The Quince Mums

It’s winter in Perth and every once in a while you come across some quince at the beginning of the season.

I’ve always liked the look of quince because they are unusual. I find their fragrance and smooth, golden yellow skin attractive. My only issue with them is that they can’t be eaten raw…. but once cooked, you’re rewarded with a deeper flavour and a golden pink colour.

Quince

Quince

I look at the quince with new found respect…. its tough, bitter skin and bland looking chalky flesh when cut, transforms into something so beautiful when cooked. Being the petroleum engineer for a major gas producing field and mum to an active toddler, I’ve come to realise that the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are either superhuman, rich, or self-employed. They’ve had to develop the tough bitter exterior of the quince but somehow manage to be fragrant and sweet under pressure for their kids…..I call them the “Quince Mums”.

When faced with quince…..Of course, as the “Chief Ice Creamer” at Chez Erebi, I decided to make a quince sorbet. It was the easiest thing I could think of, considering how little time I have these days to mock about in the kitchen.

It turned out truly nice…. the texture, the taste, the fragrance, the crisp but not tart mouth feel…. absolutely gorgeous.

I served it in wine glasses and drizzled a bit of Danish apple brandy. The apple brandy worked well because quince and apples are cousins…. fancy that!

Quince Sorbet

Quince Sorbet with Danish Apple Brandy

Quince Sorbet with Danish Apple Brandy

1 kg Quince Flesh (peeled, cored and quartered)

300g Caster Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1 tbsp Corn Syrup

Method: Place the chopped quince into a pressure cooker and cook for ~10-15 mins. It should be tender and easily mashed with a ladle. Mix the mashed quince with the sugar and vanilla and corn syrup, and stir to combine. The mixture should be soft and pulpy.

Quince - cooked in a pressure cooker

Quince – cooked in a pressure cooker

Churn in an ice cream machine.

Churning my quince sorbet

Churning my quince sorbet

Alternatively, pour the mixture into a shallow container and place in freezer until frozen at the edges, then remove and beat with an electric beater. Pour back into the container and refreeze. Repeat 2 or 3 times. Serve a scoop of sorbet in each dish, and pour over a tablespoon of Calvados or any other apple brandy.

 

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Anzac Cookies Ice Cream Sandwich

It’s Summer time in Perth, we’ve had soaring temperatures in the late 30s degree C and the forecast for the coming days are Hot, Hot, Hot….

I’ve made two batches of ice cream and one batch of Anzac cookies but haven’t had time to do anything creative with them. The only thing I could think of was this Anzac Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich.

Anzac Cookie Sandwich

Anzac Cookie Sandwich

Two quotes come to mind:

Cookies are made of butter and love. ~Norwegian Proverb

Ice cream is happiness condensed. ~Jessi Lane Adams

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The ingredients for gnocchi are very simple….. potatoes and flour. One might choose to add eggs to help bind the dough or Parmesan cheese for flavour.  Gnocchi is not actually a pasta but a dumpling but somehow or the other it is classed as pasta. As you might have guessed, because I take my cooking equipment seriously, I bought a gnocchi board to make sure that I got the trademark gnocchi indentation right. Normal people use a fork to make the indentations but then again….. 😉

Gnocchi Board used for my Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi Board used for my Sweet Potato Gnocchi

There are a lot of variations of gnocchi depending on the amount and type of ingredients but I wont go down the “rabbit hole” of describing and/or categorising gnocchi. Suffice to say that I made my own variation of potato gnocchi….. my Sweet Potato Gnocchi.  Many potato gnocchi recipes use boiled potatoes but this recipe uses baked sweet potatoes because sweet potatoes have a high water content and the the boiling process increases the moisture content of the potatoes, rendering the dough sticky and unworkable. The baked sweet potatoes have a fluffy and drier texture such that the main source of moisture is from the eggs added to the dough.

I served my sweet potato gnocchi with a creamy sun dried tomato sauce and a side serving of spinach and prawns. I haven’t included the recipe for the sauce and side but I’m happy to post it, if you as nicely 0)

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce and Spinch with Prawns

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce and Spinch with Prawns

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1.5kg Sweet Potato

2-3 cups Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

2 Eggs, beaten

Method: Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and bake the potatoes for an hour. It should easily be pierced with a fork. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly and peel away the skin. Add two and a half cups of flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg to the peeled potato in a bowl and mix through. Add the beaten eggs and using your fingers, mix the dough until it comes together and is slightly sticky.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi dough.... slightly sticky

Sweet Potato Gnocchi dough…. slightly sticky

Using the remaining flour, lightly flour a work surface. Knead the dough on the surface. If the dough is too sticky, add  about 1 tbsp of four at a time while kneading until it is moist but not wet and sticky.

Rolled Sweet Potato Dough

Rolled Sweet Potato Dough

Roll the dough into a log and cut into 4-5 pieces. Then roll each piece into a rope about the diameter of your index finger. Cut into one inch segments and then press each segment on the floured gnocchi board to give the characteristic shape. Place on a floured tray.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil over medium heat. Add one-quarter of gnocchi (drop onto base of pan in a single layer, but don’t overcrowd as they can stick together) and cook for 3 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to drain and transfer to a bowl. Cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining gnocchi.

 

 

 

 

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Banana Bread….. Is a cake!

I’ve often disputed the naming of banana bread because most of the recipes out there produce moist cake-like loaves. It is more like a cake than bread because there is no yeast in the recipe but then again it may be considered bread because it is normally eaten sliced, toasted with a liberal spreading of butter… with a cup of hot beverage.

I prefer my banana bread served hot with ice cream and chocolate hazelnut (Nutella).

Erebi's Banana Bread served with Vanilla Ice Cream and a dollop of Chocolate Hazelnut

Erebi’s Banana Bread served with Vanilla Ice Cream and a dollop of Chocolate Hazelnut

A bit of trivia….. National Banana Bread day is the 23rd of February. Just in case you were looking for something to celebrate….

The best banana bread recipes I’ve found so far is from Donna Hay Magazine but before that I used Betty Crocker’s recipe. I think the Donna Hay recipe works very well because of the golden syrup, which produces a moist yet, not too dense banana bread.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

125g butter, softened

1 cup (175g) brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups mashed banana

1¾ cups (255g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

â…“ cup (115g) golden syrup

butter, extra, to serve

Making Banana Bread

Making Banana Bread

Method: Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for 8–10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the eggs and beat well to combine. Add the banana, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and golden syrup and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into a 26cm x 11cm (2.5 litre-capacity) lightly greased loaf tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 60–65 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve with the extra butter. Serves 6–8.

 

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The Moon, Your Eye and A Big Pizza Pie …….. That’s Amore

It’s been months and months since my last blog….. in that time, I became a mother. All I can say is that it’s been the most amazing journey so far……. When she was born and my daughter’s “moon shaped” eyes hit my eyes like a “big pizza pie”, it was instant Amore.

I don’t know what the next chapter of my food adventures will look like… I am excited at the prospect of sharing it with my bundle of joy. Here’s hoping she’s a foodie, willing to try out anything. Until then,  here’s my Amore Pizza, adapted from Betty Crocker’s recipe

Amore Pizza

Amore Pizza

Amore Pizza

3 Cups Flour

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

2 Tsp Dry Yeast

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup Hot Water

6 Tbsp Tomato Ragu

2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella

500g Raw Tiger Prawns

Sliced Pepperoni

Some pizza ingredients

Some pizza ingredients

Method: Mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add the olive oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 200°C. Spray 30cm pizza pan with cooking spray. Roll out dough; place in pan. Starting at center, press out dough with hands to edge of pan.

Rolled out

Rolled out

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until very light golden brown.

Spoon tomato ragu over the pizza base and sprinkle with the cheese.

Tomato ragu on pizza base

Tomato ragu on pizza base

Top with the remaining ingredients.

Topped with mozzarella, prawns and peperoni

Topped with mozzarella, prawns and peperoni

Bake for 15 mins, until cheese is bubbly.

 

 

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Lest We Forget…….

Today is ANZAC day…. A day when Australians and New Zealanders of all walks of life pay their respects to those Australian and New Zealand forces who fought during the First World War (the first major military action) and all other major conflicts to date.

ANZAC_pictures

Today I choose to remember those who fought in the Biafran war (6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970). The war resonates with me because I am from the Niger Delta, a part of South Eastern Nigeria that attempted to secede. Also, there were a lot of food issues during the war and the images of the war seen by the rest of the world were footage of starving children. As a foodie, I don’t subscribe to the use of food as a weapon of war.

Starving Children of Biafra

Starving Children of Biafra

I sympathise with the Biafrans because the war was doomed right from the start; the Biafrans were the under dogs. The odds against the Republic of Biafra were overwhelming because they had little or no international support and no supplies of arms and ammunition but they were innovative in making their own arms ( e.g. the feared Ogbunigwe) and refining their own fuel. The Biafran war resulted in the death of over 1 million civilians from famine and fighting. The war was notorious for the starvation of some of the besieged regions due to the Nigerian blockade during the war, and consequent claims of genocide by the largely Igbo people of the region. There is no legitimate reason for starving innocent people. For a personal narrative on the war, I recommend reading Chinua Achebe’s recent book, There Was A Country. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/aug/04/there-was-country-chinua-achebe-review)

Speaking of the Igbo people, their most important crop is the yam; festivals are held annually to celebrate it’s harvesting. Egusi (melon seeds) is very popular amongst the Igbo people. So, this Anzac day, I dedicate my recent meal of Pounded Yam and Seafood Egusi Soup to the Biafrans and the freedom they fought for.

Seafood Egusi Soup with Pounded Yam

Seafood Egusi Soup with Pounded Yam

Lest we forget………..

 

Egusi Soup

Seafood Egusi Soup

Seafood Egusi Soup

½ cup Palm Oil

1 Fresh Chilli (chopped)

¼ cup Dried Cray Fish

1 cup Ground Egusi (Melon seeds)

I pack (~200g) Frozen Spinach (thawed)

1-2 Fillet Smoked Cod (Chopped up)

15 Pieces King Prawns

4 Salmon Steaks

½ cup of Vegetable stock

Salt (to taste)

Method: Heat the palm oil until smoking. Add the chilli and allow to sauté. Add the dried crayfish and cook for 2 mins. Add the egusi and allow to cook for 5-7 mins, stirring continuously. Add the spinach, allow to cook for 5 mins, then add the seafood and stock. Cover and allow to simmer for 10 mins. If the soup is too thick , add a bit more stock.

Serve with pounded yam.

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