Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Smoked Salmon and Dill Pikelets

Smoked salmon, fresh dill, and a delicious sour cream mixture served on small, bite size pikelets, this was maximum impact for minimum effort. I cheated and bought the mini pikelets from Coles, but of course with more time you can easily make them yourself, but honestly for $3.00 a packet why would you bother. These were a real hit as a Christmas entree. However, they would serve up beautifully and hold their own at any dinner or cocktail party.

My apologies there is no photo of these little beauties as they disappeared  before my eyes, as did the second batch. When life settles down after Christmas/New Year I will make some more and add a photo.


300g (1 1/4 cups) sour cream (reduced fat if you prefer)
1 tbs Wholegrain Mustard
2 tbs finely chopped chives
1 tbs finely chopped dill
2 tsp lemon juice
2 x 140g pkts Coles Golden Pikelet Bites
200g smoked salmon
Dill sprigs, to serve

  1. Combine the sour cream, mustard, dill, chives, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Spoon a little of the sour cream mixture onto each pikelet and top with some of the smoked salmon and a sprig of dill. Season with freshly ground black pepper and arrange on a serving platter embellished with extra Dill sprigs.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Seafood in the Tropics and a Seafood Sauce Recipe

Golden Cassia fistula trees flowering in Cairns late December.
Common name: Cascara, Golden shower, Indian Laburnum

My early morning walk along the golden path in Freshwater, Cairns, Far North Queensland

This year Christmas was in warm tropical Cairns in Far North Queensland, so a departure from the traditional style Christmas lunch was inevitable. Fresh seafood which is so plentiful and locally caught was the obvious choice. Whilst I took some shortcuts with food preparation this year, I prepared a delicious Seafood sauce and an Avocado and lime dressing to accompany our seafood. With Smoked Salmon and Dill Pikelets as an entree, fresh salads and fruit, and chilled bubbly and white wine, we really enjoyed our delicious tropical, seafood Christmas lunch. This was followed of course by traditional Christmas Plum Pudding for dessert.

Seafood Sauce:

1 cup (300g) whole-egg mayonnaise
2 tbs tomato sauce
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground paprika

1. Combine the mayonnaise, tomato sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and paprika in a small bowl or decorative mug.

2. Cover  with plastic wrap and place in the frig to chill.

This recipe will keep for a couple of weeks.

Avocado and Lime dressing:

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled and stone removed
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup (60ml) lime juice
2 tbs olive oil
  1. Toast cumin in a saucepan over low heat for 1 minute
  2. Process in a food processor with avocado, garlic, lime juice and olive oil until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve this sauce and dressing with a delicious seafood platter to serve 8.

Seafood platter:

2 cooked lobsters or 4 Moreton Bay bugs
2 kg prawns
500g smoked salmon slices
Crushed ice, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve.

Best wishes,


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas fruit cakes

Christmas fruit cakes
(Makes 3 large muffin size cakes and two 11x16cm rectangular cakes)

8 oz butter                                            
3 oz slivered or chopped almonds
8 oz light brown sugar   
1 lb. raisins                                   
5 eggs                                                             
1 kg good quality mixed fruit
1 doz. dates
100g cherries
(Or replace fruit in above three items with 3 pkts.Quality Mixed fruit)
2 ozs S.R. flour                                               
1 level teaspoon salt
9 oz plain flour                                                
¼ teaspoon each cinnamon, grated nutmeg, and mixed spice     

Fruit and nuts preparation:
1.      Prepare the fruit and nuts at least three days before cooking.
2.      Warm the Rum and following ingredients together in a small saucepan until nicely blended.
3.      Allow to cool completely.                   
4.      Pour this mixture over the prepared fruit and nuts. Cover and macerate or soak for three days or at least overnight. Give the mixture a stir or a shake each day if possible.

½ cup of Bundaberg Rum or brandy or sherry
 ½ teaspoon each of vanilla paste, and almond essence
1 level dessertspoon of golden syrup                                                      
1 level dessertspoon each of lemon juice and orange juice
1 level dessertspoon of Bushells sweetened coffee & chicory essence
1 level dessertspoon of Fig or dark jam   

Day of cooking:
Preheat the oven to 140 ⁰ or 120⁰ fan forced.

1.      Cream butter and sugar until light and soft. Test each egg separately in a cup and beat them into the butter, cream one at a time, and add a little of your measured flour between the last 2nd or 3rd egg to prevent any risk of curdling.
2.      Have ready the flours sifted together with salt and spices. Add these and blend smoothly and well. Last of all add the macerated fruits and mix evenly and thoroughly.
3.      Let the mixture stand in the bowl for 10 minutes before placing in the prepared tins. Place your wooden spoon upright in the centreof the mixture. It should not move if correct consistency.
4.      Line the base and sides of your cooking tins with 2 layers of brown paper and a layer of Baking paper. Using brown paper lunch bags when lining small tins makes the job a lot easier. If using muffin tins, the Multix CafĂ© collection muffin wraps (baking paper) work very well placed inside the brown paper liners.
5.      Spread mixture evenly into prepared pans. Decorate tops with blanched almonds and glacĂ© cherries.
6.      Bake cakes at 140⁰  for 15 minutes and reduce to 130⁰ fan forced for about 1 hour 45 minutes or until cooked when tested. Brush hot cakes with extra rum or sherry. Cover cakes tightly with foil. Cool in the pans.
7.      Decorate cakes with ribbon if preparing for gifts.

The cakes will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 months.
Suitable to freeze.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Basil Pesto with Semi Sundried Tomatoes

With the festive season upon us, Christmas drinks accompanied by fine cheeses and other accompaniments will be more popular than ever. A tasty and healthy pesto adds variety to the standard cheese platter and is so easy and economical to make, especially if you grow your own herbs.  Pesto requires a substantial amount of basil, so prevent your basil from going to seed in the heat of summer, prune it well, and use the surplus to make pesto. Or shop at  your local Farmer's Market and buy it in bunches. Leftover pesto can then be added to pasta dishes and vegetable soups, the options are endless really.

The following recipe is for a fairly standard pesto, however sometimes I love to make it more interesting by adding 1/2 cup of semi sundried tomatoes to the food processor with the basil, nuts and garlic, and by using some of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the tomatoes with the EVOO during the final processing.

If you make your own semi sundried tomatoes and basil pesto as I do, then with cheese, you have a wonderful selection of nibblies on hand to offer your guests.


1 1/2 cups firmly-packed basil leaves, Italian or sweet basil is fine
1/2 cup good quality pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil e.g. Maggie Beer
60g parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup semi sundried tomatoes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C. Spread the pine nuts over a baking tray. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  2. Place the cooled pine nuts, basil, and garlic in the bowl of the food processor and process until finely chopped. Whilst the food processor motor is running, gradually add the EVOO in a thin steady stream until well combined and oozy.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a bowl. Stir in the grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and stir until well combined.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pesto can also be frozen in a covered plastic or glass container by topping the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil. This prevents the top layer of pesto from darkening.

  • For parsley and basil pesto, reduce basil to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley. 
  • For basil and almond pesto, replace pine nuts with toasted slivered almonds.
  • Add pesto to vegetable soup.
  • Add pesto to pasta.
Related links for additions to your cheese platter:

1. Make your own Mozzarella cheese: