A Food & Travel Blog

Homemade Pistachio Paste

18/11/2016 | By

Pistachio paste is utterly heavenly – and so are the prices of the commercial stuff. Make it yourself at home with the Magimix Cook Expert! (Traditional cooking method included, too.)

pistachio paste pistachios

Pistachio paste is a deliciously addictive, but pricey, gourmet specialty that I first discovered in Italy.

(more…)

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email

Salted Maple & Cinnamon Pecans – My New Post-Gym Snack

29/08/2014 | By

Now, you may not believe this but I actually go to the gym. It’s not something I enjoy and it’s also not something I do anywhere near often enough (at least according to my personal trainer), but it is something I do regularly.

(more…)

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email

Walnut & Date Slice – A Cake-a-Week

21/02/2014 | By

Now I know I fell off the wagon last week with my cake-a-week promise, but I just had to let you all know about the wonderful Tasting Australia Words To Go opportunity and, if it’s any consolation, I did bake (and eat) this slice last week. So I’m still on track, even if my weight isn’t.

(more…)

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email

Farmers Markets, Shopping Lists & Maple Caramel Pecan Shortbread

24/10/2013 | By

 Caramel Pecan Shortbread

When it comes to efficient supermarket shopping and saving money, they say there are a few good rules to remember  – take a shopping list, know where everything is in the store so you don’t get distracted and never go shopping while hungry as you’ll buy more than you need. However, you need to throw those rules away when shopping in a farmers market, because the ideal way to make the most of the experience and get the best of the seasonal produce available is to do the exact opposite!

When visiting your local farmers market – and I would urge you to do so, for a whole heap of reasons – the best plan of action is to firstly do a quick reconnoitering lap of all the stalls to work out what looks best on that particular day, whose prices you like and also to give you time to think about what you might make with the produce available. Once you’ve done your “reccy” it’s time to get out the purse and shopping bag and get serious. It’s also important to be realistic about how much to buy – there’s no point in buying a whole heap of magnificent fresh produce if you are not going to have the time or resources to cook it all up and store it before it spoils.

(more…)

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email

Pistachio and Date Syrup Ma’amoul

27/08/2013 | By

The sun is shining on my hill today – at last. Living on top of a hill is great, really. We get amazing views, loads of light, enough sun to power a small community, advance warning of undesirable relatives and the most astonishing sunsets,but it does have some drawbacks. In the winter time we are, for the most part, exposed.  We have a straggly hedge arrangement at the back of our house that will never win any lovely awards and which is the only thing that stands between us and the weather that comes in from the west, but in the teeth of a winter gale it might just as well not be there at all.

I’ve just read a report on a news site saying that we may just have had our warmest winter ever, but whoever wrote that wasn’t anywhere near my house We have had days at a time of single digit temperatures that dipped to below freezing once the sun vanished and long, long, stormy nights with the wind roaring all around the house, rattling the windows and sliding briskly in under the doors.

We have no heating other than a big slow-combustion fire in the family room and my dear Stanley in the kitchen, both of whom do a splendid job. I love the cosiness of a fire and can’t wait to light  the first fires of the season, but they are quite labour-intensive to maintain and leave a constant reminder of their presence in the form of a fine film of ash over the entire house and a slight odour of stale wood-smoke that I adore at the beginning of the cooler weather, but tire of at about this time of the year.

And the washing, oh the washing. We’ve, thankfully, had a very wet season but even when it’s not raining it is far to cold and damp to hang washing outside for months at a time. I am blessed with a tumble dryer and cursed with a very active conscience so only use it for the sheets and towels, leaving me with the challenge of naturally drying all of the other items.  They hang from every possible vantage point in the family room and the kitchen and are draped on clothes airers, chairs, tables, seldom-used gym equipment, oven handles and door knobs – frequently taking days to dry and often leaving me red-faced when unexpected visitors drop by.

But today it is mild and sunny. The washing is bouncing around on the clothes line, fresh air floods into the house through all of the open doors and windows and even the teenagers are outside airing themselves – all in all, a very happy state of affairs.

Ma'amoul 1

As the days become longer and warmer I will begin to shed layers of winter clothing and the sins of my immediate past will become all too evident. We all know how popular comfort food is in the colder months and if there’s one thing I’m extra good at it’s comforting myself, particularly by baking. I’ve got quite few regular sources of comfort, but also like to try new ways to slip into the zone and was happy to hunt down some different ideas for the left-over pistachios from my delicious Pistachio Orange Blossom cake. My hunt coincided with Ramadan which inspired my version of a popular cookie taken in the evenings during this time. They are a versatile little treat and can be made with dates, walnuts, almonds and figs – just use this as a guide and go with whatever you have handy. You can substitute the rice flour for more plain flour, but I like the slightly gritty texture the rice flours adds.

Pistachio Ma'amoul

Pistachio and Honey Ma'amoul
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Ingredients
  • 290 gms plain flour
  • 60 gms rice flour
  • 165 gms butter
  • 75 mls cold water
  • 75 gms caster sugar
  • ½ tsp dry yeast
  • 160 gms pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp date syrup
  • 1 Tbsp rose water
  • Extra whole pistachios for decoration
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 220C (425F).
  2. Place flours and butter in a food processor and whizz until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Combine water, sugar and yeast in a separate bowl. Add the flour/butter mixture and combine with your hands. The dough will be quite loose, but that's okay, it will firm up.
  4. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  5. Combine the nuts, date syrup and rosewater in a small bowl. Mix well.
  6. Divide the dough into four, dust benchtop with a little flour and roll each quarter piece of dough into a cylinder about 2-3cm in diameter.
  7. Slice the dough into discs, drop a small amount of the sticky, nut filling into the centre of each disc and pull up the sides to form a ball, then flatten each one slightly.
  8. Decorate with a whole pistachio nut.
  9. Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes, removing when golden in colour.

 

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email

Cake Time! Pistachio Orange Blossom Cake

26/07/2013 | By

It’s been freezing, so I’ve been hunkered down here a bit for the last few weeks and my dear friend Stanley has been cranked to the max. I find the presence of a constantly hot oven generally prompts an insatiable urge for comfort food, and what could be more comforting than cake? While tidying up in a corner of the pantry the other day I stumbled upon a bag of pistachios. Pistachios (apparently a relative of cashews – who knew?) have been grown in the Middle East for many thousands of years – in fact they were said to be growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Their purplish skin and gorgeous green flesh make them one of the prettier nuts around and they are still hugely popular in one of my favourite cuisines – Middle Eastern cooking.

While winter in the Northern Hemisphere might mean a lack of fresh fruit in many areas, that is not the case here in Australia.  We are lucky in this great big land to be able to grow most fresh produce all year round. For most states in Australia, winter means fresh citrus fruit and loads of it. Australia grows some amazing citrus fruit all over the country. At this time of the year we can choose from oranges (Valencias and Navels), lemons, limes, mandarins and grapefruit, and I had a big bag of vibrant, juicy oranges sitting in the kitchen just begging to be treated extra specially. With a nod to the Middle East, it didn’t take me long to think up just one more ingredient to add to take that old family favourite, orange cake, up a notch or two and thus my Pistachio Orange Blossom Cake was born!

Oranges are a perennial favourite as they are rich in fibre, vitamin C and, most importantly, flavor – and adding them to cake is an inspired way to add fruit to the diet. Orange cake is always a crowd-pleaser, but with the simple addition of these special extra ingredients you will have a delicious cake that will be just as at home on the afternoon tea table or the after-dinner table! True to my preferences for keeping things easy, this recipe makes use of an indispensable kitchen appliance, the food processor, making the preparation quick and simple, however the addition of pistachios and orange flower water also make it stylish enough to serve as dessert at your next dinner party.

Pistachio Orange Blossom Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A quick, but classy, cake to whip up for afternoon tea or as a special dessert.
Author:
Recipe type: Cake
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsalted shelled pistachios (approximately 4 ounces, 110 gms)
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp orange blossom water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 100 gms (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 165C (350F).
  2. Butter loaf pan and line bottom with waxed paper.
  3. Using food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground, about 40 seconds. (Do not over process, or mixture will become paste.) Set aside.
  4. In processor, at moderate speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add orange rind, sour cream & vanilla, mixing in. Scrape down.
  6. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and nuts & mix until well combined.
  7. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then run knife around cake to loosen and invert onto rack.
  9. Drizzle with glaze made from icing sugar and the juice of the orange, decorate with candied orange peel and chopped pistachios.

 

Subscribe to Lambs' Ears and Honey

Enter your Email