The autumn garden & paleo cracker recipe

So autumn is here and wow what a mild summer it was, the air conditioner has only been on once! The vegetable garden is producing loads of tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, carrots, beetroot, assorted greens and purple king beans. I was really pleased with the tomato crop this year mainly because I grew them from seed collected from a couple of tomatoes given to me last summer. I am definitely going to save seeds and raise our own seedlings from now on. The majority of tomatoes have been turned into many litres of tomato puree and ratatouille and luckily our old freezer – which we haven’t used for about 7 years – started up like a charm, it’s already 3/4 full of tomatoes, peaches and apricots and may even fill before the season ends. Don’t know what I would have done without that old freezer because I have a paleo dilemma, I usually make an assortment of chutneys, relishes and sauces but they use up copious amounts of sugar and the paleo diet is pretty much sugar free, so how do I preserve all our beautiful tomatoes? I decided to cook them then strain the mix to get out the skin and some seeds and freeze this puree, I can still make preserves later on if I want to or we have enough tomato puree for a whole year at least. I did make 2 batches of kasoundi – I just had to – that stuff is awesome (recipe is listed) and it’s not so heavy on the sugar as some of my other recipes! Our biggest tomato so far weighed in at 848 grams, apparently that is small in the large vegetable category but it’s the amount of large tomatoes that is mind boggling, as soon as I clear the decks Neil comes in with more and more tomatoes.

I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with the fermentation process and have a continuos supply of milk kefir, fermented garlic, chilli sauce, horseradish sauce, mayonnaise and assorted kimchi and kraut concoctions. My taste buds and stomach are getting used to these unusual foods, I actually crave them now, I even had some for breakfast this morning! I love that fermented foods are jam packed with goodness, delicious to eat in a strange way and I made them myself from our own or out sourced organic produce! Having an assortment of fermented foods to use as condiments will hopefully replace our old chutney, sauce & relish habit and they are a much healthier alternative.

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I’ve been very remiss with my blog writing for a few months now but I’ve been researching, experimenting and adjusting to the paleo way of life and just didn’t know what to write. If you follow the paleo lifestyle then sugar, dairy, grains and legumes are omitted, this may seem daunting but the transition has been relatively pain free for me as I love eating loads of vegetables with good quality protein and fats, honestly I don’t intend to preach but I feel so darn good and satisfied, that’s the only way to describe it, a deep feeling of satisfaction and I eat less because I am not hungry! I probably spend more time in the kitchen because I make absolutely EVERYTHING and we rarely eat out, but at least I know what’s in our food and growing, harvesting and cooking our produce or sourcing organic produce, grass fed meats and wild fish is so much fun! I make one or two batches of dry biscuits or crackers each week, they take about 20 minutes and are so easy, I was asked for the cracker recipe which will follow but I must add that each batch I make is different because of the range of spices, seeds and flavours that make each batch individual. My favourite flavour is black / white sesame seeds but finely grated parmesan cheese is nice too (but it’s not strictly paleo).


Paleo cracker recipe
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Recipe type: savoury biscuits
Cuisine: paleo
Author:
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These crackers are crisp and tasty and are wheat, dairy and sugar free.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons of ground linseed
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon of oil - olive or macadamia
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons of flavouring of your choice such as grated parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, assorted spices or savoury yeast flakes - experiment!
Instructions
  1. Grind the linseed (I use my nutribullet which does a great job) and add to the almond meal
  2. Add the other ingredients and mix until a firm ball of dough is formed
  3. The mix should not be wet and if so add a little more almond meal
  4. Divide the mixture in half and roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper
  5. I like to roll it very thin but you could have them a little thicker if you want (they may take a few minutes longer to cook though)
  6. Take the top layer of paper off and cut the dough into shapes of your liking
  7. Leave the dough on the bottom layer of baking paper and place on a biscuit tray in the oven
  8. Bake in a moderate oven for 10 - 12 minutes
  9. The dough should be crisp and golden when cooked
  10. Cool on a cooling rack and place in an airtight container for storage
  11. Cook the other batch as above
  12. I usually make a double batch because they go so fast
  13. They stay fresh for days!

 

Cream of broccoli soup

cream of broccoli soup

cream of broccoli soup

I haven’t been able to get to my blog as much as I would like to of late but I’ve been busy cooking and not gardening much (well it’s winter and the garden is in hibernation – maybe I am too). I just looked out the window to see a very brightly coloured parrot eating some beetroot leaves I threw out into the garden earlier. I hope he/she doesn’t come back and start eating the garden greens though, it’s always a battle getting the balance right with the wild life and insects. When we lived in the bush it hardly seemed worth all the effort to have wallabies, kangaroos, possums, rats, birds and foxes helping themselves to our produce. I’ll never forget the amazing apples we grew one year, I’ve never tasted anything like those apples, they practically exploded in your mouth as you ate them, well the next year the wildlife found them and that was the end of our wonderful apples. It’s much easier to grow food here in Portarlington, it would be nice to have a bit more land though!

It is still very much soup weather and this week I wanted to make a cream of broccoli soup using the last of the romanesco broccoli, some leeks and potatoes. I served it plain and also with a few crispy croutons and spicy sausage crumbs for an added zing!


Cream of broccoli soup
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Recipe type: starter
Cuisine: australian
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Serves: 10
A satisfying and hearty soup that's pretty easy to make (cheap too)
Ingredients
  • 500gm romanesco broccoli (or other broccoli/cauliflower) yes use the stem too!
  • 2 large leeks (white part only)
  • 3 potatoes
  • ½ fennel bulb
  • ½ swede
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • bunch of parsley
  • ¼ cup of cream or milk
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbs Massel or other good quality stock powder or liquid (I used vegetable)
  • ½ spicy sausage skin removed (opt) - I used an Istra sausage which is fennel flavoured
  • few slices of nice bread to make croutons (opt)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
Instructions
  1. Prepare all the vegetables by cutting them into similar sizes
  2. Sweat the vegetables in a large saucepan with the oil, butter and garlic over moderate heat for 15 min - stirring often
  3. Add enough hot water and stock to cover generously (I don't like thick soup)
  4. Add the parsley leaves and simmer the vegetables for 15 min or until cooked
  5. Let the vegetable soup cool a little before blending (I used a food processor)
  6. Add the cream or milk (use more cream if you like it extra creamy)
  7. Season and consider extra spices (fennel seeds would be nice)
  8. Fry the sausage meat and croutons together so the bread absorbs the sausage flavour (optional)
  9. Serve with a dob of cream or creme fraiche
Notes
I was given some very good advice from a real life chef who suggested using the broccoli stem only for the initial cooking and adding the flowers at the last minute, this way the soup keeps a vibrant colour! Thanks Chef!

delicious soup

delicious soup

I’m really enjoying brussells sprouts lately, I’ve roasted, fried, mashed, boiled and made soup with them – YUM! We’ve got some growing but they aren’t exactly thriving, hopefully we’ll have some homegrown brussells one day soon.

 

Spicy pumpkin soup and romanesco broccoli

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The perfect antidote for this wintery weather is staying indoors cooking – soup was on the menu today (spicy pumpkin and a ham hock and vegetable soup). I had a lovely time singing along to some rather loud music (Ben Harper) cooking to my hearts content. If you decide to try my spicy pumpkin soup recipe I strongly recommend you put on some of your favourite sing along music too.

Spicy pumpkin soup
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Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
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Serves: 10
A spicy vegetable soup to warm you up on a cold winter's day
Ingredients
  • 3 sticks of celery sliced
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 40g lemon grass stalks
  • 100g red bull pepper or capsicum (optional) chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 25g ginger chopped
  • 4 red hot chillies chopped (optional)
  • 4 carrots chopped into slices
  • 50g peanut butter or peanuts chopped
  • 600g pumpkin cut up into chunks
  • ½ swede chopped
  • 300g potatoes or sweet potatoes chopped
  • 2 dessertspoons curry powder
  • 2 tsp massel vegetable stock powder or cubes
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • salt/pepper
  • ¼ cream
  • 1 tablespoon of saharan spice mix (from Wildings in St Leonards)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan place all the ingredients except the cream and spice mix
  2. Saute gently for at least 10 minutes before adding enough water to cover the vegetables and a bit more (I like thin soup rather thick)
  3. Cook on moderate heat until the vegetables are soft
  4. Remove the kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and curry leaves
  5. Cool for a while and then puree with a stick blender, in a food processor or in a blender
  6. Place back on the stove and add the cream, spice mix and season to taste
  7. Cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer

We dug up the horseradish patch today and replanted some in a new sunny position, I now have some lovely horseradish roots to freeze, use fresh and maybe put some in oil. Pasta man cooked a beef rib roast in the Webber and I experienced freshly grated horseradish on my steak for the first time ever (it was a lovely accompaniment).

I picked the first of our romanesco broccoli plants today and Pasta man thinned out some baby carrots and golden beets- what a lovely combination to have with the beef  for dinner.

horseradish root

horseradish root

 

Scones (cream tea)

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog on scones for a couple of weeks now and buying some beautiful organic berry jam was all the inspiration I needed (you have to have wonderful jam and the best cream). Scones are a pretty basic food and I know a lot of you out there already know how to make them, but for those others who haven’t found the “right” recipe, or whose scones turn out like rocks then try this “Lemonade Scones” recipe. It’s an old recipe that’s been going around the traps between cooks for years, and yes it has lemonade and cream in it! Scones are not good left standing or stored in any way, cooked at the last minute and eaten straight out of the oven is the ONLY way to go. I have been informed that they freeze well and after a brief microwave are ready to eat and you wouldn’t know the difference, but I haven’t tried this. When we lived in the bush and had a huge vegetable garden, we grew youngberries, raspberries and strawberries but space is now an issue and our strawberry patch doesn’t seem to provide enough berries to make jam, so I may have to buy some fruit to make jam or buy more lovely organic jam.


Scones (cream tea)
5.0 from 1 reviews
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Recipe type: morning /afternoon tea
Cuisine: English
Author:
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Serves: 12
Light fluffy scones served with luscious berry jam and double cream
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of self raising flour sifted
  • 1 cup cream (pouring)
  • 1 cup lemonade
  • jam & double cream for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 200*C
  2. Place flour in large bowl and pour in liquid ingredients
  3. Mix lightly and until barely combined
  4. Might still be quite wet but don't worry
  5. Put some flour onto a board or your bench and tip dough onto it
  6. Add a little more flour to the top of the dough and gently work dough to form a smooth surface
  7. It should be about 2.5cm thick
  8. Cut with a scone cutter and place scones on a lined oven tray
  9. You can brush them with milk if you want a shiny top
  10. Bake in a hot oven for 15min (check to make sure they are cooked in the middle by opening one up)
  11. Place on a clean tea towel to cool and wrap to keep fresh
  12. Serve with lashings of jam and cream and hot strong tea

I have a lovely scone cutter I bought about 30+ years ago from the blacksmith shop at Sovereign Hill. Scones can be tricky to cut with a glass or other implement, dipping the tool in flour helps the cutting process.

Profiteroles / chocolate eclairs

choux pastry delights

choux pastry delights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have played with choux pastry over the years without a lot of success (mind you I cooked in a wood stove oven without any temperature control) but after making profiteroles at the cooking school in Positano and making them a few times since I am happy to say they are fun to make, cost next to nothing and look and taste fabulous. I have made them with a custard and cream filling and probably prefer a blend of both or just the whipped cream filling. In Positano we made a lemon cream sauce (with lemonchello) instead of chocolate sauce (icing), but it was just too much cream – chocolate is much better! I used my kenwood mixer to do all the hard work (beating the eggs into the choux pastry base) so it was easy to make and it’s fun playing with a piping bag and watching the whole process.

Profiteroles
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Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Author:
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Serves: 12
Delicate light choux pastries filled with a creamy centre and drizzled with chocolate
Ingredients
  • 250gm plain flour
  • 250gm water (1 cup)
  • 75gm butter
  • 5 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 220*C
  2. Place the water and butter in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  3. Immediately add the all the flour and stir strongly until it forms a firm ball- about 3 minutes
  4. Take off the heat
  5. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes then place in a large bowl of a mixer and whip in eggs one at a time (or beat mix by hand)
  6. Place into a piping bag and make small mounds on an oven tray lined with baking paper (leave some room around them)
  7. Push the peak (or pointy bit) down gently with a wet finger (it will burn otherwise)
  8. Cook for 12 minutes at 220* then turn down to 180* for a further 12 minutes (should be golden brown and puffed up)
  9. Let the pastries cool before filling with whipped cream (add some icing sugar & vanilla essence) using the piping bag again
  10. Make some chocolate sauce (can use equal weight of chocolate and cream) and pour over the pastries (or use your own recipe)

 

Beetroot relish

My pantry is looking rather bleak at the moment, we are down to the last jar of peach chutney, marmalade and beetroot relish. We have a lot of beetroot coming on in the garden, so I need to get cracking on the preserves again. I make 2 different beetroot preserves- a relish and a chutney, the relish recipe featured today is simpler to make and I probably make this one the most. It certainly pays to be able to walk outside and pick beets straight out of the ground for flavour, freshness and cost effectiveness, however, you can buy some lovely looking beets nowadays. We usually grow the long cylindrical beet, they seem to thrive in our garden, don’t take up much space and are heavy croppers. We are growing the cylindrical, regular and small golden beets at the moment. The beet relish has a sharper more vinegary  taste than the smoother chutney style, both have their place in my pantry, I’ll post the chutney recipe later on…

Beetroot relish
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Recipe type: preserve
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
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A fresh lovely coloured relish that goes well with lots of cuisine types.
Ingredients
  • 750gm fresh beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 400gm green apples, peeled, cored and chopped (3 apples)
  • 410ml white wine vinegar
  • 95gm (1/2 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 125gm (1/2 cup) white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ pomegranate peeled and white pith removed
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 2tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large pan and stir over low heat without boiling until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and continue to cook over low heat stirring often for about 20 - 30 min until the ingredients are cooked and the relish has thickened.
  2. Place the mixture into clean, warm jars, sealing them and turning them upside down for 2 minutes. Let the relish to cool after turning them the right way up and leave for a month for the flavours to develop. Store in a cool dark cupboard for up to 12 months and refrigerate after opening.

 

Chocolate coconut slice

yummy slice

yummy slice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was wondering which slice to make (pasta man suggested chocolate caramel slice) when I remembered this recipe (from my sister in law); it was perfect because I had all the ingredients in the pantry, it is incredibly easy to make, nice to eat and keeps well.

Chocolate coconut slice
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Recipe type: slice/ biscuit
Cuisine: australian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
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Serves: 10
This is a crunchy, chocolate and coconut flavoured slice.
Ingredients
  • 3 weetbix crushed
  • 1 cup self raising flour sifted
  • 1 cup desicated coconut (I used toasted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ to ¾ cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 155gm butter melted
Instructions
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients and add to the melted butter
  2. Press into a lined 7" X 11" lamington tray
  3. Cook in a moderate oven (180*) for 15 - 20min or until cooked
  4. Ice with chocolate icing while still hot (I melted some dark chocolate with a little cream)
  5. Cool and cut

 

easy to make

easy to make