Friday, 31 May 2013

WW Sorrel and Lentil Soup

I have had many fun experiments with cooking since our visit to the Coburg Farmers Market last weekend.  One unusual purchase was a bunch of sorrel.  Its name seemed vaguely familiar and it looked so green and healthy.  Little did I know that once you cook it, the leaves turn the colour of a swamp monster.  I soon learned more about it as I search the web for ideas.

I avoided all the sorrel soup recipes with eggs - and there were plenty.  I wanted to taste the stuff but I wasn't sure I could quite come at a salad now the weather had cooled.  Though I was tempted to try it in a warm vegetable and lentil salad.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's sorrel and lentil soup seemed just the thing for late autumn.

After all I had plenty of vegetables in the house.  It seems that our vegetable crisper is constantly overflowing lately, no matter how much I cook.  And I have been rather partial to lentils in soup lately.  I used white carrots to keep the colours white and slimy green.

Sorrel has large beautiful green leaves.  Like the Scottish Highlands which have never fallen prey to hoards of tourists due to midges, I guess that sorrel has never become one of the popular leafy greens because its lush green turns murky when heated. Or maybe it is the oxalic acid in the sorrel that is harmless in small quantities but can be fatal if eaten too much.  Or is it just that it grows like a weed in some gardens - my mother's for instance.  (Of course, if I had known my mum had sorrel in her garden I wouldn't be buying it at a market!)

The oxalic acid is what gives the sorrel its sharp sour taste.  When I was young we loved to chew on the stalks of sour grass.  The stalks of the sorrel reminded me of sitting in a corner of the backyard among the long grass, choosing a fat stalk to chew on.  In fact, Sylvia enjoyed chewing on the sorrel stalks.

While Sylvia chewed on sorrel stalks, E and I enjoyed the soup.  It was hearty and healthy.  Great with scones.  I quite enjoyed the flashes of sour flavour from the sorrel leaves.  And now that I know my mum has sorrel in her garden, you might find me experimenting further.

I am sending this soup to Ricki for her Wellness Weekends at Diet Dessert and Dogs.

Ideas for using sorrel:

Lentil and Sorrel Soup
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
serves 4

25g butter (or oil)
1 leek, sliced
3 celery sticks, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
3 small potatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
225g red lentils
1 litre water
1 tsp stock powder
1 tsp salt
225g sorrel, thinly sliced
pepper to serve

Melt oil in a stockpot over medium heat and cook leek, celery, carrots, parsnip, potatoes and garlic til softened. I think it took me about 10 to 15 minutes but I chopped and added to the pot as I went (in the order that the ingredients are listed).  Add lentils, water, stock powder and salt.  Simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potato is soft and the lentils cooked.  (I did about 15 minutes but could have had a bit longer). Stir in the sorrel for a minute or two until wilted (unfortunately it will lose its lovely colour.) Serve warm with lots of black pepper.

On the Stereo:
Farwell Sorrow: Alasdair Roberts

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

RR Brown butter picklets (not pikelets)

E has recently started using the term 'epic fail'.  I accused him of being down with the kids.  He protested that he had picked it up from The Age newspaper (which until recently was our broadsheet and still is on weekends)!  So now that is the term that went through my mind as I made Dan Lepard's brown butter picklets yesterday.  My dough wouldn't rise, I burnt the brown butter and pressed the air out of them.  It wasn't looking good.  Finally in the second and last batch of these griddle breads, they worked a treat.  Phew!

Now I know you are probably thinking I can't spell pikelets.  After all I only recently realised I had been mispelling edamame and had a major typo in a favourite recipe.  I even wore a pyjama top down the street by mistake recently (incidentally one of my nightmares has now come true)!  But these little griddle breads are actually called 'picklets'. 

I came across the recipe while participating in Dom's Random Recipes Challenge.  It is a blog event that really pushes me out of my comfort zone because he asks us to let fate decide what to cook.  The fates aren't always kind.  This month's theme is Bread.  I used the random number generator with my bread cookbooks (disregarding books where it was just a few sweet breads) and was relieved when this one came up.  Not only was it a book I had never used but it was also a recipe that wasn't too onerous.

The first part of the recipe is to mix ingredients and wait 2 hours for the yeasted batter to become bubbly.  I spent a lot of time searching my batter for bubbles.  None to be seen.  In fact I waited an hour, turned on the heater and put the bread in front of it (in the above photo under the blue teatowel - with red chair for Sylvia to sit and check on the batter).  Then it was around dinner time so I stirred it and waited another 2 hours.  No bubbles in sight.

After dinner I browned the butter but took too long taking photos of the butter and it burned.   I was feeling a bit nervous about the picklets by then and started again with the butter.  The batter was quite thick.  I had expected it to be runny like pancakes.  I was so surprised at how blobby they were that I flattened them when I flipped them over.  I think it was the same mistake I made as a child when I sifted flour for my mum and then helpfully patted it down nice and firmly.  And they tasted undercooked.  I learnt from my mistake and let the next batch cook their own way.  They were far far better.

Meanwhile, Sylvia had got it into her head that she was having a midnight feast.  Like Katie Morag!  It was to be picklets with jam, porridgies and limeade.  So in the end I was happy that it took so long waiting for the picklets.  Rather than having them as a late afternoon snack, we ate them for dessert.  I was also pleased that midnight still means any time after dinner to Sylvia.

I was intrigued by Dan Lepard's claim that picklets are an early griddle bread that is "completely forgotten now, ..., which was a version of the crumpet."  I searched high and low online only to find that lots of people misspell picklet and there is a publishing platform called picklet.  Then I found some information at the reliable Old Foodie about the evolution of picklets into pikelet.  Many fellow Aussies (including Dan Lepard) remember their mums whipping up a batch of pikelets that resemble small pancakes..  The pikelet is part of our culinary heritage.  It is a shame that picklets have fallen from favour.

I am a little unsure that I got the recipe right, after my problems with the batter not bubbling.  Was my house too cold or did I get the yeast quantity wrong or was it critical that I overlooked the temperature of the liquids?  I found the recipe reproduced online at BBC4 used twice as much yeast as in The Handmade Loaf.  In the recipe below I have doubled the amount of yeast.  When I cooked the first batch they seemed undercooked in the middle.  The second batch seemed slightly doughy inside but less so and quite edible.  When I ate one of those later at room temperature the texture seemed to have become slightly more bready.  

Problems aside, we really enjoyed these warm off the frypan with a little jam and then later in the evening with some peanut butter.  The last of the batch were eaten for breakfast.   Thanks Dom for pushing me a little to make a bread that took me right out of my comfort zone.  I have already been asked by Sylvia to make these again and indeed I intend to.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Chocolate macaroons and the wee rascal
Two years ago: Weekend eats: hotcakes, plums, eggs and beetroot
Three years ago: SOS A cheezy spinach saga
Four years ago: Blueberry Soup with Heavenly Yoghurt
Five years ago: Pumpkin Cornmeal Quiche

Brown butter picklets
Slightly adapted from Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf (reproduced by BBC4)
Makes 8

100g wholemeal flour
100g white flour (I used plain flour rather than bread flour)
1/2 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
100ml milk (I used soy milk)
100ml water
50g butter
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp water (extra)

Mix flours, dried yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Warm milk and water to 20 C (I didn't do this but used lukewarm water).  It will be like a sticky dough.  Cover and set aside in warm place for 2 hours until bubbles appear.  (My bubbles didn't appear even with extra time but the texture of the dough thickened and rose slightly.)

Melt butter in a small saucepan and continue to heat until it turns a nut brown colour.  Remove from heat and run cold water over the bottom of the saucepan to cool the butter to warm.  Mix into dough.  Dissolve bicarb soda in 1 tbsp water and mix into dough.  It makes quite a thick batter - too thick to pour but much too sticky to knead.

Heat frypan with a some oil until the oil is smoking and then discard oil (I put it out with my burnt butter but am not quite sure I would do this step in future).  Heat to medium high, melt about 1 tsp of butter (or oil) and swirl to cover pan.  Drop 3 to 4 dessertspoonfuls on the frypan to make 3 to 4 individual picklets.  Cook for a few minutes (I didn't time this because it was busy tea time) until the mixture changes texture on the bottom and is golden brown underneath.  Flip over and fry another few minutes until golden brown on the other side.

Eat hot or at room temperature with jam or butter.  Best eaten on day of cooking.

On the stereo:
Astor Piazzolla 10 CD Boxset

Monday, 27 May 2013

Porridgies, children's books, racisn amd recognition

Today Sylvia and I were down the street buying oats to make Katie Morag's porridgies.  We happened to see a hairband attached to a green plait.  I was delighted at how much she loved it.  There was a time when I had green hair.  I enjoyed it.  Yet there were times when it was awkward dealing with people I didn't know.  I chose to be different back then.

In Reconciliation Week,  I want to spare a thought for those who don't make that choice but are exhausted from dealing with difference and racism.  So this is a rambling post that reflects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues as well as children's books.

I was angry this morning.  The newspapers and the radio were focusing on the story of Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes dealing with a racist taunt during a match on the weekend.  Yet nowhere in the conversation was the good news story of Michael Long beginning a journey around Australia yesterday to promote the referendum on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Australian Constitution. 

We went to the start of the journey at Federation Square.  It was an inspiring event with speeches from many leaders from Australia's Indigenous community and politicians.  Admittedly I didn't follow all of it due to a lack of familiarity with Sunday public transport and a small child wanting attention, not to mention the nearby cathedral bells.  Then we followed Michael Long on the start of his walk along the Yarra River.

Adam Goodes had made an important contribution to the conversation about racism in Australia.  His response to the taunt was admirable in that it was kind and intelligent.  Yet it is only part of the conversation.

Recognising the long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution is an important way for all Australians to make some amends for the shameful treatment of these peoples since Colonisation.  Our nation needs to build more respect and pride in our Indigenous culture.  It wont happen unless we are prepared to formally acknowledge it.

You can see where Michael Long and his team have been, where they are and where they are headed at his journey page.  I hope that his journey will raise awareness of this issue among both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

And from the Indigenous culture of my country to my childhood of children's books (where Indigenous people were only noticeable by their absence.)  We have recently read Sylvia The Folk of The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.  It makes me feel very nostalgic because I am sure this is the actual book I read as a child.  There is a 'b' label on the spine and a piece of paper glued to the back cover so we could play libraries and date stamp it.

Coming from a family of seven children there are many books dear to me from childhood that I don't own.  (The faraway tree book is on loan from my mum).  I do still have a few that were given to me.  Most of them are so well loved that they are in poor condition.  Yet I am still rather fond of them and wanted to indulge in showing a few on my blog.

Humphrey B Bear is an Australian children's television icon.  He will have been entertaining children for 50 years in 2015.  I loved his television show but even more, I loved this book of stories about Humphrey that I was given by my grandparents.  I particularly loved the story about him being in hospital.  I just loved the nurse in the black tights and white shoes.  Perhaps that is why one of my few memories about being in hospital aged 5 was the slippers that were bought for the visit.  They had a picture of pussy cats on them that I thought was beautiful.  Oh innocent days.

You might notice that the cover of my Humphrey book is held on by sticky tape.  My Berenstain Bears book, the Bears Picnic, has lost its cover, is ripped and held together by sticky tape.  I read it to Sylvia today and it made her laugh.  As an adult I still love the story of the family in search of a perfect picnic place because I now know the feeling.  One of my favourite lines in a children's book has to be in here - "Uh oh dad, here comes the rains!" 

Another of my favourite books from childhood is The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.  It has also lost its cover.  (These books have travelled with me over many moves.)   I noticed the old phone number on the retailer's sticker.  I loved the blossom babies when I was little but goodness I found the banksia men scary.

We were often given books as children.  Sylvia also has many books.  Both E and myself are bibliophiles and can't resist a book.  However, while Sylvia will read some of the books I loved as children, her reading also includes many books that were written when I was adult.  Among these is the delightful Katie Morag books by Mairi Hedderwick.  Given that Sylvia is half Scottish, E (and his family) loves buying books from his homeland.

Today we made Porridgies out of the Katie Morag Big Storybook.  It is a simple slice of oats, butter, sugar and golden syrup that many might call Flapjacks.  For me, it is reminiscent of our Aussie ANZAC Biscuits.  Sylvia was too busy with 'work' to help make the porridgies but she was very excited when they were ready to come out of the oven.  So excited that we had to read 'the Baking Day Secret', the story where they eat the porridgies in their midnight feast.

I have had so many flapjacks fall apart on me that I was quite pleased these held together nicely.  Especially after they seemed so thinly spread in the slice tin.  They also cut neatly once cooled.  They were very soft when just out of the oven (as Katie Morag likes to eat them) but a little chewy and crunchy around the edges.  I used butter rather than margarine.  I think in such a simple slice the butter was noticeable.  This wont stop me trying it with margarine if that is all I have on hand when we made them again.

I think Sylvia and I could have eaten the whole batch.  But we didn't.  We knew that E would love them.  They are a quintessential Scottish slice.  Loads of oats and sugar and butter but no fruit or chocolate.  Just the sort of thing E often requests.  I suspect he might be requesting these again.

Finally we ate them for dessert tonight crumbled over ice cream and stewed plums.  I think if I substituted yoghurt for ice cream I might just very well love this first thing in the morning, despite being a savoury breakfast person.  (I am quite into my porridge lately as long as it is served with fruit.)

I am sending the porridgies to Michelle at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter who is hosting this month's Breakfast Club (founded by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours).  The theme this month is bakes.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: The ABC of GGG
Two years ago: Ricki's breakfast patties and Delia's bread
Three years ago: WHB Plums: a history, trivia and a cake
Four years ago: The Carlton Paragon Café
Five years ago: Rethinking Bread and Butter Pudding

Katie Morag's Porridgies
From  The Big Katie Morag Storybook
I made 24 squares

100g / 4oz butter
75g / 3oz soft brown sugar
30ml / 2 tablespoons golden syrup
pinch of salt
200g / 8oz rolled oats

Preheat oven to 160 C (I did 170 C for my slow oven) and line a slice tin (18 x 28cm) with baking paper.Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave (or a pot on the  stovetop).  Stir in brown sugar and golden syrup.  Mix in oats.  Spread into prepared tin.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (I did 30 minutes) until golden brown.  Mark squares or bars while slice still warm.  Cool in tin and then cut into squares or bars.  Store in an airtight tin.

On the Stereo:
Utopia Parkway: Fountains of Wayne

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Coburg Farmers Market

There's a new farmers market in town.  The fortnightly Coburg Farmers Market commended last month.  Yesterday we made our fist visit and loved it.  It was great to be able to walk to the market and see a few familiar faces.  That night I spoke to my parents on Skype and boasted that for dinner we had sorrel soup with walnut, leek and blue cheese scones followed by lime salted chocolate.  It is exactly the sort of interesting meal that should follow a visit to the farmers market.

The first stall we looked at gave me great expectations.  It sold MM Designer Pasta, zucchini flowers and funny shaped squashes.  This is exactly what I want from a farmers market.  I bought a packet of chocolate chilli pasta.  Mind you, I got an odd look when I said I might use it in a savoury dish.  Doesn't everyone cook savoury chocolate dishes these days?

We wondered onwards.  Sylvia laughed at the gnome holding up the mushrooms.  Unfortunately I got too excited about the walnut stall and forgot to buy mushrooms.  We tasted the candied walnuts and the dukkah.  Then we bought a kilo of large walnuts in their shells.  Oh joy!  We have already eaten may walnuts this weekend but more of that in another post.  I would have bought some cake too but was already feeling overwhelmed.

We stopped at the Bee Loveable honey stall because we seem to go through a lot of honey lately.  As soon as I heard the woman say to E that the Black Forest Honey had a treacly flavour, I knew he was a gonna.  As soon as I saw that there were icy pole sticks to dip in the tasting jar of honey, I was concerned about Sylvia walking away covered from head to toe in honey.  Well we took a jar of the Black Forest and Sylvia managed to restrain herself in tasting the honey.

Farmers markets are great for finding food that is a little out of the ordinary.  (No wonder they are so loved by bloggers.)  These baby cabbages (beside chopped cherry tomatoes) were so cute.  I resisted buying them, the purple cauliflower, the ugly gourds and the cute little pumpkins.  We did purchase quite a lot of fruit and vegetables.

One of our impulse buys was a small bottle of Wild Lime and Garlic Olive Oil.  The Hildebrand Grove Olive Oil lady was lovely.  She smiled at Sylvia who was very partial to her pieces of bread and crackers for dipping in oil and pickles (not together).  We tasted quite a few of her olive oils.  E quite liked the chilli and blood orange.  He was also rather fond of the wild lime and blood orange.  It was hard to choose just one. 

Other purchases were more every day, albeit fancier than usual.  We are eating a lot of apples right now.   So it was no surprise that we walked away with 2 kg of Fuji and Pink Lady apples.  I was surprised when I asked about Granny Smiths to be told that a lot of people cook with Pink Ladies because they don't need to add sugar.  I love biting into a crunchy, slightly tart Granny!  We also bought a wonderful loaf of rye bread from Flinders Sourdough.

The market boasts a number of other speciality stalls.  Including nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.  We purchased amazingly soft dried apricots and salted lime chocolate.  The chocolate lady from Cocoa Rhapsody was very friendly in giving chocolate to taste.  The ginger spiced chocolate was tempting but we all liked the salted lime chocolate.  (Even Sylvia despite the lady's confidence that she wouldn't like it.)  We have plans to try other flavours such as the caramel roasted almonds chocolate.  The bar we bought tastes amazing and is made in Melbourne from organic fair trade ingredients.

It always seems time to stop shopping at a farmers market when you can barely carry all your goods and your purse is feeling empty.  Once we reached that stage, E was keen to find the hot food.  I didn't see much vegetarian food to eat there.  One stall had vegetarian dumplings, another sold boiled bagels and there was a pasty stall but I never found out if they had vegetarian food.  E was disappointed that there were no vegie sausages at the BBQ stall.

Maybe next time I will return to the walnut stall for cake or the bread stall for a bun.  As it was, we weighed up the sweet options before us.  It was too cold for the orange juice icy poles so we decided to share a plate of pancakes.  We queued while E wandered off in search of a coffee.  I gather it was mothers from the school who were cooking the tiny pancakes (similar to poffertjes) and dousing them in either jam ("made with plums from Carla's tree") or lemon juice and sugar ("made with lemons from local trees").  


One patron flung his plate of pancakes back onto the table and they went flying.  I think he thought they weren't cooked properly though I could be wrong as ours were lovely and fluffy.  I wouldn't be surprised to find that he had just discovered that they were having a bad day with mathematics.  (Pancakes for $3.50 and lemonade for $1.50 makes $5 not $6.)

Fortunately we paid the correct price and loved our pancakes with lemon and sugar.  I was not so keen on the lemonade which was a tad sweet for me but Sylvia loved it.  The Autmnal sun shone on us and Sylvia enjoyed playing on the climbing frames.  A playground is one of the benefits of the farmers market being held in school grounds. 

In addition to the food that I have mentioned, we also bought mandarins, Goldfields Barbara's blue cheese, coloured carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beetroot, leeks, kale and sorrel.  I had enjoyed experimenting with some exciting ingredients over the rest of the weekend.  It is great to see that the market had a good crowd.  We hope it will be a great success and look forward to returning.

You can also find another perspective on yesterday's market from Catherine.

Coburg Farmers Market
Coburg North Primary School

180 O'Hea Street
Coburg VIC 3058
(03) 9354 1660

Second and Fourth Saturday of the month
http://www.mfm.com.au/content/coburg 

Friday, 24 May 2013

WW Cauliflower cheese burritos

I was not alone when I was excited by Susan's amazing cauliflower cheese sauce on Fat Free Vegan recently.   You only have to look at the comments to know that others were similarly intrigued by her lowfat vegan cheese sauce using blended cauliflower for the base.  I am pleased to report that it is brilliant.  Deliciously creamy and virtuously light.  In fact it was so good that my plans to bake enchiladas were abandoned in favour of a simpler burrito meal that featured this sauce.

As you might have seen in a recent post, we have been eating a lot of cauliflower lately.  I bought a white cauliflower for the sauce and then I found a purple one in Lygon Street.  We had just been to storytime at the library and then played at the park.  I don't have any photos of the huge autumn leaves collected for the kids to stick on a collage so I have a photo instead of dolly in her teddy bear's picnic mask today.

I had been planned to feature cauliflower in a Mexican meal.  I had the tortillas in the pantry.  My plan was to make Joanne's Cauliflower Enchiladas.  Once I found the purple cauliflower I thought I would do her Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas.  I roasted up some purple cauliflower and roasted onions in preparation.  While they cooked, I made the cheese sauce.

I didn't quite follow Susan's recipe.  For a start, I made this in the microwave and blended it with a hand held blender.  I added some soy milk and - after discovering the dregs of a packet of white miso were a bit crusty - I used tahini.  It was amazing.  And so ridiculously easy.  Andy healthy.  So I stopped there.

I realised dinner could be so much earlier and simpler.  I microwaved some broccoli to add to the onion and cauliflower and the I threw in some walnuts. The warm tortilla was spread thickly with cheese sauce, piled with vegies and then wrapped into a burrito.  It was delicious.  Not quite Mexican but inspired all the same. 

The next night I cooked brown rice, fried onions, microwaved vegies and topped them with cheese sauce.  Again the cheese sauce made a simple meal taste delicious.  Honestly, the cheese sauce was so good I wanted to just eat it by the spoonful.  (Having said that I think it was best on the first night.)  I still had some left and used the last of it in a lazy lunch.  I made some Heinz tomato sauce and addded besan, brown rice and cheese sauce.

I will definitely be making this sauce again.  I am just wondering if I am brave enough to make a purple sauce if I find a purple cauliflower again.  I love a bit of colour in my life but even I find the idea of purple sauce a bit confronting (albeit exciting).  But I can share some local colour with you.  Above is a photo of a newly painted signal faults box in Victoria Street mall in Coburg.  We sat eating our lunch yesterday watching the artist working on it.  Today we were excited to see it was finished. 

I am sending this cauliflower cheese sauce to Ricki's Wellness Weekends.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: In my Kitchen: May 2012
Two years ago: CC Moody Blues - the juice and the colour
Three years ago: GF Peanut Butter & Choc Chip Cookies
Four years ago: Preserved Lemon Stews and Intuition
Five years ago: Baked Bean Soup

Two cauliflower cheese burritos

1/2 large cauliflower, chopped, roasted in olive oil and smoked salt
1 head of broccoli, chopped and microwaved
1 large onion, sliced and fried til soft and browned
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
cauliflower cheese sauce (below)
tortillas

Mix cauliflower, broccoli, onion and walnuts.  Warm tortillas and cheese sauce.  Spread cheese sauce down the middle of the tortilla.  Pile vegie mixture on top of the cheese sauce.  Roll up tortilla into a burrito.

Cauliflower cheese sauce
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
Makes over 2 cups

1 cup water
1/2 large cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup soy milk 
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon tahini (or white miso)
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch or potato starch)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste

Microwave the water, cauliflower, onion powder, garlic, smoked paprika, mustard and turmeric in a largish microwave tub until the cauliflower is cooked so well that it is falling apart at the touch of a fork.  (I don't remember how long this took but I guess between 2 and 5 minutes - if unsure microwave for a minute at a time until done.)  Add remaining ingredients and blend with a hand held blender.  Microwave until thickened.  This took me about 3 minutes, stirring well after each minute (don't worry if there is a slight hardened 'crust' at the edge, just stir it in).  Our cheese sauce kept for a few days and was reheated in the microwave when required.
On the stereo:
The Crook of My Arm: Alasdair Roberts

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Golden Syrup Dumplings and a confession

There was great excitement in our house a few days ago when I decided to make golden syrup dumplings for dessert.  I don't make proper dessert very often.  Sylvia was up on a chair begging to help with stirring.  She oohed and aahed at the golden syrup and tried to get a fingerful despite my stern words.  E just loves anything caramel, especially if there is no chocolate or fruit involved.  And everyone loves comforting dumplings on a cold wet evening.

So let me deviate from my recipe and make a confession about one of my favourite dumpling dishes.  I love making Mexicale Pie with Cornmeal Dumplings.  It is a recipe that I found soon after I went vegetarian twenty-odd years ago.  I posted about it on my blog soon after I started this blog about 6 years ago.  I still make it regularly.

It is a mystery and an embarrassment that it has taken me until last week to find that I had written 'plain flour' rather than 'self raising flour' in the blog version of the recipe.  I have now added baking powder to the recipe (which will turn plain flour into self raising flour).  I just hope there haven't been many people making horrid unleavened dumplings like the ones I made last week.  If you have, I apologise.  (But I suspect anyone who tried that recipe may never have returned to my blog.)

Fortunately the golden syrup dumplings were far more successful.  I combined the simple recipe from Kate at No Meat and Three Veg and the richer recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly's Old Fashioned Favourites.  It was very very sweet.  E and I loved them.  Sylvia loved cooking them more than eating them.

Next time I might scale back some of the sugar, as Kate did (and as I suspect is more old-fashioned) and even try a little lemon in the sauce as I have seen a few recipes do.  I also made the mistake of serving it with vanilla ice cream that was too sweet for the dumplings.  Regular cream would be preferable.  (I would just eat it without cream or ice cream but E would not.)  I also quite like my friend Will's way of baking the dumplings with a lump of chocolate in them.  Another time.

I have wanted to make golden syrup dumplings for a long time.  It is a dessert that I ate as a child.  A good old fashioned recipe.  Kate rolled hers into neat balls but I love the cloudy shapes that the dumplings make when dropped into the syrup.  They were more caramelly than I remember, possibly because I used brown sugar.  No complaints.

I am sure I will make them again.  The recipe is quick and simple, using only store cupboard ingredients.  Not at all fancy.  Exactly the sort of desserts I ate in my childhood.  I was sure it is the sort of thing to be made throughout Australia's history but there is very little online or in my history cookbooks.  Nevertheless eating golden syrup dumplings feels like your grandmother wrapping a warm blanket around you.  Just the sort of comfort food we need over winter.

I am sending this to Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen for this month's Credit Crunch Munch. This is an event founded by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla Fab Food for All that promotes frugal recipes. This recipes is frugal because it provides a delicious dessert without any fancy or expensive ingredients.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Buttery quince and almond cake
Two years ago: St Andrews Market - crafts in the bush
Three years ago: Sophie's moreish tofu - adapted
Four years ago: WTSIM ... Red Onion, Feta and Olive Tart
Five years ago: Promoting Promite

Golden Syrup Dumplings
adapted from Not Meat and three Veg and AWW Old Fashioned Favourites
serves 4

Dumplings:
1 cup self raising flour
2 tbsp butter or  margarine (I used Nuttelex)
80 milk (I used soy milk)
1 tbsp golden syrup

Sauce:
3 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice (I didn't use but will try it next time)

cream to serve

Rub butter into flour in a medium bowl.  Stir in milk and golden syrup to make a soft dough.

Put all ingredients for the sauce into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and gently drop spoonfuls of dumpling mixture into the saucepan.  You should have about 8 dumplings.

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Turn over about once or twice to make sure all dumplings are covered with sauce.  Use a spoon to take a small piece of dumpling to test they are cooked.  The sauce should have thickened up.

Serve dumplings with sauce spooned over them.  Serve cream on the side if desired.

On the stereo:
Super Trouper: ABBA

Monday, 20 May 2013

Wintery Warm Vegetable and Lentil Salad

It was a weekend of colour and comfort, frustration and fixing, markets and modems.   I went to Fitzroy Market, found our modem had died*, ate a colourful vegetable salad, spent time at the park watching Sylvia climb trees, walked through piles of autumn leaves, experimented with a cauliflower pizza base and made homely golden syrup dumplings. 

Good fun was had at the Fitzroy Market.  The bbq stall had vegan vegetable and lentil soup in cups.  I sampled and enjoyed.  It was tasty, albeit not terribly filling.  The icy poles have been replaced by waffles.  I had a peanut butter waffle which was delicious.E played with the ukelele players, Sylvia climbed trees and had a mermaid painted on her face, I was amused by a Gene Simmons doll but more attracted to the sourdough loaves. 

On the home front, I had purple cauliflower.  I don't find it often.  I wished I hadn't seen a purple cauliflower while a whole white one sat in the fridge at home.  But it was too beautiful to leave in the shop.

One of my favourite radio talk back shows often has a segment called "What are the chances...?"  Here are a few of my odd coincidences and occurrences lately:
  • We are not long over internet problems due to a new internet account and then on the weekend our modem dies.
  • I ordered a book for E's birthday.  A month later I emailed the seller because the book still hadn't arrived.  An hour or two later the book arrived in the post.
  • Sylvia and I took her bike to the petrol station to pump up the tyres.  On the way home one of her training wheels fell off while crossing a road in busy traffic.
  • Would you believe that a four year old is more willing to believe that fairies turn on the street lights at nightfall than that there are electronic sensors!
  • I bought a cardigan for Sylvia that was blue because I am not really into pink.  She is fixated on a good pink cardigan.  I give up.  I decided I would just use a pink permanent marker to colour in the white flowers on the blue cardigan which is bought as a knockabout top.  Yes life is crazy!
The salad was less crazy.  Just colourful.  When we got home from the Fitzroy Market I had some of the sourdough loaf of bread with peanut butter.  We had lovely blue sunny skies at the market but once we got home the grey clouds and rain reminded us that winter is truly on the way.  I was happy to turn on the oven and roast lots of vegies.

This was a great way to clear out the fridge.  The dressing was rather tasty too.  I loved the salad and found it very satisfying.  We ate it without an bread or grains on the side.  Perhaps this was due to scoffing the fresh bread in the afternoon.  The next day I had some of the leftovers for lunch and added some cooked rice I had in the fridge.  It was lovely with rice.  Just not necessary. 

I am sending this salad to Catherine of Cates Cates for her Anyone can cook fabulous vegetarian food challenge.  The theme for May is legumes.  I considered two tins of legumes in this salad but decided to use some feta as well.  The feta gave the salad a freshness but it is not essential because there are so many other great flavours.  More beans or some walnuts would make a lovely substitute or you could just leave it out.


*I meant to post this yesterday but the internet was playing up.  We woke and found our modem was not working.  Sylvia was concerned when we said it might be the power because she had just seen a Peppa Pig episode called Power Cut.  We bought a new modem and E spent quite some time getting it working.  Then Blogger refused to load my photos!  Then today the modem stopped again.  And started. Not great when combined with a narky child and bad television reception.  Argh!  Let's just think about how pretty the salad looked!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: The University of Melbourne - historic buildings and lazy lunches
Two years ago: My ten rules for food blogging
Three years ago: Dan Lepard’s multigrain and honey bread
Four years ago: Pumpkin Hummus
Five years ago: Condensed Milk: Heirloom Comfort Food

Warm lentil and vegetable salad
Adapted from In Pursuit of More
Serves 2-3 as a main meal

Olive oil
Salt
2 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 large purple cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 brussels sprouts, halved and roughly sliced
1 large onion
400g tin brown lentils

Dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce

To serve:
feta
fresh basil
black pepper
spinach

Firstly chop and roast the vegetables.  I put them in three separate trays, each with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and then I tossed to check they had enough oil to cover them.  I roasted the sweet potato for 60 to 70 minutes at 230 C until soft and charred slightly around the edges.  The purple cauliflower roasted for 40 to 50 minutes at 230 C until the edges of florets are slightly charred and it is soft but not falling apart.  The brussels sprouts were roasted for 20 minutes at 230 C - enough for the small bits to char but some of the larger slices were not quite soft. 

While the vegetables roast, heat 2 to 3 tsp of olive oil on a large heavy based non-stick frypan.  Fry the onion over medium to high heat for about 10 to 20 minutes until soft and slightly charred at the edges.

Make the dressing by shaking all ingredients in a jar (with a lid on).

I cooked my vegetables in batches so by the end some had cooled.  I mixed all roasted vegetables, onions and lentils in one of the roasting tins and returned to the oven for about 10 minutes at 180 C to warm everything through.

Once the salad was warmed, I tossed about 2/3 to 3/4 of dressing through.  I arranged chopped spinach in the dinner bowls, served salad over the spinach, then sprinkled with feta, scattered with torn basil leaves and gave a good grind of black pepper.

NOTE: my oven is slow so other more efficient ovens may bake vegies quicker and at lower temperatures!

On the Stereo:
Oak, Ash, Thorn: Various Artists