Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Power of Raw Chocolate and My Recipe for How to Make Chocolate at Home




Chocolate making at home is really the story of Raw Cacao, not cocoa, although Cacao does originate from the wonderful fruit called  the Cocoa Pod. My homemade chocolate is a very different product to the chocolate we are used to buying from the supermarket with many more health benefits and is a dark chocolate. Cacao is one of the richest sources of Magnesium available which is great for our heart and energy levels and it is full of other valuable antioxidants as well. As we don't temper the chocolate we make at home or add emulsifiers to ensure longevity on supermarket shelves, the health benefits of the cacao aren't removed in the chocolate making process. 

Mr. HRK and I have been experimenting with making chocolate during the past few weeks and now I feel confident in passing on this recipe with some of the tips we have learned along the way. We can now make a batch of chocolate in around 15 minutes, set it in the freezer for 40 minutes and voila it is ready to eat in an hour from start to finish. This recipe makes about 20-30 chocolates depending on your mold size.

So prepare to relax. Making chocolate should be an enjoyable activity and is the perfect time to remember to enjoy life.  Chocolate should make you feel good, and not guilty about eating it. This recipe is Lactose free (no dairy is used) and sugar free ( the natural sweetener Agave is used.) We like to turn on our favourite music, and make some chocolate. Because it is a dark chocolate, we don't feel the need to eat  more than two chocolates at once. One with a coffee is perfect for me.

Vanilla powder for flavouring is used in this recipe and we have found it difficult to source locally. So we have been substituting with scraping the seeds from two Vanilla Beans, and crushing them, which works well. We have ordered Vanilla powder online which should arrive shortly.

Equipment you will need:

A pyrex heatproof bowl and a pyrex jug (Don't use metal)
A smallish saucepan (slightly smaller in diameter than the bowl so that the bowl can sit in it without touching the bottom or the 2cm of water simmering in the bottom of the saucepan)
Silicon Chocolate  molds (or 2 ice cube trays will work)



1 small whisk
1 spatula
Tea towel
A sieve or flour sifter
Knife, chopping board & measuring spoons/cups
Kitchen scales
Kitchen thermometer (optional as I don't use one)
An apron for me

Ingredients for basic Raw Chocolate Recipe:

80g Cacao Butter chopped into small pieces Available from Health Food shops (Or 65 grams Cacao Butter and 15 grams Cold Pressed Coconut Oil).
55g Cacao powder (sifted through a sieve) Available from Supermarkets and Health Food shops. Cacao powder from Ecuador is very good but not essential.
*3 Tbsp Dark Agave Syrup. Available from  Health Food shops.
1/4 tsp Vanilla Powder (you might need to purchase this online)
*Use a 15ml Tbsp measure
(I am still experimenting with other variations to the basic recipe such as using various nuts, Cacao Nibs, Goji berries and desiccated coconut. Stay tuned for more on that later.)

Let's make chocolate:

 Bring approximately 2cm of water to the boil in a small saucepan

Place the chopped cacao butter & vanilla powder in your pyrex bowl. If you are also using Coconut Oil add it as well now. Coconut Oil was used in this batch for the photo, but generally we just use Cacao butter.


Turn off the heat and sit the bowl on the saucepan. The water shouldn't be touching the bowl. It's just the steam that will melt the butter.

Allow the steam to let the cacao butter completely melt.


Once melted, put a little heat under the cacao butter again (just get the steam going) then turn it off and add the agave syrup. Whisk VERY WELL to combine. If you want to use a thermometer, the temperature should be 46c.






Now mix in the sifted cacao powder and whisk well. You can sift the cacao straight from the sifter into the butter mix if you are well coordinated. Let the liquid chocolate sit for a minute on the steam, (ideally at 46C) then stir well.




Remove the pyrex bowl from your saucepan on the stove top. WIPE ANY CONDENSATION CAREFULLY from the bottom & edges of the bowl (Water + Chocolate = Tears!!) 

Carefully pour the chocolate into your molds and shake or tap the molds well to allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface. This ensures a solid chocolate and no little imperfections on the surface of the chocolate, although this doesn't affect the flavour, and not everything has to be perfect. Mr. HRK is better at this step than I am.  He just pours some chocolate from the jug over the mold tray, and then smooths the surface of the mold tray with a plastic spatula until all of the holes are filled with chocolate, and smooth and then starts on the next tray.





Place the molds in the freezer for 30-40 minutes or the fridge for 1-2 hours (no longer as condensation can form on the chocolate.) When set, take the chocolate out of the fridge or freezer, leave it sitting for 2-3 minutes, then twist the silicon mold to loosen the chocolate. Then gently remove the chocolate from the molds as it eases out. As we do not "temper" this chocolate, it is very important to store your chocolate in an airtight container in the fridge. Transport it in an esky with cold blocks if required. If you are sharing them with friends, of course they will be devoured quickly, but I play safe and serve them on a chilled plate as well.

Your chocolate should stay fresh in the fridge for up to 8 weeks, however it is there to be eaten and shouldn't last that long.

We have made a batch  using Hazelnuts, by just popping one Hazelnut into each mold, and whilst the crunch was great, the flavour of the Hazelnut wasn't as obvious as we expected. We also substituted aniseed powder for vanilla powder in one batch however we couldn't really taste the aniseed so perhaps we need to use more next time. I am looking forward to using Macadamia Nuts in my next batch, so I will let you know how that goes.

If you try this recipe, and I hope you do, I would love to hear of any successful variations that you have. One of the things we have found with this process, is that it is important to make the basic chocolate recipe first, and then stir in desiccated coconut or chopped nuts just before pouring.



Enjoy!

Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and if you make some chocolate or have any other ideas I would love to hear from you.

Best wishes

Pauline

(Thank you to Willow for initially showing us how to make chocolate and for sharing his recipe.)





Thursday, 15 June 2017

Making the best Lemon Curd from the Bush Lemon tree




 I just love citrus season, don't you? With all of these juicy lemons available, I decided to make some Lemon curd or Lemon butter as we used to call it. Bottles of the curd will keep in  your frig for a long time if well sealed in sterilised jars, and is refrigerated after opening. It is a precious commodity. I remember always being told during citrus season at home that the preferred lemon to make Lemon Butter from is the Bush Lemon, and my Mum was always on the hunt for a fruiting Bush Lemon tree, as each year she would make a batch of Lemon Butter. However two lemons  makes only two to three small jars with this recipe so it is good to collect a lot of Bush Lemons and small bottles if possible. The traditional lemons growing on most backyard trees or available in the supermarkets these days will still produce a nice Lemon curd which is probably what most people need to use.

The juicy Bush Lemon

The Bush lemon tree is a species with a very thick skin, and a true lemon flavour, however it doesn't fall into the Bush tucker category as it is not native to Australia.  The fruit are extremely juicy. Surprisingly, the roughness of the rind grates very well to provide a terrific zest so valuable in many dishes using lemon. I have been fortunate to be given some Bush Lemons this week, and have made Lemon Curd with some of them. It's nice to be able to give a bottle of  my Lemon curd back to my generous friend as a thank you for the lemons. Most larger Australian properties particularly in the subtropics, always had a Bush Lemon tree in the backyard in years gone by, and they still tend to self seed in the bush. However they are very prickly, so if you find one take care when picking the knobbly looking fruit.



Lemon butter is delicious on toast for breakfast, or on scones. It also transforms into a very quick and easy morning or afternoon tea when used to fill small tart shells, which are available already baked from the supermarkets. Or if you feel like doing some fiddly pastry baking, make your own. I can remember my Mum and my dear old Aunts using it to sandwich together sponge cakes for Church afternoon teas and fetes, and then just sprinkling icing sugar over the top layer. They were always delicious. Another idea with a sponge cake was to hollow out a recess in the top and fill it with lemon curd.  We are only limited by our imagination really and lemon curd is still a favourite across the generations.

However beware, there is a lot of stirring and meditation involved in making this recipe. So make yourself a cup of tea, put on some nice relaxing music and prepare to spend some time at the stove. There are no shortcuts with making Lemon curd as I found out with my second batch, when I thought I would increase the heat slightly. Whilst it didn't boil or  curdle, there were just a few faint white streaks through  the mixture, where the egg white had started to cook, so patience and lots of stirring on a low to moderate heat is the key.  However the streaks haven't affected the consistency or the flavour. I just won't win first prize in the cooking section at the Agricultural Show this year with that batch, Ha, ha.

Keep stirring slowly until the mixture starts to thicken, and with my first batch I wasn't sure if it was thick enough as it can be hard to tell from the mixture in a hot saucepan. To test the consistency I placed a small amount on a small saucer and it set beautifully straight away, so it was ready to ladle into hot, sterilised jars. I filled two average size jam jars from the first batch and three smaller jars from the second batch.





Lemon Curd recipe

Ingredients:

2 large lemons, or 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
100g unsalted butter
175 g sugar
3 eggs, lightly whisked and strained

Finely grate the the zest and juice the lemons.
In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, lemon juice, zest and sugar. Stir constantly over the heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the whisked and strained eggs to the saucepan off the heat and stir to mix well.

Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened.

Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.

This recipe is taken from Stephanie Alexander's book, "The cook's companion".

If you happen to make this recipe or really like lemon curd, or remember Bush Lemons growing in  your backyard, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for visiting and have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Pauline


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Our turmeric crop is now harvested, dried and ground up into a gut friendly spice





Turmeric is a yellowy-orange spice used frequently in South Asian cooking, just in case you haven't heard. However, I doubt that very much as Turmeric has become very big news because of the health claims being made about it. The particular compound in turmeric that is now considered beneficial to us is curcumin, and evidence seems to be mounting that it is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, it's not that simple, as whilst it does our gut a lot of good, particularly the walls of our intestine, we are told that  the gut will only absorb the necessary amounts it needs if we add pepper at the same time, and perhaps a touch of chilli.

So I am persisting with trying to include it in  our diet as much as possible because of the the health benefits that scientists and doctors such as Dr. Michael Mosley now agree that it contains. Curried cauliflower soup and chicken tikka masala flavoured and coloured with turmeric are on the menu this coming  week along with a Turmeric Latte (recipe below). This morning I sprinkled turmeric on our omelette along with some ground pepper and a touch of chilli powder and the flavour was very subtle. I found that tip in the book  that I just bought called "The clever guts diet" by Dr Michael Mosley, and I am finding it fascinating reading. I suggest that you watch last week's Insight program on SBS, featuring Dr. Michael Mosley if you didn't see it. Our gut is an incredibly interesting part of our body with a lot of power over our health and well-being, but just not very sexy.

Omelette for breakfast lightly sprinkled with turmeric, black pepper , and chilli powder.

Dehydrating our Turmeric

We have had a lot of turmeric growing since the beginning of last summer, and whilst all of the leaves hadn't browned off and started to look as if they were dying, which is generally the signal to dig up the turmeric bulbs, Neil dug it all up as we wanted to use the garden to plant some seedlings. Even though it is earlier in the year than we usually do this, the turmeric looked ready and has dried into a beautiful rich golden colour, with a much stronger aroma than the turmeric I  had purchased from the supermarket.

Neil washed it all in a bucket in the laundry sink and because it is young and fresh a lot of the skin came away with the dirt, leaving it ready for dehydrating quite easily. It then needed to be sliced.



Rather than using a mandolin or slicing it by hand, we found that slicing it in the food processor worked very well.






However we realised we had a lot of it and that it would take days to dry it all in the dehydrator, which my friend Julie from Trogical Cooks had leant me. Thanks so much Julie, there's some turmeric coming your way. So as the weather was very sunny and dry we tried drying some out in the full sun as well. This worked to a certain extent, however I ended up finishing that batch by drying it on trays in my oven on a very low heat until it was dry enough to grind up in our spice grinder. Drying the turmeric slices in the dehydrator is still my preferred method but for large quantities finishing some of it in the oven produced similar results.

Turmeric drying out in the tropical sun 

This is what our turmeric looked like after it had been dehydrated. Neil bought a spice grinder so that we can dry and grind our own herbs and spices and that has been really useful. Our coffee grinder is used just for coffee. 

Below is the finished product and I am really excited about how aromatic this turmeric powder is, and also the depth of colour it has. I've been to the Spice Markets in Istanbul and I'm sure ours looks just as good, ha, ha.We also know it is completely organic without any nasty additives thrown in to extend it's shelf life.



This process takes time depending on how much turmeric you have, but it only took a day to dry three layers of turmeric in the dehydrator and then it could be ground up straight away and bottled for storage. I keep it in my dark pantry cupboard away from the light.

Try a Turmeric Latte to combat the Winter chills

 (this recipe is based on one from Dr. Mosley's book, The Clever Guts diet, mentioned above)

Ingredients:
1 cm root ginger (or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)
1 tsp ground turmeric or fresh if you are game (a 2cm root grated)
300ml almond or coconut milk (from a carton not a tin)
The Seeds of 2 cardamon pods
1 tsp of local honey (There is a belief that using local honey provides better antihistamine benefits)
2 tsp coconut oil
1 pinch of ground cinnamon

Peel and grate the fresh ginger. Heat the nut milk gently in a small pan, then add the cardamon seeds, honey and coconut oil, whisking constantly so that the milk heats through and is foamy. Pour the mixture into a cup and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Relax and enjoy your drink.
...................................................................................................................................................................
If I run out of the turmeric powder in the future, and don't have any fresh stuff growing, I won't hesitate now to buy some fresh turmeric from the markets, there is always plenty at this time of year, and dry it and grind it up myself. The results are well worth it.

I also read recently where  soapmakers at home are using it to naturally colour their soaps yellow and orange.

Testing on the beneficial aspects of turmeric is continuing and now there are also indications that it could improve depression, asthma and eczema in certain types of people. That is very exciting.

Do you like the taste of turmeric, and do you have any interesting  ways of introducing it into your diet?

Thanks for visiting and I hope your week goes well.

Best wishes

Pauline

Friday, 9 June 2017

Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake: the Easiest and most Delicious Cake for Afternoon Tea

Cake dusted with icing sugar and Nasturtium petals

Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake

This cake lovingly made by hand with honey, yoghurt and dark chocolate chips is a winner, and the family will come back for more. It's pretty healthy too really. We were staying at Pine Trees Lodge on Lord Howe Island looking forward to the traditional afternoon tea at 4.00 pm but I had already promised myself that I would forego having something to eat in favour of  enjoying a three course dinner that night. It was Thursday and we had been enjoying afternoon teas and amazing dinners each night since the previous Sunday when we arrived, so perhaps it was time to cut back. Then I saw this cake on the table made by the chefs that day,  and need I say anymore. It was absolutely delicious, and I have been wanting to make it ever since we came home. 

Have a nice weekend and I hope you are tempted to make this cake. It will be well worth it, and your friends and family will love you for it.

Ingredients

150 g honey
300 g butter
170 g full-fat plain yoghurt
100 g raw sugar
200 g dark chocolate chips
2 free range eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
130 g plain flour
130 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Let's cook:

This recipe requires an oven set to 180 deg. C or a moderate oven. The oven doesn't need to be turned on until halfway through the cooling period of Step 1. Grease and line a 25 cm round spring-form or loose based cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  1. Put the honey, butter, yoghurt, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest into a saucepan over low-medium heat and melt together, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool for 45 minutes.


2. In another bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.
3. Whisk the eggs into the cooled butter mixture.
4. Then slowly fold in the sifted flour mixture and chocolate chips.

5.

5. Pour the mixture which resembles a batter into the prepared cake tin and cook for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and stand in the tin for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
7. Serve dusted with icing sugar, edible flower petals from nasturtiums, tarragon or whatever you have on hand in your garden and thickened yoghurt or cream.

Have a happy and healthy weekend everyone. I would love to hear from you if you make this cake, or just say hello in the comments box below.

The recipe comes from the beautiful Pinetrees Lodge Recipe book which guests were all given a free copy of. I think I will be using it a lot.

(Thanks to Nanna Chel's blog for the Speedy illustration below. I thought it was cute.)

Best wishes

Pauline


























Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Featuring Tropical Orchid Cattleya Blc Burdekin Futhure "Sharon" x Blc Sylvia Fry 'Esse', and my Garden in June

Blc Burdekin Futhure"Sharon" x Blc Sylvia Fry 'Esse'

It's a beautiful time of the year to spend time in the garden in the Tropics, as the weather cools down but the temperatures don't plummet significantly, bringing much needed relief from the humidity. One of the joys of retirement is being able to sit out on our patio over a leisurely breakfast and a home brewed coffee and enjoy our garden and the birds which are revelling in all of the plants in flower, in particular, the zygocactus, the various Pentas, the Bromeliads, the orchids on the trees, and a lovely purple flowered bush which we planted a row of because Mr. HRK loved them and I think they are called Purple Dazzler.

The star of the show for me at the moment in my garden though is Sylvia, this delicate Cattleya which I bought a couple of years ago at the Annual Orchid Spectacular in Mackay and each year the flower is larger, more fragrant and deeper in colour. When we were sitting on our patio a couple of days ago a beautiful butterfly landed on the flower and stayed there in a trance for quite a while. However I was too slow to get a photo. This orchid is now full of meaning for me though, as last Thursday, when the bloom on this flower first opened, our beautiful Grand dog Kali, passed away over in Chidlow, W.A. I haven't felt like writing since it happened as it has been a very sad time for the family, as we thought she was pulling through and she was expected to go home that evening. Thank you so much to those friends who  sent me lovely comments when I first wrote about Kali last week. She was very special and will be missed for a long time.

Another one of my Mum's orchids just coming into flower at the moment is this next Cattleya. Her name is Molly Tyler. Good on you Molly.


Molly Tyler




Are you like me though, and have lots of happy and sad memories connected to your gardens? They are really an extension of our lives and ever changing. Or do you also just remember as I do that a special friend gave you a cutting which you planted and now it is doing really well. I love that aspect of gardening, and it is a great place to engage with friends and spread the love of gardening. Then of course there is the real advantage of being able to bring in the herbs and vegetables from the garden to include in my cooking. This last week we have planted some silverbeet, some mint in a pot, lettuces (the red ones as they repel the bugs better), my rocket seeds are coming up, and we have a few broccoli and zucchini plants hoping they will do wondrous things. I also have a large Rosella bush which is close to being harvested.

The is is the Purple Dazzler which we planted en mass, and which the sunbirds adore at the moment.
Purple Dazzler

Our Turmeric plants have just been harvested, dried and ground into a therapeutic and very aromatic powder, so stay tuned for that story.

Last but not least is this spectacular Dendrobium which I attached to our New Guinea Bottlebrush tree last year, and after surviving the winds and rain of Cyclone Debbie, it is starting to flower bigger and better than ever. Dendrobiums are happiest growing on trees and are obviously very resilient.

Dendrobium
So there is a lot happening in our gardens at the moment on the Tropical East Coast of Queensland and it is nice interest that Mr. HRK and I both share.

Happy gardening and thanks for dropping by. I'd love to hear from you if something special is happening in your garden at the moment or even on your patio. Some very successful and productive gardens are growing on patios.

Best wishes

Pauline

https://happyretireeskitchen.blogspot.com.au/2017/05/the-importance-of-our-family-and-our.html

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Importance of our Family and our Pets

Lockie and Kali
This hasn't been the best of weeks.

We all have those weeks which we wish would end quickly and we could start again. I am generally a fairly optimistic and outgoing person I think,  but sometimes events happen which make you retreat into yourself, and just focus on your family, your home, and what is really essential.

Last Sunday started with some variety of stomach virus which laid me really low, and and left me after all of the action had settled down a couple of days later, only wanting soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers to eat, such a time honoured comforting classic with an upset stomach, and sweet mandarins for dessert. Does anyone else remember having soft boiled eggs and soldiers when they were growing up? Such a treat. I still haven't had a cup of coffee since the weekend, only cups of black tea, and this is definitely an indicator for a foodie that all is not well in the eating department. I even cancelled Tuesday Mahjong, and the delicious cake I had planned to bake. Sad but true.

However, that aside, yesterday we received the awful news that our beautiful Grand dog, Kali, one of our son's two Border Collie dogs in the Perth Hills, was badly injured. She escaped early yesterday morning before dawn from their property, decided to go for a long walk or probably a run in Kali's case being a Border Collie, and was badly injured but still managed to make it home and climb up on her chair at the front of the house and wait to be found. She survived 7 hours of surgery late yesterday and last night and now is still  sedated at the vet's surgery. Thankfully, there is no internal bleeding or organ damage but she has hundreds of stitches and staples across her chest, two teeth extracted, and her left leg has been repaired as much as possible but may require more surgery.

Our beautiful Kali

Needless to say, everyone is very shaken up and upset over Kali including me as we have spent a lot of time with the dogs and they are very much part of the family. Thankfully her brother Lockie, a chocolate and white border collie,  didn't decide to go along for the excursion as well. He is a lot more sedate in nature. However Kali is a beautiful and very affectionate dog, and normally very streetwise and obedient when we take her out walking. The vet thinks she has been hit by a car which explains her injuries.

When these things happen just out of the blue for no reason, it is certainly a wake up call for everyone, and often involves a lot of soul searching as to why it  happened. Family pets are an integral part of the family, but are also very perceptive to any issues surrounding them. They are animals though, and prone to impulsive behaviour when least expected. Who knows what Kali went looking for in the early hours, as they are locked up during the night and had only just been let out of the house.
Happy times walking with the dogs in the country after little Hugo was born
Anyway I won't dwell any further on this, and hopefully she will be able go home tomorrow to lots of spoiling and attention.

Anyone reading this, who has pets knows that  having them is mostly very rewarding, however the unexpected is bound to happen sometimes, and sometimes there are tears.

So consequently, I have done next to no cooking this week, despite my best laid plans, had intended to do a lot more blogging but haven't, have done some cleaning and washing and a little gardening but that is all. However it doesn't matter does it? All the rest can wait. The most important thing is to give support to my family where it is needed and be available to help if necessary.

Take care everyone and I hope your week is going well. To my friends who are reading this, I will try and catch up soon.

Best wishes

Pauline x




Friday, 26 May 2017

Coconut and Lime Ceviche as a starter or canape, from the kitchen of Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island




Coconut and Lime Ceviche

Ceviche is typically made from very fresh raw fish which is "cooked" or cured in citrus juices such as lime or lemon. With other ingredients added such as fresh herbs and spices, it is a delicious, light and zingy starter for any meal. We used a very fresh fillet of Kingfish, about 500g, trimmed and cut into 1 cm cubes. The fillet needs to be at least 1 cm thick. However any firm white-fleshed fish could be used. With this recipe, the actual cooking of the fish is the easy part, as the acidulant in the lime juice  “cooks the raw fish”.

Go straight to the recipe here

It is important to save your energy for finding a really good seafood distributor as the freshness of the fish is the secret to the success of this dish. According to Alasdair Nicolson, the talented Executive Chef at Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island, the safest way to ensure the freshest  fish is to buy a whole fish and fillet it yourself, or go fishing as he often likes to do in the pristine waters around Lord Howe Island. Or ask your seafood supplier to fillet it for you after you have selected your fish. Filleting a whole fish requires some experience and a very sharp knife.

Alasdair Nicolson, demonstrating how to fillet a Kingfish

We enjoyed a great week over at Lord Howe Island, and as it was Food and Wine Week, there were cooking classes each day, wine tastings before dinner each night, and lots of exercise and sightseeing during the day. I'd like to share this cooking class with you, as  I think the Ceviche was one of the stand out dishes of the whole week, served as a canape one evening, with another variation of ingredients as a starter on the dinner menu, and we enjoyed lots of sampling when this dish was assembled. Alasdair is a very generous with sharing his expansive knowledge, and is very unpresuming at the same time. One of the really nice things about staying at Pinetrees was the availability and friendliness of the Chefs and staff. Ben, who is the talented and very approachable Restaurant Manager, and his staff, enjoyed imparting their knowledge of each dish served to us, and proudly promoted that all of the fresh herbs and edible flowers, such as basil, coriander, and nasturtiums which appeared on our plates came from the Pinetree's herb and vegetable gardens. Being on an island can be challenging, and means that restaurants need to be as self sufficient as possible. Whilst a lot of food served in restaurants around the world now reflects global trends,  and can be quite similar, the food at Pinetrees seems to imbed the values of the island into it's cuisine, combining the ability to be flexible,  and sustainable at the same time. 

Ingredients for  the Dressing for Ceviche crushed in a Mortar and pestle

1/2 bunch of Coriander and roots, washed and finely chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass
1 Clove of garlic
4 Kaffir Lime Leaves, finely chopped
2 chopped chillies, finely chopped ( not the hot variety)
Pound the above ingredients in a Mortar and Pestle or mince finely in a food processor

Cooking marinade

2 tablespoons of Nampla Fish sauce (or any other good brand)
Juice of 2 limes
(Fish Sauce and Lime juice needs to be balanced. i.e. same quantity of each, depending on how juicy the limes are)
Little bit of sugar, according to your taste
Kara brand Coconut Cream


Mix the Fish Sauce with the Lime juice and add the other finely crushed fresh ingredients to it to make the Sauce which will cook the fish.

Add the Sauce to the raw cubed cubed fish in a bowl just before eating. The fish shouldn’t be left to marinate too long in this mixture as it will cook the fish.

 Then add about 2 tablespoons of Kara Coconut Cream to the fish mixture. This particular brand won’t separate as some Coconut Cream does when mixed with citrus juices and curry pastes. (This brand is also very good when making ice-cream)


Decorate your Ceviche with peanuts and black and white sesame seeds, and garnish to finish with sprigs of fresh mint and coriander.

An aerial view from Kim's Lookout, which was a steep 1200 metre climb to the top

Lord Howe Island is well known for it's Kingfish, which was on the Dinner menu each night but always presented in a very different and delicious way. It is caught sustainably by the local fishermen as the Chefs tell them each day how many fish are required, and only that number are caught and delivered. In 1982, Lord Howe was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Property, in recognition of it's beauty and biodiversity, and it's significance to the planet. The pristine beaches and oceans continue to survive, because of a very effective recycling model on the island, and an active army of anti-plastic warriors.

Below are photos taken on the shoreline of  beautiful Ned's Beach, where fish wait to be fed, not caught.




Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoyed a brief visit to Lord Howe Island.

Best wishes

Pauline