Feeds:
Posts
Comments

fl1

What do you do with leftover fresh ricotta? Turn it into ricotta cake, of course!

I spent ages trying to perfect this recipe – here’s the original post from 2009 and our gluten free version, plus a ricotta slice I messed about with. I’m not sure why I found it all so hard – these days I just wing it and it seems to work every time.

Here’s a brief rundown on my most recent bake (quantities are loose)…

Mix one large well-drained 500ml tub of fresh ricotta with a big spoonful of Greek yoghurt (we used homemade) or sour cream, 150g sifted icing sugar and the grated rind of a small lemon.

Stir in two egg yolks. Beat two whites until firm, then fold into the batter.

Pour into a tin or pie dish lined with sweet shortcrust pastry (our recipe is here, but it’s quite sticky and fiddly – you have been warned!). Bake in a preheated 150C fan oven for about 50 minutes, rotating once (carefully). Leave to cool in the oven with the door ajar. Chill, then serve…

fl2

With the little piece of excess pastry, I made a baby berry pie for Small Man. He loved it…

fl3

. . . . .

And remember our roast lamb shoulders?

ff5

The following day, I turned the leftovers into that Aussie staple, shepherd’s pie…

fl5

I blitzed the meat in the food processor, then mixed it with cooked onion (chopped and fried until translucent), grated carrot, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, half a cup of tomato passata, salt, pepper and a couple of tablespoons of water. This was then spooned into a greased pie dish.

Three large potatoes were peeled and mashed with butter, salt and pepper (no liquid), then spread out over the meat and roughed with a fork. A little melted butter was brushed on top and the pie was baked for about 50 mins in a preheated 175C fan oven. From memory, I turned the heat up a bit at the end to brown the topping.

It was delicious with chipotle barbeque sauce!

sc1

A foodie tip: buy soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert or Fromage D’Affinois whenever they’re on special (the riper the better), wrap them carefully, and stash in the freezer.

They will defrost overnight in the fridge to perfect, non-soggy ooziness for your next dinner party cheese platter. They’re also brilliant on pizzas – D’Affinois makes a particularly decadent topping.

I bought this 1kg wheel of Mon Père from Costco for just $20, cut it into eight wedges and (very carefully) vacuum sealed each piece to prevent freezer burn. I’ve also had great success with just wrapping the cheese tightly in cling film.

sc3

Here it is after having been frozen for a week, then defrosted overnight in the fridge…

ch1

. . . . .

While I was at Costco, I also spotted pots of Jean Perrin Fromage des Clarines on special for $4.97. These are normally $20 each (and often more for the ones in ceramic bowls) but a friend told me that the importer had brought in too many for Christmas. With an expiry date of 13th January, they were massively marked down for a quick sale…

ch3

Knowing that I could freeze them, I bought four tubs! I stashed three in the freezer and baked one, following Tania’s recipe here

ch2

It was ridiculously moreish…

. . . . .

And while we’re on the topic…a cheese plate is an integral part of our dinner parties.  If you need help assembling one, have a look at Sally’s comprehensive guide on putting one together.

Without fail though, I’m always left with a box of cheesy bits and pieces the following day. I turned leftovers into a cheese pâté recently and it was such a hit that I thought I’d best document it here so that I can find the recipe again next time. It’s basically a riff on the Fromage Fort recipe I posted years ago…

  • 300g assorted leftover cheeses – I had a wedge of Cranberry Wensleydale, some 18-month Comte and a small piece of White Pearl Brie (which incidentally had been in the freezer for months, but had defrosted perfectly). It’s worth tasting the cheeses together first to make sure they don’t clash too much.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • glug of good white wine
  • splash of Kirsch
  • black pepper
  • walnuts, coarsely chopped

Set up the food processor with the grater blade and grate the hard cheeses into the bowl. Now switch to the chopping blade and add the soft cheeses, peeled and smashed garlic, pepper, wine and Kirsch. Blitz to form a smooth(ish) paste.

Scrape into a bowl and smooth out the top. Cover the surface with chopped walnuts, pressing in gently to stick them on (not shown in photo below, because I got the idea after it was taken).

Serve with crackers or sourdough focaccia.

fl4

As I mentioned above, the nuts were a last minute addition, but they made a huge difference to both taste and appearance, and are well worth the extra effort. The addition of the booze seems to help preserve the cheese. I’ve made versions of this with everything from blue to soft, but it might not work with fresh cheeses such as ricotta or mozzarella (because they go off quite quickly).

The pâté should improve with a couple of days’ rest, but I took this to dinner at Kevin and Carol’s place and it was demolished before the night was out!

tiramisu3

Every year, my lovely octogenarian neighbour June gives me a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label.

As I’m not a huge whisky drinker, every year, I turn it into three litres of homemade Irish Cream. Just before Christmas, I snuck jam jars’ full of “Festive Mother’s Helper” into my girlfriends’ fridges.

I was wondering what to do with the litre left in my own fridge when I came across this recipe by Nigella Lawson. I tweaked the ingredients just a little bit…

  • 3 shots of Nespresso coffee, with water added to bring it up to 350ml
  • 250ml (1 cup) of homemade Irish Cream
  • 400g savoiardi biscuits
  • 2 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 500 grams mascarpone cheese
  • dutch cocoa powder

Tiramisu is very easy to make, but can sometimes end up a little soggy. My chef friend Dotti gave me a few tips to ensure a perfect result.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, then fold in the mascarpone and ¼ cup Irish Cream. Whisk the whites until soft peaks form and carefully fold them into the mascarpone mixture. Be sure to use the freshest eggs you can find, as they won’t be cooked (ours were laid that morning).

In a large bowl, mix together the diluted coffee and remaining Irish Cream.

Now, here’s Dot’s first trick of the trade. Don’t soak the savoiardi biscuits. Holding them sideways (like this ⊂⊃), dip the bottom half into the liquid and pull it straight back out. Flip over and repeat with the top half. The biscuits might look a little dry, but fear not, they’ll absorb more liquid after the tiramisu is assembled and create a perfect sponge layer in the finished dessert.

Her second tip is to stand the bottom layer of biscuits on their side rather than laying them flat. This creates a slightly thicker base which is less likely to end up soggy.

Cover the base with a row of (barely) soaked soldiers, then top with half the mascarpone mixture. Then add another row of (barely) soaked biscuits – I laid them flat for the second layer – and top with more mascarpone. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight. Dust with cocoa just before serving.

I didn’t remember to take a photo before serving, but hey, it was Christmas. See how the thicker base has formed a perfect, non-soggy sponge layer?

tiramisu1

Dotti’s final tip…and this one is genius…is that the assembled tiramisu freezes brilliantly. I had sufficient quantities to make one dish for our dinner plus two takeaway containers’ worth. Defrost overnight in the fridge (ideally), then smooth out the top, dust with cocoa and serve. It’s an easy dessert to keep on hand for last minute dinner parties…

tiramisu2

So…that leaves me with just half a litre of my home brew in the fridge. Any suggestions?

We’ve had the most glorious few weeks with family and friends! Here are a few pics from our holiday feasting…

I made Jamie Oliver’s fabulous chicken liver parfait – it’s delicious and cream-free…

ff1

My niece tried to eat the entire pot on her own!

ff2

Homemade curry puffs, deep fried by Big Boy…

ff3

This season’s glazed ham started with a magnificent Black Forest Smokehouse half leg, made from Borrowdale free range pork.

Here’s the method again (I’ve blogged it previously, but it’s buried in the archives)… we melted a jar of Pete’s quince jelly with a few tablespoons of dark brown sugar to form the glaze.  The fat was scored and studded with cloves, and then half the glaze was painted on. The leg was baked on a rack over a pan of water at 240C with fan for 20 minutes, then removed from the oven and coated with the remaining glaze, before returning to bake for a further 20 minutes at 200C with fan…

ff4

Christmas lunch included lovely Andrew’s homemade pudding…it came to the table in a blaze of brandy…

. . . . .

For a recent dinner party, we slow roasted two local lamb shoulders, rubbed with rosemary, garlic, oil and salt. After resting, the bones simply pulled out of the meat… (recipe is here)…

ff5

There was, of course, heaps of sourdough bread. I made these kissing loaves by shaping two long sticks and sitting them side by side in my enamel roaster…

ff6

ff7

New Year’s Eve dinner was a quiet one at home. We each had a massive grassfed T-bone steak (I couldn’t finish mine), accompanied by mashed potatoes and garden beans, and washed down with Bollinger champagne. Simple and oh so good…

ff9

Our friends have been cooking up a storm as well!

We had lunch with Stephen and Marcella last week, and they made this fabulous pan-fried salmon topped with papaya and coriander…

ff9b

…and for our dinner last night, Kevin roasted this Tasmanian grassfed fillet to perfection!

ff9a

Hope you’re all having a wonderful start to 2017!

h2

It’s taken me a long time to understand…that happiness is not an entitlement, nor is it a state of being that magically descends upon us when the stars are aligned.

Rather, it’s the product of continued hard work and effort.

It’s closely linked to contentment, and the adjustment of our eyes and brains and expectations to find gratitude in our many blessings rather than misery in what we lack.

Life is always going to be challenging and unpredictable. We’re constantly dodging hurdles and occasionally, we’re going to trip. But if we work on changing how we view the world – if we learn to celebrate every sunrise and every smile and every taste and every glimpse of beauty and colour, no matter how small…then we can find tiny pockets of bliss in even the most difficult of times.

Learning to be happy takes practice and application, and whilst I’m getting better, I’m still not brilliant at it. Sometimes, life can feel overwhelming. When that happens, I try to eke out an hour  – to go for a walk, or have coffee with a friend, or study my fossils, or sew a useful bag – something to calm the jitters and soothe the soul. These small things keep me present and grounded, and they help me to reconnect with what is real in my life. Rather than being mere distractions, it’s only in those moments, when my heart is full of love and gratitude and contentment, that I feel like I’m truly living well.

I hope you all find moments of sheer, unadulterated joy in both the spectacular and the everyday in 2017. I wish you gentle times and peaceful hearts.

Happy New Year, my lovely friends. ♥

%d bloggers like this: