Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Roast Plum Ice Cream

'Tis the season to be jolly, plums are in! There's a fantastic variety of plums around the markets, some I have never heard of before. Orchardists are certainly getting some great tasting fruit this year. There are white centred, yellow centres, beautiful Satsuma's and many other dark red varieties. It is the plums with the dark centres that give this intense colour.

Our local orchard 'Magarey's Orchard' at Coromandel Valley, sells great fruit at very reduced prices. Seconds, blemished or the wrong size for the normal market makes this great news for us locals because we can indulge our palates.

For this ice cream I did not follow any recipe. I took a few ingredients and put them together and this remarkable, delicious, intense flavoured ice cream came through. There is definitely room for experimentation and a little more or a little less of some ingredients will still work out ok. Give it a try - so far it has only had good reviews, so I am tempted to make another batch in the next few days.

Roasted Plum Ice Cream


1 kg approx ripe plums halved and stoned removed
pinch salt
400 ml heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbls honey
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Wash fruit and cut each plum in half. You can either take out the stones now or wait until they are cooked depending on the plum variety and how easy the stones can be removed.  Place them in a large baking tray lined with baking paper. In a pre heated oven 180º fan forced roast the plums for 20 - 30 minutes until soft.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place the cooled plums in a blend or using a hand held stick blender, puree the plums.  

Place a sieve on top of a large bowl and sieve the plums, discarding the pulp. In a small saucepan add honey, cream, vanilla extract and sugar and stir over a low heat until sugar has melted.

Cool mixture then add to the sieved plums.

Add 1 cup of milk to the plums and mix well. Place in the fridge for 3 -4 hours or overnight to cool completely. Adding more milk and cream will give you a much lighter colour. But I just love the colour as it is.

Churn the plums in your ice cream machine (according to manufacturer's recommendations). You can serve immediately or place in a suitable container and freeze.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pizza or Pissaladière?

I am sitting, quietly thinking, enjoying the last weeks of warm weather. As the trees turn their autumn colours, leaves slowly drifting off their branches and hurried along by wind gusts, its hard to imagine that summer is over so soon. I will welcome the winter this year because we have had so little rain. Gardens are dying and animals have no feed in their paddocks. Cattle and sheep are being fed on hay, a big expense for farmers, but what is the alternative?

It has been dry enough to send brown snakes up to the house and Blue Tongue lizards out from their shrubbery: koalas drinking water from containers put out by caring neighbours, it is the driest period in 38 years.

Early mornings have the autumn air and soon there will be heaters and sweaters and wooly hats and thick soups to take the chill off any outdoor pursuits. But until then lets enjoy what mother nature provides, the warmth of the sun and the colours of a rainbow.

I've just been looking at photographs taken a couple of years ago in France and the gardens are so beautiful and the countryside is so green; I 'm reminded of Brie and French Onion Soup and truffles, so tonight I am going to settle on a French dish!

Do you know the difference between a Pizza and a Pissaladière? If you are not sure then here is a simple explanation. Pissaladière is the French equivalent of an Italian pizza without cheese.

If you drop in to any bakery in the Provence region of France, you are sure to find a version of this. A Pissaladière is full of creamy onions, anchovies and olives. While it is a simple dish the onions must be slowly cooked in butter so they do not brown but become deliciously soft and buttery and melt in the mouth.

Here's a recipe for you to try, loosely based on a recipe of Marie Claire.

While I was hunting around at French Language Courses, I stumbled upon this blog.

There are some beautiful photographs of France and especially Paris. It is worth taking a look and I am excited to think that I will be visiting Paris later in the year. 



2 cups plain flour - I use 00 flour
1 teaspoon  dried yeast
3/4 cup warm water
pinch sugar
1/4 cup olive oil


1 kilo brown onions finely sliced
125 grams butter
black olives
fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Starting with the dough - place the flour, sugar, yeast into a bowl. Add oil to the water and mix then add to the dry ingredients. Bring the dough together. Knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes soft and smooth. Cover and leave in a warm place until it doubles in size.

To make the filling. Slice the onions finely. Add butter to a frypan and add the onions and fresh thyme. Cook on a very low heat for around 1 - 1.5 hours until the onions are transparent and very very soft. Do not allow them to brown. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Once the pastry has risen, roll out to a rectangle on to some parchment paper about 40 cm x 30 cms . Place on a baking tray. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and add all of the onions spreading over the entire surface. Next add the anchovies, which have been cut in half lengthways, in a cross pattern. (see picture) Add black olives. Set aside and allow to stand for another 20 - 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 220º degrees C/200 fan forced and cook the Pissaaladiere for 15 - 20 minutes, until the dough is crisp and brown and the onions have some colour. Turn onto a cutting board and cut into pieces. Enjoy with a green salad and a glass of red wine.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

More About The Big Walk**

Decisions have been made. The long walk is confirmed and it will be the Thames Path  - from it's source near Cirencester to London's, Thames Barrier a total of about  250 kilometres. With a few days sightseeing along the way it will take around 20 days.

Beautiful countryside to see at a nice leisurely pace should be quite a good way to spend autumn in England.

Steph, a friend from Brisbane and I will be taking this little stroll in September this year. We have already booked our first few nights accommodation, so it is really happening.

Here is a list I made a couple of weeks ago of urgent things to do in preparation. 

1. Get back on my 5:2 eating plan, I want to drop 6 kilos before September
2. Get my knee checked out - specialist appointment booked  

2. Increase the lengths of my walks; 2 walks per week with at least one around 15 kilometres or more.

3. Keep reading the Thames Path information book to make sure I don't miss anything important 

4. Start walking with increased weight in back pack.

5. Experiment with ingredients to make some lowish calorie Muesli Bars.
6. Do a trial pack to check my back is big enough.

7.  Buy a bigger pack - mine isn't big enough.

As you can see I am pretty good at procrastination as I haven't achieved many of these so far. Happy to say that I have managed to get back on a healthy eating plan and have already lost 1.9 kilos!!!!!

Time to stop thinking about what needs to be done and just doing it!

This is the pack I am thinking of buying. Great it's on sale and a good price too!

Has anyone used one of these? Are they durable? Plenty of pockets?

OK it's back to the planning! and cooking!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Cumquats - A citrus Delight

Mention Cumquats and Mike goes into a trance. Mention marmalade and he is in heaven. But, mention those two words together - cumquat marmalade and he will go into a wild frenzy and froth at the mouth! 

So when one of our local shops was selling some very cheap cumquats I just could not resist the temptation to take them home.  However, when I counted our current stock of marmalade, I decided it was time to try my hand at a clear jam or jelly.

I was quite surprised how well it turned out! So much faster than making marmalade not spending hours cutting up strips of peel. This recipe started out as a rose hip jam and I have altered the recipe by using cumquats and varying the quantity of the sugar. I wanted something that wasn't labour intensive yet still gave the same flavour. 

The jam is a perfect colour, golden like honey and amazingly it has almost the same qualities as marmalade without the bits. This would make a beautiful glaze for cakes and I can see it teaming very nicely with some brie or camembert . So Mike - hands off, this one should all be mine.


You can vary this recipe to make as much or as little as you want. The ratio of sugar to fruit will be dependent on how much liquid you have and can only be determined once the fruit is cooked.


1.5 kilos cumquats

Wash the fruit well. 

Cut each cumquat in half and place in a large saucepan or jam pan.

Cover the fruit with cold water and slowly bring to the boil. Once boiling, add a lid, turn heat down to a very low simmer and cook for approximately 2 hours.

Allow liquid to cool then empty it into a colander lined with muslin or an old tea towel.

Gather the top of the muslin and tie with string and suspend this over a large bowl, preferably over night to catch all the lovely liquid.

Measure the amount of liquid that you have and empty it into a large jam pot. 

The theory with jam making this way is to add the same amount of sugar in grams to millilitres of liquid. 

Technically if you have 500ml of liquid you should add 500 grams of sugar. But in fact I added less. I had 400 ml of liquid and I added 300 grams of sugar. It was a guess but the jam still has a nice tart Cumquat flavour.

Add sugar to liquid and bring to the boil gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached. I found there was a lot of scum and it had to be removed frequently. 
From boiling point, the jam reached setting point in around 25 minutes.

I  strained the liquid again to remove the last of the scum before putting into clean warm jars.

This made only two jars, but it was well worth the effort because the taste is sensational. It is a very solid set and more like a jelly, but it tastes really, really, good.

For instructions on setting point, read my blog post on Cherry Jam: 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bliss Balls - High Protein and Healthy

It's Saturday evening, wishing there was some rain and cold air and I could wear my bed socks and snuggled down under the duvet. Alas, it's still over 30 degrees C and it's midnight.  How does one sleep?

Ramblings in the wee hours - 

Do cows get bored?

What's my oldest recipe?

If I was having my last meal ever, what would I want it to be?

Why do people write blogs?

I can answer at least one of these. 

My blog allows me to store my recipes, share my favourite foods and write a little. But it is more than that! its a chance to reflect, to think aloud, to have a conversation with myself.

Did you know that I also have a blog called Walking My Feet Off?  My walking blog is my preparation for taking a long distance walk this year. It is keeping me on track, to make sure I do what I need to do in readiness. But now I have decided to join the two blogs together because time is precious and I can't maintain two blogs and I need to increase my walking time.

Be kind and be patient until I have sorted myself out!

You may find there are some good tips along the way. It may encourage you to walk more or it may deter you from ever taking a hike. Either way, when you tune in, you may get a recipe or some hiking gear. I have 6 months to get myself ready, so any encouragement will be appreciated. 

I will mark all of my walking posts with these in the title **!

But back to food! A healthy treat on a long hike? Absolutely!



Makes 34 balls

250 g pitted dates
150 g sultanas
150g pitted prunes
60g raw cashew nuts
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 heaped tablespoons cacao
1 scoop protein powder (I use a vegan one)
dessicated coconut

Using a blender or food processor blend cashew nuts until fine.
Place in a large bowl and set aside.
Process together prunes, sultanas, dates until well mixed and blended together.
Place the fruit into the bowl with the cashews. Add chia seeds, cacao, protein powder and mix either using your hands or a large spoon.

This is a messy process but I like to get my hands dirty.

Divide the mixture into bite size pieces about walnut sized and roll into a ball then set aside.

Take some baking paper and spread with coconut and roll each ball into the coconut until well coated. You can also roll some in cacao if you prefer.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Don't expect them to last too long. They are yummy and sticky and really, really, delicious.