Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Salad Dressing.

Years ago, when I was working in Melbourne at The Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital (which no longer exists & is, I believe, now a housing estate) I met a fantastic couple. Their names were Deb & John, & these guys made my transition to Melbourne an absolute joy. Their house was a cacophony of eclectic furniture pieces, art works, books & food styles. John was a great cook, & he made the BEST BBQ'd sardines ever in the history of mankind. He also made a killer salad dressing & this is the dressing I now always make. I am no longer in touch with either of them (life is sometimes like that) but I do miss them very much. I often wonder what they are up to, & I often think that I should make the effort to track them down to say hello.

Salad Dressing.

In an old jar:

1/3 balsamic vinegar (you can also add some fresh lemon/lime juice)
2/3 oil (I now use a mixture of olive oil & Red Palm Fruit oil)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp seeded mustard (I use the Masterfoods one)

That is the basis to add to whatever you like, but my favourites are:

Heaps of grated fresh garlic
Mixed herbs

Friday, January 27, 2012

Australia Day 2012

Wow, Australia Day again! This day comes around so quickly, I think I'm getting old. As usual we spent it with our friends, Julie & Phillip, at their traditional BBQ. There same group of people attend & we all bring a dish to share. All the kids get on well, the older kids just "hang out" chatting & listening to music, while the younger ones play on the Playstation. It's a lovely day with true friends, the kind of friends that sustain & nurture you, that are good for the soul & that are unbearably honest when you need a kick in the bum.

After the BBQ we went to see the fireworks around Lake Wendouree, but this time we saw them from the decking of the Ballarat Yacht Club, where we met some of our other delightful friends for dinner. Of course, I got dreadfully burnt at the BBQ, so I shivered my way into the night sky. The fireworks were amazing, the organisers did a great job, & dinner was delish.

So, happy Australia Day to all, I hope your year is filled with love, happiness & success in what you do. We are lucky to live where we do - let us all appreciate what we really have: freedom, opportunity & the potential to achieve really awesome things xx

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Date, Chocolate & Almond Torte - Gluten free

Yesterday we went for lunch to Kim's house, & I was in charge of the dessert. I made this torte, which is dreadfully easy to make & is always impressive. The funny things is, people think you are brilliant for making such a work of art! It is served with a thick cream & I always make a raspberry coulis to go with it.

Date, Chocolate & Almond Torte.

250 gm unpeeled almonds.
250 gm dark cooking chocolate.
250 gm chopped dates.
6 large egg whites.
½ cup castor sugar.

  1. Chop almonds & chocolate into chunky pieces in a food processor.
  2. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt & gradually add the sugar.
  3. Fold in the almonds, dates & chocolate.
  4. Pour into a greased & lined 23 cm tin & cook in a pre-heated 180o oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Open door slightly & allow it to cool in the oven.
  6. Turn on to a plate & refrigerate overnight.
  7. Whip ½ pint of cream with castor sugar & brandy to taste.
This cake will keep in the fridge, undecorated, for several days.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lemon Gelato & Lemon Sorbet

These are for my darling friend Kate xx

Lemon Gelato

1 cup milk
1 cup
5 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons
grated lemon peel
3/4 cup
lemon juice
2 cups
  1. In a small heavy saucepan, heat the milk to 175°; stir in sugar until dissolved.
  2. Whisk a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks.
  3. Return all the mixture to the pan, whisking constantly.
  4. Add the lemon peel.
  5. Cook & stir over low heat until mixture reaches at least 160° & coats the back of a metal spoon.
  6. Remove from the heat; strain.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice. Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in cream. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  9. Transfer the mixture into your ice-cream make & freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Lemon Sorbet

The peel of one lemon, finely diced
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup carbonated mineral water
  1. In a saucepan, stir together the diced lemon peel, 1 cup of water & sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool (now the the lemon syrup)
  4. In a bowl, stir together the lemon syrup, lemon juice and mineral water.
  5. Pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Mango Gelato

Does anything beat a real home made ice-cream? I love ice-cream (although I try not to eat it too much), & we recently bought a new ice-cream maker after the last one oozed internal mush all throughout the freezer bowl. They are so affordable now, so please, do yourself a MASSIVE favour & buy yourself one. We bought a Cuisinart 2 litre machine, & other than being very noisy, it is a fab machine.

Yesterday I made, for the first time, a mango gelato, using fresh mangoes. Can I just say TO DIE FOR?? Yes indeed, it is. We had some tonight, with fresh mint leaves. You must make yourself some. Please do, let me know how it turned out.

A Basic Gelato Recipe

3/4 cup 150g caster sugar
1 cup water
1 & 1/3 cup of cream

Fruit puree of your choice (see below for some options)
  1. To make the basic gelato mixture, place the sugar & water in a saucepan over a low heat & stir without boiling until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Increase the heat & bring the syrup to the boil for one minute.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. While the syrup is cooling, prepare one of the fruit variations below.
  5. Combine the fruit puree & sugar syrup & then place the mixture into an ice-cream maker: follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  6. If you don't have an ice-cream maker, place the fruit & syrup mixture in a metal bowl or cake tin, cover & freeze for an hour or until it is just beginning to set at the edge. Beat with an electric hand whisk & return it to the freezer. Repeat three times at hourly intervals or until the gelato is thick and smooth.


  1. For a Peach Gelato: combine 2 1/2 cups strained peach puree (6 peaches or 900g chopped peach flesh) & 1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice to the cooled basic gelato mixture. Continue with step 3.
  2. For a Raspberry Gelato: combine 1 3/4 cup strained raspberry puree (700g fresh or frozen raspberries) & 1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice to the cooled basic gelato mixture. Continue with step 3.
  3. For a Mango Gelato: combine 2 1/2 cups mango puree (4 x 400g mangoes or 950g chopped mango flesh) & 1/2 cup (120ml) lime juice to the cooled basic gelato mixture. Continue with step 3.
  4. For a Strawberry Gelato: combine 2 1/2 cups strained strawberry puree (850g fresh strawberries) & 1/2 cup (120ml) lime juice to the cooled basic gelato mixture. Continue with step 3.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Pudding & Brandy Butter.

OK - so apparently this online rambling nonsense is becoming a semi-foodie blog (thank you everyone for your tweets, texts, comments on FB xx). Yes, I do make my own Christmas puddings, usually a few years in advance. They hang from my kitchen ceiling where it is dry, with good circulation so they never go mouldy. This recipe was given to me by my dear friend Shirley Baker, who was about 70 years old at the time. It was her grandmother's recipe, so I guess that makes it a tried & true delicious recipe. Sadly, Shirley passed away a few years ago now. She was a wonderfully naughty woman, who showed me that it is brilliantly OK to age with gumption (& a bit of beer on a Friday).

Shirley's Christmas Pudding.

12 oz plain flour
1 packet of suet
8 oz breadcrumbs
8 oz sultanas
8 oz raisins
8 oz currants
8 oz dried apricots
8 oz dried figs
8 oz dates.
¼ lb mixed peel
1 tbsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
6 oz brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
6 eggs
1 grated carrot
1 grated apple.
Mixture of nuts to add.
Alcohol for soaking fruit: brandy/sherry/port - soak the dried fruit at least 3 months before making the puddings

  1. Place a saucer in the bottom of a large pot, fill with water & put it on to boil.
  2. Sift the flour.
  3. Mix the suet into the flour.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs, fruit, spices, sugar, carrot, apple & lemon rind.
  5. Beat the eggs well & mix all together.
  6. Add the lemon juice & mix well.
  7. Divide the mixture into 2, & place into well floured cloths.
  8. Plunge the puddings into the boiling water & boil for 4 hours.
  9. Keep the puddings covered at all times.
  10. Remove the puddings, cool & then trim the excess fabric.
  11. Hang the puddings until they required: they will keep for years if they are stored properly.
  12. When the pudding is required boil it for a further 2 hours.

Brandy Butter

125gm butter
1¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup brandy
  1. Beat butter well
  2. Add sugar & beat well
  3. Add brandy & beat well
  4. Store in the fridge

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beetroot Chutney.

This morning I harvested the beetroot & ended up with a 5kg load. I've never grown beetroot before, but it was just so easy. I love to eat beetroot, especially roasted, but the only way the boys will eat it currently is if I make it into a chutney.

So, guess what I did today? I made up 22 jars of it.

Here's the recipe - it's one of the easiest recipes around.

Beetroot Chutney

2 kg cooked beetroot
1 kg onions
4 cups sugar
2 tsps allspice
2 tsps mustard seeds

2 tsps coriander seeds

10 peppercorns

2 tbsps salt

4 cups vinegar

1 cup plain flour
  1. To cook the beetroot, cut off all of the tops, & place the beetroot in a large saucepan, cover with water & simmer until tender.
  2. Remove skins when cool enough to handle.
  3. Finely chop the beetroot & onions in a food processor, (this is best done in several small lots). Use an on/off motion as they must be finely chopped & not a puree.
  4. Combine all ingredients (except the flour) in a large pot. Bring to the boil & gently cook for about 50 minutes.
  5. Mix the flour to a smooth paste with cold water.
  6. Add to the mix, stirring to thicken & boil for approximately 5 minutes more.
  7. Pack the chutney into hot sterilised jars, cover and label.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Zucchini Overload!

Jeremy & I have been so excited, because as the 10 year drought is officially "over", we are now allowed to occasionally use some water for the garden. So, last year, we revamped the vegie patch.

Pumpkins at the front, & zucchinis behind me.

When we first moved into this house we put in the 8 raised bed patch, but we could only use it for one season before the water restrictions came in. It has lain there dormant ever since, tormenting us with the possibility of fresh produce. It is now a curse! SO MANY ZUCCHINIS!! In the recent weeks I have made 70 bottles of zucchini preserves, & it has broken me. Now I just take the excess zucchinis into work - let the zucchinis go to appreciative homes I say, as I am sick of them.

For those who requested, here are the recipes I used. Enjoy xxxx

Zucchini Chutney.

1 kg zucchini
1 apple: cored
1 medium onion
1 capsicum
1 garlic clove: crushed
250gm brown sugar
250ml white vinegar
1 tbsp ginger: grated
1 tbsp English mustard
¼ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp salt
  1. Cut the zucchini into small pieces: discard any large seeds.
  2. Finely dice the apple, onion & capsicum then place into a saucepan with the zucchini & other ingredients
  3. Bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce heat & simmer uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, until thick (about 45 – 55 minutes)
  5. Ladle into sterilised jars & seal.

Zucchini Pickle

1 kg zucchini
2 large onions
1 red capsicum
1/4 cup of salt

2 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
  1. Chop the zucchini, onion & capsicum finely & place in a large pan.
  2. Add all the other ingredients
  3. Bring to the boil & the simmer over a medium heat until the mixture thickens
  4. If you wish to, at the last stage you can add 1 dessert spoon of corn flour (mixed into a paste with some vinegar) to assist with the thickening.
  5. Pour into sterilised jars & seal.