Recipes to relish (3 ways with pineapple, mango and lime chutney)

[Recipe 1] SUNSHINE CHUTNEY (pineapple, mango and lime) transforms into

We’re chutney chompers from way back, and the top shelf of the fridge is home to oodles of jars. Sunshine Chutney (pineapple, mango and lime) is our favourite. Make it and you’ll be dolloping it on just about everything, I promise. It makes a nice gift too – my boys teachers scored a jar for Christmas!
Mango Season is over in Australia, but this chutney can be made with frozen mango cheeks, and there’s no greater way to ward off Seasonal sadness than a sweet, sticky spoonful of sunshine on your slow-cooked Winter meat. I’ve shared our three favourite ways to enjoy Sunshine Chutney below.
TOSTADAS are crispy mini tortillas, topped with classic Mexican ingredients. We love tostadas el pollo, topped with avocado, leftover shredded roast chicken, a dollop of Sunshine chutney and scattered coriander. These are ace for a party, but you can be like Cher in Moonstruck and serve hors-d’oeuvres for dinner too!
PULLED PORK TACOS – my version of the Mexican classic, tacos al pastor. I seriously think my 8 year old would happily live on these.
MAPLE-GLAZED PORK FILLETS – if you haven’t cooked pork tenderloins before, go add them to your shopping list pronto! These are the perfect mid-week dinner. They take 20 minutes to roast and they’re SO juicy and lovely, especially with a hefty plop of Sunshine chutney 🙂

Sunshine chutney (pineapple, mango and lime). One Equals Two. 3 ways with Sunshine Chutney (pineapple, mango, lime). One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Sunshine chutney

Ingredients: (makes 1.5–1.8 kilos/3.3–4 lb chutney):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 long red chillies, de-seeded, finely chopped (retain seeds for extra oomph, if liked)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1½ tablespoons freshly-grated and chopped ginger
6 large or 8 small just-ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped (approx. 5 cups chopped mango)
1 small ripe pineapple, peeled and chopped (approx. 3 cups chopped pineapple)
1 large firm pear, peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes
60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice (from 1–2 limes)
2 teaspoons lime zest (from 1–2 limes)
1½ cups verjuice (verjus)
2 cups caster sugar (superfine sugar)
½ teaspoon sea salt

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, chilli and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes until just softened; taking care not to burn.
Add all other ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 1– 1¼ hours uncovered; or until thick and jammy. Stir occasionally, and keep a close eye on the chutney towards the end of the cooking process, to ensure it doesn’t stick and burn. It should look like a thick, sticky orange puree with softened pineapple chunks, and it will firm up further on standing.
Divide the chutney among hot, sterilised jars. Store chutney in a cool, dark place.

  • Use good quality fruit that is not over-ripe. Fully ripened fruit contains less pectin, the substance that makes jams and chutneys set. It’s best to use your fruit as soon as possible after buying.
  • Frozen mango cheeks can be used in place of fresh mango if out of Season.
  • Double the ingredients for a bulk quantity (12 cups) to share with friends. Cooking time will be slightly longer, around 1½–1¾ hours.
  • I always add a pear or two to my chutneys and jams as they’re high in pectin which helps achieve a good set even if your hero fruit is beginning to over-ripen. Lime also contains a high amount of pectin.
  • Verjuice is available at large supermarkets and specialty food stores. In Australia, Maggie Beer’s verjuice is the best quality and flavour (IMHO)! Replace the verjuice with apple cider vinegar if unavailable (I’ve tested this recipe with both).
  • Resist the desperate urge to enjoy your chutney immediately! Allow it to further firm up for at least 24 hours, preferably longer, before using.
  • Chutney in properly sterilised jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to ten months. Refrigerate after opening.

Chicken tostadas with sunshine chutney. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Chicken tostadas with Sunshine chutney

Ingredients (makes 25):
25 x 9cm tostaditas (deep fried tortillas)
1 large avocado, sliced
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (from ½ a roast chicken)
♦ ½–1 cup sunshine chutney (see Recipe 1, above)
1 red (purple/Spanish) onion, thinly sliced

Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

Arrange tostaditas on a large serving platter, or little individual plates (pictured).
Place 2 slices of avocado on each, top with 1 tablespoon shredded chicken, a couple of thin slices of onion and ½ tablespoon sunshine chutney. Scatter with fresh coriander and serve at once.

  • Deep-fried tostaditas are available in-store and online from from El CieloIf unavailable, make your own by placing mini corn tortillas on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil and bake in a hot oven until crisp, 12–15 minutes. Alternatively, mini corn tortillas can be fried in hot, shallow oil, about 2–3 minutes each side until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

Pulled pork tacos with sunshine chutney. One Equals Two

[Recipe 3] Pulled pork tacos with Sunshine chutney

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 x 14cm soft white corn tacos (tortillas)
2½–3 cups pulled pork (recipe here), warmed
Apple slaw (recipe here)
♦ 1 cup sunshine chutney (see Recipe 1, above)
Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped, to serve

Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan. Pan-fry the tortillas in batches, for ten seconds each side, until softened. Wrap in a clean tea towel to keep warm, as you prepare the remaining tortillas.
To serve, spoon reserved pulled pork down the centre of each tortilla. Top with apple slaw and a good dollop of sunshine chutney.
Scatter with fresh coriander and serve at once.

  • Pulled pork can be warmed carefully in a small covered saucepan, or in the microwave (drizzle with the reserved cooking juices, cover with cling film, and microwave on high for 1–2 minutes). Don’t make it too hot!

Maple-glazed pork fillets with sunshine chutney. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 4] Maple-glazed pork fillets with Sunshine chutney

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 free range pork fillets (tenderloins), 250-300g each
1 tablespoon olive oil
♦ ½–1 cup sunshine chutney (see Recipe 1, above)
Glaze ingredients:
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 heaped teaspoons smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon dried chilli powder (or more, as liked)
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Mix glaze ingredients together in a small bowl, and brush over the pork fillets with the back of a soup spoon.
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add pork and sear on all sides until nicely browned, 4–5 minutes total.
Transfer pork to a tray lined with baking paper, and drizzle with any remaining glaze.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 15–20 minutes, until pork is cooked through. Remove from oven. Transfer pork to a board, cover lightly with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, cut the pork into thick 1cm (½”) medallions. Arrange on plates and drizzle with any juices left on the tray. Serve with a dollop of sunshine chutney.

  • Pork fillet is also known as pork tenderloin, and is the eye fillet that comes from within the loin. It’s super tasty and lean; and is best cooked quickly in a hot oven as it can dry out if overcooked. Don’t make the mistake of buying pork loin, which is quite a different cut to a tenderloin and requires a longer cooking time. Read here for more information.
  • Leftover cooked pork fillet can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thinly sliced leftover cooked pork fillet is THE BEST in sandwiches! Serve with Sunshine chutney and cos (Romaine) lettuce.

Spudtacular (mastering the hasselback)


Hasselback! Surely the best food name ever? These spuds are the bees knees. They’re simple to prepare, super kid friendly and look and taste spectacular. They originated at the Hasselbacken Hotel in Sweden.
The recipe is similar wherever you look. I’ve tried one on and Nigella‘s, which are drizzled in butter; but I now favour coconut oil*. I also alternate between fresh thyme and rosemary, depending on what’s available. Hasselbacks pair beautifully with pork sausages, roast asparagus and a good plop of sticky caramelised onion jam.
Being a planned-overs addict, I recently roasted double the asparagus and hasselback potatoes; and the following night whipped up a damn fine Potato salad with smoked trout, hard-boiled eggs, olives, asparagus and horseradish dressing. Although quite similar to nicoise, I actually took my inspiration from the Portugese stew, Bacalhau a Gomes de Sá (salt cod with onions, potatoes, olives and egg), which is traditionally served hot; but as we wilted through yet another heatwave in Melbourne recently, a salad was more fitting. I couldn’t lay my hands on cod, so opted for more readily available, and equally delicious, smoked trout.
*If you’ve not cooked with coconut oil, read this and this and you’ll be converted. No more nasty seed or vegetable oils for moi!

Hasselback potatoesBangers with caramelised onions and hasselback potatoes[Recipe 1] Bangers with hasselback potatoes, roasted asparagus and caramelised red onion jam

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
12 roasting potatoes (2 kilos/4 lb)
40g (1½ oz) organic coconut oil, melted
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked (or fresh thyme if unavailable)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed, brushed lightly with coconut oil
To serve:
Good quality free-range pork sausages
Caramelised red onion jam

Chopstick guide for hasselback potatoesPreheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place a potato on a board and make thin, evenly spaced cuts at 3mm intervals. Place a chopstick or thin-handled wooden spoon either side of the potato, to use as a guide to ensure you don’t cut all the way down through the potato. Gently fan out the slices.
Place prepared potato on a tray lined with baking paper and brush with coconut oil, pushing down between the slices. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Season with salt flakes and pepper. Scatter rosemary over 6 potatoes, for tonight’s meal (planned-over spuds for the salad in Recipe 2 are best left plain).
Bake prepared potatoes in oven for 1 hour or until golden brown and crisp.
Place asparagus spears on a separate small baking tray, and pop in the oven with the potatoes for the last 15 minutes roasting time. Give potatoes another light brush with coconut oil. Remove asparagus and set aside.
Check potatoes are tender. If not, pop them back in the oven for another ten minutes and test again.
♦ Reserve half the hasselback potatoes and half the roasted asparagus spears for the Roast potato salad with smoked trout and horseradish dressing.
Meanwhile pan-fry sausages, and keep warm in the pan, covered, until required.
Serve remaining hasselback potatoes immediately, with bangers, onion jam and roasted asparagus.

  • You could add a simple green salad to this meal, and kids will appreciate steamed corn or carrots on the side.
  • Planned-overs (reserved hasselback potatoes and roasted asparagus) can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Smoked trout, potato and olive salad

[Recipe 2] Roast potato salad with smoked trout, asparagus and horseradish dressing

Ingredients (serves 4):
6 reserved roasted hasselback potatoes, sliced through, at room temperature
Reserved roasted asparagus spears
150g (5 oz) smoked trout fillet, flaked
3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and quartered
Handful olives, pitted (I love Mount Zero Victorian-grown kalamata olives)
Horseradish dressing
2 spring onions, chopped finely
½ cup fresh dill, chopped
Flaked salt (Murray River pink salt flakes are my recent addiction – so good with fish)
Lemon wedges, to serve

Arrange reserved sliced hasselback potatoes and roasted asparagus on a large serving platter, or four individual serving plates.
Place flaked trout, eggs and olives on top; drizzle with horseradish cream and scatter with spring onions and dill.
Sprinkle with flaked salt and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

  • Fussy kid tips: This salad is easy to customise for children by replacing the asparagus with chopped avocado, and omitting the olives and onions, as required. You can also lightly drizzle kid’s serves with good-quality egg mayo or plain light sour cream. Kids may also prefer canned tuna instead of smoked trout; in which case you can use the leftover trout for lunch, in a bagel with cucumber and cream cheese!
  • Any mention of brand names in my recipes is simply because I really like and recommend the products. I don’t do sponsored posts!

The lovin’ spoonful (4 ways with ratatouille)

[Recipe 1] RATATOUILLE transforms into

Is there a simpler, more virtuous dish than ratatouille? Veggies, olive oil, fresh herbs and a dash of salt and pepper. That’s it! It really doesn’t take much extra time to make a large batch and ratatouille is one of the ultimate 1=2 dinners, or in the case of this post, 1=4.
Ratatouille freezes well too, so you can make the other meal suggestions at a later date.
We serve it up on the first night as is, lovingly spooned into deep serving plates and scattered with fresh basil; every last bit mopped up with crusty bread (ours was olive sourdough from Noisette).
My favourite further uses for ratatouille are as the base for a lovely Ratatouille pasta sauce (this can be blended smooth for children – see tips below recipe); and as a rich, thick spreadable sauce for pizza, scattered with rocket (arugula), chilli and pepperoni. Lastly, I can’t go past a 90s-style toastie stuffed with ratatouille, pesto and mozzarella. Délicieux!
There are endless other ways to use leftover ratatouille:
1 Stir through scrambled eggs, or use as a filling for a rolled omelette.
2 Use in place of caramelised onions in a goat’s cheese tart.
3 Blend with chicken or vegetable stock to make a hearty soup.
4 Add a ratatouille layer to a traditional lasagna.
5 Finely chop and add to chilli con carne or bolognaise sauce.
6 Use in place of tomato-based sauce on chicken parmigiana.
7 Mix ratatouille with pearl couscous, crumbled fetta and a small can of chilli tuna for a quick lunch (the husband and I enjoyed this last week)!
8 Blend ratatouille smooth and use as the base for wholemeal bread scrolls with cheese, great for kid’s lunchboxes (recipe to come).
Notes: In testing my recipe for quantities and cooking time, I found roasting and removing the skins from the capsicums made for a milder-tasting ratatouille, which, when blended for the pasta sauce, my boys much preferred. A traditional ratatouille features un-skinned capsicums, so feel free to omit the roasting stage, and add them raw to the pan along with the zucchinis, skins and all; but there will be a slightly bitter undertaste to your ratatouille.

4 ways with ratatouilleRatatouille[Recipe 1] Ratatouille

Ingredients (makes 8 cups):
2 eggplants (aubergines), thickly sliced
Salt for sprinkling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), de-seeded, quartered
1 yellow capsicum (bell pepper), de-seeded, quartered
5 large portabella mushrooms, approx. 375g (13 oz), halved
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 large red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium zucchinis (courgettes), thickly sliced
6 large very ripe tomatoes, peeled and de-seeded
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn; plus extra for scattering
½ cup fresh oregano leaves (substitute with thyme or more basil if unavailable)
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Lemon wedges or balsamic vinegar, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Season eggplant slices with salt. Set aside for ten minutes. Rinse slices with water and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Brush slices with a little of the olive oil.
Brush capsicum skins with oil.
Place capsicum quarters skin-side down, and prepared eggplant slices, on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 15 minutes. Place mushroom halves on a separate tray and roast, together with the eggplant and capsicums, for a further 15 minutes. Mushrooms can be placed on the shelf below if required. Total roasting time is 30 minutes.
Remove roasted veggies from the oven. Carefully drain any juices from the mushrooms, chop roughly and set aside. Roughly chop eggplant.
Place roasted capsicums into a plastic container, pop on the lid, and set aside for 10 minutes. Slip the skins off the capsicums and discard.
Meanwhile, heat the extra olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 4–5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini slices to the pan and fry gently for 10 minutes.
Add roasted eggplant, mushrooms, capsicums and prepared tomatoes to the pan, bring to a simmer, turn down heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the lid for the last ten minutes if necessary.
Stir through fresh basil and oregano. Season to taste.
Serve ratatouille with thickly-sliced crusty bread; scattered with extra fresh basil and a good squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
♦ Divide remaining ratatouille into 1-cup portions and reserve for Fettuccine with ratatouille tomato sauce; Ratatouille pizza with pepperoni, chilli and rocket and/or Toasties with ratatouille, pesto and mozzarella.

  • Reserved ratatouille can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids may turn their noses up at the ratatouille, but will happily hoover it blended in a pasta sauce. You may like to whip up Recipe 2 immediately!

Fettuccine with ratatouille sauce

[Recipe 2] Fettuccine with ratatouille tomato sauce

Ingredients (serves 4):
400g (14 oz) dried fettuccine

♦ 1 cup reserved ratatouille, coarsely chopped
350g (12 oz) tomato passata (tomato purée)
2 leftover cooked good-quality pork sausages, thinly sliced (optional)
Grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano), to serve
Fresh basil, torn, to serve

Cook fettuccine in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
♦ Meanwhile, place reserved ratatouille in a small saucepan.
Add passata and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
If using, add sausage slices and simmer for a further 5 minutes, until warmed through.
Stir sauce through cooked fettuccine, scattered with Parmesan and fresh basil.

Ratatouille pasta bakeFussy kid tip: Before adding the sausage slices, blend one or two cups of the ratatouille pasta sauce completely smooth. Add a dash of water or extra passata if it’s too thick. My boys happily eat this, completely oblivious to all those lovely hidden veggies!
Ratatouille pasta bake is another fabulous way to use this sauce (pictured left). Blend ratatouille tomato pasta sauce completely smooth, add peas and pan-fried bacon; and stir through cooked penne. Pour into a baking dish, scatter with mozzarella and breadcrumbs and bake at 180°C (350ºF) for 15–20 minutes.

Ratatouille pizza with pepperoni

[Recipe 3] Ratatouille pizza with pepperoni, chilli and rocket

Ingredients (makes 2 pizzas, serves 4–6):
Flour, for sprinkling
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough, formed into 2 balls
50g (2 oz) pepperoni, thinly sliced (25g/1 oz per pizza)
250g (½ lb) mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 small red birdseye chilli, de-seeded, finely sliced
50g (2 oz) wild rocket (arugula) leaves (25g/1 oz per pizza)
Ratatouille pizza sauce:
♦ 1 cup reserved ratatouille
2 tablespoons tomato paste (tomato concentrate)

Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
♦ Make Ratatouille pizza sauce by blending reserved ratatouille and tomato paste until smooth. Set aside.
Place two pizza trays into the hot oven to warm up, for at least 10 minutes. This is an important step for crispy-based pizzas.
Sprinkle flour onto 2 sheets of baking paper. Place a dough ball on each. Roll out and press each dough ball into a large circle. Make the dough as thin as you can, as it will puff up a bit in the oven.
Spread each pizza base with prepared ratatouille pizza sauce.
Top with pepperoni and mozzarella; and scatter with chilli.
Carefully slide pizzas and baking paper onto pre-heated pizza trays and bake for 10–12 minutes until bubbling. Cook separately if they don’t fit side by side.
Remove from oven. Scatter pizzas with rocket. Serve immediately.

  • Fussy kid tip: Children may prefer their pizza served margherita-style with ratatouille tomato sauce and mozzarella only.

Ratatouille and pesto toasties

[Recipe 4] Toasties with ratatouille, pesto and mozzarella

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 large Turkish bread, split lengthways, cut into four pieces
75g (2½ oz) spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto
♦ 1 cup reserved ratatouille
125g (4½ oz) mozzarella, thinly sliced

Spread each piece of bread with pesto.
Fill with ratatouille. Top with mozzarella.
Cook toasties in a sandwich press or on a grill plate until mozzarella has melted and ratatouille is warmed through. Serve immediately.

  • Fussy kid tip: Blend ratatouille smooth for children; or serve their toasties with pesto and mozzarella only.
  • If your ratatouille is quite wet, you might like to drain it on kitchen paper first.

Beet this


Happy Father’s Day for yesterday daddy readers! We had a delightful weekend, starting with the Nicholas Building Open House on Friday night (one of Melbourne’s most lovely buildings, and a microcosm of small artist’s studios and tiny specialty shops); followed by a perfect coffee in the sun and a spot of art admiration at Commonfolk on Saturday; and culminating in a magnificent manly dinner – Amelia’s Bangers and mash with beer and onion gravy.
I plucked some big fat grass-fed beef bangers from my freezer, having bought them a couple of weeks ago at East Bentleigh Farmers Market, one of our favourites as it has a zero-waste policy, and always has everything I need, including custard tarts and home-made dim sims. I had a lovely morning there with my 6-year old, and we came home with the aforementioned snags, gorgeous baby coloured carrots, and a few bunches of beetroot including striped Chioggia. I set to work roasting the lot for a salad.
The weather has turned decidedly Spring-like over the past two weeks, and this salad, full of flavour and texture with a light scattering of roasted macadamias; made a perfect light dinner.
I reserved a cup of the roasted beetroot and whipped up a fab beetroot hummus the next day, basically my usual hummus with beetroot added and a handful of pinenuts. Delicious! The husband and I polished off a ridiculous amount, and took the rest to work for lunch on sourdough with roast beef and rocket. I made a second batch to test its freezability and it freezes really well. Who knew one could freeze hummus? Not I, and I’m pretty rapt as it’s a great way to avoid gorging.
Oh, right down the bottom of this post I’ve shared my favourite tea towel. A girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday last year (thanks Eileesh)! I used it as the tablecloth for this post but felt it needed to be seen in its entirety. Isn’t it a ripper!
Footnote: The coloured carrots came from the Greens Organic Farm stall. They also deliver to Melbourne’s south/bayside suburbs. The beetroot was purchased at the Peninsula Fresh stall; and my sausages came from Sage Beef. The beautiful bread pictured in my dip photo was from Rustica. These sellers are all regulars at East Bentleigh Farmer’s Market.

Coloured baby carrotsRoast beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad[Recipe 1] Roasted beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad

Ingredients (serves 4, plus extra beetroot for recipe 2):
3 bunches beetroot, about 1½ kilo (3 lb) total
3 bunches baby carrots, about 500g (1 lb) total
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or olive oil), plus extra for brushing carrots
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
150g (5 oz) wild rocket (arugula) or radicchio (Italian chicory) leaves
60g (2 oz) macadamia nuts, roasted and chopped
Orange dressing:
⅓ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 1 large orange)
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or extra-virgin olive oil), extra
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, warmed slightly

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare dressing by placing all ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined. Refrigerate until required.
Wash the beetroot and carrots well. Trim the stems leaving about 1cm (½”) intact. If using large and medium beetroots, they can be halved.
Place the prepared beetroot onto a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with oil and wrap them up like a parcel. Place into a heavy baking pan and roast for 40 minutes.
Brush the prepared carrots with a little oil. Remove baking pan from the oven, and place the carrots next to the parcel of beetroot. You can use a small separate baking pan if there isn’t enough room, or lay another tray on top of your roasting pan.
Place everything into the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes until vegetables are just tender.
Macadamias can be placed in the oven for the last 5 minutes to roast.
Remove baking pan from the oven. Wearing gloves, slip the skins off the beetroot with a vegetable peeler or your fingers.
Reserve approximately 200g (7 oz) roasted beetroot for the Roast beetroot and pine nut humus.
Place the remaining roasted vegetables in a large bowl. Add rocket leaves and drizzle with the prepared dressing. Toss lightly until combined. Divide salad amongst four serving plates, and scatter with macadamias.

  • Small, young beetroot leaves can be used in your salad in place of the rocket leaves.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids will love the roast baby carrots, but may turn their noses up at the beetroot. Roast a couple of sliced potatoes and pumpkin chunks for them at the same time.
  • This salad can be served with sliced oven-baked pork fillets (tenderloins); which require 20 minutes roasting time and can be placed in the oven at the same time as the carrots. Brush them lightly with oil and scatter with cumin. To serve, brush a little of the orange dressing on top!

Beetroot and pine nut hummus

[Recipe 2] Beetroot and pine nut hummus

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
200g (7 oz) reserved roasted beetroot, peeled, tops trimmed
1 tablespoon hulled tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup (40g) pine nuts
1½ teaspoons dried cumin powder

Process all ingredients until smooth. Add a splash of water if it seems too thick. Season to taste. If using canned chickpeas, you may not need additional salt.
Serve with crusty bread and/or vegetable crudités.

  • Beetroot and pine nut hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Uncle Albert's vintage tea towel

Pig out


“So THIS is why the big bad wolf wanted to eat the 3 little pigs”!
So said my 6-year old after his first-ever taste of pork belly crackling. We were a bit startled by his cheerful nonchalance! He couldn’t get enough of it, those oily little fingers reaching out for more and more; and frankly neither could I. I hadn’t had crackling in years, and before last weekend had never actually cooked it myself.
Oh boy was it good; and the beautiful melt-in-your mouth meat it encased was pretty damn excellent too.
I weighed up Jamie and Nigella‘s cooking methods. Jamie gives his pork a sharp burst of high heat to start with, then turns the oven down for the slow-cooking process. Nigella cooks hers in reverse, slow-roasting first with a hot blast at the end. I chose Jamie’s technique as it required my attention at the start of the process, then could be ignored until finished – ideal for weekend cooking.
I improvised and threw together a simple zesty marinade which worked a treat. The lovely pork belly was served up in soft tacos with pineapple ginger relish, a concoction I made up by adding bits and pieces to the saucepan until it tasted nice, and hot damn did it go well with the pork!
These tacos are my version of one of my favourite Mexican dishes – Al Pastor style pork and pineapple. You can sample the real deal in Melbourne at Mamasita, Fonda and our local, Eat Drink Love Taco in Carlisle Street. Al Pastor style pork is cooked on a huge vertical spit and served up in tortillas with finely chopped onion, lime, coriander and fresh pineapple. So good!
Amazingly we had quite a bit of leftover pulled pork, which I used the next night in a fab mixed rice salad with lime and peanuts; using Rice Plus, a locally-made product my friend Judy got me hooked on. It’s fantastic, a combo of black sesame seeds and grains including brown rice, black rice, red basmati, millet and quinoa. I always have a pack in the cupboard. I’ve made this salad a few times, and usually add chopped leftover roast chicken, but the pork was a fabulous inclusion. This recipe makes enough salad for lunch the next day (nothing better than lunch waiting in the fridge for you in the morning). My boys love the salad too, although I modify theirs slightly – see ‘fussy kid tip’ below. Now, onto the recipes…

Slow-cooked pork belly with cracklingPork belly tacos with pineapple relish[Recipe 1] Slow-roasted pork belly tacos with pineapple ginger relish and crackling

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. tacos serve 4, salad serves 6):
2 kilo (4 lb) whole free-range pork belly
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1½ cups freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 corn cobs, silk and husks removed (to reserve for the mixed rice salad)
Olive oil, extra, for brushing corn
Pineapple ginger relish, to serve
Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
10 white corn tortillas, to serve (mine are from El Cielo)

Score the thick pork skin with a very sharp knife, in rows. Don’t cut all the way down to the meat – about 5mm (.2″) deep is perfect. Brush the skin all over with the oil, and sprinkle with salt.
Mix the orange juice, cumin, cinnamon and paprika together and pour into the bottom of a shallow, heavy baking pan. Pop the pork piece on top. Brush the marinade up the sides of the pork. Don’t brush the skin, as it should remain dry.
Note: if you’re using a baking dish that’s tricky to clean, you may wish to line it with a couple of layers of foil.
Allow the pork to marinate, uncovered, for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Keeping it uncovered allows the skin to remain nice and dry which is a must for good crackling.
Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Roast the marinated pork belly for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 150°C (300ºF) and roast for a further 3 hours, until skin is golden and crispy. With 30 minutes of cooking time remaining, place the oiled corn cobs in the oven on a separate small tray, and roast together with the pork, turning once after 15 minutes. Total cooking time is 3½ hours.
♦ Remove the corn cobs and reserve both for the mixed rice salad.
Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
To serve, remove the crispy crackling from the top and break into pieces. Pull the pork belly apart with two forks.
♦ Reserve 1–2 cups (as much as you can spare) cooked pork for the mixed rice salad.
Serve the remaining pork belly with warmed tortillas and pineapple ginger relish, scattered with coriander. Serve the crackling on the side.

  • Reserved cooked pork can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days.
  • Fussy kid tip: my boys loved their pork tacos with fresh guacamole instead of the pineapple relish. I served them a bowl of fresh pineapple on the side.
  • When using coriander (cilantro) leaves, freeze the white roots. They’re great for adding to home-made stock, or pounding into a paste for flavouring curries and stews such as Black bean, coconut and fish stew. Strip the tiny ‘hairy’ roots off before using.

Mixed rice salad with pork and peanuts

[Recipe 2] Mixed rice salad with pulled pork, lime and peanuts

Ingredients (serves 6):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red (purple/Spanish) onion, finely chopped
2 cups (450g pack) gluten-free RicePlus, uncooked
♦ 2 reserved roasted corn cobs, kernels removed with a sharp knife
1–2 cups reserved cooked pork belly, chopped
Sea salt

1 cup coriander (cilantro), chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
60g roasted peanuts, chopped, to serve
Lime and ginger dressing:
2 limes, juiced and zested (⅓ cup juice)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey, warmed slightly
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
1 heaped tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion over a medium heat for 3 minutes, until just soft.
Add the Rice Plus and 4 cups of water to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes (this will help any excess liquid to be absorbed).
♦ Add reserved roast corn kernels and reserved pork. Season well with salt.
(At this stage you may like to decant some of the undressed salad to serve to kids – see tip below).
Make dressing by combining ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Add coriander and parsley and serve, scattered with chopped peanuts.
Serve at room temperature.

  • Fussy kid tip: For 2 kids, remove 2 cups of the rice salad before you add the dressing, coriander and parsley. You can serve it with reserved pork, but if you wish to keep the pork all to yourselves (bwahahaha – evil laugh); do as I do and stir a small, drained can of tuna in olive oil through the rice salad. Both my boys love this. A classic tuna, corn and rice salad! It’s equally nice made with leftover chopped roast chicken too. My 6-year old adds a huge slosh of tomato sauce (ketchup) to his, and the 10-year old stirs through some mayo.

Endless simmer

[Recipe 1] CORNED BEEF with POTATO AND EGG SALAD transforms into

I’ve been squeezing in as many slow-cooked meals as I can before Spring arrives. We love beef, and especially adore slow-roasted brisket but being a closet retro food lover, one of my personal favourites is corned beef. It has a unique, almost tangy, flavour and is so easy to prepare, simply simmered in water with a few chopped veggies and ignored until cooked.
My recipe is a conglomeration of one from my much-loved Complete Margaret Fulton (a book I received for my 12th birthday) and this recipe on The whole grapefruit studded with cloves is a tip I learned from my neighbour Tracey, and it adds a beautiful zesty touch.
Although corned beef is traditionally served with white sauce and boiled veggies, we prefer ours Eastern-Euro style, with a large mound of egg and potato salad and a couple of crunchy pickles on the side. Incidentally, if you’re feeling energetic, you could make your own pickles too. Bartolini Kitchens and Wuppenif both posted lovely home-made pickle recipes last week.
Reserve some cooked potato pieces and chopped corned beef and you can whip up a batch of rustic corned beef hash for brekkie later. The mustard adds a good wallop of flavour and cuts through the stodginess, making for a tasty, hearty dish to set you up for the day. The husband polished off a huge bowl of it on Sunday, proclaiming it ‘really good’, before embarking on a full schedule of repairs to our ancient house. Actually, our house is a 1=2 story in itself… must write about it one of these days.
Have a lovely week dear readers. xx

Corned beef with egg and potato salad[Recipe 1] Corned beef with potato and egg salad

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1.75kg (3½ lb) piece uncooked corned (pickled) beef or silverside
1 whole grapefuit, studded with 8 cloves
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped, leaves included
1 leek, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Wholegrain mustard, to serve
Pickles or gherkins, to serve
Ingredients for potato and egg salad (note: you’ll be reserving ½ the cooked potatoes for the corned beef hash):
2 kilos (4 lb) waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil, mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice, for coating reserved potatoes
½ cup good-quality egg mayonnaise
⅓ cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Drain the beef and place into a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Drain again.
Place rinsed beef into a large saucepan with the studded grapefruit, celery, leek, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns and brown sugar. Add cold water to cover by 5cm (2”) and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for 2 hours or until meat is firm. Turn off the heat and allow the beef to rest in the liquid for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the potato and egg salad. Place potato pieces into a large saucepan. Cover with water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and allow to cool to room temperature for half an hour.

♦ Reserve ½ the cooked potato (approx. 800g/1¾ lb) for the corned beef hash.
To prevent reserved potatoes from turning grey, add olive oil and lemon juice mixture, and toss to coat. Store cooked potatoes in the fridge for up to 2 days. Dry well before using in Recipe 2 (below).

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard. Plop over the remaining cooked potato pieces; add the chives, parsley and eggs and stir through gently. Season. Refrigerate until required.
Remove the corned beef from the cooking liquid and slice. Discard the liquid (although it pains me to discard food, I find this stock too salty and aromatic to use for other purposes).
Reserve 250g (½ lb) of the cooked corned beef for the corned beef hash.
Serve the remaining sliced corned beef, cold or warm; with the potato salad, mustard and pickles.

  • You can buy uncooked corned beef and silverside from the supermarket, but it does contain a few numbers, sulfites and preservatives. I purchase mine from my local butcher, beautifully nestled in a bag of simple brine and spices. If your butcher doesn’t stock it, you could try asking nicely if they would prepare one for you. You could of course cure it yourself, but I prefer to leave it to the experts.
  • Uncooked cured corned beef requires 30 minutes simmering per 500g (1 lb). I like to add an extra 15 minutes, and rest the beef in the hot stock for 30 minutes prior to carving. There is nothing spookier or more annoying than finding a little uncooked section in the middle of one’s corned beef!
  • Cooked corned beef and cooked potatoes can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze corned beef in slices, with baking paper between the layers, in a tightly-sealed container for up to 2 months.
  • If egg salad doesn’t float your boat, corned beef goes beautifully with Russian potato salad too (cook an extra 1 kilo/2 lb potatoes to reserve for the hash).
  • Corned beef is also fabulous served up in a Reuban sandwich with braised red cabbage.
  • Fussy kid tip: Refer to the corned beef as ‘special ham’; and if your kids won’t touch potato salad, serve them up an oh-so-hipster deconstructed version with cooked potato cubes, quartered eggs and a decorative drizzle of kewpie mayo.

Corned beef and leek hash

[Recipe 2] Corned beef hash

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon (approx. 20g) butter
½ leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, cut into long strips and sliced finely

♦ 800g (1¾ lb) reserved cooked potato pieces

♦ 250g
(½ lb) reserved sliced corned beef, chopped
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
4 eggs
2 Roma tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, for scattering

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the leek over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes.
♦ Dry reserved cooked potato pieces with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper; and add to the frying pan with the reserved corned beef. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip sections of the mixture over to cook the other side for a further 5–10 minutes, until golden and crispy at the edges. Add an extra splash of olive oil if required. Shake the pan gently now and again to roughen the potatoes. Add mustard and gently toss to combine.
Meanwhile, fry or poach the eggs and fry or grill the tomatoes.
To serve, pile a mound of corned beef hash on each serving plate, top with a fried egg, a tomato half and a good grind of pepper and salt. Scatter with parsley.

  • Parsley can be replaced with thyme or basil.
  • You can add other leftover cooked veggies to hash; including carrot and corn.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids will prefer plain hash, so add wholegrain mustard and parsley to adult serves only. Omit the grilled tomatoes, and serve with tomato sauce (ketchup).

Poultry in motion

[Recipe 1] CHICKEN, ALMOND and ZUCCHINI PATTIES transform into

I think I’ll launch head-first into the recipes this week. I’m absolutely pooped, and for once my brain is empty of chit-chat. Did I mention we have a newish cat, Moe (named after Moe from the Three Stooges)? We rescued him from the Greensborough Cat Protection Society, and he’s lovely. He’s such a good sport with our boys, tolerating endless tummy rubs and being wheeled around in home-made carts. The only negative about him is his daily 5.30am loud wakeup miaowing. Ouch. Although I would kill for an extra 90 minutes slumber, I’ve turned this ritual into a positive. The rest of the house manages to sleep ’til 7am, giving me a blissful 1½ hours of ‘me time’ every morning to blog and cruise Pinterest with a warm cat on my lap. I’m doing just that, as we speak!
Wow, I still managed some chit-chat, even in my sleep-deprived state. Now, onto the recipes… this week I’m sharing two fab chicken dishes. First up is Chicken, almond and zucchini patties. These are super easy to make, cheap and cheerful, and my boys love them. By making a large batch of the chicken mince mixture, you can set some aside and make chicken meatballs to use in a lip-smacking Chicken meatball and noodle soup for a second meal.
A word of warning – my 6-year old was quite freaked out by the ‘weird white balls’ in the soup, so the second time I tested the recipe I browned the balls before plunging them into the hot stock, and he was quite satisfied. You can choose your method, but cooking the raw meatballs in the stock is quicker, and more authentic. The husband and I prefer them done this way as the flavour is more delicate, but you may find that your kids will be happier with ‘proper brown balls’.
Ciao for now. Moe is hollering for his breakfast and I need a second coffee. Have a lovely week. xx

Moe-the-cat!Chook, zucchini almond patties[Recipe 1] Chicken, almond and zucchini patties

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; ie. 2 batches of patties and 1 batch of meatballs):
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, cut into long strips and sliced finely
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) chicken
3cm (1¼”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons very finely-chopped lemongrass stalk, white part only
3 medium zucchini (500g/1 lb), grated, squeezed to remove excess liquid
250g (9 oz) almond meal
3 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon sea salt
Peanut or vegetable oil, extra, for frying patties
To serve with patties:
Sweet chilli sauce
Green beans with toasted pine nuts

Heat oil in a small saucepan and fry the leek and garlic over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Process cooked leek, 500g (1 lb) of the chicken mince, ginger, lemongrass, zucchini, almond meal, eggs and salt until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, add the remaining chicken mince and mix well.
Divide mixture into three portions of approx. 800g (1¾ lb) each.
Shape 2 portions into 8 patties each (total of 16 patties). Reserve one portion of 8 patties for tonight’s dinner. Freeze the other portion of 8 patties for another meal.
Roll the third portion of chicken mince into about 36 walnut-sized balls, with lightly-floured hands (use gluten-free flour if required).
♦ Reserve the chicken meatballs for the Chicken meatball noodle soup.
Note: The mixture is quite soft and sticky, but it firms up nicely when cooked; and makes for lovely light-textured patties and meatballs.
For tonight’s patties, heat extra oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook patties on a low–medium heat for 6–8 minutes each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve patties with sweet chilli sauce and green beans with toasted pine-nuts.

  • Uncooked chicken patties and chicken meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Pat dry with kitchen paper before using, to soak up excess moisture.
  • This recipe makes two batches of patties, and one batch of meatballs. You could of course choose to make 3 batches of patties or meatballs instead!
  • For a change, the patties can be served in soft rolls with chilli slaw or sliced avocado and mayo.
  • Grated lemongrass can be purchased frozen from Asian stores. I keep a large block in my freezer and hack off a chunk when required.

Chicken meatball noodle soup

[Recipe 2] Chicken meatball and noodle soup

Ingredients (serves 6, leftovers are great for lunch):
200g (7 oz) thin fresh egg noodles
2 litres chicken stock, home-made or store-bought
1–2 tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
4 star anise
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 teaspoons sesame oil
♦ 800g (1¾ lb) portion reserved chicken meatballs
1 bunch bok choy (or choy sum), leaves only, very finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, to serve

Place noodles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften. Drain. Divide noodles amongst 6 deep serving bowls (or 4 bowls and 2 plastic containers if you’re saving 2 portions for the following day’s lunch).
Place stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add fish sauce, star anise, kaffir lime leaves and sesame oil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
Carefully place half the reserved raw meatballs into the hot stock. Simmer gently for 6–8 minutes, until cooked through.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked meatballs to 3 of the serving bowls. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
Note: if liked, meatballs can be browned in a lightly-oiled frying pan before adding to the stock. See my notes in the introduction.
Remove and discard star anise and lime leaves.
Add bok choy to the stock and simmer for a further 2–3 minutes. Season to taste – if you’ve used store-bought stock, it may be salty enough.
Ladle hot stock over the noodles and meatballs, and serve with scattered coriander and chopped spring onions.

  • Dried star anise is available from the spice section of supermarkets, and Asian food stores.
  • Kaffir lime leaves can be purchased fresh or frozen from Asian stores. 
  • 1 small red birdseye chilli, finely sliced, can be added to adult serves.

Bean day

[Recipe 1] BLACK BEAN, COCONUT and FISH STEW transforms into

You know those ladies who hand out tiny samples of food at supermarkets? I used to do that! It was one of my weirdest casual jobs as a teenager. You name it, I have offered it up on a plastic tray. Everything from crisps at Woolworths to cans of Diet Coke at a golf tournament. I also dressed up as Santa once and handed out bags of mixed lollies to kiddies in cars at a petrol station. It was a hoot. I caused a semi-trailer to do a 6-point turn on High Street in Prahran. He had driven past bellowing ‘Hey Santa, you look like a bloody girl’. When I screamed ‘I AM a girl!’, he came back to apologise. I gave him a bag of lollies.
I was reminded of this job when I visited El Cielo a few weeks ago. Look at their fabulous sauce and salsa samples! I had to hold my boys back, reminding them it wasn’t a buffet.
El Cielo is tricky to find, as it’s hidden in the back streets of Port Melbourne amongst the factories; but it’s worth the drive. They bake blue and white corn tortillas (gluten-free) on-site; and sell mole paste, masa (corn dough), agave nectar, salsas, hot sauces, black beans and all manner of chillies. They deliver Australia-wide too. I promise this isn’t a sponsored post. I just love their stuff! I armed myself with a load of fresh tortillas, black beans and habenero sauce and whipped up two new recipes.
God, I love black beans. I’ve made this chorizo and black bean stew more times than I can remember and decided to shake things up a bit with some crazy experimenting. The result was this Black bean, coconut and fish stew and it’s fantastic, even if I do say so myself. Seriously, you must make it! Don’t be spooked by the ingredient list – it’s a cinch to make.
It’s lovely served up with rice and a good squeeze of lime juice; and it’s equally delicious served up again later in the week, as Baked black bean and fish flautas. Flautas (Spanish for ‘flutes’) are little tortillas rolled around a filling. They’re traditionally deep-fried, but are just as fabulous baked in the oven with a sprinkle of cheese on top. My boys adore them. El Cielo’s tortillas are authentically small (14cm/5½”), perfect for kids and just the right size for flautas. Fantástico!

El CieloBlack bean, pumpkin and fish stew[Recipe 1] Black bean, coconut and fish stew

Ingredients (serves 4 for 4 meals – recipe can be halved):
1 kilo (2 lb) dried black beans (turtle beans), soaked overnight
8–10 coriander (cilantro) roots, stripped of the thin ‘hairs’ finely chopped (reserve leaves)
5cm (2”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
4 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock, home-made or store-bought
2⅔ cups (700ml) tomato passata (tomato puree)
400g (14 oz) can coconut milk
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or more, to taste*)
500g (1 lb) firm-fleshed white fish fillets, such as swordfish or mahi mahi, chopped
350g (¾ lb) peeled butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), chopped into very small cubes
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups fresh coriander (cilantro), plus extra to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Steamed rice, to serve
Hot sauce, to serve*

Drain soaked black beans and place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 10 cups of water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 50–60 minutes, covered, or until tender (they may need less time if they’re quite fresh). Drain again.
Process coriander roots, ginger, garlic cloves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and desiccated coconut until a rough paste forms. Don’t blend it completely smooth – chunky is good!
Heat oil in a heavy-based large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes, until just softened. Add spice paste and fry for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add stock to the pan and stir well. Add drained beans, passata, coconut milk and chilli powder. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 45–50 minutes. Stir frequently as beans are notorious pot-stickers (see my note about using a heat diffuser, below this recipe).
Add fish and pumpkin and simmer, covered, for a further 15 minutes until fish is cooked through and pumpkin is tender.
Season with salt and add coriander leaves. Stir well.
Divide the Black bean, coconut and fish stew into four x 1 kilo (2 lb) portions (see storage tips below).
♦ Reserve 1 portion (1 kilo/2 lb, about 3½ cups) Black bean, coconut and fish stew for the Baked black bean and fish flautas, and 1 portion for tonight’s dinner. The other two portions can be frozen or shared! See notes below.
Divide the steamed rice amongst four deep serving bowls. Ladle stew over the rice, and serve scattered with coriander; with lime wedges for squeezing.

  • The black bean stew recipe will yield four serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four). I love making a massive vat of stew, as it freezes so well. It’s also lovely to share with your neighbours, new parents or friends! It’s easy to halve the ingredients though, if you’d prefer to make a smaller batch.
  • Black bean, coconut and fish stew can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. If you’ve used fresh fish (not frozen) the stew can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • When freezing stews and soups that contain fish, it’s important to use the freshest fish you can find. Fresh seafood smells like the sea! If you detect an overly ‘fishy’ smell, don’t buy it. You’ll find useful information here. Local fish, in season, is your best choice. This website is an amazing resource for checking the sustainability of Australian fish species.
  • *You can dial up the chilli for more heat. I find one teaspoon of chilli powder is just the right amount for kids though, and a good splash of hot sauce will liven up adults’ serves.
  • To prevent beans, thick soups and sauces sticking to the bottom of pots, a heat-diffuser ring is an excellent investment. There are lots of different ones available on Amazon.
  • Black beans (turtle beans) are available from health food stores, markets, Oasis, specialty food stores and online from El Cielo. Black beans contain more than three times the omega 3-fatty acids than other beans. They’re also a rich source of anti-oxidant flavonoids due to their black skin.
  • When using fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, freeze the white roots. They’re great for adding to home-made stock, or pounding into a paste for flavouring curries and stews such as this one. Strip the tiny ‘hairy’ roots off before using.

Baked black bean and fish flautas

[Recipe 2] Baked black bean and fish flautas

Ingredients (serves 4):
16 small (14cm/5½“) tortillas

♦ 1 portion (1 kilo/2 lb, about 3½ cups) reserved Black bean, coconut and fish stew

Olive oil for brushing
75g (2¾ oz) grated tasty cheddar cheese (or whatever you have in the fridge – see below)
Lime wedges, to serve
Chopped avocado, to serve
Hot sauce, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Warm tortillas for 10 seconds each side in a dry frying pan to soften them up.
♦ Top each with about 3 tablespoons of reserved black bean and fish stew. Don’t over-stuff them! Roll up to enclose.
Place onto a lightly-oiled baking dish, seam side down. Lightly brush the tops with olive oil. Scatter with cheese and bake for 15–18 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
Serve immediately, with lime wedges, chopped avocado and hot sauce.

  • If you can’t find small tortillas, use halved large tortillas.
  • You can use any cheese for the topping including mozarella, pecorino or manchego.


transforms into

I’ve been making variations of these two recipes for years but have never written up a proper recipe. Until now! We’ve enjoyed them three times over the past few weeks, whilst I’ve tweaked and tested, and may I boastfully say GOD they’re SO good. Both my boys love them, as do the husband and I. I’d classify them as the perfect planned-over pair – an easy weekend dinner of spiced leg of lamb on a bed of roasted vegetables; followed up to 3 nights later by a super-fast Indian-style rice biryani.
The lamb is coated in a zingy home-made spice paste which chars the top of the lamb beautifully, and trickles down into the roasted veggies. Half the spice paste is reserved as a flavour base for the biryani, along with a portion of the roast lamb and vegetables. Throw everything into a deep frying pan with stock, basmati rice and a handful of baby spinach and your weeknight dinner is sorted.
A traditional biryani takes hours to prepare, but by using good old planned-overs you can have it on the table in 20 minutes!

Spiced roast lamb[Recipe 1] Spiced roast leg of lamb with cauliflower and lentils

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb, bone in
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
4 large carrots (approx. 650g/1½ lb), cut into thick 1cm (½”) slices
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
Spice paste (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2½cm (1”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Prepare the spice paste by processing the dry spices, garlic, ginger, salt, oil and lemon juice with a stick blender or food processor, until combined. Add the lemon zest and mix well.
♦ Reserve half the spice paste (¼ cup/60g) for the lamb biryani.
Make shallow incisions in the lamb and brush thickly all over with the remaining spice paste. Cover loosely and allow lamb to sit at room temperature for an hour, before roasting. (Note: lamb can also be coated in the spice mix, covered, and stored in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature for an hour before roasting).
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place the spiced lamb into a lightly-oiled shallow baking dish. Add one cup of water. Roast for 1 hour.
Turn heat down to 180°C (350ºF). Add carrot slices to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Baste lamb. Roast lamb and carrots for a further 30 minutes.
Add cauliflower pieces to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Roast lamb, carrots and cauliflower pieces for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the pan, cover lightly with foil, and rest for 20 minutes.
Total cooking time for 2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb = 2 hours + 20 minutes resting time.
Meanwhile, add lentils to the pan and toss with the carrot and cauliflower pieces. Pop veggies back in the oven for a further 10 minutes, while the lamb is resting.
Slice meat from the bone.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups sliced roast lamb for the lamb biryani.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups cooked carrot, cauliflower and lentils for the lamb biryani.
Serve remaining sliced lamb with the remaining roasted carrots, cauliflower and lentils. Scatter with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked lamb, cauliflower, carrots and lentils) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Spice paste will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Don’t worry too much about reserving the exact specified amount of lamb and vegetables for the biryani. The biryani is a pretty forgiving recipe and will easily cope with more or less meat or veggies. Unused leftover lamb and roasted vegetables are delicious in a sandwich or wrap with tahini sauce and baby spinach leaves.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.
  • If you fancy baked potatoes with your roast, place two or three large quartered, peeled potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 10–15 minutes, until almost tender. Drain and return potatoes to the dry pan. Place the lid on, and shake the pan over a medium heat to roughen and dry them. Add a splash of vegetable oil and toss to coat. Place prepared potato wedges into the pan at the same time as the carrots – they should be laid on top of the carrots so they crisp nicely. They can be cooked in a separate pan or on a small baking-paper lined tray, if your roasting pan is too full. 

Lamb biryani

[Recipe 2] Quick lamb and vegetable biryani

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown or red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
¼ cup/60g reserved spice paste
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved sliced roast lamb, chopped
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved roast cauliflower, carrot and lentils, (carrot chopped into small pieces)
1¼ cups (275g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
75g (3 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Cracked black pepper
65g (2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Greek yogurt, to serve

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
♦ Add reserved spice paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until aromatic.
♦ Add reserved lamb and vegetables and mix well. Add rice and stock, stir well to combine, and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add baby spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 2–3 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season with pepper.
Divide biryani amongst four bowls. Scatter with toasted slivered almonds and a large plop of Greek yogurt.

Meet your baker

[Recipe 1] KEEMA ALOO (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) with GLUTEN-FREE DOSAS transforms into
I’m not normally an OMG-double-exclamation-mark type of girl but OMG!! I’ve been baking my butt off!! On Saturday we hosted a mega combined party for our boys – one turned 6 and the other 9 (still can’t quite believe we have a 9 year old).
Having a combo party was fantastic but the biggest job was the catering, including TWO birthday cakes. There were 30 kids + adults. Yikes.
Our freezer was positively heaving by Friday. I made a huge batch of tsukune (teriyaki chicken balls), 100 mini margherita pizzas, a massive tray of honey joys (yep, you can freeze them in case you were wondering) and 80 Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties; plus platters of the usual party fare (fairy bread, fruit, guacamole, snags etc).
I’m a bit chuffed as my little pasties turned out beautifully, and there were quite a few requests for the recipe. My boys loved them, and they went down really well with both the adults and the kids at the party. They came about when I had a lightbulb moment while making a vat of my Keema aloo (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) – it’s the perfect pastie filler! I used store-bought shortcrust pastry too, so they were incredibly easy to make.
My boys adore Keema aloo (I’m yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like a minced beef based dinner). It’s perfect for kiddy palates as it’s lightly spiced; and adult serves can be jazzed up with kasoundi (this recipe is great), a finely chopped red chilli or a dash of Tabasco. It can be frozen too, so it’s perfect for a quick mid-week dinner.
We roll up the keema aloo in easy home-made dosas (Indian-style pancakes). My dosa recipe is based on one by Jamie Oliver – I omit the mustard seeds and use gluten-free plain flour. Gluten-free flour (I like Orgran brand) contains maize and rice flours, making for a lovely light dosa batter.
So, our freezer is now spookily empty, but the oven is remaining off for quite a while while I recover from my baking overdose.

Keema Aloo (spiced Indian mince)[Recipe 1] Keema aloo (spiced minced beef and potatoes) with gluten-free dosas

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; or 4 for 2 meals plus 40 mini pasties):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) beef
3 large potatoes (approx. 750g/1½ lb), peeled, chopped into small pieces
2 large carrots, chopped into very small pieces (approx. 5mm/¼”)
7 tablespoons (140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1½ cups (375ml) water
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see tips below recipe)
2 cups fresh podded or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Home-made gluten-free dosas or store-bought dosas, to serve
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Spicy accompaniment for adults (eg. kasoundi, finely chopped red chilli or Tabasco)

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, garam masala, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cloves; and cook for 1–2 minutes, until aromatic. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. 
Add potatoes, carrot, tomato paste and water and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 25–30 minutes. Add lentils and peas, and simmer for a further 15 minutes, covered, until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender. Add a splash more water if it starts to dry out too quickly. Season to taste.
Divide the the Keema aloo into plastic containers.
 The Keema aloo recipe will yield three portions of about 5 cups (1¼ kilos/2½ lb) each (1¼ kilos/2½ lb will serve four).
♦ Reserve 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) Keema aloo for the Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties. The third portion can be frozen for another day.
Serve remaining Keema aloo with dosas and raita. Keema aloo can be placed into individual bowls, so people can roll up their own.

  • Keema aloo can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Serve the Keema aloo with steamed basmati rice instead of dosa, for a change.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Spiced beef and vegetable pasties

[Recipe 2] Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties

Ingredients (makes 40 – recipe can be doubled if required):
10 x 25cm (8″) sheets ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
♦ 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) reserved Keema aloo
2 eggs, lightly whisked
Easy spiced tomato chutney, store-bought chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup) to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Use a 10cm (4″) round pastry cutter (or trace around a 10cm/4″ plate or Milo tin) to cut 4 discs from each pastry sheet.
♦ Spoon one heaped tablespoon of reserved Keema aloo onto each pastie circle. Don’t be tempted to overfill them or they’ll pop open.
Fold pasties in half to enclose filling. Seal edges of pastry with water and use fingertips to gently crimp and seal. Place on the lined trays. Lightly brush the tops of the pasties with egg.
You can bake one batch while you prepare the remaining pasties if your oven won’t accommodate two trays.
Bake in hot oven for 15–18 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup).

  • If using refrigerated Keema aloo (not frozen), cooked pasties are suitable to freeze, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper (or plastic sheets from the pastry pack) between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 10–15 minutes.
  • Instead of 10 sheets, you can use 8 sheets shortcrust pastry and seal the leftover strips of pastry together with water to make the extra 2 sheets.

Just good friands


Happy Mother’s Day mamma readers. Are you doing anything special tomorrow? I’m looking forward to brekkie in bed and gifts from my son’s Mother’s Day stall at school (hoping for soap on a rope, just secretly).
This week I’m dishing up two pink recipes for Mother’s Day. First up is apple and rhubarb, stewed in pomegranate juice. The pomegranate juice adds a fab burst of pinkness and vitamins. Have also included instructions for seeding and juicing pomegranates. It’s pretty simple – slice them open, drop the chunks in water, furkle about for the seeds, and lightly blend them to extract the juice.
A friend gifted us a big bag of Loving Earth caramelised buckinis recently (thanks Danny!) which we sprinkled on top of the stewed fruit. They’re light and crispy, and absolutely delicious. Shhhh, they’re actually activated too, but I don’t want to risk saying that word out loud after the aftermath of the infamous Pete Evans interview, which had me spluttering into my coffee.
Reserve a cup of the stewed apple and rhubarb and you can make beautiful (even if I do say so myself) Gluten free apple, rhubarb and chia seed friands, perfect for Mother’s Day morning tea.

PomegranateStewed apple and rhubarb[Recipe 1] Apple and rhubarb stewed in pomegranate juice

Ingredients (makes approx. 6 cups):
4 tablespoons brown sugar 
½ cup (125ml) pomegranate juice (from 2 pomegranates)
8 large green apples (1½ kilos/3 lb), peeled, sliced thickly into 1cm (half-inch) slices
1 bunch (4 fat stalks) rhubarb, chopped into 2½ cm (1″) pieces

1 lemon, finely zested (about 1 tablespoon)
Greek yogurt, to serve (or try Good Cook’s home-made yogurt)
Caramelised buckinis, for sprinkling

Place the sugar and pomegranate juice in a large saucepan. Add apple slices, rhubarb and lemon zest and simmer, covered, over a low heat until apples are just tender and still holding their shape; and rhubarb is starting to break down; about 8–10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool.
Reserve 1 cup of the stewed apple and rhubarb for the Gluten-free apple, rhubarb and chia seed friands.
Serve the stewed apple and rhubarb with Greek yogurt, scattered with caramelised buckinis.

  • Poached apple and rhubarb will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to one week; or can be frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Poached apple and rhubarb, pureed smooth, is great for kid’s lunchboxes. Keep it in little containers in the freezer and defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • Caramelised buckinis are available from health food stores or online from Loving Earth. Replace with muesli if unavailable.
  • Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so don’t give them to your rabbits or guinea pigs!

Apple rhubarb friands

[Recipe 2] Gluten-free apple, rhubarb and chia seed friands

Ingredients (makes 10):
1⅓ cups (160g) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
½ cup (75g) buckwheat flour
1½ cups (180g) oven-roasted almond meal (ground almonds)
2 tablespoons chia seeds

5 egg whites, unbeaten
185 grams (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (60g) chopped walnuts

♦ 1 cup reserved stewed apple and rhubarb, large apple pieces roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Lightly oil a ten-cup capacity friand tin (or 10 petite loaf pans).
Sift icing sugar and flour into a large bowl. Add almond meal and chia seeds and stir until combined.
Add the unbeaten egg whites and melted butter and stir until well-combined. Fold through the walnuts and reserved stewed apple and rhubarb.
Spoon mixture into prepared friand tin and bake for 15–18 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of one.
Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Sprinkle with extra icing sugar if desired.

  • Oven-roasted almond meal is a recent discovery of mine and it’s fabulous, so nutty and flavoursome. It is available at large supermarkets. Replace with traditional almond meal if unavailable.
  • You can replace the stewed apple and rhubarb with poached apple and feijoia for a change. 
  • Unlike muffins, friands will keep fresh and moist in a covered container for up to 3 days.
  • Egg whites are unbeaten for friands – don’t whisk them or the texture will change!

Feeling a bit seedy

This isn’t a planned-overs recipe, but I wanted to share it anyway as I loved it, and the husband gave it a big thumbs up too.
I’ve been trotting out the cranberry, ginger, mint and macadamia combo for years, but have always served it with couscous. Recently I replaced the couscous with amaranth seeds and it was fantastic!
I know – amaranth is the groovy ancient seed du jour, especially in blogland; but it lives up to the hype. It’s similar to quinoa, but not as bitter; and it’s so pretty, like miniature pearls. It’s also FULL of protein and fibre. Served with haloumi, it makes a lovely light dinner; and the leftovers are fab for lunch the next day.

My original intention was to create cookies from a reserved portion of the cooked amaranth and cranberries. I’ll admit it – I was extremely excited as I thought they’d be amazing. I even enlisted my lovely 11-year old gluten-intolerant niece as my kitchen assistant and taste-tester. OMG, those cookies were disgusting! Awful texture, chewy and unpleasant. I did have a nice time cooking and chatting with my niece though.
So, I didn’t want to waste the salad recipe. Do give it a try – it’s honestly scrumptious.
Footnote: Thank you Redbook for featuring this salad in your ’11 Supergrain Spring Salads’ roundup!

Amaranth, cranberry and orange saladAmaranth, cranberry and mint salad with macadamias and haloumi

Ingredients (serves 3–4):
1 heaped cup (250gm/½ lb) whole-grain amaranth (not flakes)

½ cup (75gm/2½ oz) craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
½ cup shredded mint leaves, plus extra to serve
½ red (Spanish/purple) onion, finely sliced
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
½ cup (80g/3 oz) macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted
120g (4 oz) haloumi (Greek frying cheese), cut into 1cm (½ in) slices
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying cheese
Lemon wedges, to serve
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon finely-grated fresh ginger (or more – to taste)

Bring 3 cups of water to the boil in a medium pot. Add the amaranth and craisins and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Drain in a fine mesh sieve. Spread amaranth and craisins out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine. Add to the amaranth and craisins, along with the mint and onion. Toss lightly. Season.
Rinse haloumi with water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and lightly fry the haloumi until golden brown, about 2–3 minutes each side.
Serve the amaranth salad, scattered with toasted macadamia nuts and extra mint.
Lay the haloumi slices on top or serve separately on a platter.

  • This salad is a ripper to take to work for lunch. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Amaranth is a tiny, gluten-free South American seed similar to quinoa. I cook mine for half the time noted on the packet as I like it with a bit of bite and nuttiness. It becomes quite porridge-like the longer you cook it. It is available from health food stores and markets.
  • Haloumi is a non-meltable cheese from Greece, made for pan-frying. It is salty and delicious. My boys love it, and refer to it as ‘squeaky cheese’. It is best eaten immediately as it rubberises upon standing. It is available from large supermarkets, specialty cheese stores and delicatessens.

Grain fed

[Recipe 1] SWEET POTATO, QUINOA and EDAMAME SALAD with MISO DRESSING transforms into 
Happy Halloween folks! Are any of you doing anything special on the 31st? My boys are Trick or Treating this year, for the very first time, and they’re SO excited. We also decorated a batch of gumnuts and made little skeleton heads and spooky screaming spiders with pipe-cleaner legs. The elves are for the Christmas tree (love getting in early with Christmas decorating). Their little hats are the pointy bits from inside an egg carton, stuck on with our trusty hot glue gun.
Here’s an orange and black recipe to celebrate Halloween. We’re a bit obsessed with quinoa at the moment (like the rest of the world). My lovely gluten-intolerant brother-in-law looked after our boys one night last week, so I made him (and us!) this Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing. It’s a conglomeration of my Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad and Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad and it’s pretty damn yummy.
The sweet potato, edamame, black sesame seed combo is lovely – I often serve up that combination on sushi rice with grilled fish. We love edamame and they’re such a kid-friendly vegetable, with all that squeezing and popping.
The sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes, made with a planned-over portion of the salad, are devoured by my boys. This recipe is a great way to stretch out a small portion of salmon, which is expensive, and also not a very sustainable fish. I use egg rings to make perfect little circles, but feel free to make them without – they’ll just be more free-form and fritterish. I’ve used both methods, and they work equally well.
Footnote: Thanks EatSmart for featuring these recipes on your blog!

Halloween GumnutsQuinoa, sweet potato and edamame salad[Recipe 1] Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad with miso dressing

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. salad serves 6, salmon cakes serve 4):
2 heaped tablespoons (45g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 orange sweet potatoes (about 750g/1½ lb), peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
800g (28 oz) frozen unshelled edamame, or 400g (14 oz/2 cups) frozen shelled edamame
2¼ cups (450g) white quinoa
3 cups coriander (cilantro), chopped, plus extra to serve
¼ cup black sesame seeds (or white, if unavailable), toasted
Miso dressing (for salad only):
2 heaped tablespoons (45g) white miso paste, extra
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)
Small piece ginger, grated and chopped, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 tablespoon (15ml) rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Mix 2 heaped tablespoons miso paste and olive oil together to form a paste. Toss with the sweet potato in a large bowl, until well-coated. Place sweet potato onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Season. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
If using unshelled edamame, squeeze the beans from their pods. Blanch shelled edamame in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Add edamame to the roasted sweet potato.
Combine quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for ten minutes or until water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Add to the sweet potato and edamame, along with the coriander and sesame seeds.
♦ Reserve ⅓ of the undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad (about 4 cups) for the Sweet potato and quinoa fritters.
Meanwhile, make miso dressing. Place dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and warm over a low heat, stirring, until miso and honey are dissolved (1–2 minutes). Set aside to cool. Drizzle dressing over the remaining salad, and toss gently. Scatter with extra sesame seeds and extra coriander.

  • Black sesame seeds are simply white sesame seeds, unhulled. They contain about 60% more calcium than hulled sesame seeds, and have a lovely strong, nutty flavour. They’re available at Asian food stores. If you can’t find them, they can be easily replaced with white sesame seeds. You can toast them yourself, or cheat and buy them pre-toasted.
  • White miso paste is available from Asian food stores.
  • Contrary to my heading, quinoa isn’t actually a grain, but a seed. It’s commonly referred to as a grain though – Coles even label their variety as ‘Organic white grain quinoa’. It’s gluten-free and is readily available from health food stores, and from the health section of large supermarkets.
  • Edamame are young soybeans, salted and boiled in their pods. They’re readily available from Asian food stores, and are usually sold frozen. As they’re already cooked, they need only be defrosted or lightly blanched before serving. They’re eaten by squeezing (or popping!) the soy beans out of the pods with your fingers. They’re very popular as bar snacks in Japan. *sigh*
    I always sigh when I mention Japan. *sigh*
  • You can prepare the salad one day ahead. Store the prepared quinoa and dressing in separate containers. Store the cooked sweet potato and podded edamame together. Prepare the coriander and assemble the salad close to serving time.
  • Undressed salad, reserved for the fritters, can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Quinoa sweet potato cakes[Recipe 2] Sweet potato, quinoa and salmon cakes

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12–14 cakes):
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
½ cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free or regular)

½ teaspoon salt
4 cups reserved undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad
1 large salmon fillet (about 350g/12 oz), skinned and finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives or spring onions (green part only)
4 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Chilli mayo, to serve

Lightly whisk eggs and chilli sauce. Gradually add flour and salt and whisk to combine.
With a potato masher, roughly ‘crush’ the reserved undressed Sweet potato, quinoa and edamame salad. Break up the sweet potato chunks, as these help to bind the cakes.
Add the egg mixture, chopped salmon and chives (or spring onions), and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until required.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Place four oiled egg rings into the pan and fill each with about ½ cup fritter mixture. Flatten lightly with a spatula. Fry about 3 minutes, carefully remove the egg ring, and turn cakes over to cook the other side. Cakes should be golden and firm to touch.
You can also make free-form cakes without egg rings, by using ½ cup mixture for each fat little cake (approx. 8cm/3″ x 1.5cm/½” high). Don’t make them too thin or they won’t hold together.
Repeat with remaining mixture. Cakes can be served at room temperature or kept warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve.
Serve quinoa cakes with a simple green salad and chilli mayo.

A star is corn

[Recipe 1] ROAST CORN, QUINOA and PEA SALAD transforms into 
This Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad is an absolute ripper; zingy and zesty and perfect for Spring. I’ve based the recipe on one our friends Eileesh and Michael made for us last Summer. They barbecued their corn, but the weather isn’t quite warm enough for me to lift the BBQ lid yet (or clean the damn thing!), so I’ve roasted my corn in the oven instead. Eileesh and Michael’s salad featured roasted red pepper, which was fantastic; but I’ve swapped it for fresh peas as they looked so pretty at the market AND I reckon corn and peas are the perfect marriage.
You can serve the salad as is, or alongside chargrilled lamb, chicken or fresh tuna. It’s easy to modify for children and even babies – see tips below the recipe.
Reserve a portion of the salad (undressed) and you can make a batch of fabulous Corn, pea and quinoa fritters for dinner the following night. My boys adore these, and so do we! Ciao for now.

Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad[Recipe 1] Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals; ie. salad for 6, fritters for 4):
500g (1 lb) white quinoa, rinsed and drained

6 corn cobs, silk and husks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g (14 oz) fresh podded peas (start with 1 kilo/2¼ lb unpodded)
3 cups coriander (cilantro), chopped
3 cups flat-leaf parsley, chopped
(Note: you’ll be reserving ⅓ of the above undressed salad ingredients for Recipe 2 below)

Lime chilli dressing:
½ cup lime juice (from 3–4 limes)
3 teaspoons lime zest, chopped

2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey, warmed slightly

½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place corn cobs onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, blanch the peas in boiling water for 3–4 minutes, drain and add to the corn.
Combine quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stand, covered, for ten minutes or until water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a tray and set aside for ten minutes to dry. Add to the corn kernels and peas, along with the coriander and parsley.
♦ Reserve ⅓ of the undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad (about 6 cups) for the Corn, pea and quinoa fritters (recipe 2).
To make the lime chilli dressing, place dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Drizzle dressing over the remaining salad and toss gently.
Salad serves 6 (or 8 as a side).

  • Quinoa is a gluten-free South American seed, available from health food stores and from the health section of large supermarkets. It’s very high in protein and has a lovely nutty flavour.
  • You can use 400g (14 oz) frozen peas instead of fresh podded peas. Blanch in boiling water for 1–2 minutes.
  • You can prepare the salad one day ahead. Store the prepared quinoa and dressing in separate containers. Store the cooked corn and peas together. Herbs should be prepared and added close to serving time.
  • Leftover salad is fab for lunch!
  • Undressed salad, reserved for the fritters, can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Baby tip: Before adding the dressing and herbs, you can puree a portion of corn, peas and quinoa, for babies over 8 months old. 
  • Fussy kid tip: To modify the salad for kids, stir a small can of drained tuna, and 1 tablespoon of egg mayonnaise through 1 or 2 cups of dressed or undressed (as preferred) salad. You can even add a chopped boiled egg. Voila! Healthy, kid-friendly tuna salad. 

Corn, pea and quinoa fritters[Recipe 2] Corn, pea and quinoa fritters

Ingredients (serves 4, makes 16–18 fritters):
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free or regular)

1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, separated
½ cup (125ml) milk
♦ 6 cups reserved undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad
3 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve green parts for serving)
Olive oil for shallow frying
Sliced avocado or guacamole, to serve

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk the egg yolks and milk in a separate bowl and gradually add to the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.
♦ Add the reserved undressed Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad, and the spring onion whites, and stir well.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the fritter mix.
Heat 1–2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Use a heaped ¼ cup of batter per fritter, and flatten lightly with a spatula. Fry 4 fritters at a time for about 2 minutes each side, until golden and firm to touch. If your stovetop is large enough to accommodate them, you can use two frying pans at a time.
Repeat with remaining batter. Fritters can be kept warm in a low oven, lightly covered with foil, until you’re ready to serve.
Serve fritters topped with sliced avocado or guacamole. Scatter with chopped green ends of spring onions.

A sweet victory

[Recipe 1] POACHED APPLE and FEIJOA with HONEYED NUTS transforms into
I was given a bag of feijoas by my mum recently, and at first I had absolutely no idea what to do with them. I’ve seen the lady at our local fruit shop scoffing them raw, skin and all; but after a bit of experimenting, I’ve decided I prefer them stewed. They’re particularly yum poached together with green apples. I’d say feijoas are a cross between pineapple, guava and kiwi; so they lend a lovely exotic flavour to good old stewed apples, and their slightly odd pulpy texture magically disappears when cooked.
Oh, if you can’t find feijoas, or they’re out of season, you can omit them from these recipes and just use apples; or a mixture of apple and pear.
My first recipe is for yum Poached apple and feijoa with honeyed nuts. I’ve been making these nuts for years. We had a weekend away with friends a while ago and the husband and I were on brekkie duty. We plopped some good-quality yoghurt (I’m addicted to Evia) and poached fruit in big serving bowls in the middle of the table, and warmed some nuts on the stove-top with a dash of butter and honey. Pretty damn nice, and so much easier than cooking eggs and bacon for an army.
By reserving two cups of the poached apple and feijoa, you can also whip up a fab Gluten-free upside-down apple and feijoa ginger cake. My niece and brother-in-law are gluten-intolerant; and this cake went down a treat with them. It’s dense, moist, and not too sweet. I’ve been trotting it out around town recently; and have tested it on my parents, our workmate and a girlfriend; and also swapped a chunk with my neighbours for some home-made lemon cordial. Thanks for being my guinea pigs folks! The cooking time is a bit annoying, but I found it really needs a long bake on a low temperature to retain its moisture. Enjoy.

Poached feijoia with honeyed nutsPoached apple and feijoia

[Recipe 1] Poached apple and feijoa with honeyed nuts

Ingredients for the poached fruit (makes 8 cups):
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup water
10 large green apples (2 kilos/4 lb), peeled, sliced thickly into 1cm (½“) pieces
25 feijoas (1 kilo/2 lb), peeled, quartered
2 cinnamon sticks
For the honeyed nuts (makes 2 cups):
2 tablespoons honey
2–3 teaspoons butter
A good pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup pinenuts
½ cup walnuts (or raw cashews), roughly chopped
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds (black or white)

Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan. Add apple slices and cinnamon sticks and simmer, covered, over a low heat until almost tender, and still holding their shape, about 8–10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add feijoas and simmer a further 5 minutes uncovered. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, reserve 2 cups poached apple and feijoa for the Gluten-free upside-down apple and feijoa ginger cake.
Meanwhile, make the honeyed nuts. Warm the honey and butter in a small saucepan. Add salt, cinnamon, nuts and seeds and stir over a low heat until well coated and sticky, about 2–3 minutes. Serve sprinkled over poached apple and feijoa, with yogurt if desired.

  • Poached apple and feijoa will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to one week.
  • Store honeyed nuts in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

  • Poached apple and feijoa, pureed smooth, is great for kid’s lunchboxes. Keep it in little containers in the freezer and defrost overnight in the fridge.

Upside-down fejoia apple ginger cake

[Recipe 2] Gluten-free upside-down apple and feijoa ginger cake

Ingredients (serves 8-10):
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30g/1 oz) butter, melted
2 cups reserved poached apple and feijoa
180g (6 oz/1½ sticks) softened butter, extra
1¼ cups (200g) firmly-packed brown sugar, extra
4 large eggs
1 cup (360g) golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g (7 oz) Greek-style natural yoghurt
2 cups (300g) gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger

Preheat oven to 160°C (325ºF). Note: you’ll be covering the cake with foil part-way through cooking (see recipe).
Line a 25cm (10-inch) baking tin with baking paper.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons brown sugar over base. Pour two tablespoons melted butter over brown sugar.
Arrange poached apple and feijoa in a single layer over butter and sugar.
Cream extra softened butter and extra brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Add golden syrup and vanilla and beat well.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ginger. Fold this into the cake batter, a little at a time, alternating with the yoghurt.
Spoon cake batter over the apple and fejoa and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Cover cake loosely with foil, return to oven, and bake for a further 30–40* minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
*Check it after 30 minutes, and if it’s still wobbly in the centre, pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes and test again.
Leave cake to cool in tin for 15 minutes then carefully invert onto a large plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature with cream, yoghurt or ice cream.

  • I’ve used both Core Organic Foods gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour, and Orgran. Both contain starch (maize, tapioca), soya and rice flour.
  • My test kitchen (ie. my lovely friend Janet) made this cake with non-gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour, and it worked! So you can make it as a standard cake too.
  • The cake keeps well in a covered container for a few days. The flavour actually improves on standing, and it stays nice and moist.