An Angel in the Kitchen is a real food and family recipe blog.
A place to be able to find our recipes again & remember how we made stuff!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Glorious Sweet Violet Jelly & Cheesecake

It may seem a bit odd- a whole lot of pictures of flowers in a food blog, but truly it is not. I've come to believe that the presence of violets in the landscape redeems winter beautifully, not to mention that they are the loveliest of medicines. I have posted here about making violet honey syrup- a resource we would now never be without. We have both been irritated by the abundant drenching of the whole province with pine pollen over the last month & heavily relied on the violet honey syrup to get us through the night. It is amazing for soothing a cough- instantly! 
There are several places that we know we can gather wild violets locally: Ellis Wallace road, Keirunga valley- under the oaks & at the top of the Karituwhenua walkway off Te Mata road in Havelock North 

 If you are picking for making violet syrup it's quicker to pull the flowers rather making a bunch of them.
 Every part of the gathering process is a joy- the heady fragrance,
 the visit to the land & the blessing that the plants offer as we gather them with so much respect & gratitude.
And of course, you may find other treasures along the way.
 Violets come in so many pretty hues- all are valuable.
 As long as you have a good proportion of purple the colour comes out much the same.

The syrup, once made, is best stored in small jars in the freezer, but since Rob still had a particularly niggly cough I thought that little jellies might be useful. Useful- they are amazing! 
 I simply set the syrup with a good amount of gelatine. Left uncovered in a little dish in the fridge it lasts for ages or until it disappears!
 After making the violet jelly I wondered what a little cheesecake might be like.
I decided to use a simple base of soft dates & nuts- a mix of flaked almonds, cashews & home shelled walnuts. Didn't take long to come together in my little food processor. I used quite a few dates so I didn't need to add any other sweetening. I added the juice of half a lemon & a tbsp of melted coconut oil & it set to a lovely texture.
 I used a 400ml jar of Raglan blackcurrant & vanilla coconut yoghurt as the middle layer, set with a large dsp of gelatine dissolved in a little juice or water. It's a good idea to mix in some yoghurt  to the gelatine before adding to the rest. Mine started to set too quickly in the cold yoghurt.
The violet honey syrup was also set with a lovely organic gelatine in the same way.
The flavours are just delicious together.
It's amazing how many edible winter flowers that there are- violets, grape hyacinths, forget-me-nots, jasmine & sweet alyssum look lovely with the violet cheesecake.

The other winter flower that is just delicious & works nicely with violets & lemon (or lime) to make an amazing natural fizzy drink is magnolia. You can find how to make Fee just here
Love Katie xx

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Smoky Haw Sauce

Hawthorn is one of our favourite wild foods and is also a beautiful medicine and tonic for the heart. The berries, also known as haws, are ripe & ready to harvest through late March & the month of April. Some say that they taste sweeter after a frost, but if I'd followed that advice in one spot last year, I would have lost the lot to the pukekos!
We gathered these haws (below) up the Esk valley in Hawke's Bay last week and they are just perfect. Thanks to Abby @ Earthly Pearls and her wonderful hawthorn post and recipe for smoky haw sauce we have been able to get the hang of making our own sauce and it's totally worth the effort.
Haws are not something that you can pick in a hurry and since the plants have long thorns, are frequently found on steep hillsides and the fruit is quite small, we find that we come home with a very manageable amount of fruit with each picking.
Firstly, we sit for a few minutes at a time gently pulling off the berries and discarding as many stalks as possible & any leaves.
We both love this therapeutic process.
Next, wash the berries well and drain in a colander.
Put in to a pot that matches the amount of berries that you have and just barely cover with a mix of half water and half good apple cider vinegar.
I like to leave them to soak in the vinegar for an hour or two, or even overnight.
Then, turn on the heat & gently bring them to the boil. Simmer for around half an hour until the colour has gone out of the fruit and they have become soft.
Pour the liquid in to a jug and push the cooked berries through a coarse sieve or colander.
Using a potato masher is quite handy for squishing everything up and then we take turns working the soft stuff through the sieve until all we have left is some fibre and the little stones from inside the fruit or we've had enough- which ever comes first. Adding some of the liquid every now again also helps to get the pulp through to the other side.
Carefully scrape the goodness from the back side of the sieve as best you can & then discard the seeds that remain.
Pop the sieved hawthorn back in to the pot with any left over liquid.
This is not a strict recipe- just a general take it as it comes arrangement so, say to 
~ 3 cups of pulp I then add around a cup of raw sugar (or you could use honey)
~ 1/2 tsp of good salt, some ground black pepper
~ 1 large tsp of smoked paprika 
~ 1/2 tsp of chipotle powder (don't worry if you don't have any but it really is amazing)
Simmer all these bits and pieces together for perhaps 15- 20 minutes until thick and smooth.
Check the seasonings and balance and add more salt, sugar or spice to taste.
Pour in to sterilised jars or bottles.
No idea if it keeps well as we ate it all before we could find out!
Here is another plain version with measurements:

  1. 500g of hawthorn berries.
  2. 300ml of cider vinegar.
  3. 300ml of water.
  4. 170g of sugar.
  5. 1/2 tsp salt.
  6. freshly ground black pepper.










Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dreamy Fig Ice-cream

Fresh figs truly make the best ice-cream & it's really, really simple to make.
Being such a fragile fruit they often go off quicker than we can use them or they ripen all in a rush.
So...firstly- they freeze really well & can be slow baked any time of the year from frozen.
Secondly, the fresh fruit slow bakes so beautifully- just uses as is or...best of all, turn those succulent baked figs in to the most delicious ice-cream you've ever tasted.

So many different varieties & colours in the fig world.
They can be simmered in a pot..
you can find the recipe for simmered figs just here.
Or, you can spread them in a baking dish & bake them for an hour- an hour & a half on 120-130 C until they look much like this...



Each time I bake figs they come out a little different but always so delicious.
So here's the basic recipe for the ice-cream:
Slow bake as many figs as you have to work with.
Cool- blend with a hand mixer or in a small processor, bullet etc until fairly smooth.
The balance is 1/2 & 1/2 to get the texture of the ice-cream just right.
1 cup of baked fig pulp to 1 c of whipped cream
To the cream add 1 tsp of vanilla essence & either honey or maple syrup to taste.
To a 2 cup ice-cream I would probably add a tbsp of honey/maple syrup.
But taste it & see what you think.
No, no don't eat it all- it needs to go in the freezer first!
Ginger is a nice edition on occasion.
Freeze in a flatfish dish with a lid.
Serves perfectly, straight from the freezer & really doesn't require much else.
Just that simple.
Love Katie x

Friday, March 1, 2019

Pickled Myoga Ginger Flowers

Myoga ginger is a Japanese woodland ginger that is used mostly for the edible flowers that appear in early autumn. These flowers are rather peculiar as they grow at ground level which is most surprising indeed.

 Best to pick the early buds just before the lemon flower bit comes out- that way you'll find them nice & tender.
Wash the flower buds.
Slice 8-10 buds finely.
Bring to the boil:
1/2 C of apple cider vinegar & 1/ 2 C of rice wine vinegar
Add 1/4 C raw sugar & 1/2 tsp good salt

Pour this mixture over the sliced ginger & add some red shiso leaves (also known as beefsteak) if you have them.
Leave to cool and infuse for several hours, or overnight.
Store in the fridge.
I added the few hyacinth beans & some shiso leaves to this pickle.
Very quickly the ginger is pickled & turns a wonderful pink colour and tastes amazing- perfect unami flavours.
 Lovely with radicchio..
 and fresh figs, feta, gynura bi-colour (red vegetable- tastes like gingery spinach) and avocado.
Any left over pickle juice can be used to make vinaigrette dressings. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

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