seasonal cooking July/August

Not particularly pretty cooking, but tasty none the less this month. I’ve been playing with a few new ingredients lately which is always good. Also trying to jazz up a few of the regulars as well.

The ever reliable apple crumble with a pastry base to give it a bit of a twinkle. Lemon zest in the pastry, raw sugar and a pinch of coriander cooked in with the apple and a dash of vanilla in with the crumble topping.

Chinese Cabbage is getting a look in. This is a variation of my standard winter salad. Chinese cabbage, pecans or walnuts, apple and what ever else is looking good at the time.

Lemons are plentiful at the moment. Whispering words such as pie…pie…pie to me. It doesn’t matter what kind of pie. As long as it involves lemons and pastry somewhere within. This particular pie had potato flour in it as a thickening agent. Different for me, and I have to say… I quite liked it.

Swiss brown mushrooms, on swiss cheese, on sourdough. My favourite lunch at the moment. Not Mr Chocolate’s favourite lunch, although he does assure me he loves mushrooms. Loves them so much he only wants one or two a month.

I’m not sure it’s quite the same love we have for them.

And my little truffle…

High hopes and grand plans little fella. You live and you learn and all that. Next time, I’ll either buy a bigger one, or use it a lot quicker than which I did. Delicious yes, but I think some of its oomph was lost in between the buying and eating time.

Still tasty though, eaten with some wilted greens, scrambled eggs, sourdough, and a side of Mr Chocolate’s favourite mushrooms. Then again with a little softly cooked egg and shallots. The third egg I cooked was the best, (unfortunately not the one pictured.) The subtlety of the softly cooked egg with the generously grated truffle was quite delicious.

 

So what else is in season round these parts in the winter months?

blood oranges– the very small window of opportunity is now open. I’m thinking a blood orange cake

rhubarb– I’m just waiting for the right bunch to come along and a rhubarb extravaganza is planned….but it has to be the right bunch.

potatoes– leek and potato soup for cool nights

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What seasonal cooking are you doing at the moment?

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Hobart how I’ve missed you so

Tasmania.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice… actually I might have said it three or four times already. Fifth time?

Tasmania, I love you a lot!

This trip was just a quick one. A conference for me and the baby girl. Hitting the town for Mr Chocolate and The Monkeys.

From the conference, I came away inspired by a wonderful bunch of strong and beautiful women. Seeds have been planted and now I just need to tend to them and hopefully watch them grow.

I also came back with some delicious goodies to be played with. Fudge and walnuts from the farmers markets. Some lovely locally grown spelt, which I’m excited to being playing with. And… a truffle. The smallest truffle in the glass jar. After walking very, very fast (before it closed) to get to the little shop under the stairs where I had first smelt them last year, I got one. Seven grams of black fungus, that I’m still trying to work out exactly what it smells like. Earth, death, and sex they say. It’s a smell that I have trouble likening it to anything else I’ve ever smelt.

So what shall I cook it with?

I’m thinking a truffle sourdough, and perhaps a few truffled eggs to go with it. I’m a little unsure of how to go about the bread though. Shave it, grate it, when to put it in? Would the flavours be lost?

Planning what to do with it though, that’s half the fun isn’t it?

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If you have any wonderful truffle ideas, please tell.

Once upon a time in Chocolate Land…..

Once upon a time in a far off land. There lived two bad tempered chocolatiers who try as they might just couldn’t seem to get the hang of tempering chocolate. The first chocolatier had a go at making chocolates for Christmas one year. Lovingly done, creatively produced, and beautifully presented. But little did she know that chocolate wasn’t meant to be just re-melted and added ingredients to if you wanted a consumable product. How they all laughed when her proud presentation of chocolate was unwrapped and before her very eyes the chocolate turned to powder. You see ‘temper’ wasn’t a word that was heard of much in their Kingdom of Chocolate.  Despite mass consumption of it. That was a lesson learnt very quickly by Chocolatier 1.

Then came along chocolatier 2. In his fancy apron, wild ambition, and chocolate making course voucher he spent a lovely afternoon learning from the best. How proud he was as he brought home the glossy, beautifully tempered chocolates. Tasting of honesty, truth and happiness, the two chocolatiers vowed that between the two of them that they would conquer the chocolate tempering dragon. Owning it, as they rightfully thought they should be.

With wild ideas, and more than a few fancy books, they embarked on the mission. Only to be met with frustration, disappointment, apathy, and frowning faces. What are we doing wrong? They said to them selves. Is it the chocolate? Is it the utensils? Is it the method?

Is it us?…

Just at that sorrowful point when they were thinking a tempering machine via the surrounding kingdom of E-bay was sounding pretty enticing, a hand reached out….

A hand of an angel.

The hand of Matcha Chocolate. She had heard their whispered tones of disappointment, their various comments of rue and decided that she would help the little ones. Help them with a long instruction list.

Throwing caution to the wind they embarked again. They eyed off the instructions, and chocolate bowls at the same time. They closed their eyes, crossed their fingers and dipped them in… streaky. Streaky chocolate. Which could only mean one thing, untempered. They seemed so close. There was the snap, it tasted good, the flavours were working, but still it came down to the tell all streak.

Sighing between themselves. They shook their heads, and silently packed away their tools. With whispers of another day… maybe we are only meant for consumption and not production? They took consolation in the loving arms of Whittakers. They knew there would be another day for a rematch, but who knew when that day would be?

One hundred years passed in the Land of Chocolate, and Chocolatier 1 was getting a little anxious. She still felt the weight of not being able to make tempered chocolate. Wringing her hands together, she whispered to Chocolatier 2 that she thought tonight was the night, tonight was the night they would redeem themselves…hopefully.

They side tracked the elves, and got busy. With Matcha Chocolate’s instructions firm in hand again they commenced. It was a full 5 degrees warmer in the little kitchen then the last few times they had tried. Thinking that this could well have been the downfall of them last time, they were hopeful. With bowls full, spoons stirring and molds awaiting. They worked through the night. The elves grew tired and took themselves to bed, the Chocolatiers worked on. With chocolate drying on every surface, as the sun rose and spread it’s sunny fingers over the land, a bleary eyed Chocolatier stumbled to the kitchen. Before her lay a chocolate. Chocolate that looked glossy, had a snap, and not a streak to be seen. Sure it was a little sloppy looking but the Chocolatier had given up trying to be dainty with the last lot of chocolate coated truffles they had made many moons ago.

They had done it!

They had tempered! Hooray! With a spring in their Chocolatier boots and a quick wipe of their dirty chocolatey mouths, they hi-fived themselves…and they lived happily ever after.

1/ Picture one is of properly tempered chai slab.

2/ Assorted ‘streaky’ truffles. Chai, Rum and Raisin, Chilli, Orange flavours.

3/ Streaky chai truffle.

4/ Tempered Rose Apple and Strawberry, (albeit a little sloppy.)