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  • Léonie Kelsall

OOPS! - and a recipe (although read the warning)

COVID restrictions in South Australia have been minimal, and we're now returning to 'normal'.

Excitingly, my real-live, need-to-wear-pants (as opposed to Zoom, where trackies and uggs under the desk are haute couture) author events started last week.


Some lucky attendees at the first events picked up these 'door prizes', containing peppertree berries from the farm.




The swing tag says 'see my blog for ideas on how I've used pepperberries'.

You all know me, so it will come as no surprise to learn that, of course, I hadn't actually put anything on my page. So, time to remedy that!

((*see important warning at the bottom of this post*)

PEPPERCORN INFUSED OIL

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I like to use the oil for frying a steak... I know: bad, bad, bad. But yum.

Or for frying bread. I know: bad, bad, bad. But yum.

Oh, wait, there's a theme here... But the semi-dried peppercorns is where these little beauties shine! Pink peppercorns are actually a berry from the Anacardiaceae family, related to cashews (so be careful with allergies). They have a very thin, sweet, fleshy outside (the pink bit) covering a black pepper which is nuttier than regular pepper with a sweet, hot aftertaste. I think they pair perfectly with shortbread, so here's the recipe I use far too often!




PINK PEPPERCORN SHORTBREAD

(again, read the warning at the bottom of the page!)


250g butter

1/2 cup raw caster sugar (I grind normal raw sugar)

2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup rice flour

pink peppercorns


I've adapted this recipe so that it's super simple and fast.

1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Add the sifted flour.

3. Mix until just crumbly. A palette knife works well, or if you're less fancy, like me, a butter knife is fine. If your house is also freezing cold, you can use your hands, but you don't want to melt the butter. If it's too warm, just pop the dough in the fridge for thirty minutes before cooking.


Or just be like me, and use both... I advocate excess in everything!

Take a teaspoon of pepperberries and gently mash them a little. I use a mortar and pestle. This doesn't crack the pepper but mushes the pink outside, which makes sure the fruity-peppery taste goes through the whole shortbread instead of just being a pepper-shock when you bite into a biscuit.


Toss the pepperberries into your dough and give it a quick tumble with your hands to distribute.


I loathe messing around rolling things out, so I pop a piece of baking paper in a tray. Mine is around 28cm by 20cm, but adjust the size according to how thick you want your shortbread. Sprinkle your crumbly mixture over the paper.


See how there's flecks of pink from the flesh, but also black peppercorns?

Put another small piece of baking paper on top (the unbleached, chlorine-free stuff is expensive, so I use a second piece only about the size of a cup.) Use a flat-based glass to press the dough VERY firmly into place, working across the entire tray. Pay particular attention to the edges, or they will crumble. I aim for about 7mm thick.


Score the top into diamonds so the shortbread will break neatly

Slide into a slow oven, 160 degrees for 30-40 minutes for 7mm thick shortbread. If you like thicker biscuits, drop the heat a tad and cook a little longer.

Keep an eye on the top, you want it to be just golden.


Let it cool for five minutes in the tray, then pop onto a wire rack. Or into your mouth.




Peppercorns are almost a vegetable, so this is a healthy dish, right?






Disclaimer: While you'll find pink pepper readily available to purchase, and I eat the pepperberries without adverse effects, I'm not advocating you do the same: schinus molle are potentially a nut allergen, and there is debate about whether they are toxic.

Here are a few links, but do your own research:

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Schinus+Molle

http://vro.agriculture.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/impact_peppercorn_tree

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676063/

https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/poisonous-plant-pepperina-schinus-molle/


If collecting fruit in the wild, make certain you identify plants correctly.






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