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Folks, I’m celebrating my 50th birthday this month, so I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the rest of March to party with family and friends.

♥ See you all in April! ♥

A few bits and pieces from the past couple of weeks!

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Pete and I were thrilled to attend the wedding of our friends Belinda Jane (BJ) and Matt in Victoria Park yesterday. Beej wept for joy as she was walked down the aisle by both her parents…

The bride wore a short vintage lace dress and blue Converse shoes which let her dance the night away. Instead of a bridesmaid and a best man, they had a bride-dog and a best-dog (both of whom served as ring bearers) and their wedding vows were taken from Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up

A loud and glorious celebration followed at the Vanguard in Newtown. It was honestly the best night we’ve had in ages…

The two happiest people on the planet last night…

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We’ve also been busy cooking this month…

At least once a fortnight, we eat a Spanish-inspired Chica-inspired meal. The last one was Arroz Caldoso (soupy paella) with homemade confit pork and garden beans, accompanied by chorizo and onions. The boys are loving this style of food, and I’m loving being able to put all the dishes straight into the dishwasher after dinner…

. . . . .

I uncovered a baby Christmas pudding in the fridge (as one does in March) and decided to turn it into truffles…

I blitzed together half the pudding, slices of candied orange and a good splosh of Cointreau, then mixed it all with melted dark chocolate. The filling was shaped into balls, then left to harden in the fridge before dipping in tempered chocolate. They turned out well!

. . . . .

For our Chinese New Year dinner with my folks, I made Kylie Kwong’s soy sauce eggs. The recipe can be found here, and they’re very easy to make. I began by steaming the eggs in our Aldi machine

Here’s a tip – if you steam eggs rather than boil them, they’re massively easier to peel neatly…

The eggs in their soy sauce bath…

I loved these – I think I ate half of them on my own at dinner…

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This container of fat from a roasted Burrawong Gaian duck had been sitting in my freezer for some time…

Taking inspiration from Nagi’s Crack Bread and a comment that Chica Tanya made a while back (about burly Spaniards eating lard and pimenton on toast for breakfast), I combined 50g of the duck fat, half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a couple of pinches of sea salt, then spread it through a criss-cross sliced ciabatta loaf. After baking in a 180C oven for about 15 minutes, it was ready for eating…

Pete attempted to eat most of the loaf on his own (Big Boy helped) – it was a very nice change from garlic bread…

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We’re having a fabulous month – hope you are too!

Last week, we had a minor mishap in the back fridge – a ziploc bag filled with glacé cherries leaked, oozing sticky bright red sugar syrup all over the top shelf.

On cleaning up, I found a bag of coarse burghul (also known as bulgur wheat). It needed a new container, but the entire kilo didn’t quite fit in the box, so I thought I’d add the excess to a batch of sourdough. I always like to soak grains before adding them to bread – I find it allows the flavour of the grains to permeate the dough, and also reduces the chances of cracking a filling on a hard kernel. In the case of the coarse burghul though, I knew from prior experience that the grains would need boiling to soften them.

I was inspired by Laila’s recent post to shape the dough into flower loaves. They’re great fun to make and in some ways resemble Anne’s huffers. Big Boy and I broke off a petal each for lunch, filling them with ham, cheese, mustard and pickles.

I reduced the liquid in my dough to allow for the water absorbed by the burghul. The slightly lower hydration dough is also easier to shape.

  • 300g active, bubbly starter (fed at a ratio of one cup water to one cup flour)
  • 550g water
  • 1kg bakers flour
  • 100g coarse burghul
  • 18g fine sea salt

1. Put the burghul into a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes until al dente. Pour the grains into a sieve and cool under cold running water. Drain well.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the starter, water and drained cooked burghul. Add the flour and salt and mix well with a clean hand, squelching everything together until the flour is completely incorporated. Scrape off your hand, cover and allow to rest for half an hour.

3. Uncover the bowl and give the dough a quick knead. Cover again and allow to rest until well risen – anything from 6 – 12 hours, depending on weather.

4. Dust a bench with flour and turn out the risen dough. Fold it onto itself a couple of times, then divide into two. Shape each half into a round ball.

5. Place a ball of dough onto a sheet of parchment. Flatten it out into a wide circle, then make five cuts nearly to the centre as shown in the photo below. Stretch each petal out slightly to create gaps between them. Repeat with the other ball of dough. Cover with a tea towel and allow to prove. Preheat oven to 240C with fan and position pizza stones on the rack(s).

6. Once the dough has puffed up, spritz the loaves with water and slide them, still on their parchment sheets, onto the pizza stones. Reduce the oven temperature to 220C with fan and bake for 20 minutes.

7. At the 20 minute mark, carefully remove the parchment sheets, rotating the loaves if necessary. Reduce the heat to 175C with fan and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes, until the loaves are well browned and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Even though it was precooked, the burghul didn’t turn into mush in the finished bread. The crumb was elastic and chewy, with a delicious, slightly nutty flavour…

These funky 70s flower power loaves were great fun to make. The shape could be easily adapted – a four leaf clover for St Patrick’s Day perhaps? Both yeasted and sourdoughs would work – just be sure to use a lower hydration formula to make the shaping process easier.

Thanks for the inspiration, Laila!

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When I blogged about our Christmas goose earlier in the year, Carolyn very kindly suggested that we visit Chop Shop Carnivorium in nearby Hurlstone Park.

Before popping in, I had a look at their website, and I have to say, it’s hard not to be charmed by someone who begins her newsletters with “Dear Carnivores”. Owner Melinda Dimitriades is passionate, extremely knowledgeable and hilariously good fun…

Her small shop offers higher welfare meats as well as a selection of handmade ready to eat meals and gourmet accompaniments. I was delighted to find that they offer true pasture raised pork from Melanda Park

We bought some of her flavoured lamb sausages to try – my boys loved them…

I make my own pulled pork, but it takes about four hours from start to finish. If you’re short on time, Chop Shop has it ready to go in their refrigerator cabinet, made from organic pasture raised pork. I reckon $30/kg is very reasonable as a little goes a long way – we can usually stretch 250g into dinner for the four of us (burritos, lasagne filling and so on). Each tub below has about 500g in it…

I bought a packet of frozen churros for my young friend Luca who’s been addicted to them ever since his holiday to Spain (you can just see them in the bottom of the photo below). They were expensive but Melinda assured me they were fabulous. She was right too – Luca’s text that evening simply said: “Absolutely amazing and the real deal. Totally made my week!”…

I was excited to find that Melinda still had a couple of frozen geese leftover from Christmas. I bought one to roast for an upcoming dinner party, as well as this magnificent Holmbrae cornfed chicken ($15/kg)…

If you can’t get to Hurlstone Park, Chop Shop Carnivorium has market stalls in Sydney every Saturday. Definitely worth a visit! They’re also planning to start home deliveries across the Sydney metro very soon (hooray!) – if you’re interested, drop them a note and they’ll add you to their mailing list.

I don’t have any affiliation with the shop, but I’m planning to be a regular customer from now on!

. . . . .

Chop Shop Carnivorium
10 Crinan Street
Hurlstone Park NSW
02 9558 5000
www.chopshopcarnivorium.com.au

This month’s IN MY KITCHEN is now closed!

Please join us again in April! ♥

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To all the wonderful folks who donated to Kim’s fundraiser in February – THANK YOU. Your generosity has made a huge difference!

Over the last month, Kim has been sending me lovely email updates with photos of their progress. She and Russ have bought a secondhand double trailer home and had it shipped to their spot by the lake (I’ll let Kim tell you all about that in her IMK post). And whilst they didn’t get to their target amount, they did raise enough money – mostly through IMK donations – to buy a brand new stove and a new refrigerator.

To understand how much of an impact your contributions have made, you should know that the stove and fridge might be the only new large appliances in their next home – they plan to replace nearly everything else with flea market and secondhand finds.

Kim sent me these photos to share with you. Here’s her stove being assembled…

Their brand new fridge…

And a sneak peek at their “old/new” house, mid-renovation. There will be lots more photos in her IMK post this month…

Again, to everyone who donated, thank you for your kind generosity!

. . . . .

In my kitchen…

…is a gift from my mad friend Nancy in Shanghai. I adored everything in my surprise parcel, from the wineglass rings to the Chinese New Year napkins to the ribbons and trims. I’m especially fond of the small enamel plates…

But my favourite is this Carrefour shopping bag, complete with Chinglish inscription…

In my kitchen…

…there is always bread. I was especially happy with how these banneton loaves turned out…

In my kitchen…

…were fresh lychees, a gift from the darling Monkey Girl for Chinese New Year. They were eaten on the same day…

In my kitchen…

…are Sidecar cocktails. They’re a fabulous Friday night drink…

In my kitchen…

…is a gift from lovely Jaqi – a gorgeous Valentina Jones pendant cut from a vintage ceramic plate. I’ve worn it twice already!

In my kitchen…

…are the last of this year’s snake beans. We’ve had a bumper crop…

In my kitchen…

…is a “shake the fridge” dinner (to borrow Bizzy Lizzy’s term) of leftover chorizo, potatoes, garden beans and boiled eggs. It was delicious and garlicky…

In my kitchen…

…was a tray of pulled pork. It’s now been portioned up and frozen for future meals…

In my kitchen…

…is a new cheese board, a gift from the wonderful Maureen, whom I finally met up with last week…

In my kitchen…

…are baked treats from Tart Sisters in Ashfield, which we visited on the advice of lovely Lorraine. Their lemon tart was particularly good…

And speaking of Lorraine, in my kitchen…

…are these fabulous Turkish goodies that she gave me. Pete demolished all the apricot nougat swirls in one sitting, and I can’t wait to try out the ras el hanout – it smells amazing!

In my kitchen…

…is Kevin’s chocolate platter. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re now making these for all the upcoming 50th birthdays, but the selection varies each time. Kev’s present included our new truffle brownies, 50th birthday lollipops and card, dipped candied orange, assorted milk feuilletine and dark origin chocolate dragons. If you count them, you’ll find there’s exactly 50 pieces…

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Tell me, what’s happening in your kitchen this month?

If you’d like to do an In My Kitchen post on your own blog, please feel free  to do so. We’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen this month!  Please link back to this blog, and let us know when your post is up, and we’ll add it to our monthly listing. Please upload your post by the 10th of each month.

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