A Food & Travel Blog

December In My Kitchen & a Christmas Recipe for Cheery Cherry Chutney

18/12/2012 | By

Well, my lovelies, I’m really going for broke with a third “In My Kitchen” post in as many months.  This is all the brainchild of Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and if you wander over there you can check out what my friends have in their kitchens this month too!  As I’m running out of time to post before the break and because I really wanted to share this with you, I’m also including a recipe from my kitchen – just scroll down to the end of the post for it.

When my US friend Dianne Jacob arrived here last month to speak at our conference, she bought me a lovely surprise – a goodie bag of treats that she thought I might not find here in Australia.  Among them were these two Microplanes.  These laser-cut and wickedly sharp graters are an absolute must-have for any serious cook and I did not have either of these models.  In fact, I hadn’t even seen the large grater in the stores here so they were both a welcome addition to my gadget drawer.  I already had the bandaids – and it was just as well, as I needed them after the first time I used this gift.

Dianne included in her gift a container of  dried “plumcots”.  These are plums which have been crossed with apricots.  I’ve never seen them here at all and am wondering if there is a whole new crop out there that we could be growing.  They are quite delicious and I’m looking forward to trying them out in my next chicken tagine dish.

I’ll put my hand up here and admit to being afraid of these big boys.  They are dried Ancho Chillis and were also a gift from Dianne.  I know that the larger the chilli, the milder the taste, but I’m still intimidated.  If anyone has any suggestions for me to use them – safely – I’m all ears.

We had some friends over for a few drinks the other day and David and Kath brought me this glorious bunch of Lemon Balm and Kangaroo Paw.  It is still gracing the bookshelf and perfuming the air – thanks, guys.

It is cherry season here in the Adelaide Hills and we can pick them by the bucket-load at the moment.  If you are a local, just look for the signs on the side of the roads and support your local growers.  When you’ve got your bucket full of cherries try this little treat out – my Christmas Cheery Cherry Chutney.  Like most of my cooking, it is easy to prepare (although I suggest you invest in a cherry stoner), is the perfect accompaniment for the season and a delicious way to tart up all of those left-over meats.


Christmas Cheery Cherry Chutney
 
Author:
Recipe type: Condiment
Ingredients
  • 1 kg pitted, fresh cherries
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup finely chopped, candied ginger
  • 2 level Tbsp powdered ginger
  • 2 level Tbsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½-3/4 whole nutmeg, freshly grated
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in heavy based saucepan, cover, place over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cook until soft and thickened.
  3. Remove cinnamon stick, cool, store in clean jars in the fridge.
Notes
I love ginger, so used quite a lot - you might want to tone that down, depending upon your personal preferences.

 

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Christmas Comes to Adelaide Central Market – Some of my Favourites of the Season

14/12/2012 | By

Once again I’m unsure as to how it has happened, but December is rushing past me at a breakneck pace and I’m pretty sure I’m on a collision course with Christmas which is going to end fairly unpleasantly if I don’t pull my finger out.  With that in mind, yesterday I took myself down the hill to the Adelaide Central Market and at least made an effort to wrap my head around the impending food binge.  I had a bit of a wander around looking for some specialties of the season and thought I might share a few of them here with you.

I don’t know about you, but Christmas isn’t Christmas here without a huge lump of ham on the bone taking up vast amounts of space in the fridge and appearing at every possible ingesting opportunity for a week or two. (Never store your ham in the plastic. Wrap it in a tea towel or an old pillowcase turned inside out which has been dipped in acidulated water – 4 cups water: 2 tbsp vinegar- and  thoroughly wrung out, changing every day or two.)  We are particularly spoiled for choice in this department at the Adelaide Central Market and I am struggling to choose between two especially.

Barbara Knoll at Barossa Fine Foods ,of course, has their splendid award-winning ham but did you know it also comes in a delicious orange glaze all ready for you to bake.

Sometimes timing is just everything in this world, isn’t it?  Such was the case when I popped in on Tony O’Connell of O’Connell’s Meats just as they were pulling out this magnificent haul of double-smoked hams from the smoker.  Tony will be using these in a carving demo at the Adelaide Central Market stage on Friday (14th Dec.) afternoon and the smell is guaranteed to drive you wild.

Poultry is another protein that will be on our table on the big day and I’ve opted for one of Saskia Beer‘s fine birds boned and stuffed, from Feast Fine Foods.  A goose is one of the more traditional birds to eat at this time of year in Europe, but not so much here.  If you fancy changing your traditions around a bit you can pick up a splendid goose from Marino Meats at $19.95 per kilo and then toddle over to Lucia’s and buy some French goose fat with which to baste it.

For those who want to stick with the traditional poultry, but only have a few to feed or simply can’t face the idea of a whole bird the lovely Frank, at Vegas Poultry , has the perfect alternative – free-range turkey chops!  Sling them on the barbecue and you’re done!

Edible centre-pieces hold quite an attraction for me and this cake-pop Christmas cake can certainly make dessert a much simpler affair.  You’ll find these at The Providore and they can be made as simple – or as huge – as you want.  Too easy!

A couple of foodie-type gifts caught my eye, too.

These gorgeous blue and white ceramic pots of imported artisan Stilton available from Say Cheese are sure to make the cheese-lover in your life very happy indeed. And for last minute, emergency gifts how about a big bag of white chocolate rocky road from The Providore?

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Christmas day food – a Middle Eastern mushroom superfood salad!

22/12/2011 | By

I’m sure that most of my readers will be putting together the final details for their Christmas dinner and, with the main features almost definitely decided upon (you have decided, haven’t you?), it is time to look at the side dishes.  We’ll be having salads in our house as the weather forecast is for a very hot day here in Adelaide.  Of course I have the good old stand-by dishes that I know everyone loves, but each year I try to come up with something a bit special and a little different.  This year mushrooms will be starring on our Christmas table in a salad that offers a passing nod to the Middle Eastern origins of the Christmas story.

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Christmas cheer – Cranberry Liqueur

19/12/2011 | By

This last week before Christmas is when I really begin to get my cooking mojo on.  I am filled with Christmas cheer, good intentions and motivation (or sometimes, just slight nausea and rising panic) as I start to get the food for the big day organised.  I like to make some of my Christmas gifts and usually spend the week before baking shortbreads, biscotti and things with chocolate on/in them, making the assorted goodies into interesting little parcels for my friends.  I’ll still be baking tomorrow, but a couple of other diverting little treats caught my eye this year so I’ve branched out a little.  I’ve already made some Roasted Capsicum in Olive Oil, inspired by this recipe I saw in the New York Times.  It is very simple and you can vary it by adding whatever herbs or spices take your fancy, making it quite versatile, but the idea which really attracted me was a Cranberry Liqueur.

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Christmas food – keeping it local

15/12/2011 | By

Well folks we are really coming to the pointy end of the year now, with only ten sleeps left until the fat man shows up.  It’s a ridiculously busy time of the year for us all as we race to finish important jobs off at work, catch up with everybody we haven’t had time for all during the year, shop furiously for our nearest and dearest and desperately plan the execution of one of our most significant meals of the year.   Christmas food  comes in many different  cultural shapes here in Australia and we are often a lot more casual about our big dinner than in the colder climates.  While many of us enjoy sitting down to the formal hot baked dinner with all the trimmings, many others are happy with a cold seafood meal, a slap-up barbecue or a picnic at the beach.  As for me, well I love to do my best to keep the meal as local as possible, but I’m also a bit lazy and am very happy to find shortcuts wherever I can.

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More Christmas food traditions – Gingerbread & Mince Pies – where on earth did they come from?

07/12/2011 | By

 

The history of white settlement in Australia is a very recent one, so when it comes to traditions they can be a little thin on the ground here.  We are very blessed to live in a remarkably multi-cultural society and nowhere is this reflected better than in the growth and development of our cuisine.  We have moved from a culinary tradition based largely on conventional British dietary habits to a remarkably diverse cuisine.  Australians now enjoy a fabulously varied diet that has integrated and digested cultural ingredients from the different ethnic groups who have arrived on our shores to take up a spot at the antipodean table.   However, when I think of Christmas food traditions I think of the ones I am familiar with and which were the foods and treats that were only available for enjoying at that time of the year when I was young and – just because I can – I’m going to take a look at one or two more of them.

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