Winter citrus and a sunroom

We've been squeezing orange's every second or third morning and enjoying that zingy taste of real juice with breakfast.  A lemon or two might find its way into the juice as's just so nice and should be tried!

We've also been enjoying the mandarin's at the moment, happy to say I haven't had a dud one yet! Oh my god, you know it when you had a dud - yuck!

Today has been a bit of a non day, woke up late (which was lovely I have to say) rolled out of bed and did the usual chores - chooks, ducks & sheepy girls.  Came inside and sat down and went into a trance for about an hour....... a persistently meowing Biscuit was enough to get me up and going again, that is after catering to her every need and whim. 

We've been doing a bit more renovation at home, this time to the little sunroom area attached to the kitchen.  It was probably a verandah at one stage, but was then closed in.  Recently we were very lucky to come across some fantastic four panel doors through a customer of the shop, and with a little bit of work these babies are going to look perfect!

Rescuing the lovely old wall paneling was a real joy, hidden for many years under fake timber paneling, they finally get to see the light of day.  I bought this beautiful old wing-back chair from a friend, who knew I would keep it and love it as much as her late husband.  In its original upholstery, it still has many years of enjoyment left.  

Just to get a feel for what these doors are going to look like, I've lent one up against the existing door.  Yep, pretty darn happy with that thank you very much! 

If you're wondering who created this gorgeous cushion, it is the lovely Anita Mertzlin a truly amazing artist, that is a truly amazing person to boot!  I'm happy to say the The Black Hen will be one of Anita's stockist very soon!

OK, back to one of winter's most favourite fruits........I've got this cake recipe that uses mandarins and pistachio nuts that I thought I'd make today.  I found this recipe probably about two years ago, I've modified it slightly by adding a bit of flour, but it definitely can be made without flour, but you just need to check it regularly during baking, as it can come out slightly under cooked.

Recipe - Mandarin and Pistachio cake

3 x large mandarins
200g unsalted pistachio nuts
4 eggs
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of plain flour, sifted
1 tsp of baking powder
Glace orange rind, to serve
Cream, to serve

Place mandarins in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Place a saucer over the top to keep mandarins submerged. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and drain. Return mandarins to the saucepan and repeat the process 2 more times (this will reduce the bitterness of the rind). Return mandarins to the pan and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until very tender. Drain well. Set aside for 1 hour to cool.

Using another pot to keep the mandarins submerged.

Using another pot to keep the mandarins submerged.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base and side of a round 17cm (base measurement) cake pan with baking paper.

Place the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Set aside. Cut mandarins into quarters and remove any pips. Place in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

The girls are back laying again, hallelujah! 

The girls are back laying again, hallelujah! 

Use an electric mixer to whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Add mandarin mixture, flour, pistachio and baking powder and use a metal spoon to fold until just combined. Pour into the lined pan and bake in oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside to cool in the pan.




Top with thinly sliced glace orange rind, if desired. Serve with thick cream.

It's a lovely dense nutty cake, so if you like mandarins and pistachio, then please give it a try. x Julie