Sweet Quinoa and Oat Congee with Poached Oranges and Vanilla Ricotta

Congee, back in the Ming dynasty, was used as a vehicle for medicinal herbs. Even without the herbs, it is such a great vehicle for love, comfort and nourishment. It is comfort food indeed, eaten at any time but especially when one is feeling under the weather, or has stomach trouble. It is also reputed to be suitable for eating when one has a hangover.

Most people think of congee as a rice porridge, but depending on where you lived in Asia, your congee might be made with millet, barley, corn, mung beans or other legumes, mixed with or without rice. Sadly, it is only the South China version made with rice that has become known more universally, probably because it is so creamy and mild. Congee has lots of names across the world too, eg jook (Cantonese, Korean), jok (Thailand), zhou (Mandarin), kanji (Tamil), chao (Vietnamese), canja (Portugese). In Thailand, they mix additional ingredients into the congee, but in China, it is served with toppings and sides.

Congee is a great way to prepare a meal out of nothing. A cup of rice, lentils or grain can be cooked with 8 – 10 cups of water and whatever flavourings are available in the pantry at the time. I prefer to cook congee in a clay pot, easily available from any Chinese store, as it gives a better flavour.

And most of all, congee is a meal that’s all about personal preference. Cook your chosen grain or lentil, for as long as it takes to get your perfect texture, flavour it as you will, and add the toppings that you enjoy. Today’s congee is made with Oats and Quinoa, a delicious combination that is perfect for breakfast or day time snack. Unlike our other congee recipes, it is one that is sweetened with the addition of dried fruit while cooking.

Similar recipes include Congee, Black Glutinous Rice Congee, and Red Rice and Adzuki Bean Congee.

Browse all of our Congee recipes, and all of our Quinoa and Oat dishes. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Warm Rice Pudding with Orange Star Anise Sauce and Walnuts

Rice pudding never goes astray in cooler weather, and indeed I judge the start of the cold months by my impulsion to make one. Late in the Winter too, when the oranges are ripe and juicy, it is delicious with an orange sauce drizzled over the top. Today we make a buttery Orange Sauce with Walnuts. It is a pudding that is at its best when eaten warm to hot.

Similar dishes include Baked Rice Pudding, Cold Pandan Rice Pudding with Lime Syrup, and Bengali Rice Kheer.

Browse all of our Rice Puddings and all of our Desserts, or explore all of our Late Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Orange Star Anise Sauce with Walnuts

Are you looking for a sauce to use with pancakes, surnoli, rice puddings, fruit puddings, chunks of left-over xmas cake and/or crepes? This is a delicious buttery Orange Sauce with Walnuts.

We have used it most recently with Rice pudding, turning a plain dessert into a stunningly beautiful dish.

Similar recipes include Orange Verjuice Butter Sauce.

Browse all of our Orange recipes and all of our Desserts. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Sweet Rhubarb with Cloves and Black Pepper, Poppy Seeds and Gin Soaked Cumquats

I have had a life long aversion to rhubarb, ever since childhood. We grew a lot of rhubarb and it was served, stringy and under-sweetened at almost every meal while in season. It has taken until this year, decades later, for me to try it again. And only because I was given some rhubarb from a friend’s garden.

You will love this recipe. It is an alternative to your rhubarb with apples, or rhubarb pie. The jaggery adds that sweet earthiness, cloves add their magic, black pepper brings a bite without tasting peppery, and the poppy seeds add much needed texture.

I have used some of my Gin Soaked Cumquats to enliven the dish – it does need a little acid and these bring a sweet acidity to the dish. You can alternatively add some charred, sugar dipped lemon slices, candied orange or lemon peel, a little (just a little) pomegranate molasses or quince molasses, or even, if desperate, a squeeze of lemon.

Similar recipes include Beetroot and Rhubarb Salad, Apples with Lemon and Cinnamon, and Pears with Marsala. Also try our Sweet Orange Star Anise Sauce.

Browse our Rhubarb recipes, and all of our Desserts. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Aussie Scones

Scones, those English and Australian afternoon-tea essentials, slathered with strawberry jam and whipped cream, are often the star of our afternoon snacks. From a young age, I would make scones for visitors. As soon as I could, I would slip away and leave them to chat with others in the house. I would head for the kitchen and whip up a batch of scones, bringing them out still hot from the oven to the delight of everyone who happened to be there at that time.

In fact, it takes only 15 minutes to produce a basket full of lovely hot scones that are feather light.

Sometimes you can eat them just with butter, or without sugar but with cheese mixed into the batter and sprinkled over the top before baking. Jam and cream is very traditional. Sultanas can be added to the dough. Pumpkin scones have a reputation in Australia but they are not something that I make more than once a decade. Or omit the sugar and add a little black pepper, and serve them with a large bowl of soup.

These favourites are not, take note, *not* the American scone, pronounced scoh-n, more like our biscuits than this light and fluffy delicacy. Ours is pronounced sco-n, a short “o”, as in pond.

Similar recipes includeย Australian Quick and Easy Date Slice, Oatcakes and Griddle Cakes.

Browse all of our Biscuits (there are not many, we don’t have a sweet tooth), and our Desserts. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Cold Pandan Rice Pudding with Lime Syrup and Fruits

There is nothing like a rice pudding when the weather cools after the long Summer days of intense heat and nights spent under the air conditioning to keep cool enough to sleep.

I judge my acceptance of Autumn (it takes a while) by the first rice pudding that is cooked. And today it is a cold rice pudding that is based loosely on a recipe by Ottolenghi. His desserts almost always include eggs, and we don’t cook with eggs. Therefore I made my favourite Greek Rice Pudding and added his lime syrup. It is a really delightful addition – the syrup contrasts beautifully with the sweet rice pudding . For fruit today, I used persimmon and passion fruit. If you have no such restrictions, you can always check out his original recipe in his book or Guardian column, but I love the simplicity of this version.

Similar recipes include Warm Rice Pudding with Star Anise Sauce, Greek Rice Pudding, Old Fashioned Baked Rice Pudding, and Rice Kheer.

Browse all of our Desserts (not many, we don’t have a sweet tooth), and our Rice dishes, sweet and savoury. This recipe was inspired by one of Ottolenghi’s dishes from Plenty More but is quite different. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Apples with Lemon and Cinnamon

Elizabeth David’s books should be compulsory reading for every person who enjoys cooking. They are reminders that food can be simple, and yet stunningly delicious. It is so important in today’s world of Ottolenghi-like complex recipes. Of course I love Ottolenghi dishes, but how good it is to be able to put a dish together quickly and simply, rather than spending an hour or so on just one dish.

This is from Liz’s book An Omelette and a Glass of Wine and it is a simple apple dessert. Cooked in a syrup, it is a rare use of sugar on this blog. Our desserts are rare. But at least once per year, we have to cook some apples.

Similar recipes includeย Sweet Spiced Rhubarb, An Autumn Fruit Salad, Butter Glazed Apples, and Baked Apples with Star Anise.

Browse all of our Apple recipes and all of our Elizabeth David dishes. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Boozy Baked Figs

I keep going on and on about figs, and that is because this year they are really accessible. Locally they are about half the price, or less, than figs purchased closer to the city. And a local orchard, just half an hour away from my place, allows you to pick your own figs for about 1/3 price. And a quick search of Gum Tree has them from $5/kg. How lucky we are!

Tonight I threw some in the oven with some wine, honey, bayleaf and pepper for a gorgeous post dinner eat-on-the-couch hit of sweetness. Roasted almonds added for crunch.

Similar recipes include Baked Figs with Thyme, Figs with Rosewater and Almonds, and Figs with Blue Cheese.

Browse all of our Fig recipes, and all of our Roasted Figs. Or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

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Roasted Plum Icecream

Years ago we used to have home made icecream all the time in Summer, but since our house became vegetarian, we haven’t been able to get our heads around making icecream without an egg based custard. So our making and eating of icecream diminished considerably. Shop bought icecream never tasted good – too fatty rather than creamy – and we assumed that home made without a custard base would be icy.

Well, it is different. There, I have said it. But it is also good. It is more like creamy-ice rather than ice-cream. But if you make the flavours intense, it is wonderful. Our strawberry icecream seemed to improve with time, rather than be depleted by it, as most icecream instructions will tell you. But I do have to say that it does always taste best on the day that it is made.

It is Plum season here and our friend has a huge tree. We have been roasting them a lot (we adore roasted summer fruits). Today we took a dozen roasted plums and made icecream. Delicious. I will say that this icecream can be a little hard (common with this eggless icecream), so take it out of the freezer in plenty of time, so it can soften enough to serve.

Similar recipes include Strawberry Icecream with Black Pepper.

Browse all of our Icecream recipes and our Desserts. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey

As Autumn arrives, even before, my Italian-owned green grocery is full of figs – green, black and in between. What a gorgeous time it is – the last of the summer stone fruits, grapes, plums – one of my 4 favourite seasons of the year!

I must admit to liking my fruit, any fruit, fresh. You will see that we don’t have a lot of fruit recipes in our collection because of that. But once in a while, we will bake, grill or roast, maybe poach, something sweet.

Figs are so wonderful in their natural state, and we have several salads that attest to that. They pair well with cheese, honey, and even almonds and pinenuts! Figs are simply gorgeous this way.

But roasting brings in another dimension. It is a different taste – just as fig jam tastes different to fresh figs. Roasted figs are soft, warm and sticky, and they shine with either savoury flavours, sweet flavours, or a mix of both. They can be mashed onto bruschetta and topped with pesto, without the honey they can be used with pasta, or top a green salad with them. Serve them for breakfast, lunch, dessert, a snack or supper.

Are you looking for Fig recipes? Tryย Boozy Baked Figs, Figs with Rosewater and Almonds, Fig Salad with Almond Butter Dressing, and Figs with Pecorino. Also try our Sweet Orange Star Anise Sauce.

Browse all of our Fig recipes here, all of our Italian recipes, and all of our Dessert recipes. Or take some time to browse our Late Summer dishes.

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