Australia Day

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Australia Day is a good excuse to make some lamingtons.

Here is a recipe of mine that first appeared in epicure’s Chocolate cook book.

My Lamingtons

My Aunty Pat was a great cook, known for her sponge cakes. When I was a child I gave her a battery-operated sifter which she good naturedly used and claimed that it made her sponges ever lighter!

I have used her sponge recipe here as the base for my lamingtons. Just bake the mix in a lamington tin. You won’t believe how delicious these are! Moist and light as a feather. And no battery-operated sifter required!

 

1 sponge cake (see recipe below)

½ cup hot water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons dutch cocoa

1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind (optional)

1 – 2 teaspoons orange essence (optional)

2 cups pure icing sugar

2 cups dessicated coconut

 

Cut cake into small squares using a serrated knife. This is easier if the cake has been slightly chilled.

In a medium bowl, combine hot water, butter and cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add orange rind and flavouring at this point if you want jaffa-flavoured icing. (Traditionalists can ignore this step.)

Beat in icing sugar with a wooden spoon. Add extra hot water if the mixture is too thick for dipping. You want it quite runny, but still of a coating consistency.

Now for the messy bit. Using two forks, dip the pieces of cake in the icing, one at a time, and turn them over to cover completely. Don’t fuss too much about any errant crumbs. Now roll the cake in the coconut and place on a cake rack for the icing to set. It is a good idea to have a tray underneath to catch any drips. Repeat the process with the remaining cake. If your forks get too messy, just replace them with clean ones. Ditto, the coconut.

Store in an airtight container – if there are any left!

Auntie Pat’s Sponge

4 eggs

¾ cup caster sugar

¾ cup corn flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoon SR flour

method:

  1. Separate eggs.
  2. Beat whites until stiff.
  3. Add caster sugar.
  4. Add yolks.
  5. Sift cornflour, SR flour and baking powder
  6. Fold into mixture.
  7. Pour into a greased and lined 22cm square lamington tin.
  8. Bake 20 minutes 200C.

To further celebrate Australia Day, I slow cooked some lamb shoulder, made some soft pitas  and served souvlaki. Here are the recipes below.

 

 

 

 

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slow roasted lamb shoulder with chilli and sage

I tried this dish at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Masterclass. The rich flavour of the lamb is balanced with the bold flavours of chilli, garlic and sage.

 

1 shoulder of lamb, bone in, about 2kg

salt and pepper to season

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 head garlic, cut in half

1 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves

3 bay leaves

6 good quality anchovy fillets

½ cup red wine vinegar

 

Preheat oven to 160C fan forced (180C conventional).

Ask your butcher to cut the lamb through the bone, on the underside, at intervals. Trim off most of the surface fat, then season well with salt and pepper. Heat a large frypan, add oil and brown the lamb on all sides for 10 minutes, until well browned.

Place browned meat in a roasting pan and add the remaining ingredients, reserving the grapes to add later.

Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 3 hours, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes or so.

The lamb should be meltingly tender by now. If not, cook further until tender.

 

serves 4-6.

 

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Pita bread

This recipe belongs to Cath Claringbold. It is now firmly in my recipe folder and I use it to make the best soft pita bread. Just ask my kids.

Makes 12 pita bread

 

Ingredients

 

1¼ cups tepid water

1½ teaspoons of dry yeast

1½ teaspoons caster sugar

 

Mix together in a small bowl and leave in a warm spot until mixture foams, around 20 minutes

 

460g plain flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup of olive oil

 

In a large bowl mix the flour and salt and make a well. Add the olive oil and the yeast mix and combine. Work the mix until it comes together and then turn out on to a lightly floured bench and knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes silky and smooth.

Put it back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for around 15 – 20 minutes.

 

Preheat the Barbeque to a medium heat.

 

Divide the dough into 12 and roll out into flat thin even disks approximately 16cm in diameter.

 

Brush the flat bread with some olive oil and place it oil side down on the bars of the BBQ. Gently brush a little oil on top as well.

In a matter of seconds the bread will start to puff and after 20-25 seconds flip them over and cook for 20 seconds more. Do not cook for too long or they will dry out too much and become crisp.

When they are cooked stack them one on top of the other and wrap them tightly in a clean tea towel or even cling wrap to keep them warm and help them sweat a little and stay soft until ready to use.

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silverbeet from the garden

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My first crop of silver beet was ready to harvest. But, what to cook? I consulted two of my favourite cooks, Stephanie Alexander and Yotam Ottolenghi. The following recipes were so delicious, I will definitely be making these again.

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Ottolenghi’s Warm salad of chickpea, silverbeet and carrot with lemony yoghurt

300g silverbeet or Swiss chard, washed

40ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice

1 tsp caraway seeds

400g tin chickpeas

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh mint, torn

1 Tbsp fresh coriander, torn

1 Tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup thick Greek style yoghurt

zest and juice of 1 lemon

 

Separate chard stalks and leaves. Chop stalks into 1 cm pieces, roll up leaves and chop into 2cm strips. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, add stalks and cook for 2 minutes, add leaves and cook for further 2 minutes. Then drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again, wrap in clean tea towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Chop roughly and set aside.

Heat oil in large heavy based pan. Add carrots and caraway seeds and cook for 5 minutes. Add chard and chickpeas and cook for 6 minutes. Add garlic, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

Mix yoghurt with lemon juice and zest and serve with the salad.

 

Serves 4.

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Stephanie’s crustless silverbeet, pinenut and olive tart

 

300g silverbeet leaves and stems, washed well, leaves and stems separated

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp pinenuts

4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

12 black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 free range eggs

½ cup Greek yoghurt

20 butter, melted,

2 Tbsp grated parmesan

 

Preheat oven to 180C.

Bundle silverbeet leaves together and cut into 2cm wide ribbons. Slice really thick stems lengthwise into 1cm wide strips then 1cm pieces.

Drop stems into a pan of simmering water for 2 minutes. Add leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Drain in a colander. Refresh with cold water then squeeze out excess moisture. Roll up in a clean teatowel to extract as much liquid as possible.

Chop roughly and tip into a bowl.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a large frypan over medium heat and sauté pinenuts until golden. Remove and set aside. Add remaining oil to pan and saute spring onions and garlic for 30 seconds. Add silverbeet and mix well, sauté for 1 minute.

Tip mixture into bowl then stir in olives, pinenuts and 2 Tbsp of the breadcrumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

Lightly whisk eggs and yoghurt, then tip into silverbeet mixture.

Grease a 20cm pie dish with melted butter, then coat base and sides with remaining breadcrumbs.

Tip silverbeet mixture in and scatter over parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until firm.

Serve warm or cold.

 

Serves 6.

 

marshmallow

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Soft and sweet, with texture as light as air, marshmallows are a favourite treat. Making them yourself is easier than you think. The equipment required to make the job easier is a stand mixer with whisk attachment and a candy thermometer (a digital thermometer is my preference). This recipe is adapted from Gary Mehigan’s marshmallow recipe from “Cook with Us”. I was the food stylist on this book and can personally vouch for his marshmallow (I have also tried all the other recipes, if you’re interested!)

Anyway, back to the marshmallow. It is very easy to flavour and colour as you like. We decided on raspberry flavour with swirls of colouring.

Marshmallows

 

100g pure icing sugar

100g cornflour

vegetable oil, for greasing

10 leaves gold strength gelatine

240ml water

450g caster sugar

1 tbsp liquid glucose

2 large egg whites

flavouring

food colouring

 

method:

 

  1. Sift icing sugar and cornflour into a large bowl and set aside. Lightly oil a shallow baking tin approx.18cm x 28cm. Line the base with baking paper and dust the base and sides generously with the sifted icing sugar mixture.
  2. Soak gelatine in 140ml of water.
  3. Place caster sugar, glucose and remaining water in heavy based saucepan, bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for 12-15 minutes until mixture reaches 127C on a digital sugar thermometer.
  4. Carefully add the softened gelatine and water. The syrup will bubble up a little. Gently swirl in the pan until the gelatine has dissolved.
  5. Whisk eggwhites in a bowl of an electric mixer until stiff.
  6. Slowly pour in the hot syrup whilst continuing to whisk. Continue whisking for 8 minutes until the mixture thickens and cools down. (At this stage you can add colouring and flavouring if you like.)
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a wet palette knife. (At this point you can add swirls of colouring. Add drops of food colouring to the surface and use a skewer to swirl the colour through the marshmallow. This is what we did in the photo.)
  8. Dust the top of the marshmallow with some of the icing mixture and set aside for around 2 hours.
  9. Unmould the marshmallow from the tin and use a sharp knife to cut into pieces. Toss in the remaining icing sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

Makes 24 large marshmallows.

Summer salads

This has to be one of my favourite salads for this time of year. Combining sweet corn and tomatoes, it’s bursting with summer flavours. When I’m rushed for time, I simply use tinned black beans from my local grocer. You could substitute other tinned beans, too. The little trick of soaking the onion first, before lightly pickling it, takes away any strong raw onion flavours and softens the texture. Search out smoked almonds for their wonderful smoky salty flavour. If you can’t be bothered frying your own eschalots, grab a bag already prepared from your asian grocer or the asian section of the supermarket. I always keep them handy in the pantry and they give the salad some extra crunch. And be sure to use lots of fresh herbs. I always have plenty growing in the vegetable garden at this time of year (although the coriander does tend to bolt to seed quickly).

 

Grilled Sweet corn salad with black beans, almonds and pickled onion

Grilled sweetcorn salad with black beans and pickled onion

Grilled sweetcorn salad with black beans and pickled onion

 

This salad has a hint of Mexico. Delicious on its own or with barbecued meats.

 

1 cup black beans, soaked overnight

2 small red onions

juice 2 limes

juice 1 orange

3 ears of sweetcorn, husks on

400g punnet mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes

100g smoked almonds chopped

1 avocado, peeled and chopped into large chunks

2 eschalots, thinly sliced

½ (half) cup olive oil for salad dressing

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

salt and pepper to season

handful coriander leaves, washed and dried

handful mint leaves, washed and dried

 

Cook beans in plenty of water for around 60 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Peel and slice the onion thinly. Pour over boiling water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain then marinate in orange and lime juice for an hour.

Heat a bbq hot plate to high and cook corn in its husks, turning over to colour evenly for 30 minutes.

Remove and cool.  Peel the outer husk off and slice kernels off the cob. Place cobs in a mixing bowl and discard the corn husks.

Roughly chop the smoked almonds.

Fry the eschalots until crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Drain the pickled onions, reserving a little of the liquid for the salad dressing.

Make a simple dressing with the reserved juice, finely chopped garlic and chilli. Whisk in as much olive oil as you need. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix all the ingredients together and serve.

 

serves 4.

sugar free banana bread recipe

ImageThis is my favourite recipe at the moment. It’s from Jude Blereau’s Wholefood cookbook. I make variations of this all the time -sometimes without any eggs, sometimes without the walnuts or raisins, sometimes without the butter. It is important to toast the walnuts in the oven for 5 minutes or so, to improve the flavour. Use good quality walnuts as you’ll notice the difference. The original recipe doesn’t have eggs, but I prefer the texture with eggs and it seems to keep longer. When I don’t add eggs I need a bit more yoghurt and milk. When the bananas are really ripe, black, soft and squishy, I don’t add as many dates. Sometimes I use stevia for added sweetness (up to 1 tablespoon of granulated stevia). I also add in vanilla -either extract or powder.

I whip this up in my thermomix as it purees the bananas and dates in a flash. For a more rustic cake, you can chop by hand.

Banana cake

1 cup whole wheat flour (wheat or spelt)

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour (wheat or spelt)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 cup fresh dates, seeded and chopped

3 very ripe medium size bananas, mashed

2 bananas, extra, sliced

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3-4 large eggs (optional)*

1/2 cup yoghurt

1/2 cup milk (dairy or soy)

Preheat oven to 170C fanforced.

Lightly grease a large loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add walnuts, dates and raisins and stir through.

Add mashed bananas and all other ingredients and gently mix (add extra milk if required, so the batter moves well over the spoon as you mix). *Add eggs here if you are going to use them.

Place in loaf pan and bake for 50-70 minutes, until golden and cooked in the centre.

Remove from oven and leave for 15 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a cake rack.

 

thermomix instructions:

No need to mash bananas or chop dates first. 

Place bananas and dates in thermomix and blend on speed 4 for 5-10 seconds or until smooth. Add yoghurt, milk, butter, eggs* and blend on speed 4 for a further 5 seconds until combined.

Mix flours, baking powder and spices, then add to bowl and blend slowly for approx 5 secs on speed 2 to incorporate.

Add raisins and walnuts and blend on speed 1 for a few seconds to fold in.

If the mixture is too stiff, add extra milk and blend slowly on speed 1 until the mixture is moist (if you are not using eggs, this may be an extra 1/2 cup milk).

 

 

A lovely seasonal panzanella salad

"panzanella

A lovely seasonal salad

Today I made an Italian panzanella salad, using up the stale Irrewarra ciabatta rolls (I can’t bear to throw them away), some really ripe tomatoes and red peppers left over from a photo shoot. I came across Cath Claringbold’s recipe a few years ago when I was doing the styling on Good Weekend magazine. Believe me, it is one of those salads that you have to make.
A few tips:
It’s important to keep the capsicum whole when grilling (or roasting in the oven –as I do) so that all the delicious juices are retained. In fact, I hold the peppers over the torn bread whilst I’m peeling them, so all the juices drip into the bowl for extra flavour. Use a sieve to catch any pips if they annoy you.
The bread: the last time I made this, my bread rolls were so stale that I couldn’t tear them or even cut them with a knife. So I soaked them whole in the dressing until they were soft enough to tear up.
The anchovies: I strongly suggest Ortiz anchovies here, as they are magnificent. If you don’t like anchovies, these may just change your mind.
The capers really need a rinse if they’re packed in salt or vinegar. I prefer to use salted capers.
The olives –always buy good quality olives with the pips in. It is very easy to squash fat juicy olives with the back of a knife and remove the pips. The flavour is much better.
The basil- tear it gently with your hands as it can go black when you cut it with a knife.
And that’s it, really. Good quality ingredients, really ripe tomatoes and fragrant basil –summer on a plate. Enjoy.

Cath Claringbold’s Panzanella

2 red capsicums
2 yellow capsicums
400g very stale ciabatta
1 small red chilli
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6oog vine ripened tomatoes
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch basil
50g good quality anchovy fillets
50g baby capers
100g pitted black olives

Grill the capsicum whole until blackened all over, place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm.
When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and seeds.
Cut or tear each pepper into 8 pieces.
Tear the bread into rough bite-size pieces. Finely chop the chilli and crush it with the garlic and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until it is a smooth paste.
Puree one tomato and mix with the chilli garlic mix. Whisk together the red wine vinegar and olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette, then season with salt and pepper.
Mix two thirds of the vinaigrette into the tomato puree, pour over the bread and toss. The bread will absorb the liquid.
Pick, wash and dry the basil leaves.
Tear the anchovy fillets and rinse the capers.
In a large bowl, bring all the ingredients together, except for the remaining vinaigrette.
Add the basil leaves last, tearing the bigger leaves.
Season with salt and pepper and serve on a large platter with a drizzle of the remaining vinaigrette over the top.

Serves 4.

What’s that in my freezer?!?

When it comes to my freezer, I’m afraid that I don’t use it as well as I might. Even if I look at it from either end of the emotional scale of contemporary freezer thought, it’s an act of desperation or a whim of fancy; a depository for some fridge contents (usually some sort of raw meat or fish) that I haven’t got around to cooking before it looks like it might be going off, or a secret hideaway for some already frozen item from the supermarket that I feel belongs in a well stocked freezer and that I might, in the near future, whip up something splendid with.

After reading Matt Preston’s article about the contents of his freezer, I thought I’d better check out my own. So here is my list, warts and all. No editing, no omissions.

1. frozen raspberries

I always try to have frozen raspberries at hand, for making raspberry muffins and raspberry sorbet (see recipes below).

They’re inexpensive and seem to keep well.

Actually, I found a second bag of frozen raspberries, so now I’m doubly prepared (and obviously unaware of exactly what was already in there).

pear and raspberry muffins photo Marina Oliphant

pear and raspberry muffins photo Marina Oliphant

Pear and raspberry muffins

2 cups self raising flour

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

½ (half) cup canola oil

¾ (three quarters) cup buttermilk

zest 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup tinned pear pieces, chopped

1 cup frozen raspberries

2 tbsp rolled oats for topping

2 tbsp raw sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 170C fanforced (190C conventional).

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix flour with brown sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk eggs with oil, buttermilk, lemon zest and vanilla.

Gently stir into flour mix until just combined. The mixture will be thick and slightly lumpy. Do not over mix or your muffins will be tough.

Fold through pear and raspberries.

Place in 12 muffin cases. Sprinkle oats and raw sugar over the top. Bake in oven for 20 -25 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

makes 12.

tip: to make buttermilk, mix 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of whole milk. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

raspberry sorbet

This is not a traditional icecream recipe, but it still has great ice cream-like texture. Not only is it quick and easy to make, you don’t need an ice cream machine. If you don’t mind the pips, you can put the raspberries straight into the mixer with the egg whites and sugar.

2 punnets raspberries (or 300g frozen raspberries)

½ (half) cup caster sugar

2 large egg whites

Press raspberries through a sieve to get rid of the pips. (If using frozen berries, allow them to defrost first).

Place raspberries, sugar and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, until more than doubled in volume.

Place mixture in a 1 litre container and freeze for 4 hours (or overnight if possible).

Remove from freezer to serve.

makes 1 litre.

2. atlantic salmon fillets

These came about when I ended up with an entire salmon from a photoshoot.

I actually took off the fillets myself (I’d seen it on Masterchef!).

Fillets neatly stored in between silicon baking paper in plastic containers. It must have been a Martha Stewart moment for me! Now defrosting in fridge for standard salmon recipe (see below).

teriyaki salmon with shiitake mushrooms

 photo Marina Oliphant

 

4 salmon fillets (about 150g each)

¼ cup mirin + ¼ cup extra

½ cup salt reduced soy sauce + ¼ cup extra

fresh lime, to juice

1 punnet fresh shiitake mushrooms

2 tsp caster sugar (optional)

steamed vegetables to serve

Cut each salmon into 3 bite size pieces.

Place mirin and soy in a large shallow bowl with the salmon and set aside in the fridge to marinate for 5-10 minutes.

Slice the mushrooms thinly, then place in a small saucepan with extra ¼ cup mirin and soy. Add sugar to taste and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and the sauce is slightly reduced. Set aside.

Heat oven grill to high. Place salmon pieces on a foil lined oven tray and place under grill for a few minutes until the top of the salmon becomes opaque. Turn pieces to cook the other side.

Remove from grill and serve with mushrooms and steamed vegetables.

Serves 4.

3. frozen vegetables

Frozen baby peas, in my opinion, are better than fresh (unless you have your own plants that you can harvest and cook straight away). Peas that have been sitting around tend to get a floury flavour. These are a staple when you don’t have fresh greens, or need to add something to a pasta or soup. Both packs open, in different compartments of the freezer, unaware each of the other’s existence.

Frozen corn is also always there, expressly for adding to chicken and corn soup.

Frozen broad beans –I have these both podded and double podded. Quite good in a warm salad or pasta, both packs opened already and held together with rubber bands.

Useful on a photo shoot when the real thing is not in season yet (fresh broad beans are my preference, and I try to grow them and share, against my better judgement, with the neighbourhood possums).

By the way, I pick up the double podded beans from Minh Phat Asian grocery, just of Victoria St Richmond.

4. Ice bricks and blocks

Ice bricks for sporting injuries and iceblocks for drinks or chilling blanched vegetables (although I never seem to have enough iceblocks, which is rather silly, as that should be the number one item in the freezer. Note to Self –make some more ice blocks.)

5. Fake ice cream

You never know when you’re going to need it for a photoshoot, so that’s where it lives. Vanilla –if you’re wondering. I’ve put the recipe on Pinterest.

6. Kaffir limes + leaves

The limes were a gift from Jenny, who has a tree. The leaves were from a shoot- I couldn’t bear to throw the box away, even though I already have a small tree in the garden. Silly really, so now they’re in the bin.

7. Rosella flowers

From the wild hibiscus, these flowers (expensive) were from a cook book shoot. Again, I couldn’t bear to waste them (never know when you might need them again!).

However, it’s been 2 years, so they may find the bin too.

8. Candlenuts

The bag is open, so I must have used some sometime, but can’t remember. I know they are useful for Asian cooking, it’s only a small bag, so they can stay.

9. Salted black beans

Ditto.

10. Cranberries

One large bag of beautiful whole frozen cranberries (bag open). I will use them to make cranberry sauce for Christmas. (See recipe). Also good backup for photo shoots, as you can’t get fresh cranberries at this end of the world. I have successfully defrosted these to use on a packaging shoot, too.

red cranberry sauce

400g frozen cranberries

200g caster sugar

3 tbsp fresh orange juice

zest of orange

1 tbsp brandy

75ml water

Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil for 15 minutes until thick and syrupy.

11. Ginger

2 small pieces of ginger (skin on), frozen and stored in small zip lock bags (another Martha moment), unaware of each other (again!) And forgotten by me too.

12. Red currants

The pack is unopened, so I must have them in there for an emergency store, in anticipation of Christmas recipes.

13. Cherries and sour cherries

The bag of cherries is opened. I think this is from my cherry column last year, used to make cherry sorbet (see recipe).

The sour cherries are also opened, a leftover from a photo shoot.

I think I may have a frozen fruit storage fetish!?!

cherry sorbet

cherry sorbet photo Marina Oliphant

cherry sorbet photo Marina Oliphant

This is not a traditional ice cream recipe, but it still has great ice cream-like texture. Not only is it quick and easy to make, you don’t need an ice cream machine.

300g cherries

½ (half) cup caster sugar

2 large egg whites

Pip cherries and cut in half.

Place cherries in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for a few minutes to break up. Add sugar and egg whites and whisk on high speed 5 minutes, until more than doubled in volume.

Place mixture in a 1 litre container and freeze for 4 hours (or overnight if possible).

Remove from freezer to serve.

makes 1 litre.

14. Tomato sugo

This really is a useful thing to freeze, as I often don’t use the entire jar of sugo. Perfect for a quick pasta (once you have defrosted the sauce in the microwave) or adding to minestrone.

15. Careme Puff pastry

Okay, this is sounding a bit designer magazine fantasy stuff, but I really do have this in my freezer. I love this puff pastry.

I also have a block of other brand frozen puff, for not sure what. Maybe I’ll get around to making Stephanie Alexander’s sausage rolls with sorrel (to use up all the sorrel in my garden).

I’ll give it 2 weeks max, then it’s out.

16. Egg whites

I think that these are essential for making French macarons. Although we recently tried them when making meringues and the results were not good.

I’ve got about 300ml.

17. Frozen scotch fillet

two types –one piece in a plastic container, ready to become grilled steak. The other, a tray of thinly sliced beef, ready for shabu shabu –the Japanese meat hot pot that you cook at the table with vegetables and noodles. I buy this frozen from the Japanese shop –either Tokyo Deli in Elsternwick, or Fujimart in Prahran.

18. Unidentified Meat

There’s a bag of some type of meat (about 1kg?), not sure exactly what, that is now defrosting on the kitchen bench. Hopefully it will become apparent, so then I can actually do something with it.

There are also 2 plastic containers with some sort of stew/ curry that are also now defrosting. More info to come on these, when I work out exactly what they are.

And finally, yet another bag of frozen, cubed meat. Again, time to find out what it is.

Which reminds me to ALWAYS mark the lids with the name of the contents and the date they were first frozen. This is actually important, as ALL food slowly deteriorates in the freezer. So you can’t store it forever.

However, when I look at my list, it’s not that bad. I must have cleaned out the freezer, not that long ago, because otherwise it would have been FAR worse. In the not too distant past here have been lots of loose pinenuts, as they escape from their rubber banded ‘quick pack’, the odd truffle, various whole citrus (limes mostly) and other bits and bobs, unlabelled and hastily put away in the hope of a later use, only to be discarded long after their use by date.

I have also been known to freeze fish off cuts/ prawn shells, etc until bin night. Especially in summer when the daily temperature can make the garbage bin very smelly. However, I then forget to dump it in the bin on the night of and hence it stays in the freezer and makes everything smell –even the iceblocks get a fish taint.

Post script:

The frozen meat turned out to be 1kg of lamb shoulder, diced. I turned this into a quick curry with Charmaine Solomon’s Korma curry paste.

The 2 plastic containers were full of some kind of stew (left over from the last lot of recipe testing for a cook book). I couldn’t be sure, so they went to the dog. Ditto, the remaining bag of frozen meat.

I have also used the frozen sugo for a quick pasta sauce and made some more iceblocks.

The freezer, having given up its secrets, is now far more manageable.

So don’t be afraid, I know you can do it too.

Oh, and I didn’t end up making cranberry sauce for Christmas, or the sausage rolls with sorrel, which now threatens to take over the vegetable garden, but that’s another column.