What to do with a Finger Lime ?

When I saw these at bellopy our local organic market I just had to buy them. Known as “citrus caviar”,  finger limes  are a native rainforest fruit with a similar taste to that of lime.  Inside are beautiful little pearls instead of pulp.  But once bought, what to do with them ?

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Well obviously … my first thought was can use them in a cocktail ?  So I made up a lemongrass syrup, placed a teaspoon of finger lime pearls in each compartment of an ice-cube tray, filled the tray with the syrup, and froze it.
Voilà … you have a sort of finger lime bomb to put in your glass of bubbly or white wine.  As the ice-block melts, the pearls float gently to the surface.

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Of course they would be a wonderful tangy garnish for fish, and I stirred some into lemon butter for something really different.

Finger Lime Cocktail Bombs

Make a simple sugar syrup using one part sugar to one part water, say …

250 ml sugar
250 ml water
2 stalks of lemongrass stripped of their outer layer and cut into 5 cm pieces
(If you don’t have lemongrass, you can use the zest of a lime)

In a high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cold water and sugar to a boil. Turn the heat to low, add the lemongrass pieces and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture is clear, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

After boiling, let the syrup cool to room temperature, remove the lemongrass pieces and then pour into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator. The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 6 months.

Cut the finger limes into quarters crossways not lengthwise, and squeeze the pearls gently out into a bowl.  Then place a teaspoon of the pearls into each compartment of an ice-block tray.  Fill each compartment with cooled sugar syrup and freeze.  When frozen, store the ice-blocks in a sealed container in the freezer ready for use.

Lilly Pilly Cocktails …

DSCN3872 (1024x768)Lilly Pillys are probably my favourite australian native tree.  Usually fast growing, they are attractive to birds and bees, the flowers are beautiful, and now I’ve discovered that the berries make the most delicious cordial.  Not that I actually drink cordial … but I can tell you that on a hot night, a slurp of chilled Lilly Pilly Cordial and a sprig of bruised mint in a glass of dry sparkling wine is a wonderful thing. And I’m sure this still counts as “bush tucker” !!

This batch of cordial was made from Cascade Lilly Pilly berries.  The Cascade being a cross between two stars of the lilly pilly world – the Powerderpuff (syzygium willsonii) and the Riberry (syzygium luehmannii).  I planted both Cascade and Powderpuffs when I moved in, so the next batch will come from one of the many un-identified and slightly tarter lilly pillys growing at the back of the property.

Lilly Pilly Cordial

Just double or triple the ingredients according to how many berries you have
I had only a cupful and this made up approximately 650 mls of cordial

1 cup of lilly pilly fruit – rinsed to remove bugs and twigs
2 cups water
½  teaspoon tartaric acid
1 cup sugar & the juice of 1 lemon

Sterilise an empty clear wine bottle by filling it with boiling water in your sink.  Leave it for a few minutes then empty and put in the oven on a low heat to dry.  Use mitts of course!!

Meanwhile put all the ingredients into a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. The colour will gradually seep out of the berries and into the liquid turning it a delicate pink.

Remove from the heat and spoon the fruit into a strong sieve over a mixing bowl. Mash the berries gently with a wooden spoon, removing the seeds with a fork as they pop out.  Continue mashing until you force all the paste through the sieve.  Then pour the hot liquid through the sieve and into the bowl to remove the last of the paste.

Take the bottle from the oven (mitts again) and pour in the hot liquid using a funnel.  Seal and turn upside down for a few seconds.  Allow to cool.  As there are no preservatives (other than sugar) in the cordial, it should be kept in the fridge.  You can make a “virgin” cocktail by adding fizzy lemonade instead of champagne.

Bad weather baking …

DSCN3735 (768x1024)I was originally going to call this post “What to bake during a cyclone” but that would be slightly melodramatic even considering that it has been raining here for 48 hours non-stop, the bridge has gone under, we’ve had over 300mm of rain and now gale force gusts of wind. All this is courtesy of Cyclone Oswald which has wreaked even more havoc in Queensland.

None of this seems to perturb the frogs and what with the rain, the wind and the myriad of excited frog calls, the last two nights have been “ear-plug nights”.

Just before the bad weather arrived, I harvested the first bunch of bananas from my “dwarf” Cavendish banana plant.  I say dwarf, but as you can see from the photo, it is quite obviously NOT a dwarf.  The label says “a smaller growing form – up to 2.5 metres” but mine is nearly two storeys high.  The bananas however are definitely dwarf and deliciously sweet.

The extreme weather meant that I was trapped inside, so I spent the whole long weekend experimenting with banana bread recipes. This recipe turned out to be a close replica of the cafe-style banana bread I love.  It is spicy, light, not soggy and delicious with butter or yoghurt.  Thank goodness I found it because I am now a bit over bananas! 

Poached Tamarillos …

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Poached tamarillo with vanilla ice-cream

The Tamarillo (tree tomato) is a fast growing attractive shrubby tree originally from South America.  About two years ago, I planted one in my garden and then forgot about it. The next time I looked it was three metres high, and this summer it produced its first crop.  Unfortunately, because I neglected to prune it I now have to stand on my compost bin or drag out a ladder to collect the fruit.  As Tamarillos only last 3-5 years I’ve already planted its replacement – but this time I will be pruning it at one metre!
There appear to be many methods for poaching Tamarillos, but a bit of experimentation resulted in the following simple recipe which works for me.  Next year I am going to try and come up with a recipe for Sweet Chilli & Tamarillo sauce.

Recipe

375 ml water
200 gm sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste or ½ a vanilla bean split open
1-2 tamarillos per person depending upon size

  • Make a small cross cut in the tip of each tamarillo, put them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Leave for 2 minutes and then pour off the boiling water.  Once they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin carefully leaving the stems intact.
  • In a large saucepan, bring the sugar and water slowly to the boil, stirring      regularly.
  • Add the vanilla and the tamarillos and simmer gently for 5 minutes.  If the tamarillos are large, you may have to cook them in batches.
  • Remove the tamarillos and when they are cool enough to handle, make a slit the whole way up the tamarillo to the stem.
  • Put the split tamarillos and the syrup into a bowl and cool for at least 2-3 hours in the fridge. The longer you leave them the pinker the syrup will go.
  • Serve with a good quality vanilla ice-cream or perhaps a pannacotta.

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