Saturday 16 March 2024

Orange and rhubarb melting moments from What can i bring? by Sophie Hansen

I'm a huge fan of Sophie Hansen and her latest book 'What can I Bring?' just adds to the collection. Her cooking is one that screams comfort with family and friends at first thought. Even with no where to go, and no one to ask 'what can I bring?' you will find yourself picking it up for inspiration and cooking from it on a regular basis. I have.

What can I bring? by Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i

It's divided into seasons like her previous books are which I love even though in Sydney you can get pretty much anything, anytime of the year. There is something almost romantic sticking with the seasons. And speaking of seasons, how lovely is today's cooler change?? it's been so hot, I'm starting to wonder if we brought the FNQ climate with us. 

Sophie's books are where I turn to for a comfort cook and this one is the same. I have made two recipes from this book so far with plenty more tabbed. Orange and rhubarb melting moments which are such a special treat and the rice, potato and chorizo pilaf, not a mid week dinner but a goodie for the weekend when you have the time for something to cook away in the oven for a bit of time. I still have a log of the melting moments dough in my freezer waiting to be defrosted, shaped, baked and filled. Yum. The first batch i made, I used raspberry jam as I didn't have any rhubarb jam and it gave them a bit of a monte carlo biscuit feel. I will source the rhubarb jam for the log waiting in my freezer as I think it might make the filling not as sweet and a little more tart. The only 'change' (and very important one I think) I made was, I used icing mixture, not pure icing sugar. Always do and always will when a recipe calls for icing sugar. Life is too short and sifting those pesky lumps out of icing sugar isn't fun.

And although I had no where to go with these delicious morsels, I took them to work and they were demolished happily with only crumbs left on the plate. What more can you ask for?

They would make a great gift or addition to any afternoon tea. Or, simply because you want home made biscuits for yourself. 

Orange and rhubarb melting moments | What can I bring Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i

Orange and rhubarb melting moments | What can I bring Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i

Orange and rhubarb melting moments

You can never ever go wrong with a good melting moment. They really do seem to delight everyone, especially with such a pretty pink filling. I like to cook mine a little longer than most recipes suggest so they don't go soggy or too soft. Either way, if you haven't made these before, or for a while, please give them a go. They're such a lovely thing to bring to a picnic, or anywhere. Once the filling is firm and set, they are pretty shelf-stable for a couple of days at least.

Prep time 20 minutes, plus chilling
Cook time 15 minutes
Makes approx. 24

1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
80g icing sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1tsp vanilla paste
1/3 cup (50g) custard powder
1 2/3 plain flour
a pinch of salt

100g butter, softened
2 cups (250g) icing sugar
3 Tbsp rhubarb or plum jam
1 Tbsp orange juice, plus extra if needed

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the pddle attachment and cream for a few minutes until pale and fluffy. Or you can use a large bowl and an electric mixer. Add the zest and vanilla and beat again. Fold in the custard powder, flour and salt. Turn the dough out onto your benchtop and divide in two, then form each half into a sausage shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 170C (325F) and line two making trays with baking paper.

Slice each sausage of sough into discs around 1 cm thick, and roll these into small balls. Place these on the baking trays, leaving a few centimetres between each to allow for spreading. Gently press down with the tines of a form to flatten a little.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until pale golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, clean the missing bowl ready to make the filling. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, or using a bowl and an electric mixer, and beat for a few minutes until pale and creamy. Add the jam and the 1 tablespoon of orange juice and mix again until you have a thick paste. Add more orange juice if needed, a little at a time, until you have the right consistency.

Sandwich two biscuits together with a little of the filling and place in the fridge for the buttercream to set, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Travel advice-
if you're making these biscuits more than 3 days in advance, store them, unfilled, in an airtight container and then sandwich together on the day you plan to share them.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Honey Soy Cauli from Every Night of the Week Veg by Lucy Tweed

Honey Soy Cauli from Every Night of the Week Veg by Lucy Tweed | salt sugar and i

Honey Soy Cauli from Every Night of the Week Veg by Lucy Tweed | salt sugar and i

Lucy Tweeds first book, Every Night of the Week, came out soon after I had a baby and the first thing I cooked after coming out of the newborn haze was Drunken Dumplings. And its one of my favourite recipes still and one of my favourite cookbooks. Everything I've cooked from it is so full of flavour, simple to put together and just delicious so when I was sent her new book, Every Night of the Week Veg. It made me very happy. The cover recipe is mouth watering... pizza rice. I mean omg get in my belly.

With the weekly grocery shop challenges up here in FNQ with barges getting turned around because of wrong temps it does limit the meal planning but turns out cauliflower and rice are not the first things to go in the shops up here. Ha! Until they read this that is. Lucy Tweed is the queen of baked, flavour packed rice and this Honey Soy Cauli is such an easy recipe to get ready and in the oven and dinner is on its way while you wrangle everything else that needs to be done before the madness witching hour.

You can prep the sauce and coat the cauliflower, played monster trucks, then pre-heat your oven, distract a toddler so they don't snack before dinner, prep the rice and put it all in the oven and still have time to go back to making duplo garages for the monster trucks. 

Every Night of the Week Veg by Lucy Tweed | salt sugar and i

Honey Soy Cauli

Recipe from Every Night of the Week Veg by Lucy Tweed

Serves 4

1/4 cup (70g) white miso paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup (60ml) honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped, white and greens seperated
8cm piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
1 large cauliflower, cut into 8 wedges**
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (440g) white rice
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Optional Ingredients
blanched greens and chilli crisp

The sticky, chewy business of baking rice with flavours is with us to stay, my friends.

It's a classic lazy approach disguised as a big flavour move. (It's actually both!) And so satisfying, because it's basically set and forget.

Cauliflowers are the greatest sauce-trappers, too.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400C) fan-forced.

Blend the miso, garlic, honey, soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, spring oil (white parts only) and a quarter of the ginger in a food processor until smooth.

Toss the cauliflower through the mix, making sure to coat it really well.

In a large roasting tray big enough to fir the cauliflower in a single layer, combine the oilive oil, rice, remaining ginger, chinese five-spice and salt.

Cover with 3 cups (750ml) of water and gently shake the pan to level out the rice.

Place the cauliflower into the water, then cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for a further 25 minutes, basting with any remaining marinade for the final 5v minutes.

Serve with sesame seeds and the green parts of the spring onions.

** Cauliflower can take a while to roast. If you're short on time, blanch (4 minutes), steam (10 minutes) or microwave (4 minutes) the pieces prior to tossing them in the sauce.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Broccoli Farfalle from The Food Fix by Yumi Stynes and Simon Davis

Broccoli Farfalle from The Food Fix by Yumi Stynes and Simon Davis

I have a confession. My kid only eats pasta with butter and the cheap parmesan cheese. 

Before becoming a parent, I swore black and blue that my child will never eat just butter pasta but the universe had other plans and gave me little one who only wants butter on his pasta, is very firm on 'no sauce' and has to put the parmesan cheese on himself. So this particular dinner I made was only enjoyed by the people in the family who are not against sauce. But apart from being delicious, it was simple and easy and worked great on it's own and on the side of some spicy sausages. If you have a partner who looks at vegetarian dinner and asks. Where's the meat? you feel me.

In fact the entire book if full of these kind of recipes and they couldn't say it better than they do on the cover; 'Real World Dinner Solutions for the Exhausted'. Is that not everyone right now?? 

As you know, I really love the 5min Food Fix podcast. Its quick and snappy and gives you dinner inspiration when you feel like the fridge is a scary place to be. The ideas and simple recipes they share are so great so when I was sent this lovely cookbook, I couldn't be happier. It's the podcast in book form. They have the fish-finger sushi in their too!! It's actually so delicious. 

I hope that the below pasta recipe makes one night this week feel easier, taking the decision of what to cook off your mind. and the best thing... you can serve it with a side of butter noodles or spicy sausages keeping everyone happy.

The Food Fix by Yumi Stynes and Simon Davis

Broccoli Farfalle from The Food Fix by Yumi Stynes and Simon Davis

Broccoli Farfalle

Recipe from 'The Food Fix' Real World Dinner Solutions for The Exhausted by Yumi Stynes and Simon Davis
Serves 4-6

Broccoli - not just a veg of champion (and about the only one both Yumi and I can consistentlu get our kids to eat) but also a delicious creamy pasta sauce? Sure thing! If you like a bit of heat and little ones aren't involved, then feel free to add a finely chopped red fredh chilli to the oil along with the garlic.

1 lareg head of broccoli, cut into small florets
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
400-500g (14oz-1lb 2oz) farfalle
grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Throw the brocoli florets into a large saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 8 minutes or until soft. Drain.

Squash the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, then add the garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until golden all over. Fish the garlic out of the pan and discard.

Add the broccoli to the pan and stir it around in the garlicky oil until well coated. Season generously with salt and pepper and keep it ticking away over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, squashing the broc with the back of a wooden spoon and adding a splash or two of water as necessary, so it all smnooshes together to form a creamy sauce.

Meanwhile, cook the farfalle in a saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente.

Drain the pasta and add the the pan with the broccoli. Toss everything together and serve with plenty of grated parmesan and pepper.

1. Pasta always tastes better when it's cooked 'al-dente' (which is just the italian way of saying 'to the tooth' or that it has a bit of bite left in it). I tend to go by memory rather than timer - sorry, Yumi! - and taste mineas it cook to see if it's just right, but if you're unsure then follow the parket directions, subtracting a minute or two as they always seem to be a bit cautious.

2. The pasta amount here is, well, variable because, lets be honest, it's almost impossible to cook the right amount. I tend to do this by eye or throwing in a whole packet for a famkly of five. Any uneaten pasta makes good leftovers.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Japanese Pickled Ginger & Cheats Sushi

It is no shock that take-away is sparse up here in FNQ. when we first moved here, I thought I'd be mastering all the things given the lack of variety, but turns out, it's just not my season. Instead, dinners have been quick, throw together meals. My favourite podcast right now is The 5 minute Food Fix, have you heard it? it's great. Yumi Stynes and Simon Davis are my dinner inspiration and reassures that kids will be kids when it comes to food. On Yumi's Instagram she makes the easiest sushi and I can confirm it's a game changer. It's not perfect or authentic but... if I've learnt anything from feeding a toddler, the more effort you put in the more they just want buttered noodles. 

Avocado sushi is a winner (sometimes) in our house. It's as simple as cooking some medium grain rice with a pinch of salt, folding through a splash of rice white vinegar and mirin once it's cooked but still warm, letting it cool for a little and then spreading it over some nori and adding a couple of slices of avocado or I like to add some canned tuna mixed with kewpie mayo. Yumi makes it with fish fingers which I can again confirm is also delicious. It's not the same as what you can buy from sushi train but it fills the craving, especially when you pair it with a homemade Japanese pickle ginger... I could eat this stuff from the jar. As my father-in-law would put it, 'Gods Food'. 

Japanese Pickled Ginger recipe - salt sugar and i blog

I came across this recipe for Japanese Pickled Ginger because we had an abundance of home-grown ginger. It may not be my season for pottering in the kitchen but hubby has found his green thumb up here and we've had an abundance of ginger, lemongrass, basil and papayas. So much so we can't keep up. He has perfected the home-brewed ginger beer, but it also come with a side of reflux. So with a brew of ginger beer in a keg and one brewed for a friend, we still had probably at least a kilo of ginger left over. 

I couldn't find any small jars so made one giant jar which meant only one jar to sterilise but I have a lot of pickled ginger to get through before we depart back to Sydney in 10 weeks. I've been putting it on salads and having it with my lazy-girl efficient-mum 'sushi' and also, just eating it from the jar as it. It would also make a great gift if you did it in smaller jars.

Ah, I have missed this space.

Japanese Pickled Ginger

recipe from The Modern Preserver by Kylee Newton
makes 4 x 100ml jars or 1 x 350ml jar

200g fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
300ml Japanese Pickle Brine (see below)

Peel the ginger and slice finely as possible into long ribbons, either using a vegetable peeler or mandoline.

In a bowl, cover the ginger with the salt and mix together with your hands to make sure the ginger is completely covered. Set aside for 30-40 minutes.

The salt extracts liquid from the ginger so, after the alloted time, carefully squeeze it to remove any excess salted liquid and put into warm dry sterilised jars.

Gently warm the brine, pour over the ginger, filling the jars to about 5mm below the rim then seal.

Leave in the fridge to macerate for 24 hours so the flavours develop before eating.

Keeps unopened in the fridge for up to 6 months. Once opened, eat within 4 weeks.

Japanese Pickle Brine

recipe from The Modern Preserver by Kylee Newton
makes 500ml (*note this recipe has been halved from the original in the book)

225ml rice wine vinegar
225ml water
190g caster sugar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black or white peppercorns

Can be made days ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to use. 

Put all ingredients into a medium, stainless steel pan and warm the mixture until thee sugar has dissolved. Bring to a simmer and infuse for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool before use or storage.

Saturday 17 September 2022

Castle Puddings from Pride and Puddings by Regula Ysewijn

Back in May this year I was kindly sent a copy of Pride and Puddings, the history of British puddings, savoury and sweet by Regula Ysewijn from Murdoch books. And goodness me, if you are a pudding lover, this book is for you. For me, the word 'pudding' really makes me miss the cold weather where you get to rug up on the couch after dinner with a bowl of steamy pudding and cold ice cream or coming in from a cold day out and sitting down to a homemade chicken pie with peas. Thats not to say there isn't cold 'pudding' recipes in this book, there are. It's jammed back with recipes which remind me of Downtown Abby times like trifles, bakewell pudding, beef pudding, blood pudding, toad in the hole, bread and butter pudding, fritters, jellies, fools and burnt creams.

Being in the tropics where it's summer all year round did not stop me making a hot pudding, Castle Puddings, which are a type of steamed pudding. Steamed puddings hold a soft spot in my heart. When I still lived at home after high school when my only 'adult' responsibility was my phone bill, I'd get these ideas that making dessert at 9pm on a Tuesday was a brilliant idea. Mum didn't mind as long as the kitchen was clean and Dad was always up for it because he never said no to anything I cooked and he had a sweet tooth. Steam puddings, aka college puddings, was one of the things I made on rolation. The recipe I used back then was an old Australian Womens Weekly recipe where you put jam in the bottom of mugs and boil them on the stove in a water bath. This particular recipe for Castle Puddings that Regula Ysewijn has in her book uses lemon curd or thinly sliced oranges in the bottom and steamed in the oven in a baking tray of water.

In true FNQ fashion, I did not have oranges or lemon curd on hand, instead, I used the strawberry jam we had in the fridge instead. And even though I did not make these at 9pm on a weeknight, they felt like a complete treat and brought back memories of a lighter time. 

‘Images and text from Pride & Pudding by Regula Ysewijn, photography by Regula Ysewijn. Murdoch Books RRP $55.00.’  

‘Images and text from Pride & Pudding by Regula Ysewijn, photography by Regula Ysewijn. Murdoch Books RRP $55.00.’  

*notes on the below: I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of zest and a few heaped tablespoons of jam instead of lemon curd/orange slices.*

Castle Puddings

Steamed lemon or orange sponge puddings

Recipe from: Pride and Puddings by Regula Ysewijn.

Makes 8 small puddings in 7-8 cm basins (moulds); alternatively use a muffin tray, which will give a slightly different result as the holes are shallower.

butter, for greasing
200g butter, softened
200g raw sugar
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour

Lemon flavouring
zest of 1 small lemon
a jar or lemon curd

Orange flavouring
zest of 1/2 small orange
thinly sliced orange rounds
sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Prepare individual mini basins by greasing them generously with butter, then cut a disc of baking paper to fit inside the base of each basin and press it into the mould.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the butter with the sugar until pale and creamy. This is an important step so whisk thoroughly. Grate in the lemon or orange zest for the flavouring of your choice. Start adding the eggs one at a time, whisking until each egg is fully incorporated. Finally, fold in the flour and combine well.

Put on teaspoon of lemon curd or a think slice or orange sprinkled with sugar in each mini pudding basin, before adding the batter. Divide the batter between the basins until they are about two-thirds full.

Place the puddings in a deep baking dish. Carefully pour hot water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the basins. Cove the dish with foil and bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes, checking after 40 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the pudding to see if it comes out clean.

Allow the puddings to cool in the basins. (if not needed directly, freeze in the basins and reheat in thee microwave after defrosting.)

When you are ready  to serve, loosen the pudding from the mould with the tip of a knife and turn the pudding out like a cake. Serve with an accompaniment of custard or ice cream; my favourite is clotted cream.

Saturday 23 July 2022

The Famous Chicken Curry from Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman & Yeshi Jampa


The Famous Chicken Curry from Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman & Yeshi Jampa | salt sugar and i blog

A few weeks ago... actually now I think about it. It was a few months ago, I made a very delicious chicken curry but life got in the way and then more life stuff happened and I didn't get to share it with you. But here it is. 

It's from a cookbook called 'Taste Tibet' by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa. Its a cookbooks filled to the brim with culture, history, traditions and of course recipes from the Himalayas. What I didn't know until I started reading is Taste Tibet is a restaurant, shop and festival food stall in Oxford, in the UK which is run and owned by Julie and Yeshi. Yeshi is the cook, head chef and chief recipe developer in the duo.

'At first glance, Tibetan food looks a lot like Chinese food. Noodles, dumplings and small plates are a big feature of the cuisine.' 

This book makes your mouth water just flicking through the pages. Stirfry's (hot and cold), fried rice, noodles, Tibetan yoghurt, soups, stews, savoury and sweet momos (which are a type of dumpling), flatbreads, curries and then there is the sweets for those sweet tooth's with ceremonial biscuits and truffles.

Although there were lots of delicious recipes to try, the one that caught my eye was the 'Taste Tibet Famous Chicken Curry'. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. And that was without using curry leaves and doing my very best with what we have up here to find the closest curry powders too.

Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman & Yeshi Jampa | salt sugar and i blog
Text from Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa, food photography by Ola O. Smith, travel photography by Keiko Wong.
Murdoch Books RRP $49.99

The Famous Chicken Curry from Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman & Yeshi Jampa | salt sugar and i blog

Taste Tibet Famous Chicken Curry

Recipe from: Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman & Yeshi Jampa

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2.5cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, washed but not peeled, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon Bassar curry masala (or hot chilli powder)
1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
2 tablespoons coconut milk powder
6-8 fresh curry leaves, or 10-12 dried
1 x 400ml (14 fl oz) tin coconut milk
600g (1 lb 5oz) chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
Chopped coriander (cilantro), to garnish - optional

Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the oil. When it's hot, add the garlic and ginger and let it brown for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and stir for a further 2 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, turmeric, curry masala and curry powder. Mix together and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning the heat down a little and adding about 50 ml (2 1/2 tablespoons) of water if anything starts to catch, then add the coconut milk powder, curry leaves and coconut milk and mix thoroughly. Take your time here: you are making a curry paste, and it needs to be cooked through completely before you can add the chicken. 

Now add the chicken and salt. Turn the heat back up to high, stir the chicken through the sauce and cook for 8-10 minutes, adding a little boiling water - but only a little - if anything sticks. The pan should be quite dry to begin with, before the juices from the chicken start to be released, so wait a while before adding any water. 

After the chicken has been in for 8 minutes, check to make sure it is fully cooked. To do this, take a piece out and cut it through the middle - it should be white all the way through. If the sauce looks too thick, add a little more boiling water and stir briskly for 2 minutes. Garnish with coriander, if you like, then serve. 

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Cabbage and Visitors.

Helllooo my lovely trusted readers, I am currently sitting in the dark. It's early. My little one still snoozes, Tris has left for work and Arthur is snoring next to me on the couch. I am sorry for the radio silence. I wish I could tell you I have lots of delicious recipes from beautiful cookbooks to share with you but unfortunately it feels like I've been playing a bit of catch up, catch up of what? I am not sure. In truth, I do have beautiful cookbooks to share with you that were kindly gifted to me but, time. I will get there though, they may be a bit late, but the books reviews and delicious recipes will come. Slow and steady wins the race right? 

What have we been up to since last past? well, my mum came to visit for a month and oh my, our washing basket has never been so empty and draws so full of clean clothes. You'd be ashamed of us at the moment mum with our pile of clean clothes we are living out of on top of the spare bed. My sister also visited for a week and we tried to jam everything there is to do in Weipa (except fishing and camping) into her stay. We got the token picture in front of the Weipa sign, swam in a waterhole, went to the local pool, drove to Mapoon and had their famous burgers on the beach, went to the splash park, had dinner at the pub, went for a walk around our little area and saw a croc. Which was also the first croc I have seen since we arrived as it's been mating season and they've all been up river so that was pretty cool. 

Oh and I almost forgot. We got chickens. I think we have two hen's and one rooster. Kenny is our rooster, we are going to pimp him out to others who have chickens and want more but currently don't have a rooster. Out two hens are Marylands who is super feisty for food and pecks your toes and our quiet achiever, and hair footed, Bilbo. Rory LOVES them. Even if we don't get any eggs from our hen's, just seeing him chase them around the garden has been worth it. I am sure, with time, and as the chickens get older and bigger that will change and it'll be the chickens chasing him around the garden.

We all have to eat so what have I been cooking lately? Cabbage. The woolies here isn't renowned for their great produce of full shelves but considering we are in a remote community, they do pretty well. Also, now that it's the dry season up here, trucks can make it over the rivers so we aren't solely reliant on the barge for everything. But cabbage seems to travel well and doesn't cost an arm and leg so each week we end up with a cabbage in our shopping basket. We aren't cabbists, the red or the green are equally good. 

A simple coleslaw of shredded cabbage, grated carrot and red onion or spring onions with a yoghurt based dressing (this Jamie one is great and simple!) is delicious with fish, on tacos, with steak or on cold prawn buttered rolls. Cabbage is also a great one to throw in a quick stir-fry which we had last night for dinner (using this really delicious marinade for the sauce - super yum) or wrapped up in some rice paper rolls which is my latest lunch time fix. I know, most of you at home are going. These foods doesn't even sound remotely comforting. There is no winter up here dear readers, only the wet and dry. If you do find a cabbage in your grocery haul, and you are in the colder states, this recipe for cabbage soup is fantastic and very comforting. And I know you may not want to hear this, but I envy your cold weather right now. Oh to be wrapped up in winter warmers, it sounds glorious!

I hope you are all staying safe and well. Until next post x.

Friday 29 April 2022

Slow cooked beans with Ham Hock from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

You know those books that give you the warm and fuzzy's and go perfectly with a cup of tea, curled on the couch but just as good splattered with food in your kitchen. Sophie Hansen's books are just that. I have them all and I need to confess before rambling on any further. I am a Fan Girl. So when I was kindly sent her newest book Around the Kitchen Table: Good things to cook, create and do - the whole year through which she wrote with her mother, Annie Herron, excited was an under statement. 

This book is different to any other cookbook I own or have read. Not only is it a cookbook but also a bit of an art journal. Annie, Sophie's Mother is an artist and runs an Art School. Like all Sophie's books, it is divided into seasons and within each of these chapters is not only mouthwatering recipes but arts and crafts for example; how to paint a bird, mono printing, collage, craft ideas like making a Christmas wreath and drawing prompts throughout it. You don't need to be an artist to enjoy or use this part of the book at all, just like you don't need to be a chef. It's for the at-home creatives out there. 

The photography, as always, is just magical. Sophie is based in Orange NSW so gets the hot summers, filled with green meadows, sandy beaches and vibrant coloured fruits but also the chilly winters with frosty mornings, thick socks and baked goodies that you just know will taste delicious... mmmm still warm out the oven. Oh I dream of cold winter days, but they are far and non existent here in FNQ. It really is just hot and hot up here. But in saying that, it didn't stop me from pulling out the slow cooker the other week and making a call to the butcher to check they had a ham hock in their deep freeze I could buy. 

Slow cooked beans with Ham Hock. The hardest thing about this recipe was finding the ham hock. Such a simple recipe to put together, it's the time that does all the work while you can go off and attempt your hand at some mono-printing maybe or just put your feet up with a cuppa knowing dinner is sorted. Such a satisfying feeling. 

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog

I used canned beans like Sophie suggests you which eliminated cooking dried beans for an hour and although I haven't tried this recipe with dried beans to compare, using canned were perfect. It's smokey and rich and salty and a real belly warming dinner. I will be hitting up our local butcher again to get more ham hocks thats for sure. I served it for dinner, ladled over a baked potato, topped with greek yoghurt and fresh parsley but this would be amazing on some thickly sliced sourdough toast with a gooey poached egg on top. And another great thing, it freezes well and knowing we have a portion of this in the freezer that can be nooked in the microwave at a moments notice for a quick dinner or a special breakfast is a very lovely thought.

Around the Kitchen Table | Slow-cooked beans with ham hock | Sophie Hansen | salt sugar and i blog
'Images and text from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron, photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99'

Slow-cooked beans with ham hock

Recipe from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron

Serves 6

Prep time: 20 mins, plus overnight soaking 

Cook time: 6¼ hours 

I try to regularly make a batch of these through winter so that there’s always something healthy and hearty in the fridge ready to reheat. We all love this on toast and it’s a great filling meal to start the day, especially on those long, cold days when we don’t get home until late in the evening. These beans are also good for lunch and dinner, as per my serving suggestions below.

2½ cups (500 g) dried white beans, soaked overnight in cold water

1 smoked ham hock

2 brown onions, diced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 cm (½ inch) rounds

2 thyme sprigs

400 g (14 oz) tin cherry tomatoes

2 cups (500 ml) tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender and cooked through.

Turn the slow cooker to high. Drain the beans and tip them into the slow cooker.

Put the ham hock in the saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the ham hock and place it on top of the beans in the slow cooker.

Add the onion, carrot, thyme, tomatoes and passata. Pour in 1 cup (250 ml) water, or enough to just cover the beans and ham hock. Gently stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and pomegranate molasses, if using. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours (or for up to 7 hours if that suits you – perhaps add a little more liquid towards the end as those beans can get thirsty!).

Remove the ham hock and shred the meat from the bone, then return the meat to the beans and gently stir.


You can use 2–3 x 400 g (14 oz) tins of white beans instead of dried beans. They won’t need soaking or pre-cooking – simply drain and rinse them, then add them to the slow cooker with the ham hock.

Serving suggestions:

  • Pile the beans on top of baked jacket potatoes and finish with a little plain yoghurt and chopped parsley.
  • Divide the beans among small ovenproof plates, make a dent in each, crack in an egg, dot with feta and parmesan cheese and parsley, then cook in a hot oven for 15–20 minutes or until the eggs are just cooked through.
  • Thin out the beans with stock and serve them as a stew or soup.
  • Use the beans as a jaffle or toasted sandwich filling.

Saturday 16 April 2022

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise | salt sugar and i blog

When you move into a new home it can take a little while before home feels like home. Sometimes you need a good hug from a friendly face and something warm and decadent to treat your self. Lucky for me I have recently had both. The something warm and decadent came first.

A couple of weeks ago I was sent Sally Wise's new cookbook 'The Comfort Bake'. This is the kind of book where you go oooo, ahhh, yummm, oh I want that, I'm hungry. And then if you're like me you rustle around your pantry and work out you have everything you need for a gooey self saucing chocolate pudding and all you're missing is ice cream. Which, luckily, the new home is right around the corner from the servo.

This gooey self saucing chocolate pudding I made has an offical name, Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding. Have you skipped down to the recipe and are you rustling around your pantry yet? 

It's a recipe that you just have to trust Sally and follow her simple instructions without too much thought. It will work. I find most self-saucing recipes really test my trained background because everything about me says that pouring 300ml of boiling liquid over a cake batter means it will turn into soup, but it doesn't. The cake batter cooks and rises through the hot liquid which turns into a spoon licking chocolate sauce you can't get enough of. You don't end up with undercooked cake batter which you aren't sure if it's meant to be sauce or cake  or a bit of both (I am not a 'lick the beaters' kind of baker). You very much get a rich warm pudding and a chocolate sauce that goes perfectly with some vanilla ice cream or double cream. It's a perfect recipe for the cooler nights where you find yourself on the couch, curled up watching season 2 of Bridgerton. May I even say, it's been positively 'cold' up here in FNQ... perfect!

Every recipe in The Comfort Bake screams home, warmth, love and full bellies. From the Very Ginger Gingernuts biscuits which I cannot wait to bake, to the Plum Crumble Cake which Sally says can easily be serves as a dessert with custard or the Savoury Pull-apart Loaf which is high up on my 'to-bake' list. They are recipes which will make you happy.

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise | salt sugar and i blog
‘Images and text from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise, photography by Samuel Shelley. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.’

Whisky & Orange Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

Serves 4–6

While a chocolate self-saucing pudding is always a favourite, this recipe takes the concept to a whole new, supremely delicious, level.

For the sponge
150 g (5½ oz) self-raising flour
pinch of sea salt
100 g (3½ oz) white (granulated) sugar
25 g (1 oz) cocoa
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
60 g (2¼ oz) salted butter, melted
125 ml (4 fl oz) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the sauce
100 g (3½ oz) soft brown sugar
20 g (¾ oz) cocoa
300 ml (10½ fl oz) boiling water
60 ml (2 fl oz) whisky
40 ml (1¼ fl oz) orange juice

To make the sponge

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease an 18–20 cm (7–8 inch) round baking dish, 10 cm (4 inches) deep.

Whisk together all the sponge ingredients until smooth.

Spoon this batter evenly into the dish.

To make the sauce

Sprinkle the combined brown sugar and cocoa over the sponge mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix together the boiling water, whisky and orange juice and pour carefully over the sponge mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes until the sponge has risen and is firm to the touch.

Sunday 20 February 2022

2022. A new home.

So here we are. Far North Queensland. It's been almost two months. It's gone quickly.

We arrived safely and our stuff arrived kind of safely. We didn't think about the friction that would happen driving 300km on a dirt road with pot holes and the jiggle. Not all the boxes made it in one piece, mostly my books got a bit misshaped and all the furniture have love nudges. 

It's still not quite home yet but it doesn't feel like a holiday. I'm sitting somewhere in the middle right now. A kind of hover. I've started back work which has brought back a little of the pre-baby normality and is nice to use my brain for more than just nap times, awake windows and bottles. Although the juggle is real working from home during nap times with a little one.

There has been quite a bit to get used to here in FNQ. It's very different to Sydney. It's hot. There are no traffic lights, there are no house numbers, there are no letter boxes. It's quiet. And red. Did I mention? it's hot.

We had our first cyclone warning during our second week here which fizzled out to nothing. I was quite excited for the cyclone to pass by us, I had gone and bought UHT milk, candles, 2 min noodles, tonic water, gin, limes... you know. The essentials. It wasn't meant to be bad, but enough that the boats got moored and others lifted out of the water. I thought we'd get a bit of wild weather pass by but nada. There is talk of a low pressure system coming in next week so we shall see.

Even though we are in Queensland, there is no swimming at the beaches. Too many things with sharp teeth. We did go for a drive to swim in a fresh water creek and ended up with a flat tyre. But don't worry, we checked the creek for crocs first... a new normal. Bonkers.

Grocery shopping here is not normal but then with all the shortages I'm hearing about in Sydney, it sounds quite similar. The shelves are kind of empty. During the wet season a barge comes in twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays (I think) which means everything is either reduced with the little yellow sticker but still perfectly fine to eat or there the shelves are bare. Or you've timed it perfectly and all the fresh stuff has been put out. Just a bit of getting used to really. 

I am car-less right now. Well, we are not car-less, I am just car-less as the only car available for me to drive is a manual and after one lesson from Tris, that was enough for both of us. Booking professional driving lessons is on my list of to-do's. Safe to say those lessons won't end in tears and yelling. 

Our home is nice, simple. It's long and flat, on quite a big block with a shed that is almost the same size as the house. We have a big backyard which means there is a lot of grass to mow and holly moley, does the grass grow quick right now. Everyone says it's because we're in the wet season and it slows down when it's dry. It's all so green. We're attempting to grow dragon fruit from some cuttings we got but if it's anything like the papaya tree we planted, they'll be dead in a week. Our kaffir lime tree seems to be doing ok (it's tiny) and we have a mysterious citrus tree which was already here and growing like wild fire. I'm keen to see what that will be when we get some fruit, from my googling I think it might an orange or grapefruit tree. We've also got lemongrass and ginger growing.

We are a short walk to the pool, park, gym and servo which seconds as a chicken shop/deli so I have been going for daily walks. Weather permitting. It's so quiet. I'm not sure if I am going walking during the wrong time of the day which could be quite possible but there aren't many people out and about. One of our first walks was to the local pool. I felt so proud of myself, I'd packed the pram up for a swim and lunch at the pool and walked there in the blistering heat to only get to the pool and find out it closes for 3 hours in the middle of the day. Since then we have acquired a blow up pool for the out the back which we can all fit in and cool down. 

Cooking wise, we've been so spoilt with homegrown giant papaya's, fresh caught mud crabs, prawns and fish, homemade spring rolls and papaya salad. Food seems to be the way people look after each other here. We often go for a walk, end up stopping in and saying hi to people and coming home with a pram full of goodies. We are being well fed which is warming. We've also been cooking more than we would before as there is no local thai or sushi restaurants or any food delivery whats so ever. We've made our own versions of a chicken parmy (don't worry, the bowlo does make a mean parmy), sushi rolls, papaya sorbet, thai curry from scratch with homegrown lemongrass, pizza with fresh dough, burgers and Tris has even made a home brew beer. I need to crack out my cookbooks and share some recipes soon. It's a bit daunting with writing a shopping list for specific ingredients when you have no idea whats going to be in the shops or not. 

I think we're all getting used to the heat a bit more. The little one is still a sweaty mess every-time we are outside or in the car and ends up just in a nappy outside or having a nudie splash in the shell pool. But that seems to be the norm around here. Nudie kids. Oh and his favourite thing right now is the tupperware cupboard.

Lots to get used to but lots to enjoy. 


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