Parsley (Petroselinum - Umbelliferae) is a biennial herb that comes in two main forms: curly and flat varieties (flat leaf is also known as continental or Italian parsley). The curly variety is used as a garnish and is bitter, while the flat leaf is known to have a stronger flavour due to increased levels of essential oil (apiol).
Apiol is an interesting by-product of parsley, and was used as an effective abortion drug as far back as 370BC when Hippocrates, the father of modern Western medicine, recorded its use. It continued to be used in the West until fairly recently and is still used in the Middle East today.
There is also another type (turnip-rooted or Hamburg parsley) which is grown for its roots. This variety has only been developed in the last two centuries and is akin to salsify and burdock.
It is claimed that parsley is native to the Mediterranean and that it has been cultivated for over 2,000 years: first as a medical herb and then as food.
In Ancient Greece it was sacred and given to victorious athletes or placed on tombs. As it was connected to funerals it was considered bad luck to transplant parsley and due to the symbolism of death it was never given to the elderly.
Using it as a food garnish first came about in Ancient Rome and in Europe it was finally introduced as a food herb during the Middle Ages. It was said that Charlemagne grew parsley on his estates.
The etymology of the English word “parsley” comes from the Greek word “petroselinum” or rock celery. In the Middle Ages this morphed into petrocilium which became petersylinge, persele, persely and finally parsley.
The variety crispum, or curly leaf, was the first cultivated and was recorded by Pliny (23-79 AD). This variety is more commonly used in the UK even though the flat-leaf variety was introduced there first. It is said that the English preferred curly-leaf for its milder flavour and also because flat-leaf parsley looks very similar to an extremely poisonous weed called Fools Parsley (Anthriscus cynapium).
It is believed that parsley is fatal to small birds and fowls, but it is adored by rabbits and sheep who will ravage a parsley bush given half a chance.
Parsley has been famous throughout history as a breath-freshener and now we know this is due to its high levels of chlorophyll (a green photosynthetic pigment found in most plants).
Parsley tea is seen by both Chinese and German herbologists as an aid against high blood pressure and Cherokee Indians believe it strengthens the bladder.
Some of parsley’s volatile oils, such as myristicin, are known to “inhibit tumour formation” in the lungs, although tests thus far have only been conducted on animals. A flavonoid in parsley, luteolin, is an anti-oxidant that has particular benefits for the blood.
Parsley is also a source of vitamin C, beta-carotene (immune system vitamin A converter) and folic acid (cardiovascular vitamin B).
On the negative side, parsley is high in oxalic acid which is a cause of kidney and gallstones as well as prevents the absorption of calcium.
Parsley is best grown in deep pots because it has long taproots. It needs at least 5 hours of sunlight a day and can be harvested as soon as the plant is 15cm tall (6 inches). Leaves can be refrigerated for fresh use or can be frozen (although use without thawing). If fresh parsley is wilted, sprinkle it lightly with some water before putting in the refrigerator.
Be sure to check out Kalyn’s recap and see all the other wonderful recipes whipped up this week!
Parsley sketch courtesy of Wikipedia
Basically, you need to list five things you've eaten before and would recommend others to try at least once before they die. A long thought, but certainly an interesting one.
I found it very challenging because I took it quite seriously. This is an important recommendation. What if people spend their last days eating from your list when there could have been other, more deserving delicacies to try? A terrible responsibility to assume.
If I only have five to choose from, which five should it be?
Once I realised this was supposed to be fun and I could always add more suggestions in my comments section later (phew!), I decided to go with the following:
Regular readers may be sick to death of hearing about my love for brachetto d’acqui (May & July), but I’m determined to turn as many people as possible to this wonderful Italian dessert wine from Asti in Piemonte. It’s red, sparkling and served chilled. It tastes of strawberries and roses. What more could you want?
Alici/Boquerones (depends whether you're Italian or Spanish)
Tiny white anchovy fillets that have been marinated in vinegar and served with chopped fresh parsley and slivers of garlic. These are so full of flavour.
Donna Hay’s Triple Chocolate Brownies
We’ve all got a great recipe for brownies, but this one has blown any brownie I have ever tasted completely out of the water. There’s no nuts or other distractions from the pure, delicious dark chocolate cake stuffed full of milk and white chocolate chips. Pure heaven and very easy to make.
This Lebanese side dish is one of the most exquisite things I have ever tasted. Cubes of potato are drenched in lemon juice, both fresh and ground coriander and chilli then are baked until they are crispy, sour and spectacular. In Sydney, Al Mustafa (Glebe) and The Prophet (Surry Hills) serve up a good attempt, although I still rate Jonas’ recipe the best after he perfected a version taught to him by Haas.
This addiction commenced in Rome and my supplier was Paola. Chipped from the wheel and popped directly into my mouth - this is the world's best cheese.
Check out Haalo's top five or add your own top five in the comments section.
Now I get to tag five other bloggers for this same meme:
Field to Feast - Carolyn in Zimbabwe
La Otra Dimensión - Susanna in Argentina
Saffron Trail - Nandita in India
The Passionate Cook - Johanna in the UK
Kalyn's Kitchen - Kalyn in the USA
I hope they want to take part!
Monday, 21 August 2006
Excellent timing as well, since today is the ninth birthday of my niece, Aanika (pictured here as a bambina). Aanika takes after both her maternal and paternal grandmothers in that she is a strawberry-blond lass (in a litter of sable haired boys).
Pale, pale skin, bright blue eyes and strawberry-blond hair. Don’t forget the freckles either! A small splattering across her nose, just like moi!
A few years ago, my brother and his wife up and moved to the Gold Coast (QLD). It’s an area of beaches and surf and I imagine Aanika is slightly at odds with this climate given her very northern European complexion. I assume there’s plenty “slip, slop, slap” action every time she heads outdoors.
So here are seven sweet strawberry recipes for my strawberry-blond lovely: Happy 9th Birthday Anička!
Strawberry Charlotte comes from Béa, a French expat in the USA (La Tartine Gourmande). When she was growing up, Béa didn’t like her name and instead longed to be called Charlotte. Maybe that's why she adores this dessert so much? This non-cook recipe passed down by her mother consists of ladyfingers, strawberry accented chantilly cream, strawberry syrup and raspberry coulis. Bliss. Photo courtesy of Béa.
Fragolaceto is a very unique recipe from Johanna in the UK (The Passionate Cook). This is a compote of strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar that comes from Modena in Italy: fragola meaning “strawberry” and aceto meaning “vinegar”. It can be eaten drizzled over ice cream or as part of a cheese board, matching particularly well with the strong flavours of parmigiano. Photo courtesy of Johanna.
Strawberry Mille Feuille is an excellent little treat form JenJen in Australia (Milk & Cookies). This was her first attempt to make mille feuille and the results look delightful. Crisp filo pastry encases fresh strawberries and vanilla cream – simple yet elegant. This recipe comes with a bonus savoury mille feuille of vegetables and chevre cheese. Photo courtesy of JenJen.
Strawberry & Coconut Terrine. Sam in Canada (Sweet Pleasure) uses fresh coconut to flavour a crème anglaise which she layers with strawberries and chills. The final product is unmoulded and served with a strawberry and red wine coulis. Photo courtesy of Sam.
Steamed Strawberry Puddings are sweet, sticky contributions from Haalo in Australia (Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once). These warm, winter treats are flavoured with saffron syrup, which Haalo explains matches wonderfully with the flavour of the strawberries. The recipe is very straight forward and the results look fantastic. Photo courtesy of Haalo.
Rhubarb & Strawberry Tart. Alicat in the USA (Something So Clever) was torn between making a pie and a tart when she developed this dessert. It’s a rough and tumble recipe that combines the fruit, sugar and butter while cooking. A great visual feast as well. Photo courtesy of Alicat.
Strawberry Bread. Cate in the USA (Sweetnicks) hosts a weekly food event called Antioxidant Rich Tuesday where I first discovered this recipe. It’s a fast and easy to follow process of flavouring a cake-like bread with walnuts, cinnamon and fresh strawberries. Delish! Photo courtesy of Cate.
For other strawberry recipes, I discovered a three part recap of a June food blogging event “Jihva for Strawberries” hosted by the Baking Fairy: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
The Victorian Strawberry Association also has some recipes to sift through, as does Beerenberg Farm and Strawberry-Recipes.com
Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own strawberry recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be strawberry recipe related.
Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.
Saturday, 19 August 2006
v. mac·er·at·ed, mac·er·at·ing, mac·er·ates
To make soft by soaking or steeping in a liquid.
To separate into constituents by soaking.
To cause to become lean, usually by starvation; emaciate.
I love the word macerate. Something about it seems sensual, placid and violent all at once.
My contribution to this Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Tony at Anthony's Kitchen, pairs this cooking technique with the delicious strawberry.
As a kid I absolutely loved Strawberry Shortcake, the cute little red-haired cartoon character. I watched her cartoons, read her books and even emulated her catch phrases where every instance of “very” was replaced with “berry”. One year my grandmother, a professional cake decorator, produced a masterpiece birthday cake with the snazzy pink princess front of stage.
I even had a tiny figurine of Strawberry Shortcake on a skateboard and it smelt so vividly of strawberries. I still have it and it still hasn't lost its scent. I hate to think what cancerogenic product they used to make that smell!
I noticed that the new Strawberry Shortcake of the 2000s has lost her cutesy dress and is making a splash in jeans. Not sure how I feel about a spruced up Strawberry Shortcake!
Back to the recipe.
Hopefully you will enjoy my fruity, adult dessert. It’s easy to make and can be ready in about five minutes. Leaving it to “macerate” allows the flavoursto develop, but if you’re too impatient it will still taste great. It can be eaten with ice cream, yoghurt, cream or on it’s own.
Simple but delicious.
Anna’s very own concoction. Serves 2.
1 punnet strawberries, hulled & sliced
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1. Combine and stir until sugar dissolves. Taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary.
2. Leave for 1 hour.
3. Divide the strawberries and the juice.
The strawberry (Fragaria) is the fruit from a genus of plants in the family Rosaceae, which includes roses.
Strawberries are technically classified as "accessory fruit" because they do not come from the plant’s achenes (ovaries) but from an extension of the hypanthium (which is a part that holds the achenes). This means that the strawberry flesh is considered a vegetable and that its seeds are the plant's true fruit. Strange!
So strange, in fact, that strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside!
There are more than 20 named species, and many more hybrids, but in the 18th century, the Garden Strawberry replaced the Woodland Strawberry (also known as Wild Strawberry, Alpine Strawberry and European Strawberry) as the most commonly cultivated strawberry. The Garden Strawberry is a cross between the Virginia Strawberry native to North America and a larger strawberry from Chile.
The etymology of the word “strawberry” is fairly literal and said to come from the Old English strēawberiġe from streaw "straw" and berige "berry". The name could have come about for many various reasons including:
1) the straw-like runners of the plant
2) Germanic people used to string strawberries on straw while collecting them
3) the runners appeared strewn along the ground
4) gardeners mulched them with straw
Strawberries have been used for medicinal purposes since the 13th century. In Armenia it was used for a multitude of digestive problems, including gallstones, and in Germany for digestion, bad breath and insomnia. In more modern times it has been utilised in cosmetics for pimple prevention and is considered to have diuretic and antibiotic properties.
Here's some useful information from the Victorian Strawberry Industry.
Fast Fruity Facts
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (175 grams) provides:
Kilojoules 175 (Calories 42)
Protein 2 g
Fat less than 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 4.7 g
Dietary Fibre 3.8 g
Vitamin C 79 mg
Folate 25 mcg
Calcium 22.7 mg
Magnesium 146.0 mg
Phosphorus 40.3 mg
Potassium 227.5 mg
Beta-carotene 44mcg * converted into Vitamin A in the body
A single serve of (8-10 medium strawberries or 100g) provides:
• 100 kilojoules with 3g Carbohydrate, 2g Protein, and 0g Fat
• 150% of your day's supply of vitamin C (as much as an orange!)
• 7% of your day's supply of fibre
• 7% of your day's supply of folic acid
Tips for Selecting the Best Strawberries
Size plays no part in determining the perfect strawberry. In fact, small strawberries are equally as sweet and juicy as large ones. The perfect strawberry should be fully coloured, firm, bright, plump and shiny. Make sure the cap (calyx) is attached, green and fresh-looking.
The moisture content of strawberries is high, so always remove fruit from punnets and place in a large container lined with absorbent paper. Strawberries are best stored at 4oC, either uncovered or loosely covered. Serve at room temperature. Only remove their green caps (calyx) after washing, just prior to use.
The best way to enjoy strawberries throughout the whole year it is to freeze some for the winter months. Frozen berries can be used to make jams or a delicious strawberry sauce for icecream or cakes. Try adding a few 'real strawberry iceblocks' to a smoothie. Remember - frozen strawberries will not defrost into perfect strawberries so they are best used as an ingredient and will need to be sweetened.
Be sure to check at the Weekend Herb Blogging recap hosted in India by Tony.
And have a BERRY nice day!
Friday, 18 August 2006
A few months ago I discovered her recipe for eggs and yoghurt or “çılbır”. This is a great breakfast in any kind of weather. Paired with a big glass of juice, how could you go wrong?
I adore it just as it is but Jonas loves to add chilli sauce (like he does to almost everything).
1 cup plain yoghurt (room temperature)
1 garlic clove, crushed
60ml lemon juice
1. In a bowl, mix the yoghurt with lemon juice and garlic. Spread on a service plate.
2. Boil the water with the salt and vinegar in a large pot. After bubbling, turn down the heat to medium-low.
4. Take the eggs out with a perforated spoon. Drain then place the eggs over the yoghurt on the service plate.
6. Serve this dish while still hot with bread on the side.
- Binnur's version include a cayenne butter topping, but I went for a healthier option by simply sprinkling the cayenne pepper on top instead.
- I added lemon juice, pepper, herbs and salt.
This recipe is great.
Please try it and let me know whether you loved it as much as me!!!
Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Level 3 (Northern End)
The Queen Victoria Building
455 George Street
Tel: + 61 2 9283 7279
In September 2004, one week after my sister departed on her world adventure (which still hasn’t ended!), my closest friend up and left the country too.
It was horrible. One minute she was always there for a rant, a laugh or drunken debauchery – the next minute she was riding a bicycle in Amsterdam and learning to order cheese sandwiches in Dutch (incidentally, one of the only things she learnt to say in Dutch).
Shelley lived in the Netherlands until February this year when, instead of moving back to Sydney (and me!), she started a Masters in some kind of arty thing in Melbourne.
Not happy! Let it be stated now that art is my enemy.
These days, the only time we have together are hour long downloads over the phone and the rare visit to each other’s city.
Recently I had the pleasure of one of these visits when Shelley came up for her Dad’s 50th birthday. I took Monday off work and we decided to do the girliest things we could: high tea.
I love high tea. It’s wonderfully wonderful.
It’s just so civilised to spend the morning or afternoon supping from dainty three tiered sandwich stands and sipping on quality tea in fine china.
The QVB is the nickname of the Queen Victoria Building, which was designed by George McRae and finished in 1898. I am told the architectural style is Romanesque and that it was built during a recession as a tactic to occupy a lot of unemployed craftsmen. It was originally used as a concert hall as well as tea rooms, shops, offices and showrooms. (This photo is courtesy of The Tearoom website.)
Today it’s full of cafes, shops and showrooms for jewellers and designers.
The Tearoom in the QVB is particularly dainty. The site is the formal Grand Ballroom and with high ceilings, white walls and flooding natural light, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy silver service tea.
I have tried the high tea at The Victoria Room in Darlinghurst and, while it was good, it certainly can’t compete with the delightful food at The Tearoom.
The Tearoom's "sparkling high tea" (AUD$30) came with a glass of Australian sparkling wine, which we lapped up over gossip and giggles.
Then the teas arrived: earl grey for Shelley (that famous bergamot aroma) and an orange pekoe for me (rich black tea made from the youngest flower buds and leaves). Orange pekoe does not taste like oranges but is named thus due to the colour of the dried flower buds.
With our tea came the three level tower of treats:
Top: smoked salmon, cucumber and dill sandwich; egg sandwich; goats’ cheese tartlet
Mid: shortbread with passionfruit cream; choux pastry with fresh raspberry filling; elegant sweet pastry case with strawberry salsa; rich chocolate brownie; dense almond and lemon syrup cake
Base: fruit scones with jam and clotted cream
I couldn’t have been happier with the selection. The sandwich fillings were absolutely delicious and I wondered why I don’t eat sandwiches more often. How can something so simple taste so good?
The tiny cakes on the second tier were delicious and each one had its own unique flavour and texture. Sweet, fruity and sticky. Perfect sized samples of each.
The scones were warm, soft and divine after I smeared them with rich clotted cream (which I find so hard to get hold of in Sydney!).
What better way to spend an afternoon with a wonderful friend!
Monday, 14 August 2006
I am really fascinated with jams and preserves at the moment. I love the idea of reducing fruit into a syrupy mass and then devouring it on toast or with yoghurt.
My recent attempt at candied cumquats worked successfully, so I'm ready for another jam making session.
I hope the next seven recipes tempt you too!
Pears with Spiced Caramel Preserves comes from J in Singapore (Kuidaore). This gorgeous preserve uses green apple stock, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and citrus to develop a spicy note to the rich caramel and pears flavours. The original recipe said to julienne the pears, but J sliced them into segments so she could use them in desserts. She even provides an example with a recipe (and brilliant photo) for a gorgeous Pear & Lime Charlotte. Photo courtesy of J.
Spiced Lingonberry Jam is a sweet treat from Stephanie in Sweden (The Sum of My Parts). Stephanie is studying her PhD in Umeå (thesis topic on the formation of blog communities) while also a single mother of twins and a student teacher! And she still has time to bubble up some delicious jam using Sweden’s yummiest berry. Photo courtesy of Stephanie.
Apricot Preserves comes from Maki in Switzerland (I Was Just Really Very Hungry). I am a huge sucker for anything with apricots and this is such a rich, deep colour that I am convinced it would taste incredible! Maki recommends this thick, chunky product on plain yoghurt or vanilla ice cream, and of course fresh bread. Photo courtesy of Maki.
Jamun Jam is an interesting contribution from deccanheffalump in India (The Cook's Cottage), I had never seen nor heard of a jamun before I saw this post and I became intrigued. According to deccanheffalump jamun trees were grown for shade and were never cultivated for their fruit, which now is hard to come by and expensive compared to other local produce. Jamun are indigenous to India and the violet fruit have a tart flavour that deccanheffalump likens to a good Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Photo courtesy of deccanheffalump.
Mango Strawberry Jam from Meeta in Germany (What’s For Lunch Honey?) was born after buying too much fruit and then indecision over which to cook. Why not use both? The recipe is very simple and doesn’t take long at all, which makes it great. Meeta used more mango than strawberry and suggests using it to flavour milkshakes as an afternoon treat. Photo courtesy of Meeta.
Fig & Cinnamon Jam. Mellie in Australia (Tummy Rumbles) uses Australia’s cooking bible “Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion” to create her own recipe using figs and red wine vinegar. The final product turned out to be a beautiful deep maroon colour with cinnamon flavours that “feather[ed] the taste buds”. This post also comes with a bonus apricot jam recipe. Photo courtesy of Mellie.
Rose Petal Champagne Jelly comes from Ulrike in Germany (Küchenlatein). This is another from the original two Recipe Carousels that I feel is worth mentioning again grouped under its own theme. Ulrike used petals from her own garden, topped up with some from her neighbour. I love rose flavoured things and rose jelly just makes me want to go to high tea. Photo courtesy of Ulrike.
Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own jam recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
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Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.
Sunday, 13 August 2006
I first discovered sahlep in my final year of high school. After a cold day foraging through the second hand clothes at Glebe Markets, we crossed the road to the Badde Manors Café where Emily suggested I try this warm, creamy drink.
I fell in love.
It was also the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Sahlep, a Turkish winter drink, is made from the dried powdered roots of a mountain orchid. The powder is then heated with milk, sugar and cinnamon to make a thick dairy beverage.
In modern day Turkey, sahlep is used to cure sore throats and coughs and is only served during the cold months. Luckily for me the warm weather started late this year so when I visited Istanbul in April I caught the very end of the season!
Ancient recipe. Serves 2.
1 teaspoon sahlep powder
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
1½ cups milk
Cinnamon for dusting
1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Boil, whisking continuously, for 2 – 3 minutes.
3. Pour into two cups, dust with cinnamon and enjoy.
The orchids used for sahlep grow in the mountains of southern Turkey (Orchis Latifolia / Orchis Anatolica). Their tubers are pulled from the ground while the plant is flowering and then they are boiled (in water or milk) before being dried and then ground into a powder.
The orchids contain a nutritious starch-like polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) called bassorin, which accounts for the drink’s thickened consistency.
In Maras, the famous Turkish ice cream Salepi Maraş is a thick sahlep infused concoction. This dessert is boiled, stirred, aerated and churned to produce a chewy substance that doesn’t melt and can even be eaten with a knife and fork.
The name “sahlep” refers to the powder, although it is rather unfortunate that this pretty word is an abbreviation from the Arabic “hasyu al-tha`lab” which translates to “fox testicles”. Apparently the tubers look like fox testicles when they first come from the earth.
It’s not surprising then that sahlep is considered an aphrodisiac and, anecdotally, even the word “orchid” derives from the Greek word for testicle.
Before tea and coffee spread so widely, it is believed that sahlep was the beverage of choice in Europe and the Middle East and variations, known as satyrion and priapiscus were certainly consumed in Ancient Roman times. As Priapiscus was a god of fertility and the satyrs were often thought to be a debauched lot, it is assumed that the Ancient Roman drinks were considered aphrodisiacs too.
In Greece in the 1960s, sahlep caused some controversy for local rock band Aphrodite's Child, who noted on their album record sleeve “this album was recorded under the influence of sahlep”. Many thought it was some kind of illegal drug!
Sahlep is my offering to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen. Be sure to check out the ever-growing list of veggie, herb and plant related recipes from around the world.
Thursday, 10 August 2006
I thought I was special.
A few weekends ago I saw cumquats on sale for a meagre AUD$5 per kg (A$5 = US$3.80, 1kg = 2.2lbs). Since these little beauties only make it to my green grocer once a year, I thought I could make a unique recipe.
I considered making one of Keiko’s amazing cumquat curd tarts but then remembered a candied cumquat recipe I had cut out of a magazine about six years ago.
Afterwards, at work, I happily showed off photos of my glace treats only to hear a colleague tell me she’d made cumquat marmalade a few weeks ago.
Still not perturbed, I proudly planned to blog about my little cooking foray until I saw that one of my favourite bloggers, Haalo, had also made cumquat marmalade and she’d beat me to the post! Worse, her addition of Cointreau and a vanilla pod put my plain concoction to shame.
I was crushed. Devastated! Surely I was the only one?
Devastation turned to rage. How can so many people be cooking the same thing at the same time!?!? This is madness!
Flash forward a few days and I have since had time to come to the realisation that I’m not special and that I wasn’t the first person, nor obviously the last, to make some sort of gooey sweetness out of cute little cumquats.
I have decided to post my photos and recipe regardless, to reveal how the cumquat cheated on me. Perhaps we can all learn from my innocence and ignorance.
My own recipe yields two products.
1) candied/glace cumquats
2) cumquat jelly
The aim of the recipe was to create candied cumquats, but their juices leached out during the cooking process and formed a wonderful, flavoursome jelly.
Take a few of the candied cumquats and dice them up, then mix them through the jelly to create more of a fruity marmalade.
With the rest, dip the candied cumquats in good quality dark chocolate for a perfect sweet nibble.
SMH recipe. Author unknown.
3 cups cumquats
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
1. Place cumquats and water in saucepan. Boil for 30 minutes.
2. Add sugar and boil for another 10 minutes.
3. Turn heat off. Leave overnight.
4. Next day bring mixture to the boil, but be careful not to burn.
5. When it starts to bubble, remove from heat and leave fruit in the syrup until cool.