Month: April 2016

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Sweet Chilli Sauce

When I’m planting my vegetable and herb gardens I try as much as possible to companion plant. Not because I’m a particular expert when it comes to companion planting, or because I have any great skill at it, but mostly because I’m a bit space […]

Fruit Loaf

Fruit Loaf

Feijoa (fee-joe-a) seem to fall in to one of three categories – LOVE them, hate them, or never heard of them. An English friend recently told me she thought they had an ‘astringent quality’ and that she couldn’t understand the Kiwi obsession with these little […]

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Its not really that cold here yet – we haven’t even thought about lighting the fire, and the heat pump only gets put on first thing in the morning just to take the chill off – and yet my mind, and stomach, already seem to be focussed on warm, comforting, winter meals. Theres nothing quite like the comfort of a nourishing winter meal that warms you from the inside-out. Rich, delicious, hearty and wholesome soups, stews, curries, and crock-pot meals are occupying my thoughts and dictating my shopping, and writing. So theres nothing for it but to give in.

Last night we had the most delicious creamy mushroom soup for dinner. I love an uncomplicated, soup that screams of its main ingredient. This soup is basically just mushrooms. And mushrooms. And mushrooms, with a little bit of stock and a touch of cream to finish.

IMG_0003.JPGAnd its divine. Rich, earthy and satisfying we lapped it up with crusty ciabatta. My husband went back for a third bowl so it must have been a success.

IMG_0025.jpgI love to cook soup. Soup can be so quick to prepare it makes a wonderfully easy lunch or dinner on a cold day, but their flavour also improves with rest so they’re a great meal to prepare over the weekend and reheat for a really quick dinner during the week.

IMG_0039.JPGI like to start all my soups with a good flavour base of sautéed onion, garlic and leek. Sometimes I add carrot depending on what soup I am making. For a cream soup like this one, I prefer to make a roux and add stock to create a veloute, rather than using milk or thickening with potato. The veloute gives the soup a wonderfully creamy texture without making it too heavy, and allows the main ingredients to really shine through. It certainly worked with this delicious creamy mushroom soup – I’m heating up the leftovers for my lunch and I can’t wait! Bring on winter!

Creamy Mushroom Soup

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Ingredients
  • 750g mushrooms, sliced. See notes.
  • 25g butter + 50g butter
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock, warmed (substitute for vegetable or mushroom stock to make this soup vegetarian)
  • ⅓ cup cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Melt the 25g of butter in a large stockpot and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook gently, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked, have released their water and reabsorbed most of the liquid. Remove from the pot and set aside in a large bowl. Note: while I enjoy this soup smooth and creamy, I also like to have a few chucks of mushroom as well. To do this set aside approximately 1 cup of the cooked mushrooms in a separate bowl to be added after the soup has been pureed.Mushrooms
  2. Melt the 50g of butter in the same pot. Add the onion, leek and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes until the onion and leek are very soft. Sprinkle on the thyme leaves and cook for another minute.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and sprinkle over the flour. Cook the mixture for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to stop the flour catching on the bottom of the pan. Add half a cup of the warmed stock, stirring all the time. The flour will quickly absorb the first addition of stock and the mixture will look very gluey.Mushroom soup
  4. Add the rest of the stock, half a cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Once all the stock is added, return the large bowl of mushrooms to the pot, including any liquid that has formed in the bowl. Bring to an almost boil and let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes.Mushroom soup
  5. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a metal (heat resistant) stick blender, puree the soup until smooth and creamy, or to the consistency you prefer. If you don't have a stick blender, you can use a food processor to puree the soup. To do this, allow the soup to cool for at least 30 minutes, then spoon it into the food processor and process until smooth. You will most likely need to do this in batches. Be very careful because the soup will still be quite warm.
  6. Once the soup is smooth, add the extra reserved mushrooms (if using) and pour in the cream. Stir to combine and return the soup to the heat to warm through. Serve with a swirl of cream or dollop of sour cream and your favourite crusty bread for dunking.
Notes
For this soup I used a combination of white button and brown field mushrooms. Field mushrooms are very flavoursome but can make the end result very dark so I balanced them out with the button mushrooms. Dried mushrooms would also work well - if you do use them be sure to soak them in hot water for at least 30 minutes before using. Retain the soaking liquid and use in place of the stock for an even richer mushroom flavour.

Lamb Kofta Curry

Lamb Kofta Curry

In the hope of injecting a little bit of control into our otherwise out of control evenings, we try to plan a menu for each pay fortnight which we write down on a little whiteboard and keep on the fridge. This helps us be slightly more […]

The finest Pork Belly

The finest Pork Belly

I didn’t intend to write this post. I didn’t take any pictures of the preparation of this pork belly or any of the way we served it for dinner. But I hope carnivorous foodies everywhere will understand why I just had to do this post. There is […]

Lime Coconut Sponge Cake

Lime Coconut Sponge Cake

This lime coconut sponge cake is truly superb. Packed full of tart lime flavour, and moist and creamy with yoghurt. Better yet, its made in one bowl and in the oven in 10 minutes flat! If you love sweet citrus desserts, you’ve got to give this one a go!

Something exciting is happening. My citrus grove is flourishing.

I say grove, but its really just three trees – one lemon, one lime and one mandarin. They’ve been in the ground a little under 18 months but the lemon and lime in particular are growing in to beautiful, healthy looking trees. And the lime tree is laden with gorgeous plump juicy fruit.

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I have a real thing for citrus trees. I always have to have them in my garden and I never feel quite at home without them. For years when living in rented homes and flatting with friends I kept them in pots, usually only lemons, and with limited success. In our previous house I had a lemon and a kaffir lime – the lemon was a miniature and in the nearly 10 years we lived there, it never really fruited worth mentioning.

But in this house, its a completely different story! We purchased the house from a couple who were avid gardeners and they must have left behind some really good garden mojo because almost everything that goes in the ground here thrives. I planted my little row of citrus within a few months of us moving in, and the trees have just gone from strength to strength.

It should be no surprise then that I’m doing a fair bit of cooking with limes these days. This lime coconut sponge cake is an adaptation from my mothers lemon-yoghurt cake recipe and it makes a beautifully light, moist sponge that absolutely zings with citrus flavours.

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This lime coconut sponge is a wonderfully easy cake to put together and bakes beautifully. Spectacular served with a dollop of yoghurt on the side for afternoon tea, or served gently warmed as a wonderful dessert. I can’t think of a better way to show off my amazing citrus harvest.

Yum

Lime Coconut Sponge Cake

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

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Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp lime zest, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
  • 1 cup bland oil, such as canola
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened yoghurt
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

    For the icing:
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • enough hot water to make a thin paste
  • extra lime zest and shredded coconut to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Bake. Line and grease a 22cm cake tin.
  2. Place zest, oil, eggs, and sugar into a bowl and, using an electric beater, beat for 3-4 minutes until thick and creamy. Note, if you don't have an electric beater you can use a food processor for this as well.
  3. Add the salt, yoghurt and lime juice and beat again for another minute. Stir in the coconut. Note: if using long-thread shredded coconut, chop it roughly before adding to the cake so the strands aren't too long.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. The mixture will be very runny.
  5. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely before icing.
  6. To make the icing, combine the icing sugar, melted butter and lime juice in a bowl. Add enough hot water, 1 tsp at a time, to form a thin paste, about the same consistency as pouring custard. Spread or pour over the cake, sprinkle with the extra lime zest and coconut and allow to set.
  7. Serve with a side of yoghurt or whipped cream and a nice cup of tea.

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Two Liebster awards!!!

Two Liebster awards!!!

In my previous post I wrote about how little time I’d had lately to dedicate to my blog. Well while I was preoccupied elsewhere, I was lucky enough to be honoured by not one, but two fellow bloggers with two Liebster award nominations!

Slow cooker sausages with tomato and herbs

Slow cooker sausages with tomato and herbs

Life has been action packed lately. Its been all go around here. With limited available time our dinners have needed to be easy and involve as little prep-work as possible. Enter the slow-cooker. I do love my slow cooker but don’t make nearly as much use of […]