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Garden goodies

September 30th 2014 01:18
Since this post, our little food critic has arrived and things are quite different around here.

Dinner is often a juggling act - trying to eat with one hand while the other one holds onto the little man, all the while trying not to drop food on him (we are about 80% successful in this pursuit).

Our friends have been great and very thoughtful - I don't think a week has gone by when we haven't been invited to someone's house for dinner or opened the door to a friend holding a baking dish full of something tasty. I am certainly glad that I did a whole heap of cooking before the baby came along though - having a freezer full of ready-made meals has been an absolute lifesaver. My only regret is stacking them at the bottom of the chest freezer, which makes them a little tricky to get out while holding an infant!

With all these things taking place, I (unsurprisingly) haven't been up to much in the kitchen. However, Mr Rough Cooking and I have been busy in the garden.


You may remember that back around a year ago, we moved into our new house. The backyard at that point was filled with spindly deciduous trees (mainly Elms) that had self seeded and were therefore positioned in places where no one in their right mind would actually choose to plant them.

Enter Mr Rough Cooking and his chainsaw, and we now have a much more usable area in which we can grow fruit trees and vegetables, and provide a space for our chickens (as well as a big pile of firewood). In fact, in the near future we are hoping it might look and feel a little something like this, and this, and Really Long Link


For now we have just the one veggie patch, but as you can imagine, we are looking to put in at least a second one (I would like to see a third and fourth). We have also planted fruit trees including a lemon, lime, mandarin, three peaches, two nectarines, a cherry, a plum,a fig, an avocado, two apricots, three apples and a quince. Around the fence line we are looking to put in grape vines, and perhaps we'll even give the old kiwi fruit another shot. It will be a couple of years until we start seeing any real produce from these, but we are now on our way to having our own produce once again!

I'm hoping that as he grows up, Rough Cooking junior will also enjoy spending a bit of time getting his hands dirty in the garden. For now he seems satisfied with being told and shown how well things are growing, and taking it all as a bit of an excuse to spend some time in the sunshine. Happy spring everyone!

Salted caramel apple crumble

August 4th 2014 16:58
salted caramel apple crumble

Crumble is one of my "go-to" easy dessert options for when we have guests over, or for when we volunteer to take a dessert to someone else's house for dinner. I find it is simple to prepare, easy to transport and the elements can be made ahead of time to ensure you enjoy the maximum socialising opportunities.

I have been making crumble for a fair few years now, and was looking for something a bit extra special to do with it the other night. Inspiration came on Pinterest (doesn't it always!!) when I spied a photo of a salted caramel apple crumble.

salted caramel apple crumble

I pulled together the salted caramel sauce I used here, softened my apples in a skillet and added my usual crumble topping. The results were delicious and I was reminded of the joys of salted caramel in all it's glory. Unfortunately, I made too much of the caramel sauce, so I'm just going to have to pour it on icecream later tonight and make myself a sundae. It's a tough life, but someone has to do it!

Salted caramel apple crumble

Caramel sauce

salted caramel apple crumble

250ml pouring cream
60g butter, chopped
175g brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To make the caramel sauce, place the cream, butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, bring to the boil and cook for 5–7 minutes or until thickened. Add sea salt
and vanilla essence. Set aside and allow to cool.


salted caramel apple crumble

5-6 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced

Cook gently in a little butter in a skillet until golden and soft. This will take around 5-7 minutes. You want to remove some of the moisture from the apples.


1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
100g cold butter, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add all ingredients into a bowl and using your finger tips, mix the topping until it forms a breadcrumb like mixture.

salted caramel apple crumble

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a baking dish, mix together 3/4 of the caramel sauce and the cooked apples. Add the crumble mixture evenly to the top of the apples.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden and bubbly. Serve with extra caramel sauce and a little cream.

Raisin Loaf

July 30th 2014 01:57
Raisin loaf

Now that I have a little extra time for a few days, I have been thinking about getting back into regular bread making.

It was about this time a couple of years ago that I really went for it; hoping to remove the need to purchase bread completely. For a while there, the results were good (see here and here), but the constraints of work and other commitments meant that after a couple of months, we were again heading to the supermarket to purchase the sliced, white variety.

To ease myself back into it, I decided to make a fruit bread. For me, fruit bread is one of those special foods that feels like you are being a bit naughty when you eat it for breakfast, but in actual fact, is pretty good for you. This one borders on being a cake, so don't eat the whole loaf in one sitting

Raisin Loaf

225g raisins
115g sultanas
300ml strong hot tea, strained
225g light soft brown sugar
300g self-raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1 egg, beaten

Place the raisins and sultanas into a bowl and pour over hot tea. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 170 degrees and grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

Stir the brown sugar into the fruit mixture, then sift in the flour and mixed spice. Add the egg and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed together.

Pour into the loaf pan and level the surface. Bake in the oven for around 75 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.


Making meals

July 5th 2014 06:26
baby rough cooking

There has been a lot of cooking happening around here lately, but comparatively, not a lot of eating (although my tummy has certainly been getting bigger

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Meatballs with quinoa

May 3rd 2014 23:27
meatballs and quinoa

We're coming into winter here in the southern hemisphere, and along with the new cooler season comes a renewed focus on comfort food and meals in bowls that you can hold in your hands to warm you up on the inside and out

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Cheesy fennel scrolls

March 4th 2014 09:29
cheesy fennel scrolls

What's that you say? It's March? No. It can't be, because I was on here just the other day, and it turns out that was January

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Leek and chicken (or turkey) parcels

January 2nd 2014 05:20
chicken leek parcels

Similar to what my sister and I do at my grandma's place every 6 weeks or so, a friend and I have been doing some hard-core cooking at home to fill our freezers with delicious morsels

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sweet potato spinach frittata

With a basket full of eggs staring me down the other night, and feeling like something a bit lighter for dinner after a week of heavy eating, I turned to an old favourite in the form of a frittata. I find frittatas to be a bit like risottos – the basics are always the same, and then you can add in a bit of whatever you have on hand. I had on hand some sweet potato, some spinach and some pine nuts – so we had a sweet potato and spinach frittata

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Caramalised onion tarte tatin

November 26th 2013 10:35
onion tarte tatin

It always surprises me how ‘sweet’ lots of vegetables are. Onions, carrots, pumpkin, leeks – they just need a little bit of butter or oil and some patient, gentle cooking time. It’s not really a surprise then that a dish which is traditionally made with fruit and served as a dessert also works very, very well when made with vegetables. Tarte tatin is one of my favourite dishes out there. It is such a simple idea, to cook your fruit or vegetable until they are beautifully golden and caramalised, and then add a sheet of pastry over the top to hold it all together. It is certainly one that is well worth having in your repertoire

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North african squash and chickpea stew

November 11th 2013 05:35
pumpkin and chickpea stew

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (or Hugh Feathery What'shisface as he is affectionately known around here) is fast becoming one of my favourite 'celebrity' chefs. His River Cottage Veg Everyday book is very popular in our kitchen, and among my friends, it is the most common book that we share

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