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Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet Luscious Strawberries

Last week we decided to go to the pick your own strawberry farm in the Adelaide Hills.  This is an activity that the whole family can enjoy.  For a small fee you are admitted to the strawberry patch and you can pick as many strawberries as you like for as long as you like.  You then go and get the strawberries weighed and pay for what you take home.

Needless to say we put a lot of energy into this so had about 3 kg of fresh strawberries to bring home with us (this isn't counting those that we ate along the way).  Most of these we ate fresh, but I have included a couple of recipes for what I have done with those that are still left.

Strawberry Smoothie:
Place 10 hulled strawberries, a cup of milk and a half cup yoghurt in a blender with plenty of crushed ice.  Blend until smooth.

Strawberry Whip:
Beat 375ml evaporated milk until thick, then gradually sprinkle in 170g strawberry jelly crystals, beating as you go until the crystals dissolve.  Fold in 1 cup chopped strawberries, refridgerate until set.

Strawberry Semi-freddo:
Process 500g hulled strawberries with 100 g icing sugar and juice of 1/2 lemon.  Whip 300ml cream until thick then fold in the strawberry mixture.  Place in a lamington pan and freeze until sides are frozen, then remove and beat again.  Repeat several times.  You could alternatively use an ice cream machine to make this.

Strawberry Martini:
Process 250g hulled strawberries with 1/2 tablespoon castor sugar.  Shake in a cocktail shaker with 1/3 cup vodka and 1/2 cup crushed ice.  Drink and pretend that you are on a yacht with your millionaire husband.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Excess Bananas

Well, not so long ago bananas were very hard to source and expensive in Australia due to Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry which wiped out approximately 80% of the Australian banana crops in March 2006.  The new crops are now producing bananas and the prices have come down so they are back on the shopping list.  Instead of throwing them out when they get a little too soft, I freeze them whole in their skins, then I can use them in biscuit, cake, muffin or smoothie recipes.

Here are some of my favourite banana recipes.

Banana Chai spice biscuits:
Make chai spice mix by combining 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground cardamon, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, 3 teaspoons ground ginger and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Combine 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup raw sugar, 1 cup plain flour. 1/2 cup dessicated coconut, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda and 6 teaspoons chai spice mix in a large bowl.  Make a well and add 2 mashed bananas and 100 grams melted butter and stir until combined.  Drop heaped teaspoons of mixture onto oven trays lined with baking paper, allowing room for spreading.  Bake for 20 minutes or until starting to brown in a moderate oven.

Hummingbird Cake:
Sift 3 cups plain flour with 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 1/2 cups sugar into a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add 1 1/2 cups canola oil, 3 eggs, 225 grams crushed pineapple (undrained), 2 cups of mashed banana, 1 cup of chopped pecans and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.  Pour mixture into a greased cake tin and bake in a moderate oven for just over an hour or until cooked when tested.  When cool, ice with cream cheese frosting, which is made by creaming 75 grams unsalted butter, 250 grams softened cream cheese and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.  When combined, gradually beat in 2 cups sifted icing sugar.

Banana and blueberry muffins:
Sift 1 cup self raising flour, 1/2 cup wholemeal self raising flour, 1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda and a pinch of salt into a large bowl.  Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup chopped dates.  Mix well, then make a well in the centre and add 1 large mashed banana, 1/3 cup sunflower oil, 2/3 cup milk and 1 egg and stir with a fork until just combined.  Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cases and add about 4 blueberries to each muffin.  Bake in a moderately hot oven for about 25 minutes or until cooked when tested.

Easy Banana Smoothie:
Half fill blender with crushed ice, add 1-2 frozen bananas, 1 teaspoon honey and a little milk.  Blend until smooth and creamy (add more milk if required).  You could add yoghurt or icecream if you want but I find that the banana already has a nice creamy texture.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas leftovers

First of all I would like to say a big Happy New Year to you all and a special hello to Shauna who left me a very kind and inspiring comment (I replied under "First Blog") and my lovely long time reader and fellow blogger Modest Destiny (who previously blogged as Pastry Hall - link attached) who also left me a comment after last weeks blog.  I hope I can continue to keep you interested in coming back to visit every week or so.

Well last week I wrote about the Turducken.  This week is devoted to what to do with the leftovers.  For those of you in Australia (and in Adelaide in particular) you will know that it has been stinking hot (nearly 42 C yesterday which was the hottest New Years Day in over 100 years), so these ideas are great for lazy hot summer days when you don't want to heat the house up too much (sorry Northern Hemisphere readers you will need to wait a few months for the hot weather).

Cold Rolls:
First of all get some nice thin slices of meat about 5 cm long and place in a container with some hoisin sauce mixed with a bit of warm water so it is runny (I usually use chicken or a whole cooked prawn, but this time I am slicing the turkey and chicken meat from the Turducken).  Soak 100g rice vermicelli noodles in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then plunge into cold water and drain thoroughly.  When cool enough to handle, cut into small (about 5 cm lengths).  Chop up some mint and coriander (about 1/4 cup of each) and grate 1 carrot.  Mix with the noodles.  Slice some cucumber into thin 5cm long strips and set aside.

Soak rice paper wrappers one at a time in a bowl of hot water, then take out and kind of turn in quarter circles to get the drips of water off.  Working quickly place 1/4 cup noodle mixture and a few slices of meat and cucumber in the centre of the rice paper roll.  Fold in the ends then roll up firmly to close.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers.  Serve with extra hoisin sauce mixed with warm water and a few chopped peanuts.

Chinese duck salad:
Chop up 1 cup of the chinese cabbage (wombok) leftover from making the asian style coleslaw.  Add 1 carrot finely sliced into sticks, 1/4 cup each of chopped coriander and mint and 100 g sliced blanched green beans.  Add duck meat and then pour over dressing - made with 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 2 sliced spring onions, 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce, 1 tablespoon peanut oil  and 1/2 cup lime juice.  Sprinkle with peanuts to serve.

Singapore Noodles
Plunge 500 g hokkien noodles into hot water and when soft drain thoroughly.  Cook 1 thinly sliced carrot in peanut oil in a wok over high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons curry powder and cook a little longer.  Add noodles, 1/4 cup chicken stock, 2 tablespoons ketjap manis and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.  Stirfry until hot, then add 2 cups finely chopped chinese cabbage and 4 thinly sliced spring onions. Add chopped chicken meat and let heat through.

I also like to make individual pies using ready rolled puff pastry and mixing chopped up meat with some leftover gravy for the filling.  Another thing I can't get enough of is a sandwich made with leftover roast meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayonaisse and avacado. 

We also had a some leftover tomato and bocconcini salad so I used this for bruschetta topping.

The icecream cake was a big hit with the kids, so I used the rest of the icecream to make another one - however this time I mixed crushed jaffas instead of chopped up rocky road fudge into the chocolate layer and chopped up christmas pudding chocolates instead of crushed mars bar cookies into the vanilla layer.  I haven't been out to the shops to buy some more strawberry sorbet for the top layer (because I am a complete wimp who hates the heat) but I don't think the kids will really mind.

Enjoy your holidays.