Sunday, 26 April 2015

Carrots - Two Ways

Mrs Isabella Beeton is probably the best selling cookery writer of the Victorian era despite her short life, 1836 - 1865 and with only a few years of practical experience. Sounds a bit like "Master Chef" today contestants today.

'Mrs Beetons Book of Household Management' is still an outstanding book and worth a read. Imagine, it was first published in 1861 and initially sold 60,000 copies.  

One particular vegetable, the humble carrot has definitely come a long way since Mrs Beeton suggested boiling a pot of carrots for 1 to 1.5 hours, mashing them and adding cayenne pepper. Sounds interesting but I can't think that there would be much left to mash after that long.

Such versatile vegetables; carrots can be used for sweet and savoury dishes, roasted, boiled, steamed, grated, julienned and raw: carrots are a great source of vitamin A, and C. high in fibre, low in calories and very low in cost. And how surprised Mrs Beeton would be to see the range of carrot colours we get at the market. Amazingly, they are available all year around and add a fabulously rich golden colour to any dish.

With winter fast approaching, it's time to get soups sorted. Here are a couple of my favourites carrot soups, which are deliciously filling and very cost effective for the whole family. 

Make sure you scroll to the end to get both recipes! Enjoy@!

Carrot and Pumpkin Soup with Ginger and Chilli


2 tbls fresh ginger grated
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small brown onion chopped
225 g pumpkin sliced
250 g carrots scrubbed and sliced
2 cups stock or water
2 tbls olive oil
1 tbls butter
salt and pepper 
small fresh red chilli
Plain Greek yoghurt

Pre heat oven to 18Âșc fan forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay the pumpkin on it. Either spray with olive oil or sprinkle with olive oil and a good serving of salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes until soft.

Once the pumpkin has cooled, take off the outer peel and cut into chunks. 

In a large pot heat butter and olive oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add carrots and chilli powder and cook for 3 minutes. Add stock or water, salt and pepper to taste and simmer covered until the carrots are cooked through. Take them off the heat and allow the carrots to cool slightly before blending.

Using whichever kitchen appliance you prefer, blend the carrots and pumpkin together, until you reach the desired consistency.

Check seasoning and chilli and add more to suit. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, a few slices of fresh chilli and parsley if you have any readily available.

Carrot and Cashew Nut Soup


1 small brown onion chopped
250 g carrots scrubbed and sliced
100 g raw cashew nuts
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups stock or water
2 tbls olive oil
1 tbls butter
salt and pepper 
chopped chives
grated fresh nutmeg

In a large pan add the oil, butter and onion and cook until soft. Add the carrots and potato, salt and pepper and 2 cups of stock. Bring back to the boil, then simmer until the vegetables are nearly cooked, around 20 minutes. Add the cashew nuts and continue to cook until the nuts and carrots are nice and soft. 

Take off the heat and allow to cool a little before blitzing with a hand blender until you reach the desired consistency.

I usually serve this with some chopped chives and a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Sticky, Syrupy Cumquat Upside Down Cake

I am so happy to be living in this town. There is a sense of community, so many nice things happening and so many lovely people making them happen.

Just in the last few days I have been offered for free a whole range of different fruits and vegetable by people that just have too much for their own use. 

If you are one of my locals (you know who you are)  and you are reading this - THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Having managed to score more Cumquats - thanks - more jam that's for sure because the last lot I made has almost gone, and I have decided to try a Cumquat Cake. I want something syrupy and gooey and squishy - you know what I mean and I believe I have an idea on how to achieve this.

After much searching I found an old recipe for a syrupy pineapple upside down cake. With a few adjustments I was able to get just what I wanted. I think a combination of bitterness with the cumquats and sweetness of a syrup makes a wonderful combination.

My daughter in London tells me that cumquats are very much in right now, being offered in cakes, sauces, salads. Amazingly, it just happens to be the season for them here in Adelaide. We are so trendy here in the Adelaide Hills!


Sticky, Syrupy Cumquat Upside Down Cake

240g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
150g cumquats washed
4 tbls demerara sugar
4 tbls orange marmalade
4 eggs
210g SR Flour
juice and grated zest of an orange
60g almond meal

  1. Grease and line a 23-25cm solid-bottomed cake tin, about 9cm deep, with non-stick baking paper. The cake tin must be solid or all that lovely sticky sweetness will seep away.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C.
  3. Using your fingers spread about 20g of the butter over the base of the cake tin and sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top.
  4. Take the washed cumquats and slice them thickly, remove all the pips and lay them in a nice circular pattern around the base of the tin on the sugar and butter.

  1. Cream the remaining butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in the marmalade and the beaten eggs, a little at a time. Add a few spoons of flour with the last of the eggs to prevent curdling. Fold in the remaining sifted flour, a pinch of salt, ground almonds and orange zest. 
  2. Add enough orange juice to make a dropping consistency.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, spreading it over the cumquats. 
  4. Level the mixture using a spatula, making a slight depression in the centre. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the top is springy and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.It should be a nice golden colour. 
  5. Let the cake cool in the tin and then invert it onto a serving plate.
  6. Serve with cream, yoghurt or sour cream.