Thursday, December 24, 2015

Summer Pudding, Christmas Eve 2015

It's well and truly berry season. Everything is early this year due to the warm and very dry ( drought) Spring perhaps. I have been picking raspberries, loganberries, blueberries, strawberries, jostaberries and gooseberries. I have always wanted to try making a Summer Pudding when we had fresh fruit so yesterday I actually got around to doing it.
I forgot to take a photo last night before we had our first try so this is a close up of the remainder this morning. It was pretty easy to make. Heat the berries in half a cup of water with a quarter cup of caster  sugar. Line a bowl or cgame nation er with some slices of bread, crusts taken off and the edges soaked in the berry juice so that they join together. Pour the fruit in. Cover with more soaked bread. Cover with plastic wrap then weight it down with a couple of tins and refrigerate. Easy and delicious!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's Summer in the Patch. Thursday December 10 2015

The gusty winds of yesterday have died down and the sun is shining after a few drops of rain this morning. It has been the driest Spring I have ever seen here so regular watering had to start early this year. The farm irrigators were switched on in early October which is really unusual so we just have to hope our reserves of water in the dams and river are enough to keep the dairy herd going until the Autumn rains.
Meanwhile in the patch, it is all go....or rather ...grow! 

The berries seem to have starting ripening earlier this year so I have already started picking raspberries, strawberries, loganberries and even the odd blueberry in the last couple of weeks.

It looks like I am going to get my best Jostaberry crop yet. This cross between a gooseberry and blackcurrant makes a delicious jam. It is a bit sour to eat fresh unless you wait until the berry is really black. The hard pruning I gave the bush a couple of years ago seems to have done the trick in boosting the crop. Last year I only got a handful of berries but last night picked that amount in a few minutes and there are plenty more to come. There is even a self sown Jostaberry near the chook shed which has fruit on it. As that one is not netted, the birds might get those ones though. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fishy Tales. Sunday November 8 2015

In September we went for a fortnight's holiday to Western Australia specifically to see the spring wildflower of the South West of the state. Having grown lots of these species in the last 30 years in the garden and in the nursery, it was exciting to see where the plants grew in their natural habitat. Now I can see why some of them struggle in our wetter and slightly colder climate.
The trip wasn't about experimenting with local foods but we did have an interesting conversation with the two men on the beach in the photo below. 
This is Salmon Holes, a beach near Albany and a well know fishing spot for Eastern Australian Salmon. The salmon swim into the little gutter formed by the rocks just out from the beach. These two men had only caught 2 fish that day, but they were huge, several kilos each. We started chatting to them and found out that they used to preserve the fish. This involved cooking the fish for three hours in ? a pressure cooker and then bottling in brine in vacuum preserving jars just like I use for fruit. He said salmon done this way tasted even better than fresh. High praise indeed. 
Of course it wasn't the place to ask specifics so since then I have been hunting high and low for a recipe. I rang up the Jams and Preserves segment on ABC radio one Sarurday morning but could only get a recipe for pickled fish. Finally I found a book in the library called Preserving The Italian Way which has recipes for preserving fish in oil or brine. Now I just need to catch enough fish to give it a go.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Red Leicester and Asiago Pepato. Tuesday 25th August 2015

On the weekend I decided it was time to experiment with some new cheeses, perhaps to be ready in time for Christmas. I have been inspired by watching some episodes of Will Studd's Cheese Slices although I ended up deciding that I didn't have time to do some of the more fiddly cheeses like those made by Trappist monks on France. Another day when I don't have other jobs to do!
So I decided on trying some of the Annatto seeds I bought in Melbourne so hunted around for a cheese which needed some red colouring. Annatto usually comes in liquid form for cheese making so it was all experimental, smashing up the seeds and boiling in some water to extract the colour. Who knows if it will work! The recipe for Red Leicester was similar to the usual, adding starter, adding rennet, cutting the curd, warming the curd. Then it diverged more towards a cheddar style of cutting the curds into slices to drain and be flipped regularly for an hour or so. The curd is then milled and salted before pressing for a couple of short presses before a 24 hour 22 kg pressing. 

It has been drying for a few days now and is starting to change colour. Once it is quite dry to the touch, I will vacuum seal it and put it in the maturing fridge/ cave.

Meanwhile in another pot, I thought I would try a northern Italian cheese from the Veneto area. Asiago and with pepper added Pepato. This is made with a starter more tolerant of high temperatures like Parmesan as the cooking of the curd took it to a much higher temperature than the Leicester. The pressing was also much lighter which I am not sure is such a good idea as I see a few cracks in the surface. This cheese had to sit in a heavy brine overnight and is now also drying. This cheese is meant to be washed with brine weekly for months but I think with those cracks, it would be safer to vacuum seal it and let it age out of the reach of mould!

Day 2 Red Leicester and Asiago Pepato drying

The Red Leicester Day 4 starting to look a bit red.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cabécou update. Saturday August 15 2015

The Cabécou has been drying and maturing during the week. Now it has been put into jars of oils for another week of maturation before it is tasting time! I cut the rounds into pieces and split between three jars.
 One jar has oregano and bay leaf, another chilli flakes and the third has Tasmanian Mountain pepper before they are filled with a mix of sunflower and olive oil. 
Into the fridge they go. We just have to remember to eat them up within three weeks now. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cabécou and Mozzarella. Saturday August 8th 2015

For months I had passed a new little shop in Wynyard called Providore but the other day when they had a sign out advertising cheese making supplies I thought it was time to make a visit. I struck up a conversation with the owner, a cheesemaker himself who had done a course with a man in Brisbane from whom I buy my cheesemaking cultures. The Providore shop is now going to his stock cultures...that will be very handy as I won't have to build up a list of things I need before placing an order and also won't run the risk of the cultures being left in the mailbox in the sun.

One of this man's favourite cheeses is Cabecou a fresh French cheese mostly made with goat's milk but which can be made from cow's. It is easy and doesn't involve lots of stirring and heating. So this morning when the day was looking a bit cloudy and not so nice for being outside, I thought I'd give it a go. Found a recipe in Artisan Cheese Making at Home and off I went. 

The milk has been warmed to 75 degrees F, some Flora Danica culture added, then a dash of rennet.
 It now sits for 18 hours to mature. 
It will end up in a jar of oil in a few days with some herbs but perhaps I will write about that next time.
I thought I would make a 30 minute Mozzarella whilst I was about it. Tis one is pretty simple. It probably isn't as great as a hand crafted proper recipe Mozzarella but it is fine grated onto a pizza so good enough for my purposes! This recipe just calls for the milk to be warmed, citric acid added, then rennet.
After the curd is cut you heat it in the microwave to get it hot enough to be stretchy .
Then it is broken off into little balls and out straight into an ice bath to cool quickly.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fromage Blanc and Ricotta Passionfruit Cheesecake. Friday July 17, 2015

There was some some ricotta and fromage Blanc left over from last weekend which needed to be used up, so I wondered how they would go in a cheesecake. I thought that the fromage Blanc had a texture similar to cream cheese so I adapted a ricotta and cream cheese recipe. I topped it with passionfruit pulp thickened with cornflour. Yum. It had great texture and flavour and the bonus of much less fat than a regular cheesecake. I'll certainly be adding that to my list of recipes to repeat one day.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fromage Blanc. Sunday July 12, 2015

On Friday as I was trying to fight off a winter chill, I decided to stay nice and warm inside the house and make cheese. As well as topping up my halloumi supplies, I decided to experiment with a soft cheese, Fromage Blanc. It was a very simple to make, merely a matter of warming the milk, adding culture and rennet and then letting it sit all day. I then drained it in cheese cloth all night and by morning, it was ready.
It is a slightly sour flavour, creamy in texture so it makes a good spread for bread.

I tried it spread on some toasted rye sourdough with some sweet chilli sauces and it was very tasty. I think it would be really nice with jam too. I wonder if it would work in a cheesecake as it has the consistency of cream cheese but without the fat content. ....maybe next time.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The best of bartering - Cheesemaking Lesson for a bottle of The Retiring, an artisanal gin. Saturday June 6th 2015

Yesterday I had a cheesemaking day with a difference. A work colleague retired a few months ago and I had promised to give him a cheesemaking lesson one day in winter when the garden harvest was over.  Our paths crossed last week so we arranged to meet yesterday for a big day of production. My plans were almost foiled by the milk truck arriving at 8.30am. That meant me hot footing it up to the vat with several bottles to fill before all the milk disappeared off to the factory.
This is the first time I have actually taught anyone to make cheese and it was a bit hard to decide which cheeses to make to teach to not have too much time to kill in between steps but that also taught some of the basic processes. After a lot of deliberation, I decided on Parmesan, Camembert and Ricotta and the timing was pretty much perfect. Five hours later after much talking, timing and curd cutting and stirring, we had Parmesan into its final stage of pressing, Camembert halfway through its 5 hours of flipping, Ricotta drained and ready to use. I sent Bert home with some ricotta and a few Camembert to flip on his own and then sit back and have the pleasure of watching the mould grow over the next week or so.He also took some bottles of milk to try to make some Fetta at home. 
This is what mine look like this morning.
Parmesan just out of the press
and into a saturated brine for 24 hours

And the Ricotta into an Egg and Bacon Pie

And my reward?    Only a bottle of the gin judged to be the best Tasmanian gin by the staff at the bar at the fabulous MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)!!! Bert hasn't been idle in his retirement but has started making a beautiful artisanal gin called ,appropriately, The Retiring. Guess what we had with our dinner last night! 

The Retiring Gin

And after he left,just to finish off the day, I made some Cherry Chocolate ice cream with the cream I had skimmed off the milk used in the Parmesan .

Today has been wet and drizzly outside all day so a perfect day for staying in the Preserving Patch Kitchen. I have been busy making some Jostaberry and Gooseberry Jam

And a nice crusty loaf of bread to go with it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Harvest of the Sea. Sunday May 24 2015

I suddenly realised the other day that I hadn't done a blog post for some time after such a good start to the year.
The autumn garden harvest is finally finished so as the weather has been spectacularly beautiful this weekend, I decided to go fishing. Vegetarians stop reading now!  I thought my kayak fishing for the season had finished but couldn't resist the temptation when the forecast was for calm and sunny days and decided to go for one more trip before putting the kayak in the shed until late spring. Rocky Cape National Park , where I have had a bit of previous success ,was my destination. The day was frosty but with no wind. It was just beautiful on the water today.
Yesterday I caught three Australian or cocky salmon and one less tasty blue throated wrasse or parrot fish. The salmon went straight into the freezer for another day and I filleted the parrot fish to use tonight.

Today ,even though the day was calmer, the fish weren't biting and I was almost ready to give up and come home when I suddenly landed a squid. That made the trip worthwhile so it is Squid ink Risotto on the menu for tonight ( with the parrot fish which is not so tasty on its own).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A great new idea for excess zucchini....not mine. Sunday April 12 2015

I was watching a cooking show on SBS TV the other night featuring an English young lady with bright red lipstick. She was touring the Amalfi coast in Italy and gushing over all the simple Italian family cooking with all the local produce. Beautiful scenery, good food. But then when she came to make something for the people she had visited, she came up with a brilliant substitute for pasta. Ever tried julienned zucchini briefly cooked with a tomato sauce? Sounded like a great way to use up some of the last of the summer's zucchini  that I have left in the garden so last night I gave it a try.
Simply julienne zucchini lengthwise through a mandoline and there you have the basic strips of " pasta" only this is just vegetable nothing else. 

Make up a sauce of sautéed onion garlic and tomato. Add the zucchini for the last minute or so of cooking and voila! Bellissimo!
Tonight I am trying it with a mince sauce.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A peck of Peppers. Easter Sunday April 5th 2015

I have no idea how much is a peck. Neither are these pickled but they are peppers. Tasmanian native peppers that is. Tasmannia lanceolata. There is a bumper crop this year and we have just been to our mountain hideaway for a couple of days where there are thousands of pepper bushes. Only the female bushes fruit so this has been a good time to identify some that are female for taking cuttings to propagate in the future. This tree was not far from our hut and absolutely laden with big berries. Lots of the other bushes had smaller fruit.
So it didn't take me long to pick this lot. Now they are in the dehydrator, drying out so that they keep for many months. Yesterday I chopped up a few to have in our lunchtime omelette. Not too many as they are very HOT.
I like to put them in my Pyrenees pepper cheese when I make it so that will have to be on the agenda sometime soon. Otherwise they can be used as a substitute for ordinary black pepper. A slightly different flavour but tasty all the same.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Foraging in the fields. Tuesday, March 31 2015

Last week we had a nice drop of rain and I noticed a few white spots in the neighbours paddock as I drove past. So on the weekend, I went a-wandering around a few of the paddocks here, hopeful that I might get lucky and find some mushrooms. Well find them I did! For the first time in about 5 years, I found lots of them! I think it must be a combination of conditions. Perhaps a long dry summer with early autumn rains when the daytime temperatures have still been reasonably warm.
On Saturday I picked a dozen or so in the paddock where I last found them in abundance in 2010. Then on Sunday I tried another paddock where the dairy effluent spray has been going and I picked over 2.5 kg! Yesterday in the late afternoon, I went and had another look in the same paddock and picked another 800g! So this week we are having mushrooms in many incarnations for dinner. Beef stroganoff, mushroom and broad bean pilau, mushroom and tomato frittata so far. I also cooked up quite a few and have frozen them for other meals in the future. Yum!
Can't beat the taste of fresh mushies!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Just Peachy. Tuesday 24th March 2015

Last weekend I was finally able to start my harvest of a laden peach tree in my orchard. I have been watching eagerly for several weeks, waiting for them to colour up and soften. I noticed that. Birds or possums were starting to have a nibble on some of them so that was my cue to start the harvest.
First up, out came the preserving unit and by the end of the weekend I had bottled a dozen big jars.

Then I stewed some peach slices and puréed them. This lot was turned into peach leather and a little experiment as dehydrated cooked peach slices.

I also tried some dehydrated raw peach slices which took much longer than the cooked ones and didn't have nearly as much flavour. In the end my taste tester Max and I decided the leather was a better end product.

With more purée, I made a peach ice cream. It lacked a bit of flavour so I added some passionfruit pulp and vanilla essence. This was a custard based ice cream and in hindsight, I think a yoghurt base would have given it a better flavour. There are plenty more peaches on the tree so that can be next weekends experiment.

Then on Sunday, I stoned and chopped about three kilos and made a big batch of peach jam.

There are still plenty more to harvest so I think I will bottle some more last weekend, stew some for the freezer, and of course eat some fresh ones. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A busy morning in the Patch Kitchen. Sunday February 15, 2015.

Just thinking I would finish off pipping all the Damson plums that were left in the bucket, somehow I got sidetracked. I have ended up with fresh bread, plum and cinnamon muffins, a slow cooking Chilli con carne, preserved Damson plums, zucchini pickles and a Sparkling Plum drink brewing. And that is to add to the Plum leather I made yesterday. 
I haven't made Sparkling plum today but am following the basic principles of making sparkling drinks like Elderflower. 875g of pipped plums, 750g of sugar ( less than the recipe for Sparkling rhubarb which I tried once before and found a bit sweet) 18 cups of water, 1 chopped lemon and 200ml of cider vinegar. Mix the lot together and let sit for 2 days before straining into PET bottles. Leave for at least two weeks for the drink to ferment and create bubbles. Let's hope it tastes as good as the elderflower as we are down to the last of the big batch I made for summer.

No room left on the bench so it is time to quit!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Tantalising Tzatziki. February 7 2015

Two posts in one day to make amends for only one in January.
I have just been making some Tzatziki dip to have a lunch time and thought I would share. Grated cucumber fresh from the garden mixed with crushed garlic, homemade yoghurt, olive oil and fresh dill are all mixed together with a bit of salt and pepper. How easy is that? And how yummy does it look?

Plums plums plums. Oh, and more plums! February 7th 2015

I haven't done very well with my New Year's resolution for writing this blog more frequently have I? Oh well, life gets just too busy sometimes. 
The fruit crops are bountiful this season so just keeping up with them has taken up a lot of time. Last weekend I made some Plum cordial from the lovely Angelica plum which for the first time had a decent crop. I also made a Plum cinnamon ice cream which tasted like a frozen version of my plum cake was gobbled up in a few days.


The Damson plum is absolutely laden but not quite ripe yet so soon it will be full speed making of jam, cordial, Worcestershire sauce plum leather and whatever else I can think of! They are not so nice for eating fresh but are very flavoursome when cooked.The Satsuma plum didn't fruit very well as in 2013 we lost its Santa Rosa cross pollinator so now have to wait until the new one bears enough blossom.