Friday, 20 May 2022

Tropical Mango, Lime and Coconut Sago Pudding

Hi everyone, Bring a little sunshine back into your life with this delicious Mango, Lime and Coconut Sago pudding. Sago pudding and Kensington Pride mangoes pureed with lime juice, are a perfectly balanced combination in this  gorgeous dessert. Mango, lime and coconut are all flavours of the tropics and are absolutely perfect for a Summer pudding. I made this dish in our Southern Hemisphere Autumn, as I needed to make some space in my freezer. I used frozen Kensington Pride Bowen mangoes, sourced locally from nearby Bowen, as we slice the fruit and freeze bags of them each year in December. We can then eat frozen mango all year round. So whilst fresh mango can be difficult to find now, frozen mango which is always available from supermarkets, can be used for this dish.

 Sago has the magical ability of being able to set a cold pudding without any gelatine. Sago is now commonly confused as Tapioca Pearls in supermarkets, tapioca pearls are often used to make bubble tea drinks. However Sago is traditionally smaller than Tapioca. A good Health food store will stock sago. I suppose you could call Sago puddings a vintage style dessert, as sago was used as the basis for many desserts in the 1950's and 1960's, it's making a big comeback and is a very sustainable carbohydrate to cook with, and stretches the dessert budget. Children love milky sago puddings. We often also ate Lemon Sago at home when I was growing up, which was always delicious in Summer. This is the link to my Mum's recipe for Lemon Sago, which I wrote ages ago.

Mangoes have a relatively short harvesting window from about November to January where we live, however the Northern Territory mangoes where it's much hotter, are hitting the markets in October during some years and many are exported. We are very lucky to have good mango growing conditions here in North Queensland and by Christmas time we are buying buckets of  delicious Bowen mangoes for $7.00 a bucket, they don't get any cheaper than that. However every year is different for the mango producer and the year before last, there were hardly any mangoes at all because of the dry conditions. This year, very strangely, small common mangoes can be found on trees already, so I could be making my annual batch of Mango Chutney early.

I found these cute little Serving dishes at an Op (thrift) shop here where I live for only $5.00 for 6 of them. Great deal, don't you think?


Serves 4-6

80 g sago

2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk

1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthways and seeds scraped

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes

2 medium or 1 very large ripe mango

1 tablespoon very thinly sliced mint

3 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes


Into a medium sized saucepan, tip the sago, the coconut milk, vanilla bean seeds and scraped vanilla bean. Pour in 3/4 cup (180 ml) water and let this mixture stand for 30 minutes, this very important to soften the sago.

Bring the saucepan to a boil on a medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the milk doesn't stick to the pan. Reduce the pan to low heat, and cook stirring often for 10 - 15 minutes. By this time the sago will be tender and almost translucent. Remove from the heat, remove the vanilla bean, and stir in most of the lime zest. Spoon the mixture into your serving dishes, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Mango Puree Topping

Puree one third of the mango and any remaining flesh from around the mango seed. Place this puree in a bowl and add the finely sliced mint and stir together. 

When ready to serve, spoon the mango puree over the sago puddings, and top with the mango slices. 
Decorate with a few toasted coconut flakes, and some of the  remaining finely grated lime zest.

Cook's notes:
  • I loved the contrast of flavours of the coconut sago pudding and vanilla with the tangy lime and mango flavours, however taste the sago halfway through cooking and if you would like more vanilla flavours add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla bean paste. If you have trouble finding vanilla beans in your part of the world, then add 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla bean paste instead of the vanilla bean.
  • I used frozen mango from local Bowen (Kensington Pride) mangos which we had frozen ourselves , which worked beautifully, however the colour of the mango in the photos is slightly darker, because it has been frozen. The fruit of the fresh Kensington Pride mangoes are golden in colour.
  • Use any good eating mangoes that are available to you for this dish
Here are a couple of links to other Sago and Tapioca Pearl Puddings:

Thanks to the amazing Australian cook Maggie Beer who published this delightful recipe in her Maggie's Recipe for Life cookbook, a collection of 200 delicious recipes to help reduce your chances of Alzheimer's and other lifestyle diseases. I've tried to do it justice Maggie x

Warm wishes, 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Vegetarian and Rustic Mini Party Pizzas

These very tasty vegetarian mini party pizzas are perfect for easy entertaining as finger food, or to eat on a lazy weekend for brunch with a salad, or as an appetizer. They can also be very economical and use up bits and pieces leftover in the refrigerator as the ingredients can be quite versatile, as you would find on most large pizzas. They don't need to be vegetarian either, add some finely chopped bacon, salami or ham as a topping, and add mushrooms or anchovies if you wish as well. The presentation can be quite rustic, as the small puff pastry shapes are never going to be uniform, even though they start out that way. I made up this batch when I was craving a slice of Italy with some pizza, and show me someone who doesn't love pizza flavours. Friends were coming over for drinks, so I made a batch of these for some simple and delicious finger food. The filling can be chopped up and mixed in advance, the night or the morning before, and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. 

It's Summer in Europe, the USA and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, and casual entertaining with friends has started. My son who is living in France with his beautiful family, says that currently the Summer weather is lovely following a wet and miserable Winter, and people are celebrating and entertaining outdoors. Here in tropical North Queensland it's still warm and sunny in between rainy showers, so life isn't that different, we are still entertaining outdoors even though it is technically our Winter. We are waiting for the first real cold snap with excitement.

 These Party Pizzas are so easy, that I feel a bit guilty about writing them up as a recipe. Do you sometimes just crave for something really tasty like pizza, but don't feel like making your own dough or visiting the supermarket to buy ready made pizza bases, or spending the money to buy take away pizzas? These are the easiest bite sized pizzas I have ever made. They may be just bite sized, but they have BIG-sized flavours, with zero effort. In fact you will feel as if you have had a night off from cooking and everyone will be happy to pitch in and help. Mr. HRK is is happy to cut the pastry sheets into squares for me while I oil up the muffin tins. So much of the preparation can be done in advance.

If you are planning some large scale entertaining, 90 little pizzas can be made from a 10 pack Puff Pastry box, and I have done this in the past for a party. They disappeared very quickly. Very economical when catering. This recipe is for 18 pizzas which Mr. HRK and I have been known to enjoy over a couple of days. Just increase the quantities as needed. These would also be perfect to take to work for lunches with a salad, if you are able to heat them up in a microwave. Perhaps though you are happy to eat them cold, some close members of my family are happy to eat cold pizza. I prefer it warmed up though.

Let's Cook:
Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C
Equipment: Two medium size muffin trays

Ingredients for 18 mini pizzas

2 sheets of frozen Butter puff pastry
2 cups grated tasty pizza cheese
1 finely chopped red capsicum
1 cup classic pizza sauce (homemade or purchased)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or oregano
1/2 cup roughly chopped black olives
Finely chopped bacon, ham or salami to sprinkle over the top of the pizzas before baking if you wish for a non-vegetarian edition of these pizzas.

Partially thaw out two sheets of Puff Pastry. Cut each Puff pastry sheet into 9 squares. (For a larger quantity of pizzas, buy a 10 pack box of Puff Pastry and cut 9 squares from each sheet until each person has at least 3-4 pizzas)

Let's cook:

Grease two muffin trays very well with vegetable or olive oil, or use a spray can of oil,  and place a pizza square in each muffin hole (18 for this recipe). Coat the pastry with tomato sauce with a small pastry brush. Prick the base of the pastries twice with fork to ensure the pastry base doesn't  swell up. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes until the puff pastry is just coloured and starting to crisp up. This can be done in advance as well. Allow them to cool very slightly and then very gently ease the edges of pastry around the top away from the tin with a knife, sometimes it sticks to the tin. If the pastry has risen up from the bottom, just press it down gently with your fingertips to make room for the filling. This first step will ensure the pastry cases come out of the tin easily when cooked. I have made them before without prebaking the pastry cases first, but it makes removing the cooked pizzas a little more fiddly. 

Throw the combined ingredients into a large bowl. Mix well together. 

3/4 fill pastry cases with ingredients and sprinkle with ham, bacon or salami if desired.

Cook in a moderate oven, at 180 deg. C,  for 10 minutes or until pastry and filling is cooked.

Straight out of the oven
Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove from the muffin tins using a butter knife, easing the edges out gently. Garnish with individual basil or oregano leaves, but be prepared, these little pizzas will do the disappearing act as soon as your family or guests dive in.

  • I make these mini pizzas quite regularly and they are always delicious, but when a friend asked me for the recipe, I changed the  baking process slightly to ensure she would be very happy with the result. If you are using Teflon coated muffin tins which are not scratched at all, and still quite new, and you are short of time like most of us are, you could get away with not prebaking the pastry in the oven, which is what I have generally done. The tins still need to be greased very well with oil. However, I am advising you to prebake the pastry cases if you have time and your tins are well used, to ensure the pizzas can be removed easily from the muffin holes. Always leave the cooked pizzas to cool slightly before easing them from the tin
  • Make these tropical, by adding a little finely chopped fresh or canned pineapple. Add some finely chopped ham, and there will be squeals of delight from the kids big and small, as who doesn't love ham and pineapple pizza. I know some of my readers don't like pineapple, however in my family we love it. Ham and pineapple pizza was always a favourite when our kids were growing up.

This is the link to our original "Make It Like a Man" style Pizza recipe ,which Mr. HRK makes when the Rugby League State of Origin matches are on. It is always delicious, and he adds lots of meat, however it is also delicious with a vegetarian topping similar to the one in my mini pizzas. We make one of each. Pizza toppings really are so versatile aren't they?

Bye for now,


Thursday, 12 May 2022

Lemon Sour Cream Bundt Cake


My Lemon Sour Cream Bundt Cake is tangy with lemon flavours, and has a firmer texture to it, which is essential for a Bundt cake. Pouring lemon juice over the cake when hot from the oven is the final touch to ensuring very citrussy flavours, which we all love. I removed the warm cake from the tin without any problems, and let's be honest this is every cake makers concern, that it will be difficult to remove their baked cake from the Bundt tin. No worries with this recipe though, it's the perfect no fuss dough consistency for Bundt cake cooking. If however the cake didn't come out of the tin well, and ended up in pieces, heaven forbid, just turn it into a delicious trifle. I promise this won't happen though if you prepare your tin properly. Preparing the cake tin meticulously for a Bundt cake is essential to ensuring it removes cleanly from the tin. More of that later.

As I write this, we are in the middle of quite the rain event here in North Queensland, which isn't conducive to perfecting the icing on the cake. 350 millimetres was forecast, so far we've only had close to 120 mm over a few days, but it's raining again today so there's lots of humidity and moisture in the air even when it's not raining. The cake was all I wanted it to be, and it rose perfectly, but the icing needed to be a lot thicker as the extreme humidity and moisture in the air meant that after a while it just soaked into the cake. I wanted the icing to dribble delicately down the sides of the cake to accentuate the bundt shape which it did, however I resisted adding more and more icing sugar as I thought it might be too sweet. So photogenically it's not brilliant, but taste wise it is. That's what really counts isn't it? I also didn't have a lot of time to play with it, as my wonderful friend Julie was visiting for the day, up from NSW, Mr. HRK aka barista, already had the coffee machine on, so the cake was begging to be eaten. That's real life in my kitchen.

The other option is to serve it sprinkled with icing sugar which is also very effective for this kind of cake, however the icing sugar would have just soaked into the cake in this humidity. If I was working in a perfect world and a  professional kitchen and not working as a home cook and blogger, the air-conditioners would be turned on eliminating the humidity problem completely, however it's not a perfect world here in North Queensland, pretty darned close though.

Still tastes great

Bundt cakes have a firmer consistency than a lot of cakes and so they release from the tin very easily. They are called Bundt cakes because they are baked in a fluted style of tin with a hole in the middle which originated in America, however the denser type of cake mixture has more European roots from countries such as Germany. My tin isn't as fluted as some of the ones out there so the Bundt shape isn't as obvious. By any standards though it is a delicious cake and takes 1 3/4 hours to bake in the oven because I chose to make a high cake. 

The trick is to prepare the Bundt tin properly to ensure the cake just falls out easily when required. I coated the tin with butter, or oil would be ok as well, every nook and crevice needs to be coated, lined the base with a circle of baking parchment carefully cutting a hole in the middle to fit, and then sifted flour over the buttered surface, before shaking off the excess. Easy peasy. However if you are a bit nervous about using a Bundt tin, and there's no need to be with this recipe my friends, I've also baked this cake using a 23 cm round springform cake tin, and it turned out perfectly. 

Equipment: a 23 cm Bundt Tin, or a 22-23 cm springform tin

Serves 8-10


250 g butter at room temperature

2 1/2 cups castor sugar

1/4 cup Self Raising flour

3/4 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

6 eggs at room temperature

2 cups plain flour


Cream butter, lemon rind and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Stir in sifted dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream.

Spread mixture into greased deep 23 cm round cake tin or well greased Bundt cake tin which has a base lined with baking paper.

Bake in a moderately slow oven (160 deg. C-170 deg. C) for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, depending on your oven.

Take from oven, turn out of tin, by tipping upside down using a dinner plate on the top of the tin, so that patterned surface is now on the top, and rest on a cooling rack. Pour 1/2 cup lemon juice over the top. Then sprinkle over the top with finely sifted icing sugar or ice with lemon icing.

Lemon Icing on the cake

1 1/2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon melted butter


Sift the icing sugar, add the melted butter, then add the lemon juice gradually, in a small bowl until you have a soft, drizzling consistency, then drizzle over the cake.

N.B.  If you are baking in hot, rainy or humid conditions like I was when making this, you will  need to add more icing sugar until it sets well, or the icing will just run off the cake and absorb into the cake. When the icing is set on the cake, decorate with some bling, edible flowers or whatever you have on hand, and depending on the occasion.

As I set to publish this post, hallelujah, the sun is shining today for us for the first time all week, which is wonderful. However I really feel for all the folk in Southern Queensland and further inland who are still copping bucket loads of rain, after only just recovering from the last deluge. It's either too much, or too little. The weather really has just gone crazy.

Warm wishes,


Sunday, 8 May 2022

Lime salsa with Sweet Potato Mash

Sweet as sweet potatoes are exactly what their name suggests, lending themselves perfectly to both sweet and savoury cooking. They are in abundance right now, and along with tangy juicy limes also in season, I hope this simple recipe will tempt you to eat and celebrate the beautiful produce in season. Herby lime salsa is the perfect  counterpart to the versatile sweet potato, which is only a distant relative of the normal potato by the way. Sweet potatoes are high in fibre, and their bright orange colour tells us they are also high in the antioxidant beta-carotene and Vitamin A., all supporting our immune function.

When I first tasted this dish at our foodie friends P&J's home, I just loved it, the lime salsa combined with the sweet potato was such an exciting surprise to my palate. It really tickled my taste buds. This dish shines alongside all sorts of foods, Middle Eastern cuisine, humble grilled sausages or a vegetarian or vegan spread. I baked the sweet potatoes ahead of time and kept the mash refrigerated to be reheated later, made the salsa the same morning, which meant the dish was easy to assemble just prior to eating.

Yotam Ottolenghi also suggests that after cooking, we keep the skins, brush them lightly with olive oil and roast them again for about 8 minutes, at 200 deg. C fan forced, and eat them as a crisp-like snack. Waste not, want not. Yes, it's one of Yotam's clever recipes.

Let's cook:-

Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C fan.

Serves four to six as a side


1 kg orange sweet potatoes washed, skin left on and cut in half lengthways, from top to bottom

60 ml olive oil

5 g basil leaves, chopped

5 g coriander, finely chopped

1/2 garlic clove, crushed

2 large limes, finely grate the zest to get 2 teaspoons, then juice to get 1 tablespoon

salt and black pepper


Massage the cut sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Line them up on a high sided baking tray lined with baking parchment, flesh side down, and roast for 30-35 minutes, until very soft. Be careful removing from the oven as some juice will have  come out of the potatoes.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting away, make the salsa.

Put the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients with a good pinch of salt, and gently stir to combine.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the skins, they should just slide off easily, or scoop out the flesh. Baking them this way results in a softer vegetable and better flavour. Set aside the skins to use later if you wish. Mash the flesh in a bowl with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper until quite smooth.

Transfer to a platter, make dips in the surface of the sweet potato, and spoon in the salsa. Decorate with extra herbs or some sprigs of tarragon.

Serve hot.

The 2nd edition below of Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa.

Warm wishes


Saturday, 30 April 2022

Orange and Barley Salad followed by Coconut Lime Syrup Cake, it's a citrussy kind of day

This grain salad has citrussy hints of Spring cooking with orange and lemon, however in Sunny Queensland even in Autumn it is a beautiful Autumnal salad. If it's warm weather where you live, and you feel like eating a nutritious and delicious salad this is the one for you. It can be paired with any meat or poultry easily cooked on the barbecue for dinner, however we have enjoyed it just with a green salad for lunch, delicious. It's easy to go vegetarian or vegan with this salad if you wish, it's up to you. The servings are perfect for two people, so just increase the ingredient amounts accordingly if catering for more people.

Just throwing a different light on this salad


Serves 2

1/2 (100 g) cup pearl barley

1 1/3 cups (375 ml) of water, or chicken or vegetable stock

3 tablespoons currants

1/2 cup (125 ml) verjuice or water

1/3 cup (55 g) slivered almonds

1 orange, in thin slices, with seeds removed and each slice cut into 8 pieces

1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon almond oil 

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped mint

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled Persian fetta


Place the little currants in a small bowl, cover with the verjuice or water and stand to rehydrate while the barley is cooking.

Cover the barley well with the stock or water and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce to a simmer, and cover and cook gently for 40 - 50 minutes until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Strain the barley, and place in a bowl with all the remaining ingredients, and combine well.

Serve with crumbled fetta on top,  more chopped herbs, or fish or grilled chicken or just serve on it's own with a salad. It will be delicious with any of these options.

Cooks notes:

The almonds bring a lovely nuttiness to this salad. You might prefer more crunch by using whole almonds,lightly toasted and coarsely chopped. I used what I had on hand.

It's well worth using the verjuice to soak the currants for extra flavour.

I added mint to this recipe as well as parsley, because I have it growing in a pot, never the garden, and the more fresh herbs the better I say. However don't stress if you don't have mint, it will still be very tasty.

I love the fruitiness of this salad, however if you don;t like fruit in salads like a close member of our family, leave out the orange.

After eating salad for lunch we needed some afternoon tea, which means cake. Continuing with the light and summery fruity theme, this Coconut Lime Syrup cake was perfect. To be honest, I had made it for my Mahjong ladies the day before, delivered a few slices to the door of a lovely friend and her husband who had Covid, and still had a couple of slices left for us to enjoy.

This is a refresh of a previous post I wrote about this cake a few years ago, new photos, but I make this cake quite often when in a hurry, and it never disappoints. 

Coconut Lime Syrup Cake

This cake has become such a firm favourite of ours and is timeless. We first tasted it at the Groove CafĂ© on Ipswich Road in Annerley, Brisbane, Queensland, when we were out having coffee quite a few years ago. I really hope this cafe has survived the Covid restrictions. We wanted to try out the Groove, as it had won numerous awards, had an excellent menu, and was unpretentious but served good food.

I searched and found this recipe which is pretty close to the original, and is such an easy cake to make, with no appliances needed except a saucepan on the stove to concoct the sensational sweet lime syrup. It is moist, light and citrussy, perfect for our hot summers and for any time of year really. Have I got you thinking about cake?



125g butter, chopped
3 eggs, beaten at room temperature
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 1/4 cups desiccated coconut

Delectable Lime syrup ingredients:

3 limes (1/2 cup lime juice)
Grated lime rind
1/2 cup white sugar

Let's cook:
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C. Lightly grease and line a 6cm deep, 22cm (base) springform cake pan with baking paper.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat or heat uncovered in the microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for 1 to 2 minutes until almost melted. Transfer to a bowl and stand for 1 minute to sightly cool. Add eggs and milk. Stir until combined.

Combine sifted flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl. Add milk and egg mixture. Stir to combine. Spread mixture into pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Lime Syrup: 

Combine 1/2 cup lime juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Stir in grated lime rind.

Pour hot lime syrup over hot cake. Allow cake to cool in pan before releasing the sides of the cake pan. Cut into slices and serve. 

I read somewhere as well that for a special occasion and perhaps for dessert, a nip of gin can be added to the Lime syrup, which sounds perfect to me. I think the next time I make this cake I will try this, and enjoy a Gin and Tonic with a slice of lime at the same time. After 4 pm of course.

Warm wishes

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Paprika Chicken Traybake with Fennel and Chickpeas (or Cannellini Beans), perfect for a mid-week dinner

Fennel, cream, paprika, garlic and oregano are the basis of a delicious sauce for this traybake. The delicate aniseed notes of fennel, subtly shine through this dish when cooked. When I was buying chicken pieces with no particular menu plan in mind, I took what I could buy, as chicken was still in short supply at the supermarket because of the Queensland floods and short staffing everywhere due to Covid. So I came home with three chicken legs and a chicken Maryland, which is plenty of chicken for a meal for the two of us and for leftovers the following day. When I saw this recipe a little later, it reminded me of the forgotten Chicken Maryland in the freezer, and also looked like a very tasty and easy mid-week traybake which was what I needed. The creamy fennel sauce is light but full of flavour and overall I was pretty thrilled with this meal.

Anytime is a good time to cook a traybake in my opinion, and especially when entertaining it's such an easy option, without any compromise at all on flavour. After all are there any cooks who don't appreciate being able to pop an easily assembled tray bake in the oven after a busy day? I substituted 200 g of cannellini beans which were leftover in the refrigerator instead of chick peas and they were a very tasty combination. I often have small amounts of chickpeas, lentils, barley and beans left over from other dishes, and they are often interchangeable when cooking. There is also plenty of the sauce for leftovers. Mr. HRK who is generally very hungry by dinnertime thought that being given a whole Chicken Maryland was a bit too much for him which surprised me, so when I bake this one again I'll use chicken thighs or breasts instead. However your hungry guests might appreciate a Chicken Maryland to eat.


Serves 4

4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in, or chicken breasts, or chicken legs, or a combination ( I allow 2 pieces of chicken per person) 

 1 medium fennel bulb, (abut 380 g) chopped and trimmed

2 garlic cloves, crushed

400 g can chickpeas (garbanzos) or white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

1 cup (250 ml) pouring cream

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup oregano leaves

Store bought Dukkah to serve


Preheat oven to 250 deg. C (485 deg. F)

Place the chopped chickpeas or cannellini beans, fennel, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a deep-sided roasting pan. 

Add the stock and cream and mix to combine.

With a pastry brush, coat the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Position the chicken on top of the fennel mixture. 

Cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

To serve, sprinkle with fresh oregano and dukkah. This Native saltbush dukkah was a gift from our good friends,and was very tasty sprinkled over the chicken.

This recipe is originally from the very clever Australian cook, #Donna Hay, however I have changed a few things as we do.

We have  a vegetable garden growing well throughout Winter most years, and those of you reading this who live in the Northern Hemisphere will quietly chuckle when you realise that when you are busily starting to plant in your Spring after a very cold Winter, we are planting over here in Autumn. Summer is too hot here to grow most vegetables. This dish has reminded me to plant some fennel and dill in my garden for this Winter, as whilst I have managed to grow fennel before, it's not a vegetable crop that the tropics or sub-tropics is known for. Once the humidity of Spring and Summer starts, the fennel and dill crops develop a white powdered mildew, which is always very disappointing. However fennel thrives in the Mediterranean.

Warm wishes,


Saturday, 23 April 2022

Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon Fruit Shrub

The idea for this refreshing drink started when we had an abundance of mandarins from our tree in our front yard. Some of you may remember a large branch broke off this tree recently during a storm. A couple of weeks later it was obvious the fruit needed to be picked, as the fruit was very juicy  even though the skin was still green. 

We then went to the local Farmers Markets and bought some Rough Leaf pineapples which were very sweet and juicy as well. Combining mandarin and pineapple juices into a fruit shrub seemed an obvious pairing to us, but then how about adding herbs for extra flavour. Tarragon is growing and flowering beautifully in our garden at present, so if the mandarins are ready for juicing and the tarragon is also in season and plentiful, let's combine them as well. As a result I brewed up a delicious Mandarin, Pineapple and Tarragon fruit Shrub.

A Shrub for drinking that is, is a way of preserving excess fruit and their juices using Apple Cider Vinegar as the preservative, and sugar.These are also called Drinking Vinegars, where the Acetic Acid in the vinegar acts as the preservative. The best Apple Cider Vinegar to use is Organic, Raw, and Unpasteurised available from most Supermarkets and Health Food shops these days. Apple Cider Vinegar is a Fermented food, and there is a lot of evidence to support that it is very good for us.

 Various historical accounts tell us that early Sailors from colonial America and England carried drinkable shrub on board their vessels to prevent scurvy. Consequently, the "shrub" was one of America's first drinks, as it was shelf stable without requiring chilling, water was mostly unsafe and the drink was healthy. It also probably gained popularity during the Temperance Movement in the U.S. The invention of refrigeration meant it no longer needed to be used as a preservative without refrigeration. Shrubs are now very popular to use in Cocktail Bars as mixers. It also makes a zingy refreshing drink, with just a tablespoon or two  mixed with cold Soda Water on ice, or sparkling Mineral water or just plain cold water on a warm day and the syrup will keep in the refrigerator tightly sealed for about 6 months. You can be as elegant or as simple as you wish when concocting a shrub, and there are plenty of recipes available.

Making shrub is a little like making jams, use equal amounts of sugar to blended fruits, and then add the same amount again of the Vinegar of your choice. This recipe is for a large quantity of fruit, however it is an easy calculation to work out the ingredients for a smaller quantity of fruit.


6 cups blended mandarin fruit

2 cups blended pineapple

10 sprigs Tarragon 

8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar

8 cups White granulated sugar


For this quantity, select a large pot.

Peel your mandarin and remove the white pith

Chop each piece of fruit into 8ths, remove seeds, and gradually add fruit to the blender, until you almost have a liquid. Add fruit to the pot you are using.

Follow the same method for the pineapple. However chop the pineapple into pieces, blend, and add to the saucepan.

To each cup of fruit liquid, add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of good quality Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix the fruit, vinegar and sugar together.

Add the Tarragon. NO need to chop up the tarragon.

Place the saucepan on the stove, and bring the fruity mixture to the boil

After it has boiled, strain mixture through a fine mesh colander into a large jug or bowl. You will then need to pour or ladle  your shrub from the jug into other sterilised bottles.

To remove the last of the juice from the remaining fruit pulp, bash it with a wooden spoon to extract the juice. Strain this liquid into a sterilised container.

The fruit pulp left over is also delicious to eat with ice-cream, or other fruits.

Apologies my friends if you have already seen this post. I posted it on my In My Kitchen recently, and I just realised that it was on my blog in draft form. So I'm publishing it which will mean it will be easier for me to find as well in the future when I make it again, and I will be making it again next year when we have more mandarins.