Total Pageviews

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Weekly Post

Three recipes from around the world this week!

Number one is from Charlie Smith in Bovey Tracey, Devon, England. I think this might rival my Limoncello, Charlie! This is a drink for all seasons but one especially for Christmas. I will republish it again in early December just to re-remind everyone - meanwhile let's enjoy it for the rest of the year!

Charlie's Vodka

Makes 70cl

1x70cl bottle Vodka
250g dark muscovado sugar
100g mixed peel
250g sultanas
250g raisins
Rind and juice of an orange
Rind and juice of a lemon
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cloves
2 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon ground ginger
1 level teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 level teaspoon allspice

You will need a 2-litre Kilner jar or something similar to store the vodka in.

Simply put all the above ingredients into the jar and, everyday for the next two weeks, give the jar a good shake. Once the fortnight is up, shake the jar and strain the contents into a bowl through a fine sieve. Pour the liquid into a wine bottle or other bottle with a good seal. Shake the bottle before serving in chilled shot glasses. It is probably good to store in the fridge so it is nice and cold.

Remove the cloves and peel from the left over fruit and mix this fruit (slightly warmed) into softened ice cream for a very good alcoholic pudding.

Thanks to Alex Sumner in Aydie, South West France for sending in this must make cake recipe:

Orange and Lemon Syrup Cake

210g butter
210g sugar
100g almonds
3 large eggs
125g ground almonds
150g ground polenta
1 level tsp baking powder
finely grated zest and juice of a large orange

For the syrup:

A large lemon
A large orange
100g sugar
A slurp of Limoncello (optional)

Grease a 20cm cake tin (preferably spring form) and set the oven at 180c/gas mark 5
Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
Break eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork
Pour a little of the egg mixture into the creamed butter and sugar beating thoroughly, then slowly add the rest bit by bit until all the egg is used up
Finely chop the skinned almonds or simply buy almond flakes
Add the chopped and ground almonds to the egg mixture
Stir in the polenta and baking powder which has been pre-mixed
Add the grated orange rind and juice.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160c/gas mark 3 and continue cooking for a further 30 minutes. Cover with tin foil if the cake browns too quickly.

To make the syrup:

Finely grate the orange and lemon rinds and squeeze out the juice
Add to the sugar
Pour into a measuring jug and bring up to 250ml with water
Boil at high heat until reduced to 175ml.

Spike the cake with holes and pour over the syrup while it is still in its tin

I can't wait to make this jelly from Lesley in Rose Bay, Sydney:

Summer Jelly Salad

This recipe was one my late cousin used to make; we tried for ages to replicate it and finally worked it out. It is so simple, but delicious to accompany cold white meats in summer - chicken, turkey, pork etc.

1 pkt.pineapple jelly crystals
1 med. carrot, grated
1 handful mint, washed and finely shredded
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

Make up jelly: using only 300ml.boiling water; stir in the carrot, mint and chilli and refrigerate overnight to set.

I make this in a shallow dish and serve it set in a slightly larger dish filled with crushed ice which stops it melting at a sunny, outdoor lunch; the sweetness of the pineapple is offset by the crunch of the carrot, the freshness of the mint and the heat of the chilli.

Asian Mussels

I wish we could buy the tiny black mussels so readily available in France – here in Oz we have to be content with a slightly larger variety. We are let off the cleaning for those in a rush - mussels can be purchased these days pre-prepared and vacuum packed if you cannot be bothered with all that scrubbing!

The following recipe from my friend Barbara Lowery appeals to my Asian sensibility and is well suited to our larger mussels – it is an appropriate dish to serve down under and elsewhere too! A beautifully balanced dish; sweet, sour, salty with only a hint of heat while the lingering taste of fresh mint and coriander leave you wanting more!

Serves: 2 as a large starter
Serve: 4 - double the mussels and 50% more of the other ingredients

1 kg black mussels, cleaned, de-bearded
Splash of wine to steam open the mussels
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons fresh limejuice
1-tablespoon sweet chilli sauce (available from most supermarkets)
4-5 drops sesame seed oil
¼ sweet fresh chilli, finely sliced for garnish
1 lime, thinly sliced for garnish
¼-bunch coriander, leaves only, finely chopped for garnish
¼-bunch mint, leaves only, finely chopped for garnish


Place mussels in a large saucepan; add a splash of wine for flavour or the liquor from the vacuum pack. Heat the pan and shake it continuously over the heat until all the mussels steam open - this will take about five minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and discard any mussels that have remained closed.

In a separate bowl mix; fish sauce, raw sugar, limejuice, sweet chilli sauce and sesame seed oil. Place mussels in serving bowls and spoon over the prepared sauce. Garnish with lime slices, fresh chilli and herbs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Limoncello is a good place to start if you are new to the rewarding past-time of liqueur making. Choose thick, waxy lemons for their high oil content and vodka high in alcohol. The higher the percentage of alcohol the more the flavour leaches from the lemon peel.


12 lemons
3 x 750ml bottles of vodka; 2 full 1 EMPTY
2 cups (500ml) water
1.5 cups granulated sugar


Zest all the lemons with the little stainless steel/ black handled zester as pictured above. It’s a magic gadget! No white pith please, just the peel.

Put all the peel into the empty vodka bottle and pour the contents of one of the full bottles on top. Seal bottle and store in the pantry for 2 weeks or until the liquid is yellow and the peel is white.

Bring the water and sugar to a slow boil and simmer until the granules have dissolved. Cool liquid.

Take a large jug with a liquid capacity of at least 2.5 litres, strain the vodka into this jug and discard the peel. Add the syrup to the jug and the last bottle of vodka. Mix well. Fill the 3 empty vodka bottles with the liquid - yield should be 2.5 bottles. Seal and leave in the pantry for 1 more week. Turn bottles now and then to amalgamate the flavours.

Store limoncello in the freezer and use as required. It is lovely served neat with an ice cube in a shot glass. For a long drink put a measure into a tumbler and top with tonic water, ice and a slice of lemon. Limoncello is great poured over ice cream or fruit and excellent for deglazing the pan after cooking chicken breasts to which a little cream could be added.

Create a little drama: substitute orange peel for lemon, complete as above, serve as a long drink garnished with blood orange slices, ice cubes and a few orange blossoms.

Note: Do not fill bottles to the top, leave a little space to avoid them cracking in the freezer.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Weekly Post

In recognition of the famous mustard, Maille, Alan from Broke has sent in the following recipe:

Pork Chops with Grain Mustard

This is a really simple dish to prepare. The grain mustard and yoghurt give a tangy lift to pork chops which can be a bit dry and boring on their own.

Pan fry 2 thick, continental pork chops in olive oil and a little butter until almost cooked but still a bit pink in the middle. Set aside to rest for five minutes under foil or in a warming oven while you make the sauce.

In the same pan the chops were cooked in; add three tablespoons of Maille’s grain mustard, 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt and 3 tablespoons of double cream and a good grind of black pepper. Gently warm sauce but do not allow it to boil. Pour over chops and ENJOY!

Note: If Maille is not available use Coleman’s - named after that great fellow called Ross!

Purple Pesto

perfect for pasta!

Nothing new about making pesto with green basil but it can be a little overpowering. Try using purple basil instead, sometimes known as black or opal basil. Purple basil is milder, slightly sweeter and surprisingly the finished sauce has a greenish hue!

Do not worry too much about measuring the ingredients and make pesto in a blender, it is quick and gives a good result.

Place in the blender:

½ bunch purple basil, leaves only; washed and dried
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
½-teaspoon sea salt
30g (1 packet) pine nuts
60g parmesan, grated
Extra-virgin olive oil to emulsify


Pour in a few good ‘slugs’ of oil, pulse the blender, add more oil and continue until you have a reasonably thick but well emulsified sauce.

Pour the sauce over freshly cooked pasta, garnish with basil leaves and grated parmesan.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Weekly Post

Cucumber/Yogurt/Mint Soup - from Anne Goldfinch in Broke

This is yummy (and healthy) to use up a surfeit of cucumber:

This will serve 8

To 1kg good Greek yoghurt whisk in approx 2 cups of the FLESH ONLY of
any type of cucumber pureed with 2-4 cloves of garlic, salt and white
pepper - whisk in enough extra virgin olive oil to make a lovely rich
flavour - you may need to also whisk in a little water to make it
more "soupy". Add about 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint, some lemon juice
to taste, dill can also be added if you like that flavour.

Thanks Anne for publishing the first recipe on The Weekly Post!

Check out Fourth Village Providore in Mosman, Sydney

- everyone is raving about it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Make Escabeche with any firm fish or shellfish. Swordfish, marlin, tuna, trout, sardines, anchovies and mussels are all ideal. This is a sensational dish worthy of top billing in your culinary répertoire. The very thought of Escabeche has me licking my lips and dreaming of the San Sebastian restaurant, at the old port behind the Parte Vieja, in the town that bears its name. Go there, eat Escabeche and eat fish because, and my friend Phil would agree, that’s what you do when you’re beside the sea!

Serves: 4


4 Swordfish steaks
200ml olive oil
4 tablespoons any good-quality vinegar, (I use white Balsamic)
½ lemon, juice only
1 carrot, finely diced
½ Spanish red onion, sliced wafer thin
4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
1-teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 star anise
12 white peppercorns
Pinch saffron
3 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped


Place in a medium sized saucepan: the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaves, saffron, coriander, cumin, star anise and peppercorns. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes on a low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Season the swordfish and sear quickly on both sides in a non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil. Do not over-cook the fish; it must remain raw in the middle. Remove the fish and set aside to cool. Reheat the pan, deglaze with the white wine and add the pickling juices. Stir briefly to amalgamate then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Slice each piece of fish into four and place in a deep dish. Pour over the cooled pickling juice, season with salt to taste, cover the dish with cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. Add parsley just before serving.

Warm boiled potatoes, a green undressed salad and lots of crusty bread compliment this dish beautifully.

click this link for a printer friendly version of this recipe:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Glazed Mango with Mascarpone, Grand Marnier & Raspberry Coulis

I made this dessert over two days, taking the stress out of last minute preparation. It might look complex but it is very simple. Just follow these easy steps and you can't go wrong!

Serves: 4


Almond oil for greasing ring moulds or pastry cutters
1 large mango, thinly sliced
4 savoiardi biscuits, each broken into four pieces
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
4 tablespoons icing sugar
3 red currant sprigs
White part 1 fresh egg
Mint leaves for garnish
Icing sugar to dust, sifted
8 marinated baby figs (optional)


Very lightly grease 4 ring moulds with almond oil
Mix together mascarpone, double cream, 3 tablespoons icing sugar and vanilla
Break each savoiardi biscuit into four, soak in Grand Marnier five minutes
Mix raspberries, 2 tablespoons icing sugar, sieve, and pour into a squeezy bottle

To make up:

Place each ring on a serving plate. Put a little of the mascarpone cream inside the ring, add 4 pieces of biscuit to each ring, top up with more mascarpone and place in fridge overnight.

Following day:

Very carefully, un-mould each ring and spread any leftover mascarpone around the sides. Heat a spatula with hot water and smooth all visible sides. Place 3-4 mago slices on top of each dessert. Heat apricot jam and glaze mango. Return to the fridge.

Just before serving:

Create a barrier by drawing a circle on each plate with writing ink – this prevents the coulis from spreading over the plate. Fill the inside space with raspberry coulis using the squeezy bottle or carefully spoon it into the circle. Dip red currants into egg white and dust with icing sugar and place on top of each dessert. Garnish with mint sprigs and dust with more sifted icing sugar.

I had some marinated baby figs in the fridge so I added these for extra flavour and colour but they are not necessary!


* A note about glazing:

When using apricot jam as a glaze – do not use conventional jam containing fruit pieces. Apricot jelly or apricot jam that is clear; i.e. fruit free works best. Brush the mango pieces immediately while the glaze is hot, if left to cool, even for a few minutes, the glaze will cloud!

* partly inspired by Belinda Jeffery's mango cake published in her book 100 Favourite Recipes