Since Christmas we have been on self-imposed 'lock-down'. Tim, who usually travels most weeks for work has been home and friends from Melbourne came to stay so we've been swimming in our newly cleared waterhole, picking and eating lots of fruit and generally laying low.
But now, the weather has turned a little extreme and day after day of dry, windy weather and high temperatures are all taking their toll. So for us it's all about trying to keep cool, checking the stock and their water, listening for bushfire news and hitting town to go swimming.
Apricot frangipane tartThis tart does require a little love and time but is just delicious. Freshly ground almonds make a big difference.
For the pastry;
150g cold butter
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
Place the flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blitz for a moment. Add the butter and blitz until you have a coarse sand-like texture. Tip this out onto a work surface and bring together with the palm of your hand and work until you have a lovely, smooth disc of dough. Wrap this in plastic and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper until about 5mm thick and drape into a loose-bottomed tart tin. Return to the fridge for another half an hour.
For the frangipane filling;
6 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups apricots, sliced thinly
Preheat oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy and add the almond meal, flour, vanilla and egg. Mix until smooth. Blind bake the tart shell then spoon in the frangipane mix and smooth out. Press the apricots into the mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until the frangipane is golden brown and cooked through.
Katie and Beau take their produce to markets across Sydney every weekend.
Morello cherry jam
This is great served with barbecued venison, duck or even spooned over ice cream.
4 cups morello cherries, pitted
1 1 /2 cups caster sugar1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves1/2 tsp ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a rolling boil. Cook like this for about 20 minutes or until you have reached setting point. If you have a sugar thermometer, this is about 100C. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal well. Makes about 4 cups of jam.
'Shaking' venison salad'
This past week has been too hot to consider turning on our oven so for dinner we've been having lots of lighter salads like this. The recipe is just delicious and was inspired by one given by Bill Granger in my favourite of his many books, Bill's Everyday Asian. The cooking style and flavours are perfect for venison.
2 garlic cloves2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
500g venison leg steaks
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup runner beans, trimmed and blanched
1 cucumber, sliced thinly
1 bunch coriander1/2 tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
3 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soft butter
Crush the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle until you have a rough paste. Add the sugar and vegetable oil and mix well. Pour this marinade over the venison steaks, cover and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least one hour.
Place the tomatoes, beans, cucumber, coriander leaves and cucumber on a nice big platter and heat a wok over high. Add the extra oil and in it, cook the steaks (with marinade) for one minute on each side. Then shake the wok for 30 seconds to cook the sides. Remove and keep warm under a tent of foil. Add the wine, soy and fish sauce to the wok and cook for a minute or so, stir through the butter and cook for about a minute more. Slice the venison across the grain and place on the salad. Pour over the sauce and serve.
Morello and torn bread saladThis salad, pictured below, is just beautiful with pretty much any grilled meat, but of course we love it most with our seared venison steaks.
3 red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic
4 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls rocket
1 loaf of day-old sourdough bread
1/2 cup morello cherries
Preheat oven to 150C. Place the onions on a baking tray and scatter with the brown sugar, drizzle over half of the olive oil and balsamic. Slow-roast for one hour, or until the onions are soft and almost caramelised. Tear the bread into chunks and place these on a separate baking tray. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and bake for about 10 minutes or until the bread is golden and crunchy. To assemble the salad, place the rocket on a big platter and add remaining ingredients. Toss well and serve with a good drizzle of pomegranate molasses.