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Summer Sauce

November 24, 2014


Barbeque season is upon us again – although here in Queensland we pretty much are in barbeque mode all the time – as it is Summer all year round!

I do like to steer clear of the ubiquitous tomato sauce that’s a steady constant at most barbeques. I have just about got the kids weaned off it now! It’s not that I have anything against tomato sauce. None whatsoever. But it’s so predictable and there are so many other yummy flavours out there that pair equally well with a small lamb chop! My dear friend, Lizzie, makes the most divine tomato sauce which my husband treats like liquid gold. He hides it at the back of the fridge so no-one can find it! So I don’t even compete with her and make it now!

I like to serve a chunky chutney or barbeque sauce instead of tomato. I also love a good green sauce, full of herbs and fresh flavour. This one is based on a typical salsa verde which is a cold Italian rustic sauce, and includes parsley, capers, anchovies and olive oil.Traditionally, ingredients were coarsely chopped by hand but  it can be done in the TM in a blink. Not quite a pesto, this nut-free sauce uses whatever herbs I have on hand. Serve with any meat or fish or use it as a dressing for your salad. It is also great on poached eggs.

40g parsley
2 slices lemon zest
1 clove garlic
10g basil leaves
1 sprig rosemary needles
1 handful mint
3 teas capers
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teas dried chilli flakes
120g olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 teas salt
Chop the garlic and lemon zest for 10 seconds on SP 9. Add the herbs, juice, chilli & capers and blitz up for a few seconds to chop. With the machine running on SP 4 pour in the oil slowly to mix in. It will not emulsify like mayonnaise and will look “split” but this is how its meant to be. Season well.

Another chocolate chip, Sir?

November 21, 2014

Gluten-free, guilt free??

Gluten-free, guilt free??

I know, I know, another chocolate chip biscuit recipe, but I can’t help that pull of melty choc bits and crusty baked yumminess!

I was inspired by the chocolate coated goji berries that I found in the health-food shop. Chocolate coated anything is fine by me! These biscuits are not my favoured crunchy type, but tender, and they keep very well if they last that long.

90g buckwheat
70g rapadura
95g raw almonds
1/4 teas salt
1/4 teas guar gum or konjac
1 teas psyllium flakes
120g butter
pinch cinnamon
1 small egg
50g brazil nuts (or macadamias)
80g chocolate coated goji berries (or cherries)
Mill the buckwheat for 30 seconds on SP 10. Add the sugar, nuts, salt & guar gum and mix on SP 9 for 10 seconds.
Mix in the egg and butter on SP 6 until just combined and fold through the nuts & berries. Place tablespoonfuls on a tray and bake for 10 – 15 minutes at 180°C. Cool on tray.


Balsamic Eggplant Relish

November 17, 2014

Delicious tossed through pasta too.

Delicious tossed through pasta too

A little while ago, in a gardening frenzy, we planted some edibles: eggplant, tomatoes, kale, passionfruit & chillies. Not particularly because these were our favourites but we saw the seedlings at the local market and we were feeling optimistic!!

However, our optimism was short-lived when the local possums discovered that we had very kindly provided them with a smorgasbord of Mediterranean bent… They devoured our tomatoes, the kale didn’t reach past it’s infancy and apparently passion-fruit tendrils are a delicacy!

We tried all sorts of possum deflection tactics (as kindly advised by well-meaning friends) including cat wee, rubber snakes and galvanised angle tacked onto the fence: the possum super highway. And obviously, our family dog, Claude, was no help at all. None. (Insert blow raspberry here)

I might add though, possums do not like chillies, especially scotch bonnet chillies with a Scoville scale of 350,000! BUT NEITHER DO I!!!??? What were we thinking?!

So we gave up. And those little yellow suckers proliferated. We tried to give them away but no one would have them! We quickly worked out that you don’t use one of these tiny hot bombs in a curry, you use a quarter!

The other day I decided to prune the dead fruit from the unassuming chilli plant and low & behold, made a wonderful discovery! Under the chilli plant was a crop – yes – a crop of magnificent Japanese eggplant. Obviously, the possum had made the scotch bonnet mistake only once and had avoided this area, leaving the eggplant to flourish!

So proud we were, having been excited over a lone tomato or two, and a few sprigs of kale, we were now market gardeners of eggplant!! I have previously professed my love of eggplant here, here and here. And love to make my fabulous eggplant jerky (or chips) too. But with Christmas coming up, now is the time to start thinking about edible gifts so I made a quick and easy eggplant relish, scented with balsamic and rosemary. It bottles well and is yummy served hot or cold with barbeque meats, or even tossed through pasta as a hot dish or salad. Keep it in the fridge, it will last for a few weeks.

Turn regularly to char all over.

Turn regularly to char all over.

750g eggplant

60g olive oil
1 20cm sprig of rosemary
1 rib celery, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tomato, chopped
100g water
1 – 2 teas salt
1/2 teas sumac
1 tab balsamic vinegar
1 tab balsamic glaze (ready-made or make your own here)
2 tabs chopped parsley
3 tabs sliced olives, black or green
Grill 350g of the eggplant over a naked flame until charred all over. Set aside. Chop the remaining 400g eggplant into 2cm cubes and sauté in batches with the olive oil and rosemary until golden on all sides. Add the garlic, celery and spring onions and continue to saute for a further 5 minutes.
When the charred eggplant is cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and chop coarsely and add to the pan with the water & chopped tomato. Do not be tempted to rinse them under water as you will wash away all of the flavour. It’s ok if some charred skin gets in to the mix.
Cook gently for 10 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the eggplant is tender. Add the remaining ingredients and cook a further 5 minutes for the flavours to incorporate. Remove the rosemary, taste for seasoning and bottle.

A G-20 Summit Fool!!

November 15, 2014

Light and airy peach & orange fool

Light and airy peach & orange fool

Given that everything is about the G20 summit here in Brisbane, I was reminded of this old-fashioned dessert!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-establishment or apolitical, I’m actually very excited that many of the top world leaders have descended our humble city for world economic discussion. We have a beautiful city here and wish to show it off. What I  can’t rationalise is that these influential people will not see our city for what it’s worth – the whole town is in security lock-down, the people of Brisbane have been sequestered to the suburbs. And ironically, the local government has provided free street & performing art for the public, but there is no public!! Anyhow…

A dessert conducive to hot weather (it is stinking hot here in Queensland), a fruit “fool” dates back to the early 1600′s around the same time that “trifle” made an appearance Why the word “fool” is used as the name of this fruit dessert is not clear. Speculation says that it is derived from the French verb fouler meaning “to crush” or “to press”, despite being an English dessert. According to the Joy of Cooking, long ago the word “fool” was “a term of endearment, now it just means idiot!!

Traditionally, a fool is made by folding pureed fruit  into sweet custard or cream or both. Almost always, an alcohol flavouring is added.  In the 80′s, there was a popular dessert called Strawberries Romanoff; macerated strawberries folded through whipped cream with plenty of liqueur, which was a type of “fool”. Another English concoction, Eton Mess is similar with the addition of crushed meringue.

Any way you have it, there is something tantalisingly decadent and messy about creamy, cold custard with fruit. It’s simple and yet sophisticated at the same time! This is my version of a foolish dessert! You will need 5 eggs in total and 2 of the egg whites are raw. Skip this last step if you don’t eat raw egg, but it does impart a seductive cloud like texture. I have resisted adding a bit of “crunch factor” (which I am prone to do) as the orange custard is a real winner. Of course, if you are feeling lazy, you could always use my whipped cream recipe instead, or, heaven forbid….real cream!! This recipe gives the old conventional custard a run for your money! Perhaps more so than the G20! Ooops!

60g coconut sugar (I used Natvia)
1 orange, rind and juice
30g brown rice syrup or honey
400g coconut cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 whole eggs
2 eggs separated
1 egg yolk extra
1 tab maize cornflour
80g butter or coconut oil
1 tab gelatine
30g orange liqueur
1/2 teas cream of tartar
Fruit purée – I used some fresh peach purée, but you could use mango, passion-fruit, apricot etc.
Raspberries to garnish
Mill the sugar with the orange rind for 10 seconds on SP 9. Add the brown rice syrup, coconut cream, orange & lemon juice, 2 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks and mix on SP 6 for 5 seconds.
Add the cornflour, gelatine & liqueur and cook on SP 3 at 90°C for 9 minutes. Pour into a dish and refrigerate until quite cold. Return to the TM bowl and mix on SP 6 for 5 seconds until silky smooth.
In a stand mixer*, beat 2 egg whites with the cream of tart tar until firm peaks form. Gently fold through the beaten custard and serve in glassware, layered with the fruit purée. Garnish with raspberries and serve.
*You can do this in the TM with the butterfly but I like to get more volume in my stand mixer.






Christmas Coconut Tart (Nut-free, Dairy-free & Gluten-free)

November 14, 2014


This recipe was inspired by one of my favourite recipes in my 1989 Australian Women’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits. It was a slice made with fruit mince and coconut. It was called dream bar and had a biscuit base. I used to love making it mid-year as a reminder of the festive season coming. I would use up the last of my home-made fruit mince from the previous year, before I made a new batch when soaking fruit for my Christmas puddings.

I have a seasonal rhythm in my festive cooking: My fruit for Christmas puddings gets soaked in September, at the same time, I make my fruit mince. I then make my puddings in October to mature for December, with one kept spare for after Easter, when the weather cools down. By August I think I better eat up any left over mince before the cycle starts again!

It sounds hard work but it really isn’t. And it’s not something I have in my diary to do, it just eventuates that way. Believe me, maturing your puddings and fruit mince will earn you LOTS of respect at the Christmas table!

I have purposely kept this nut-free and dairy-free. The nut and dairy-phobes have enough to contend with at Christmas, so this one is for them!

2 pieces lemon rind
50g rapadura (I used Natvia)
160g coconut milk
3 eggs (4 if small)
90g coconut oil
75g coconut flour
2 teas baking powder
150g homemade fruit mince*
1 tab sunflower seeds or pine-nuts 
Mill the sugar and lemon rind on SP 9 for 10 seconds.
Add the eggs, coconut cream and oil and blend on SP 7 for 10 seconds.
Mix in the coconut flour and baking powder on SP 5 for 10 seconds and let sit for 2 minutes to thicken. Add the fruit mince and  mix on SP 1 REVERSE. Spread into a greased and lined tart tin and sprinkle with the seeds. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in tin before slicing.
*Of course, you can always use bought fruit mince too

Butter, Lard & Shortening, and A Strawberry Tart Revisited

November 8, 2014

Who loves a strawberry tart?

Who loves a strawberry tart?

Now that “fat is back”, I have been using a variety of fats, beside butter, which include lard, tallow and coconut oil. Lard is rendered from the fat of a pig, but can also come from chicken, duck or goose fat. The best lard comes from around the kidneys and the back of the pig and is least “porky” tasting. Tallow comes from beef fat and like lard, the best fat comes from the heart & kidneys, which is known in its raw form as suet. Rendering my own lard is something I haven’t tried yet but you can learn how here. And strawberry tart? – Don’t worry I’m getting there…

Incidentally, shortening is made out of cooking oil such as soy-bean and canola oils, and is high in trans fats and should be given a wide berth. Copha comes under this category and despite being made from coconut oil, copha is hydrogenated  and really bad news.

In my mind there is no substitute for butter! Nothing surpasses the flavour, texture and baking capabilities. Pure home-made butter is truly the best. But if you are strictly dairy-free or vegan it is off the menu. And strawberry tart? – yeah, yeah, I’m getting there…

Pastry is a difficult thing to achieve in the gluten-free-sphere. Just like bread, there are imitations of the real thing that don’t quite hit the mark. But that is something a primal foodie just has to accept and sometimes close enough is good enough rather than miss out.

As our grandmothers knew, pastry made with lard creates a flaky and crisp shell and has less shrinkage than a butter pastry. It also browns more slowly. If you use a combination of butter and lard, you get the best of both worlds, a dough with great flavour and texture, which brings us to my strawberry tart! Yippee!


I love a good tart. See here, here and here. In a previous recipe, I made a strawberry tart with a traditional dairy crème patisserie and butter pastry. I have used lard instead of butter in this pastry, to keep it dairy-free. French pastry purists will be aghast, but roll with me here. A traditional all butter pastry yields the best flavour, in my opinion, but it can be tricky to use. Especially in my warm climate in Queensland – I store my lard & butter in the freezer when making pastry.  In this recipe I have added some ground almonds to add some flavour.

But the highlight of this recipe, in my opinion!, is the custard cream filling. Make this and just eat it by the spoonful out of the Thermomix bowl. Fight your kids for it. Hide it from your husband. It has a little bit of butter which can be replaced with (refined*) coconut oil if you are strictly dairy-free and it is sooooooo good. If you can avoid the temptation, it really is best the next day when it has become quite cold and the flavours have melded.

Now for the strawberry tart:

Pastry Shell
3 tabs coconut sugar
1 lemon, rind only
240g GF flour mix
1/2 teas xantham gum or guar gum
60g blanched almond flour
130g lard, frozen preferably
2 small eggs
Mill the sugar & rind on SP 9 for 10 seconds. Add the flour & lard and mix on SP 6 for 5 seconds. Add egg and mix on SP 6 until just forming crumbs. There is no need to rest this pastry (no gluten) but after rolling out and lining a tart tin, freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes in a moderate oven or until golden. 
(Dairy-free) Custard Crème
400g almond milk
70g coconut sugar (I used Natvia)
1 teas honey (optional)
1/4 teas vanilla bean powder
45g maize cornflour
pinch salt
3 eggs
80g butter or ghee or coconut oil
30g sherry or brandy
150g coconut yoghurt
In the TM, place all of the ingredients except the yoghurt and cook for 8 minutes, 100C SP 4.

When completely cold, return the custard back to the TM and mix in the yoghurt on SP 4 until well combined.

80g cranberry or blackcurrant juice
1 teas gelatine
1 tab water
In the TM add water and sprinkle over gelatine and let sit for 5 minutes to gel. Add  juice and heat on 70⁰C, SP 2, 1 minute to dissolve. Cool before brushing over your fruit tart.
I like to coat the cooled pastry with chocolate for extra decadence!

I like to coat the cooled pastry with chocolate for extra decadence!


To Assemble

100g dairy-free chocolate, melted

fresh fruit, sliced to decorate

I like to coat the shell in melted chocolate  - this adds  an interesting dimension and also prevents the crust from becoming soggy with the custard filling.

Fill the cooled tart shell with an even layer of custard cream and garnish with sliced fruit. Brush over the cooled glaze and refrigerate until set.







*Refined coconut oil has a milder flavour.

Tomato Jelly with Avocado Salsa

November 4, 2014


Retro is the new black. Orange is the old retro!

A dear friend showed me his enormous collection of 1960′s & 1970′s kitchen paraphernalia recently.  Included was some Finnish Arabia ware which was the exactly the same as the set that we had when I was growing up. This expensive set sat stagnant in the bottom of the dining room sideboard, waiting for “good”. Christmas and visitors constituted “good” in those days!

Such was the nostalgia that resonated for me, I sought out eBay and found a perfect 6 place set (circa 1971) and snapped it up tout suite. I came home with a big smile on my face while my husband thought I was bonkers! Darling, dark pottery crockery is soooooo INNN!

While admiring my friends extensive collection of retro kitchenware, we were laughing about the retro food that we were so impressed with back then. Cheese-balls, coated with flaked almonds were my first foray with blue cheese. French onion dip made with instant French onion soup mix! Prawn cocktails and Waldorf salad. And who can forget devilled eggs? Still a favourite of mine!

And then there was JELLY! Everything was jellied, or “fluffed”! Sweet or savoury, everything got the gelatine treatment and Veganism was uncharted territory!

So inspired by my Ruska Arabia ware, I give you this retro recipe, which incidentally, is very vogue! 

Gelatine is really the most purest form of “instant” protein you can get. It is so good for our guts and skin and bones. Back in the 60′s & 70′s when we were jellying everything , we did it for the novelty of texture and were oblivious to the health benefits. Read more about the health benefits here.

Season with some freshly ground black pepper

Season with some freshly ground black pepper

Of course, if you are vegetarian, substitute powdered agar agar for the gelatine but the texture will be quite different. (You will need to “cook” the agar to get it to set).  There is something inherently funny about the wibble wobble, wibble wobble of a jelly on a plate! Try serving it in a big bowl at a barbeque instead of tomato sauce. It is very refreshing.

80g water
3 teas gelatine
4 big juicy tomatoes
1 piece celery (8cm long)
1/2 teas salt
pinch cumin powder
a dash of tabasco sauce
1 carrot
2 tab avocado oil
2 ripe avocados, chopped
1 tab red wine vinegar
1 teas each of finely chopped coriander & basil
1 tab sliced olives
Sprinkle the gelatine on the water as set aside to bloom.
In the TM, blend the tomatoes, salt, celery & carrot on SP 10 with a few blocks of ice. Pour through a nutbag and squeeze out as much juice as you can. You will need about 320g. Alternatively, put through a juicer machine.
Return 100g of the juice to the TM and add the cumin & tabasco & gelatine mix. Heat to 60°C, SP 5 for 2 minutes to dissolve the gelatine. Add the remaining juice and mix well. Taste for seasoning.
Grease some small ramekins with some avocado oil and pour in the juice and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set. To make the salsa, gently toss the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and serve with the jelly.

Do you remember a set like this?

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