Category Archives: Food

My Sustainable Garden -Chickweed Pesto

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Tiny seedlings are starting to appear in our garden from plants that I let go to seed last year. The fun is in spotting these new plants growing in unexpected places and in being able to identify what they are. I know I have violas, sweet alyssum, petunias and begonias but I have also noticed another seedling spring up all over the garden. Web_chickweed-in-bricksThis last unknown is appearing in my hanging baskets, tumbling over my walls, and in between the pavers. Web_chickweed-basketInitially I nurtured it with water and seaweed emulsion only to have an explosion of growth suddenly start taking over the beds. Suspicion started to creep into my mind as nothing I have planted grows that quickly and I have now realised I am battling a worthy foe. Chickweed!

Web_chickweed-stalksI have been on my hands and knees reaching under the roses, through the hydrangea, around the olive trees and across the brick pavers removing this fragile but tenacious weed and throwing it into the bin. Fortunately it is relatively easy to pull out but little bits still litter the garden probably preparing to haunt me in another 12 months. I have been muttering to myself, asking where did it come from. As I have been growing my own mulch (which is another story) for the past 12 months I doubted that it was from the bag of sugar cane I had used 12 months ago. Web_chickweed_neighbourI didn’t remain in ignorance for long as crouching under the olives I glanced across my neighbour’s neglected backyard and saw a glorious carpet of light green starting right next to my fence. The ground is covered in a tangled mass of stalks, leaves and flowers.Now I had found my source; Stellaria media commonly known as chickweed, winter weed, bindweed, satin flower, satin-flower, starweed, starwort, stitchwort, tongue grass and white bird’s eye.

Web_chickweed-flowerI am trying to make my garden as sustainable as possible and I hate throwing plant material out but this weed had gone to seed and I am not going to put it into the compost bin. As I threw the fourth bag away I started to wonder if it was edible. The name surely has to be a clue; I mean chickweed? I grabbed a couple of handfuls and walked through the forest to see if my son’s chooks would eat it. No problems there and they are still alive as I write. Chickweed is easy to identify with its frill of fine hairs running up one side of its stalk, changing sides at a leaf juncture.

Web_chickweed-and-chookMy father, curious about my frenetic gardening activity, wandered down to see what I was doing. I explained that having identified that this weed was not toxic to humans I was going to put some in our salad. Curious to see what it tasted like he reached down and picked off a few leaves to nibble on.

‘Mum won’t forgive me if you die on my patch,’ I told him. ‘Hey, at 91 years old I have to die sometime,’ he said, munching like Peter Rabbit on the sprigs.
Chickweed is one of those super foods, rich in omega-6 fatty acids and saponins, high in vitamins A, C, D, and B as well as the minerals, calcium, zinc, potassium, manganese, silica, phosphorous, sodium and copper. Web_chickweed-in-mug2It now definitely has a place in my diet both in salads, as an infusion and in pesto. It is also said to be useful as a poultice or tincture for skin irritations and helpful in treating obesity not that this is a problem in our household. I am really quite excited about identifying this plant and am now keen to see what else I can use from my garden’s supply of edible weeds.Web_chickweed-pesto

The chickweed was starting to go to seed and forming stalks which might have made the pesto stringy so I pulled the leaves from the stalks. The pesto was delicious.

Chickweed Pesto

Ingredients:

2 cups chickweed leaves

1 large clove garlic, smashed

½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated

¼ – ½ cup nuts – pine nuts, macadamia or walnuts

½ cup virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

salt and pepper

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Process:

In a food processor, pulse the chickweed and the basil leaves with the garlic until well broken down and blended, scraping down the sides to ensure even chopping. Add the Parmesan and pulse, then the nuts and pulse well. Slowly add the olive oil pulsing all the time. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on bruschetta, over pasta or as a dip with vegetables.

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An Anzac food parcel of love

Can food speak as words of love from a mother? I certainly tried to make this happen.

PoppyAnzac Day always has special meaning to our family as we have had so many members serving here and overseas. I try not to let it pass without thinking of what it means to Australians and today as I was listening to a speaker talking about letters sent home by Australian soldiers in previous wars I started to think about the words and messages my son and I used in our emails during his two stints overseas and of how I tried to communicate my love to him.

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I remember sitting at an early morning Anzac Day service in Los Angeles, feet in thin soled shoes getting wet from the heavy dew on the grass, pulling a pashmina tight around my shoulders as a shield against the thick early morning fog that hid the gravestones surrounding us. Even the podium a few metres in front of us had swirls of grey mist clinging to its supports. I was still, tense, with hands in my lap, staring at the speaker without listening to his words, absorbed in my effort not to think of what my son might be doing on the other side of the world in Iraq. I looked with unfocussed eyes, beyond the speaker into the grey distance where urban shapes were emerging from shadows. Gradually one shape impinged on my consciousness and it was like being hit in the chest with a fist. A Bunya Pine, that tall untidy tree planted near Australian homesteads to act as a landmark to travellers and those who were lost and now would find their way home. I sat, tears sliding quietly down my cheeks, images of my son flooding my mind, reassuring myself he would be fine. ‘He is trained for this,’ was only temporary reassurance from my husband.

‘Hope the sandpit is treating you kindly. Take care, duck and weave when you have to. Love ya.’ xx Mum

As a mother there really isn’t much you can do when your adult child is serving overseas, other than write or send the odd parcel from home. And if I was lucky I occasionally had a few snatched moments on the phone and then I would pass the information on to our huge extended family voracious for news about G. These conversations were always hit and miss, because you could never return his phone call as his numbers didn’t exist.

 ‘Hi all, I just spoke with G, he’s good, his normal self, no news really. Work is keeping him busy enough but other than that he was more interested in finding out what is going on at home than talking about his side of things…’ Susie

 So write I did, frequently, about nothing in particular, just the news of what our lives were like, about my work, people we were dining with, meals and recipes I cooked, activities with friends and family and places I visited. I tried to make them the most interesting and funny letters I had written. Every time I whinged about no contact, I would think about my Italian Grandmother writing from Proserpine to the family in Piedmont and that it might take 12 weeks from sending to receiving a letter. Italy was so far from Australia that after leaving at 21 years of age, she never saw her parents again. The only time I felt that living in Los Angeles and London was a long way from anywhere was when G told me of his postings.

‘Dear G, I woke up last night and decided that I needed to see you and K for a night before you go away to the other sandpit!!!  … Therefore I think we will come home from London for about five days….’ Love ya, xx Mum

His two sisters felt his absence as keenly as I did and wrote as often. We kept each other in the loop which later expanded to include his fiancé. Food of course was an easy topic of conversation.

‘Mumsie, Just for future reference, you might already know (I didn’t), he says bring on nice cereals and antipasto-type goodies, …, and he has a small bar fridge so he can store jars of olives etc, just don’t send cheeses or anything similarly perishable.  No other tips for care parcels, just make it edible.  Typical, he’s not happy with boring digestives cookies, nah, he wants the fancy deli goods!!’ xx G

 However, just because he wasn’t at home, didn’t mean that I wouldn’t occasionally ask him to provide brotherly guidance to a turbulent sister who had issues at work or disappointments in love.

‘Mumsie, Yeah yeah, I spoke to S the other night, usual brotherly thing, all sorted, I should probably give J a call and see how her job is going. I might do that tomorrow.  I actually got a couple of little love packages from L and S the other day.  These were absolutely great as food was starting to run low out here.  It’s not that we ever run out it’s just that you get a very limited choice, not too bad but weird flavours, ie; Ham and onion sandwiches…’  xxG

I was curious about the people he worked with (on both sides), and would raise cultural issues that I had run across when living in the United States, such as the advertisements on television shows and in the Gourmet magazines that I read but got very little information other than…

‘The Americans do take a little getting used to, we’ve got a team working with us and there definitely is a bit of a culture clash, not too bad but it’s the little things.  The radio plays ads supporting abstinence and lot’s of happy clappy god fearing stuff.  Very bizarre.’ xx G

Desperate for any news at all, I would discuss politics at home and abroad but G was always the mastermind of reticence and self-censorship with a little cynicism creeping in…

‘Yeah life over here for the ordinary person might be better if we left, and I think there will always be conflict where respect is gained through firepower.  Only now are we learning, yet again, that modern western democratic ideals cannot be overlayed onto all countries.’

And so I would go into great detail about my life of museums, art galleries, coffee with girlfriends and teaching at a Muslim girls’ school, keeping fit by swimming none of which I am sure he was particularly interested in but perhaps he was, as he did once say he had saved all our correspondence,  and he would send me details of his day ….

‘Mumsie, Well I’ve finally got here and am starting to settle in.  It’s one hell of a barren place, I don’t think the surface of the moon could look any worse than this, it’s dusty, rocky, mountainous, sandy, windy, and actually quite cold.  … There’s supposed to be a ‘coffee shop’ of some description run by the Dutch and a local store run by some international company as well as a weekly local market which everything going to plan I’ll get down there soon enough and check it out.’

We knew he didn’t want or need clothing or books but food was frequently a subject discussed in our emails as he is a terrific cook. So my sister, my daughters and I all sent food parcel after food parcel, including Anzac biscuits and the heaviest fruit-filled cakes I could carry.

‘Dear G, Here is my latest offering. If you don’t need it, use it as currency for something you do. The lady at the post office in LA couldn’t believe how heavy the fruit cake was, but her eyes widened and she smiled in delight, when she made me unwrap its many layers of brown paper and alfoil and smelt its aroma…’

‘Mumsie, One good thing though…  the food here is phenomenal, it is without a doubt the best food I have ever eaten during 11 years in the Army.  We get T-Bone steak, Eye Fillet steak, curries, fresh Naan, fresh fruit salad, good cereal etc.  That being said I’ll never turn down any home cooked goodies (or spicy stuff…).

Cooking the biscuits and cakes let me pour all my love into that food to nurture him and keep him safe. I felt I was contributing. Although after receiving that email, I did wonder if our gifts were redundant…

‘Dear G, Glad to hear the playpit is feeding you well. It sounds as if there is an opportunity for a good barista – what are your entrepreneurial skills like?  Perhaps we could dip in chocolate and send you the cockroaches that are said to be hatching in plague numbers in Queensland due to the unseasonal heat. Unseasonal, in November, unlikely.

Today, full of memories of other cakes, after the Anzac service I came home and cooked a fruit cake as a  message of love to my children. I found a recipe from my Grandmother, born in 1902, who lost a brother in France in World War 1.  Flexible as always, I fiddled with the recipe a little because fruit cakes are like that, using whatever was in my cupboard and fridge. Into a large packet of mixed fruit, I added raisins, chopped apricots, a few figs and some dates. I didn’t have sufficient hazelnuts so I made up the mixture with walnuts and almonds as well. I had plum jam so used that instead of apricot jam.

I poured my love into this cake as if it was my children, I chopped the nuts and crushed their obstacles, added spicy ginger to give warm love to their life and sweetness with home-made plum jam. And as I incorporated the flour with Granny’s old spoon, and gently blended the fruit, I was whisked back to the many times they sat around my bench, licking the bowls, stirring the alcohol into the fruit and always helping to make and eat the fruit cakes for past Christmases, christenings and birthdays.  As this cake rose it reminded me how integral baking and cooking is to binding our family together.

 

web-fruitcakeGranny Young’s fruitcake

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. Butter and dust with flour a 25 cm (10 in) round cake tin.

250g butter

1 cup brown sugar

375g dried fruit

½ cup dried figs, chopped

1½ cups prunes, chopped

1½ cups hazelnuts, skinned and chopped

3 eggs

1¼ cups self-raising flour

1 tablespoon cocoa

1¼ cups plain flour

1½ teaspoons mixed spice

3 tablespoon apricot jam

1 tablespoon instant coffee mixed with 2 tablespoons water

web-cake-ingredients1In a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then mix in the eggs one by one. Sieve together the flours and cocoa and mixed spice. Mix together the fruit and nuts. Add the coffee to the jam, mix together and add to the fruit. Add the flours and fruit in alternate batches to the mixture. If it feels a little dry, just add a small amount of milk to moisten the mixture.

Cook for about 1¼  to 1½ hours and remove when a skewer inserted into the mixture comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin. For additional flavour, trickle a couple of spoonfuls of brandy or rum over the warm surface. (Great for when you send it to an alcohol-free base!).

 

 

 

Fig leaf ice-cream

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All the world may be discussing American politics but I have my own disaster, which is particularly sad news during summer. My KitchenAid Ice Cream maker has sprung a leak and nothing we try seems to be able to repair it.  I am sad that such a reliable piece of my kitchen equipment hasn’t stood the test of time and use as it was only 10 years old and I know it hasn’t been dropped.

I noticed iridescent blue droplets in my freezer drawer and wondered where it had come from. I knew we hadn’t been drinking blue curacao cocktails so thought it might be the purchased icy poles that my husband had bought for the grandchildren.

Because I can be quite spontaneous in my cooking, I prefer to keep the ice-cream maker in the freezer so that it is always ready to use. As I lifted the ice-cream maker tub from the freezer I saw small droplets down the side under the little prongs. Not realising that they had originated from the ice cream maker I wiped them away and used it.

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I adore making ice cream and my family love eating it. They will eat it for breakfast if they think they can get away with it. When I take the lid off the container, I often find finger marks swirling around on the surface and the volume gradually decreases whether I have served it or not. The mysterious freezer night raider strikes again. Even the 2-year old grandson knows where to find it in the freezer drawer and boy does he look disappointed if he cannot find any. I mean really Nanna, you have let the side down!

My fig tree has been bursting with beautiful foliage and I was thinking of what I could do with these flavoursome leaves. I wrap fish in young fig leaves and cook them under the grill for a quick and delicious summer meal.  The leaves impart a citrusy coconut flavour to the food and this is one of the nicest ways to serve fish.ww_fig-leaf

I leafed through the emails my sister had recently sent over in which we discussed our favourite restaurants and chefs in London. She has a professional ice-cream making machine which I envy but then again I don’t need to feed 12 people very often.

One of my treats, when living in London was to go to Brett Graham’s Michelin star restaurant The Ledbury. His food is imaginative and delicious and I have been enamoured with the flavour of fig leaf ice-ream and granita. I also follow another wonderful chef, Maria Elia who uses fig leaves to flavour a panna cotta.

Now I planned to make fig leaf ice-cream. I pulled out the recipe my sister had sent me which uses yoghurt to lighten the custard base. I picked the healthiest looking, most luscious unmarked fig leaves, prepared the custard and pulled the ice cream maker from the freezer.

This time I didn’t see any blue droplets so unknowingly I poured the mixture into the freezer bowl and set it to work. The ice cream took a long time to get very cold and naturally I blamed our hot weather. Eventually I decanted the still soft mixture into a container and put it in the freezer. That is when I noticed the disaster waiting to happen.

There was a blue ring of liquid coating the bottom of the ice cream maker and leaving a mark on the kitchen bench. Sadly, I think this means it is the last time I can use this machine.

However, the ice-cream was delicious. Here is the recipe my sister sent to me. I don’t know it’s origin but it may be from Brett Graham or Maria Elia or she may have adapted a recipe and created this one. ww_fig-leaf-ice-cream1

Fig Leaf Ice-cream

 

250 ml milk

250 ml cream

250 gm sugar

2 tablespoons liquid glucose

Finely grated rind of ½ lemon

½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

6 medium-sized fig leaves, washed, dried then torn

500 ml yoghurt

 

Combine milk, cream, sugar, glucose, lemon rind and vanilla seeds in a stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to the simmer then remove from heat, add fig leaves and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a bowl and once it is cool, add yoghurt and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Strain again before churning in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

 

Linzertorte- totally irresistible

Linzertorte

We have had a cold, blustery damp week and I was getting sugar withdrawals. I had been too busy to bake and had avoided going out to the shops so consequently I didn’t have anything sweet in the house, not a block of chocolate, no biscuits or cakes to nibble on with morning coffee. This is not normal for me as my children will verify. Their delight in coming into my study or office was to raid the drawers in which were stashed my supply of nibbles including salted nuts, chocolate and sweet and savoury biscuits. I work better when I am munching and as my weight has never varied more than a kilo or two, my diet suits me.

So when my family were coming for Sunday dinner recently I went into overdrive and cooked not only a chocolate cake but a Linzertorte as well. Talk about sugar overload: this was the ultimate in a sugar fix. The walnut and caramelized citrus cake with chocolate ganache is superb cut into small pieces to have with coffee and the jam tart: this was pure heaven.

I took pity on my nephew who is studying and sent him home with a large piece of each to get him through the next day while sitting at his desk but there has still been enough for me this week. I am thinking of hiding the last piece of Linzertorte from my husband but he knows all my hiding places. I managed to snaffle the last piece for the photo.

I will share this recipe as it is the easiest torte to make and so adaptable that you can use any type of nuts and jams you have in your pantry and it will still taste divine. I used almond meal as I had already used my walnut meal in the chocolate cake.

I didn’t have raspberry jam but had a small amount of homemade strawberry jam and topped it up with homemade blackberry jam, which was just as delicious. I blended the ingredients in my food processor makes it quicker but it is just as easy but slower made by hand. As I had a small amount of pastry left over, I have made biscuits sandwiched with jam to consume later in the week.

Timing: Pre heat oven to 180°C / 350°F when you have formed the lattice pattern over the jam.

LinzertorteIngredients

  • 160g almond meal (hazelnut or walnut works just as well.)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (an orange or lime will add a different flavour)
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 180g butter, unsalted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, yolks only, gently combined
  • 1 cup of jam, (traditionally raspberry, but I used strawberry and blackberry and it is just as delicious. You could use apricot jam also.)
  1. Toast the almond meal in a frying pan over a moderate heat, or in the oven, until it is lightly coloured and gives off the lovely toasty smell of roasted nuts.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using it.
  3. Blend the almond meal, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon rind, flour and baking powder in a food processor.
  4. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the dry ingredients to make fine crumbs. You can do this in the processor or by hand.
  5. Add the egg yolks and blend together. You can do this gently in the blender or by hand in a bowl. It is a dry mixture and tends to want to crumble. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to one hour. On hot days, if the dough becomes too soft, just refrigerate it for a while.
  6. Lightly grease a pan that has a removable base. I use a long 34cm x 11 cm pan, but a square pan or a round 23 cm pan works just as well. Cut off about ⅔ of the dough and roll it out thinly until about 2-4 mm thick. Don’t worry if it won’t roll out just pat it into the pan and up the sides. Place the torte on an oven tray to keep it stable.
  7. Spread the jam over the pastry. I used the strawberry jam and then topped it up with the blackberry jam. Refrigerate this while you roll out the top sheet of pastry.
  8. Roll the remaining pastry out until it is also 2-4 mm thick and cut it into thin strips. Place the strips across the top of the jam in a decorative pattern. Diagonal works well to form a lattice pattern. Refrigerate to rest the dough for about 30 minutes.
  9. Place the torte into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam starts to bubble. Remove and cool in the pan before removing the tart. Do this before it is completely cold or it might stick to the sides because of the jam.Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream or crème fraîche to cut the sweetness.

 

 

Lemonade days

Web-lemonade-with-rose-2If the thought of lemonade stalls and cool, pale green liquid in long glasses cloudy with condensation seems like a perfect way to pass warm summery days then you could be excused for thinking we are living in the northern hemisphere rather than in sub-tropical Brisbane. Our long Indian summer has delayed Autumn and it is wreaking havoc on my equilibrium. I have capitulated to the realisation that my garden will never be perfect however, this season I am experiencing citrus envy which is threatening to impair the quality of my relationship with my trees.

When I look at the picture perfect citrus displayed on Gardening sheets and blog pages I start hyperventilating with fury and begin raging at the mealy mites, the ants, the grass hoppers and the aphids which have been, judging by their population, orgasmically enjoying our long hot days.Web-tangelo-tree

My latest weapon in the fight to perfection is to release Cryptolaemus larvae onto the leaves where the mealy mites have populated in profusion. These larvae feast on the mealy mite then morph into tiny beetles that resemble lady bugs. They are brown with rusty red heads and move so quickly that I haven’t managed to get a photo of them. I have resorted to wandering through my trees trying, in vain, to count the number of beetles that have hatched. As my non-gardening husband asks, ‘How can you tell whether you have counted the same one three times because it flies around so quickly?”

I adore the smell of citrus blossom and missed it hugely whilst living London, so when we returned to Brisbane, I went overboard and have planted oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, seville oranges, blood oranges and tangelos. As always there will be too many fruit for just one family and my father regularly directs his hose towards my trees so that he can claim watering rights in the form of tangelos and navels for his morning orange juice. I give away jars of marmalade and salted lemons as gifts.

Scale is often a problem, not in the size of my garden or the musical tinkle of ice blocks but in the rough patches on the skin of the fruit. They would never win a prize in our agricultural show and could be used as an example of how not to look in a dermatologist’s brochure. They look ugly but are so delicious.Web-cut-lemonades

Our lemonade tree is one of the earliest to ripen particularly in these still hot days. It is a strange fruit, and has come from either a cross between a Meyer lemon and an orange or a lemon and a mandarin tree. Whatever its source, the fruit is sweeter than a lemon and sharper than an orange.

The delicious pale green juice can be drunk straight or with soda to make a summer spritz. The fruit can be eaten but it does contain a lot of seeds that become annoying. It does not need a sugar syrup.  Even the most discerning four-year old palate will accept lemonade squeezed straight from the fruit.

I have been waiting to see whether the fruit ripened to a lemon yellow or an orange colour before picking but this doesn’t seem to happen. The fruit stays a light lime green, slowly turning yellow by which time it is almost over-ripe. The trick is to test the ripeness of the fruit by gently tugging or twisting the fruit hanging from the branches. If ripe, the fruit comes away easily. I have realised that it is best not to wait until they become yellow because by then they have been attacked by fruit fly and rot on the tree.

Web-lemonade-thornsOur young tree has fruited too heavily and has a decidedly drunken lean to it but I have been reluctant to prune it. The challenge is in avoiding being impaled on its thorns which are sharp enough to use as tapestry needles. Even worse, the rootstock tends to send out rogue branches that would be a perfect material for weaving a crown of thorns. I have already suggested this as an option for the next dress up event at school and I think I am about to be reported by my daughter-in-law for cruelty to children.

Web-lemonade-with-roseIn the meantime I am enjoying fresh lemonade for breakfast.

Nutritionally, you don’t need a large amount of fruit juice so it can be difficult to find the right size glasses. Traditional water glasses are too large and clumsy so I was delighted when I remembered these lovely crystal glasses sitting at the back of the cupboard. A perfect size and shape. The  etched star pattern was the right complement to the homegrown lemonade sparkling in the early morning sunlight.

Passionfruit Flummery

I am still trying to use up all the passionfruit that sit on my vine. My sister reminded me of this flummery that our mother would prepare when we were children. It is an old recipe as it was handed down from our Grandmother, Marie Florence Young. Neither of her daughters can remember whether she inherited from her mother, was given it by a friend or found it in a recipe book.

Passionfruit FlummeryIt is a lovely light sweet dessert, quick and easy to make. The ingredients aren’t expensive which is perfect when you are trying to save money and still entertain. Dress it up with a shortbread biscuit and a little passionfruit pulp and it looks as if it has taken all day to prepare.

You can also serve it to guests who are on gluten or dairy free diets which makes it very versatile.

When I first made it, I hadn’t realised what a large mixture it is. I had pulled out 8 of our very old-fashioned champagne glasses which have flowers etched into a pattern on the side. These looked very pretty when filled but I had to keep pulling out the old unused glass and ended up with 11 champagne and parfait glasses filled with the flummery. If you don’t have that many glasses you can always pour the mixture into a large bowl and serve it from that.

Passionfruit FlummeryIngredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • the juice of one small lemon or lime
  • 1 dessert spoon cornflour blended with a little water
  • ¾-1 cup passionfruit pulp (about 6-10 passionfruit)
  • 1 tablespoon gelatine powder

Method

In a medium sized saucepan, add sugar to water and stir over a gentle heat to dissolve the sugar. Pour in the orange juice and lemon or lime juice and the blended cornflour mixture, stirring continuously to ensure the cornflour is completely blended with the liquids.

Increase heat to a gentle boil and cook for about 3 minutes until the cornflour is cooked and you cannot taste the flour. The mixture will be a viscous (thick) clear liquid.

Scoop out the passionfruit pulp and blend it quickly in a food processor to separate the seeds from the pulp. Strain the passionfruit juice into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatine powder over the top of the juice. Don’t stir, just let the juice absorb the gelatine. If not all the gelatine has dissolved, place the bowl over the top of the saucepan for a minute to warm the passionfruit juice and very gently blend in the powder.

When the gelatine is dissolved, pour the passionfruit juice into the saucepan and stir well.

Now pour a little of the juice mixture into the base of an electric mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, start to beat the mixture on a slow speed whilst slowly pouring the remainder of the juice into the bowl.

Gradually increase the speed and whisk the mixture for about 20 minutes by which stage as it cools it will become a light creamy colour and very frothy.

The passionfruit mixture becomes a light creamy yellow and very frothy with lots of minute air bubbles.

The passionfruit mixture becomes a light creamy yellow and very frothy with lots of minute air bubbles.

Pour the flummery mixture into individual cups or glasses or into a large bowl. Place in the refrigerator to set.

Decorate with a little passionfruit pulp.

Decorate with a little passionfruit pulp.

Passionfruit Marshmallow

Passionfruit marshmallowI love the flavour of passionfruit with its contrasting sweet and sour flavour. It is one of the significant flavours that to me, represent Queensland. The passionfruit vine is also a fast growing dense plant that is easy to grow so when our neighbour replaced his roof and I felt I was being blasted by the reflection of the morning sunshine I grew a passionfruit vine to block out the sun.  Little realising that I would also be feeding the entire possum population of my suburb. Our uninvited guest creeps along the Possum sitting in bird feederelectricity cable, jumps onto our veranda railing, and indulges in a passionfruit leaf salad with the fruit for dessert. Then satiated by its degustation meal a now corpulent possum will creep along the railing and jump into the bird feeder for an after dinner snooze.

I may as well place a sandwich board out the front of my house offering a meal to all those who need one. If there are any left overs the cockatoos enjoy a passionfruit slurpy.

Fortunately the vine is bearing prolifically and Cockatoo eating passionfruit (1)has twined its way along two sides of my veranda.

Passionfruit tendrilI admire its tenacity and how its tendrils curl around anything that they touch.  and even my night time marauders can’t eat all the fruit so I have been exploring how many ways I can use passionfruit in my recipes.

Passionfruit growing on supportWe have had passionfruit sauces with duck and chicken, with pancakes for breakfast and brulées for dessert. I have made passionfruit ice creams and sorbets which are just so good and iced cupcakes and biscuits in passionfruit icing. Now I have made the most delicious passionfruit marshmallows.

I took some of these marshmallows into an organisation where I was doing volunteer work and a Danish woman said she considered the taste was  the quintessential flavour of Queensland, whilst another fellow said it was like being in heaven and eating a passionfruit cloud.

They are also very easy to make and quite addictive and you have to be very strong with yourself to limit how many you eat. I watched my father and son eat 6 pieces between them while they were preparing lunch. They are a lovely light lemony colour and I served them on a pretty yellow saucer from the Laburnum Petal range. You can find it for sale at my other site, Maddie and Marie.

Passionfruit marshmallowPassionfruit Marshmallow

Prepare a lamington tin by lining it with baking paper. Very lightly grease the paper with vegetable oil then sprinkle the surface with a spoonful of a mixture made up of equal amounts of pure icing sugar and cornflour. I use 25 g of icing sugar and 25g of cornflour. This is very important to do because it stops the marshmallow from sticking and when you cut it up each piece will stay separate.

Ingredients

  • 180 ml passionfruit juice/pulp without seeds (I used 10 passionfruit)
  • 20g gelatine powder
  • 500g sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 egg whites

Cut the passionfruit in half, scoop the pulp out and blend briefly so that the seeds separate from the pulp. Remove the seeds by pouring the pulp through a sieve. Discard the seeds. Make sure the pulp is at room temperature then sprinkle the gelatine over the pulp and allow it to soak and form a sponge. This doesn’t take very long.

While the sponge is forming, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Place on a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat, bring to the boil then reduce the heat until it is just simmering and cook until it reaches 125°C and cook for 10 minutes. The best way to test this is with a sugar thermometer. This is also called the soft ball stage.

The entire cooking process will take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in the passionfruit pulp. Stir the mixture to dissolve the gelatine.

In an electric mixer, beat the whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Slowly add the passionfruit mixture and beat on a medium speed until the mixture is double in volume and has cooled down. It should be very light and frothy. Pour the mixture into the prepared lamington tin and spread it with an oiled spatula.

Dust the surface with the sugar and cornflour mixture.  Allow it to set at room temperature. The marshmallow can be cut after 3 hours. Its flavor intensifies as it ages. Sprinkle the cut pieces with the icing sugar and cornflour mixture.

Then sit back and enjoy the faces of people who eat your ambrosial marshmallow. They will think they are in paradise.Passionfruit marshmallow