Thursday, 31 March 2016

Crackling unlike anything I have made before - fantastic!

I remember as a child waiting for the crackling on a pork roast. My father would fight with the stove to get just the right crackle and as great a cook as he was it was always a little charred. We ate it enthusiastically anyway. It has been my quest to get the ideal crackle. When I say quest I don't mean I have sacrificed the rest of my life to gain the ultimate crackle but every time I do a pork roast it becomes the only thing I focus on.

I have tried salting, drying and cooking high and cooking low. I have consulted google and read comments by Jamie, Heston and whoever else will offer an opinion. 

This is how I did it.
1. I bought the roast a day a go and resisted the urge to freeze it. I left it in the fridge in the vacuum pack.
2. Morning of roast dinner. Removed meat from plastic, cut extra lines in skin (butchers never seem to do enough) rubbed salt into skin and then I put a salt crust on the skin about 1/2 cm thick.
3. I placed the roast on a tray in the fridge uncovered so it would dry out for about 2-3 hours.
4. About 3 hours before serving time I turned on the oven to 250C to heat up and brushed the salt off the roast into the sink. Using a wet paper towel I removed the remaining salt and then patted the skin till it was dry to touch.
5. My roast was a 2.1kg rolled pork roast so cooking times may vary for other cuts. By this stage the oven had reached 250C. I turned it down to 140 C, put the roast in the centre of the oven and forgot about it for 2 hours.
6. At the 2 hour mark I put the potatoes and pumpkin in (cut in size to about 1/2 an apple). A little over an hour later (approximately 3 hrs since it went into the oven) I removed the roast and the veg from the oven. I turned the oven up to 200C and put only the roast back in and cooked it a further 10-15 minutes.
7. I removed the roast and put the veg back in for 10-15 minutes at 200C while the meat rested and I made gravy and cooked some peas.

This is what it looks like at the end. Evenly cooked and every bit was crunchy. It was like finely made honeycomb - a very smooth finish with tiny bubbles of crunch. 
The beautiful crackle (c) The Daisy Hedge 2016
My son told me it was the most fantastic crackling he had ever eaten (he is 6) and my daughter who is 3, after saying she hated crackling became a convert and couldn't get enough on her plate.
Close up of the beautiful crackle (c) The Daisy Hedge 2016
As a mentioned we had potatoes, pumpkin, peas and gravy to accompany our pork and crackling but I also indulged in a some red wine. Because of my arthritis medication I can only indulge occasionally. This was moment of celebration, I had to toast to the crackling! I collect wines in our travels and this one I bought in Port Macquarie Easter 2015. It was lovely. I now wish I had bought more!

Sangiovese Shiraz 2013 from Cassegrain Winery, Port Macquarie (c) The Daisy Hedge 2016

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Chocolate Macadamia Brownies ( Originally Posted From Camille's Pantry 14/9/10)

Chocolate Macadamia Brownies

Photo By Camille Newlands 12 September 2010
Ingredients and Equipment
1/4 cup macadamia nut oil
250g dark chocolate buttons
1 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup besan flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup yellow maize corn flour
1/4 cup white maize corn flour
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 muffin tray with paper liners (12 muffin tray)
1. Preheat Oven 180 C and put paper liners into muffin tray.
2. In a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water heat macadamia oil and chocolate buttons. Stir slowly to ensure chocolate and oil blend well. Becareful not to let water get into the mix as chocolate will “seize,” or turn into a grainy, clumpy mess in the bowl.
3. When chocolate and oil are blended slowly add sugar. Mix well after each addition. Sugar may not melt, it just needs to be mixed into the chocolate and oil.
4. Remove bowl from heat. Add vanilla, eggs and nuts, mixing after each addition.
5. Flour will need to be sifted together and slowly added, again, mixing well after each addition.
6. Spoon mixture into the paper muffin cases. You will only need to fill the cases half way as the batter will rise. Cover remaining batter and place to the side to use for next batch. Do not put the remaining batter into the fridge as the sugar and chocolate will solidify and you will not be able to spoon the batter into the muffin cases easily.
7. Put tray into oven for 20-25 minutes or until the brownies are firm.
8. Allow the brownies to cool for 5 minutes in the tray and then remove the brownies carefully. If they are still warm they will bend in the paper cases and be misshaped. Cool at room temp.
9. Reline the tray and spoon batter for next batch.

Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Cake ( Originally Posted From Camille's Pantry 15/11/10)

Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Cake

This cake will take some effort and time. It is not a cake to make if you are in a hurry or have lots of other 
things to do but it is worth the time. It is similar in preparation to an Indonesian Layer Cake.

8 Eggs
1 2/3 cups icing mixture
1 Tsp Vanilla
100mls Macadamia oil
1/3 cup Almond Meal
250 grams Chocolate

1. Line and grease a 17cm square cake tin.
2. Separate the eggs, whisking the whites until they form stiff peaks.
3. Slowly beat the sugar into the egg whites until the mixture is meringue like.
4. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and vanilla together.
5. Add the Macadamia Oil and Almond meal to the yolk mixture and beat well.
6. Pour egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture and fold gently.
7. Halve the mixture.
8. Melt the chocolate (can use either the microwave method or stove top method)
9. Gently fold chocolate into one of the mixtures.
10. Turn on grill (180 C or 350F).
11. Add approximately 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture into the cake tin and rotate so mixture evenly 
coats the bottom. Put under the grill for approximately 1 minute or until the mixture lightly browns.
12. Repeat step 11 but use the vanilla mixture.
13. Continue to do steps 11 and 12 until you have used up both mixtures.
14. Turn cake out on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting.
15. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar, trim edges and cut cake into desired number of pieces.

Chocolate and Vanilla Layer Cake - Photo by Camille Newlands 2010

Zucchini Slice (Originally posted From Camille's Pantry 15/11/10)

Zucchini Slice

2 large zucchinis
1 medium carrot
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 rashes of bacon (can be omitted for vegetarians)
1 cup of grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1 cup of gluten free self raising flour 
(I use the flour mix on page 10 of wheat free world and sift baking powder into it.)
5 eggs
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180 C and grease a lamington pan (or baking tray) that is approximately 16 x 25 cm.
2. Coarsely grate zucchini (with skin), carrot and onion together.
3. Add minced garlic to the mixture and mix well.
4. Chop Bacon and add to the mixture and mix well.
5. Add tasty cheese and parmesan and mix well.
6. In another bowl whisk eggs together and then egg mixture to the vegetables and cheese, mix well.
7. Slowly add flour to the mixture. mixing well after each addition.
8. Season with salt and pepper, mix well.
9. Cut tomato into thin slices.
10 . Spoon mixture into tin or tray and arrange tomato slices on the top. 
11. Bake in moderate oven for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Zucchini Slice served with Aunty Pics slow roasted tomatos - Photo Camille Newlands 2010
The slice can be eaten hot but is best cooled and then sliced. It seems to cut better when it is cold. 
I believe it could be due to the gluten free flour. It then reheats fine.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Passionfruit and Polenta Loaf (originally posted 9/4/12 From Camille's Pantry)

Passionfruit and Polenta Loaf

Large loaf tin, approximately 15cmx25cm

125mls  Macadamia Nut Oil
1 cup  Sugar
Tb sp lemon juice
3 eggs (separated)
1 1/4 cups corn flour
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup Tapioca (arrowroot) flour
3 tsp baking powder
175g can of Passionfruit pulp or 1/2 cup fresh pulp
      (save a Tbsp of pulp for icing)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 cup icing mixture (gluten free)
1 Tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, line and grease loaf tin.
2. Set up 3 mixing bowls - one for the dry, wet and egg mixes.
3. Using a sifter mix corn flour, tapioca flour and baking powder in dry mix bowl. Add Polenta and make 
sure the dry mix is thoroughly combined.
4. In the wet mix bowl (could be a large jug) mix the oil, egg yolks, yoghurt and passionfruit.
Do not use a blender or hand blender to mix as the passionfruit seeds will get crushed. Mix by hand using 
a whisk or mixer on low speed. When combined the mix will look like a custard.
5. Place the lemon juice in the third bowl and using a paper towel wipe the bowl out with the juice. Place 
the 3 egg whites into the bowl and beat till stiff peaks form, then slowly add the sugar. Beat in the sugar 
until it is dissolved and stiff peaks form.

You now have 3 separate mixes.

6. Gently fold the wet mix through the egg whites. 
7. Gently fold the dry mix  through the egg whites/wet mix.
8. Pour the batter into the loaf tin.
9. Bake in a moderate oven for 40-50 minutes. Loaf is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
10. Allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out. The cake is very crumbly when warm, cooling 
allows it to set.

Allow to cool fully before icing.
Icing - beat butter till soft, add icing mixture and passionfruit pulp.

Passionfruit Polenta Loaf (c) Camille Newlands

Monday, 21 December 2015

Ginger Beer Holidays (published in Weekend Notes 24/6/2012 and From Camille's Pantry 30/6/2012)

Ginger Beer Holidays

This was the article I had published in Weekend Notes on the 24th June 2012-  
I have started my first batch and will keep you posted.

Day 1 of the Ginger Beer Plant

Ginger brings back memories of summer holidays when I was about 12 or 13. My father 
religiously maintained the ginger beer plant and then nearly every weekend any friends of ours who 
happened to be at our house, my two sisters and I would be enlisted as the child labour to process 
and bottle the ginger beer. In retrospect, the recipe my father used was meant to be non alcoholic 
but my science background makes me wonder as alcohol levels depend greatly on sugar content 
and length of fermentation. I believe after many months of plant production and errors in 

Anyway, there is a great stall at the Jan Powers Markets selling ginger beer. My two year old son 
and husband were very impressed with the brew and I must admit it reminded me of those 
summers 20+ years ago. The taste of real ginger, a little bit of sediment in the bottom of the 
bottle, certainly a thirst quenching and satisfying drink while walking around the markets. 
Next time I go to the markets I will be locating the ginger beer stall first, but this weekend my task 
is to make a batch of my own. My dear old dad doesn’t have the recipe he used but online there 
are hundreds if not thousands of variations.
It is great a activity for kids too (not just for slave labour). Not all learning is done at school and
 the process of making ginger beer has some gems - measurement, process skills, problem solving and not to mention- 
Try out some different recipes and do some taste comparisons - you will get either a great sweet reward or at the other extreme an 
explosive mess but the kids will be excited by it anyway! These school holidays are a great time to try as the latter result is less likely
 in the cooler weather.
I am going to give this recipe a go this weekend as it looks similar to my fathers and ones I have tried in the past.
For the Ginger Beer Plant:
A clean jar, cloth lid and rubber band
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons ground ginger
For the Sugar Syrup and resulting Beer:
4 cups sugar
1.5 litres cold water
4.5 litres warm water
1/2 cup strained lemon juice
Strainer, muslin cloth, funnel, large metal or plastic spoon, large boiler, measuring equipment, large glass /jar for plant filtrate.
sturdy bottles for about 8 litres of beer (glass beer bottles can be dangerous if the mixture gets a little too carbonated, well cleaned 
recycled soft drink bottles are good as they will generally only distort with pressure. If you want new bottles you can try brewing stores 
or packaging companies like Plasdene (Northgate) who will sell direct to the public).
Step 1: Making the Ginger Beer Plant (7 day process)
In the jar mix all of the ingredients, cover the jar with the cloth lid and rubber band and store in a safe place in the kitchen at 
room temperature. Don’t use a screw on lid as the plant needs to breathe but you don’t want dust and insects to get in.

Feed the plant everyday by adding 1/2 teaspoon of both sugar and ginger. Kids will love to watch the plant bubble like a 
volcano after a couple of days.
Step 2: One week later
Strain the plant through some muslin cloth, retaining the filtrate in the glass. The filtrate and half of the plant will be used for the beer 
and the remaining half of the plant will be discarded.

In the large boiler bring the cold water to the boil and add the sugar. Dissolve the sugar, turn off the heat and add the 4.5 litres of warm
water (can be from the hot water tap) and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to cool. If it is too hot the Ginger Plant filtrate will die when 

When the mixture is hand warm, add the filtrate and stir with the large spoon. It is best not to use a wooden spoon as the wood fibres 
might have other flavours or contaminants that will alter the brewing process.
While waiting for the mix to cool, put the remainder of the plant into the clean a jar with 1 cup of water and feed each day for a week 
again to make another batch.

Bottle the brew, leaving about 5 cm from the top of the lid to allow for gas. Store in a safe location. I have put mine in the past in an esky
 in the laundry so if the the bottles expand and rupture  the mess will be contained. My father put his in an old tucker box freezer (not 
turned on of course) for the same reason but he used to used glass bottles - the mess was truly spectacular!

Leave the bottles to ferment for 3 -7 days. This will depend on the temperature and when the bottles feel very firm refrigerate to stop or 
slow the fermentation. Sometimes when you open a bottle it can be like opening sparkling wine/bubbly so it may be better done over a 
Remember - the alcohol content is minimal but not 0% and it by no means is sugar free so be mindful when giving to children. 
Looking back at my childhood though - I think we drank it constantly for one Christmas and two of the child labour force (they stayed with
 their grandma across the road every holiday) are now doctors. It didn’t appear to do us any harm and we had a ball making it and 
drinking it!