Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nothing like a little cheese to put a smile on my face!

The other day I received a beautiful gift from my gorgeous friend Daniella. She'd gone to visit her parents (Nonno & Nonna) for lunch and on the way she'd stopped off in Haberfeild to pick up her favourite cake and to visit her favourite cheese shop. 
I'm guessing that when she was in Haberfeild she heard a little voice (me) inside her head asking her questions like, 'What did you have for lunch?' 'Where did you go shopping?' and 'What kind of delicious things did you see?' because when I saw her the very next day she handed me the most beautiful cake and some delicious cheese – my favourite kind of gift!
Well, we demolished the mozzarella  and the cake almost instantly, and we're still going on the Stracchino, which I'm enjoying with a splash of Nolan's Rd olive oil and a sprinkle of salt; but today when I looked inside the fridgetheir was a tub of fresh ricotta saying 'Eat me, eat me'! 
I already had the rhubarb left over from Kevin's (Berry Mountain farm) and so I thought I'd make a Rhubard Cheesecake and share it with Daniella. 
The cake didn't really go to plan but it still tasted delicious and, as you can see from my photo's, it wasn't a complete disaster! Daniella, Max, Wilco, Jemima and her friend Imi all had a piece and loved it, and I'm sure I heard Imi saying how delicious it was as she was devouring it, and I thought it wouldn't appeal to kids!
The texture was kind of like a cheese cake with the tangy, fruity, caramely top...mmmmmm

How to cook the rhubarb:
1 bunch of rhubarb

1/2 cup of sugar 
(I used rapdura sugar because that's all I had left at home)

3 tablespoons of lemoncello

Pre-heat your oven at 180c
First I melted the sugar in a saucepan with the Lemoncello
Then I cleaned and cut up my Rhubarb and placed it in a baking dish. 
Being really careful, I poured the bubbling sugar over the rhubarb  and made sure they were all coated with the sugar and then baked in the oven for 15min
Pour most of the sugar - lemoncello syrup into a saucepan and reduce on low heat while the rhubarb cools
I let it cool to room temp

Whilst that was cooling I made the cheese cake....

Ingredients for the cheesecake:
pre-heat your oven to 180c

500g fresh ricotta

4 egg yolks

50g cup self-raising flour

75g cup sugar

1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest

1 vanilla bean — seeds scraped out

I have this cookbook that I absolutely love it's called Mangia, Mangia (which means, eat eat in italian) they have a really simple ricotta cake so I based my measurements on that and added a few touches of my own.

Throw all your ingredients into your kitchen aid or mixer, whizz it up and your ready to go.

Get your 20cm spring form cake tin or smaller one if you want your cake to be a little denser, line it with baking paper

Assemble the rhubarb down the bottom so the base is covered, add a few spoonfuls of the reduced sugar over the rhubarb and then carefully put your cheese cake mixture over the rhubarb, spread it out and pop in the oven on a baking tray (so it doesn't make a mess) for 30 - 40min 

Don't be alarmed if the toffee leaks out of the bottom of the cake tin.

Once cooked it will be golden, leave it for 15min to cool just slightly before turning it out, run a knife around the edges just incase the sugar has stuck. Then simply put a plate on the cake and flip (the rhubarb should be on top)

I sprinkled a little sugar on top and ripped out my cooks torch (which is a blow torch) kindly bought for me by my mother In-law (any excuse to use it) and melted the sugar, which made the top all crunchy

It really was delicious and I'm sure any fruit would have been delicious on top — not the prettiest cake but definitely tasty!

©Michelle Schoeps 2013
All photos taken by Michelle Schoeps

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Berry Mountain farm - part 2

I said that most of my vegies would probably come home to Sydney with us....well I lied! On the last night I made my vegetable and chicken soup. Why lug all those vegies home when you can cook them in their prime!

You'll need:
A large heavy based pot
Tip: cut all vegies roughly the same size
1 large onion or a leek chopped finely
2 or 3 garlic cloves
small handful of rosemary - chopped very fine
2 carrots - diced small
2 small sweet potatoes (like in my photo) or 1 normal - diced small
small piece of pumpkin, skin removed and diced small
1 small head of broccoli - also chopped small - stalk and all
1/4 head of cauliflower - chopped small - stalk and all
the corn off two cobs (I used a tin of organic corn - because I was on holiday)
1/4 head of cabbage
2 bay leafs
2 chicken breasts
1/2 a cup of brown rice
a couple of good handfuls of Swiss card or spinach

To make my soup:

Melt a tablespoon of butter with a swig of olive oil and fry of your onion till it begins to colour

Then add your garlic, rosemary and a heaped teaspoon of sweet paprika and a pinch of chilli, cook for a minute or two then start adding your chopped up vegies making sure to give them a good stir after each addition.

Once they're all added pour in water to cover, then add another 2 cups
Pop your chicken breasts in and bring to the boil

Turn the heat down once boiling and add a couple of handfuls of brown rice (a bit more than half a cup)

Continue cooking for another 45 min until the chicken is shreddable and the rice has broken down
10 min before the cooking finishes add a couple of handfuls of chard

Add more water if needed and remember to season well

Serve it with crispy bacon bits, spring onions, a decent drizzle of Nolan's Rd olive oil and Reggiano
I made enough for 15 people (as I usually do) so my friend Daniella got a home delivery and the rest is in our tummies.
My recipe (above) should make enough for 10? Give or take a bowl.

©Michelle Schoeps 2013
All photos taken by Michelle Schoeps

photo of Wilco by Jemima Doyle

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Berry Mountain farm - part 1

Frank, Kevin and Jemima

Berry Mountain Farm

We've just come home from a short break down the south coast at my favourite time of the year and let me just say the weather did not disappoint. It was cold, cold, cold and my only complaint would be that the stupid cold front that swept past us, caused gail-force winds and for a moment it felt like we were in the opening scenes of the wizard of oz - not at all fun for small people or big for that matter!

We mainly hung around the house (which is right on the beach) exploring, walking, swimming (not me, just my crazy children who don't feel the cold). We had friends down to stay, but the highlight for me was our trip to the Berry Mountain Farm (usually we do this on the way down) for my box of seasonal fruit and veg. 

Little frank
We have been stopping by Kevin's for as long as we've been travelling down the south coast. Not only is his produce exceptional but his farm is pure magic and the whole family enjoys exploring the farm and there are always many photo ops for daddy.
All you need do is give Kevin the quick heads up the day before and your box will be waiting in the shed. This time he'd been out making his deliveries so he hopped on his tractor (Wilco was in heaven) and zipped around the farm picking things for our mixed box (can't get fresher than that).

Our box on the back of Kevin's tractor

They're a rare breed - people like Kevin, so incredibly committed to growing and producing food of this standard....you wouldn't believe the size of this farm and he does it all by himself. The farm also has a cottage from the early1800's - it's completely original and you can stay at it, (check it out online) and the farm is used a lot for school tours, foodie tours, movies, lifestyle/cooking shoots, as you can see from our photos it's picturesque. 
I thoroughly recommend it for a day outing with kids or maybe a school excursion?!

Wilco now (2) and when he was 3 months old (having a feed)

Anyway we spent an hour there today - the kids loved every second (doesn't matter what age they are, it's the only place they don't say "can we go, I'm bored"), Wilco could barely believe his eyes (the last time we were here I breast fed him under this tree, he was 3 months old) so for him this was the first time he'd seen a farm....the dirt, the tractors, bananas, macadamia nuts and picking his own mandarins - this is what my kids love to do - getting in touch with nature - mummy's way!

So when we got home I lay my purchase on the table to see what goodies Kevin had put together for me and I was not disappointed (never am!) 

Most of it will make it's way back to Sydney with us, but seeing it's our second last night I thought I'd make it special and I happen to have a shoulder of lamb that I've been saving for the trip to the farm. (By the way when we returned home after our visit, the kids had a bowl of vegies each: steamed broccoli, raw snow peas, carrots, baby turnips, capsicum and peas straight out of their pods)

And it seems I may have an apprentice in the making, Wilco has taken a shine to cooking, so this dinner was thought of by me (with a bit of inspiration from a recipe from Tessa Kiros) and prepared by my right hand man and myself.
It's slow cooked Lamb on a bed of vegetables from the Berry Mountain Farm
Wilco, it seems takes instructions very well (all good men do) and he's quite the arranger, so this meal will taste extra good thanks to all the love that's gone into it. 
Kevin this is for you! May you and your farm get a little more notoriety and hopefully many more people (family's - foodies) can come and enjoy what you have lovingly set up - I will definitely spread the word (and I've got a pretty big mouth) and we'll be back before you know it - the Doyles will always be back!

A few photo's from our last visit
For this recipe you'll need a trip to The Berry Mountain farm 
a shoulder or leg of Lamb
and lots of love

shoulder of Lamb
200ml of either water or stock (add a little more if it evaporates)
a bunch of parsley
3  sprigs of rosemary
3 or 4 baby leeks or onions
a full head of garlic - broken up
6 potatoes washed and sliced in thirds
5 medium tomatoes sliced in thirds
the juice of 3 lemons
lots of good extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180c
get you baking dish or large Le Creuset
Wash your herbs, leeks, potatoes and tomatoes thoroughly
Then start by laying your herbs down in your dish, followed by the leeks
Then arrange your sliced potatoes around the herbs/leeks and pop a few in the herbs and under the herbs
now the garlic (in there skins) and finally the slices of tomatoes
Pop you lamb on top and squeeze all the lemon juice on and around the meat and veg
Drizzle with oil and season well with salt and pepper and pour your water/ stock around the base
Cover with foil or put the lid on 

Turn the heat of the oven down to 160c and let it cook for 5-6 hours (when it's finished the meat will fall apart very easily) 

Then remove the herbs and leek as this will have cooked down to nothing (as will the tomato, you don't want them to burn when you turn the heat up) and pour some of the sauce out of the baking dish and reserve for serving. 
Now take the foil off and turn the heat up to 200c and let it cook for a further 45min so the meat browns and the potatoes get crispy and chewy.

We ate this simply with a salad (also from the farm) and that delicious sauce.

part 2 - Vegetable and chicken soup

The girls picking the mandarins for our box

The kids picking and eating mandarins

Wilco running through the orange trees

the orange trees

Frank and Wilco checking out the banana's

Kevin showing Max and Jemima the macadamia nut tree

I would have liked to have cooked this longer, but the kids were starved and tired so we ate it after cooking it for only 4hours - it was still delicious!

©Michelle Schoeps 2013
All photos taken by Michelle Schoeps or Max Doyle