The spring has sprung, welcome the new season. Delicious cooking for spring is coming soon, but now I love to share the beautiful flowers in my garden.
The very first of the Yellow Banksia Roses to flower, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
The garden looks so colourful, even though the roses are not flowering yet, but a lot of buds. The first red flowers I cut last week to fill a vase for the house.
Healthy looking rose bushes all in buds.
Smell the Jasmine, so fragrant, beautiful fragrance.
Colour of the ground cover in my backyard.
Every year I do the cutting of these flowers to celebrate spring.
The Red Roses.
It is a beautiful time of the year, love spending time in the garden not only to garden but enjoying the beauty of it all.
I hope you all have a good time in your garden too. Have a wonderful season.
To celebrate the last week of winter by cooking delicious food in the oven, it keeps the kitchen warm. No, it was not roasting but braising. A very tasty braised chicken with red wine to serve for our Sunday best and garnished with mashed potato, followed by a leafy green salad. It was such a delightful dinner.
Braised Chicken with Red Wine
1 whole bird free range chicken-cut into 8
Salt, white pepper to rub the chicken
2 red onions-cut into four for an onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 bacon pieces, chopped
3 tablespoons braised tomato
1 tablespoon sugar
1 and 1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
Herb-bay leaf, rosemary and thyme
To garnish: fresh flat parley and button mushroom
Note: ask the butcher to cut the whole bird, he will do the job well.
The Ingredients and the step by step how do you cook the braised chicken with wine.
The Process of The Cooking
Use a heavy based pot.
Rub each piece of chicken with salt and white pepper.
Pan fry the chicken in the pot, skin down, you do not need the oil at first, after turning
over the chicken, add a little oil to continue to cook.
Take and transfer the chicken from the cooking pot to a plate, put in the onions and
the aromatic vegetable to the pot and deglaze the pot with some of the red wine.
Put the chicken back to the pot, add in the rest of the wine and cook for 5 minutes
before you add in the stock. Turn the chicken over, put the lid on and braised for 15 minutes. Transfer the pot to a hot oven at 165 degrees C, braised for one hour.
Note: Taste the seasoning, cover the pot, and braise over the stove top.
After finished braising, take the oven power off, but leave the pot inside the oven for 35 minutes.
The final result of the dish should be looking moist, and only a little sauce around the chicken.
Preparing the Garnishes, pan-fry mushrooms and fresh parsley
The cold weather is here right now, a time to cook the dish, have fun and enjoy!
Variation serving the dish: you could serve the braised chicken with pasta, boiled potato dressed in butter.
Paris Brest a beautiful cake that I baked for the contribution to the Biggest Morning tea, to raise money for the Cancer Council was delightful. It’s my own style of Paris Brest, but it turned out very well, the cake was light and luscious
I don’t have a recipe to share but I can tell you, what is it made out of. Paris Brest is a large round choux pastry filled with custard or Chantilly cream and dressed the top with powder sugar or any sweets as you wish to have. Traditionally it serves for dessert.
Sugared Rose Petals, the filling of the Choux Pastry, the drizzling of the pink chocolate ganache, that all these steps made a gorgeous Pink Paris Brest.
The custard was a smooth light French Patisiere and the melted white chocolate added pink colouring and butter was the pretty ganache.
The Pink Chocolate Ganache. Paris Brest is served for a dessert, as I mentioned before, but I did not mind to serve the Paris Brest for morning tea, simply place a slice on a serviette, and indeed it was a delight for everyone.
For next year, I don’t know what sweet or cake I would prepare for the Biggest Morning tea, but time will tell, I am blessed to be able to participate in for the past few years.
CELEBRATE THE COLOUR
My cymbidium Kirby Lash, the orchid came back to flower, it was a stem of orchid on the plant when I got, indeed I expected to have more stems in the coming year. However, it is not a disappointment. The pink flower is so soft and pretty, the flowering orchid sits at the kitchen table for the family to see, we love it, it’s beautiful, it adorns the place.
More Pink Cakes
A leftover the choux paste to bake for a large choux pastry, this time it filled with cream Chantilly and dressed in sugared petal, slivered almond and finished off with sprinkling powder sugar. You could do so much with choux pastry, it can be filled with savoury as well, and often I do just that.
A pink sponge cake for family and friends, it was a thank giving. Fifteen years exactly, good years to be in our home. It was built for us to retire, and we have been living it with peace and lots of joy. The house has a lovely garden which I have created with pride and the surrounding is quiet and more so we are blessed with good neighbours. The children come for visits, friends stop by for cuppa tea, it’s a happy home. The pink cake was enjoyed by All, it’s a perfect cake for the celebration.
We are not supposed to eat lots of cakes, but this time is an exception. We have been away for six weeks in Europa, visited Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands and Checkoslovakia, and had a grand time. But by the time we got home, the cold weather hit us so badly and we end up with a cold. It was a bad cold and very tiring, but not for long we recovered and I was able to fill up these commitments, baking for community and friends. As I said before after suffering from cold, we got so tired easily, and long to have sweets on our diet. Well, I followed with the flow, sweets we needed, sweet we got. All goodness of the sweet helped us to recover, and indeed we have our energy back. No more excuses to eat cakes or sweets, it is time to stop, and cooking light, fresh food is the way to go.
It is winter, and poaching fruits are taking place in my kitchen. This time poached apple in red wine, as I wanted the pink colour-pink apple for the filling of my almond cake.
It worked very well, the apple has beautiful bright pink, what you have to do only add a little red wine otherwise the colour becomes a deep red. Here we go again, baking another cake. But the cake is for freezing, to supply for the springtime.
How did I go with my almond cake? It was a big surprise, the cake turned out different as I expected. But it’s all good, now it is in the freezer and ready to dress when I need it.
We were tickled pink to have those sweets and cakes and so the family.
The Pink Cake no more for us, instead we have to settle with fruit scones or date scones for our sweets if there are any baking day. Scone is always popular, particularly the freshly baked to be served with our cuppa. These days we have to be happy with plain Mari biscuits the bought one.
Note: More information of Paris Brest, look up to the Wikipedia.
For my daily cooking is easy, without recipes to follow and the dishes that I cooked worked out alright. Actually cooking is more relaxed if I just go with the flow. Use any ingredients what I have, and from that, I could decide what the dish is going to be, and what technique I would like to go about. No, I don’t even think about the technique of cooking, I simply cooking and listen to my heart. That is the way to go. Easy and No Fuss.
Following a recipe faithfully is good, nothing wrong with that, that’s why cooking books are everywhere. They are there for everyone, to guide us as I believe.
This is my story, one day I was cleaning up my kitchen and I realised that the pear I bought last week were overripe and they are not good for eating. I had to do something about these pears, I didn’t want to waste them. Coffee Cake with Pear, that’s should be good.
I had all the ingredients for the cake, and indeed the cake was baked successfully, without any recipe. That was a time to be creative and productive.
Poach the pear in coffee syrup, followed by preparing the cake batter.
Beautiful Coffee Cake with Pear. The glossy pear adorns the cake richly and lusciously. It’s moist and delicious to serve with cream or serve it warm with a sauce flavoured with the liquor Tia Maria.
The Breaking Of The Bread
The joy of the breaking bread to share and to serve for dinner is . . . . . . . Once you have baked a perfect loaf, you want the best to serve it with. I had fresh chicken chops ready in the fridge, preserved lemon too. Chicken with preserved lemon was cooked ready in no time, and served with the leafy salad to complement the chicken and garnished with the bread. It’s a good meal and ‘NO Fuss’. Perfect sourdough bread freshly baked the ‘Boule’ complemented the evening meal. It was so priceless of breaking the bread the fresh loaf for the family dinner.
I do have a collection of cooking books, thanks to my family and my girls who bought me cooking books of famous authors. Through the books, I learnt how to cook, and to be a better cook.
Following recipes faithfully is important to get the perfect dishes, however, you can always improvise and to be creative, use your imagination and follow-listen to your heart. Have it a go, you may be surprised!
Belated Easter Good Wishes to You All. We enjoyed our Easter Celebration it was just the two of us. It is time for us to understand that our children have grown up having their own family and living so far away from us that makes them very hard to come for visits. We had a peaceful Easter at our home, and we were pleased to be able to talk to all children and grandchildren via telephone and FaceTime.
Our Easter Breakfast
We were very relaxed, took it as it was an ordinary day, went out for a bit after our Easter Breakfast that was boiled eggs, Brioche and mini chocolate eggs. Visited the nursery up the road as it was having a big sales. The weather was good to look around in the outdoor sections, lots pots and also ornaments. The collections of plants were plenty, and there was a special plant with unusual leaf -Myrtle with black leaf was offered but not at the good price, but still affordable. I could not help it to get one, as I have not got this particular plant yet, it would add a lovely foliage to my garden. I kept it in the pot and planning to plant it properly next year.
Fresh air, walking around the garden in the nursery did us good, felt fresh and restful. Got home and getting ready for our lunch. It was a treat doing cooking preparation without any time frame. Do as you like it. So that was I did, cooking fish with simple garnishes.
Fresh and Festive, Our Easter Lunch. Light and Lovely.
In the afternoon we rested well and listened to the beautiful music in our living room. We enjoyed the peacefulness of the day, a new tradition maybe took place, Easter Celebration just the two of as the children spent their time with their family at their own home.
In the late afternoon, cooking continued for our Dinner. Apart from the preparation was done the night before, so the cooking was easy and fast. But by Dinner time around six o’clock, we had no room left to take any food. it was ashamed that the food sat on the dinner table untouched.
The Easter Dinner: Chicken Ballotine garnished with beans and Jus.In the end, we had a supper, a very small served of the Ballotine of chicken and the garnishes. It was delicious, and indeed we close off the day with greatness.
The kitchen closed before ten and enjoyed a pleasant night.
We had a Very Peaceful and Happy Eater, and I hope You All did too.
Here is a recipe for delicious fish, I did it years ago, and love cooking the dish now and then. An idea for you to cook fish this Friday.
Eating healthy and quick cooking method that what I like to do. Poaching technique is one way to do that. But it has the risk to overcook it if you don’t’ do the right thing.
There are times that I like to indulge my self to do the fine cooking and to serve the dish beautifully. I love to prepare food with respect and to make the dish looking good. It is pretty food on a plate.
I have been cooking since I was a little girl, and loving it. I have learnt more since. Have I made mistakes? Oh ya ….. so many times. Mistakes are a part of the learning process. One never stops learning. I believe that I learn for life. This post is all about accepting and confessing that I made a big mistake regarding this cooking, but I know how to fix it for next time.
Poached two colour fish; salmon-ling, it is a delicate fish dish. It is supposed to be light juicy and moist served with lemon butter sauce and fennel salad. Unfortunately, I was interrupted during my cooking, the result was that I overcooked the fish for 3 minutes. I have ruined the fish. The salmon/ling fillets leaked the white proteins (albumen). It is shown in the pictures below.
Poached Two Colours Fish serve with lemon butter and fennel salad
It has shown the dry dryness
of the flesh of the fish
The two colours poached fish was overcooked, regardless the flavour was great though but it was not moist and juicy enough also the textured was not right.
The Recipe: Susy’s Recipe
Two Colours Poached Fish
2 salmon steaks/fillets
2 white fish steaks /fillets – ling
Aromatic vegetables for poaching
1cup water Fish Mousse
¾ cup diced skinned white fish
1 egg white
(Blend and process the ingredients
in the food processor to make the mousse)
2 shallots, chopped finely
1 tablespoon olive oil
50 mil white wine
1 juice of a lemon
50 g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped chives or fennel frond
1 white fennel bulb, sliced finely The dressing
½ juice of a lemon
1tablespoon chop flat parsley
3tablespoons olive oil Salt and white pepper to taste Method
The lemon butter
Sautee the shallot with the olive oil until soft but not brown
Add in the white wine and cook to simmer over medium heat
Reduce the heat, put the butter, cook to melt the butter
Add the juice of lemon, stir and mix and add in the chopped fennel.
Place the sauce in a serving dish, keep warm
Preparation for the fish
Cut, skinned, and trim all the fish steaks/fillets
Use the trimming of a stock
Cut each steak into 2, so you have 8 pieces
Take two fish, one the salmon and another one the ling
Smear some mousse on the salmon and place the ling on top
Wrap it up in a cling plastic, and put aside
Do with the rest of the fish, wrap individually in a plastic wrap
Refrigerate the fish until ready to poach
Poaching the Fish
In the meantime get the aromatic vegetables ready, cut into thin slices
Put it in the shallow fry pan, place the aromatic vegetables and add in 2 cups of water
Bring to simmer, and cook the vegetables for a few seconds.
Continue cooking in a gentle simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes
Reduce the heat, put the fish carefully, and place them on top of the poaching aromatic ingredients
Covered the pan, poach the fish for 7 minutes over lower heat( adjusted to 5 minutes instead of 7)
Take them out, let them rest for 3 minutes( rest only for 1 minute instead of 3 minutes)
Note: adjusted the time to poach the fish for a better result, not overcooked
The Fennel Salad
Mix and toss the sliced fennel with the dressing.
While the fish are resting, you should have: the sauce ready, and put the dressing on the salad
Place some salad on a plate, drizzle some sauce beside the salad and rest the fish on the sauce
Add extra sauce over the fish and serve at once. (This is serving fish individually)
People/family serving them self
Place the salads in a serving bowl, and the fish on the serving dish.
Put some sauce on the serving dish, before putting the colour fish on it, then drizzle a little bit of lemon butter on top.
You may have to have extra lemon butter and put in a separate serving dish
Poached Two Colour Fish is a beautiful dish, pretty on the plate. Cooking for any occasions
Note: use a large poaching fish pan to cook four or six pieces.
Preparation And The Cooking
fresh red salmon and
fresh white fish-( ling )
red and white fish
with the fish mousse
fish mousse on the fish
before to join them
join the two fish together
wrap in clear plastic
wrap the fish nicely
poach the fish on
the prepared poaching pan
prepare the fennel salad
while the fish is poached
cooking the lemon butter
do it before poaching the fish
keep the lemon butter
on the serving dish
Things To Remember For Poaching This Fish
The aromatic vegetables have to cook for at least ten minutes.
Enough liquid and aromatic vegetables in the poaching pan
Place the fish in the hot poaching pan and cook over low heat
Take the fish out when it’s cooked and rest it, keep it warm
Serve soon after the fish is rested.
We are talking about the quality of wheat flour. The good flour is always expensive. Is the expensive flour is a better quality compared to the cheap one? It is a mystery to me.
A cheap Australian wheat flour, a plain brand of a supermarket for baking home bread is it good enough? Let’s see, I am trying here, and only the end result will tell.
Baking Two Country Loaves based on Tartine’s Book
35g sourdough starter
900g white plain Australian Flour from a supermarket
100g whole wheat Australian Flour from a supermarket
700g water, 50g water mixed with 20g salt
The Dough Ingredients
In a large bowl, place the water and add in the leaven, and mix together
Add the flour, mix thoroughly by hand until you do not see any bits of dry flour.
Mixing the flour and water
Flour and water mixture
Lets the dough rest for 25 to 40 minutes. Do not skip the resting period. Working with the nature of the dough, the resting period allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb the water, swell and then relax into a cohesive mass.
After the resting period, add the 20 grams salt and the 50g water warm water to the dough. Incorporate the salt by sneezing the dough by your fingers. The dough first will break apart and then will re-form as you turn it in the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a clear plastic container, it is easy to clean and you could see the
aeration of the dough as it develops.
*The dough has now begun its first rise, called the bulk fermentation. This crucial step should not be rushed, as its primary purpose is to develop flavor and strength in the dough. The speed of fermentation greatly depends on the ambient temperature of your kitchen. The ideal temperature would be 78-82 degrees to accomplish the full bulk fermentation in 3 to four hours.
Keep in the clear plastic box for the bulk fermentation. The dough is given a few Turns in every thirty minutes rest.
*The dough is never kneaded on a work surface. The dough development that bakers usually achieve by kneading is accomplished here by giving the dough a series of ‘turns’ in the bowl during the bulk fermentation.
* To do a turn, dip one hand in the water to prevent the dough from sticking to you and then grab the underside of the dough, stretch it up, and fold it back over the rest of the dough. Repeat this action two or three times so that all the dough gets evenly developed. This is considered one turn.
During the first 2 hours of the bulk fermentation, give the dough one turn every half hour. During the third hour notice how the dough stars to get billowy soft, and aerated with gas. At this later stage, you should turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough.
*Proper development during the bulk fermentation enables the wet dough to hold its shape as a loaf, and the baker must watch for signs of development and determine when the dough is ready. During the first hour of the bulk fermentation, the dough will feel dense and heavy. Watch how the surface become smooth, soon after you turn the dough. By the end of the third hour, the dough will feel aerated and softer. A well-developed dough is more cohesive and releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns. The ridges left by the turn will hold their shape for a few minutes. You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. More air bubbles will form along the sides of the container. these are all signs that the dough is ready to be divided and shaped into loaves.
The dough after the completed the bulk fermentation
* If the dough seems to be developing slowly, extend the bulk fermentation time. Watch your dough and be flexible.
After the two hours bulk fermentation, the dough lets be resting for one hour, undisturbed.
Now it is ready for the first shaping.
*Use the dough spatula to pull all the dough out of the container onto an un-floured work surface. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and use a bench knife to cut the dough into two equal pieces-this recipe makes enough bread for two loaves). As you cut the first piece use the bench knife to flip it to that the floured side rests on the work surface. Do the same with the second piece of the dough.
At this point, you want to incorporate as little flour as possible into the dough. Fold the cut side of each piece of dough onto itself so that the flour on the surface of the dough is sealed on the outside of the loaf. The outer surface of the dough will become the crust so you may use more flour on your hands to avoid sticking.
The first shaping has done, two rounds dough, cover with bowls, and rest for 22 minutes (the bench rest)
After completed the bench rest, time for the final shaping. One is a Batard and the other one is Boule.
The final shaping for a Boule, rest for 2 minutes before putting it on to the basket for proofing.
The Boule is on the floured basket ready for proofing for 3 to four hours, before the baking. However, if you want to bake in the morning, retard the dough by putting the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the baskets with a plastic bag.
The Boule on a proofing basket
In the morning, place the Dutch oven with the cover in the oven, set it to 250 degrees C, it takes 45 minutes to reach the ultimate heat. When the oven has reached the heat, take the basket out. Place the dough on a pizza peel lined with baking paper, score the dough. Take the pot (Dutch oven) out from the oven, open the lid and put the dough which is sitting on the pizza peel, transfer and place in the hot pot. Replace the lid, now put the covered pot in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.
After twenty-five minutes just gone, open the oven, and take the lid out and put it away safe as it is very hot. You could see the dough with oven spring, golden and shiny . Close the oven, and continue baking without the lid for 25 minutes, until the dough looks dark chestnut brown.
Remember, that a recipe makes two loaves. One is for the Boule and the other one is for the Batard.
Freshly Baked Batard
How good is that two beautiful loaves come out of my oven, a successful baking indeed, time was well spent.
It’s beautifully sliced, it has open crumb and a good crust, still slightly hard though. But it’s Delicious.
Happy to bake again, today baking is good and in next time is only gets better. Almost official now that I will be a monthly baker. One loaf is plenty as the family is not very keen to have it. During the baking day, the kitchen smells so delicious, so inviting like a true home, a happy home and the family loves it.
Did the cheap flour make the bread? I am not sure. In this case, the baked bread was not perfect but good enough, I think it’s due to lots of things, one of them is I have not mastered the art of the baking.
The flour that I have been using is home brand of any supermarket, good strong flour from white wings products, special bread flour which is specifically for bread making.
To make it worthwhile, the long process and all the procedures of the making – baking sourdough bread, I have decided that bread flour is the one I am going to use. Stay with it!