Rhubarb, Apple Custard Crumble Slice

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Welcome to the weekend lovely people. Has anyone had one of THOSE weeks? I felt we needed to be rewarded.

This sounds like a mouthful and yes it’s a lovely one. A great weekend treat!

This time of year this is exactly what the doctor orders- wholesome, fruity and a serious rib sticker.

It’s a winters afternoon treat with a hot cuppa after a day of blustery outdoor activities be it gardening, walking or entertaining the kids. In saying that I have added a piece of this to the school lunch box and there was no complaints!

I know it seems like a fair few steps but make this at your own pace. Prep the fruit the day before if need be, start in the morning and chip away at it. Trust me the little (or big) mouths and tummies you fill with this will thank you for all your efforts.

Base

125gm Plain Flour

50gm Rolled Oats

2 Eggs, room temp

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

125gm Butter, room temp

Pinch Salt

125gm Caster Sugar or your chosen sweetener

Custard

500ml Whole milk

1 Vanilla Bean contents scraped out

Sugar to taste

1/3 cup Custard Powder

Extra milk for mixing with the custard powder

Fruit Layer

4 Cooking Apples, Granny Smith/Bramely or something similar

4-6 Stems Rhubarb

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Sugar/sweetener to taste

Crumble Layer

1 cup Rolled Oats

4 teaspoons Brown Sugar,panel,coconut whatever you fancy really

¼ cup Plain Flour

¼ cup Butter, room temp

4 Tablespoons Grounded Pleasures Chai

Custard

Mix the custard powder with enough milk to combine make a runny paste around 50-60ml.

Set aside.

Heat the milk, vanilla beans plus the pod and sugar in a pan and when near on the boil. Remove the pod and whisk in the custard powder paste and return to the heat but reduce the heat to med/low and keep whisking as this will have a tendency to stick.

Take off the heat.  This mix will be super thick and gloopy don’t panic its needs to look like this to stay put on top of the layers.

Pour it into a bowl and cover with a layer of baking paper or clingfilm to stop it getting the creepy skin on top. Allow this to cool slightly.

Fruit Layer

Peel and chop the apples, trim the rhubarb and cut into bite size pieces. Pop them into a pan with the sugar and cinnamon and a splash of water. Bring to a boil then turn own to low with the lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes until the fruit is tender. Check for sweetness and add more sugar if needed. Again let this cool ready for assembling.

Base

Cream the butter and sugar and slowly add the eggs and then the vanilla.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, oats and salt. On low-speed mix in the dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixture.

Scoop this mix in to a greased and lined 18/28cm tin and flatten evenly (I have also used a square 8 inch tin and it works it’s an even bigger mouthful, is that bad?).

Bake at 180*c for 20-25 mins until golden and bounces back when touched.

Let cool slightly.

Crumble Topping

While the base in cooking make the crumble. Mix all dry ingredients together and with your finger tips rub the butter into the oaty mix. Set aside.

Assembly Time

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Now with the base cooked spoon or pour the custard layer on first to cover the entire base.

Yip it looks little bit like scramble eggs and not that appetising but work through it. Think of the end result!

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Now gently spoon on the fruit trying your best not to put too much pressure on the custard layer but making sure you have an even spread.

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Now finally sprinkle the crumble layer over the top. My little helper enjoyed this part as he got to eat the extras. Perks of the sous chef!

rhubarb and apple crumble slice

Return this ‘Beast’ to the oven and cook at 180*c for around 30-35 minutes or until you get a nice looking golden colour to the top of the crumble. If you find the crumble is getting a tad too coloured on top, grab some foil and pop on the top to protect this crumbly covering.

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Let it completely cool in the tin. If you can hold back pop it into the fridge for a few hours to allow all the layers to set. I didn’t…the outer pieces were set but the custard oozed from the centre. Not a bad thing but if you are cutting more than two pieces I would advise waiting or the poor person who get served last wont have any custard in theirs!

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Its time now to get the fire on, make a pot of tea and find your slippers.

You won’t be going anywhere fast!

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Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

 

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We’ve hit soup season here in my household and if you don’t like it well tough. That’s what is on offer so get slurping.

Miss 6 loves taking her super cute little pink thermos to school with a hot lunch. Mixing lunches up helps the boredem of daily school lunches for her and for myself. Who finds like they are on a hamster wheel every morning?? I sure do.I find MOST of the time it’s a winner and I get an empty lunchbox/thermos and a request for a repeat tomorrow.

The beauty with soup is that they are the perfect vehicle to hide extra ‘the not so great veges’ in for the smaller members of the family. I am always up for this. Deception never hurt anyone I say.This soup has a bit of a kick in it coming from the ginger and chilli so if it’s for the little ones just adjust to their tastes.

You will find the next day the soup thickens up in the fridge so if you fancy it a bit runnier just add a bit of extra stock, water or coconut milk to reach the consistency you are after.

I have included a Thermomix recipe for the first time so I hope I have got it right, please let me know if I am missing any vital parts to the recipe!

 

Ingredients

2 Cloves Garlic, crushed

1 Onion or 4 spring onions, roughly chopped

1 Large Knob of Ginger, grated, I will leave the amount up to you

2 Tablespoons Coconut oil

1 Large Sweet Potato ( Kumara for you Kiwis out there)  around 700-800gm, rough chop into smallish pieces

1 Can Coconut Milk

1 Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf, sliced (if you can get them. If you can’t just leave it out)

1 Can Chickpeas drained

5ooml Vege Stock plus up to 100ml to loosen if too thick

1 heaped teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Coriander

Pinch Cinnamon

Chilli Powder to taste

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper

Fresh coriander, I had about ¼ cup but again this is to taste

Juice of half a Lime

Method

Grab your stockpot or chosen soup-cooking vessel and pop it on to a medium heat. Melt the coconut oil and when hot add the onions, garlic and ginger.

Sauté for 5 mins without colouring the vege.

Add the spices and mix well allowing them to slightly toast. Maybe 1 minute.

Add the Sweet potato and mix this through the oniony combo.

Pour in the coconut milk, chickpeas, stock and lime leaf.

Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and pop the lid on and cook for 20 minutes or until the vege has softened up.

Season with the Soy, fresh coriander, salt and pepper and then pour the soup into a blender or like and blitz until you have a smooth consistency or if you like it a bit rough and chunky side don’t go as far.

Return to the heat, check seasoning and warm through.

 

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Thermomix Version

2 Cloves garlic

1 Onion or 4 Spring Onions, roughly chopped

1 large Knob of Ginger, I will leave the amount up to you

2 Tablespoons Coconut oil

1 Large Sweet Potato (Kumara for all you Kiwis out there) around 700-800gm, rough chop

1 Can Coconut Milk

1 Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf (if you can get them. If you can’t just leave it out)

1 Can Chickpeas drained

5oogm Vege Stock plus up to 100gm to loosen if too thick

1 heaped teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Coriander

Pinch Cinnamon

Chilli Powder to taste

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper

Fresh coriander, I had about ¼ cup but again this is to taste

Juice of half a lime

Method

In your TMX bowl add the onion, garlic and ginger.

Chop speed 5, 5 seconds.

Scrape the sides and then add 25gm coconut oil.

Sauté for 3 ½ minutes, 100*c, speed 1.

Add the sweet potato and lime leaf, chop speed 7, 20 seconds.

Add the coconut milk, chickpeas, stock, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chilli.

Cook 25 minutes, 100*c, speed 1.

Add the fresh coriander, soy sauce, salt and pepper and lime juice.

Blend 1 minute, speed 5 increasing to 8 if you want a smooth soup. If you want it chunky check it half way through blending.

 

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Now I didn’t feel like any bread with my soup so instead I had some rice noodles in the pantry. Cook these as the packet directs and pop them in a deep soup bowl and then ladle over the hot soup! If you are feeling fancy garnish with some fresh coriander and a wedge of lime

Perfect, complete meal and very warming.

Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

 

 

 

 

 

Term 2 and Pumpkin Pie

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Welcome back to Term 2!

It’s a long one so I going to try to find some easy cooking solutions to get us through. I get burnt out about 2 weeks before the term ends and I am trying to remedy that.

Trying is the key word here.

I will make no false statements that I have 3 kids that eat EVERYTHING I feed them. Nine times out of ten I have at least one of my darlings turn their nose up at what I put in front of them. Yes, I regularly have kitchen fails and it craps me to find out that I have spent some much time and love making a dish and the kids push the plate away and say “nope I don’t like it”.

My children are pretty good at tolerating my inventions, most of the time. This year I have started to play around with a few different ingredients – flours, sugars and grains. I think we all need a change at times and I love to try out different kitchen stuff so the kids have got some more ‘tolerating’ to endure.

Over the holidays I made one of those rash purchases – when the kids have worn you down and you are running on close to zero and “if you ask me one more time” kinda day. A kitchenAid spiralizer attachment just happened to fall into my welcoming hands and into my kitchen. Shame.

It looked super fun and the first day of getting this funky looking attachment I went through my fridge and scouted around finding anything to spiralize. I started with a carrot and sure enough I got a pile of curly carrots. I squealed with excitement and had a little happy moment (seriously that’s how sad I am) anyway as I was in this personal ‘moment’ my children looked over at me in confusion with that look of WTF (no they don’t know what that means) it’s just a carrot. Yup a carrot with possibilities. So I proudly took these carrots with a perm and cooked them for the kids dinner and presented them on their plate, amongst other dinner goodies and watched waiting for their faces to light up in delight. Well I waited and waited while they ate their dinner, carrots included and then asked what was for pudding. The moment passed with nothing, disappointed to say the least! Mr Fussy 4 didn’t even touch his. So to make me feel better I made an Ultra smoothie-carrots included. They all drank the lot and with satisfied tummies sat down to their nighttime reading.

So I would say a partial win.

My ‘Garden of Neglect’ vege doing quite well considering I didn’t plant a single pumpkin this year or last! We are calling them the imposter pumpkins or as Mr Fussy 4 calls them the ‘Ninja Pumpkins”.

Right down to the cooking end of business.

A Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pie for Dinner.

1 Butternut Squash or Small Pumpkin. You could also use Sweet Potato (Kumara)

2 Onions, Red or White

¼ cup Toasted Pinenuts

200gm Feta, Cubed or Crumbled

200-300gm Spinach/Silverbeet, cooked and then squeeze all the water out

¼ cup Puy Lentils, cooked or half a can of precooked lentil

4-6 Sheets Filo pastry

¼ cup Melted Butter

Seeds of your choice, I used Pipitas (pumpkin seeds)and Sesame

Get the oven on to 180*c Fanbake

Peel and cube the squash. Pop these into an oven tray and either line with baking paper or if it’s an non stick don’t worry. Coat the pieces in oil and salt and pepper.

Peel and chop the onions into chunks and repeat as with the squash.

Pop these into a preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are cooked leave to cool slightly and combine in a bowl with the spinach, lentils,pinenuts and feta.

Season and mix together. Put this aside and get the filo out.

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I used a 8 Inch round baking tin, butter the bottom and the sides to start. Take the sheets of filo out of the packet and put the rest back in the fridge. Grab a wet tea towel or kitchen towel and lay this over the sheets to stop it from drying out.

Grab your first sheet and paint the surface lightly with the melted butter.

Take this sheet and drape it over have the surface of the tin so there is over hangs. Repeat with another piece this time overlapping on the bottom. Continue with the rest of the sheets of filo. The overlap will end up being the lid so make sure you have enough of the overlap.

Does that make sense? Sometimes what I do and how I explain things can be very different.

Now grab the pumpkin filling and spoon this into the pastry blanket and press down to make sure there are no air pockets. Smooth down the top and fold over the filo one piece at a time.

Brush the top of the pie with melted butter and scatter with your chosen seeds.

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Bake this parcel of pumpkin goodness for 30-40 minutes at 180*C until golden and crisp.

Once cooked let the pie set for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Its fab cold but don’t expect super crunchy pastry. The bottom might go a little soft but can be refreshed in the oven to get that crunch if you are after it.

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Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

P.S Make ahead and sore in the fridge and when ready to cook bring it out of the fridge when you turn on the oven. By the time the oven is heated to temp the pie will have warmed up to room temp and ready to cook.

 

 

 

 

Easter Sugar Cookies

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I am getting in a few days before Easter Bunny arrives with this recipe and before I have “had it up to here with easter bunny”talk. Today I am happy to talk about it. It’s officially 5 sleeps until the fury longhaired Easter Egg deliverer arrives and there is NO way I am going forget, getting gentle but firm reminder around 50 million times a day!

Our new additions, fitting for Easter don’t you think?

 

A week or so back I found myself in the company of a Grounded Pleasure Easter Gift Box. Besides sampling the Noir Drinking Chocolate I discovered their new Straight Up Cocoa and I am pleased I did! As I had my head in the bag of cocoa taking in the most decadent smell of chocolate I decided on some sugar cookies (amongst other recipes) ESPECIALLY as there was a super cute bunny cookie cutter included.

easter cookies grounded pleasures gift box

This is a great activity to pull out when the kids are starting to get bored. Give them a lump of dough a well floured surface and a rolling pin. Ok the reality is that there probably won’t be much dough left to cook at the end of it but you’ve killed 45 minutes of them not nagging for something to eat, wanting TV on or refereeing yet another fight. This will also test your patience. I must say cooking with small kids takes some doing. I am learning and with some deep breaths and the mantra ‘it’s only flour/sugar/cocoa on the floor ,up the walls or in their hair’ I am getting better. I certainly don’t have a super clean house by any means.

It is better if you can make the dough up at least 30 minutes before you want to start rolling. I often make this the night before then I don’t have impatient kids wanting to make them right the second you mention it.

I am giving you 1 recipe here that works for both the vanilla and the chocolate sugar cookie  both flavoured with panela and a squeeze of honey. I discovered when cooking with this type of sugar that there are some larger lumps that don’t get completely incorporated in the creaming process, this is absolutely ok as they melt and leave pockets of caramel surprises in the cookie.

So Easter Baking here we go..

Meringues for Bunny Tails

1 cup caster Sugar

1/2 cup Egg Whites (4 egg whites), room temp and older eggs work better here so save the fresh, fresh ones for poached eggs!

The contents of 1 Vanilla Bean

Pinch of Cream Of Tartar, if you don’t have this a pinch of salt will work

Pop your oven on to 100*c Fan-bake

In a super clean bowl start whisking the eggs whites and cream of tartar. I do this in my stand mixer but a hand mixer or even a traditional whisk is A-OK.

Keep whisking until you start to get firm peaks. Once you have peaky whites slowly add the sugar tablespoon by tablespoon allowing each addition to be fully incorporated.

Add the vanilla bean. Keep mixing and if you are using a machine you will start to notice a change in the sound of the whisking, hard to explain but listen out for it you will understand. Stop the mixer and run a bit of the meringue between your fingers. If it feels smooth you can stop whisking, if its still grainy keep going.

Grab a piping bag and a star nozzle or a ziplock bag and cut the end off. Fill the bag of choice with the meringue and pipe little ‘pixie’ meringues on to a lined baking tray.

If you fancy some cocoa dusted just use a tea strainer and sprinkle a little straight up cocoa fairy  over the uncooked meringues.

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Now word of warning, this makes a large amount of small meringues so pipe as many as you feel you want to make and the rest make some bigger ‘nests’ to fill with fruit and ice cream for a quick desert at a later date.

Pop these into the oven and bake for 1 hour 15. To test these are ready they should feel dry to the touch and weightless, pulling off the baking tray without sticking. Also the taste test…if it dissolves in the mouth and theres barely a chew involved thats perfect!

Turn the oven off and let them sit in the oven until cold.

Pixies done! These will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

Sugar Cookies

200gm Unsalted butter at room temp

150gm Panela

50gm Honey

350gm Plain Flour **

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Egg, room temp

Pinch Salt

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

**to make the chocolate cookies use 300gm Plain flour and 50gm Straight Up Cocoa

Pop the oven on to 170*c Fan-bake

Start by creaming your butter, sugar and honey together.

In a separate bowl mix the egg and vanilla together and slowly add this to the butter mix.

Mix the dry ingredients together and add this little at a time to the butter mix. Once this completely incorporated and you have a big lump of dough split the mix into 2 and flatten to make a disk.

Now this is time you go a grab a culpa and don’t tell the kids its cookie making time just yet! I did have some help at the mixing stage.

The dough needs to rest for at least 30 minutes or up to over night.

When you are ready to make the cookies bring the dough out and let it sit on the bench for 10 minutes as it will be pretty hard and trying to get a rolling pin over it will be near on impossible!

The kids now can finally be involved, dust a work surface with flour and give them some dough and let them go for it. If you can get them to roll the dough to about 5 mm thick.

Grab chosen cookie cutters and start cutting. Lay these on a lined baking tray and pop them back in the fridge for 10 minutes to half an hour (enough time to clear up the carnage that has been left by little fingers)

Cook the cookies for around 8 minutes and leave to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring to a cooling rack.

Decorate when completely cool and store in an airtight container.

Gosh those little chubby hands, how hard is it to watch them grow up. I sometimes want to freeze life just to get a bit more of them and other days I am happy to fast forward!

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My Icing

200gm Icing Sugar

2 heaped teaspoons Straight Up Cocoa (leave out if you can plain white icing)

1 Egg White at room temp

1/2 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl using a stand mixer or hand whisk.

Once fully combine and the consistency is what you are after start decorating as you choose.

Let the icing fully dry before storing. In the warm weather that doesn’t take very long.

*I choose this type of icing as it doesn’t affect the cookies texture as with traditional buttercream if you don’t eat straight away the cookie becomes soft from the moisture from the icing.

 

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I hope you have a lovely restful Easter with your friends and family.

Stay Safe and Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like its ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

Peach and Raspberry Loaf

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Oh Hi!

How was the weekend? Mine? Productive!

Not sure if you know but this weekend has been a LONG weekend, Labour weekend here is Victoria Australia . I am emphasising the ‘long’ as my daughters school also have Tuesday off too.

Lal Lal Dad enthusiastically fired up pizza oven over the weekend with that I launched myself into a crazy kitchen goddess cooking every conceivable meal in it! The beauty about cooking in our pizza oven is that is has amazing heat retention. My husband completely over engineered it and now over 24 hours after firing it up the temp gauge still reads just over 100*c. Other than pizzas which is the obvious I have managed to make 8 loaves of sourdough, vege soup, slow poached quinces, roast some rhubarb with vanilla and orange, Boston baked beans and some Brazilian bean and okra dish-the name has left me, it will come. So you can see theres no room in the fridge/freezer Inn now, maybe I need a bigger freezer…hmmmm

Oh and by the way I managed the perfect meringue  with the help of a 100*c pizza oven and 1 hour and 15 minutes, THE.BEST.I’VE.EVER.MADE I know thats big news.

I think you probably guess I am pretty excited about this way of cooking. Its been a long time coming (nearly 18 months) but worth every hand cut cemented brick. None of the above has so relevance to this loaf but I needed to share my excitement.

The peach and raspberry loaf has been a bit of an experiment as I am trying to keep the kids lunch boxes interesting, healthy and nut free (school rules). It’s a struggle some weeks I tell ya. Just so happens that peaches are still in season (just) and raspberries I keep in the freezer for occasions like this, smoothies or porridge. I had this idea of the classic  Peach Melba but in cake form and on the healthier side. I think I have ticked the major boxes with this super moist  peachy, zingy raspberry loaf (I hope, I am sure you will let me know otherwise).

The bonus with this loaf is that it’s a one bowl wonder making it super quick to throw together and less of the washing up duties.

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Ingredients

3 Ripe Peaches, yellow or white

2 Eggs, at room temp

120gm Unsalted butter at room temp

150gm Panela, coconut sugar or whatever you fancy

250gm Wholemeal Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Frozen Raspberries

1 peach cut into segments to pop on the top of the loaf

Preheat the oven to 180*c fanbake Grease and line a 10x21cm loaf tin (or around this size) with baking paper.

Destone your peaches and throw the fruit into a food processor and blitz until you have a peach puree.

Add the butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla and blend until they are reasonably mixed. It will look a bit like a curdled mess but ignore and push through this stage it will get better.

Now grab your dry ingredients-flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add this to the wet mix, blend until just mixed.

Take your frozen raspberries and fold through the loaf mix. 

Pour this mix straight into the lined loaf tin and lay slices of peaches on the top.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Check at 50 mins with a skewer and if it comes out clean, if so you are good to go .

peach and raspberry loaf

Let the loaf cool for 30 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling COMPLETELY before cutting. It’s a delicate wee soul so go easy with your knife skills.

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Its probably worth keeping it in the fridge as I found warm weather +moist cake=Mr mouldy is likely to move in.

Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

 

 

 

 

Before They Are Gone, Plum Jam

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Here in Victoria Australia we are desperately holding on to the last few weeks of our beautiful summer (yes I know it is autumn). It’s been forecast for this balmy weather to last until mid March so we are embracing it with open arms! On the flip-side, we need some bloody rain its been so dry. Our lawn, who am I kidding what lawn? Our desert is suffering with cracks big enough to swallow up one of my children. Not a bad thing some days….kidding!

I made this jam with the left over plums from the over excited farmers market shop I did. The kids had their share of juicy ripe plums, Lal Lal Dad ate his at the peak of unripeness. Yes, my husband likes his fruit on the unripe side causing me to have some novel ways of hiding fruit around the house so it has a chance to ripen and actually for that matter saving some for me to eat! Cheeky boy.

As soon as the summer glut/autumn fruit and vege appear I slip into crazy preserver lady. I have this internal switch which activates and sends me into prepping for hibernation, I am not a bear lets clear that up now. I have no idea why it’s such a strong instinct but I go with it knowing for most of the colder months and less productive garden months we will survive on my hibernation staples. Ok it’s not that dramatic we have fully stocked shops and farmers markets in this day-in-age but it’s comforting having a cupboard stocked with some homemade goodies.

So back to the plums. I managed to squirrel away enough to make a batch of plum Jam. I’ve experimented with a few add Ins and its passed the child and daddy test, my harshest critics.

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Jam is a pretty simple equation.

Fruit+sugar+heat+time=JAM!

So heres the Ingredients give it a go

1Kg Plums, any type that take your fancy just make sure they are not squishy or hard as rock!

900g Raw Sugar

2 Whole Star Anise

1 Vanilla Pod, insides scraped out

2-3 Jam Jars that hold around 250ml-300ml

First, first, first Pop a little saucer into the freezer for testing your jam. I regularly forget this step.

The next step is always the most tedious. Take the stone out of each plum. Half the plum around the long side and scoop out the stone. 1/4 the plums and throw these in to a heavy based saucepan. Add the whole star anise and the seeds of the vanilla bean and the pod.

Pop the pan on a medium heat and let this come to a simmer allowing the fruit to start to soften and break down. At this point add your sugar and keep stirring until dissolved. Once you can’t see any evidence of sugar crank the heat up and let it come to steady boil.

Skim any frothy bits off the surface keeping any eye on the jam as this has a tendency to stick to the bottom and burn.

To get the jam to setting point will take around 30 minutes-ish give or take but this can differ to each pot of jam you make. So watch and wait.

Take 3 Jars and their lids and give them a warm soapy wash, pop them into a 50 degree oven on an oven tray to warm through and sterilise. Leave them in the oven until you are ready to use them.

To test your jam is at optimum point of yumminess grab your ice cold saucer out of the freezer and spoon a teaspoonful of jam on to the centre. Leave it undisturbed for a minute and then take your clean finger tip and run it through the centre of the jam. If you get a nice clean line through the centre BINGO its ready. Lick your finger for quality control purposes and move on to jarring up!

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Grab your warm jars and fill these with the jam removing the whole star anise and vanilla pod as you see them. Filling the jars to around 5 mm of the top will allow your jam to keep longer as there is less airspace in the jar for it to go off quicker.

I use a jug to pour the jam making the filling of the jars much easier and less messy and sticky. Get a warm clean cloth and wipe around the rims of the jars so they are clear of jam drips, just helps keeping the jam seal airtight for a longer period.

Get the lids on the jars ASAP and let stand until cool before labelling and storing in a cool dark spot. This generally keeps for up to year but realistically it doesn’t last that long in our household!

I use jam as a wee treat on toast or fresh bread and the kids really love it. I find in doing so it’s a novelty and they look forward to the next yummy jammy snack. Also mixing it in with some beautiful local or homemade yoghurt makes a lovely brekkie addition, a quick desert or a lunchbox snack. The bonus of this is that you get to control the amount you add which I am sure is gotta be lower in sugar and void of those ‘extra not needed ingredients’.

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Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

 

 

Blue Cheese, Walnut and Fig Fougasse

Welcome to the weekend! Its going to be a hot one here.

I figured this would be appropriate for the weekend because A. it takes a fair few hours to rise B. its that kinda weekend type of bread and C. gosh who doesn’t   love fresh figs or blue cheese??? I mean look..

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Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’

This will make two generous Fougasse, 1 to share and 1 to keep I say!

This French flat bread is said to resemble an ear of wheat and is mainly found in the area of Provence.

Correct me if I am wrong!

 Ingredients

375gm Strong White Bread Flour

250gm Sourdough Starter, mine is make with 100% rye so it’s a really nice texture added to a white loaf

7gm Salt

130ml-175ml Tepid Water

Olive oil for oiling

2 Handfuls of Crushed Walnuts

100gm Blue Cheese

2-3 Fresh Figs

A few Pinches of Dry Thyme

Runny Honey to Drizzle

Mix together the flour, starter and salt in a stand mixer or by hand. Slowly add the water allowing it to incorporate with the flour before you add more.

You want and nice soft dough with a bit of moisture in it. Not a dry stiff dough.

Knead the dough on a bench for around 15 minutes if your muscles can handle it or 10 minutes in the mixer.

The dough should feel smooth and elastic.

Pop the dough into a oiled bowl with a tea towel or plastic shower cap over and let it prove until double size. Put in a nice warm spot where the temperature will stay constant through the full rise of the dough. It will take longer to rise than commercial yeast so expect 3-4 hours.

Once this has happened take the dough out and pop on a floured work surface sprinkle over the walnuts kneading this in for a few minutes. Don’t worry you will have some escapees but just poke them back in.

Half the dough into 2 equal pieces and flatten to make a rectangle mine were around 20cm/40cm.

Grab the flattened dough and lay this on a lined floured baking tray.

Take a sharp knife, blade or pizza wheal and score 6-8 diagonal cuts down the long sides of the dough i.e. 3-4 each side.

Stretch the slits you made in the dough, as they will need room to prove.

blue cheese walnut and fig fougasse

Now the fun part…the figs and cheese.

8th the figs and crumble up the blue cheese.

Dot the figs and cheese over the dough and then sprinkle the thyme over.

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Cover with a tea towel or greased plastic wrap and pop somewhere warm again until doubled in size probably another 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to a hot 220*c with a pizza stone on the bottom rack (if you have one but no panic it will still work).

When you are ready too cook the fougasse grab a handful of ice and as you pop the fougasse (on the baking tray on top of the stone) in to cook throw the ice on the floor of your oven shutting the door super quick to allow the steam inside work its magic on the crust of the bread.

Cook for around 20-25 minutes until browned and crunchy.

Grab some lovely honey and drizzle over the warm bread.

Cool on a wire rack ready to eat accompanied by a scrummy dip and a glass of vino.

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Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

Raspberry And White Chocolate, Mascarpone Tart

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Welcome back or should I say I’m back! I’ve had a bit of time off over the last few months let me explain… December had us all sick one after the other, day after day, xmas plans were thrown out the window and the festive season became the “Lets not pass this unpleasant gastro type thingy on to anyone!” Didn’t fancy being the bearer of that type of pressie! Then came the Christmas/Summer holidays  consuming every bit of my energy I had trying to entertain 3 kidlets without them killing each other.

Sound familiar???

On this very hot week in February/March I am sitting down in front of my computer for the first time in over two months (why I decided to make pastry is beyond me!).

It feels a little weird to be here but well overdue.

I’m starting off with a cracker. The only real cooking you have to do is the tart case and this can be done ahead of time.

We are heading into Autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere and that means the last flourish of late berries making an appearance in particular Raspberries. Choose whatever you have available it tastes great with any of them.

Raspberry, White Chocolate and Mascarpone Tart

Almond Pastry

200gm Plain Flour

50gm Almond meal

A Pinch of Salt

100gm Unsalted Butter

50gm  Icing Sugar

1 Egg Yolk

Ice Cold Water

Filling

250gm Mascarpone Cheese, allow to come to room temp

200gm Melted White Chocolate, cooled a little

Zest 1 Small Unwaxed Lemon

1 Vanilla bean or a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract or Paste

1-2 Punnets Fresh Berries , Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries or a mix!

Pastry

Combine all the dry ingredients together , either by hand or in a mixer. And then add the butter in cubes. Rub with in with your fingers or pulse until you have the breadcrumb look.

Add the egg yolk and mix through. Now this is the bit where you have to trust yourself…add some water to bring this all together. Start with 1 Tablespoon at a time, dribble this in while the motor is running. You will know when its done as it will start to form a ball and the mixer will be pushing it around the bowl.

Stop, Wrap and Cool in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Once you are ready to cook the base pop the oven on to 180*c and take the pastry out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temp. Roll the pastry out to about 3-4mm thick and line a tart tin. I used a 10cm/35cm rectangle tart tin. Prick the base with a fork and pop in the fridge for 10 mins.

Once 10 mins is up and you’ve got the oven up to temp take a piece of baking paper and line this over the pastry, we are going to blind bake it now. Fill this will baking beans ceramic or use a bag of out of date dry beans or rice.

Cook for 15 mins and then remove the baking paper and the beans and allow to brown up for another 5 mins. Cool completely before filling.

At this point you can pop the tart case in an air tight container and will happily sit for a couple of days before you fill it.

Filling

It couldn’t get easier than this.

Pop the mascarpone into a bowl and break it using a whisk or use a stand mixer on very low. I’m looking for a smooth, lump free consistency. Add the lemon zest and the vanilla bean. Mix Gently.

Now grab the melted white chocolate and as you are whisking dribble the white chocolate into the mascarpone. Mix until combined but don’t over mix.

Take your prepared tart case, this bit is only OPTIONAL -take around 50gm of melted white chocolate and cover the tart bottom and sides creating a little layer of white chocolate. If you do this chuck it in the fridge for 10 mins to harden up and then carry on with the filling.

Pour the mascarpone and white chocolate mix into the tart case smoothing out so you have an even layer for those beautiful berries to rest.

Decorate with your chosen berries.

Again another OPTIONAL extra, take some smooth apricot jam and warm with a touch of water to make a paste and using a pastry brush paint this glossy amber mix over the berries. This brings the berries up to a lovely shine but if you don’t have time it will still look and taste great.

Pop the tart in the fridge to firm up and when you are ready to serve top with some pretty mint leaves and curled shards of white chocolate and present to your guests (or yourself).

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And heres the money shot…

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Enjoy!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x

 

 

The Day I Learnt To Make Blue Cheese

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Did I tell you what I got up to in August?

Yes, I know its a while ago.

I’ll paint you a picture…

On a slightly cold damp day in August I made BLUE CHEESE.

I was kindly invited to a Gold Fields Farmhouse  cheese making course and I gratefully accepted. Did I have to think about it? Really? Cheese? Come on of course not. Who says no to cheese? I certainly don’t!

The makers behind this cheese business are Nardia a microbiologist and her husband Andrew a food technologist. Put these two together and you have a recipe for great cheese making I reckon. They started up Gold Fields Farmhouse in October 2005 and now sell their cheese around the local region. You will find their friendly faces at farmers markets and at their shop in Creswick just outside of Ballarat.

This day in August I drove 20 minutes out of Ballarat out to (got kind of lost, my fault I was not paying attention) a beautiful farm house sat amongst acres of beautiful productive gardens, livestock and farm buildings.

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I was welcomed by Nardia and then by Kate whom owns the farm with her husband. There were numerous WWOOFers (world wide opportunities on organic farms) busy working around the farm all greeting you with a friendly smile.

The farm house was warm and cosy and I felt I could be in the middle of the English countryside. The dining table invited me with cakes freshly baked by Kate still warm from the oven. These were the kind of cakes you could devour with a hot cuppa snuggled up on a cosy couch all afternoon.

blue cheese course

But I was there for CHEESE. Don’t get distracted Olivia!

After an intro from Nardia we ran through the basic process of making cheese. With a few questions answered the 4 eager students got down to the cheese making business.

 

Making cheese starts with warming milk, adding cultures and rennet, ripening, cutting the curd, stirring the curd, draining curd, packing the curd into cheese hoops, draining, turning, draining, salting, maturing and EATING. Thats are very crude run down of cheese making but you get my drift.

This cheese making process slows you down, your thoughts start changing pace and you begin to dream of a life in the country milking your house cow and lovingly making cheese… Ok that may be a little far fetched but its nice to dream (mine would be goats if you were curious). Its warm, slow and relaxing, nothing seems rushed. The commercial cheese maker may disagree? But for the home cheese maker it’s quite an experience.

You start to understand the love and care that is taken in making these beautiful hand crafted cheeses.

After the cheese was made we were served up a delicious lunch made by some of Kates WWOOFers. Followed by some beautifully poached pears.

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Once back to the cheese it was a matter of flipping and draining before we cleaned up, had a final ‘what if’ discussion and we were sent out on our merry little way with our cheese babies in tow.

At home we were given care instructions for our soon to be blue cheese,  making sure they grew the right coloured mound while keeping at a comfortable  12*c. They matured and after 2 months of waiting (impatiently) my cheese was ready!

I wasn’t disappointed. Soft, creamy, oozy and blue!

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience making blue cheese and meeting Nardia. The class is small, relaxed and informal. If you are down our way why not look them up, taste some of their cheeses or maybe take part in cheese making day.

To celebrate all this blue cheese I have come up with some recipes that might get you through the holiday season either in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally we ate stilton in the UK at Christmas so if you are on the other side of the world feel free to substitute with cheeses available.

Blue cheese Canapés

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Slow Cooked Leeks in Cream and White Wine with Crumbly Blue Cheese

2 Leeks trimmed to remove the tough green tops. Sliced thinly

½ cup White Wine

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons Cream

Welshmans Reef Blue cheese or Stilton type

Turn the oven on to 160*C FANBAKE

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy based casserole dish and on a med heat fry the leeks without colouring.

Once the leeks have started to soften and look translucent add the white wine and turn up the heat to let it bubble. Around 15 minutes.

Take off the heat and throw the pan with a lid in the oven. Let this slow cook for 30-40 minutes.

These will look all soft and delicious and the texture will be as if you could spread like butter. Perfect!

Add the cream and mix through the hot leeks.

Taste and Season.

Let these buttery leeks cool to room temp.

Cut some slightly stale baguette (I used a sourdough baguette) into thin discs and toast under the grill until crispy.

DON’T TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE BREAD, IN A BLINK IT WILL BE BURNT TO A CRISP. Yip, guilty.

Lay the bread discs on a plate and spoon on some leeks and crumble the cheese on top.

These make a great little canapé and a perfect addition to any end of year soiree.

With bubbles of course.

Thyme and Honey Shortbreads with a Blue Cheese Mousse and Red Onion and Fig Jam

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Now this one has to be a combo made in heaven.

I’m just saying, alright?!

Jam

500gm Red Onion, diced

25ml Olive Oil

50gm Raw Sugar

150gm Dried Figs, chopped

100ml White Wine Vinegar

50ml Balsamic Vinegar

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped

A good few grinds of Black Pepper

Heat a heavy based pan add the oil and gently fry the red onions for 20 mins. Take care not to colour the onions.

Once the onions have softened add the sugar and the figs. Cook for 10 mins stirring quite regularly as this has the tendency to stick.

Add both vinegars, the seasoning and rosemary and cook for another 30mins.

Once the time is up the jam will be super sticky and thick, as it cools it will get jam like.

Sterilise some jars and spoon in this lovely gooey mix. Seal with the lid and once cool store in the fridge until needed.

Shortbread

200gm Flour

130gm Butter, room temp

50gm Honey

20gm Grated Parmesan

1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, roughly chopped

1 pinch of Baking Powder

Salt and Pepper

Cream the butter and honey until light and fluffy.

Add the flour and the baking powder, thyme, parmesan and seasoning.

Mix until you have a crumbly texture and lightly knead until it comes together.

Pat it to make a flat disk and cover and pop in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes or more.

When rested bring out to room temp for 10 minutes before you begin rolling. You want the dough to be about 5mm thick.

Cut out the biscuits in any shape or size you fancy but remember these are canapés so 2 bites max.

Place on a lined baking tray and prick each biscuit 3 times with a fork.

Pop back in the fridge for 30 minutes while you heat the oven to 160*c fanbake.

Bake for 12ish minutes until just starting to colour.

Take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the tray before moving very carefully to a cooling rack.

While the shortbreads are cooling move on to the blue cheese mousse.

Mousse

2-3 heaped Tablespoons Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream, room temp

150gm Ascot Blue, or creamy blue

Start by whipping the crème fraiche for 30 seconds and then crumble the cheese and season.

Mix well, chill until needed.

Savoury Blue cheese Cheesecake two ways

I’m going to give you two recipes here. Some prefer the texture of an uncooked cheesecake and some prefer a cooked. I also like to think that you can maybe serve the uncooked as a starter or an end to a meal for someone who doesn’t want a sweet ending to their meal but the cooked works well as light main served with some chutney and salad.

As I was testing these recipes I had Christmas or new years in mind. A dinner party maybe? Or a quiet meal with your loved one, both can be prepped ahead and be waiting patiently in the fridge for your attention

You choose but here are both.

The garnish is the same for both-toasted walnuts and the sweet and sour pears.

Uncooked

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200gm Saint Barbara Blue, or a mild creamy cheese

250gm Cream cheese

200ml Crème Fraiche or Sour cream

100-150gm Welshman’s Reef Blue, or a strong blue stilton style cheese

Base

125gm Biscuits, Digestive if you can get them or something similar

75g Melted Butter

Firstly make sure all the dairy is at room temp.

Crush the biscuits until you have a nice bowl of biscuit dust. Food Processor, thermo, rolling pin, hands whatever works for you to get this to the dust we are looking for.

Add the melted butter and mix.

Press this into a round8 inch springform lined baking and pop in the fridge to firm up.

While this is firming up get on with the filling.

In a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment or by hand with a wooden spoon mix the mild creamy blue, cream cheese, crème fraiche together.

Once this has all incorporated crumble in the strong blue cheese and fold this into the cheese mix.

Lay the cheese mix on top of the biscuit base and chill for a few hours or over night if you can.

This is much easier to cut when it has just come out of the fridge so leave it right to the end to serve.

Serve with some sweet and sour pears and a glass of something sweet.

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Baked Savoury Blue Cheesecake

 

150gm Ascot Blue,or a creamy blue

250gm Cream Cheese

250-300ml Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream

2 Tablespoons Cornflour

4 eggs

Juice ½ Lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

150gm Welshman’s Reef or Buangor Blue, something strong

Base

125gm Biscuits, Digestive if you can get them or something similar

75g Melted Butter

Oven on 150*c Fanbake

Firstly make sure all the dairy is at room temp.

Crush the biscuits until you have a nice bowl of biscuit dust. Food Processor, thermo, rolling pin, hands whatever works for you to get this to the dust we are looking for.

Add the melted butter and mix.

Press this into a round 8 inch springform, lined baking tin and pop in the fridge to firm up.

While this is firming up get on with the filling.

In a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment or by hand with a wooden spoon mix the mild creamy blue, cream cheese and crème fraiche together.

Add the eggs one by one, the lemon juice and then the cornflour.

Mix until just combined.

Once this has all incorporated crumble in the strong blue cheese and fold this into the cheese mix.

Pour the mixture on to the biscuit base and cook for 45 minutes, until golden on top and a little wobble in the centre.

Open the oven door just a touch and leave the cheesecake to cool for an hour. This helps the cheesecake keep its good-looking appearance without cracking. But hey if it cracks its still gonna taste scrummy.

Transfer this to the fridge and chill over night.

When you are ready to serve cut when cold but serve at room temp with some sweet and sour pears.

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Sweet and Sour Pears

900gms firm, just starting to soften green pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/16ths, yes you heard me 1/16ths if that’s possible!

1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard seeds

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Oil

½ cup Verjuice or White Wine

1 teaspoon Cider Vinegar

Salt and Pepper

1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

4 Juniper berries

10 Whole black peppercorns

2 Cloves

2 teaspoons Raw Sugar

1 Bayleaf, fresh or dried

Juice ½ Lemon

Melt butter and oil in a large pan on medium heat and add the mustard seeds.

When you start to hear the distinctive pop (like rice bubbles-snap, crackle, pop) add the pears and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring the temp up to start it bubbling. Turn this down and let it simmer on med/low for 20 mins or until the pears are starting to become tender NOT mushy.

Take off the heat check for seasoning and pop these into a sterilised jar, cool and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.

Make you sure again you bring these to room to temp to serve with the cheesecakes. It tastes so much better.

Last but not least one of my weekday favs, serious comfort food.

Potato Pie with Blue Cheese and Caramelised Onions

 bluecheese potato pie

1kg Potatoes, peeled and diced

350gm Onions, sliced

150-200gm Buangor Blue, or Shropshire Blue

1 Heaped teaspoon grain mustard

2 Tablespoons Oil

1 Tablespoon Butter

50gm Butter

2 Eggs

50gm Cheddar cheese, grated

Oven on 200*c Fanbake, 9 inch springform tin buttered and bottom-lined with baking paper.

Cook potatoes in salted water until they are soft and mash-able, 15-20 minutes should do it.

While the potatoes are cooking heat a large pan and add the oil and the Tablespoon of butter. Throw the onions in and cook on medium for around 25 minutes.

They will start to colour and caramelise that is where we want them.

Once the potatoes are cooked drain and mash these beauties with 50gm butter. Add the eggs one at a time making sure they are combined completely or you will have bits of scramble egg floating around in the mash. Add the mustard and season to taste.

Assembly time.

Take half the mash and spread on the bottom of the tin.

Add the onions spreading out so you have an even layer.

Crumble all the cheese over the onion.

Carefully spread the rest of the mash on top.

Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and hot.

Let rest in the tin for 15 minutes to firm up and cool down before slicing.

Serve with a green salad and some of my fig and red onion jam!

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Week night dinner done!!

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Oh and Merry Christmas!

Liv x

P.S I might be back with a sneaky recipe before the big day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetarian ‘Meetballs’

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I know we are heading straight into the 3 C’s ‘Crazy Christmas Chaos’ and the last thing we need is to add a fourth C- Cooking and stress to our daily routine but its little effort for a good few meals.

I am all for mass producing at home to stock pile for a later date. Make your life easier and these little balls are actually full of all the good stuff.

SHHHHHH they won’t know E.V.E.R.

This recipe will make up to 54 balls and can be frozen so they are always on hand. Serve with some pasta, rice or mash and your fav sauce and  you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

My middle son Mr4 who will generally give or take food ate 3 of these balls, left the pasta (which is unheard of) and happily announced they were “Delicious mummy!”

I nearly fell off my chair, seriously I did.

Lets get started.

450gm firm Tofu, drained and dried with paper towels

1 Tablespoon Psyllium Husk

1 slice of  day old Sour Dough Bread

2 Tablespoon Gluten flour

100gm Mushrooms

1 Tablespoon Brewers Yeast

100gm Cashews or Almonds

1 Tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or if you can’t get braggs use 2 Tablespoons soy

1 Tablespoon Vege Stock

1 Carrot

1 Rib of Celery

1/2 cup  Rolled Oats

1/4 teaspoon Chilli Powder

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

Salt and Pepper

Grab yourself a food processor or a thermomix and start by blitzing the nuts until you have a rough crumb.

Add the vegetables and do the same.

Now add the rest of the the ingredients and mix well.

This greyish looking blob will taste good, ignore the colour.

Pop this into the fridge to firm up 30 mins or so will do the trick.

When ready to cook heat a large frying pan and add enough oil to coat the bottom.

Roll  the mix into ping-pong size balls and when the frying pan is hot enough (on med heat) roll the balls into the pan and cook until that lovely golden crispy skin starts to appear.

Instead of manhandling these darlings I just give the pan a gentle jiggle and let them roll about in the pan. That ‘golden crispy’ needs to be on as much of the ball as possible.

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Drain them on kitchen paper and at this point cool/refrigerate/freeze or add to your fav sauce and eat.

We had ours with a classic tomato sauce but I’ve also had them with a certain well known Swedish style gravy, mash and lingonberry sauce.

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Yummy.

See you at the next recipe, until then..

Remember be inspired and keep cooking like it’s ‘better than a bought one’

Liv x