Archives for category: Our garden

The first time my beloved made me Lucian style cornmeal porridge was a night when I had a migraine coming on and felt too nauseous to eat. She decided to cook up a quick bowl of porridge for herself.

As I walked past the kitchen I smelt the spices and looked over her shoulder as she stirred the pot full of glossy yellow cornmeal. To both of our surprise I asked to try some and found it delicious.

I ended up eating a big bowl which completely fixed my nauseousness and poor hungry Joyous had half the portion she had anticipated. (Not an unknown event around here!)

I’ve loved it ever since and we often have it for breakfast.

You can make it dairy and sugar free and it is gluten free already, so it’s a great detox option.

Lucian style cornmeal porridge with stewed rhubarb and apple…& ginger tea.

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Ingredients:

2 C liquid (we usually do half water and half milk, soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk)
Cinnamon bark (or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
1-2 fresh bay leaves
Sultanas or raisins (optional)
1/2 C fine cornmeal (polenta)

Rhubarb and apple and a little water (or ginger tea) to stew it in.

Method:

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Half fill a cup with cornmeal and cover with milk. Leave to sit for a few minutes.

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Pour approx 1C water into a pot and add the raisins, bay leaves and cinnamon. Cover and simmer for approximately 5-10 mins (longer is better for the flavor).

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After 10 mins or after you can see some good colour in the water remove the cinnamon bark (and dry to reuse).

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Add the cornmeal, stirring or whisking all the time as you add it to avoid lumps forming.

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Bring it back up to boiling, then turn it down low to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Assess the consistency and add more milk to thin it if it needs. I prefer it more porridgy and thick, Joyous likes it thin enough to drink like a thick soup.

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Stir in a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of butter (or butter substitute).

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Serve with the stewed fruit and or brown sugar/coconut sugar/cream etc.

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Babies and small children love this too.

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For a real Lucian style breakfast serve it with ginger tea.

Make simple ginger tea by bashing a chunk of ginger root, bringing to the boil then simmering till the liquid changes colour. Stir in raw sugar (or don’t) and enjoy. (In this picture some of the ginger root was already used so we just added more, you’d usually use just one chunk.)

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NB: If you live in NZ then try Fruit World for the cheapest cornmeal around. Way better than buying it as ‘polenta’ from the supermarket or a gourmet food store.

Op-shopped vintage kitchenalia:

Pic 1- silver floral teaspoon & 1950’s era pastel striped linen tea towel. Both purchased from the Matakana church op shop in 2013.

…And all things nice…It’s a girl!

Joyous and I are very happy with our new arrival – an English Mastiff, Shar Pei x puppy.

She’s called Fidél (meaning ‘loyal’ in French / Patois), and is a sweet wee girl.

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So in celebration of two weeks of having her I decided to bake something that included sugar and spice and all things nice. (Actually that’s totally an excuse, I just felt like making something yummy for the wife and I.)

A long while ago I wrote about the delicious apple pie my wife made. (I freely admit it’s been a long while since I wrote any thing on here!)

Here’s an adaption of that pie, adding rhubarb fresh from our soggy winter garden and leaving out the usual raisins.

The original recipe was from the delicious cookbook- Momma Cherri’s Soul in a Bowl by Charita Jones.

Spiced Apple & Rhubarb Pie

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(Supposedly serves 6-8, or 2 people every night for a week!)

Ingredients:

6 stalks of rhubarb
Approximately 4-6 (preferably) green apples (enough to be about 2/3 apples to 1/3 rhubarb)
115g butter
75g soft brown sugar
75g sugar (I used raw but original recipe called for caster)
1 Tbsp cornflour
2-3 cinnamon sticks or 1-2 tsps cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
2 sheets of sweet short pastry (sometimes Joyous makes pastry but we think store brought pastry is just fine)

Method:

Cut the rhubarb into evenly sized pieces.

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Core the apples, leave skins on. I usually slice into thick slices but as I was using the rhubarb this time I cut them into similar sized pieces. (I’d probably leave the rhubarb a bit larger next time it doesn’t cook down quite so much.)

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Put them into a pot and add all of the other ingredients (except the pastry duh).

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The three key ingredients are the cinnamon sticks, freshly grated nutmeg and the vanilla extract, best quality makes a big difference. We use Doria’s special stash of St Lucian cinnamon bark and nutmegs.

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Put the pot on a low heat and let the butter slowly melt, stir it together to ensure the cornflour mixes in well. I cook it down till the consistency looks right for a pie…but overcooked this batch, (distracted by Miss 8 Weeks), so the rhubarb turned to mush. Never mind, it’s delicious mush. But next time I’d cook it for a shorter time.

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Line the pie tin with baking paper then lay in the first sheet of pastry, cutting the edges to line right up the sides.

Pour in the wet mixture and use the other sheet to cover the top of the pie.

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(As my mixture was quite dangerously near the top of the pie I cut some extra paper and tucked it down between the tin and the existing paper to prevent it from overflowing during cooking. Or you could simply put it on a tray.)

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Place in an oven preheated to 190 degrees Celsius, (so says the original recipe, my oven has no temperature gauge so I just watch it closely). Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with fresh pouring cream, vanilla ice cream or au naturale.

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Vintage kitchenalia notes:

Blue spotted ‘Grimwades of Stoke on Kent’ plate (1 of 2) purchased for $2 from a car boot sale in 2013.

Pie dish purchased from a garage sale (yard sale) circa 2010.

Pale green ‘Crown Lynn NZ’ desert bowl, one of a set of 12 pieces for $10 purchased at the Red Cross Glen Eden op shop in 2013. Silver desert fork (one of a boxed set of six) purchased at a Mt Albert church fair circa 2009.

Last night’s dinner was perfect for the sudden autumn chill we’ve been experiencing. It has come as a shock after the longest and best summer I can remember since childhood.

With all this lovely weather, the wife and her bro have been out fishing quite a bit with my Dad and our god-daughter, so we’ve got plenty of fish in the fridge and freezer. Last night my darling decided it was time to cook up a giant batch of chowder. This has become one of my favourite warming soups as she flavours it so brilliantly with our home grown herbs & a good helping of spice and chilli. Not to be outdone, I thought a side of Polenta chips (fries) would go well. Although, to be honest, they are another of Joyous’ recipes.

Now before you freak out at the length of the recipe and amount of ingredients, a few words of advice…

Essentially you only need fresh & smoked fish, potatoes and hopefully some fresh herbs, lemon juice & something creamy. The rest of the ingredients are just made up of what you have on hand. The mild chilli flavours are not essential, so any wusses can leave them out if need be. It’s not supposed to be hot, just tasty.

Basically all you do is throw it together into a pot and simmer it, except the fish and the delicate vegies, which you add right at the end so they don’t disintegrate.

So here we (jointly) present:

Snapper and Smoked Kahawai Chowder with Parmesan Polenta Chips

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Chowder Recipe:

Serves 6-8 (or 2 people for a week!)

Ingredients:

4 Fillets of Dense White Fish – (we used snapper & monk fish is good too)

1/4 of a Smoked Fish – (we used Manuka Smoked Kahawai)

5-6 Potatoes – preferably firm fleshed eg Desiree (we usually use a mix of red potatoes and Kumara – sweet potato)

1 or 2 large cloves of Garlic (preferably smoked)

1-2 Spring Onions – to taste

Fresh Thyme – we used fresh organic Lemon Thyme (approx 1 Tbsp)

Fresh Coriander (approx 1/4 C)

Fresh Parsley (approx 1/4 C)

Chilli Pepper and/or 1 Tbsp Hot Chilli Sauce (approx) – to taste

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Vegie (or fish) Stock made up to approx 4 C of liquid

1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp of Adobo Sazon or 1/4 tsp Turmeric

Generous slug of Bitters (you know, the stuff you use in a cocktail)

Salt to taste

Ground Black Pepper

25 grams of butter

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or more, adjust to taste)

Red Pepper / Capsicum

Kale or any other green vegetable

1 can of Sweet Corn Kernels

1/3 can of Evaporated Milk or a similar amount of fresh cream

We also added 1 tsp of smoked Jalapeno Peppers)

Method:

Chop the fish into pieces approximately 3cm square. Marinate, (while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or longer if you have the time), in crushed garlic, salt and a little of the lemon juice.

Dice potatoes into decent sized chunks, put in a large saucepan. If you are using kumara (sweet potatoes) as well, you will want to add them part way through cooking so they don’t turn to mush.

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Ready to add the liquid

Add the olive oil, roughly chopped herbs, more crushed garlic if you love it, fresh chilli (but ours wasn’t hot so we added extra chilli sauce later), butter, black pepper, salt, Adobo Sazon (or turmeric) and the smoked paprika. Put this on the heat and stir together, slightly caramelising the potatoes. When they look a little browned, mix up the stock and pour over. Bring to the boil then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked. (If you are adding sweet potatoes then put them in once the regular potatoes have just started to boil.)

When the regular potatoes are just about cooked through, stir in the evaporated milk, chilli sauce, bitters, lemon juice, kale stems and smoked fish. Check the taste, adjusting the amounts to get it just right for you. A minute or two later gently add the fresh fish pieces, the sweet corn, capsicum (diced into large pieces) and put the roughly cut kale leaves on top.

Turn the fish over to help it cook evenly if you need to, then once cooked stir the chowder together.

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Stirring it all together

It’s now ready to serve.

Polenta Chips Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 C Polenta / Fine Cormeal
1 C Milk
1 C Vegie Stock
Approx 1/4 C grated cheese (Parmesan is ideal)
1 tsp of Thyme (we use fresh organic Lemon Thyme)

Method:

Grate the parmesan and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Do this preparation first as once the polenta is setting you will want to be able to pour it in quickly.

Pour stock and milk into a pot, add the thyme leaves, bring nearly to the boil. When nice and hot, gradually pour the polenta into the liquid, whisking quickly as you pour. Keep whisking until it thickens. Do not stop or you will get lumps. This should only take a few minutes.

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Brisk whisk

Add the Parmesan in last. I swap to a spoon to stir it in so I don’t have Parmesan all congealed in my whisk.

Stir until it looks like it’s beginning to set. Usually about 5 mins from when you first added it. You should be able to scrape it to one side and have it not move around too much when you try and tip it back.

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Well thickened

Pour it into the dish and smooth it out flat. Put it in the fridge if you are in a hurry for it to set. It should take about 10 mins to be set enough to cut up.

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Ready to cool

Once set, cut it into slices and put it into the oven on approximately 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). They take about 20 mins to cook, they may need turning. It will all depend on your oven. Fan bake works well if you have that setting.

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Into the oven

These are also delicious with Joyous’s Mint Yoghurt Mayo, and little kids love them too! (If they manage to wrestle them off the adults.)

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Deliciousness

So there you have it, one of our staple winter meals.

PS: Yes our eyes were larger than our stomachs and no, we didn’t eat everything in the picture at the top!

Here in Aotearoa (New Zealand), it’s feijoa season. These little guava-ish delights are a staple autumnal crop and most kiwi backyard has a tree or two. They give abundant crops year after year and you can easily gather a supermarket bag full every day if you have a decent sized tree. I’ve heard that in the US, (California?), they are called Pineapple Guava’s. Anyone there know of them?

Here at our little organic rural utopia we have approximately 10-12 trees. So every year we have to scramble to come up with new ways to use them.

Last year Joyous & I made the following:
Feijoa Loaf
Feijoa & Date Ginger Loaf
Feijoa & Ginger Ice Cream
Feijoa & Date & Chilli Chutney
Indian Spice Feijoa Chutney
Preserved Feijoas & Apples
Feijoa Syrup
Dehydrated Feijoas

The following recipe is from a great local foodie site and I’ve just slightly adapted it to our tastes. The only time consuming thing is that you have to cool down the syrup after boiling before you add the egg. So you need to prepare it well before you want to cook it. I just realized today that if you are in a hurry, a good way to get round that would be to use something like Organ ‘No-Egg’ substitute. Or, you could try adding an egg sized amount of mashed banana instead of the egg. I just made the syrup yesterday then put it aside and finished it today.

Another option, if you can’t find feijoas is to use pears or kiwifruit instead.

Autumnal Feijoa Ginger Loaf

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Ingredients:

1 C Feijoa (peeled & diced)
1/3 C Sultanas
1/2 C Dates
50g Butter
150g Brown Sugar
250ml Boiling Water
1 inch knob of Fresh Ginger

2 C Flour (make the cups heaped as you want 270g)
1 Tbsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda

1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

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Method:

Peel and dice the feijoa (I left them in quite big chunks but dice them more finely if you prefer). Put them in a small pot with the chopped up dates, sultanas, butter and brown sugar. Zest in (or finely grate) a good amount of fresh ginger. Gently bring it to the boil then simmer on low for 5 mins.

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Then allow it cool right down.

Sift the flour, ground ginger, baking powder and soda together into a large mixing bowl. Stir well to mix in the soda & powder.

Add more zested ginger to the wet mixture if you want it to be quite spicy. Beat the egg and vanilla in a cup and add them to wet mixture as well, stir, then pour it into the dry ingredients.

Mix well to combine but do not over do it as you want it to be nice and light.

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Pour it into a loaf tin lined with baking paper, crumpling it up first makes it easier to get it sitting right in the tin (thanks for the hint ScarletRosita!).

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Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 180 celcius (350 Fahrenheit). If you have an unreliable oven like me and it cooks on the top first before the centre is done, cover it with foil after 15 mins. But leave the oven closed for the first 15 mins or it may not raise properly.

Test it with a skewer to see when it’s ready. Leave in the tin for at least 10mins to cool, covered with a clean tea towel.

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Serve just as it is, or hot with feijoa ice cream, or spread with some butter if you wish, although it’s very moist so you won’t need it.

Goes perfectly with a chaise lounge, your lover, a cup of Earl Grey tea, some autumn sunshine and a good book.

Last week was the local primary school’s annual fundraising carnival. As my god-daughter goes there I got involved and helped organise the silent auction. Which involved lots of cold calling local businesses to beg goods and services that we could auction off in an old-school version of TradeMe / eBay. Basically people write their name and bid on a piece of paper and the highest bid at the end of the auction wins. I’m happy to say we had the most successful one yet and the silent auction raised nearly double what it did last year. Which is a relief as it really was a labour of love…and about 3 weeks of full time labour at that!

However, that of course is unrelated to a cooking blog. So what did we cook?

Well for the bake sale, Nana Jenny made my mini banana muffins decorated with cornflowers. Whereas I contributed a super sized batch of Joyous’ Famous (round these parts) Mint Yoghurt Mayo.

The wifey originally whipped up this recipe for one of my birthday garden soirées, to dip little smoked fish fritters and vegie crudités in. It is so simple and delicious that it’s become a staple dip around here.

For the School Carnival we made it to go in the Lamb Baps, and it also went well with the incredible fresh Snapper burgers and on the prawn skewers. We are lucky that our school is located opposite one of NZ’s best fisheries so they donated loads of fresh fish to be auctioned and sold.

It’s a little similar to the mayo we used I the Smoked Fish Potato Salad, but with less ingredients so it’s quicker. Plus it has an altogether different taste. I’m including it here after one of the parents from the school requested the recipe.

Joyous’ Famous Mint Yoghurt Mayo

Pour into a mixing bowl about 1/2 C decent mayonnaise e.g. Best Foods or Heinz & add approximately 3/4 C of unsweetened yoghurt (thick & Greek is best).

Mix together with a few good squeezes of lemon or lime juice.

Add approximately 2 tablespoons of finely sliced fresh mint.

Plus a generous pinch or two of flaky sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Stir and add more lemon, salt or mint to taste. It should have a good tang from the yoghurt and citrus.

Chill and serve.

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Awesome recipe illustration courtesy of my gorgeous and talented 5 year old god-daughter. (Which was created for the small cost of $1.)

Nearly every NZ’er has an Edmonds Cookbook. It’s the classic ‘going flatting’ gift that your mother or aunt or nana gives you. (Flatting is what my American readers would call getting an apartment I guess).

I grew up baking from this book. It contains all the Kiwiana classics such as Chocolate Afghans, Scones, Pavlova, Sponge Cake etc. I just stick to the baking from it though as the old versions also include some classic examples of cuisine such as Aspic Salad and Mock Chicken. (The book has had 57 reprints so the more modern ones don’t have all the same old recipes.)

The copy of the book that I use is extremely well used. I think it is the only thing I was given when my much loved (but tyrannical to everyone else) Great-Grandmother died. She was in her 80’s and named Beebee as she believed she was too fabulous to be named grandma when my mother was born in the 1950’s. I believe this book is from the same era, but it arrived without a cover so I don’t know its publication date.

She loved to bake and taught me to make perfect pikelets, fabulous scones…and today’s recipe…banana cake.

Now I realise this is pretty standard fare for us Kiwi’s, but for those who don’t live in NZ, this turns out  a perfect airy banana cake every time.

The recipe calls for it to be baked in two flat ‘sandwich tins’ (and traditionally it was sandwiched together with whipped cream but I always make it in a ring tin. I prefer to ice it with a tart lemon icing, but some people prefer chocolate icing.

However, I baked them yesterday as cup cakes for a very sad reason. A wee 1 year old boy from our small local community, was run over in his driveway and died last weekend. His Mum was one of the stall holders at our local Indie Craft Market, so the market organisers ran a cake stall to raise funds for his family. I thought cupcakes was the best option as they could be sold individually. So these were:

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing & Love.

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Ingredients and Method:

I’m going to cheat here and post a picture of the well-loved recipe here. Please don’t judge me, I have had this book since I was 10 and I guess it’s at least 60 years old. I’ll add notes on any small changes I make under the accompanying photographs.

It’s easiest to use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar. I use Tiffany. She has been with me since I left home at 16. Since I already had the Edmonds book, my Mum gave me an electric mixer instead.  I still can’t believe she’s still going. (Tiffany, not my mum.) She’s my longest serving female cooking companion. And a cheap one at around $20 for the original investment!

Trusty Tiffany

Trusty Tiffany

I’m sure you know to use over ripe bananas to get the best texture and flavour. And I’m sure I don’t even need to say Free-range eggs do I now? You can make a respectable version using No-Egg (Organ is my brand of choice), and / or a margarine / olive oil type margarine. But butter is best if you aren’t vegan or dairy free.

Good NZ butter, free-range eggs & over ripe bananas

Good NZ butter, free-range eggs & over ripe bananas

I use Tiffany to beat in the eggs and banana and then set her aside to put her beaters up for a well earned rest.

A tip in relation to the milk (and yes soy milk works fine), when you measure the 2 tablespoons, add a little extra as you’ll lose some as it heats. Pictured below.

Adding about one extra teaspoons worth of milk

Adding about one extra teaspoons worth of milk

When you stir the baking soda into the milk, ensure it’s really well mixed into the milk, then gently fold it into the batter. Some people’s banana cake tastes baking soda-y and I guess they don’t mix it in well enough. But that said, don’t over mix or it will lose some of its lightness.

Folding. Gently.

Folding. Gently.

My lazy version of mixing the flour and baking powder together is to roughly stir the powder into the flour whilst it’s in the measuring cup, then sift straight into the bowl. Too much of  a hoha (annoyance) to mix into another bowl then sift into the mixing bowl.

My favourite sieve, only holds one cup but it's so cute :-)

My favourite sieve, only holds one cup  at a time but it’s so cute 🙂

Mix the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon. Make sure it’s 100% combined, but do the minimum you need to so it stays light.

Mixing gently...

Mixing gently…

Then either put in teaspoon lots into greased patty pan type ‘tins’, or put into a greased (and I usually put a wax paper ring in the bottom to avoid tears later), or follow the recipe and put it into two sandwich tins. This makes one 20cm ring tin, or 24 baby muffin / cup cakes plus some extra that I made into two small cakes for Joyous and I. Don’t overfill the holes! Just one teaspoon in each.

Batter up

Batter up

Bake as per instructions. You can tell this is an old recipe book as NZ hasn’t used Fahrenheit since the 70’s, so for you metric people – that’s about 180 C. A skewer in the top centre of the cake will tell you when it’s cooked. I prefer ever so slightly undercooked and just leave it in the pan for a around 10 minutes covered with a clean tea towel. It’s a fine line, gooey in the middle is BAD. Over cooked is blah. This cake should be moist and light.

Icing:

I used a basic icing of approx 2 C icing sugar (powdered sugar for the US readers), a good squeeze of a large juicy lemon and about 1 desert spoon of soft butter. It’s really a matter of mixing it till it looks right, and adding the lemon to taste. I like mine tart (so actually added 2 good squeezes of lemon juice.)

Sift the icing sugar first, not essential but makes sure there are no lumpy bits. Really I just wanted to use another photo of my sieve.

So pretty

Sifting prettily

Combine all ingredients and mix with a fork till stiff enough to hold together, but runny enough to spread easily.

A fork in unmixed icing

A fork in unmixed icing

A fork in mixed icing

A fork in mixed icing

I find it easiest to spoon the icing onto the cupcakes, then use a knife frequently dipped into a glass of warm water to smooth out the icing. Then I used my micro-plane to add zest to the top of the iced cupcakes and added organic edible cornflowers from our garden for colour.

And….voila!

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Ready to enjoy