Saturday, 31 May 2014

State of Origin Pizza BBQ style

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Maroon is our favorite color tonight,  it's State of Origin , Mr. HRK is excited and dinner is his choice.  Well, it is actually traditional  for us to make pizzas, and he has excelled himself.  They must be cooked in the BBQ oven, and the dough is thin and crispy, perfect. This is partly due to a gift I bought him recently,  a pizza tray with holes in the base and slightly elevated. My homemade passata topping provides an aromatic and flavoursome addition.  A glass of red or rather maroon wine, a nice Pinot Noir and we are set for the game.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Lentil and Ham Soup

This soup can be cooked long and slowly in the slow cooker, or in your pressure cooker, depending on what you prefer. For those that leave the house in the morning to go to work, there is nothing nicer than putting this meal on early in your slow cooker before you leave, and then coming home to the enticing smell of ham and lentil soup. Dinner is ready. However, if you are lucky enough to be enjoying your time at home as I am, you can use your pressure cooker for quick results.

Serves 8.

500 grams/1 lb dried red lentils (or any kind will do)
1 ham bone/hock or 250 grams bacon bones.(Whatever will fit in the slow cooker)
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
fresh or dried parsley (about 6 stalks of the fresh)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
8 cups of stock or water (homemade vegetable/chicken stock is preferable)

Let's Cook:

  1. Wash the lentils thoroughly under cold running water and place in the crock pot with all the other ingredients, except the liquid, ensuring it all fits in the pot.
  2. Add water or stock. 
  3. Put the lid on and set the slow cooker to low for eight hours, or high for five hours.
  4. Check the soup 30 minutes before the due time, remove the ham bone or bacon bones, put them aside, and stir the soup. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
  5. If you like less vegetable lumps, allow the soup to cool slightly and  puree with a stick blender. Add the meat from the bones back into the soup. Simmer for another 30 minutes if you have time. 
  6. A little swirl of sour cream across the top is nice if you have it before adding more chopped parsley for a garnish.

Enjoy with some nice crusty bread or toast.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Tomato Relish Passata

Bowen tomatoes are a must if you are travelling north. This recipe is adapted from my Tomato Relish recipe, to become a thick passata suitable for pizza bases and bolognese sauce or other Italian dishes.  I was just given some ripening and cheaply priced Bowen tomatoes by our friend Paul,  who bought them from a roadside stall just near Bowen.  After ripening in my kitchen, they cooked up beautifully.


3 kgs tomatoes
4 large onions
1 clove garlic
1 chilli (according to your taste)
1-2 cups sugar (according to your taste)
1 tablsp. curry powder (optional)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups red wine vinegar or other good quality vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and oregano


Quarter the tomatoes and chop the onions and chilli finely.
Crush the garlic.
Add all of the ingredients to a large pot and bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer for 2 hours and reduce the mixture by a quarter. Cook longer if needed.
Place a teaspoon of the mixture in a small bowl, allow to cool and taste it, and then season with salt and pepper or add other ingredients according to taste.

Allow to cool slightly and fill your warm sterilised bottles.

Easy Tomato Relish

This is my Mum's recipe for Tomato Relish, which she was never without in her pantry, and I still think it is the best tomato relish I have ever tasted. I have fond memories of eating it around the kitchen table at home with cheese and biscuits. It is now also a staple in our home, and our children love it as well.

This recipe can also be adapted to a flavoursome tomato passata according to your taste, which can be used for pizza bases, pasta sauces, or whenever tomato passata is needed.


500 g (1 lb) Ripe Tomatoes (skinned)
500 g (1 lb) onions
1 cup sugar
1 dessertspoon  Curry Powder
1 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 cup White Vinegar
salt to taste
cornflour to thicken


  1. Prepare and skin the tomatoes by blanching them, place them in iced water, remove the skins and chop them into quarters.
  2. Chop the onions finely.
  3. Place all ingredients except salt and cornflour in the pot and bring to the boil and then simmer until cooked and mixture is reduced by a quarter. Stir occasionally.
  4. When cooked, add salt to taste.
  5. Thicken with cornflour and water mixed to a thin paste, and simmer gently for a few more minutes.
  6. Allow to cool slightly and fill your sterilised bottles.
  7. Turn the bottles upside down for 15 minutes to seal them properly.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Chocolate Brownies, Paleo Style And No Guilt

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Paleo Chocolate Brownie cake, was one of the highlights from the kitchen on the weekend when our beautiful daughter came home for a surprise visit.  The slice is based on cacao, coconut flour, honey and white sweet potato. So a trip to the health food shop for the coconut flour and cacao, purchase of the sweet potato, and we were set.

We didn't make the dark chocolate topping this time, mainly because we forgot to buy it, however the chocolate Brownie with a cuppa doesn't really need it. If serving as a dessert though, I would certainly adorn the cake with the melted chocolate sauce and berries.

(This recipe is adapted from the Eat, Drink Paleo website.)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Honey-Cinnamon Roasted Quinces

Ripening quinces
Slow roasted quinces ready to eat

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Quinces.  This recipe for slow roasted quinces has resulted in 6 delectable soft fleshed fruit, and a uniquely flavoured, sweet pink syrup which can be stored for a couple weeks in the fridge. It is adapted from Matthew's recipe  in the latest edition of Feast magazine, where he grows his own quinces in Tasmania.

This is warm comfort food on a cool Autumn night. It's May, and I've only just discovered quinces for the first time at the supermarket, thanks to a tip off from our friend Paul, and marvel at the transformation which takes place in the kitchen when they are baked or poached. The flesh of this yellow and knobbly fruit changes within a few hours to a deep ruby red colour, with an intense, Middle Eastern flavour, filling the kitchen with an intoxicating fragrance. After all, this fruit originated from exotic Persia (Iran) in the Middle East, and belongs to the same family as the Rose, the Rosaceae family, being also related to apples and pears. That is some pedigree.The Portuguese for quince is marmello,which evolved into the word marmalade in the English and French language.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Pear and cranberry spice cake

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This pear and cranberry spice cake could proudly grace the counter of any well known coffee and cake establishment around the country, it is that good. Lou managed to arrange the pear slices perfectly, and topped with the apricot jam glaze it looked beautifully glossy, professional and inviting.

It wasn't a cinch to assemble though. There are a few stages to making this cake, befitting it worthy as an elegant accompaniment to any celebration or special event. Lou also chose to bake this cake to celebrate her parent's 70th wedding anniversary, and even though they are in Perth, they were thrilled. I think that is a lovely story.

This cake was originally created by Chef Lorraine Godsmark, at Sydney's Yellow Bistro and Food Store and published in Wine Selector Magazine, Autumn 08.A timeless recipe.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Onc. Heaven Scent Redolence

Onc. Heaven Scent Redolence photographed on the patio.

Heaven Scent Redolence, so aptly named, for Mother's Day. In my kitchen behold my beautifully flowering and lightly perfumed Oncidium Heaven Scent Redolence, only one spray, but it is the first flowering since I bought it in 2013. Mother's Day and flowering orchids are synonymous for me, something I inherited from Hope, my very special Mum. Last year, I went on a tour of orchid nurseries in the area surrounding Mackay, in sub-tropical Queensland,  and learnt a lot as well as coming home with a few new orchids, as you do, and very envious of the gardens I visited.

I purchased an Oncidium Heaven Scent 'Redolence', which was in flower, and this was a variation from my other oncidiums, all Dancing Ladies, which flower prolifically later in the year. It is so difficult to choose a specific orchid when there is a profusion of impressive varieties, perhaps I was swayed by the maroon and white flowers, Queensland colours of course. I have been very careful with my new Heaven Scent variety, growing it next to my also new and more temperamental Phalaenopsis, in my orchid house, but with lower light, less feeding, and watering almost daily. Apparently it has adjusted to these conditions, has remained pest free, and has been a dream to grow.

After this flowering, I think I will move it  into a more well lit area of the orchid house and monitor it to see how it adjusts and perhaps next year I will be rewarded with more than one spray. I don't think it will need repotting this year.

However Anne, my wonderful neighbour, knows all there is to know regarding orchids and I think I will consult with her after it has flowered. It is wonderful how plants bring people together as well as providing personal enjoyment.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy my Heaven Scent Redolence and her perfume, in my kitchen and my LC. Little Suzie x Chocolate Drop which is also flowering beautifully in a pot on the patio at present but she has another story to tell.

For more information on Phalaenopsis click here:

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Salmon and Pickled Galangal parcels

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Salmon parcels, and pickled galangal, baked in the oven,  lend themselves to some exciting variations now that the weather is cooling down. I was planning to use grated ginger in this dish tonight, but didn't feel like delving into the darkening garden to dig some up. I hadn't been organised enough to get some earlier in the day.

As my ingredients so far were basically Asian, soy sauce and spring onions, I thought I would use my
pickled galangal instead of the ginger, also home grown, surely a marriage made in heaven. The attractive salmon coloured galangal, matched the pink Tasmanian salmon perfectly, contrasting nicely with the sliced green spring onions, and soy sauce, and bringing some nice crunch to every mouthful.

I'm afraid the photo doesn't do the dish justice.Too hungry to fiddle with the arrangement for very long this time.

This recipe can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.

Cauliflower Pickles

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Cauliflower  Pickles are perfect to prepare now as cauliflowers are in season, reasonably priced, and of beautiful quality. This is my version of a recipe which I found on the ABC website, and which won first prize in the Best Pickles category of the ABC Gardening Talkback Great Home-made Pickles and Jam Challenge. However, I like my pickles just a bit sweeter, with less vinegar, so I adjusted the quantities accordingly.The pickle is a beautiful golden colour in the jar, and I added Bay Leaves to the bottles for texture and contrast. This will be a delicious  warming pickle during winter.

However, the original winning ABC recipe is the traditional Mustard Cauliflower style recipe which is also very popular.