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!

 

Winter weekend (Chilli pistachio brownie)

Well winter is finally upon us, apparently it’s the best start to the snow season for many many years, for us though it has been challenging, not the cold so much but the relentless wind pushing our garden to its limits. We haven’t suffered any losses but some plants are looking very stressed and tired. So this weekend I’ve been happily playing and experimenting in my kitchen, we had friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I decided to focus on a Spanish theme mainly because I wanted to make paella again, it’s such a wonderful dish that makes use of our local seafood and fresh vegetables from the garden.

I wanted to make a Spanish style dessert and thought of matching chocolate, chilli, spiced rum and pistachios. The base for the cake was a brownie recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s “The Cook’s Companion”.


Chilli pistachio brownie
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Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Australian
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Serves: 8
This cake combines the flavours of chocolate with chilli, pistachios and spiced rum.
Ingredients
  • 125 g butter
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of spiced rum or Pedro Ximenez sherry
  • 100 g sifted flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (Mexican canela if you can get it)
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper or pequin chilli powder (or more to taste)
  • 125 g chopped pistachios
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C
  2. Line a cake tin with baking paper (20cm)
  3. Melt the butter gently, adding the chocolate pieces when half the butter has melted
  4. Take off the heat and stir until the mix is smooth and thoroughly melted
  5. Let the chocolate mixture cool
  6. Beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy
  7. Gently fold the chocolate and egg mixtures together
  8. Add the flour and other ingredients to the cake batter
  9. Place into the prepared tin and bake for 30 min
  10. Let the cake cool in the tin or serve warm

I’ve been wondering how to make the most of the last 5 blood oranges on our tree and ended up making a Jewish almond orange cake and some confit oranges (not sure what I’ll use them for yet though). To make the cake you boil  2 – 3 whole oranges for 2  hours and when cool blend them into a puree. The recipe uses 6 eggs, almond meal and sugar and that is all! It’s a very popular cake but not one of my favourites, I’m not sure I like the texture or flavour that much. Last time I made it I didn’t like it that much either, oh well, that’s cooking, you win some you lose some.

 

 

 

Chocolate chip cookies with pistachios and cranberries

I haven’t made any biscuits for a while so thought I’d share this recipe with you. The original recipe came from a woman in America who unintentionally paid $250 for a chocolate chip cookie recipe (from a restaurant) and was so upset she made sure the recipe was spread around the world free (not sure if this is true?) Anyway the basic dough recipe is the same but I have used pistachios and cranberries instead of walnuts and I used caramel choc chips instead of chocolate, so feel free to experiment…

Chocolate chip cookies with pistachios and cranberries
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Recipe type: Biscuits
Cuisine: American
Author:
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Serves: 10
A lovely firm buttery biscuit that stay fresh for days
Ingredients
  • 180gm butter softened
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • ½tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cups self raising flour sifted
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts (I used half pistachios/ half cranberries -chopped)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (I used caramel ones for a change)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180*C
  2. Line a biscuit tray with baking paper
  3. Cream butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Add egg - beating well until combined
  5. Add sifted flour and beat slowly until combined
  6. Add nuts & chocolate chips- beat for a short time to incorporate or use your hands
  7. Use your hands to form walnut sized balls and squash with your palms to form a biscuit shape
  8. Give the biscuits plenty of room as they will spread a bit
  9. Use only one tray at a time in the oven (cook more evenly this way)
  10. Bake for 10 - 12 min or until golden
  11. Half way through the baking time open the oven and bang the biscuit tray a bit to deflate the biscuits (Dot Taylor - a fine country cook - used to do this)
  12. Do not do anything else - stay glued to the kitchen as the biscuits can burn in a flash
  13. Cool on the tray for a couple of minutes before moving onto a cooling rack
  14. Enjoy these delightful cookies

 

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