Category: Peaches

Nuwara Eliya & A Tea Punch Cocktail

If you were looking to write a Gothic novel, your first choice of location would most likely not be tropical Sri Lanka.  Because the tropes of Gothic novels include storms, rain, mist and fog and Sri Lanka is all sunshine, white sand, blue water and palm trees right?

Wrong, so wrong.  Welcome to Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya WeatherSituated “up country” Nuwara Eliya is about as far away most people’s idea of a “tropical” country as you can get.  This is a famous tea growing district  – all of the bushes you can see in the photo above are tea plants.  We were there for three days and the weather was like this the entire time, all low swirling clouds, fog, mist and rain. 

As we climbed higher and higher into the hills, the weather changed from hot and sunny, to cold and gloomy.  It was as if you were entering a different, very isolated world – even though the nearest town was only a few kilometers away and you could usually get a decent wifi signal. 

As well as the weather, a good Gothic novel should be set in a (preferably haunted) old mansion or manor house.  Nuwara Eliya is nicknamed Little England and The Hill Club, where we stayed,  would not look out of place on the Yorkshire Moors. 

Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya

I’ve read enough Agatha Christie and watched enough episodes of Midsomer Murders to know that the English Manor house is actually a hot bed of murder and sexual intrigue.  If it’s not a pyromaniac mad woman in the attic, it’s something nasty in the woodshed!  

Hill Club3The Hill Club may well be the one place where the sun hasn’t set on the British Empire.  Staying there is like taking a step back in time.  I suspect that not even in Britain today are there many hotels where one wall in the bar is adorned with a large portrait of the Queen and another with an equally large photo of Winston Churchill.  And this is not someone’s idea of a decorating a hotel with some kitschy memorabilia from the days of Empire.  This is a Hotel from the days of Empire.  Actually, sorry, not a hotel at all.  A gentlemen’s club.

Hill Club
The olde-worlde atmosphere only contributed to the feeling that you had somehow strayed into either some sort of time slip stream or parallel universe.  I would not have been entirely surprised to wake and find myself back the 1940’s or to see a ghostly figure roaming the halls. Speaking of which, there was also a long corridor which could have come direct out of The Shining:

Hallway CollageAdd to this some flickering lights and power outages caused by the storm and you have almost the perfect place to gather around the fire in the reading room either to read your favourite Gothic novel by candlelight or to see who can make up the spookiest story.  Who knows, it may even be the next Frankenstein!

Hill Club4But telling ghost stories can be thirsty work, so whilst you are doing that you need the perfect libation to not only wet your whistle but give you some Dutch courage in the event that a large hound starts baying outside or the tap, tap, tapping on the window turns out not to be a tree branch but your dead lover come to woo you from the grave. 

All of which, after the longest intro, ever means, I made us a cocktail. 

Tea Punch Cocktail I wanted to make something with tea to highlight the wonderful produce from Nuwara Eliya. And, in a wonderful piece of serendipity, the very next chapter of The A-Z of Cooking contained a recipe for a tea punch. (Yes, we are still only up to D – Dips and Drinks). 

Tea Punch Cocktail 2

Sadly, the Tea Punch in The A-Z of Cooking was non-alcoholic.  So, I boozed it up.  Because in my mind, a punch needs to have a little punch if you know what I mean. 

My only dilemma with this was what to use as the “spike” for my tea.  Absinthe would have been the Byronesque choice however I can’t bear the taste of it nor the big shirts with frilly collars. 

Tea Punch Cocktail 4

Arrack was my next choice because I brought a bottle home with me, but that would be no fun for any of you.  Arrack is a Sri Lankan spirit made from toddy, which is the fermented juice from a coconut palm. 

Tea Punch Cocktail 5

I then found this wonderful article in Gothicked which confirmed not only spiked tea as a Gothic drink of choice but also whiskey.  I still had some Jameson’s from when I made the Emerald Presse so I used that.

The original recipe called for Orange Bitters, I had Rhubarb Bitters so I used them instead. 

Whether you are in a Gothic Manor house or at home just reading about them,  this is a really nice drink –  the combination of the tea, whiskey and ginger give it a dark, smokey flavour whilst the peach and orange adds some sweetness and a lovely bright tropical colour!

If you are a reader and you were interested in learning a bit more about Sri Lanka, particularly the civil war that tore that beautiful country apart in the ’80’s and ’90’s you might want to take a look at this book:


  I read it when we were there which made the story that much more real, particularly as completely by chance we stayed at two of the places, Mount Lavinia and Havelock Town which feature in the book. 

And if anyone is inspired by this post to write a spooky Gothic tale or locked room murder mystery set in Nuwara Eliya, please let me know, I would love to read it!

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Tea Punch Cocktail
A tropical cocktail with a dark heart
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Ingredients
  1. 50ml strong Ceylon tea
  2. 30ml whiskey
  3. 30 ml peach juice
  4. 30 ml orange juice (about 1/2 an orange)
  5. 5 drops Rhubarb Bitters
  6. Dry Ginger Ale
  7. Orange and peach slices to garnish
Instructions
  1. Mix the tea, whiskey and fruit juices.
  2. Top with the dry ginger ale.
  3. Add the bitters and stir to mix.
  4. Garnish with orange and peach slices
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

Peachy Keen for Peach Sorbet with Lavender & Rosemary

Summer, and peach season, is pretty much drawing to a close here.   So, if like me, you love the stone fruit, how can you prolong the taste of summer through autumn, winter and spring?  By making this gorgeous sorbet which combines lovely sweet peaches with (ahem)…homegrown lavender and rosemary.  Yes, I have garden produce!!! 

Peach Sorbet Ingredients
Peach Sorbet Ingredients

This is so simple, just these three ingredients, some sugar and water.

Peach Sorbet Ingredients2
Peach Sorbet Ingredients2

 And you get one of the loveliest ice creams ever.   This is really refreshing without being too sweet –  the lavender and rosemary are not overpowering but add a little depth to the fruit and sugar.

AUTUMN – The Sorbet Ma’am, Just The Sorbet

Autumn in Melbourne is lovely.  You get cold crisp mornings, warm days and cool evenings.  To prolong the taste of summer as it starts to get darker and cooler, this peach sorbet is perfect just on it’s own in a cone. All alone.  Like a rolling stone.

Yes.  I think it’s enough now too.  Because I heard you moan and groan.

Really stopping…NOW.

Because just look at this peachy goodness!

Peach Sorbet
Peach Sorbet

WINTER – Baked Peaches With Amaretti and Amaretto and Peach Sorbet

Mmmm…hot baked peach, cold peach sorbet , herby, nutty, sweet and boozy….that’s about all my favourite adjectives right there.  And I totally forgot to take a picture of it before eating half of it.  So I had to borrow a peach off my friend’s plate to take this picture.  Thanks for the peach Monica!!!

Peaches Baked with Amaretti and Amaretto2
Peaches Baked with Amaretti and Amaretto2

 You may be wondering where you are supposed to find peaches in winter?  Well my mum used to make this for us waaaaay back and we only ever used to have it with tinned peaches.  And believe me, this is one of the few things where you will ever hear me say that this works as well (maybe even a little better) with tinned as fresh.

SPRING Into A Peach Sorbet Bellini

Spring in Melbourne means the Spring Racing Carnival which means lots of champagne.  You can really welcome the warmer days by adding a dollop of the peach sorbet into the bottom of your champagne glass for a fabulous take on a Bellini.

 So good even Lulu wants one!

Lavender and Rosemary Bellini2jpg

Lavender and Rosemary Bellini
Lavender and Rosemary Bellini

 Hope your week is peachy keen, jelly bean.

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Peach Sorbet with Lavender and Rosemary (3 ways)
This deliciious and easy to make peach sorbet will bring back the flavour of summer all through the year
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Ingredients
  1. For The Sorbet
  2. 200g sugar
  3. 2 tbsp edible dried lavender
  4. 2 springs of rosemary, about as long as your thumb
  5. 1 kg of peaches
  6. 200g water
To Serve
  1. Ice cream cones
For The Baked Peaches with Amaretto and Amaretti
  1. 4 large peaches, or you can used tinned, in which case you will need 10 halves
  2. 20 crumbled amaretti biscuits
  3. 4 tbsp Amaretto Liqueur
  4. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  5. Butter for greasing the pan
  6. 4 scoops of sorbet
For The Bellini
  1. Sparkling Wine
  2. Rosemary sprigs and lavender sprigs and peach wedges to garnish (optional)
For the Sorbet
  1. Place the sugar, water, lavender and rosemary into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Then simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. With a paring knife, make a small cross into the bottom of each peach. Place in a bowl and pour boiling water over the peaches. Let them sit for a few minutes then tip into a bowl of iced water. The skin should now be quite easy to peel off. Cut the peaches into wedges and place them in the sugar syrup.
  3. Once this mixture is cool, remove the peaches and place them in your blender, strain the syrup to remove the lavender buds and rosemary and add the liquid to the blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container and chill in freezer for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.
  5. Serve with ice cream cones or as described below.
For The Baked Peaches with Amaretto and Amaretti
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Lightly butter a baking tray
  3. If using fresh peaches, cut in half, remove the stones and, using a melon baller or a teaspoon, scoop out a little bit more of the peach flesh and place in a small bowl. If using canned peaches, finely dice 2 peach halves and place in a small bowl.
  4. Place the crushed biscuits, the amaretto and 1 tbsp of sugar in the bowl along with the peach flesh. Stir to combine.
  5. Fill the peach halves with this mixture.
  6. Place the peaches onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
  7. If using fresh peaches, bake for around 20 minutes until cooked through then place under a hot grill for the last 5 minutes to really caramelise the topping. If using tinned peaches, bake for 5 minutes, really just to warm the peaches through then place under the grill for the last 5 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately, 2 to a plate with a dollop of sorbet.
For The Bellini
  1. Add a dollop of sorbet to your champagne glass.
  2. Top with sparkling wine.
  3. Garnish as desired.
  4. Enjoy!!!
Notes
  1. I like to leave my biscuit crumbs fairly rustic so they vary in size from crumbs to larger chunks.
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

 

 

Fruity Devils…. and a Life Check

  Ever have those moments where you take a good long hard look at yourself and wonder how on earth you ended up in a certain place? Where your life took that turn?

I had one of those tonight.  And it wasn’t pretty. Unlike these Fruity Devils which we will get to in due course. 

Fruity Devils1
Fruity Devils1

 So, let’s imagine my life as a movie.  Not a very glamorous movie.  But a movie nonetheless. We’ll start with a close up…

Eight o’clock Friday night and I am sitting alone. At home.  Wearing a sweatshirt that had seen better days about five years ago and yoga pants.  Well, that’s what the shop I bought them in called them.  They may have never seen the inside of a yoga studio or known a down dog but technically they are yoga pants.

None of that is is the problem.  He has a new job where he is working nights and I am perfectly comfortable both in my own company and with my attire. 

My PhotoFy_09_19_21_56

So, lets draw the camera back and see where the problem may lie.  Sitting on my lap is a plate of chopped up bananas smothered in peanut butter, wrapped in bacon and grilled.  I had a grand idea to do a take on a Devils on Horseback and call it Elvis on Horseback.  It didn’t really work…Anyway, bacon and peanut butter is admittedly  not the healthiest combination on earth but it wasn’t that that had me cringing either.  I count eating weird stuff as R&D.  I’m eating it so you don’t have to!  And you, know sometimes in this blogging lark you have to take the (super) crunchy with the smooth. 

And boom! 

That peanut butter gag was like the Spanish Inquisition.  (Because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition). 

I’ll stop now. 

Maybe the problem will be apparent if we draw the camera back even further…

My PhotoFy_09_19_21_58
  Yes, that is a very hefty glass of wine in front of me…could that be what has me in a such a state of consternation?  Drinking alone? Am I worried about some incipient alcoholism /the state of my liver / my ability to get up and go the gym tomorrow morning?

No, no and resoundingly no.  It’s Friday, it’s been a long, hard week and if a girl wants a drink in the privacy of her own home, she should be able to have one.  Or two.  Don’t judge me.

Peachy Devils with Pomegranate Molasses
Peachy Devils with Pomegranate Molasses

 So what it is?  Why am I pausing for a moment of reflection? Not that I am alone at home on a Friday night, wearing let’s just call them “comfortable” clothes; not that I am eating a banana smothered in peanut butter then wrapped in bacon; not that I am drinking alone but that I am doing all of the above whilst watching a movie where Robert Pattinson is playing Salvador Dali. 

What???????

Why?

WHHYYYYYYY???????

I really need to re-evaluate some of my life choices.  I may need professional help.  Or at the very least some movie recommendations….

Pineapple Devils
Pineapple Devils

 

Who on God’s green earth thought that was a good idea?  (Me apparently seeing as it was on my Netflix queue).  But then again, I’m alone at home on a Friday night eating bacon, bananas and peanut butter!  My judgement is at best questionable. 

But apart from me, who else thought it was a good idea?  It’s TERRIBLE. Well, to be honest, the film itself is probably not so bad.  R Patz, however is more wooden than the stake that should have been driven through his cold dead heart in any one of the billion Twilight films. 

Oh, God, why am I still watching it?

Make it stop…someone please make it stop!!!!!

And does anyone else think Vamp boy looks a lot like the Blackadder?

robert-pattinson-little-ashes-3

Blackadder2jpg

 

I have no idea what possessed me to pick that film.  What is far easier to track is how I ended up thinking bananas and bacon were a good idea. The seed of THAT insanity lies within the book club. One of the ladies brought along one of her mother’s (?) Women’s Weekly cookbooks from the early sixties.  It was AWESOME.  And whilst I really wanted to just grab it and run….I contented myself with flicking through the pages.

Which is when I saw the recipe for Jaffa Devils.  Orange slices wrapped in bacon and grilled.  Two ingredients, easy to remember.  So I made them.  They were ok.  They weren’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten but they sure weren’t the worst!  And it works in theory – bacon and orange mix well at breakfast…so why not in an appetizer? (Mind you, it’s that kind of thinking that leads to coffee flavoured scrambled eggs…and Little Ashes, which incidentally, STILL watching).

Jaffa Devils
Jaffa Devils

 The problem was, the Jaffa Devils became like a gateway drug.  For a while there I was utterly obsessed with wrapping fruit in bacon.  I kind of like it when food is both good and bad for you, bacon and fruit, peanut butter and celery, cranberry juice and booze..it’s the way o’ the world, yin and yang, toxifying and detoxifying in equal measure.  

I wrapped peaches, pineapple, a tangelo…I couldn’t leave the citrus alone.  And the banana.  The banana was not good.  The tangelo, like the orange, was a bit meh…..

The peach and the pineapple?  OMG. Super.  The Bacon and Peach Combo worked best with a sauce made from Pomegranate Molasses.  By which I mean some Pomegranate Molasses poured into a bowl.  But you could use some reduced Balsamic if you did not have the Pomegranate Molasses.  The Bacon and Pineapple Devil worked with both a sweet chilli and a BBQ sauce. 

Peach, Pinepapple and Tangelo Devils
Peach, Pineapple and Tangelo Devils

 Pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself! And super easy and super quick to make as well. 

In all honesty, give the banana and orange ones a miss.  But do try the peach and pineapple.  They are gold!  And for some Dali gold, skip Little Ashes and watch this clip of the real Salvador Dali utterly bamboozling the folks on What’s My Line

Fruity Devils

Fruity Devils

Ingredients

  • 2 Peaches, cut into quarters
  • 4 pineapple rings, halved
  • 8 slices of bacon or proscuitto, cut in half
  • Condiments for dipping - pomegranate molasses, sweet chilli sauce, bbq sauce, etc

Instructions

  • Wrap the fruit in the bacon.
  • Place under a hot grill and cook until the bacon is crisp.
  • Serve immediately with the sauces for dipping.
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2014/09/23/fruity-devils/

  Have a great week!

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