Tuesday 24 June 2014

Macadamia milk-in a nutshell!

Last week my oldest friend- make that my most long-time friend- came to stay.  She is a vegan, so I was a bit scared as to how to feed her.  It all worked out happily; she is prepared to eat vegetarian if necessary, and Mr Pickings and I are very happy to leave meat out of our diet.  We were both vegetarians for many years in our youth, and still eat vego quite often.  In fact, Mr Pickings always chooses the vego option at restaurants.  I think he thinks it makes them work harder to invent delicious non-meat dishes!
Anyway, I thought it would be very appropriate to make a nut milk while she was here, as she only drinks oat milk or similar beverages.  We took her to the health store up the road, and bought a Spanish hazelnut milk which was absolutely delish.  She said she had never seen it before, and was going to hunt it down when she got back to (freezing cold) Melbourne.
This is a recipe from Al McLeod tv chef, he of the enticing Irish accent, and cute hobbit-like demeanour.  I don't think he likes any one saying that though!


500g macadamias
400mls water
6-7 tbs extra water


Roast 150g of the macadamias at 160C for about 15 minutes till they smell delicious and look golden
Leave to cool down for a bit
Shove them (once cooled down) into a food processor or blender with the water and the other 350g of nuts
Whizz away till they form a thick soupy paste
Place the mixture into a container and leave in the fridge overnight
The next day, put it through a fine sieve, scraping the bottom of the sieve to gather the milk
You will be left with dried-out dregs in the sieve and a very thick milk in your bowl
Add the extra water till you get the consistency you require
Use as you would any nut milk/soy milk etc.

I have added a couple of spoonfuls to a pot of chilli for dinner (not while my vegan mate was here); it added a thick and nutty element which was very tasty.   I think I will try making an instant ice-cream with it too a la Nigella Lawson.

I started off with it in the blender but it just didn't seem to be mixing well enough so I poured it into the processor and whizzed away.  This gave a better result.  It really does taste nutty and creamy and healthy. Serve it on cereal or porridge; try it in coffee, or make a delicious milkshake!

(library image)

Thursday 19 June 2014

Peanut butter cookies- Matt Preston style

I have had a bit of a thing with peanut butter and other spreads lately.  I recently bought a peanut and raw cacao spread, and a hazelnut spread, and a peanut butter without added sugar or salt.  Well, you can never have too many in your pantry, can you?  So when I decided to make that wonderfully easy cookie recipe by Matt Preston, I was well-equipped!  It only takes 3 ingredients and about 20 minutes to make.  A friend was coming over for her birthday morning tea, so I had almost no time to get it together.  And was there even going to be time for a shower?  What's the quickest thing I can make? said I to myself.  Ah hah, peanut butter cookies, I replied to self.  So after throwing myself into the shower, I flung on some clothes and grabbed the 3 ingredients out of the pantry and fridge.  It is almost embarrassingly easy to make these, and they are delicious to eat.
It appears that Matt has taken this recipe from one that has been circulating on the Net- here, and added a tweak of his own.  So the next time you are in a rush to make something sweet for guests, try this!  And next time, I am thinking I will try a different spread/butter- maybe the raw cacao and hazelnut?  Not sure how this will work as the texture of peanut butter is so very thick, and the other ones less so, but it will be an interesting experiment!


1 cup peanut butter
1 cup caster sugar- try vanilla sugar for a bit of oomph
1 egg
vanilla sugar and vanilla salt for dusting


Grab a medium mixing bowl and your electric beaters
Toss the ingredients into the bowl
Whizz them around for a minute or 2 till the ingredients are combined
Grab pieces of the dough and roll into golfballs - well, not literally, you know what I mean!
Keep rolling till the dough is all  used up
Place the balls on lined baking trays- you will get about 16-18 cookies
Squish them down with a fork onto the trays
Dust with the vanilla salt and sugar
Bake at 190C for 9-10 minutes till golden around the edges and ever so slightly puffy
Dust again with the salt and sugar
Leave them to cool on a wire rack

library image

Friday 13 June 2014

Muhalebi-Turkish milk pudding

This pudding reminds me of the Puerto Rican pudding I made recently based on coconut milk.  The method is very similar in that you heat up milk and cornflour till it is thick then add various flavourings.  I suppose it is actually just another version of good old English blancmange.  Apparently, the French were eating a similar pudding in the 1200's, then it moved across to England in the 1300's.  But I digress; I have been reading the marvellous book by Josceline Dimbleby called Orchards in the Oasis.  What an amazing life she has led!
She has lived and travelled all over the world, and this book covers some of the places and some of the recipes she has encountered along the way.  Her childhood included stints in Damascus, London and Peru; she was a young bride in New York and had trips to many fascinating places like Morocco, Turkey and India.
When I saw this recipe, I thought of the tembleque I had made, and decided I had to make this one seeing that it was such a similar idea in conception.  Mr Pickings and our friendly neighbour both enjoyed this pudding after dinner last night, as did I.  I think it would be great to try this with other milks so it could be dairy-free as well as gluten-free.  I read that many centuries ago, they would make this with almond milk, so the next time I make it, I will use this or soy milk.

Josceline's interesting and lovely book


25g cornflour- roughly 3 tbs
700mls milk
50g caster sugar--use vanilla sugar for extra flavour
2 tbs rosewater
50g almond meal


4 tbs water
120g caster sugar
2 tbs orange blossom water
1 tbs lemon juice
20g well chopped pistachios
organic dried rose buds broken up with your fingers


Make a smooth paste with the cornflour and a few tbs of the milk in a small cup
Place this into a medium saucepan with the rest of the milk and the sugar
Bring to the boil while whisking--it will only take a few minutes
Take it off the heat and add the rosewater and almond meal
Stir briskly and put back on the heat
Whisk some more while it is bubbling away for a few more minutes; it will start to look thicker and come together
Spoon the silky mixture into tea cups or small bowls- I got 5 servings out of it but I used big teacups
Let it cool right down while you are making the syrup

Put the water and sugar into a small saucepan
Bring to the boil while stirring with a whisk
Once the sugar is dissolved, let it simmer away for 3 minutes without stirring (if you do get a few sugar crystals around the edges, don't worry too much-either brush them down with a wet brush or just leave them!)
Remove from the heat and stir in the orange blossom water and lemon juice
Cool for a few minutes
Spoon it over each of the puddings
Scatter the nuts over and throw on rose buds
Chill for a few hours

stirring the muhalebi till thick and pouring into tea cups

syrup ingredients and ready for whisking

muhalebi cooled down and floating in a sea of beautiful syrup; decorated and ready for eating

There are many recipes scattered throughout this book, and I am keen to try more of them.  The author gives us an insight into her life, and provides an array of recipes from many cultures.  There are cakes and puddings, soups and curries, salads and stews- all sound enticing!  The book is full of lovely photos and family shots, and beautiful scenes from her travels.  The recipes are set out well, easily read and followed and if this one is an indication, very delicious to eat!
Each section has a story about her life- as a schoolgirl, young wife and mother, and into her middle years. The recipes are clearly wonderful reminders for her of her early years, and tasty snippets for the readers that allow us to follow her into her past.  Her story about her first student dinner party in her tiny flat for 9 people is hilarious.  The spaghetti was drained into the sink and went down the plughole, so she and her flatmate had to pull it out with their fingers before serving it with tinned tomato sauce.  Her next attempt-at shepherd's pie-sounds a whole heap nicer!  I am looking forward to making her crispy pigeon pie- perhaps with chicken?- and the apricot tart, and many more.

Friday 6 June 2014

Yoghurt 3 ways

I seem to be having a yoghurt-themed life lately.  I have recently invented a pudding made with a fruit yoghurt for a blogging competition, and last week I was busily thinking up yoghurt toppings for another competition!
You had to invent a topping for plain yoghurt; no cooking involved, just something scrummy to throw over the low-fat base. After a bit of deliberation, I invented one sweet topping and 2 savoury.  There were so many brilliant entries so competition was stiff!  Here's hoping that my ideas inspire the judges to give me that trip to NYC!

Firstly the sweet one:

We have here a Nutella kind of thing going on, which is always good.  Onto the plain, unadorned yoghurt I placed chopped hazelnuts, dark chocolate, some coffee granules and I carefully poured some Frangelico down the sides.  This was rather delish I must say.  I got a comment saying they liked the sound of the combo.  Sounds hopeful to me. :)  

Next I came up with ideas for a Moroccan chicken inspired dish:

Here we have yoghurt topped with chopped chicken, preserved lemon, currants, pistachios, ras-el-hanout and lemon oil. This was a real winner I reckon:)  Of course Mr Pickings and I had to eat all the lovelies I had made so by the end of the day we were very full!

And then we come to my last one, tuna and other bits:

Well there were a few changes along the way here; it ended up being tuna plus semi-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil leaves, salt and pepper, caramelized balsamic vinegar and lemon zest.  I started off with artichoke hearts but changed my mind after tasting it.  It really needed a bit more zing and crunch!

My fave was the Nutella-inspired one with the Moroccan chicken not far behind.  With any luck, I will be able to eat my toppings in New York, as part of the prize is to have your recipe on their menu.  That would be a wonderful thing!

Tuesday 3 June 2014

In my kitchen June 2014

This month I am joining in with Celia from Fig jam and lime cordial who hosts a monthly round-up of new stuff in our kitchens.  So for my first go at In My Kitchen, here are a few things that have come my way lately, things that have made me excited and eager to try them out!

wild lemons

Our friend who lives across the road has a little tree of wild, organic lemons.  They are perfect for making preserved lemons 'cos there are no pesticides/wax etc on the skins.  Mmmm I could make lemon curd too...

enamel roaster and lid

OK I am crazy about enamel dishes!  I have quite a few (lots!) and some in glorious technicolour orange that I bought at a local antique store  (I think they are from the 60's or 70's).   I am planning lots of comforting casseroles and baked dinners in this one.


I saw this at my local Woolie's the other day and was very intrigued.  I think I will try making coconut pudding again but with this sugar. I love the way they make it!  Coconut palm flowers are gathered, the nectar collected and dried into bricks then ground into granules.  It is apparently the most sustainable sweetener in the world, as it uses less energy and resources, and produces more sugar per acre than sugar cane.  There you are, your lesson for the day:)

cookbook of Holocaust survivors' recipes

I have always been interested in Jewish recipes; not sure why, but I love the recipes and am fascinated and horrified by stories of the Holocaust.  I still cannot believe that people have ever treated others with such disrespect and hatred.  This book has recipes from Holocaust survivors, and I am looking forward to dipping into it.

beautiful freshly harvested olive oil

I can't wait to try this one.   I always buy Aussie boutique oils if I can in order to support the local industry and to save food miles.  This one just looks so gorgeous and has just been harvested and processed recently.  I think it won a prize in New York too!

See you again next month for In My Kitchen.  Check out Celia's blog to find out how to join in on the fun.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Silent Sunday 1 June 2014