You may notice in the picture that there are some empty spots I have left for the lilies turn to fill in the gaps with Dahlias and other Summer perennials which may be sprouting in the end of Spring. I have also spread some seeds I have got from my own garden last year, hopefully they'll be taking in, given that we've been receiving rain every now and then.
I am also looking forward to buy more Spring Onion (white and red) seeds and other herbs I may use more in Summer. My chives have started to springing up from the ground, parsleys are going really bushy, mints are giving fresh green colour, garlics are getting plumper around the roses as well as in the herbs garden, sages are in buds, oregano are building their fresh leaves and long stems, and thymes start to flowering. My corianders are growing from the seeds fallen on the ground and surprisingly have been self-seeding and even thrive in Winter time. I was thinking is this the sign of that global warming issue?
In the flower garden, my roses are starting to develop their new leaves and stalks, some of them are in buds which I have to pinch off. It's too early to develop flowers while the stalks are still too young and weak. On the other hand, my tulips (yellow and black diamond) are all bright and colorful, opening their unfold petals. Daffodils are going to die out, but my bluebells are still developing their leaves. Some of my freesias are already blooming, some are not yet opening the buds. Calendulas, pansies, and violets are the cheers of Winter throughout Summer. I have had them in the garden all-year-round. Cinerarias are happily smiling with their double colors, either dwarf or tall varieties. Lavender and Rosemary are showing off their mauve blooms. Bumble bees love them!
The trouble with perennials, either herbs or flowers, so often I have to hoe their tubers or bulbs out as I forget where I put them last year. Unlike the tulips which I tend to keep in the same pots over the years or lift them out off the ground when they've died out, I often forgot where I put my lilies, daffodils, bluebells, echinachea, peonies and chives. When I trimmed rooted Japanese Anemones under the Lavender bush, I hoed out one of my Asiatic Lilies and I swore that time that I have to mark the place next time they've died out, but I never did (I'm pretty slack, aren't I?).
Anyway, the days are getting brighter, I suppose, although we still receive cold Shouterlie breeze. My mood on baking is unusually increasing, especially when I am looking at trays of fresh farm eggs we don't sell and people we know have had received their stocks for two weeks or even a month before we can offer them the same amount of trays of eggs. We have also to give them away to the Food Bank, otherwise they'll be rotten or be thrown away in the aweful pit if not putting them under clucky chooks.
The other day, I was in the mood to make tartlets. I have been keeping an eye on this recipe I adapted from one of the best-known chefs in New Zealand, Geneieve McGough, her first book is entitled Basic But Brilliant, featuring the basic stuffs and variations we can use from the standard procedures in baking/cooking. I love her book and she gives more information step-by-step famous chefs mostly have forgotten to do.
Coconut Marshmallow Pie
I made tartlets, using mini muffin tins to cut out the baking time. And I've been promising myself to try out this recipe for quite a long time since I bought her book. I was interested in the mixture of the coconut custard mixed with desiccated coconut which then topped with the meringue. I think tartlets won't make me guilty when I have the need to eat them in their little portions. Geneieve suggests to serve this pie(s) hot from the oven chilled or at room temperature with sweetened soft whipped cream.
Source: Basic But Briliant. Geneieve McGough. Penguin. 2005.
240g plain flour,
120g cold butter,
30g white sugar,
½ tsp baking powder,
30ml cold water
Place the flour, butter, sugar and baking powder into a blender and blend until the consistency looks like fine breadcrumbs. While machine is still running, slowly pour in the water and allow the mixture to come together forming small balls. Remove pastry from the blender and work into a ball of dough.The pastry needs to be refrigerated overnight, or for at least 2 hours, after it is pressed into the moulds. This results in almost zero shrinkage.
Heat the oven to 180C. Bake blind the pastry shell for 15 minutes (about 5-8 minutes midget muffin pans), remove the rice/beans and paper. Brush pastry with beaten egg and bake for another 5 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
170g caster sugar,
85g fresh egg whites
Place sugar and water in a small pot and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric beater until they form stiff peaks. With the beater still beating, slowly pour in the sugar syrup. This partially cooks the whites so they only need to be finished quickly in the oven. Keep beating until the mixture has cooled then pipe onto the filling. Bake for 5 minutes.
400ml coconut cream,
1 cup desiccated coconut,
zest and juice of 2 limes,
4 Tbs white sugar,
2 Tbs cornflour,
2 Tbs water,
1 egg yolk
Place the coconut cream, coconut, lime zest and juice, and sugar in a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer. Stir the cornflour and water together in a cup. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cornflour and water. Return the pot to a low heat and stir until the mixture simmers. Simmer for 1 minute, stirring continuously, then remove from the heat.
Stir in the egg yolk then set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Pour the coconut filling evenly between the tart cases or fill the large tart case. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Pipe the basic meringue onto the coconut. Sprinkle the meringue with the extra dessicated coconut and bake for 5 minutes.