Monday, 24 March 2014

chestnut cupcakes with chestnut butter cream

chestnut cupcakes with chestnut butter cream
tea with hazel
makes 12


chestnut cupcakes

3 large eggs
125 gms castor sugar
150 gms almond meal
300 gms unsweetened chestnut puree
3/4 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence (i used my own)

chestnut butter cream

65 gms butter
3-4 tablespoons (tbs) chestnut puree
pure icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (i used my own)


finely shaved dark chocolate



~ beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy
~ add chestnut puree, almond meal, baking powder and vanilla essence and mix until incorporated
~ pour the mix into a jug and divide mix between 12 hole paper case lined muffin tin
~ bake at 180 deg c for 30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer
~ remove the cupcakes from tin to cool on a cooling rack

chestnut butter cream

~ beat the butter and chestnut puree until smooth
~ add vanilla and enough icing sugar to make a smooth, thick, mix

cupcake assembly

~ remove a 2 cm circle by 2 cm deep piece of cake from the centre of each cupcake
~ fill the cavity with a large teaspoon of chestnut butter cream
~ dust with chocolate

the cup, plate and vase are all recent op shop finds
the teapot is a recent purchase from a second hand shop in castlemaine
i bought it to join identical red, blue and orange op shop purchased teapots
i'd love to find yellow, brown, black and white ones to match

Thursday, 20 March 2014

dried fig and chestnut sourdough

it's the autumnal equinox
crisp leaves flutter along gutters
crackling indecipherable whispers
the tick tock of the seasonal clock gently pulsates
and the big hand softly softly guides
the precious orb we call home through celestial space

last autumn i made a similar loaf but this time i added chestnut honey as well as chestnut flour to the dough and instead of incorporating the figs throughout the dough i made a filling of unsweetened chestnut puree, dried figs and chestnut honey and i spread this on the rolled out dough..i wanted a versatile bread so i purposely didn't make it very sweet

fig and chestnut sourdough
tea with hazel



1 large tablespoon (tbs) active starter
100 gms organic bread flour
125 gms filtered water


8-10 organic figs cut small
2-3 tbs unsweetened chestnut puree
1-2 tbs organic chestnut honey


250 gms levain
250 gms organic bread flour
100 gms wholemeal biodynamic flour
50 gms chestnut flour
1 tbs organic chestnut honey
1 1/2 tbs crushed murray river salt (less if using conventional table salt)
filtered water



~ mix all ingredients, cover, and leave for 12-14 hours


~ place the figs, chestnut puree and honey in the bowl of a food processor and pulse the mixture briefly without pureeing the figs and until the mixture just forms a cohesive paste


~ place levain, flours and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix adding enough filtered water to make a shaggy dough
~ autolyse for 20 minutes
~ add salt, mix briefly, rest for 5 minutes, then mix again for about 30 seconds
~ remove bowl from stand mixer, cover the dough with oiled cling film, and leave to prove until doubled
~ remove the dough to a lightly flour dusted bench, divide in two, and do two stretch and fold cycles with a 5-10 minute rest intervals
~ roll each piece of dough into an oblong and spread the dough with the filling leaving 2 cm borders free of filling
~  roll the dough and pinch seams closed
~ dust with flour and place seam side up in flour dusted bannetons
~ cover loosely with cling film and leave for 2-3 hours to prove or until a finger pressed into the dough leaves an impression
~ invert the dough onto a wooden peel, slash, slide onto baking surface (i use a cast iron plate) and bake with steam at 250 deg c for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 215 deg c and bake for a further 20 minutes or until cooked

san daniele proscuitto, holy goat brigid's well 
and dried fig and chestnut sourdough

gone are the hot days of summer..mornings are dewy and cloudy skies tantalising with a promise of rain..i'm happy..very happy..x

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

a tussie mussie for sylvia

had her 90th birthday on saturday
she had dinner with a group of friends that evening
and the next day her daughter took her to shepparton to visit sylvia's sister
 back to work on monday at the local opportunity shop
wearing a dress and lipstick
what a woman!

lemon verbena, carnations, rose buds, tiny apple and leaves, cumquat and leaves, lovage seed head,
lemon balm, lavender, mint flowers and leaves, rose geranium, erigeron and marigold 

long may you wave sylvia


Monday, 10 March 2014

blackberry season

i find it surprising that greek people don't eat blackberries*..they eat dandelions, frogs, snails, intestines..but not blackberries? and they don't eat mushrooms either*! i made a blackberry pie one autumn in edessa for eleftheria my landlady to try..she tasted it suspiciously and reported liking it but she never wanted to go foraging with me and she never accepted any on offer either..

i love them though and last week i was lucky enough to have a foraging day with my daughter alexandra..we didn't get many and the ones we did find were crunchy with seeds and a little past their best flavourwise..

my preserves cupboard is groaning with jam so i didn't want to make jam or jelly with them..instead i made an almond and blackberry cake and meringue nests filled with blackberry puree and cream and garnished with fig leaf dust** and blackberry syrup..that's it for this year's blackberries unfortunately..i had planned to go again with a friend but a daughter's wedding is taking priority over blackberries this year!

almond and blackberry cake
meringue nests with blackberry puree and cream garnished
with fig leaf dust** and blackberry syrup


*   my comments are based on the experiences i had while living in greece several decades ago
** i've recently discovered that fig leaves are edible so i dried fig leaves and crushed them to a very fine powder to use as a garnish

further reading (health benefits) (fig leaf tea)


~ i thought the almond and blackberry cake was a great recipe in which to use my precious blackberries because there were no other competing flavours to eclipse their beautiful autumn flavour..i think it's a versatile recipe that would work with other berries too and it would easily convert to gluten free by substituting the very small amount (40 gms) of plain flour with rice flour or any other gluten free flour

~ i like the flavour of the fig leaf tastes and smells just like a warm summer day under a fig tree

do you like blackberries or do you they're best left for the birds?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

urban foraging

the bluestone cobbled lanes in my suburb were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the night men who emptied the closet toilets..despite their less than salubrious history the lanes hold a fascination for me and when i go walking down one i'm taken to another world..

out the front, on the main streets, houses and gardens on their best behaviour
less self conscious when viewed from the lanes
back fences ramshackle and discordant
creepers and trees run riot

hear the sounds of the night man's cart
the clip clop of the horses hooves
and the wheels on the cobbled bluestone
in the eerie early morning dark 
see the vapour steaming horse nares
smell the sweaty hot horse smell
and (ignore) the stench of human excrement

tough, dark and serious
don't mess with me
volcano spewed aphanite
hewn by human hand
and hauled from the west of melbourne

i never see anyone else when i go walking down any of the lanes and that i's a way of getting away without getting away..and an added bonus are the fig festooned branches that drape themselves seductively across my path..each autumn i am able to pick figs to my heart's content..and this year has been no exception..usually i just eat them fresh but this year i decided to have another go at making fig jam..yep..i've made fig jam many times before but even when i've added lemon peel and juice to counteract the sweetness i've still found fig jam sickly sweet..

not too sweet vinegar fig jam
tea with hazel
makes 1 medium jar*


450 gms slightly under ripe figs, stems and blemishes removed, and cut to preferred size (i cut mine small)
325 gms sugar
100 mls filtered water
40 mls red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


~ place sugar, water and red wine vinegar in a saucepan, heat slowly, stirring, until sugar has melted, then bring to the boil
~ add the figs and boil until setting point has been reached (i used a potato masher to break up persistent pieces of fig)
~  remove from the heat and stir in balsamic vinegar to taste
~ pour into sterilised jar and seal


* the recipe may be doubled but any further increase in quantity tends to effect the cooking and setting times which can have a deleterious effect on the taste, colour and consistency of the jam

are you an urban forager? if so, what do you find in your area?

this post submitted to punk domestics

Sunday, 2 March 2014

yeasted coconut date and banana health loaf

i like calling this bread a 'health' loaf..when i ate it i reckon i felt better after having one slice so i had another one all the while feeling the good health vibe infusing my cells..but then..maybe it was just the cups of tea i had with it..

my eldest daughter gave me the scrabble cloth many years ago and the mug was a recent gift from my son

yeasted coconut date and banana health loaf
tea with hazel


150 gms white organic flour
50 gms biodynamic wholemeal flour
50 gms organic coconut flour*
50 gms desiccated coconut
2 large ripe bananas cut into large chunks
10 large medjool dates stones removed and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon (tbs) finely diced candied orange peel (i used my own)
1 tbs finely diced candied lemon peel (i used my own)
30 gms organic coconut butter
2 teaspoons (tsp) honey
1 tsp yeast
4 tbs active sourdough starter (optional)
2 tsp murray river salt (less if using conventional table salt)
filtered water


~ place flours, desiccated coconut, banana, peels, coconut butter, honey, yeast and starter in the bowl of a stand mixer and add enough filtered water* to make a shaggy dough
~ autolyse for 30 minutes, add salt, and mix for 30 seconds
~ mix again for 15-20 seconds and rest for 10 minutes
~ repeat mix rest cycle once more
~ remove bowl from stand mixer, cover with a dampened tea towel, and leave until doubled in volume
~ turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench, divide in two, gently knead in dates, and then place each piece into a large oiled bread tin
~ cover the tin with tea towel and leave until well risen
~ bake with steam at 230 deg c for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 200 deg c, cover the tin with brown paper, and cook for a further 20 minutes or until well browned
~ cool the bread on a cake cooling rack 


* coconut flour absorbs a lot of fluid so the dough requires more fluid than a bread made with conventional flours only


~ the addition of coconut flour means that dough was not as elastic as per a conventional dough and so it was unkneadable
~ when i cut the loaf i was a bit worried that it was going to be rather leaden but the crumb was soft with an appealing denseness and the crust thick with a satisfyingly was ok the next day too

anyone for a game of scrabble with a cup of tea and a slice or two? just for your health of course!