In My Kitchen, Winter. June 2015

On the first day of every month Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, hosts a blogging event, In My Kitchen. This is a remarkable event for many reasons.  In My Kitchen has provided a platform for many like-minded folk to connect. Through Celia, I have acquired my first sourdough starter, as have so many others, and learnt more about frugality, common sense and urban connectivity.  I have also found some very dear friends. Are they virtual friends? I think not. Thanks Celia.

Winter view from front window.
Winter view from front window.

As I consider this month’s winter post, the rain continues to alternately pour or drizzle and all I can think of are Cornish Pasties. My theme for this month is not yet self-evident, especially as the kitchen is in a shambles, the light is too low and a little photo shoot may involve searching for props and lights. Rather than start the clean up, I ponder a suitable pastry for said pasties through the posts of Sandra, the best cook in Melbourne and Debi of Sheffield, Britain, who is passionate about pastry, when she’s not researching antiquity or intriguing books.These little deviations into the land of procrastination are far much more pleasurable than reading the online bad news

But back to my kitchen. The disarray in the kitchen usually results from too many ambitious projects occurring simultaneously. Yesterday I made some wonderful dark rich stock as I was yearning for a bowl of Soupe L’oignon.  As I don’t eat meat, a suitable vegetable stock required the pre- roasting of vegetables, mushrooms and some other tricks. It worked well.

Fish is cheap and plentiful in the fresh markets at present. King George Whiting is a sustainable species. Here they are baked whole in Cartoccio, small parcels using baking paper, with fennel, lemon peel, tomato, garlic, fresh oregano, and olive oil.  After 15 to 20 minutes in a moderate oven, they are ready. No waste, no frying. This year the quince tree started out with masses of baby fruit. Despite netting a few branches, the birds removed most of them, knocking them off the branches, then pecking their hard skins and discarding them. These two survived.

My only two quince.
My only two quince.

As quinces are now abundant in the market and are extremely cheap, my two decorative quince joined some other less attractive specimens in a slow poach. I then stored the pieces under their ruby sweet poaching liquid in a covered box in the fridge. They make guest appearances in different sweets over the winter months and the poaching liquid becomes a glaze or a sauce for many other desserts.

poached quinces
poached quince

For example, this little baked thing, a cross between a Far Breton Pruneax and a Clafoutis is a moody dark dessert to eat in front of the fire while watching Top of the LakeRecipe coming!

Far Breton with Quince
Far Breton with Quince

In my kitchen are a few constant reminders of the cooking tasks ahead. Mr Tranquillo will eat all the oranges and mandarins before I think of a way to use them. The lemons from my mother’s tree will be transformed into lemon curd, lemon delicious pudding and some cordial. Each time I visit, I return with another large bag.

Citrus Season in Melbourne
Citrus Season in Melbourne

The pumpkins from the garden are loitering on the verandah table, a source of winter comfort food ranging from soups to Risotto alla Zucca. And what’s a winter kitchen without a few crazy kids? It was so lovely to return home from Indonesia and have a monster family dinner. How did we turn into 14? Here are two of them!

Kids in the Kitchen
Kids in the Kitchen

60 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, Winter. June 2015”

  1. What a shame the birds left you only two quinces! The Greek family that lived across the street from us in Darwin used to make a ‘quince sweet’ that lived up to its name and was intensely sweet, and a gorgeous colour. She served only a little spoonful of it on the side with some Turkish coffee. Your kitchen seems such a warm and inviting place and I love the rainy view outside. We are missing a good chance for rain here in Alice at the moment. Lots of cloud but no rain. Thank you Francesca, you’ve inspired me to get busy on an IMK post I’ve been working on for a few weeks. xx

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    1. I’m looking forward to your post Ardys. We were so excited about the rain- it makes me feel really happy and comforted. Today’s post came from nowhere- I haven’t even managed a shower yet, but fortunately had a stash of photos from yesterday. The magic world of IMK. Hope the rain comes to Alice soon.xx

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  2. I consider you a friend (not virtual)I found through Celia. Thanks Francesca for you warmth, generosity and kind words! The sour cream pastry on my pasties is truly delicious. Sadly I can only dream about it these days, I do love a good pastie!! There something about a warm kitchen and the time to puddle on a cold wet day. My Sunday was similar, despite the penetrating sound of protestors in Bridge Rd!! My family is growing too, Leah will present us with a grandson (our first boy) in September. We’re super excited and plan to relocate to Brisbane for a while…

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    1. What wonderful news Sandra, Another baby on the way. Congratulations to Leah. And a move to Brisbane to be on hand. You will be kept busy but it will be a wonderful time. Two fabulous cooks and a new baby in the warm humid air of Brisbane.
      Protesters in Bridge road? are they building a McDonalds?
      Your sour cream pastry sounds just right for the pastie, tart and pie season.

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  3. Loved your post. The quince suggestions are beautiful. However, a veggo would you please post your full recipe for onion soup, it really looks delicious. HM

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I look from the warm fragrant kitchen I feel via your words out the window at the winter view it seems just as it should be. My MiL was lamenting on the weekend to the G.O. that they hadn’t seen the sun in days. I looked out our window and it wasn’t too bright either but somehow it didn’t matter because our kitchen like yours was up for it 🙂
    I hope your Soupe L’oignon imprints itself on my psyche… as when I have a free weekend, it’s exactly what I want to make from scratch and eat.
    I love that about families, they come in two’s, double and double again until there is twenty or more… and we go on feeding them just as before!

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    1. Funny about that, like rabbits, no not quite. The onion soup is one of those winter comfort food things so hope the imprint on the brain works for you. The fact that onions come in 10 kilo for $6.00 a bag is the other reason for a good onion dish.
      Kitchens are warm and safe places when the darkness takes over.

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  5. Beautiful photos, the opener of the view outside made me yearn to light the fire and turn on the oven! I’ve been thinking of making pasties all of the time lately but I don’t relish the thought of only being able to 2 at a time in the ‘toy oven’. French onion soup, so good and the citrus look great. Must be a reason these citrus appear when its dark, gloomy and ripe for colds and flus! Got to respect nature.

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    1. What’s with the toy oven? Are you still in the throes of renovating? I am so sad that I didn’t plant turnips this year- last year they were prolific. And now that I am lusting for pasties, no turnips. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
      Citrus and onions- maybe both are essential for fighting off the cold.

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  6. You had me at your kitchen view Francesca and just wanted to stare the day away!
    You always have the most warm and welcoming posts and wish I could come through the screen and try your Far Breton with Quince!
    Thank you also for this month’s kitchen view!

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  7. Francesca, I have piles of pumpkins in the garden but I don’t know when to pick them. I thought you had to wait until the stalks died off. Is that right? Your stalks seem green. BTW I love your view.

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    1. I picked most of them but there are a few still hardening up in the garden. yes, the stalks are green – the verandah spot is my next ripening stage. I cracked one Queensland Blue- it was perfect but the Kent pumpkins will need more time to mature.
      I would have left them out but am afraid of pests at present so they have been collected.

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  8. Beautiful pumpkins Francesca and you have a lovely view from your window. It also has been a pleasure to meet you and look forward to IMK posts. You are in the clutch of winter we are burning under the hot summer sun… but your onion soup and clafoutis sure warms the heart. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Moya, Under that rainy ( or sometimes sunny) window is a big couch, where I sometimes lie like a lizard and read, in between cookathons. It’s a good spot.

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  9. Hello lovely .. what a great post. Makes me feel so lazy in my kitchen! Oh King George Whiting, I haven’t had it in ages, I can only imagine how good that tasted cooked whole. Yum. I was a wee bit luckier with our quince, even though the marauding birds /possums stole many, I poached a lot too. Wish I lived closer, I would have dropped some in 😉 That quince dessert recipe .. yes please! Wonderful happy post .. loads of great pics. How good are family meals 😀

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  10. What a lovely view from your front window. The soup looks divine and with the real first breath of winter my thoughts have also turned to French Onions Soup. On the weekend perhaps… Always interesting to see what’s happening. Xxx

    Ps: bloody birds!
    Pps: Top of The Lake!!

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    1. Thanks Fiona, the soup went well so I posted the stock recipe today. It goes well with winter- but does it get very cold up your way? Yes, Love Top of the Lake!!

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  11. So many good things in your kitchen, Francesca, and I loved the view to outdoors. That clafoutis looks divine… one of my favourites… and isn’t Top of the Lake spellbinding!

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  12. Blog friends are the best – and you and Sandra are definitely on the list. I sometimes think I SHOULD be Australian as most the people I communicate and identify with are from “down under”. Thanks for the mention! So sorry about those quinces! I get a little bird/squirrel damage, but not that much! I see you’ve also posted on that vegetable stock for onion soup – will get to it next – and am hoping you used mushrooms. They go so well with onions. Love the photo out your front window. Makes me want to breath in all the open space!

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  13. For a post that came from nowhere it was wonderful to read! I also love the look of your soup – will be keen for the recipe. You gave me a good ideas with the lemons – our tree is in abundance with huge ones so I’ll be making lemon curd, lemon delicious and cordial too -lemon drizzle cake always goes down well too!

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  14. Francesca, your pastoral view was simply lovely, and so was your heartwarming soup. Thanks for your tip to roast the vegetables first for a more flavorful stock. My daughter recently asked for my French Onion Soup recipe, but I’m going to send her yours! (Mine is “beef broth based” and she prefers vegetable stock — voila, indeed!) I also enjoyed your fish recipe “flavor combinations” — must make! The sunshine on your quince and the sunny smiles of your children must make you feel warm in the midst of winter, too. Hugs. xo

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  15. I would love to be looking out on rain at the moment… we really need it here in Queensland. All the delicious yummy goodness coming out of your kitchen is just the best winter comfort food! I look forward to seeing all the scrumptious recipes you make with those beautiful pumpkins! Thanks for sharing! Liz xx

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  16. One day I hope to have a beautiful view from my kitchen as yours – it seems so peaceful there. Thank you for the KIng George Whiting info too – I’m so glad that they’re sustainable fish. And I have not yet tried it with fennel and tomato – very Mediterranean indeed 🙂 Good luck with all your lemony goodness – looking forward to some lemon posts soon. Thanks for a peek in your kitchen, see you next month x

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  17. There’s something wintery about lemons, well in my mind. A lovely tart lemon curd sounds really nice right about now… that and a delicious lemon meringue with a really crisp base… mmmm. Lovely post Francesca.

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    1. LOL- weetbix and quince- perish the thought. Your young men ( and one slightly older one) eat so well. They lucky fellas indeed. I treasure our friendship too Celia. xx

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  18. Oh just LOOK at that soup! It’s making me hungry… you can definitely tell the stock was amazing, its so rich and gorgeously coloured!!! I’m envious of your pumpkins, but even more envious of that lovely outdoor view!! x

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  19. A perfect post for this weather Francesca…and interesting that you mention Cornish Pasties, Luke Nguyen had a segment on them on Episode 3 of his UK series, apparently the classic recipe and quite different to any I’ve seen before..I loved watching the woman who made them doing the scalloped edges so fast, it’s always wonderful watch an expert cook doing their thing!

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