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  • Lamb Shank Curry

    As soon as there is the slightest hint of a chill in the air I instantly crave meals that require long, slow cooking. It is comforting knowing that with a little forethought and prep in the morning one is rewarded with a rich and luscious meal that will satisfy the hungriest of appetites hours later. In fact, I believe that it is one of the greatest gifts that the cooler weather gives us. sending out a message into the air as the aromas fill every room in the house (our home is quite small so this is very easily achieved) notifying everyone in residence that something special awaits. Be it a large pot lazily bubbling away on the stovetop, or a slow cooker working its magic on the kitchen bench. Or, in this case, a casserole pot sitting proudly in the oven. They all provide that wonderful fuzzy feeling of home-cooked comfort. The type of meal that makes me feel as if I've been wrapped up in a thick, hand-knitted woollen blanket. These are the meals I love and the ones I so look forward to as the days become increasingly shorter. This flavourful lamb shank curry requires minimal effort - a quick curry paste. Browning of the lamb. A tin of chickpeas. A potato. Passata. Stock and coconut cream. The oven does the rest. 2 and 1/2 hours later the meat is so delicate it falls from the bone. The pot can be taken straight to the table along with some rice and perhaps even some homemade flatbread too, or store-bought, I will leave that up to. Lamb Shank Curry Makes enough for 4-6 hungry humans 4 lamb shanks, preferably organic or the best you can afford 1 tbsp of ghee tin of chickpeas 1 small potato or a small sweet potato (the sweet potato will make the curry a little bit sweeter) cut into largish chunks 700g passata 700ml either vegetable or chicken stock 1 tin of coconut cream A good couple of handfuls of spinach greek yoghurt, to serve For the curry paste a small onion, chopped 1 spring onion, white and green sliced 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced 3cm piece of turmeric, peeled and sliced 2 tsp garam masala a pinch of chilli flakes salt and pepper zest of a lemon In a small food processor, blitz all of the curry paste ingredients together until a smooth-ish paste forms. Rub this all over the shanks and set it aside in a bowl to rest in the fridge for at least one hour, even better if it can sit overnight to really allow the flavours to get to know one another. Set the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (fan-forced). Heat the ghee (or light olive oil and a knob of butter) in a large pot with a lid and add the lamb. You may need to do this in batches like I do as my pot is not big enough to fit them all into to brown at the same time. Once they have a beautiful brown tinge to them add all 4 back to the pot along with the chickpeas, potato (or sweet potato) passata, stock and coconut cream and bring to the boil. Pop the lid on and place it into the oven for 2 hours. Once the two hours are up and you have done a load of washing, hung it out, sat down with a good book or whatever takes your fancy, remove the lid and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour. At this stage, you can either stir the spinach through or you can place a bed of it in the bottom of the bowl along with a good spoonful of steaming rice and a generous portion of lamb on top. A good dollop of Greek yoghurt doesn't go astray here either. Then rip off a piece of flatbread, scoop that luscious warming curry up and savour every mouthful.

  • Spring onion cheese Tart

    Beau and I had to grit our teeth as we pulled the rather robust spring onions from the earth in which they were grasped tightly into. So much so that Beau, at one stage, fell right back onto his bottom. We laughed so hard. He was eager to get them all out, without any help mind you. Some were long and slender - your typical spring onion, while others had grown quite the girth. They are by far one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed and I always seem to have great success with them. They tend to just look after themselves, which is an added bonus. Their mild, onion-y flavour is a rather lovely addition to a simple salad - gently folded into a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. They take on an entirely different flavour when slowly braised so that they are as delicate as their soft, creamy slender stems and snow-white bulbs. It was upon caramelising them that they really sang to me though - sweet, soft, buttery notes. I had made the almond and spelt pastry the day before. I love doing this. Allowing the buttery disc to rest in the fridge overnight. It makes me feel somewhat organised as all that is needed to do the following day is to make the filling, which in this case is so very simple and I am all for simple these days - what with having two little scallywags - one at my feet, the other standing right next to me at the kitchen bench. The latter little person more often than not "stealing" my ingredients for his own creations! And I don't think it will be too long before the little lady will be fighting for her position up at the bench either! Oh goodness. This tart is rustic beauty at its finest, just the way I like it. A whisk, a rolling pin and your own two hands are pretty much all that is needed, along with a few simple ingredients to have this ready for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Any leftovers make for a wonderful easy lunch the following day too, cold, straight from the fridge. Spring onion cheese tart makes a 35cm tart For the pastry 180g spelt flour 45g almond meal pinch of salt 125g cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks 1 egg yolk approx 1/4 cup cold water Whisk the flour, almond meal and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs (its ok to have some larger pieces of butter throughout) add the yolk and mix in with your fingertips followed by the water bit by bit until it comes together. Try to do this as gently as possible as you don't want to overwork it which will develop gluten resulting in a dough that is hard to roll out and will quite often be tough when cooked. Bring into a flattish disc and wrap in baking paper. Set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight if you are feeling organised. The following day, remove the pastry from the fridge to bring back to a roll-able temperature while you make the filling. For the filling A big bunch of spring onions, about 2 bunches if buying from the market (about 400g) 40g butter 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 1/2 cup cream 1 egg 1 tsp dijon mustard 1 cup grated raw milk Yarrawa (I love using Pecora Dairy) 1/2 cup grated cheddar Eggwash (optional) 1 egg 1 tbsp cream or milk Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (fan-forced) In a large pan over a medium-low heat add in the butter and oil. Slice off the ends and any straggly bits of the spring onions and then slice both the white and the green. Add these to the pan once the butter has melted, stirring to coat. Continue to cook slowly until they have collapsed and smell sweet and buttery. This can take about 15-20 minutes. Add in the vinegar and cook for another minute until it has evaporated. Now you can remove it from the heat. In a seperate bowl whisk the egg, cream, dijon and both cheeses together until combined. Season with salt and a good grinding of pepper. Stir through the spring onions. Roll out the pastry on to the baking paper in which it was wrapped with until you get as close to a 35cm round. Have ready a baking tray or round pizza tray and place your round in the center. Spoon the spring onion mixture into the center and then spread it out to a 20cm round. Fold the edges of the pastry up and over and pleat. Brush with egg wash if you so desire - 1 egg mixed with a dash of cream or milk and then cook for about 35 minutes or until just set and the pastry is lusciously golden. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then serve.

  • Two Summer Jam's - Apricot & Plum

    It has been a relatively cool start to the summer season down here in this part of the world. The earth has been soaking up the heavy raindrops, much to the delight of my veggie garden which has tripled in size this past week. It seems that the surrounding stonefruit trees that are dotted about our neighbours' yards have also been relishing in the liquid gifts from above too. From our kitchen window the long "claw-like" leaves of a nectarine tree sway in the breeze, revealing the ruby cheeks of the juicy gems that hang from their branches. At the forefront is an apricot tree, to the right is a peach and from over the top of the chooks yard there sits a tree that looks as though it could topple over any moment with the weight of the small rounds that are the colour of midnight. It is around this time that we receive a precious bounty from our neighbours on the high side. A box of blushing apricots, followed days later by another haul accompanied with a bundle of plums cradled into a makeshift newspaper pouch. My eyes were delighted as were all of our tummies - I think we may have eaten our weight in them already. They are by far my favourite fruit. What has not been eaten fresh has been bottled up and now sits on my preserving shelf (which is nothing more than a space carved out in amongst the folders and files in the study) It is these jars of spreadable sweetness that make me happy and that I so enjoy gifting. Wrapping each one up with a piece of twine, a little label and a sprig of something fragrant. I love knowing that it will inevitably be spread on to hot buttered toast, providing comfort with each luscious mouthful, washed down, of course, with a cup of something hot. Because no matter what the days bring, there is always time for tea and toast. Apricot & Rosemary Jam Makes 4-5 medium-sized jars 1kg Apricots 375ml water 850g sugar a large sprig of rosemary Cut each apricot in half and remove the stone. Place the apricots into a large pot along with the water and bring to the boil. Allow them to bubble away happily for 20 minutes or so until they have softened making sure to stir every now and then. Strip the leaves from the rosemary and chop them finely, add these to the apricots along with the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Return to a boil and let it once again happily bubble away, adjusting the heat if necessary. Stir frequently as you do not want to end up with a pot that has burnt bits stuck to the bottom, it doesn't make for a fun clean up! While this is all happening, select your jars and matching lids and place them into a sink full of hot water. Pop them onto a baking tray and place into the oven at about 150 degrees to dry out, this is the way I sterilise my jars and also allows for the jars to be super hot so that they are ready to pour the hot jam into them. After about 20 - 30 minutes your jam should be quite thick and should fall off the spoon a bit like lava. If you want to you can place a small plate into the freezer and then once its cold take it out and drop a little of the jam in the centre and then return it back to the freezer for a moment before running your finger down through the middle of it, if it leaves a mark down the middle your jam is ready to be poured into the jars, if not just continue to cook, but do keep an eye on it as it is at this stage that it can very easily go from being perfect to burnt within the click of a finger! Once you are happy that it is ready, pour into the jars, tightly seal each one and turn upside down for a couple of minutes before turning the right way up once again. Leave them on the bench to cool and then store in a cool place. Once opened, store in the fridge. Plum, ginger and orange jam makes 3-4 medium jars 850g plums 200ml water a thumb-size piece of ginger one long strand of orange peel 400g sugar 300g raw caster sugar Cut the plums in half and remove their stones, place them into a large pot along with the water and allow them to come to the boil. Let them bubble away happily for about 20 minutes or until they have softened. Stir through the grated ginger and the peel of the orange followed by the sugars and stir until dissolved. Bring it back to the boil and allow to cook, while stirring frequently for at least 40 minutes until thickened. You can always use the freezer plate test as mentioned above to make sure. Pour into hot sterilised jars and follow the method above. Always be extra careful when handling jam, it can spit and splutter when you stir it, especially towards the end when it is almost ready and a hot jam splatter on your hands or arms really does hurt! And clean your pots and pans and spoons as soon as you can, dried jam takes a fair bit of elbow grease to remove. I always fill my pots with water and allow the jug and spoon to have a bit of a swim around in there as well to make for an easier cleanup.

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