Honey has been on my mind lately, interviewing as I was, an expert on Beekeeping in my job as a reporter for a community magazine.
I can now tell you loads about the complexities of a bee colony, what threats they face, how they are heavily regulated by themselves and the bees and the process of making honey.
Whilst beekeeping can turn into an obsession, I am more obsessed with honey and its use as food. I sourced a wonderfully tasty Immune boosted raw Honey from the Beekeeper himself. This honey has all sorts of health benefits as the bees graze from a wide variety of food sources.
Apart from having one teaspoon of this delicious food from the Gods, each day, I made some Honey and Oat Biscuits, (or Honey and Oat Cookies if you are American), using a favourite recipe of mine, that I will share here:
Honey and Oat Cookies (Biscuits) Recipe
1 cup Self Raising Flour, (or all-purpose flour with 2 teaspoons Baking powder)
3 tablespoons custard powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (125 g) or softened butter
1 – 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup wheatgerm or bran
Blitz the flour and custard powder
Add sugar and oats and blitz again
Add butter through the chute as processing til blended
Add honey and process till well combined
Roll teaspoonfuls of the mix into balls and toss lightly in the wheatgerm/bran
Place on baking tray and flatten lightly with the back of a fork
Cook for 10 – 12 minutes in a moderate over 180 degrees C (350 F)
I have had this small tin of crab meat in my pantry for (mumble, mumble) quite some time now. I really did not know what I was going to use it for.
I think it was originally destined for a party, hanging out with other Swedish sandwich cake ingredients, but things did not work out between them, and so the crab meat, was left on the shelf… literally!
Inspiration hit me one night when the Moth aka hubby and I were on our own, no family to cook for and decided on a light meal to end the week. Surfing the net always provides inspiration and along the way I found a recipe for Hot Crab Dip.
As one always does, there were adjustments I just had to make, serving it cold, and adding some extra vegetables for crunch. As I like fresh and crunchy celery, cucumber and capsicum, I chopped these up and added them in. The dish has some added Vitamin C and fibre this way.
But credit goes to Will Cook for Smiles for the essence of the recipe. She baked hers in the oven, whilst I often prefer my seafood cold, so I didn’t. It is totally agreeable either way.
It is just your own preference.
Here is what I mixed to make this superb light meal/appetizer/dip/wine & cheese accompaniment.
Crab Dip Recipe
130 g tinned Crabmeat
40g spreadable Cream cheese
1/4 cup Sour cream
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
2 stalks of Spring onion, finely chopped and diced.
1 Garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese, to mix in
1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
Salt & fresh cracked Pepper
Optional Extras if serving it cold:
1/2 medium Yellow and Green Capsicum, chopped & diced.
1/2 small Lebanese Cucumber, chopped & diced.
Celery – 1 stalk – only if you like it very crunchy
Method for Serving Cold Crab Dip
Mix all ingredients together. Serve with crackers, fresh bread or baguette.
To Serve Crab Dip Hot:
Preheat the oven to 170 degree celsius or 340 degrees Fahrenheit
Combine all the ingredients, top with the second 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Bake 20 minutes
Serve with crusty sourdough bread or crackers of your choice.
It was hard to stop nibbling this more-ish mix with my water crackers!
Next time I’s serve it hot with some fresh salad and a secondary dish.
Merle is an Aussie Grandma and a fantastic cook who released a book of Australian recipes, and one of the all-time favourites is reproduced here albeit with a few alterations.
The recipe is posted here, as it was Anzac Day, yesterday.
Every year on 25 April, Australians remember the Anzacs in memorial services in every suburb, in every city in Australia, and it is a national holiday. I would venture to say a sacred day in the consciousness of all Australians.
Anzac biscuits are named after the Australian and New Zealand Army troops who fought on the side of Britain during WWI. They were unfortunately slaughtered in an mistaken decision made by the British command.
Churchills error in the Dardenelles against the Turkish forces resulted in an atrocious loss of life and the soldiers who fought there have since achieved saint-like status in the minds of Australians and Kiwis.
These biscuits/cookies keep well for an extended period of time and were sent in tins to the troops fighting in the filthy trenches at Lone Pine and Anzac Cove in Turkey, by the mothers and sweethearts of those brave young men.
Mel Gibson immortalised the Anzac soldier’s spirit in the 1981 film “Gallipoli”.
I cooked the Anzacs at 180 degrees C… sorry Merle love, my oven is happier working at a higher temperature than yours.
Feel free to post what temperature worked for you, if you try the recipe…
1 cup plain flour (approx 4 ounces)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp bicarb soda
160 g butter, melted
Preheat Oven 170 Celsius
Method 1. Sift flour, ginger in a mixing bowl and add coconuts, oats and sugar. Make a well in the centre 2. Stir in Golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb in a small bowl until combined. Add to the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well 3. Take heaped teaspoons of mix and roll into small balls. Place on trays and flatten gently. Bake 6-7 minutes ( I baked them for 10 mins) 4. Cool on tray 10 mins til they firm up slightly.
The supreme sacrifice of those men in the cause of freedom, is truly something to eternally ponder about. “Lest we Forget”
Now you can also try these biscuits, and tell me what you think.
Reproduced here for the Danish island school and the children who some years back organized an Australian morning tea as part of their tuition from their fabulous teach who unfortunately passed away some years ago.
The beauty of this soup is that it works with most leftover vegetables. I chop up things I find in the fridge at the Home by the Sea, such as the leftover broccoli stalks or slightly limp-few days old -beans and add them in. The soup will taste just as good, if not better.
The addition of chickpeas adds a lot of fibre to this recipe and balances out the carbs hidden in the pancetta/bacon.
A hearty soup perfect for an easy family dinner.
Tuscan Bean Soup Recipe
2 tablespoons cold-pressed Olive Oil
2 medium Brown Onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
200g Speck, or good quality Bacon or Pancetta, coarsely sliced
2 -3 Carrots, coarsely chopped
3 Celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 can Diced Tomatoes*
I didn’t have a can of chopped Roma Tomatoes, in the pantry, so I boiled up 8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped them roughly, then boiling them in a saucepan till soft, [about 8 -10 minutes on medium heat].
1/4 head of Cabbage, shredded coarsely
1- 2 Zucchinis, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Thyme
2 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock
1 cup Water
1 small can of Chickpeas, in vinaigrette, rinsed and drained
1 new Potato, coarsely chopped
1 whole Celery stalk with leaves attached
Chives, a handful sliced plus some extra for garnishing
Heat oil in a large saucepan
Cook onion, celery, garlic, and selected cured meat, such as Pancetta, stirring until onion and celery is soft (about 5 minutes)
Add carrot, undrained tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, potato, thyme, stock, drained chickpeas, water and the whole celery stalk, with leaves attached.
Bring to boil
Simmer uncovered about 30 – 40 minutes [go for a nice walk whilst it is simmering]
Remove the whole celery stalk with leaves
Add finely sliced chives and garnish with a sprinkle prior to serving.
Salmon is low in fat and high in protein. Not to mention it is a good source of B12, potassium, iron and vitamin D. No wonder the Scandinavians enjoy it.
Making pastry can be a pain but it’s a breeze with this recipe as the kitchen food processor blends and forms a delicious, cheesy pastry shell.
This recipe is substantial and makes a filling pie great for serving the family or group. The pie cuts easily and holding its form brilliantly on the day of cooking as well as the next day for a summer lunch.
Salmon Pie Recipe
Preheat Oven to 180 C (350F)
Cheesy Pastry Crust Ingredients
1.5 cups Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
125 g Butter
1 cup grated Cheddar or firm Cheese (substitutes are fine as long as it isn’t a cheese that melts too much such as mozzarella)
Rub the butter into the flour using a Food Processor but not so much that it turns into a ball (keep it crumbly)
Add the grated cheese and mix through the pastry.
Set aside 1/4 of the mix to reserve for the pie topping
Press the remainder into an 8-9 inch pottery, or glass, pie dish until it covers the base and sides to form the pastry shell.
220 gram (around 8 oz) can cooked Red or Pink Salmon, preferably boneless
375 grams Sour cream (13 oz)
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Chives
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
1/2 cup grated Cheese (extra)
Drain and flake salmon and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients
Place the combined mix into the pastry shell
Crumb the reserved portion of the pastry crumbs on top
Bake 40 – 50 minutes at 180 C (350 F) or until golden brown on top
Delicious served hot or cold the next day with a green salad.
The Pavlova recipe I make is an old recipe taken from my trusty Aussie Women’s Weekly Recipe book. *(Page 32 is a tomato veal dish, Peggy!)
This book that was gifted to me in 1979, by my Mother. 41 years later, with its spine tatted and broken, this book continues to reveal recipe secrets I have yet to make.
Following is the recipe I use, although I don’t use a piping bag to make the edges.
I just dump the meringue mix on to a lined baking sheet and form it into a makeshift circle, by dragging around the edges from base to tip with a broad spatula. It is less fuss, and noone wants too much fuss in the kitchen, when the mercury soars in summertime!
Pavlova Cooking Tips
I cook my Pavlova in an oven set on 150 degees C. (300 degrees F.) for around 35 – 40 minutes. Then I will leave the pavlova to cool in the oven.
Once the Pavlova has finished its cooking time, I turn the oven off, and place a wooden spoon in the door to allow some heat to escape, but not all the heat, at once. This extended minimal heat is enough to dry the outer shell of the Pavlova whilst allowing the middle to be all soft and gooey.
It ends up quite rustic looking but leaves a crater or depression in the top into which you can place your fruits, custard or cream, or all three.
Celebration Pavlova with Chocolate Dome
This year I decided to make something a little different. Impressive isn’t it? And it is quite simple.
Do you want to know how to make the Chocolate dome for the top?
You know your own children’s preferences, but when they become adults and bring home partners, you might have to face the prospect that the partners has different dietary preferences that need to be accomodated at festive occasions, like Christmas.
I am rather late in planning this Gluten free Christmas menu and it is not Vegan, nor vegetarian so that is a heads up. But it is highly nutritious.
Entree or Nibbles
First off we have a Prawn, snow pea and Capsicum Entree, I used the following Prawn dish idea but made it a kind of tasting nibbles board, rather than a whole dish. I will add some nice cheeses, home made Knekkerbrød (Norwegian crackers) and nuts to accompany this.
Fresh is best for this opener. Given that all prawns are frozen at the point of capture, fresh is a loose term these days. But we are Australian, so we have to have some kind of shellfish option to start the hot meal.
Assortment of oven-roasted, gluten-free meats – without stuffing and preferably organic in nature
Potatoes roasted with garlic, thyme and dill
Pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots (all roasted with rosemary sprigs)
Red capsicum drizzled with olive oil and roasted lightly
Cauliflower butter beans and Pumpkin Hommus
Chickpea Spinach and Eggplant Salad
Broccoli, Quinoa and Edamame Vegetables (served warm for the Moth)
Smashed Pavlova with seasonal stone fruits – there is just a little teaspoon of cornflour in this Pavlova recipe but when there is a coeliac visitor, one has to be extra careful. This is not just Gluten intolerance, but allergy!
Gluten-free Option – Chocolate Brownie
For the Moth: Warm Plum Pudding served with custard and ice cream
What kind of different dishes are you cooking this Christmas?
Are you breaking from preparing traditional foods?
With Australia in the midst of winter colds and what seems now the ever-present spectre of Covid threatening us, it seems fitting I re-visit an old recipe post from pre-Covid times.
It has been some time since I cooked Chicken soup for a sick teenager, but I remember it like it is yesterday.
Chicken Soup Makes you Feel Better
Setting: Pre – Covid days when teenage boys roamed my house
“Ahhhh, I feel sick, I think I’m coming down with a cold,” wailed my teenage son as he came home from school, one day.
“Oh dear, you do look a bit pale, I’ll make some Chicken soup for you to…” I begin, before I am abruptly cut off with a, ‘Talk to the Hand,’ kind of gesture, frequently observed in male adolescents.
“Fine,” I then respond, trying not to feel rejected and putting on a nonchalant face. “But it helps me feel better, when I feel ill,” I plead, as the teen, now making a hasty exit from the kitchen, heads straight for the lounge.
In one swift movement, he has grabbed the remote control and launched himself into the air, landing lengthwise on the Ektorp lounge like some ‘lounge lizard‘, flaked out on sedatives.
During this pseudo-aerial display of slothfulness, Number #1 Son and older brother to the Teen and self-confessed germophobe seated on the floor in front of the TV, [apparently, there are no suitable chairs in the house], looks at his brother in horror.
It is clear he is nearly beside himself with the knowledge that something as infectious as a common cold, has entered his personal space and so abruptly leaves the room, mumbling something about establishing a quarantine zone, and swearing not to touch the TV remote, for at least two weeks!
Unsurprisingly, I know his father will hold no issue with that comment, detected by the sudden throat clearing and smirk I see building across his face.
Amidst the sniffles and sneezes, now reaching somewhat of a crescendo from the lounge lizard, I begin to assemble the ingredients for Grandma’s Chicken soup – lots of parsley, garlic, all manner of vegetables and a bit of extra salt.
Salty Foods are Helpful
Believe it or not, salt can actually be good for you when you are sick, (just make sure to drink plenty of water/fluids with it to prevent dehydration). This is basically the only time eating something as salty as potato crisps, could be seen to do any modicum of good, so make the most of it, I say.
Believe it or not, there is now proof that Grandma was right, after all, in serving up Chicken soup when someone in the family is sick, so there is a method in my madness, (if you’ll excuse the cooking pun).
The Science of Eating Chicken Soup When you are Sick
Researchers have found
“…chicken soup does have a mild anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce the impact of a cold. The American journal of Therapeutics says carnosine in chicken is the ingredient that most likely helps our immune system.”
Fitwise Magazine 2014
Furthermore, Lisa Renn of the Dietitians Association of Australia says,
“there are studies that say chicken soup is beneficial in improving symptoms such as a runny nose, coughs, sneezing, sore throats and chills.”
So what, you might ask, does the ailing teen do when I place a tray of hot, steamy, freshly-made chicken soup on his lap?
He gobbles it up so fast, it is practically inhaled!!! And yes, despite the glazed looks teens often give you when the TV is on, I did hear a nasal, “Thanks Mum,” somewhere amidst the slurping noises, which like Grandma’s Chicken soup, warms my spirit!
Grandma’s Chicken Soup Recipe
1 Chicken Breast, sliced thinly or cooked leftover chicken
400 mls good quality chicken broth (either make your own from boiling a whole chicken or use a stock cube/good prepared broth – I use Campbells)
2 medium onions sliced/diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic
2 carrots, julienned
Shallots – 1/4 bunch, finely sliced
I large handful of Parsley, diced
1/4 cup frozen beans or peas
Creamed corn – I medium can, drained
Sweetcorn kernels – I small can, drained
Lemon juice ( 1/2 lemon)
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 Handfuls of any other vegetable, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potato, that you may wish to use, diced, shredded or broken into small florets.
Sauté onion, garlic and celery in a large saucepan
Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Add carrots and optional veges and cook for around 6 minutes
Add the chicken strips and stir till they change colour and cook through completely
Add the shallots, parsley, frozen beans/peas, and cook a further 2-3 minutes
Add corn, lemon juice and finally add the egg, whilst stirring
Add seasoning to taste.
Serve with bread or alone, it is oh, so good!
Serves 4 people (or 2 teens!)
Throw in 1/4 cup Arborio rice and stir – cooking the dish, for another 8 minutes or until rice is completely cooked through. This turns it into a thick casserole type of dish.
Slow Cooker Chicken Soup Option
Throw all the ingredients in the Slow Cooker adding water to cover and return home at the end of the day with the house smelling like Grandma – in a good way, of course!!