Friday, April 30, 2010

Quince Lovin'

While perusing one of my favourite blogs recently, Faux Fuschia, I was reminded of my love of quinces.

I can remember watching my mother make quince jelly. None of my brothers and sisters liked it, but I adored it and could happily sit and eat it from the jar with a spoon. It is absolutely incredible on warm scones, which we used to have for breakfast each morning.

Isn't it funny how you believe that what your family does is normal because you grew up that way? I thought everyone ate scones for breakfast. We never had bread or toast, cereal was on offer, but so were scones, every single morning. Either mum or dad would get up and make them so they would be ready by the time the 5 of us children were assembled at the table. I didn't stay at friend's places very often, but when I did, scones were never on offer. I thought this was v strange, but felt like a bit of a rebel getting to eat toast!

Anyway I thought I would share with you a delicious recipe using this fantastic fruit. I hope to plant a quince tree in my garden so I can make this all the time. Yummo!

Quince Paste
Cooking time: 245 minutes
Makes: 3 cups

4 (about 1.4kg) quinces, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped

125ml (1/2 cup) water
700g white sugar

Combine the quince and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until tender.

Place the quince mixture in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

Combine quince and sugar in a large, clean heavy-based saucepan. Place on a simmer mat over low heat and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 1/2 hours or until mixture is ruby red, thick and leaves the side of pan. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, line the bases and sides of six 125ml (1/2-cup) capacity ramekins with plastic wrap. Pour quince mixture evenly among ramekins and smooth surfaces. Cover and set aside for 6 hours or until set.

Turn 1 ramekin onto a serving platter. (Store remaining paste in fridge until required). Serve with cheese and wafers.

It should look something like this:

I like to eat this with cheddar, my favourite being King Island Surprise Bay Cheddar, although it is equally fantastic with King Island Ash Brie.

It is delicious, it cuts through the bite of the cheese and gives it a whole new personality. In the words of Faux Fuschia: "Run, don't walk".

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Old House, New House

In the move from my old laptop to the new, I had to do some sorting of files, photos, folders and found some pictures of our old house. Saying goodbye to the old house was so hard. I love it so much and we had made it really cosy. I thought I would share some pics to show you our little place.

Firstly some real estate pictures of the house BEFORE I bought it:

Scary bathroom:
Main bedroom:
Lounge room (yes it looked like this and I still bought it):
Lounge room from another angle:
Original kitchen:

And then I moved in and made some changes:
New bathroom:

Guest bedroom:
Dining area:
Lounge room:

Main bedroom:

It sold within 2 weeks of us putting it on the market, to a couple from Sydney who saw it and loved every single part of it. Knowing they would love it as much as I had made it a little easier to sell, but it was still hard!

Long Weekend

Who doesn't love a long weekend? We spent most of ours helping my mother in law G move into her gorgeous new store. This involved lots of packing up the old one, moving furniture, cleaning, and also a day of me running a clearance sale at the old shop.

G is a florist but also has a huge range of French giftware, homeware, and furniture, plus the entire Crabtree & Evelyn product range. It is a beautiful shop and I will include some pictures of the new store when it is unpacked and set up.

For the moment though, here are some of the items I scored...

Tea cups:
Outdoor candle basket:

This is apparently a bath salt shaker but I like it as an ornament:
Cake stand (not that I bake many cakes but I want it to display things on):

Another new lamp with a stunning silver thread shade and glass bubble base:

Etched glass jar:
Glass biscuit jar which I plan to use for bath products, instead of biscuits:

I am a very lucky daughter in law!

For dinner on Saturday I cooked Ainsley Harriott's "Prawn and Peanut Panfried Udon" for the in-laws. I excelled, if I do say so myself and they all loved it. It is a favourite recipe of mine, as it is so easy but so tasty and impressive. Here is the recipe for those interested:

Serving size:
Serves 4
Cooking time:
Less than 30 minutes

300g dried udon noodles, or 500g fresh vegetable oil
4 shallots, very finely sliced
2 large red chillies, seeded and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
300g large cooked prawns, peeled
200g fresh bean sprouts
½ cup coriander leaves
2 fresh limes, cut into wedges, for serving

200g salted roasted peanuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2.5cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
200 mls coconut cream
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot chilli sauce

Plunge the noodles into a large pan of boiling water. Bring back to the boil, simmer for 1 minute until tender, then drain well. Cool under cold water. PEANUT SAUCE: Place the peanuts, garlic and ginger in a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the coconut cream. Add the soy and chilli sauces to taste. Heat 1 cm of vegetable oil in a wok or large frying-pan. When the oil is very hot, add the shallots and chillies and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Pour most of the oil out of the wok, leaving just a thin coating , then add the sesame oil. Cook the noodles for 1 - 2 minutes, then stir in the prawns and peanut sauce. Stir through enough water (200 - 300 mls) to make a thick, glossy sauce and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until piping hot. Stir in the bean sprouts and coriander. Divide between plates and scatter over the crispy shallot mixture. Serve with wedges of lime for squeezing over.

Just a note - it definitely needs the lime, they really bring out the flavours of the dish.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lamp Love

I am in love.

On my walk home yesterday I passed a gorgeous shop that I go by every day. Once again, the window display was beautiful, but I noticed an addition that stopped me in my tracks.

A gorgeous white gardenia lamp. Love at first sight.

I sighed the sigh of one in love, and kept walking. Then stopped. I needed a second look.

I walked back and gazed at it adoringly again, had a look to see if I could see a tag on it to say it was for sale rather than just part of a beautiful display. Couldn't see one. Palpitations began. Had to find out more.

The woman behind the counter told me yes it was for sale, yes it was $X, and yes there were three in stock. I walked off happily, knowing that I could buy one.

A bit further up the street I stopped again. Wondered why I hadn't bought it yet. Especially since the Mr wasn't walking home with me, and wouldn't know I had purchased it...

5 minutes later, the lamp is mine.

I have set it up in our guest room. I just adore it, couldn't be happier. It's the small things, right?! ;)