Saturday, 25 April 2015

Aberdeen Butteries and the Great White Lard Hunt of Brisbane

Lard - rendered pig fat - so hard to come by in sunny Brisbane.  Who knew that this recipe would result in the great white lard hunt?   I strolled down to my local Woolies, whistling a merry tune, (nah, not really) happy in the thought that soon I would be making these fatty little beauties.  But no! not a skerrick of lard to be seen.  I checked out Coles - nope, not a whisker.  I walked into the local deli - huh?  lard? are you joshing?  I racked (and wracked) my brains working out where I could buy some.  I thought of taking a drive to a butcher somewhere - somewhere being the operative word as they are not easily found these days.  I mean real butchers who know how to cut up a carcass and what the cuts of animal are. I grew up living behind a real butcher who had sawdust on the floor and lots of bloody carcasses being dragged into the shop (and he only had a few fingers left!), so I am sadly disappointed these days to find neither blood nor bone:)  So I did what everyone does these days and I turned to good old Google.  And there I read that fellow bloggers like Celia she of the In My Kitchen posts, and Fiona from TiffinBiteSized had also struggled with this epic search.  And guess what! success at last from the IGA store.  Apparently the Allowrie company used to make lard and dripping (lard from pigs, and dripping from cows), but this is now branded as York Foods and hallelujah! you can buy it at the IGA stores.  And yes they are asking everybody to contact Woolies and Coles to ask them to stock it again too.  So quest successful, I could now go ahead and make these quirky Scottish delights.  This recipe is from the delightful book Shetland Food and Cooking, which I have previously reviewed.  So many more recipes to try:)
I love the quote from Marian the author who says: "there are no bad foods, just bad diets".  So true!   I have never been much of a bread lover or maker, so I am not very au fait with yeast cookery, but I have given it a damn good go here, and I was pretty pleased with the result.


bread dough:

250g strong white flour
7g dried instant yeast
5g sugar
175 mls warm water (I just kept sticking my finger in till it felt bearable)

fatty dough:

75g strong white flour
4g salt
5g sugar
75g butter softened (not melted)
60g lard softened (this happened almost instantly as it was a warm day and the lard is very soft anyway)


Place the flour, yeast and sugar in a medium bowl
Give it a stir with your hand
Add the warm water and mix it together with your hands till you have an elastic dough (this will happen very quickly) - no need to knead, but you may need to add a bit of flour to make a nice ball
Put it aside while you make the fatty dough
In a large bowl, place the flour, salt, and sugar and stir it together
Add in the diced butter and the lard and mix with a knife - the author suggests doing it with your hands but as I am not in Scotland, I used a knife as the dough was incredibly soft and melty
Now you are at the fun part -
throw some flour on your work surface
Roll out the bread dough till you have a 1cm thick rectangle
Put blobs of HALF the fatty dough on top of the rectangle
Fold over one third of the bread dough into the centre then fold the other third over the top so you have a fat squishy parcel of buttery, lardy dough
Roll out again to a 1 cm thick rectangle (in sunny Brisbane you can just pat it out with your hands)
Then dot the surface with the blobs of the other half of the fatty dough
Do the one third thing again - i.e. - fold it like a fitted sheet!
Roll out again to about 1 cm thick
Allow to rest for 10 minutes
Divide into 12 pieces (I used a ruler - I know crazy talk)
Place them on a tray coated with flour; squish them out a bit and create 4 dimples in each piece
Cover loosely with oiled cling film and let them prove for 30 minutes
Pre-heat your oven to 225C
Bake the butteries for about 20 mins or till golden
Serve warm

gather your ingredients  

add the luke warm water 

patting the bread dough into an elastic ball 

the bread dough after proving for 10 minutes 

ingredients for the fatty dough  

adding the butter and lard to the flour for the fatty dough  

mixing the butter and lard in with the flour    

patting out the dough  

 blobbing the surface of the bread dough with half  the fatty dough      

folding the doughs into an envelope shape (sort of)

second layer of fatty dough incorporated and the combined doughs rolled out again  

once the second lot of blobs are patted in and rolled out, cut into 12 pieces 

give them some dimples:)  

cover them in oiled cling film for 30 minutes to prove   

bake till golden (these might be a bit too golden)  

enjoy warm out of the oven with a nice cup of tea  

These butteries are flaky and rich, and I think I need to try making them again to get the flakiness just right!  I have a confession here -  the smell of the lard was a wee bit offputting to me though it did not affect the taste.  So folks, if you decide to try making these, do not fear the smelly pig fat, as it disappears into the dough and gives you a delightfully flaky, buttery treat.  I suggest sprinkling on some dried herbs and some sea salt flakes, and perhaps even some grated Parmesan cheese before baking to give it an extra fillip.  But these are not essential, as the buttery is a treat in itself.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Caramel Dumplings

Brrrr it's a wee bit chilly for Brisbane tonight - only 17C and heading for 12C.  Positively Antarctic! And guess what?  I am sitting here with a (light) scarf on.  After 7 months of summer, this is a nice change.  And definitely calls for caramel dumplings for dessert to warm us up. My best friend at school and yes to the present day is The Famous Author (she who writes YA novels and is now moving into Romance). Her parents are Scottish and after nearly 60 years in Oz still have lovely Scottish accents. My first introduction to sweet dumplings was at their house; her mum made delicious Golden Syrup dumplings and also the Scottish classic Clootie dumpling which is a boiled pudding full of dried fruit. My mum on the other hand was a rebel who only made a savoury version with the fluffy little globes swimming over the top of a hearty stew.  She also only made a savoury kind of French toast, slathered in lots of tomato sauce.  Truth to tell, I didn't know that French toast was meant to be sweet with honey or maple syrup poured over it till I left home.  Now I know a good dumpling is a sweet dumpling!  I can claim no kudos for this recipe as it is out of a magazine from some years ago, but I can tell you it is delicious and comforting, and actually very easy to make.  I usually make the dumplings and the sauce well before dinner, and just finish them off in the sweet, brown, glossy sauce just before eating them.  This is where you smother them in bucketloads of thick double cream.


for the dumplings

190g. self-raising flour
pinch of salt
60g. of butter, chilled and cubed
125 mls milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste

for the caramel sauce:

375 mls water
200g. brown sugar
20g. butter
pinch of salt


Place the flour and salt into a medium bowl and stir together
Rub in the butter till the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs
Stir in the milk and vanilla with a large spoon
Give it a final mix with your hands till you have a smooth dough, and form it into walnut sized balls (or golf ball sized if you prefer)

Make the sauce by placing all the ingredients into a frying pan, and turn the heat on high
Let it come to the boil then take off the heat
Place the balls of dough gently into the sauce and let it simmer away on a low heat, covered, for about 20 mins or till cooked
Serve with lots of cream or ice-cream

You can pre-make the dumplings and sauce, and leave them aside till you are ready for dessert. Then go ahead with the final steps, i.e. after bringing the sauce to the boil, place the balls into the pan of hot bubbly sauce, and cook for 20 mins as above.

stirring the flour and salt together  

adding in the butter 

rubbing in the butter  

milk and vanilla going in 

a final stir 

making cute little balls        

so I ended up with 10 sweet little balls!   

making the sauce

sugar goes into the pan of water 

stirring the sauce 

adding the balls to the simmering sauce   

covering them for 20 mins to simmer away   

yep, they're ready!  Well I had to try one to check :) 

it just looks like a lot of cream - honest! :) 

I think Mr Pickings will insist that I make these again before the autumn/winter season ends.  Though I am not sure we will have much of a winter this year as it will be back to 26C on Friday!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Liebster Award

Mmm it seems the Liebster award can be a wee bit controversial, contentious even - how fascinating, who knew?  I had only recently heard of this award thanks to Rachel from Rachel's Kitchen NZ (sorry Rachel for my slackness in getting to this) and very recently to Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures.

It seems the rules have metamorphosed over time; that you can ask several questions or ten; invite anything from 3 to 11 other bloggers to get involved, or just ignore the whole thing altogether!        
Apparently it can be seen as an annoying chain letter, giving nervous people a shiver down their spine in case they keel over angst-ridden through the terrible wrenching decision whether to reply or not.  Also in case the God of chain letters decides to smite them with his/her mighty sword due to non-response.  My tardy lack of attention is due to sheer slackness (and a little bit of ill-health).  So I decided to jump in with my answers, and because I didn't get around to answering Rachel's questions earlier, I will astonish and overwhelm you with answers to both Rachel and Fiona! :))

Here we have Fiona's questions:

Everyone has had a kitchen nightmare. Tell us about one of yours.
Hosting Christmas lunch one day and cooking a roast chicken meal with the lot.  Taking it out of the oven, placing it on the sloping kitchen bench and having the whole dish slide elegantly to the floor, dumping our lunch all over the place. I rescued it, blew off the dirt and carried on.  Nobody knew!  Oh yes I think that was the same Christmas that we were given bottles of rum, vodka, whiskey etc as presents.  We went out for a bit leaving the lounge room window open, and came home to an empty sideboard.  They had stolen the lot!

Sweet or Salty?  Salty - not that my friends and family would believe that as I am known as a bit of a dessert queen and chocomaniac but it is true!

What do you think about kale, macarons, salted caramel and pork belly? Are they all they are cracked up to be?   Eek to all of those.  Sorry folks I don't like any of them!  That's not to say I won't eat them; I eat whatever is put in front of me (we were brought up in the days of - if you don't eat it now you get it for breakfast) but I would not choose these items of my own free will.  Give the kale to the cows or sheep I say!

File:A cow with an itch - - 821901.jpg
(author Evelyn Simak-public domain)

What’s on the menu on Sunday nights?   baked beans on toast or boiled eggs; basically anything DIY.

File:Egg spiral egg cup.jpg
(author Marie-Lan Nguyen public domain)   

What ingredient are you mad for at the moment and can’t get enough of to eat or cook with?  my home-grown and preserved olives.
What was the first dish you learned to cook?  bechamel or white sauce as we knew it:)  (is that a dish?) and roast dinners.

If you were teaching a new cook, what would be the first dish you would teach them?  white sauce!  You can learn a lot from that, like not being scared of trying to make something that many people say is difficult - folks it ain't hard to make!

What’s the best meal you’ve enjoyed in the past year?  an early dinner at a good friend's place with lovely friends and wonderful, simple, tasty food.

Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith or Maggie Beer?  Nigella for sure though I do adore Delia and Maggie but I have pawed over more recipes and made more dishes from Nigella's books than any other.

Old or new, big or small, what’s your favourite kitchen tool, implement or appliance?  oh no so many - how to choose?   my cook's knife, my food processor, my Champagne cork puller, my silicone spatula, my citrus squeezer, my measuring spoons and cups - oh ok a great knife is essential so that one:)  but I forgot my whisk, and my olive spoon and my Laguiole knife and ...

Okay now we turn our minds to Rachel's questions:

Sweet or Savoury?  savoury

Beach or Snow?  snow

Most memorable meal – where, when and what was the occasion (if you can tell)?  so many of these but a really wondrous meal was breakfast in Yosemite National Park after starving the night before due to not having any evening wear as this was obligatory at dinner (in a National Park?!)  We sat looking out at sequoia trees, eating bacon and eggs with maple syrup and inhaling coffee.

A childhood food memory?  eating tinned quinces or rather not eating them and getting them for breakfast the next day

Quince muraba.jpg
(author - public domain)  

Apart from the essentials what is your favourite piece of kitchen equipment or gadget?  my cute citrus squeezer.

I have a bigger orange one too but it only fits lemons really:)  

Your favourite novel?  Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Your favourite cookbook or books – if you have more than one?  Feast by Nigella Lawson

Your favourite ingredient?  lemon juice

Your least favourite food?  Weeds i.e. rocket, lettuce, sprouts, anything green and leafy and weedy

What piece of equipment or gadget do you have in your kitchen that you never use?  the Corkcicle -though I have just had a look at the box now and it actually sounds really useful.  I may have to try it!

So there you have it; now you know a leeetle bit more about me, like it or not:)  

And here we have 10 questions for my chosen victims:

1. Who living or dead would you share your last meal with?
2. What would you eat for your last supper?
3. What sort of food do you cook/eat the most?
4. Fave author?
5. Fave cookbook author?
6. What was your mum's best dish?
7. Your mum's worst dish?
8. Your dad's best (or worst) dish?
9. What is the weirdest place you have eaten a meal?
10. And finally the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Victims (hhrrrmmph I mean chosen ones!) :

1. Anu from Easy Bites Online
2. Jem from Lost in Utensils
3. Dee from OnTheMove-in the Galley

So go to it ladies, but only if you wish.  Just answer these questions, make up some more of your own and pass it on (or not!) to as many or as few fellow bloggers as you wish.  Otherwise, happily ignore the whole shebang!  I don't think the God of chain-letters has sharpened his/her sword lately. :)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Willow & Spoon - cafe review

Easter was busy and full of food, fun and family and need I say heaps of chocolate.  We had a nephew up from Canberra, a sister down from far North Queensland, and a family friend up from Tasmania, along with the usual suspects.  Sis-in-law who lives in Buderim invited everybody up for an Easter roast lamb, plus a squillion desserts and chocolate eggs.  We staggered home that night after a walk at the beach, to dive into bed dinnerless suffering a chocolate coma.  Monday meant more food and chocolate.  Tuesday dawned and we decided to hit a local cafe that I had wanted to try for a while. As if we needed to eat again!, but brunch was calling so we headed down to Willow & Spoon for a feed. This cafe moved last July to a new location, on a fairly busy road in the inner northern suburbs.  This might make you think - oh dear, noise, traffic, eek!  but no, there is a big backyard that has a lovely atmosphere.  It almost feels like you are sitting in a friend's place, ready for a BBQ.  Four of us wandered down there, before the lad from Canberra headed to the airport for his trip home.  (We think he is a spy, but he ain't saying.)

this greets you at the front counter - they read my mind

the menu is attached to a vinyl record   (Simon Gallaher tee hee) 

Mr Pickings waiting to order - look at the gorgeous flower-covered tree to the left   

this curtain is so fabulous; hiding a multitude of sins perhaps?  (joke)

such a pretty blue cup for the leaf tea  $4   

yay coffee!  need coffee!  $3.90 

The Amigo  $25  (smashed avocado extra $3) 

another view of the Amigo    

Amaize  $17.50   (bacon extra $5)  

Sorry folks that I have no other photos as my 3 fellow diners chose the same dish!  Very thoughtless of their food blogger relative :)  Anyway, I can tell you we all enjoyed our meals though I have to say the sweet potato foam (huh?) overpowered the zucchini and corn fritters to the extent that I could really only taste sweet potato.  And even though I love sweet things, this was way too sweet for me as a breakfast dish.  I am a bit stunned about the price of the Amigo come to think of it - $25 for basically eggs and bacon and a few bits and bobs.  Maybe it's just me (and Mr Pickings), but when are cafes and restaurants going to dump the whole wooden serving board idea?  I just want a proper plate! Vegans, vegos, and gluten nay-sayers are all looked after here.  Staff are friendly and you sit in quirky surrounds.  They have won awards the last couple of years for Best Cafe so are obviously doing something right.  Well worth a wander down:)

this is a bit scary actually! - just at the front of the cafe 

looking in from the footpath  

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