Friday, March 29, 2013

Pumpkin Pancake Pleasure

Nothing can beat lazy saturday morning pancakes while mulling through thoughts of the hardworked week, burying your face in the paper and a steaming coffee Being a forward thinker, I see it as the time in the weekend where you have the most possible time left in the weekend. Sort of ! Mine however involves a painful alarm and leaving a house filled with happy (because they are still sleeping as they should be) friends to get to work before smug weekend-happy civilions arrive. You'll often find me peering over the coffee machine becoming bitter at the sight of their smirks. Spiced french toast, waffles,fresh bread, pastries, salty crisp bacon and fresh fruits surround me and entertain the nose, all for me to graciously deliver. Some days it really can get me down, until I remember that I am just as much a part of this experience as they are. I am here to create and serve the things I care so much about while relationships develop and weekends begin. So as Easter is here I have decided that I too will begin my weekend in a nonchalant manner.

I have risen to the occasion this long weekend (easter pun there) and am celebrating the first of the autumn harvest. The first time I ever delved into the pumpkin universe where it wasn't just served next to my roast lamb was in Byron Bay where I found my orange friend in my pancakes. Result? It was sweet, fluffy and the perfect pal for the temporamental cinnamon. These are the ultimate autumly pancakes with pumpkins ready for picking and trees heavy with pears.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Roasted Pears -

Serves 2
Ingredients -
1 cup Flour
3/4 teaspoons Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 large free range eggs
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 pears (halved and cored)
Maple syrup

To serve -
1/2 cup fresh ricotta or semi whipped cream


Preheat oven to 200 bake. In a baking dish halve and core the pears and drizzle a little maple syrup skin side up over the pears. Bake in the oven (will take around 20 mins)

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg into a medium-sized bowl. Add the brown sugar, stir to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, milk and vanilla extract. Then add the pumpkin and whisk well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk until just combined.
Set frypan over a medium heat and add a little butter and pour about 1/3 cup of mixture
allow the pancakes to cook until you see bubbles form on the surface. this can take less than a minute, then flip. Allow to cook on the other side for 30-45 seconds more.
Transfer the cooked pancakes to a small baking dish and store in the oven to keep warm while you make the remaining pancakes. Continue to check,turn and reglaze the pears every 5-10mins during cooking.

Serve in a small stack topped with the roasted pears, semi whipped cream, maple syrup and walnuts.

I hope the easter break is treating you well and any weight that life can load on us is lifted in remembering the meaning of this time.
I'm sorry for the delay in post's. I have recently had foot surgery which has kept me out of my natural habitat of the kitchen and garden. But the moon boot is on and I'm ready to attack the autumn haul. Mushroom's next I'm thinking
Al xx

p.s. To make buttermilk just put some cream in a jar and shake till it separates. The liquid is what you want to use and the remaining is fresh homemade butter.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Relishing and Preserving The Summer

This year has been my first real go at making jams and preserving vege. It started back near christmas when I was making berry coulis and my friend distracted me with an entertaining video of a scandanavian man diving into solid ice. Sounds terrible but it was rather funny. well. enough for me to forget the coulis and end up with jam. However, this jam was pretty awesome and put all the other siblings in the fridge to shame. 
Preserving never really captivated me but after seeing the patterns of seasonal foods it really does make the most sense. Now is the time when the plants are soaking up the heat and dishing out their once yearly treats too fast to eat. Chutney, sauces,  jam and poached fruit. I mean yes, we could just go and buy all of this from the supermarket. But it just adds to the weekly cost of living and when you can make all of it yourself which is yummier, fresher,local, healthier and is full of plain natural greatness. The later makes more sense to me.

I didn't know exactly where I personally would inherit a glut of something to preserve except our tomatoes. It wasn't until I stumbled (literally walking backwards entertaining a friend and rolled my ankle in the old chicken fence post hole) to find the plum tree in the back yard above my newly battered head. So with a daily plum intake exceeding 8, wrinkly summer fruit and a summer palate not ready for hearty stewed fruit it begun.

First it was spiced plum jam, and then Gar gave me a small inheritance of apricots a few days past optimal eating.  So on a scorching summer morning I was working in the garden getting all the leeks in and decided to seek mercy in the kitchen to get the apricot jam going. With summer ale in the left hand and a wooden spoon in the other the insipration took over. Now smirking away in the cupboard are jars of Apricot jam with ginger honey and a touch of ale awaiting my frosty morning fruit toast. That is the best thing about making these yourself, creativity and preference take rule. Less/more honey, sugar, cinnamon sticks,rhubarb,currants,orange....


Jam (all stone fruit)
1/2 the amount of sugar to fruit in weight 
Leave overnight then boil hard for 10mins and stir constantly to avoid burning until it coats a spoon.

Berry jam
2/3 amount sugar to berries in volume
dash of lemon juice
Boil hard 5 mins, reduce heat and continue for another 10-15mins, remove foam.
Hot Zuchinni Chutney-

Ingredients -
6 cups of roughly chopped zuchinni (any variety)
2 onions
2-3 fresh chilli's (depending on your heat tolerance)
2 capsicums of mixed colour
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP paprika
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1tsp ground cumin
Olive Oil

Roughly chop the veges, except the chilli. Place in a large saucepan and cover with the salt. Stir well and leave overnight.
In the morning, drain all of the liquid that is formed, add a few lugs of Olive oil and cook on the stove for around 10 mins to soften the vege, stirring often.
Add the remaining ingredients including the finely chopped chilli, stir well and simmer for around 30mins.
pour into sterilized jars.

Tomato Relish -

Ingredients -
1kg ripe tomato's
2 large onions
1 1/2 cups sugar
enough white vinegar to cover
2 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp cornflour
1-2 Tbsp extra vinegar
Cut a small cross on the top of each tomato, place in large bowl, cover with boiling water, leave for a minute. Drain and rinse with cold water, peel off skins.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and finely chop the onions. Place in a large sauce pan and cover with the salt. Stir well and then leave overnight.
Then add the sugar and enough vinegar to just come to the top layer of tomatoes, bring to the boil, reduce to a medium heat and gently cook for 15-20 mins.
Mix the curry powder, mustard and cornflour with the olive oil till it forms a smooth paste, stir into the tomatoes and cook until thickened.
Spoon into warm, sterilised jars and seal. Refrigerate once opened.
Makes: 2 large 500ml jars

Al x