The three berries sorbet, a summer treat in the middle of a winter

This morning I have an hour just for myself! The young one needs a haircut and his father is about to take him to a barber shop. That is never an easy job. The seven year old doesn’t understand the point of cutting his hair as it will grow back again and that makes him unhappy. He is a child who embraces logic so I tease him by saying that if he doesn’t cut his hair it’ll grow so long, maybe down to his feet and he won’t be able to do anything, including making a new lego building. I assume that the fact that he had to stop playing with lego blocks in order to go to the barber shop is what made him unhappy in the first place. He looks at me and his eyes are saying, “Mum your imagination is beyond me,” but he goes to the barber’s giving up his logic as deep down he knows a haircut is much needed.

Now I am sitting on my sofa in front of a large window, looking at the blue sky and the rays shining through the Christmas tree on our balcony. If I look long enough at that bright sky and those fluffy white clouds would I be able to feel summer in the middle of winter? The picture is tricky as it looks so real, and if I didn’t have an extra layer of clothing on me and the window in front of me closed to stop the cold from coming in, I would easily believe my eyes. I guess life combines imagination and reality all the time, but at the same time it gives us a chance to choose the preference.

On this particular morning it is hard to decide, so I choose to take an illogical action to make a sorbet in the middle of winter, purely in order to bring a dash of summer to our table. The three berries sorbet and its wonderful taste and glorious colour will make us smile as I am smiling right now looking at those fluffy clouds. And it’ll certainly ease the irrational circle of “growing hair – barber shop visits”.

Making sorbet is one of the easiest tasks in the kitchen, and I am not just saying this! The beauty is that you get a delightfully refreshing treat. The only trick is to have the right amount of the three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar. The right balance of water and sugar in particular is the key to a successful sorbet! If there is more water than we need, the sorbet will become crystallised and not smooth, and if we don’t have enough sugar the same will happen.

As much as we like using seasonal produce, this is tricky in itself as in a country as big as Australia there is alway a season for certain fruits or vegetables and it’s only a matter of day or two to ship them across the country. Strawberries and raspberries are not in season in Victoria, but you can find them in Queensland and maybe WA. The ones that are hard to find even when in season are blackberries, so I used the frozen ones, as we all really like them. It worked fine.

Three berries sorbet

300 g strawberries

300 g raspberries

100 g blackberries (I used frozen ones )

200 ml water

200 g sugar

juice of 1 lemon

Pour water into a saucepan, add the sugar and keep on a low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Blend all the fruits into the blender, add lemon juice and dissolved sugar into it. Once all is combined transfer into a container that can go in the freezer.

Leave it in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.

Olive oil sorghum biscuits with ginger and cinnamon

Lately, I found myself thinking how we humans have a tendency to overdo – whatever we are doing really. A cake has to have two icings, or more than two colours for decoration. A dress is too plain without an additional scarf or a necklace. Watching a movie and not having popcorn is unthinkable. Doing at least one more thing while we are on the phone, well we can’t imagine the other way around. The list can go on and on… and that is life these days.

Yes, I agree, some things give us pleasure, they don’t necessary go just under a must category. Like the popcorn we’re eating while watching a movie with our child, for example. That wasn’t my point though and the question to myself and to all of us is – can we just be? Can we create only simple things and  maybe gain extra free time? Imagine having that free time – every day. What would you do with it? How about – nothing and just be? Wouldn’t that be nice?

How many times have I done that? Not many if I want to be honest as I have the tendency to bake every chance I get. You might say that these gluten-free biscuits contributed to my tendency to overdo things, but you see, I had a good reason for baking these! A friend of ours is baby siting our son and the parents – us, are leaving the house for a movie session and a glass of wine. I had to add something sweet to their pizza and a movie at home. After all it’s one of the ways of saying thank you to such a good friend. You have to agree it’s a mighty good reason for baking biscuits.

As our friend is a gluten intolerant I planed a gluten-free treat. Although no one in our family is gluten intolerant, we enjoy all those flours for their particular taste. Sorghum flour is one of them. Lately I like to use it for biscuits more than cakes (the youngest in our family is not so crazy about cakes made with sorghum flour) and these are one of them. They go very well with Miyazaki movies and with a glass of wine afterwards.

Olive oil sorghum biscuits with ginger and cinnamon

200 g sorghum flour

50 g arrowroot flour

200 g  rice flour

1 teaspoon gf baking powder

150 g raw sugar

pinch of sea salt

150 ml olive oil

50 ml water

1 egg

1 egg yolk (I used the egg white to brush the biscuits)

1 lemon zest

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mesure and mix the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt in one bowl.

Whisk the egg yolk with the water in the food processor and add slowly olive oil until you make mayonnaise. The mayonnaise won’t be as thick as normally is so you shouldn’t worry if it looks a bit runny.

Pour the mayonnaise into the flour and mix with your hands (which is what I did) or use a stand mixer with a classic beater attachment. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and knead until you get a nice and smooth dough. Don’t overdo it; you don’t want to warm up the dough too much.

Cover with clear wrap and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Once ready, roll the dough into 5 millimetres thick sheet. Using a ruler and a pastry cutter cut the strips 4 centimetres wide. Cut again, horizontally, to make the rectangular-shape biscuits (I made mine 6 centimetres long). Use all off cuts to make the biscuits by repeating the process.

Place the biscuits onto the baking tray, leaving enough room in-between. Brush with the lightly whisked egg white and dust with the ginger powder and cinnamon powder.

Bake for 20-25 mites or until the biscuits change colour.

Once done leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.

May be kept in the airtight container for 2 weeks.

Buckwheat tart with kale, Duch carrots and chèvre

Do you know when to use the terms as “tart”, “quiche” or “pie”. Do you find it confusing? They all represent the same dish just with tiny differences. With “tart” you have to be precise if it is sweet or savoury, because it could be either. “Quiche” is always savoury so you are safe there. “Pie” could also be equally confusing as “tart” so make sure to name it properly. When you add a flan or galette to the list, phew, it is so confusing that you really want to go to the basic and use the name as you need it.

A savoury tart with kale and a few more vegetables and of course a goat’s cheese would be a precise name for this one. I emphasise the goat’s cheese as for me a savoury tart alway goes with it. I am afraid my love for this cheese makes me less creative but I promise that any new ideas will be shared here as soon as they come along.

When I make a tart or quiche base I use a simple ratio method of 2 portions of flour, 1 portion of butter and liquid (quite often just water) to bind it. To the savoury tarts I add various herbs, fresh or dry. To the sweet versions besides just a bit of sugar, I add preferable spices. The rest is a creative process of adding different fillings and that’s up to you and your preferences.

I used kale, red onion, Dutch carrots and chèvre for this one. Although all the ingredients in this tart are quite powerful, just recently I was introduced to the site that tells you more about superfood like kale and I would like to share it with you.

Buckwheat tart with kale, Duch carrots and chèvre

200 g buckwheat flour

100 g rice flour

150 g butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons water

For the filling:

1 bunch kale

1 red onion

1 bunch Dutch carrots

4 eggs

150 g ricotta

80 ml greek yoghurt

30 g  grated parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon sea salt

100 g chèvre

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a tart tin (20 cm round shape) a with removable base. If  using one without the removable base then line the tart tin with baking paper so it’s easier to remove the tart once baked.

In a medium size bowl mix the flours, salt and add butter chopped into very small cubes. Crumble the butter with fingers until is the size of peas. Add egg, water and and kneed the dough just until all is mixed and smooth. Leave in an airtight container in the fridge for an hour to rest.

In the meantime make the filling. Peal and slice the onion. Wash kale and remove the stems. Chop coarsely. Place large pot on the stove add olive oil and sauté onions for three minutes. Add kale and salt, stir and cover with lid. Leave on a low heat for another minute or until kale changes colour into a bright green. Take off the the stove and remove the lid to slow down the cooking process.

Wash carrots using a sponge, carefully removing all the soil or dust. Remove the green parts.

In a medium size bowl mix eggs, add salt, ricotta, parmesan and yoghurt and stir until all combined.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll between two sheets of baking paper into a round shape, 5 cm in diameter bigger than the size of the tart tin. Transfer the tart base into the tart tin. Arrange, trim and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom of the tart base with a fork and leave it in the freezer for another half an hour.

Once tart base is well chilled take it out of the freezer, line with baking paper, fill with beans and bake for solid 20 minutes.

Take the tart base out of the oven and fill with onion and kale mixture. Pour the eggs and cheeses mixture on the top.

Arrange Dutch carrots on the top, pressing them gently into the filling. Grate parmesan on top and bake for  40 minutes or until carrots are baked.

Sprinkle with chèvre just before serving.

New year’s resolution and buckwheat waffles

I am definitely not one of those people with a New Year’s resolution thing or at least I don’t call them that. When I am ready, whether it’s the beginning of the year or not, I just go for it. Quite often  the change will be followed by a good or a bad thing, either stress or happiness, as those are the times when we need a change. And it has always worked for me.

This year, for some reason, it was different. Just approaching the New Year felt like I needed to do something for me, or at least call it my New Year’s resolution. The first thing that was inevitable was to have more rest! An unplanned holiday followed and I’ve begun to like this New Year’s resolution thing already. The other inevitable thing was to work more! I know! It’s an oxymoron really, but if you put things in the right order – it actually works! To explain; “to rest more” means to be more efficient at work so you don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter! You see, it’s simple really.

Now, the only thing that is staple in this story is the many different flours and other goodies that make wonderful things when combined together. That is present all the time, New Year’s resolution or not. It’s actually a rather good blend as making and baking feels like rest to me and at the same time you can call it – work. I told you it’s a simple and most logical explanation!

I’ve always seen waffle batter as a thicker version of the pancake batter, so that was my starting point when I started making waffles. Sadly, I am the biggest fan of waffles in my family, the rest of the family favours pancakes more, so I don’t make waffles often, and certainly not often enough to my satisfaction. So when one wants to indulge herself, what one does? She makes waffles and she chooses one of her favourite flours. This time it’s buckwheat flour.

Buckwheat and oat flour waffles with herb butter and maple syrup (gluten free)

150gr buckwheat flour

100 oat flour

250 ml buttermilk

2 egg – separated

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

butter for greasing the mould

Herb butter

100 gr unsalted butter

lemon zest

cardamom seeds

Maple syrup for serving

Separate eggs and whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until nice and fluffy and leave aside. Mix all dry ingredients (buckwheat and oat flour, baking soda, sea salt and cardamom) in one bowl, and mix all wet ingredients (egg yolks and buttermilk) in a separate bowl. Combine all in a large bowl then fold  in egg whites. Leave it to rest for half an hour, or up to an hour, before use.

Heat and grease waffle maker. Pour a big kitchen spoon of waffle batter and bake following the instructions of your waffle maker. I’ve got mine from my mother-in-law as a present but it was my father-in-law who gave me all the instructions as he was the main chef in their house when it came to waffles. I have to say that it all worked well, I just had to convince the rest of the family that waffles were the way to go for breakfast!

I’ve chosen to serve mine with herb butter and maple syrup. Butter can be made days in advance and I find this very helpful in the kitchen. Whip the butter with lemon zest and add cardamom seeds. Depending on how you like cardamom to appear in your meal you can keep if whole or grind using mortar and pestle. Wrap the butter in a clear wrap (making the shape of sausage) and leave it in the fridge overnight (or 30 minutes in a freezer if you are in a hurry). Serve on the top of warm waffles allowing butter to melt slowly. Top up with extra lemon zest and maple syrup. Mint goes really well with these waffles as it’s very refreshing.

Happy waffle making!