Jam session

[Recipe 1] FEIJOA, QUINCE and ROSEWATER JAM transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LINZER TORTE

I’ve been on a jam-making frenzy! “It smells like the doughnut van at the footy” said the husband, and I could only take that as a huge compliment.
Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam is one of my favourite conserve creations to date. I adore feijoas! If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re a little like a musky guava in taste, with a dash of watermelon and kiwi. They have a short season and are tricky to find, so when my friend Janet dropped off a bag recently I was one happy lady!
I usually stew feijoas with apples, but decided to give feijoa jam a try. Honestly it was as if the stars had aligned as within two days of my jam-making decision I discovered the important reference tool ‘Making men happy with jams and jellies’, published in 1930 and part of the beautiful Little Blue Book series. I also scored lemons from my mum and even styling props in the form of pink paper doilies (from my delightful 7-year old niece ‘especially for your blog’) and pink roses from my neighbours.
I love a robust, zesty jam and was concerned feijoas might be a little delicate in flavour and colour on their own, so decided to chuck in some quinces. Quinces have a similar season to feijoas, and they’re natural partners; both being quite fragrant – almost perfumey – and somewhat exotic. Quinces turn a beautiful ruby red colour after cooking too, which is a fab bonus!
I was so chuffed with how the jam turned out! After giving most of it away as gifts, I made a second batch the following week, reserving some for a pretty damn amazing Middle Eastern style Spiced Linzer Torte we’ve served up to two groups of dinner guests recently. I heavily tweaked the Hairy Bikers recipe, using more flour as I found their mixture a little wet. I also doubled the jam, added lemon zest and cloves (traditional Linzer Torte ingredients); and swapped the cinnamon for cardamom, which pairs beautifully with quinces and feijoas. Lastly, I lined the top edge with flaked almonds, both to hide the scrappy pastry joins and add a bit of crunch. Absolutely bloody delicious, even if I do say so myself!
I’m signing off with a poem by Dougall from Episode 19 of the Magic Roundabout:
“Life is for living.

Jam is for giving.
Love should be spread.
And I’m off to bed.”

Feijoas and quincesFeijoa and quince jam. One Equals Two[Recipe 1] Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam

Ingredients (makes 1.8 kilos/about 4 lb jam):
5 firm quinces (about 1.2–1.3 kilos/2½–2¾ lb)
½ cup (125ml) lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)
10 cups (2.5 litres) water
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons)
4 cups (800g/1¾ lb) sugar

8 feijoa (about 500g/1 lb), peeled and chopped
2 small firm pears (about 300g/10½ oz), peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes
1 teaspoon rose water

Rinse and scrub the quinces. Place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with the lemon juice and water. Boil, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the quinces in the syrupy liquid for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Remove quinces with a slotted spoon and place on a board, reserving the liquid. Add lemon zest and sugar to the liquid and bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 1–2 minutes, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Peel off the quince skins. Core quinces and chop roughly. Place into the prepared liquid as you go, to prevent discolouring. Add the feijoa and pear.
Bring to the boil, turn down heat and simmer rapidly, for 1½–2 hours, uncovered, until thick. Stir occasionally, and enjoy watching it turn ruby red right before your eyes! Keep a close eye on the jam towards the end of the cooking process, to ensure it doesn’t stick and burn.
Give the jam 3 whizzes with a stick blender.
Add rose water and simmer for a further two minutes. Remove jam from the heat.
Test to check the jam is ready. Place a small ceramic plate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of jam onto the plate and return to the freezer for two minutes. If the jam sets and forms a skin it is ready! If the jam is runny and can be poured off the plate, return the saucepan to the stovetop and simmer jam for a further ten minutes, stirring constantly. Test again.
Divide the jam amongst hot, sterilised jars.
Reserve 500g (1 lb) jam for the Spiced Linzer Torte.
Store remaining jam in a cool, dark place.

  • Use good quality fruit that is firm and not over-ripe. Fully ripened fruit contains less pectin, the substance that makes jams set. It’s best to use your fruit as soon as possible after buying or picking.
  • I always add a couple of pears to my jams as they’re high in pectin. This will help achieve a good set even if your hero fruit is beginning to over-ripen.
  • Rose water can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you have roses in your garden, you can make your own! Rose water is beautiful sprinkled on khoshaf (Middle Eastern dried fruit salad).
  • Resist the desperate urge to enjoy your jam immediately! Allow it to further firm up for at least 24 hours, preferably longer, before using.
  • Jam in properly sterilised jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to ten months. Refrigerate after opening.

Making men happy with jams and jelliesFeijoa, quince and rosewater jam. One Equals TwoSpiced Linzer Torte with quince jam. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Spiced Linzer torte

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
175g (6 oz) almond meal

175g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
200g (1⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest, chopped (from 1 lemon)
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
175g (6 oz/1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
500g (1 lb) reserved Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam (see recipe 1)
Egg wash (1 egg yolk, whisked with 1 teaspoon milk)
50g (1.7 oz) flaked almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting

Process almond meal, sugar, cardamom, cloves, flour, lemon zest and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and process until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg and process until dough just comes together.
Transfer to a bowl (it will look quite crumbly, don’t worry). Knead lightly into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Grease a 3cm (1″) deep, 25cm (10″) fluted tart tin, with removable base.
With a sharp knife, cut off one third of the dough (about 260g/9 oz) and roll out between two pieces of baking paper to make a rectangle approx. 25cm x 18cm (10″ x 7″) , and 3mm (.1″) thick. This is for the top layer of pastry strips. Slide onto a tray and pop in the fridge.
Roll the larger piece of dough between two pieces of baking paper into a piece large enough to line the base and sides of the pan, about 5mm (.2″) thick. Carefully press the dough onto the base and up the sides of the prepared pan, trimming off the excess. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, covered in cling film.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Blind bake the pastry: cover pastry base and sides with baking paper. Cut two 6cm/2½” high strips of foil and fold over the sides of the tin to prevent the top edge of the pastry from burning. Fill lined tart case with pastry weights (or uncooked rice) and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove paper, foil and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Spread cooled pastry base evenly with reserved Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam.
Remove smaller piece of dough from fridge and, using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut into 1½cm (.6″) wide strips. Carefully place strips diagonally over jam to form a criss-cross pattern. Press the edges to seal, and trim off excess.
Very lightly brush pastry strips and outer top edge of pastry with egg wash. Arrange flaked almonds around the edge of the torte, brushing with egg wash here and there. Use an outward movement to prevent the nuts sticking to the brush – ‘wipe’ the brush as if you’re removing paint!
Bake torte for 25–30 minutes, until pastry is pale golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan, then carefully remove and slide onto a serving plate.
Dust Linzer torte lightly with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve.
[Recipe loosely adapted from the Hairy Bikers]

Well red

[Recipe 1] MARINATED ROASTED RED CAPSICUM and GOAT’S CHEESE BRUSCHETTA transforms into
[Recipe 2] ROASTED RED CAPSICUM and FRESH HERB TART

……………..
The last couple of weeks have whizzed past in an absolute blur, with both boys at school, me back at work, and all the extra-curricular stuff. My 8-year old has joined Cub Scouts (so gorgeous in his ‘new chum’ scarf). My youngest started school and is loving it, which I’m brow-moppingly relieved about. I was expecting tears, but we were both fine.
There hasn’t been a great deal of fancy cooking going on around here, but these two meals were lovely, and they’re bright red – perfect for Valentine’s Day!
I made a big batch of marinated red capsicum last week, after scoring a huge bag of capsicums at Prahran market. I’ve been marinating capsicum for years. It’s super easy, and you can use it in sooo many different ways. My sister-in-law served up the classic bruschetta combo of roasted red capsicum (bell peppers), goat’s cheese and fresh basil as appetizers on Christmas day, and I gorged myself. We copied it last Saturday for lunch and on Sunday I whipped up a rather yummy Roasted red capsicum and fresh herb tart, which we brought to a BBQ at our neighbour’s house.
The husband and I took the remaining marinated capsicum to work for lunch, and scoffed it on fresh rye bread (from the fabulous Baker in the Rye) with rocket and Hungarian salami (from the equally fabulous Leon’s Smallgoods).
So… I’m all bell-peppered out, but it was excellent while it lasted.

Roast capsicum bruschetta[Recipe 1] Marinated roasted red capsicum and goat’s cheese bruschetta

Ingredients for the marinated roasted red capsicum (makes 2–2½ cups):
1½ kilos (3¼ lb) large red capsicums (bell peppers), quartered; membranes and seeds removed
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
½ cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
3 bay leaves
For the bruschetta (serves 4–6):
1 loaf good-quality, chewy Italian bread (ciabatta or pasta dura), sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, extra, for brushing
60g (2 oz) goat’s cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil leaves, torn, to serve

Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Place capsicums on one or two trays lined with baking paper. Roast for 25–30 minutes, until skin is blistered and blackened.
Place capsicum pieces into a large bowl and cover with cling wrap or a lid for ten minutes (the steam will soften the skins).
Peel skin off capsicums, and slice. Return to the large bowl, with the garlic slices, oil and vinegar. Season and gently mix together. Divide mixture amongst 3 sterilised jars and place a bay leaf in each. Seal and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Marinated capsicums will keep for up to 3 months.
Reserve 1 cup of marinated roasted red capsicum for the Roasted red capsicum and fresh herb tart.
For the bruschetta, preheat a barbecue or chargrill on high. Brush bread lightly with oil on both sides. Chargrill bread slices, for 1–2 minutes each side, until you have lovely black stripes! Place toasted bread slices on a serving platter or board. Spread lightly with goats cheese, and top with a little mound of capsicum mixture. Scatter with fresh basil. Serve immediately.

  • Marinated roasted red capsicum can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months, in sterilized jars.

  • Glass jars, lids and rubber rings can be sterilised by running them through your dishwasher on the hottest cycle, on the top shelf. Jars should be hot when the capsicums are poured in, so time your sterilising to coincide with when your capsicums are ready.
  • Fussy kid tip: My boys love char-grilled ciabatta smeared with avocado and a tuna/mayo combo. If you have the time, a Smörgasboard-style weekend lunch is a bit of fun.

Roasted capsicum tart

[Recipe 2] Roasted red capsicum and fresh herb tart

Ingredients (serves 6):
1½ sheets store-bought shortcrust pastry, thawed (or ½ quantity home-made shortcrust pastry)
3 tablespoons grated parmesan (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese
5 eggs
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I use light cooking cream)

½ cup basil leaves, chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra for scattering
♦ 1 cup reserved marinated roasted red capsicum, drained, bay leaf discarded

60g (2 oz) goat’s cheese or goat’s fetta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Grease a 3cm (1-inch) deep, 25cm (10-inch) fluted tart tin, with removable base.
If using home-made pastry, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface (or between 2 sheets of baking paper) until 3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Working quickly, roll the dough into a circle (joining pieces together if necessary) about 4cm (1½-inch) wider in diameter than your tart tin.
Line the tart tin with pastry, gently pressing down into the edges, and trim to fit.
Blind bake the pastry to prevent it going soggy: cover pastry base with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Scatter parmesan over tart base.
Whisk eggs and cream together and pour into tart case, followed by the fresh herbs.
Spoon reserved roasted red capsicum mixture over the filling.
Dot with crumbled goat’s cheese. Bake for 35 minutes until the filling is set. Serve at room temperature, scattered with extra chopped parsley.

  • You can make and blind bake the pastry case ahead and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Pastry can also be frozen for up to two months – defrost overnight in the fridge.
  • If you’re working with fresh pastry (not frozen) you could freeze an extra uncooked pastry base too. I almost always make two, and freeze one for future use. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and blind-bake.
  • Fussy kid tip: You can make a half-and-half tart with a child-friendly section containing grated carrot, grated zucchini (courgette) and grated tasty cheese (instead of the goat’s cheese).

The reel deal

[Recipe 1] PROPER FISH and CHIPS with HOME-MADE TARTARE SAUCE transforms into
[Recipe 2] LOLITA’S TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA (SPANISH POTATO TORTILLA)
……………..
Last week I visited one of my favourite Melbourne food suppliers. If you’re ever choofing down to the Mornington Peninsula, I highly recommend, in fact I insist, you visit the Hutchins Brothers fish merchants. Neville and Dalton Hutchins are 5th generation fishermen, who sell their fresh fish daily, right on Fisherman’s beach in Mornington. You’ll know they’re open for business if their red and yellow sign is out by the side of the road. Descend the steps to the beach, and you’ll spot their blue timber hut, erected in 1910 after the original hut was destroyed in a storm.
The brothers head out onto Port Phillip Bay every morning in their little boat, then sell the day’s catch. I can’t imagine you’d get fresher fish than that anywhere else in Melbourne! The day I visited they had garfish, flathead and Australian salmon on offer. Nothing is wasted as they also sell the fish heads for stock.
I picked up a load of flathead fillets and we cooked up some 
proper fish and chips with home-made tartare sauce. These chips rock. They’re crispy and golden and relatively healthy as they’re baked not fried. The polenta meal adds a nice crunch and gives the chips a faux deep-fried flavour. The home-made tartare sauce honestly takes minutes to make, and it’s a bit of a cheat’s recipe as I use store-bought mayo.
By par-boiling double the potatoes (see tips below), you can make a rather excellent Tortilla Española (Spanish potato tortilla) for dinner the next night. A tortilla is a fab way to use up leftover boiled potatoes. It’s super quick and easy to make and my boys hoover it up. The recipe is adapted from one by my Spanish neighbour, Lolita. Lolita and her family served up this tortilla at our annual neighbour’s Christmas party and it practically teleported me to Barcelona. The husband and I were in Spain years ago, and nothing brings back the memory clearer than a genuine tortilla. Enjoy.

Mornington fish merchantsHutchins Brothers fish merchantsFish with polenta crusted chips. One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Proper fish and chips with home-made tartare sauce

Ingredients for fish (serves 4):
4 x 120g (4 oz) flathead (or other firm white fish) fillets
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Cheat’s tartare sauce, or store-bought tartare sauce, to serve
Fresh dill, for scattering
Ingredients for polenta crusted chips (note: you’ll be reserving ½ the cooked potatoes for the potato tortilla in Recipe 2):
2¼ kilos (5 lb) potatoes (about 12 large), peeled, cut into 2cm (¾”) thick wedges
½ cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons olive oil, mixed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, for coating reserved potatoes
2 tablespoons fine polenta (cornmeal)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).
Place flathead fillets in a plastic bag with the flour. Seal the bag and shake gently to coat. Remove flathead fillets, shaking off excess flour. Refrigerate, covered, until required.
Place cut potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 5–7 minutes, until just tender (be careful not to overcook them). Drain and return potatoes to the dry pan. Shake the pan over a medium heat to roughen and dry the potatoes. Place potatoes on a large plate lined with kitchen paper and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
♦ Reserve half the par-boiled potatoes, about 4 cups, for Lolita’s Spanish tortilla (recipe 2).
To prevent reserved potatoes from turning grey: add the olive oil and lemon juice mixture, and toss to coat well. Store cooked potatoes in the fridge for up to 2 days. Dry well with kitchen paper before using.

Place remaining par-boiled potatoes (for tonight’s chips) into a large bowl. Mix polenta, thyme and salt together and scatter over the potatoes. Toss to coat.
Place peanut oil into a large roasting pan, and heat in the hot oven for about 10 minutes – this is the trick for crispy oven-baked chips!
Very carefully remove the baking pan from the oven. Place potatoes into the hot oil with tongs, gently toss to coat, and return to the hot oven. Bake for 45–55 minutes, turning every 10–15 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the flathead fillets for about 2 to 3 minutes each side, until light golden.
Serve the fish and chips with tartare sauce on the side, and a nice green salad.

  • Planned-overs (par-boiled potatoes), coated in olive oil and lemon juice (see above), can be refrigerated for up to 2 days in a tightly-sealed container.
  • The best potatoes for chips are russet burbank, spunta, sebago and bintke; as they’re floury varieties and have a low moisture content.
  • Peanut oil is best for chips due to its high smoke point (it can sustain high heat without smoking). Vegetable oil is a close second.

Potato tortilla. One Equals TwoSpanish potato tortilla. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Lolita’s Tortilla Española (Spanish potato tortilla)

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
1 cup olive oil (+ extra ½ cup if required)

1 large brown onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
4 cups reserved par-boiled potato pieces, cut into 1½–2cm (½-¾”) cubes
8 large eggs*
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper

Heat 1 cup oil in a large heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a low heat.
Dry reserved par-boiled potato cubes with kitchen paper. Add to the frying pan with the onion, spreading out the pieces to cover the base of the pan. The potato cubes should be almost covered with oil – add the extra ½ cup oil if required.
Fry gently over a low heat confit-style, until softened, but not brown, about 20 minutes. Don’t prod the potatoes too much, just allow them to gently soften in the oil.
Drain potatoes with a large sieve. The oil can be reserved in a large glass jar for re-using next time (see these tips).
Add 1 tablespoon extra olive oil to the pan. Whisk the eggs, salt and pepper, and pour into the pan. Carefully add the potato and onion mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon and spread out the potatoes evenly.
Cook over a low heat for 8–10 minutes. Lift tortilla after 8 minutes – the bottom should be light golden brown, and the middle of the tortilla should be a little runny.
Place your largest dinner plate upside down over the frying pan, and invert the pan to catch the tortilla. This is a messy process, but it works well!
Heat a little more olive oil in the pan and slide the tortilla and any uncooked egg back into the pan, to cook the other side. Fry gently over a low heat for 4 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown and the tortilla is just cooked through.
Remove from the heat and allow tortilla to rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a board, slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

  • *I use a 28cm (11″) frying pan. For a smaller pan, 6 eggs will suffice, and less potato pieces.
  • Leftover tortilla is excellent for breakfast. Lightly re-heat the tortilla in a frying pan and serve thinly sliced with buttered toast, and bacon or grilled tomatoes.

Easy squeezy

[Recipe 1] LEMON CURD transforms into
[Recipe 2] LITTLE LEMON TARTS
……………..
I spent a weekend at my sister’s house in beautiful Ocean Grove recently. She has a bulging lemon tree so I snaffled a bag to take home. I day-dreamed about potential lemon recipes as I drove home along Geelong Road (arguably the most boring stretch of tar in Victoria). Just as I reached the big smoke it came to me – Lemon curd!! The curd my friend Janet makes from her mum’s original recipe is my favourite. Lemon curd is a ripper recipe if you’re lucky enough to have chooks in the backyard and a lemon tree, as you’ll have the two main ingredients covered – eggs and lemon juice.
You can use lemon curd in soooo many different ways – drizzled over pancakes, sandwiched in a sponge cake, smeared on pikelets or plopped on top of Greek yoghurt or ice cream. It’s also a beaut gift to pass on to neighbours, friends and/or family AND, best of all, you can make heavenly (even if I do say so myself) Little lemon tarts with it too.
The crackling sugar topping on the tarts is of course optional, but I can’t stress enough how much fun can be had with a kitchen blowtorch. I found mine at Dalgarnos. A miniature gun that shoots fire – it’s of course my 8-year old’s most favourite, like totally awesome, kitchen gadget.

Lemon curd in a jar

Lemon curd in a bowl[Recipe 1] Lemon curd

375g (12 oz/3 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups (560g) castor (superfine) sugar
1⅔ cups lemon juice, strained (6–8 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
6 large eggs, plus 1 extra yolk, at room temperature, beaten

Place butter, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir over a low heat until butter has melted. Stir in lemon rind. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool for ten minutes.
Carefully pour in the beaten eggs, whisking continuously with a hand-held whisk. Gradually return to a low heat and stir until thickened, for about 10–15 minutes. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s not perfectly thickened. It should be the consistency of thin custard.
Place the hot lemon curd into sterilised jars. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Reserve 3 cups Lemon curd for the Little lemon tarts.
Makes 5½ cups.

  • Be careful when adding the eggs – if the eggs are too cold or the butter mixture is too hot, the eggs will curdle. If this does happen though, don’t panic. Press it through a fine sieve, then return it to a low heat and stir continuously for about 5 minutes.
  • Glass jars, lids and rubber rings can be sterilised by running them through your dishwasher on the hottest cycle, on the top shelf.
  • Lemon curd can be stored in sterilised jars, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

Little lemon curd tarts

[Recipe 2] Little lemon tarts

Half quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
3 cups reserved lemon curd (½ cup per tart)
Caster (superfine) sugar, for caramelising (optional)
Icing (confectioners) sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Roll out the sweet shortcrust pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until quite thin, no more than 3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Line six 12cm (5-inch) lightly oiled shallow tart tins (with removable bases) with the pastry, gently pressing down into the edges, and trim to fit. Prick the bases with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to prevent shrinkage.
Blind bake the pastry to prevent it collapsing: cover pastry bases with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
Add gelatin mixture to reserved lemon curd. Beat until just combined.
Divide curd amongst baked pastry shells. Refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
To caramelise the tops, sprinkle a generous layer of castor sugar over the tarts. Wave the flame of a kitchen blowtorch back and forth over the surface until the sugar is golden brown and caramelised. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Yum.
Makes 6 x 12cm tarts.

  • If you don’t own 12cm shallow tart tins, you can also use Texas-style muffin tins.

Well-built [2]

[Recipe 1] ROASTED VEGETABLE STACKS with PERSIAN FETTA transforms into
[Recipe 3] ROASTED VEGETABLE TART
……………..
This is the third recipe to use a reserved portion of roasted vegetables. I made Roasted vegetable stacks with Persian fetta again this week, and instead of making Little roast vegie frittatas with the planned-overs, I whipped up this colourful Roasted vegetable tart. The mushrooms were replaced with 3 roasted roma tomatoes because, well, tomatoes just look so much prettier in a tart!
We had this for lunch, and the husband and I took the leftovers to work the next day.
You can make a half-and-half tart with a child-friendly section containing grated carrot, grated zucchini (courgette), grated tasty cheese (instead of the Persian fetta) and a small, well-drained can of tuna.

Roast vegetable tart

[Recipe 3] Roasted vegetable tart

2 sheets store-bought shortcrust pastry, thawed (or 1 quantity home-made shortcrust pastry)
♦ 3–4 cups reserved roasted vegetables, roughly chopped
½ cup (50g) grated parmesan (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese
10 eggs
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I use light cooking cream)
150ml (5 fl oz) milk
60g (2 oz) well-drained Persian fetta, crumbled
Fresh parsley (or basil), to serve 

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Grease a large rectangular 33cm (13-inch) x 23cm (9-inch) baking tin.
If using home-made shortcrust pastry, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface (or between 2 sheets of baking paper) until 3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Working quickly, push the dough into a rectangular shape (joining pieces together if necessary) about 4cm (1½-inch) wider in diameter than your tart tin.
Line the tart tin with pastry, gently pressing down into the edges, and trim to fit.
Blind bake the pastry to prevent it going soggy: cover pastry base with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes, until light golden. Remove from oven. Allow to cool.
Scatter parmesan over tart base.
♦ Spoon reserved chopped roasted vegetables over parmesan.
Whisk eggs, cream and milk together and pour into tart case, followed by the fetta.
Bake for 30–35 minutes until the filling is just set. Serve at room temperature, scattered with parsley.

  • You can make and blind bake the pastry case ahead and freeze for up to two months, or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Well-built

[Recipe 1] ROASTED VEGETABLE STACKS with PERSIAN FETTA transforms into
[Recipe 2] LITTLE ROAST VEGIE FRITTATAS
……………..
I know, I know. Stacked food is so nineties, but heck it’s pretty, especially when it’s a construction of colourful roasted vegies; topped with a drizzle of pesto. So simple. So delicious. These Roasted vegetable stacks with Persian fetta are lovely served as is, or alongside fish, steak or snags for a more substantial meal. They’re also yum piled on a bed of couscous, drizzled with tahini sauce instead of pesto.
The second-best thing about roasting vegies is the leftovers, or in this case, the planned-overs. Set aside a couple of cups of chopped roasted vegies (see orange diamonds for details), add some beaten eggs, and you can whip up some gorgeous Little roast vegie frittatas for breakfast or lunch the next day.
My boys aren’t so keen on tucking into a mountain of different vegies, so I make roast potato, carrot and corn ‘quivering sky-scrapers’ for them (instructions and picture below main recipe). Enjoy.

Roast vegetable stacks

[Recipe 1] Roasted vegetable stacks with Persian fetta

2 eggplants (aubergines), thickly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 large mushrooms (portabella or cap), halved
2 zucchinis (courgettes), thickly sliced

1 kilo (2 lb) pumpkin, peeled, cut into thick slices (you’ll end up with approx. 750g/1½ lb pieces)
2 red capsicums (bell peppers), de-seeded, sliced
4 red (purple/Spanish) onions, peeled and quartered
12 baby spinach leaves, stalks intact
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Marinated Persian fetta, drained and crumbled, to serve
Pesto, store-bought or home-made, to serve 

Season eggplant slices with salt. Set aside for ten minutes. Rinse slices with water and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Brush slices on both sides with a little of the olive oil and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Combine the remaining oil and garlic in a large bowl. Place the mushrooms and zucchini into the bowl and toss to coat with the garlic oil. Arrange the mushrooms and zucchini on one baking tray, season, and roast in the preheated oven 20–25 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the pumpkin, capsicum and onion into the bowl and toss to coat with the remaining garlic oil (add a little more olive oil if necessary). Arrange the pumpkin, capsicum, onion and prepared eggplant slices on two baking trays. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the preheated oven for 35–40 minutes. If you’re using two oven shelves, swap trays half-way through cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Reserve 3–4 cups of roasted vegetables for the Little roast vegie fritattas.
Place two slices of the roasted eggplant onto each serving plate.
Top each with mushroom slices; chunks of pumpkin and zucchini; baby spinach leaves and strips of capsicum. Top with crumbled Persian fetta and roasted onion. Add a dollop of pesto.
Serve at room temperature with crusty bread.

  • This recipe is easy to vary. Replace the Persian fetta with goat’s cheese or slices of grilled haloumi. You can of course use any mix of vegies – try sweet potatoes, purple carrots, Roma tomatoes or sliced fennel.
  • You can omit the eggplant and serve on grilled wedges of polenta instead. Make the polenta according to the directions on the pack, cut into wedges and grill or pan-fry until light golden.
Vegie quivering sky scrapersTo make ‘quivering sky-scrapers’ for two kids (pictured), start with three large potatoes and three large carrots (this will allow for leftovers for little frittatas). Par-boil the potato and carrot slices for 5 minutes and dry well before coating in the garlic oil and roasting together with the pumpkin (or lightly fry them in a non-stick pan if there is no room for sharing in your oven)! Serve the stacks, layered with sliced steamed corn. Skewer them to prevent them collapsing. Reserve about 1 cup of roasted potato and carrot pieces for 2 kid-friendly little frittatas. Add leftover cooked sliced sausage or bacon if you like. You can still make the full quantity of adult-friendly roasted vegetables, as you’ll find plenty of ways to use them over the next few days! Pop them on a pizza, toss them in pasta sauce and/or take them to work as a salad (or grab a sourdough roll on the way to work and stuff it with roasted vegies, Persian fetta and pesto at lunchtime). Mmmm…

Roasted vegetable frittata

[Recipe 2] Little roast vegie frittatas

4 tablespoons olive oil for frying
8–10 eggs
3–4 cups reserved roasted vegies, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Basil leaves, torn, for serving

For each little frittata, beat 2 or 3 eggs lightly, add ¾–1 cup roasted vegies, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon grated parmesan.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small omelet pan on a medium-high heat.
Add egg and vegetable mix and cook for 2–4 minutes, pulling the sides in to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath. Cover with a small lid if you have one. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate.
Repeat the process three times with the remaining egg and vegetable mixture.
Serve, scattered with basil.

  • If you don’t have a small omelet pan, you can easily make this recipe with a large non-stick pan. You’ll need 8–10 eggs in total to serve 4. Follow the recipe, adding all ingredients to the pan (you can make a half-and-half omelet with one kid-friendly side). Cook for 8-10 minutes, then cover with a lid (or round baking tray) and cook for a further 2 minutes until set.

All tarted up

[Recipe 1] CARAMELISED RED ONION JAM transforms into
[Recipe 2] CARAMELISED ONION and GOAT’S CHEESE TART
……………..
Seasons Greetings! We had 18 family members at our place yesterday for Christmas lunch, and apart from the busted table leg, unidentified stains and mountains of wrapping paper in every nook; it was just ace. Today I’m officially pooped.
I whipped up a batch of sticky Caramelised red onion jam last week; a recipe originally based on this one. I’ve played with the ingredients over the years though, and now toss in red raisins and a good pinch of cloves. It’s beautiful dolloped on a hamburger or in a steak sandwich but my favourite use for it is in my Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart, which went down an absolute treat yesterday.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve made this tart. It’s a ripper – lightly sweet, full of fresh basil, and great for picnics. I’m also fairly certain it sufficiently distracted the four vegetarians from the large pink animal leg at the opposite end of the Christmas table.

Caramelised red onion jam

[Recipe 1] Caramelised red onion jam

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large red (purple/Spanish) onions (approx. 1 kilo/2.2 lb), halved, thinly sliced
50g (1.7 oz) brown sugar
¼ cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
6 thyme sprigs
50g (1.7 oz) large red raisins (or black if unavailable), roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and cook the onions over a medium heat, uncovered; stirring regularly, for 20 minutes, until just starting to stick.
Add the sugar, vinegar, cloves, thyme sprigs and raisins. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer over a low heat for a further 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is sticky and jammy. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5–10 minutes, if necessary, to ensure all liquid has evaporated. Take care not to burn the onions!
Season well with salt and pepper. Fish out the thyme sprigs and discard. Allow to cool.
Reserve 1 cup Caramelised red onion jam for the Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart.

  • The Caramelised red onion jam will keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
  • Caramelised red onion jam can also be spooned into hot sterilised jars, and will keep in the fridge for 2–3 months.
  • Caramelised red onion jam is a delicious accompaniment to roast beef or bangers and mash; and is fabulous with chopped roast chicken and grated sharp cheddar cheese in a wrap.
  • Red raisins are available from health food stores and add a lovely burst of pink to the jam.

Caramelised onion, roast tomato, basil tartCaramelised onion and roast tomato tart

[Recipe 2] Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart

Ingredients (serves 6):
1½ sheets store-bought shortcrust pastry, thawed (or ½ quantity home-made shortcrust pastry)

60g (2 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, or Parmesan if unavailable
♦ 1 cup reserved Caramelised red onion jam

5 eggs
150ml (5 fl oz) cream (I’ve used both light cooking cream and double cream – either is fine)

2 Roma tomatoes, roasted and quartered (see this recipe for technique)
8 large basil leaves, torn; plus extra for scattering
60g (2 oz) goat’s cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Grease a 3cm (1-inch) deep, 25cm (10-inch) fluted tart tin, with removable base.
If using home-made pastry, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface (or between 2 sheets of baking paper) until 3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Working quickly, roll the dough into a circle (joining pieces together if necessary) about 4cm (1½-inch) wider in diameter than your tart tin.
Line the tart tin with pastry, gently pressing down into the edges, and trim to fit.
Blind bake the pastry to prevent it going soggy: cover pastry base with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Scatter the Parmigiano Reggiano over tart base.
Spoon reserved Caramelised red onion jam over Parmigiano Reggiano.
Whisk eggs and cream together and pour into tart case, followed by the tomatoes, basil and goat’s cheese. Push all the ingredients down into the egg mixture a little.
Bake for 30 minutes until filling is just set.
Serve at room temperature, scattered with extra basil.

  • You can make and blind bake the pastry case ahead and freeze for up to two months, or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Roasted Roma tomatoes can be replaced with 4 large well-drained sundried tomatoes, halved.
  • If you’re working with fresh pastry (not frozen) you can choose to freeze an extra pastry base too. I always make two, and freeze one for future use. Picnic season is upon us!
  • This recipe can also be used for a 2cm (.8″) deep, 30cm (11.8″) fluted tart tin, with removable base. No need to adjust the ingredients.