In my Kitchen

 

In my kitchen in February it was hot and not a lot of baking was happening. The kitchen was filled with plenty of fresh fruit and cooling salads. This summer has proven to be good growing weather. By that I mean, heavy showers followed by sun but it also equates to high humidity. Today was a mere 87% humidity! The apricots and plums ripen quickly on the kitchen bench  which makes them great for cakes and tarts like this German Plum tart, another beautiful recipe from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent.

pineapple plant

Perfectly ripe pineapples are delicious in summer and I keep the pineapple tops in a container of water on my kitchen bench until roots form, then into the garden to provide me with another sweet pineapple.

apricot tart

Apricot and almond tart filled the kitchen with mouthwatering perfume and made smoko special for my hubby’s workmates.
avocado

Our backyard avocado tree has just started giving up it’s treasures. The first of this season’s avocados are now maturing in the kitchen and finding their way into salad bowls.

I had to buy this chocolate macadamia spread called Macabella when I was shopping the other day. It’s beautifully packaged and look so appealing. But doesn’t quite hit the spot like our favourite chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella.

Have you tried it?

spinach pasta

Finally, a Jamie Oliver inspired recipe of spinach pasta with zucchini and cherry tomatoes. This is a great pasta made with just baby spinach leaves and flour! It works and is so delicious!

In My Kitchen is part of a bigger IMK community hosted by Liz who blogs at the great  Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things. Have a look at her blog to find a list of kitchens around the world which you can have a peek into.

In my Kitchen this month

Summer has arrived with vengeance here in North Queensland! It’s hot
and dry and we longingly wait for the monsoons and the tropical rains. The last of the  sugar cane waiting in the fields to be harvested is crisp and brown from the heat. This morning the first of the heavy rains have started and soon all the sugar cane fields will be bare and thirstily drinking the liquid gold. This month in my kitchen were the last of the local watermelons. I turned a little of the watermelon into gelo – a Sicilian sweet pudding.

I picked up a kilo of fresh local honey – this time it’s from the puddingwood blossoms which produces an intensely flavoured, dark honey.

In the fridge there are three dozen fresh farm eggs gratefully accepted from my daughter’s colleague. Already I have started to turn these into quiches, custards and omelets.

A raspberry chocolate tart for a special dessert.

From “A Baker’s Odyssey” by my friend Greg Patent – baklava

…and also Shoofly pie

Nibbles for Christmas – Spicy nuts and bolts

This post is in conjunction with In My Kitchen hosted by the lovely Liz of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things even though I’m a little late!

In My Kitchen – November 2016

  This is my second edition of In My Kitchen which is hosted by Liz of Bizzy Lizzy Good Things. If you want to participate just post before the 10th of each month and send your link to Liz.

This month I made a mammoth Apple Strudel! It was huge – I call it “The Party Animal”

 

 

Brown Rice Salad with cucumber, capsicum, currants, pistachios and mint…a sprinkle of dukkah and a drizzle of honey to finish.

 

 

A Nutella Pastry Flower

 

 

Moist and delicious Yoghurt Cupcakes

 

A Jamie Oliver inspired Chicken and Quinoa salad for lunch.

 

 

A syrup drench mocha cake for my sister’s birthday.

 

A Norwegian Almond cake call Fyrstekake. Very sweet. Might try it again with less sugar.

 

A wonderful find at the second hand shop – silver dessert spoons.
And just for fun –  a broccoli face!

In My Kitchen October 2016

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen event hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things.
Here in North Queensland we are in the second month of Spring. The humidity is rising and summer is approaching quickly. A north Queensland kitchen at this time of the year is quite different compared to the kitchens in the Northern hemisphere or indeed in southern Australia. We are preparing for the heat of summer and already eating “cooler”. 
So lets take a look at my kitchen this month. 
Pictured above is the waffles I made served with homemade strawberry jam and thick Greek yoghurt. This is a new recipe from my fav book A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. These are Norwegian waffles spiced with cardamom.  Recipe coming soon.
With the heat coming on the garden has bolted and everything has gone to seed. I picked a big bunch of basil before I completely lost it all and plonked it all into a big bucket ready to be turned into pesto.

In my kitchen I made pesto to freeze for later. My sister, who is a cooking wiz, tells me it’s better frozen without the cheese. 

In my kitchen I have lots of local chocolate. This month we toured Charley’s Chocolate Factory at Mission Beach, North Queensland. This boutique chocolate factory grows their own cocoa beans and produces award winning, single origin chocolate. 

Fresh baked last night, Kleecha, again a recipe from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. When I say “Syrian”, your first thought I doubt would be traditional cooking but indeed these delicious spiced bread rolls are a Syrian recipe. I will post soon. 

In my kitchen I have this interesting little tool – a watermelon slicer from a local store Green Jelly Homewares.

And I have a watermelon from the neighbors road side stall. Less than a kilometre down the road I can pick up a watermelon for $5.00 and pumpkins for $2.00. So in my kitchen I tested my new device. Hmmm, not as easy as pictured on the packaging.
Not bad, nevertheless.
In my kitchen, a tin of freshly baked Chinese Almond Cookies…..yes…. same cookbook!
And yes, with the kind author’s permission I will post the recipe.

Ripening on the kitchen bench are the latest pickings from the garden. We have to pick the pawpaws before the birds discover this sweet treat.

And lastly in my kitchen, my latest find at the op shop, a little ring pan for a mere $2.00. Such a cute little cake pan, I had to have it. It’s useful, right?
Well, that’s my kitchen for this month. Pop over to Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things to peek into some other kitchens.

Making Mozzarella Cheese

Some time ago I spotted a cheese making kit at my local deli. Already having prepared ricotta using Mrs G’s method, I was ready to move on in my cheese making endeavours but not ready to do it on my own. This kit was perfect. The Begininners’ Italian Cheeses Kit by Mad Millie provided everything I needed to make macarpone, ricotta, ricotta salata and mozzarella.
   
This kit includes a thermometer and pipette (for measuring small quantities of liquid) which are required for subsequent kits.
You just need to obtain un-homogenized whole milk which can sometimes be difficult. I found a local brand from Misty Mountains Farms and I was set to make my own mozzarella cheese.

Calcium chloride is added to the milk which is then heated to 13C (55.5F) before mixing in diluted citric acid. This milk is then brought to a higher temperature of 32C (89.5F) and rennet is stirred in. After 30 minutes the curd forms and is cut and heated further to 42C (107.6F).

Once the correct temperature is reached the curds are scooped into a muslin lined colander and allowed to drip for 5 minutes.

Now the fun part! Put on a pair of rubber gloves and take a handful of curds. Place the curds in a bowl of 70C (158F) hot water for 20 seconds. Now, carefully stretch and fold the curd until it is smooth and flexible.

The balls of mozzarella are place into a bowl of icy salt water for 20 minutes and  then they are ready to eat!

The mozzarella is delicious fresh with red ripe tomatoes and basil but matured for a week in the refrigerator is wonderful on a pizza. Either way I’ll be making this regularly.

It’s the School Fete

I’ve been busy! Really busy! It’s school fete time again. It seems to come around so quickly. Now, if you have been reading Marcellina in Cucina for some time you will know that in October 2009 my son’s school prepared and sold over 1500 cannoli as a fundraiser so you will understand that this school has a very active parent group. The fete is no different to the cannoli fundraiser.

Our fete is probably a little different from others as it begins at 4.00pm and continues until late becoming a community event rather than just a school function. There is always the barbeque steak sandwich, fish, chips and battered hot dog plus a delicious dessert stall where your choice of cheesecake, small cakes or tarts can be purchase along with a cappuccino, mochaccino or strong black. Naturally many cannoli are made and sold on the night. Of course, the usual raffles abound as well as the displays of singing and dancing by the
school children.
I take charge of the cake and sweet stall always providing the cake to be raffled which this year is the chocolate mud cake which heads this post. Then along with the obligatory variety of cakes I also produce a few old fashion sweets to keep the children happy.
 
I ask for donations of cakes and am always impressed by the number of chocolate, sponge, carrot, banana and fruit cakes that arrive lovingly homemade and beautifully packaged. This year I also had great toffee apples, muffins, marshmallow and chocolate fudge to offer. The night was a great success.
The chocolate mud cake recipe can be found here. I simply cut it in half, drizzled each half with dark rum and sandwiched it together with the glaze the recipe provides. Chocolate shards around the outside, piled wrapped chocolates in the centre all finished with a gold ribbon.
These meringues were very popular.
4 egg whites
220g castor sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
food colouring of you choice
Preheat the oven to 100C. Line baking trays with non stick baking paper
Beat egg white until soft peaks form and gradually add the sugar beating until it dissolves. Beat for another
 2 minutes. Add the cornflour and vinegar whisk to combine. Colour and decorate as you wish. Pipe mixture onto trays and bake in preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours until meringues are crisp. Turn oven off and leave in oven for 3 hours.
Candied popcorn is fun!
(adapted from AWW Cooking Class cookbook)
1/3 cup unpopped popcorn
1 tabs oil
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
food colouring
Pop the popcorn in a saucepan with the oil.
Put sugar water and food colouring in a large saucepan, stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil uncovered until small amount of toffee “cracks” in cold water. Remove from heat. Add popcorn to toffee. Stir constantly until toffee crystallizes and coats popcorn. Turn onto large tray to cool. Repeat for each colour you wish to have, mix and store in airtight containers.
This delicious gourmet almond toffee is a hit with the adults as much as the children!
You can find the recipe here I just like to add 2 tablespoons of corn syrup which I believe helps stop crystallization and ensures a smooth creamy toffee.
If you find yourself in charge of your school cake stall remember to present your products well. I really like to use clear oven bags for the cakes. This way they are well sealed but the cake can be seen easily. A little bit of ribbon on the packaging or colourful decorations all help sell you products which is a good results for the school and ultimately a good result for the students.