Category Archives: food

Sunday decadence!

What do you do with a rich, moist cake that kind of falls apart? Easy, you make a trifle, of sorts. Then you eat it for Sunday brunch because…hey, all that cream will go off, right?

So…are you curious? Thought so. 😀

This first photo is actually showing the bottom of the cake. I put a heap of Morello cherries into the batter and they all sank to the bottom. Duh.

That meant the bottom stayed a bit wetter than the top, and that resulted in the top of the cake falling ‘away’ from the bottom when I decanted the cake onto the cooling rack. Sigh. Had to scrape the ‘bottom’ out and place it on top of the rest of the cake.

Note: the cake is a variation on the ‘Apricot and Olive Oil Cake’ recipe found in the ‘Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca’ cook book. And yes, it does use olive oil instead of butter. Anyway, when made according to the original recipe, the cake turns out perfectly every time. I made a few changes…

This next photo is a closeup of the cake showing the morello cherries [circled in yellow]:

So, anyway, the cake tasted sensational, it just looked sad. That’s when the Offspring had this brilliant idea: why not make some crème frangipane and turn the cake into a trifle?

I was a little skeptical, but as the cake had turned into an ugly duckling because of me, I could hardly demure.

The Offspring made the crème frangipane and proceeded to put a very simple trifle together [no jelly and the custard was kind of folded into the whipped cream, but who’s being a purist?]. Then we ate it…

No pics coz there’s no trifle left. You’re just going to have to take my word for how utterly delicious it was. 😀

But to show I do have a heart, here’s the recipe for the crème frangipane we used [it’s not the authentic French recipe, but it’s delicious and MUCH easier to make]:

Ingredients

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

2/3 cup full cream milk [light milk just doesn’t quite work]

1 egg yoke [from a fairly large, free-range egg]

300 ml of thickened cream [that can be whipped]

Method

Mix the sugar, corn starch and milk until there are no lumps. Then place the mix in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir constantly until the mix thickens.

Take the pot off the heat and immediately stir in the egg yoke. [This is a kind of cheats custard].

The original recipe* says to flavour the custard with either Kirsch or vanilla, but we left it plain. At this point, the custard is very sweet.

Use a whisk, hand beater or an electric beater to whip the cream until it’s quite thick.

Place both the custard and the cream in the fridge until the custard has cooled.

Once the custard is quite cold, add the whipped cream and gently fold the two together. Ta dah!

You can use this crème frangipane as a filling or for any recipe that calls for sweetened cream. It’s so good. Also, so fat….:/

Hope your Sunday is as nice as mine,

cheers

Meeks

* The original recipe comes from the Sunset French Cook Book, 1976. This is my favourite cook book of all time. It’s falling apart, literally, but it has never failed me. 🙂

 


Recipe – Cheese scones without butter

This is not a very accurate recipe, apologies in advance, but it is very easy and very forgiving! The only thing to remember is to be quick. This dough does not like to be over worked so rein in the perfectionist!

For non-Australian and UK residents, scones look like this:

Attribution: https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/easy-pumpkin-scones-1048  The post includes a recipe for pumpkin scones.

Ingredients for Cheese Scones:

  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder [yes, a whole teaspoon]
  • pinch of salt [parmesan is salty so don’t over do the salt]
  • about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of parmesan – I used flaked but grated will do as well
  • and cream…

Method:

  1. pre-heat the oven to fan bake 160 C [conventional oven 180 C or 350 F]
  2. place a piece of grease proof paper onto a flat baking tray
  3. mix all the dry-ish ingredients in a large bowl, including the parmesan
  4. make a shallow well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add a dash of cream
  5. using a knife, or a fork, NOT hands, start working the cream into the dry ingredients
  6. keep adding a bit of cream until the scone mixture starts to hold together, only then go in with your hands [you want the scone dough to stay cool]
  7. quickly mix the dough into a ball – do not over work!
  8. place on a lightly floured board and kneed just until the dough starts to feel a bit elastic
  9. spread out with your hands [or a rolling pin if you have one] – 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch
  10. cut out scones and place on baking tray
  11. gently kneed leftovers into another ball, flatten and cut out
  12. place the scone tray in the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes

Cooking time will vary according to your oven and how thick you made the scones. They’re ready when they have a nice pale brown blush on top [very much like the photo of the pumpkin scones above].

To serve, spread with good butter and eat. Enough for two medium sized people as an afternoon snack or to have with a bowl of soup as a simple evening meal.

Good appetite. 🙂

Meeks


3D printed food

My thanks to sv3dprinter for this great post about a company that developed 3D printed food for NASA:

I recommend checking the post out as it contains links to other great videos on 3D printing:

https://sv3dprinter.com/?p=6769

If microwaves brought about a revolution in foodprocessing last century, 3D printing will do the same for this century. I love the tech but I think I’ll stick to home cooking. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Spinach sauce with savoury French Toast – a recipe

This is a very Hungarian meal and may not be to everyone’s liking but Mum made it for me all through my childhood and I still make it for The Offspring [and myself].

Spinach sauce

1 large bunch of English spinach

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of plain [all purpose?] flour

2 tablespoon of Peanut or olive oil

milk

Method

Begin by stripping the spinach leaves off the stalks and washing them AT LEAST 3 times. This is the part I dislike because it takes time and patience but if you don’t get all the minute bits of grit or sand or whatever it is off the spinach leaves your sauce will crunch between your teeth – most unpleasant!

Once the spinach is clean put a small amount of water to boil in the bottom of a pot large enough to hold all the spinach. When the water is boiling throw the spinach into the pot, cover and let the spinach wilt for no more than 1 minute. As soon as the spinach collapses into a green ball remove from heat, strain through a colander and refresh with a quick rinse under cold water. Let it drain.

While the spinach is draining peel the garlic and mash it with a heavy knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to use the back of the knife to scrape away at the cloves until they break down into a paste. Garlic presses are no good because you end up with small bits of garlic that can be rather overpowering when you bite on them.

Once the garlic is mashed make a white roux with the oil and flour in a pot large enough to hold the finished spinach sauce.  To make the roux stir the flour and oil together over a gentle heat and keep stirring for about 2 minutes until the flour cooks. Do NOT let it go brown!

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mashed garlic. The roux can now sit for a little while.

Put the strained spinach onto a wooden chopping board and chop until very fine.

Add the chopped spinach to the roux and combine well until there are no lumps of white showing.

The next bit is a little hard to quantify but pour in at least 1 cup of cold milk and immediately stir into the spinach mixture. At this stage the sauce should be quite ‘wet’. If it looks too thick add a little more milk then return the pot to the heat and allow the sauce to come to a simmer. You must keep stirring [with a wooden spoon] until the sauce is completely cooked. Depending on quantities this could take ten minutes.

As the sauce simmers it will start to thicken and the spinach will ‘bleed’ that lovely green colour into the milk. The sauce is done when it has a nice overall green colour and has thickened to the point where you could almost eat it with a fork – so not runny but not like porridge either. Set aside while you make the french toast.

French Toast

The Hungarian version of french toast is called ‘Bundás kenyér’ and translates as ‘fur coated bread’ [bunda means fur coat. Don’t ask]. Each slice should be golden brown, slightly crunchy and sprinkled with salt, not sugar!

4 whole eggs

6 slices of bread – stale or fresh. [I allow roughly 1 egg to 1.5 slices of bread, depending on the size of the slices]

peanut oil for frying – should cover the bottom of the frying pan with a bit to spare but remember, you are not deep frying here.

Method

I use a heavy cast iron frying pan so it needs to be heated ahead of time while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. Adjust to suit your own pan.

While the oil and pan are heating, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork – just enough to mix the white and the yolk.

Cut each slice of bread in half and arrange bread and egg mix near the frying pan. Place a serving plate within reach of the pan.

Once the oil is hot [it should be radiating heat but not quite smoking] dip a piece of bread into the egg, flip it with a fork and immediately lift out of the egg. Let the excess egg drip back into the bowl and then gently place the bread into the hot oil.

[Note : you have to be quick getting the bread into and out of the egg because you don’t want it to get soggy. If it gets soggy it will not fry to a crisp finish.]

Fry the bread in batches until the bottoms go a nice golden colour. Turn, fry the other side and then place onto the serving plate. You can drain the bread on kitchen towel if you want but I rarely bother.

Once the bread is all done, sprinkle with a little salt and it is ready to serve. Reheat the spinach just a little bit and stir the slight ‘crust’ on top until it reintegrates with the sauce.

To serve

Arrange slices of golden bread in a fan shape on a plate and pour half a ladle of spinach sauce next to the bread. It should look rather pretty. Then spoon some of the sauce onto the bread and eat the two together to get the combination of smooth, garlicky sauce and crisp, eggy bread. Enjoy!


Artic Apple & double stranded RNA risk

Watch this video to find out about the complete unexpected effect of double stranded RNA fed to bees via genetically modified food.

 

You might also be interested in how the FDA was infiltrated by Monsanto to ensure that GM food did not have to be tested properly. Or labelled.

Meeks


GM Apple going on sale in the US

Apples used to be a symbol of health, and healthy eating. Not any more. To give sliced apples a longer shelf life, the Artic Apple has had a gene removed so it doesn’t go brown…perhaps ever:

Is this a case of Nature getting it wrong and man getting it right?

Fruit that is cut or bruised goes brown through a process of oxidisation. According to the dictionary, this means:

‘To combine or cause an element or radical to combine with oxygen or to lose electrons.

Okay, so what’s the big deal?

To be honest, I don’t know. All I know is that most [? all ?] fruit and vegetables exposed to air – i.e. oxygen – do go brown thanks to millions of years worth of natural selection. Natural selection is not the survival of the strongest, it’s the survival of the fittest. So something about the browning of fruit and vegetables when exposed to oxygen is a good thing, because it’s lasted through countless mutations during which a better gene could have taken over. But didn’t. Because it wasn’t a better fit for the environment.

Of course, the browning of all fruit and vegetables when cut or bruised could, possibly, be one of those genes that are simply ‘neutral’ – i.e. it doesn’t have much of an effect either way so it just hangs around. That is a possibility, but then why has it hung around in all of these fruits and vegetables? Surely at least one of them would have done better without this gene?

I mean, think about it. The whole purpose of fruit is to be eaten…so the seeds inside can be carried somewhere else and pooped out. Then, those seeds have a chance of starting a new plant in a new place. That makes sense. So wouldn’t it also make sense to stop the bruised fruit from going brown? Wouldn’t fresh-looking fruit be more appetising to the fruit-eating poopers?

What I know about genetics could fit into a thimble, but commonsense tells me two things:

  1. the fact that natural selection didn’t get rid of the turn-fruit-brown gene means that there was no advantage to doing so,
  2. being able to sell sliced fruit is a terrible reason to genetically modify anything.

Who gains by being able to have apple slices sitting on a shelf for god knows how long?

And why would you even want to have sliced apples for sale?

I mean, seriously, the apple is the original convenience food. All you need to do is bite into it.

Have these Artic Apples been developed for people who have no teeth and have to gum their food?

Or has our obsession with convenience deprived us of all good sense?

Are we truly that lazy??

What’s next? Apple sauce that grows on trees? Don’t even need to chew….

This whole thing would be almost funny if it were not so real. I truly don’t like the future I’m starting to see.

Meeks

p.s. and to add insult to injury, guess who developed this ridiculous apple – our own, Australian C.S.I.R.O. I am so ashamed.


3D printed food! omg…..

3d Printed food ( pasta ) 3d printed food is well know. We love to eat pasta in different forms. almost every country has some kind of pasta or related food. Pasta comes in different shapes, but when we want to make our own design based pasta its little bit hard for some of […]

via 3d Printed food ( pasta ) — SV3DPRINTER.com


Toxic #nanoparticles in baby formula?

I was first introduced to the idea of very small, man-made ‘objects’ by the 1966 sci-fi movie ‘The Fantastic Voyage’:

The story was fanciful in the extreme – science will never be able to shrink humans to the size of atoms – but the concept of building a microscopic sized machine was not that far off the mark. These days, you can find nanoparticles in ‘…scratchproof eyeglasses, crack- resistant paints, anti-graffiti coatings for walls, transparent sunscreens, stain-repellent fabrics, self-cleaning windows and ceramic coatings for solar cells.¹

Unfortunately, the one place you do not want to find nanoparticles is in infant formula, so I was shocked when I read this article from Friends of the Earth:

http://emergingtech.foe.org.au/illegal-and-potentially-toxic-nanoparticles-found-in-baby-formula/

In a quick summary, Friends of the Earth commissioned the Arizona State University to test seven samples of baby formula on sale here in Australia. The test results showed that five of the seven contained nanoparticles that are specifically prohibited in baby food. Despite this, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand [FSANZ] dismissed the concerns raised by these results without even running tests of their own.

Friends of the Earth believe that FSANZ is overly influenced by large multinational corporations and is calling for the body to be investigated. I don’t know whether their claims are justified or not. All I know is that if I had a baby, I’d be switching brands until these allegations are either proved by more testing…or disproved by more testing. Either way, the tests must be done.

The following table is taken from the Friends of the Earth article. The yellow highlight at the bottom is mine.

 

If this information proves to be alarmist, then I apologise in advance but when it comes to health, especially the health of babies, I believe the precautionary principle should trump every other consideration. As mothers, we have the right to choose what food we put into the mouths of our children.

Meeks

¹ http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/en/nanotechnologies/l-3/5-nanoparticles-consumer-products.htm


Food #gardening in mini greenhouses

The weather here in Melbourne is bleak and blustery, but we had a few minutes of sunshine earlier on so I raced out with my trusty phone to take these:

The pictures show the mini greenhouses I bought from Bunnings. They come in a flat pack -shiver- but everything fits together quite easily for a change, including the clear plastic ‘cover’ that fits over the frame. The covers go all the way to the floor [but do not ‘seal’ completely]. Access to the inside is via heavy duty zips.

I was skeptical, at first, but I quickly noticed that the interior of the greenhouses is noticeably warmer than the outside air, and visibility is usually low due to condensation on the plastic. I’m not sure how the plants will go in summer conditions, but at the moment I’m only watering a tiny bit, once every 2 weeks or so.

Wind is a bit of a problem here, but by positioning the mini greenhouses up against the wall, and anchoring them with big, earth filled ‘tubs’ [see below], both structures have survived the north winds we get up here, so far at least.

I don’t usually do product endorsements, but I liked the first mini greenhouse so much, I went back and bought a second one. The original contains some very happy lettuce and continental parsley while the new one contains BokChoy [?] also grown from seed.

If anyone is interested in growing some winter vegetables, here are the salient facts:

Position:

North facing deck, up against the brick wall of the house for both extra warmth and protection from the wind.

Supplier:

Bunnings in Eltham

Form:

Flat pack. No issues with putting it together.

Cost:

I think each mini greenhouse was around $29, so they were very cheap.

Tubs:

I found some ordinary, plastic storage tubs, the kind you can buy at the supermarket, and drilled holes through the bottom of each one. Then I placed the tubs on top of their own lids to catch excess water and provide a ‘well’ of water to draw on.

Cost:

The tubs were on special and again, at roughly $10 per tub, they were much cheaper than an equivalent plant pot. Another important point was that they fit very neatly inside the bottom of each mini greenhouse, thereby acting as a kind of ‘anchor’ against the wind.

I know the tubs won’t last for very long because of the UV etc, but when they disintegrate, I’ll simply buy new ones. In the meantime, I have lovely, lush lettuce almost ready to harvest and some Chinese vegetables coming on. Colour me happy. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Pesticides in the US and Australia

Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used pesticides on American farms, sprayed on everything from strawberries to soybeans. It’s cheap, and it works well; chlorpyrifos is derived from the same chemical family as sarin nerve gas, and kills insects by attacking their nervous system. But exposure to chlorpyrifos is also linked to brain damage…

via The US government is ignoring its own scientists’ warning that a Dow pesticide causes brain damage in children — Quartz

This article talks about a pesticide called chlorpyrifos, and the harm it can cause. Something that jumped out at me was this:

Pregnant women who lived near agricultural fields where chlorpyrifos was sprayed during their second trimester were three times more likely to give birth to a child who would develop autism, according to a study out of the University of California, Davis.

If there really has been a rise in autism, then perhaps chlorpyrifos is at least part of the problem because the residues on common food can do damage as well. A search for what kinds of foods are sprayed with chlorpyrifos in Australia led me to:

These are the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides, including chlorpyrifos. These are commercially grown foods that we all eat. I almost cried when I saw strawberries, grapes and sweet bell peppers [capsicum] in that list. And potatoes?

I strongly recommend that you read the entire article, including the ‘Clean Fifteen’. These are fruits and vegetables that have the least amount of pesticide residue:

http://www.sgaonline.org.au/pesticides-in-fruit-and-vegetables/

As a final word, the EPA in the US wanted to ban chlorpyrifos, but new Trump appointee, Scott Pruitt, chose to ignore his own agency’s recommendation. Here in Australia we haven’t even gotten to that point yet. Pathetic.

Meeks

 


%d bloggers like this: