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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just for starters................

An old favourite served with a new twist!
Try scallops and avocado with nasturtium flowers instead of the classic marriage of prawns. Lightly grease a ring mould per plate, press down some avocado pieces into each mould, add a layer of scallops then a layer of dill and lime flavoured mayonnaise. Remove the ring mould and garnish with a sprig of dill, a flower or two and just a trickle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Razor Clams

Bored with prawns and oysters for Christmas and then try one of my top favourite things, Razor clams (pinna bicolor).

I was amazed to find these heavenly clams at the Sydney Fish Markets just recently. I had always believed they were a European mollusk available only to travelers and those lucky enough to live on the Spanish or French coastlines where they are found in abundance. Elusive like Monk fish (Stargazer) in Australia, Razor Clams come from South Australia but are a rare sight and a food experience not to be missed. If I had my way, I would eat them every day and must confess I did exactly that when we were last on the Costa Brava. I could not get enough of them!

Pre-soaking them as follows is a personal choice and not necessary if the clams look clean or if your fishmonger says they have been pre-purged in salt water. If in doubt about their cleanliness fill a sink with water, toss them in and liberally sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of plain flour over the top of the water and leave for an hour or so. The clams ‘take’ in the flour then ‘spit’ it out cleaning themselves in the process. Then rinse in several changes of water. Mussels also benefit from this procedure.

There are several ways to cook Razor Clams depending on your preference.

To steam: Lay the clams in a bamboo basket or any kind of steamer and gently steam them for a few minutes until they open.

For a more rustic approach: pat them dry, turn with tongs continuously on a lightly oiled hot plate (a plancha) until they open and are cooked through.

To boil: Pour a little white wine, a little water , a sliced spring onion and a few sprigs of parsley into a saucepan, add the clams and bring to the boil and cook for exactly one minute. Drain immediately and discard the other flavourings.

I love to eat them coated with just a little garlic-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped parsley, a grinding of black pepper or two and masses of delicious bread to mop up the juices.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Corn Puffs

Zucchini (courgette) and feta fritters are all the rage for breakfast, lunch or as an entrée for dinner according to Good Living Magazine. Reading about them only yesterday rang big bells and prompted me to search for my mother’s recipe for corn puffs (fritters) - something she made regularly during our childhood. Excellent served with tzatziki on the side for a little bit of Greece, or mango chutney if curry powder is used – either way they’re easy to make and everyone will ask for more. Mum used corn now it’s zucchini, where she used curry and mashed potatoes now it’s feta - other than that her recipe is almost identical to anything I could find on the web and more often than not I came across recipes including all three: zucchini, feta and corn. So there you go, Mum, ahead of your time!

Corn Puffs (as Mum gave it to me)

1 small tin corn niblets, drained
1 cup mashed potatoes with a drop milk
½-cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large or 2 small eggs
1 small onion
1-teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Parsley, chopped

Beat eggs, sift flour and add to potatoes together with baking powder, curry powder, salt, lots of ground black pepper, corn, onion and parsley.

Heat oil in a pan, add a dessertspoon of puff mixture and fry on both sides until golden. Serve with mango chutney and lime pickle as one of several Indian dishes.

For the trendy fritter alternative: Substitute 100g feta for the potato mash, 400g zucchini for the corn or use half of each and include perhaps a little garlic and lemon balm just to perk things up a bit. Omit the curry powder and serve with Tzatziki.

Tzatziki: for a more complex and interesting version of this famous Greek side dish: drain the yogurt, add a small amount of olive oil, a few drops of vinegar, grate the cucumber, cream the garlic with salt and finally throw in a little chopped dill and mint.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

a rush in red......

Unexpected guests! Fortunately I had a lovely French tart in the fridge and a packet of raspberries in the freezer so I simply cut circles in the tart with a round pastry cutter for each person. I then made quite a thick raspberry coulis. The trick with making a coulis is to use frozen raspberries but do not thaw them. Add a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar - add a little more or less depending on the thickness you require. For the above dessert the coulis must not be too thin. Heat the sugar and berries until the sugar melts then sieve it and pour it into a squeezy bottle for easy application. Queens make a black writing gel available from baking sections in supermarkets. Make a design of your choice with the gel and carefully add the coulis letting the nozzle of the squeezy bottle be your guide. The gel prevents the coulis running out. Place a piece of tart on the side. An almost instant dessert and the day, saved!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clafoutis aux Cerises

Cherry season is around the corner so no better time to post my clafoutis recipe with this lovely photograph taken by our friend, Stewart, in France this summer. Cherries herald Christmas, sent by the Gods to tantalize our taste buds and senses in readiness for feasting and merrymaking. Their symbolic red, their bell shape and their vivid image in overflowing bowls on the Christmas table next to piles of whole nuts completes our Australian dream of 25th.

Cherries also remind me of black and white photographs of my mother when she was in her early twenties, looking so glamorous in khaki overalls, picking cherries in Young, when she was a volunteer in the Australian women’s land army during war 2. A place where there are so many cherry trees if you picked just one cherry off each tree the quantity would be impossible to eat.

The first time I made this dish was at the Cordon Bleu school. We had had several weeks of non-stop pastry making and I couldn’t wait for this section of the course to end. I’m not one for pastry making but I was quite proud of my efforts with the clafoutis and really wanted to get it home safely. Juggling keys, books, toolbox, uniform and clafoutis I managed to drop my prized pie at the front door where it landed, very neatly, upside down. Inedible to say the least!

I have included a recipe for sweet pastry (pâte sucrée) but a base is not necessarily required. To speed things up just butter an ovenproof dish, scatter over the cherries and pour the batter on top. My way, using the pastry, is more time consuming but great if you want to turn out the pie to present it whole on another plate. Traditionally served with Crème Anglaise but pouring cream or ice-cream would be just as good. Some stone their cherries, some do not and some use sweet varieties while others use sour. It’s all a question of personal choice.


For the pastry, if you are one of those clever people who make their own:

(250g Sucree pastry)
125g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar
1 egg
250g plain flour

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg. Sieve and mix in the flour to form a smooth dough. Refrigerate for thirty minutes.

600g cherries, pitted, washed and carefully dried with kitchen paper
20g butter to grease the pie dish
Icing sugar to serve

For the batter:

50g plain flour
3 eggs, 2 whole plus 1 yolk
200ml milk
Pinch salt
25ml honey
30ml Kirsch


Make the pastry first and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as stated above. The pasty must be made first because it needs three resting periods. Lightly grease a 20cm flan tin with the butter. Roll out the pastry 2mm thick, line the tin and rest the pastry in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Do not prick the base, as the filling will leak. Fill with baking beads and bake at 175C for 15-20 minutes. Glaze with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Rest again for another 30 minutes.

To make the batter: sift the flour and salt into a basin and make a small bay. Add the eggs and half the milk. Whisk to a smooth batter. Warm the rest of the milk in a small saucepan and add the honey, stir until dissolved and add to the batter then add the Kirsch. Strain the batter and allow to rest one hour.

Place the cherries in the cooked pastry case and fill with batter to within 3mm from the top. Bake at 175C for 30 – 45 minutes or until well risen and brown. Use a skewer to make sure the batter is cooked through.

Remove from the oven, unmould, dredge with icing sugar.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Glazed Fruit Tarts

Fruit tarts make quick, delicious and economical desserts – it is amazing just how far one or two apples can go! Use any fruit in season and glaze them with either apricot jam or redcurrant jelly. Add a little alcohol to apricot glaze like grand marnier, cointreau or brandy and reduced red wine to redcurrant jelly.

I am a sucker for redcurrant jelly with red wine and the marriage of this with pears is just about as good as it gets. I do not bother too much about measurements as you will see below and I buy the puff pastry. I make sure I always have a good supply in the freezer.

Buy pears ready to slice otherwise buy hard pears and cook them in the red wine during the reduction process.

1 x 375gm block of frozen puff pastry
3 pears
1 bottle full bodied red wine
1 cinnamon stick, 2-3 cloves optional
300gm jar redcurrant jelly

Preheat oven: 180C

Grease a tart tin, roll out the pastry, and place the pasty in the tin, use a fork to prick a continuous line about half an inch in from the edge all the way around the pastry. Place the tin in the fridge for half an hour. Pour the red wine into a medium sized saucepan, add spices if using and the pears if necessary and cook until the pears are soft. Remove the pears and the spices and keep reducing the wine until there is about 2 Tablespoons left. When the pears are cool enough, if they needed cooking, slice and arrange overlapping each other on top of the pastry.

Brush the visible edge of the pastry with a little milk or cream and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the pastry is brown and cooked. Remove and cool.

Add the redcurrant jelly to the wine and reheat until it has melted. Brush the glaze all over the tart using it all up. Leave until the glaze has thickened – about ten minutes and serve, sliced in large squares with a big bowl of thick fresh cream or ice cream. The addition of fresh red currants, dipped in egg white and dusted with icing sugar, scattered over the top of the tart looks stunning.

For apricot glaze, excellent with apples and fresh apricots, buy a jar of apricot jam fruit free. If you can only find jam with fruit pieces in it then strain them out. Heat the jam gently, add a splash of your chosen complimentary alcohol then brush the hot glaze over the cooked tart. Toasted almonds scattered over the top add another dimension.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sole Food

The first and only time I saw someone pocket a sole was at Billingsgate market in London a very long time ago. Not literally though it would not have surprised me in such a place in those days! I rushed home afterwards, not wanting to forget, clutching a couple of soles and set about to successfully pocket both and I think I stuffed them with grapes as in Sole Veronique but my memory is a bit hazy about that part of the story.

At the Sydney fish markets yesterday I went on the search for flat fish having suddenly remembered the technique and thinking it would be worth including on the Food Vine. We don’t often see flat fish locally so I took full advantage of where we were.

Any flat fish is suitable but make sure to choose your fish from sustainable sources.
Flounder is best, Sole, as long as it is MSC certified but Plaice is a no go.

1. Remove the head.
2. Trim the side fins with a pair of scissors, then trim the tail.
3. Imagine the fish in four sections, two each side. Take a sharp knife, place your hand on top of the fish to steady it, make an incision with the point of the knife in the top of the first section then slice against the bone all the way down into the fish making a pocket as you go between the flesh above the bone and the bone itself. Repeat second section.
4. Turn the fish over and repeat as above.
5. Take your scissors and cut down through the bone inside the fish as close as you can to the inside walls. Repeat other side.
6. Cut and remove as much bone as you can.
7. Turn the fish inside out, carefully and without tearing and cut out the remaining bone.
8. Snip the small bones from the sides close to the edge
9. Turn the fish back the other way.
10.Wash the fish out.

Fill the pocket with a filling of your choice and poach gently in white wine, fish stock, salt, pepper and a little onion for about fifteen minutes. Make a veloute sauce from the poaching liquid.

I have not included a recipe for this dish – it is simply the technique.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

making the most of citrus

Our orchard is heavy with blood oranges, lemons, limes and orange blossom - all crying out to be picked and dealt with in some fancy way. Not wanting to miss this opportunity I made up the following: Two bottles of limoncello two batches of glazed limes and blood oranges and 750ml of orange blossom cordial. I also zested and juiced a lot of excess fruit and froze it in ice-block trays for that rainy day when the fruit is scarce and the heady perfume of our orchard can come flooding back to me.

It really is a good idea to juice excess citrus. If you don't have an orchard buy lots when it's cheap this saves time by guaranteeing measurement and gives you a plentiful supply at any given moment. My ice-block trays hold 30ml a slot speeding up cooking times for future recipes. Blood oranges only have a very short season and are so worth capitalizing on in this time frame. There is nothing quite like their taste and flavour. I freeze all citrus zest but I blanch it three times from cold water starts before doing so. This takes away the bitter taste while softening it at the same time. Once the contents of the trays are frozen either wrap them in cling film or remove the blocks and place them in plastic bags for easier storage.
Glazed Blood Oranges
250ml water
250ml granulated sugar
6-8 medium sizd blood oranges
Use a 30cm (12 inch) frying pan and melt the sugar and water slowly over a low heat. Stir until boiling point then lower heat to a simmer and add the fruit, carefully. Don't worry about the pips and take the risk of damaging the fruit - they pop out during the cooking and can be removed with tongs - if you miss a few it doesn't matter. Cook until the fruit is sticky and the liquid has almost evaporated. Allow to cool and place each slice carefully into an airtight container and refrigerate. Substitute: limes but use about 10. Use either glazed fruit as a garnish for desserts, sliced pates or in drinks.
Orange Blossom Cordial (if this link breaks use the search option above)
In addition to my previously published recipe I strained the cordial and flowers through muslin before pouring into the sterilize bottle. I used 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water and it was quite tart. Add a little more sugar if you have a sweet tooth. Delicious either way. I only had borage flowers for my ice-blocks - multicoloured edible flowers look wonderful. Yield this time: 700ml

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Esqueixada of Cod

I've always been intrigued by salt cod mainly because it's more a European thing and not found so easily in Australia. Presently surrounded by it here in France however and having been just given a recipe by our Spanish friends I couldn't resist making it.

The rules for this recipe apply to any amount of salt cod so buy as much as you need and soak it in plenty of cold water to cover for 24 hours - change the water regularly. Remove the fish from the water, pat dry and shred the flesh and remove any obvious bones. Skin and chop as many tomatoes as a balance to the amount of fish and slice two or three small red Spanish onions. Combine the three ingredients well then sprinkle over the very best olive oil you can find and place the dish in the fridge. It's best to serve this very cold and it's much better the next day or even the day after that so the flavours have a chance to mingle. Deliciously Spanish served with masses of french bread.
Although not in Kika's recipe I made it on another occasion and added some creamed garlic and finely chopped parsley. Either way it was great and seemed to last for days - a little goes a long way!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Confiture de Pasteque

Pasteque (watermelon in French) comes in three varieties: red seedless, red seeded and white winter melon. All three are suitable to make this sticky confiture to accompany duck and foie gras but the seeded variety should be avoided due to the labour involved in removing the seeds.

To every kilo of chopped watermelon flesh add 600g sugar, the zest of one orange and one lemon and a vanilla pod or two. Bring to the boil and slowly simmer until the liquid is reduced by two thirds, about an hour. Place a teaspoonful of jam on a saucer and place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. If it sets quickly but is still pliable the jam is ready. Remove from the heat, cool and store in a sterilised jar. Use as a side dish for magret (duck breast) and foie gras or spread on toast for breakfast!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Maggie's Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries

We were very happy to be invited to lunch recently at the home of our good friends, Maggie and George and eagerly awaited the day knowing Maggie would cook up a tornedo. The following is the dessert we were served - an absolutely stunning chocolate pavlova with lashings of mascapone, creme fraiche and plump raspberries. The meringue was indeed superb - all crispy on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside and her cleverly combined filling gave the pavlova a new dimension and taste sensation. We were treated to something really special.

Serves: 8 - 10

Oven: 180C


6 egg whites
300g castor sugar
3 tablesppons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
50g chopped dark chocolate.


250g creme fraiche
250g mascapone
500g fresh raspberries
2-3 tablespoons shaved chocolate


Line a tray with baking paper. Beat eggs whites until they stand up then beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Test for firmness by turn the basin upside down - the meringue should not drop out. Add the cocoa and chocolate and gentle fold into the whites.

Mould the meringue onto the paper and form it into a round to about 22 cms.

Turn to the oven down to 150C and cook the meringue for 1 - 1.5 hours. Turn the oven off and leave the door ajar and let the meringue cool completely. Whip the creme fraiche and mascapone and pile on top of the meringue, top with raspberries and shave a little more chocolate over the top.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Aspic Eggs with Jamon Iberico

In Oz I buy glace de viande (meat glaze) in jars from David Jones mainly because it's easy and I'm too lazy to make my own. With time on my hands recently and a long way from David Jones I not only wanted to end up with glace de viande but wanted a wobbley (not rubbery) aspic (jelly) in the process. I was determined not to clarify the stock with the aid of egg whites and if it wasn't for the simmer pad on my Lacanche cooker my goose would have been well and truly cooked! So it was with Richard Olney's trusted Simple French Food by my side and a few of my own ideas ready to throw in for good measure I set out on an interesting and successful journey.

Technically, glace de viande is made from a demi glace and demi glace is, more or less, sauce Espagnole. Glace de viande is the result of progressive transferrals of a demi glace to smaller saucepans and continued reduction to the state of a thick syrup and is the consistency of hard rubber. It is one of the sauce-enrichening standbys of classical cuisine. It can be kept, refrigerated, for a very long time. My idea was to by-pass the demi glace and turn the jelly, after using some of it for my aspic eggs, into glace de viande by continual reduction.

Place a rack if you have one in the bottom of your stock pot on which to place the meat and bones and then add the following:

1 veal knuckle (including meaty section) cut in two or three pieces, 2 pig's trotters split in two or 1 calf's foot boiled from a cold water start for 5 minutes, 500g chicken wing-tips, water to cover.

Place the meat and bones onto the rack if using and fill pot with enough water to cover by a good 4 to 5cm. Heat slowly taking about an hour to get to boiling point. Do not start to remove the forming scum until just before boiling when it is very easy to do so. As soon as you skim the first lot of scum off add a glass of cold water to the pot and wait until it almost reaches boiling point again and repeat the process again and again until there is not grey scum visible only a little white froth.

Now add to the pot the following:

1 medium onion stuck with a few cloves, 3 large carrots, peeled, 2 large leeks, cut in 3 - 4 pieces each, 1 stick celery, 1 unpeeled whole garlic bulb and a handful of course salt. Bouquet garni tied in muslin: a few sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, few sprigs of parsley

Return the pot to almost boiling point and skim again. Regulate the heat onto the lowest of the low settings and leave the lid ajar. The surface of the stock should be at a murmur - not as cool as true poaching point nor slipping into a full boil. This careful adjustment may take some time until it is precise and consisent. Use an asbestos pad if your cooker is tricky. The stock must be left, undisturbed, for around 9 - 10 hours.

Place a colander over a bowl or another saucepan and line it with several layers of muslin and drain the stock through it. Wash out the muslin and repeat and keep repeating until the stock is completely clear. Cool rapidly, place in the refrigerator overnight, uncovered.

Aspic (jelly) must be as clear as crystal. Remove any traces of fat with a spoon then wipe the surface of the set stock with a piece of muslin that have been boiled and rung out. Put the pot back in the fridge until you are ready to make up the eggs.

600ml of (the jelled) stock melted gently with 3 tablespoons port or sherry, decorative pieces, e.g. leaf of tarragon, half an olive, tiny piece red pepper, 6 very lightly poached eggs: cooled , cut into neat circles and trimmed of excess whites.

Rinse six moulds/ramekins out with cold water. Pour in a tablespoon of stock to just cover the bottom of the mould and add the decorative pieces. Place in refrigerator to set. Add a little more stock, set it, add the eggs but turn them upside down in the moulds so when they are upturned they are the right way up, add a little more stock and set again. Add a slice of ham cut to fit each ramekin, I used jamon Iberico (pata negra) .... as I just happened to have some in the kitchen BECAUSE our good friends from Spain gave us a WHOLE HAM recently - blowing us completely away ........SO I JUST HADE TO USE IT - the most fantastic ham in the world world. Lastly top up the moulds with stock if there is any room left and reset in the refrigerator.

Unmould by running the tip of a knife round the top of each mould, turn upside down and jar against your hand. If they don't budge dip the bottom of the mould in hot water for a brief second then try again. The aspic eggs would be nice served on a bed of small leaves or with a mousse or as I have done, with dressed cucumber rounds.

With my leftover jellied stock every two days I gently reheated it then reduced it for 15 minutes, cooled it rapidly and put it back uncovered in the refrigerator. Now, some time later I have wonderful glace de viande which I am successfully using in other sauces. Voila! I should point that my version is not quite the real thing but it still works and tastes great.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sublime Tomato Salad

Succulent red tomatoes, chopped walnuts, chopped, freshly picked parsley, a dash of walnut oil and just a hint of walnut vinegar - a salad that epitomises the flavours of South-West France!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cep Omlette

There's a restaurant in Aydie in South West France that serves the best omlettes in the whole world. It's slap bang in the middle of the Madiran grape growing region with spellbinding views of the surrounding countryside but unfortunately only from the car park! We go for the omlettes not the view and they are to die for!

Rich, bright yellow eggs streaked to perfection, big strong ceps, home grown garlic and a pinch or two of salt all rolled into a creamy, moving mass of mouthwatering flavours. Served with a plate of pommes frites, a simple green salad, some bread and a pichet of wine - you're in taste bud heaven.

I love to try to evoke the tastes and flavours of Aydie when we're far far away and sometimes when we're quite close too but no matter how often or hard I try mine never taste quite the same - but an oeuf of that. This is how I make them:
It's vital to use eggs from corn fed chickens. If you can't pick your own ceps buy them in tins - this is expensive but well worth it. You could use field mushrooms but then the omlette would end up tasting rather ordinary and you would wonder what this posting was all about. Try to find ceps fresh or tinned for an outstanding flavour.

Serves: 4

12 large corn fed chicken eggs
400g tinned (drained) or 500g fresh ceps finely sliced
2 garlic cloves creamed with salt
Knob of butter for cooking each omlette
Salt to taste
Parsley to garnish


Make one very large omlette if you are brave enough or four individual ones. For four omlettes in turn crack 3 eggs into a jug and gently fork them through creating delicate white streaks. Care taken here not to to whisk or beat the eggs too hard allows for a nicer presentation. Add quarter of the creamed garlic and a pinch salt.
Heat the pan then add a knob of butter and pour in the eggs, gently fluff up by drawing the fast cooking eggs away from the sides and into the centre - this puts air into them and helps to prevent sticking. Once the eggs have started to cook around the edges but the centre is still runny add the drained or fresh ceps to one side of the omlette and cook a little longer. Fold the side free of ceps over to cover the cep side and cook another minute or two then quickly slide off onto a hot plate. A wise cook would use Chinese cooking chopsticks instead of a fork to fluff up and to fold. Continue with the next three omlettes. Garnish each omlette with a piece of parsley and serve immediately.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chantilly Cream with Smoked Duck Breast

Espumas (foams) and flavoured chantilly creams are great fun to make all thanks to Ferran Adria, chef-owner of the world's number one restaurant, El Bulli, in Spain. His idea to use a siphon or gourmet whip in the kitchen has revolutionised professional and home cooking - food never looked better nor tasted so good. But first you must buy a siphon and this will cost you about $100 or 50 euros - not too much expense as a one off but it's the gas cartridges that hurt the most at a dollar/euro a pop!

Experiment with cream only until you get the hang of using a siphon - it would be shame to waste expensive ingredients. Read and follow the maufacturer's instructions carefully - they all vary. Do not use a soda siphon as a substitute for the following recipe or any food related recipe. Some siphons are more versatile than others - one that keeps food hot or cold is ideal . For hot place siphon in a bain-marie and keep water temperature under 70C or for cold place it in the fridge to promote the setting of cream and/or gelatine etc. Do not place a siphon in the freezer.

Serves: 10


100g Roquefort cheese
300ml pouring cream
2 teaspoons honey
10 slices of smoked duck breast rolled into cigar shapes
10 small batons celery
sprigs of dill to garnish


Place the cheese, cream and honey in a small saucepan and heat gently until the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool before sieving and pouring into the siphon with the aid of a funnel. Choose a thick decorating nozzle and place a gas cartridge into the charger holder. Screw the holder onto the inlet valve until the content releases with a hissing sound. Remove and discard the spent cartridge. Hold the siphon in the vertical position and shake it about ten times then place it in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Remove the siphon from the refrigerator, hold it vertically with the decorating nozzle pointing downwards and about 1cm from the surface and dispense a small amount of cream onto each spoon. Place a duck breast cigar, a celery baton and a sprig of dill on each one and serve immediately.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Octopus (Pulpo in Spanish) is one of my favourite things and something I look forward to on our trips to San Sebastian's tapas bars. It's one of those things I dream about when we're twelve thousand miles away but unfortunately it's always the most expensive tapa on the menu. Needing a good Pulpo fix recently and wanting to make up for lost time I put the following recipe together so we could have the same treat at home for a fraction of the price:

Wash about a kilo of Octopus under cold running water then place it in a saucepan and add the following:

a splash of white wine vinegar, a couple of smashed whole garlic cloves, two bay leaves, a few whole black peppercorns and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Cover with cold water, bring very slowly to the boil then simmer it on a very low heat for about an hour to an hour and a quarter. It's cooked when it feels tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. Strain, discarding everything except the cooked Octopus then wash it again in cold water to remove any excess skin and leave on the side to come to room temperature then slice it into fat chunky rings.

Prepare a dressing of olive oil, garlic, paprika, lemon juice and parsley and pour over the Octopus. Serves 6 - 8 as one of several tapas with drinks.

Click link for printer friendly version of this recipe:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tomatoes with Goat's Cheese & Quail Eggs

This dish makes an elegant starter but is probably better suited as a light lunch. Served alone or with a small salad and garnished with chive flowers the filled tomatoes look simply stunning. Chive flowers are not only beautiful but edible, too!

Serves: 4

Preheat oven to 180C

4 medium to large vine ripened tomatoes
4 rounds of goat's cheese cut to fit the bottom of each tomato
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
3-4 tablespoons water
100g unsalted butter cubed and chilled
small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs or tarragone sprig
4 quail eggs
4 chive flowers


Cut a lid from the stalk end of each tomato and trim the other side too if necessary so the tomatoes stay upright in the oven. Remove flesh and pulp carefully so as not to break the skin. Season with salt and pepper and leave to drain upside down while you make the sauce.

Heat the water and lemon juice gently on a low heat then whisk in the cubed butter, one piece at a time. Add the herbs and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Place a round of goat's cheese in each tomato, divide the sauce (with the herbs) between each tomato, break a quail egg on top of each one and place in a greased ovenproof dish. Bake near the top of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the quail egg is just set. Serve immediately with a little mixed salad, garnish with a chive flower stalk.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Goats Cheese with Beetroot Log

A year or so ago we overnighted in the beautiful spa town of Aix Les Bains in France up near the Swiss boarder. Arriving there just in time to enjoy an early evening stroll and a glass of wine we happened upon a tiny bistro that looked just about perfect and filled all our criteria for dinner . It was a Monday with few restaurants open and the town was busy so we felt rather lucky we not only had found somewhere so quickly but had managed to book a table as well.

We both ordered a goat's cheese and beetroot pot for a stater which basically was one of those small chocolate pots lined with finely sliced, cooked beetroot with a goat's cheese connoction inside, more finely sliced beetroot on top enclosing the cheese entirely and lastly the lid of the pot popped back on. We were both quite taken by the agreeable combination of flavours so we asked our waiter if there was any possibility of acquiring the recipe.

Some time later during our main course we were surprised to see the chef making his way to our table with a tray upon which was the following: one cooked, skinned beetroot, a log of goat's cheese, a bunch of thyme, a clove of garlic, a jug of olive oil, salt and pepper, an empty pot with a lid, a sharp knife and a small chopping board. In French he explained he was delighted we had taken such a keen interest in his dish and he wanted to be sure we knew and understood exactly the ingredients required and the method to make his dish. He explained how imperative it was to finely slice the beetroot with the sharpest of knives, how important it was to skin the cheese to which the garlic, crushed with salt, must be added along with just the right amount of thyme and seasoning and the oil added drop by drop to achieve the right consistency to maintain necessary firmness of the mixture otherwise one single drop of red beetroot juice might bleed through the pure white goat's cheese and all would be lost.

We agreed unconditionally that if we were ever to make his dish we would follow his instructions to the enth degree and we thanked him profusely for his time and trouble and reassured him we would never ever forget his recipe, his method or his restaurant.

As you an see in the above photo I rather let him down when I came up with this method of my own: I laid out a piece of foil on the bench, I tore off a piece of baking paper the same size and placed it on top of the foil. I sliced the beetroot, ever so finely and laid it in the middle of the paper and using my eye to judge how much beetroot to enclose the cheese mixture I reckoned on three rows all slightly overlapping each other. I did as he had so elaborately explained to the mixture then I laid it upon the beetroot in one long line at the bottom then I used the paper and foil as a rolling aid and rolled it up, torchon style and twisted the ends very tight. I placed the torchon in the fridge overnight then unwrapped it and sliced it with a hot knife, two slices per head; scattered a few thyme flowers over the top and served it with unbuttered toast. Delicious! However, it did bleed a bit the day I took this photo but I put that down to bad luck as it wasn't my first attempt and on previous occasions there wasn't a hint of it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

seasoning the pan........

The seasoning of a cast iron frying pan is necessary to create a surface so food cooked in it does not stick. It is also essential to get rid of any moisture if and when the pan is ever cleaned in water. The following process can be repeated time after time, if necessary.


Wash the pan in hot soapy water scouring away impurities or rust.

Dry the pan with a clean cloth.

Cover the entire surface of the pan with plenty of salt. Heat the pan gently on a very low heat or on the pilot light or put it in a moderately hot oven if the handle is heatproof.

Leave it until the salt goes grey, about 1.5 hours.

Tip out the salt, discard it, and wipe the pan out with paper.

Pour in enough oil to cover the surface, reheat the pan gently for about thirty minutes, tip out the oil, and wipe the pan out well.

Smear a tiny amount of fresh oil over the pan with a clean piece of paper.

Store the pan for further use.

Avoid getting your seasoned pan wet but if you find that unavoidable repeat the above procedure.

To use your seasoned cast iron frying pan or any teflon coated frying pan: Heat the pan first, when it is hot add the oil, when the oil is hot cook the food.

Herb and Wine Infusions....

Thanks to the Provence Cookery School the wonderful world of herb and wine infusions changed my cooking and thinking about stocks. These delicious concoctions are excellent as stocks, marinades, sauce bases and poaching liquids.

Think outside the five basic stocks: beef, veal, chicken, fish, vegetable and consider the following combinations. Do not limit infusions to only herbs and wine – add bay leaves, cloves, other spices, orange and apple peel or anything that will compliment the dish you are ultimately preparing the infusion for.

Lamb use rosemary and rosé
Beef use parsley, bay leaves and red wine
Rabbit use thyme and sweet white wine
Pork use sage, a little onion and dry white wine
Veal use sage and white wine
Chicken use tarragon and white wine
or any other herb and wine combinations that come to mind

For rosemary and red wine infusion in the above photograph with 1.5 litre yield, I used:

2 very long storks rosemary broken into 6 pieces
4 bay leaves
A handful of juniper berries lightly crushed
4 pieces of orange peel, no pith
1.5 litres boiling water
750ml red wine

Infuse the rosemary, bay leaves, juniper berries and orange peel or your choice of herbs and spices with the boiling water, place the pan on a very low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the wine, turn up the heat and cook until the liquid has reduced by one-third. Strain infusion through a fine sieve.


As a marinade for meat or chicken: It is not necessary to strain the infusion in this case just allow it to become cold and use it to marinate meat – preferably overnight or for at least six hours. Drain meat and discard the marinade.

As a poaching liquid: – strain infusion first. Bring the infusion to a simmer and gently poach meat or fish until cooked through – do not allow the liquid to boil – true poaching means the water barely moves! This is an ideal way to cook previously browned or raw meat or fish requiring gently handling, e.g. veal or fresh whole trout.

As a sauce base: deglaze the pan after browning meat or fish to make a sauce or gravy.

As a sauce: add a few tablespoons of infusion to an existing sauce for extra flavour.

As a stock: use the infusion as the cooking liquid for stews or casseroles

Go Italian: use infusion to cook pasta and as the stock element when making risotto

Haddock Logs

Adapted from a Cordon Bleu recipe this is a great way to use the whole leek, even the dark green fronds - instructions for preparing these, see Christmassy Affair. Any smoked fish is suitable; smoked trout, cod or haddock depending on what is available in your area.

Serves: 4 as a starter

Ingredients for poaching fish:

300g smoked fish
250ml milk
2 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs parsley

Ingredients to combine with poached fish:

100g softened butter
25ml cream
Juice ½ lemon
Chervil and parsley, finely chopped
Ingredients to garnish:

1 leek, white part only, finely julienned, to garnish
Lemon fillets to garnish
Extra chervil sprigs to garnish


Combine all the poaching ingredients and poach fish gently until cooked, about twenty minutes. I cook them in the microwave on high for ten minutes. Cool fish, drain, discard liquid and flake fish. Combine the cooled, cooked fish with the butter, cream, lemon juice and herbs.

Following instructions for leek frond preparation in the above link - they must be blanched for 60 seconds, refreshed in ice water.

Blanch julienned leek in boiling water for 3 seconds, drain and refresh in ice water and reserve for garnish.

To Serve:

Remove log from the fridge, unwrap and slice using a hot knife wiped clean and reheated between slices. Brush each slice with a little oil and water so they look shiny; add some blanched julienne of white leek, a few sprigs of chervil and a fillet of lemon. A few drops of coloured oil, chilli or red pepper would add a bit of colour.

Monday, April 13, 2009

the green Kumato

These are the kumatoes mentioned in my recipe below for green gazpacho where all things green are esssential. If you can't find these try Green Zebra or any other heirloom variety as long as the tomato is ripe and the colour is green. Kumatoes are seasonal and hard to find but worth the effort. I love to eat them sliced raw with a sprinkling of sea salt otherwise use them like any other tomato.

Gazpacho - three times a winner!

Anything miniature is attractive in the food world and no less so when it comes to soup. If you have the time and energy and you’re planning a special dinner party or luncheon, it is fun to serve three different gazpachos together but small portions are essential as each soup is quite filling. I use small coffee cups, three of each soup is an adequate starter size overall.

If you are in a hurry chill the vegetables before blending otherwise chill the finished soup well before serving. I would recommend chilling any gazpacho, whether green, red or white one to two days beforehand. Making gazpacho well in advance allows the flavour to develop and really makes a big difference to the complexity of the soup.

I do not sieve red or green gazpacho after blending – I think the rather course texture suits its Spanish character, giving a rustic appearance – too smooth is not natural for this soup. The white soup comes out perfectly smooth enough due to its content so does not require sieving.

Tabasco flavoured ice cubes not only look aesthetically pleasing in green gazpacho they also contribute to the chill factor and provide a last minute heat shock as they melt, just when it’s needed.

Quickly seared or even finely sliced raw scallops make an interesting garnish to green gazpacho too - surprising the taster with their unexpected, delicate, fishy flavour and adding a dimension of colour.

Ajo Blanco comes from Malaga and looks lovely garnished with toasted almonds and sliced seedless white grapes or a few raisins and some tiny apple pieces tossed in lemon juice.

Tip: If the finished red or green gazpacho is too thin extend either gradually with a little water. Do not do this to white gazpacho – a few hours in the fridge changes the consistency of this white soup dramatically so no extra water is required.

The serving sizes are for six people, meaning: normal size soup bowls. If you use small coffee cups your yield will be far greater.

click here for WHITE GAZPACHO recipe


Serves: 6


3-4 slices white bread, crusts removed
60ml white vinegar
½ bunch celery, chopped
1 telegraph cucumber, deseeded and chopped
2 green kumatoes, coarsely chopped (or other green, ripe tomato)
2 green capsicum, coarsely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
Mint leaves, coriander, cress and lime slices - to garnish


Soak bread in vinegar, in a non-reactive bowl, for 5 minutes. Coarsely chop all the vegetables then place them with the squeezed out bread and everything else in a food processor and whiz until puréed. Season to taste and refrigerate until required.

Tabasco Ice Cubes:

100ml tomato juice
Few drops of Tabasco

Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Serve garnished with finely chopped mint leaves and a little chopped coriander, cress and tiny lime slices. Pop in a Tabasco ice cube or two at the last minute. A few drops of olive oil also look attractive.


Serves: 6


3 slices white bread, crusts removed
500g ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
2 red peppers (capsicum), chopped
1 cucumber, skinned, deseeded and chopped
½ onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
125ml olive oil
2 tablespoons white or sherry vinegar


Cubes of white bread for croutons
Cubes of tomato
Cubes of red pepper
Diced onion
Diced ham (optional)
Diced hard-boiled egg (optional)
Chopped parsley


Roughly break up the bread and pour a little water over it, leave to soak for ten minutes or so. Put the rest of the ingredients into a blender, add the squeezed bread and purée until smooth. Chill at least twenty-four hours or even forty-eight if you have the time. Taste the soup before serving and only add salt if it is required. You may find it does not need it.

Fry the cubes of bread in a little oil, drain on kitchen paper, and serve the soup in bowls with all the garnish ingredients piled on top.

Prawns with Lemongrass & Palm Sugar

This is one of those stand-by recipes to have up your sleeve. I always keep a bag of green prawns in the freezer for those ‘just in case’ days and then find myself making this again, quite often. The lemongrass and Thai basil give a fresh clean taste but the palm sugar is the magic ingredient. I ring the changes with cous cous, pasta or noodles to bulk it up, depending what’s in the pantry, they all go well with the other ingredients.

Serves: 4


500g shelled, butterflied green prawns
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of ginger, finely chopped
1-tablespoon lemon grass, white part only, finely chopped
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded, finely sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1-tablespoon water
3 handfuls Thai Basil, torn
Fettuccine or noodles or cous cous


Pre-cook enough fettucine/noodles/cous cous for four people depending on the brand instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat your wok to high beforehand then add the oil and allow it to come to temperature then add the onion, garlic, chilli, lime leaves, ginger and lemongrass. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes. Add the prawns and turn until they change colour and become opaque – one or two minutes. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar and water. Cook for another minute or so then turn off the heat. Add the cooked noodles and gently turn through Add torn basil just before serving.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Squid Rolls

Everyone loves squid whether it’s stuffed, pan-fried, baked, grilled, stir-fried with salt and pepper or coated in batter and deep-fried as calamari. The Japanese use it raw in sushi, the Spanish use the ink as a flavouring, the Italians use the ink to colour pasta and it’s hugely popular in Asian cooking. Squid is rich in protein and phosphorus so not only tastes good is good. Choose small squid for sweetness with clear eyes and an ocean-like fragrance. Cook it quickly otherwise the texture becomes rubbery when overcooked. It’s one of those things people seem to be nervous about, like a lot of fish cookery - if this applies to you just remember you’re cooking it, it’s not cooking you!

Serves: 4


8 medium sized squid
175ml extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 lemongrass stork, white part only, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves - chiffonaded
1 handful coriander, chopped
1 handful continental parsley, chopped
1 lime, zest and juice
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 dried chilli, chopped


Clean the squid: discarding gut, tentacles and internal plastic-like membrane. Skin them and split each one down the side with a sharp knife then open them out so they lie flat. Make three or four incisions diagonally across the flesh. Place the squid in a dish large enough to hold them all, they can overlap each other. Pour over the rest of the ingredients and leave for several hours.

Remove and drain well from the marinade and cook quickly on a piping hot grill or ridged pan for 3-4 minutes each side. Serve immediately.

To chiffonade click here

Friday, April 10, 2009

how to julienne

It is easy to julienne (to make matchstick strips) once you know how to master the technique of 'squaring up'. Apply this way of cutting to any vegetable (e.g. leeks, carrots, tomatoes, celery etc) and you can't go wrong.
In the case of julienne of carrot: peel the carrot and divide it into 3 pieces. Take one of those pieces and square off the sides, cut the now square piece of carrot into 1/8 inch (0.3cm) thick slices.
Stack these slices on top of each other and cut into 1/8 inch (0.3cm) strips. Repeat with the rest of the carrot. For leeks, cut the whole leek into about 3 pieces then cut each piece in half and take apart the folds, stack them and slice as above. Go one step further to achieve the perfect dice. For tomatoes: skin, deseed, cut tomato into four, square up pieces all the same size and slice. Once you are at the stage to julienne as in the above carrot pictures choose how thick you would like them - the thing about this technique is having control. It will come naturally to you eventually and all your slicing will be the same length and thickness and will look very professional - as will any diced vegetable if you take that extra step. Use up all the left over pieces, after squaring up, in a salad or stock or casserole - don't throw them away!

Qunice time............

One of the best things about Autumn is the great misunderstood quince and the best thing about quinces is the heavenly aroma in the kitchen during the cooking process. I'm not all that crazy about preparing them - maybe I'm just not strong enough to cut and peel. Some say don't peel but I think they look better on the dessert plate if they are. I make them one way only:

Slice, core and peel three or four large quinces. Grease a shallow oven proof dish - lay the pieces side by side and drizzle over a couple of tablespoons honey and about 150 ml water and a few knobs of butter. Cook at about 150C for two to three hours. Test for doneness with a skewer and turn regularly. Their colour will change to a soft rosy pink and they will smell divine.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


With Easter upon us Paska comes to mind. Many dishes are synonymous with Easter but this is the one I try very hard not to forget and Al is a huge fan so it is a must do for me. Paska has its origins in Russia and is traditionally made in a flowerpot to resemble the Turkish hat or captured Turk’s head, as it is known. This recipe came to me a very long time ago from my great old friend, Annie, when I lived in London. We cooked together often, swapped many recipes and talked food until we were blue in the face. Every year I make Paska and think of her, our cooking and our laughing. Other recipes call for eggs but I think this is nicer and gets top points for ease.

Serves: 6-8


500g fresh cream cheese or ricotta from the deli counter
125g butter
155g caster sugar
300ml sour cream
185g slivered almonds
125g mixed peel, chopped
375g raisins


Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Rub cheese through a nylon sieve and blend with the butter and sugar. Add sour cream and almonds. Beat well to combine. Add mixed peel, nuts and raisins – stir them through gently but thoroughly.

Line a mould or a flowerpot with a clean chux or j-cloth or muslin big enough to overlap the sides. Fill the pot with the mixture then bring the excess cloth over to cover the top. Weigh down with a saucer and a heavy tin or two and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours - up to a week is fine. Invert pudding onto a serving plate and remove cloth. This pudding is very rich so serve small portions and keep the rest for later.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

how to chiffonade

Break apart the two kaffir lime leaves - they grow with two leaves (one large and one small) attached to each other, see above. Remove and discard the central stem from each leaf – leaving eight halves - pile the separated leaves on top of each other, roll them up into a tight ball and shred them very finely with a sharp knife.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Double Header!

Wanting to do something different with sardines I came up with this way of preparing and presenting them. They certainly make a statement!

Serves: 4

8 sardines, washed and scaled
1-tablespoon white vinegar
1-teaspoon sugar
150ml olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 garlic clove, crushed
1-teaspoon sea salt (I use Maldon Smoked Sea Salt)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Ground black pepper
Roasted red pepper strips (I bought mine in a jar at the supermarket)


Gut each fish including inside the head area and remove the backbone, leave the head and tail tip intact. Trim sides to so they look nice and neat, wash them very carefully then pat dry. Place in a large dish. Mix all the other ingredients together, except the red peppers, and pour over the fish and leave to marinate for at least six but preferably twenty-four hours. Forty-eight hours would be even better.

Remove the sardines from the marinade, drain and wipe them down gently. Place some roasted red pepper strips inside each one and shape them into circles with the head meeting the tail then turn them upright. Serve chilled, two to a plate with a little of the marinade mixture spooned over the top and a sprinkling of sea salt.

click link for printer friendly version of this recipe:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicken Roll with Boursin & Prosciutto

This is a dish, once you get the hang of making, you will want to repeat again and again not just for a dinner party but also for lunch or even a picnic. Anything that can be prepared the day before or even a few hours ahead suits me - I like to be as stress free as possible when it comes to entertaining. This is my adaptation of a Belinda Jeffery recipe and is open to variation. Just use your imagination and take your lead from colours. Red peppers would look stunning and the cheese could be Blue or White Costello or something similar as long as it is creamy and spreads easily.


4 medium size chicken breasts
5 long slices per breast (approx 500g) prosciutto
2 x 150g baby spinach leaves, washed, dried and destorked
150g Boursin cheese or another creamy variety


1. Tear off eight sheets of baking paper, about two thirds bigger than the chicken breasts and place one chicken breast between two sheets of paper.
2. Using a mallet, kitchen hammer or in our case a bottle of wine, flatten out each breast to about 4mm with the aim of an overall even thickness.
3. Remove the top piece of paper and discard. Smooth the cheese onto each breast - dividing it equally between the four.
4. Place a single layer of spinach leaves on top of the cheese.
5. With the aid of the paper roll up the chicken lengthwise. Put to one side.
6. Tear off four more pieces of baking paper and four pieces of foil all the same size as each other and all the same size as in number 1. above. Put the paper on top of the foil.
7. Place 5 slices of procuitto, butting each one up to the other, on each piece of paper. Short end in front of you.
8. Spread another layer of spinach on top of the prosciutto.
9. Put the rolled chicken at the bottom of the proscuitto, nearest to you and again, using the paper and foil as an aid, roll up and twist the ends like making a bon bon (cracker). Place the rolls in the fridge for at least sixty minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Place chicken rolls in a shallow dish and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest 15-20 minutes. Carefully unroll each one and slice into rounds. Three breasts serve four people quite easily but I always make four so we have cold leftovers!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Summer Pudding

Summer Pudding is so English and so delicious!

It might be autumn here officially but I am sneaking in this recipe while we still have a little summer weather left. I like to make individual summer puddings but they are very filling - one large pudding makes more sense and is more economical for leftovers but not so impressive in the looks department. I have not given a quantity for bread – it will depend on your bowl size but around twenty slices will probably be a good guide for a medium size pudding. I sometimes use fresh bread and sometimes stale – they both work well.

Serves: 4


600g frozen mixed berries
110g caster sugar
100ml water
Enough white sliced bread to line bowl, crusts removed
Cream to serve


Place the frozen fruit in a medium size pan with sugar and water, slowly bring to the boil over low heat and simmer for 4 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes before you assemble the pudding.

Grease a large bowl or four individual ramekins with a little butter. Cut enough bread to line bottom of bowl/s, the sides, a layer for the middle and a layer for the top. Start by lining the bottom of the bowl and the sides. Using a slotted spoon, half fill the bowl with berries, add extra bread to fill the middle, continue with more berries and finally, add more bread to cover the top of the pudding. Pour over the rest of the juice but reserve about two tablespoons for ‘patching’, later. Weigh down the pudding with a plate and a couple of cans and chill overnight or for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator. Turn the pudding out of the bowl and ‘patch’ up any white spots with the reserved juice. Serve with cream and blue rosemary flowers scattered over the top.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pomegranate Molasses & Yoghurt Sauce

The jewels of the fruit world are back in season here in Oz gracing our tables with their beauty. Pomegranates are rich in potassium and contain a fair amount of vitamin C. The juice is now available in supermarkets all year round unlike, luckily, the fresh fruit otherwise we might become blasé. I really like using Pomegranate Molasses – available, all year, from Middle Eastern shops – it is a thick syrupy juice reduction that has a rich, tart flavour with a slightly sweet edge. It makes a good marinade for grilled meats but I love to use it with fresh yoghurt as a sauce to accompany lamb – like seared back strap or fillet.

To serve four people: pour 175ml thick, rich, creamy natural yoghurt into a small serving bowl and pour in 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses. Gently swirl the molasses through the yoghurt to create a marble effect, scatter a few fresh pomegranate seeds over the top (if available) and serve on the side with lamb or grilled meat.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup

This is a good palate cleanser between courses or served as a dessert – both are ideal as part of an Asian meal. The combination of icy watermelon, fresh ginger and just a tiny hint of rosemary from the everlasting flowers are heavenly. So far it’s my favourite thing in 2009 all thanks to Neil Perry from whose original recipe I have adapted this.

Serves: 6


750g seedless watermelon, coarsely chopped for the granita
200g watermelon, finely diced for the finished dessert
60gm white sugar for the granita
100gm white sugar for the syrup
20gm fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
60ml water
Blue rosemary flowers for garnish


Roughly chop the melon, place in a bowl and sprinkle over 60gm sugar. Leave to macerate for about an hour then blend until smooth and pass through a very fine sieve. Pour into a 20cm x 30cm shallow metal tray and place in the freezer, stirring and scraping during the course of the next few hours until crystals form and the granita is frozen.

Ginger Syrup: Combine 100gm sugar, ginger and water in a saucepan, stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and stand until cool. Strain, discard the ginger pieces and refrigerate the syrup until it is completely chilled.

To serve:

Divide the diced melon into martini glasses, top with granita, drizzle with syrup and scatter blue rosemary flowers over the top.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Bastilla, thanks to Mint, Tea & Rosewater, is a new discovery for me and I now have the recipe thanks to Pete Bakes to which I have made a couple of changes. I used 650gm chicken instead of 2lbs and a small thumb of fresh turmeric, chopped, instead of powdered. I baked the Bastilla at 180˚C in a fan-forced oven and watched it like a hawk. Over all, the flavour was perfect but the chicken and egg mixture was a bit too dry so I would recommend under-cooking the scrambled eggs. I cannot see their ‘wetness’ doing any harm to the pastry. In every other respect this is a delicious recipe and one I shall repeat again, and again. Individual pastries as an alternative look lovely and make a perfect canapé but might prove challenging to prepare.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Persimmon Sorbet

harvest fresh persimmons (now in season in Oz), wash them carefully, pat dry and freeze to rock hard. Remove fruit from the freezer about fifteen minutes before serving, slice in half and enjoy naturer's sorbet!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

hot hearts!

add some heat to green gazpacho with an ice heart or two! Just add a few drops of tabasco to the water before freezing!

Tuna Escabeche!

Using tuna instead of swordfish for escabeche (see recipe) is just as successful and even more colourful!