Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's time for Basil Pesto

Basil pesto

Jump to Basil Pesto recipe

Preparing to make pesto

An early trip to the farmer's market this morning, despite the rain, and I now a have a whole, fragrant and  luscious sweet basil plant for three dollars. The basil plants in my garden aren't at the stage where I can harvest enough leaves for pesto. Probably because I am drawing on them regularly for other dishes, and they are mostly self seeded, so they are still fairly immature plants. However, I have plenty of flat leaf parsley growing so perhaps a pesto combo of basil and parsley could also be fun.

So basil and homemade pizza are on the menu this weekend. Along with sweet corn, sugar bananas, red paw paw and rough leaf pineapple, also sourced at the markets and grown locally. Mr. HRK loves the fresh pineapple and paw paw.

Jump to Basil Pesto recipe

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vintage Date Biscuits, my Mother's recipe

For my recipe, click here

Date Rollettes

Dates have become a standard item in most kitchens, being used for all kinds of exotic Middle Eastern dishes to cakes, breads and  desserts. Whilst I generally buy the Medjool dates, for this recipe I think that some of those are too large for biscuits and the quantity of biscuit mixture won’t stretch very far, unless you double it of course. I used a few smaller Medjool dates, but then converted to the packaged Trident brand, which are smaller and standard in size,  however any brand of commercially available dates will do. 

This is my Mother’s recipe, when Medjool dates weren't readily available, and baking them brought back all sorts of fond memories. The challenge though is converting vintage recipes in Imperial measurements to Metric. There are lots of great websites now that assist with the conversion, however I still use the Imperial measurement on my scales so that the quantities are exact. 4 oz butter can weigh slightly differently to 4 oz sugar.

Biscuits smell amazing when they are cooking and don’t take that long to cook. They will keep for over a week in a covered container, however they will never last that long in my house.



  • 4 oz butter = 1/2 cup = 113.4g
  • 8 oz S.R.Flour = 227g
  • 18 dates
  • 4 oz sugar = 113g
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 cup milk
Let's cook:

Cream butter and sugar. When well mixed and white in colour, add well beaten egg, then slowly add flour.

Roll a date in a spoonful of mixture. Mould into uniform oblong shapes, or whatever shape you like.

Roll each biscuit into a little milk, and then into desiccated coconut.

Bake in a moderate oven at 180 deg. F. or 375 deg. C. for around 20 minutes depending on the heat of your oven, and until nicely browned. Check their progress after 15 minutes.

An original recipe by Pauline, Happy Retirees Kitchen

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sweet cherry tomato sausage tray bake

Sweet Cherry Tomato Sausage Tray Bake

Thank you Jamie Oliver for the idea to cook another amazing tray bake dish. Using robust herbs like thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, lots of cherry tomatoes, and the best Italian pork sausages you can buy, or any flavoursome sausages really, you end up with an intense combination of caramelised gooey tomato flavours and roasted sausage. Who doesn't love eating sausages?


2 kg lovely ripe  cherry tomatoes, or mixed colours if possible
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or more if using fresh
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 Italian pork sausages
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Let's cook:

Preheat your oven to 190 deg. C. Use a roasting tray large enough to accommodate all of your tomatoes in one snug fitting layer. Put in all the tomatoes, herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages.

Drizzle well with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss all the ingredients together, and then move the sausages to the top. Place the tray into the oven for half an hour. After this time, give the tray a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how sticky and well cooked you like your sausages. The longer you cook the dish, the more caramelised your tomatoes will be. Delicious!

You should have an intense, tomatoey sauce by now. If you think your tomato sauce is a little too thin, lift out the sausages, and place the tray on the stove hotplate and cook it down to the required consistency. When it is quite thick, add the sausages back in. Keep warm in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Check your seasoning and add more salt or pepper.

Serve with crusty bread, mashed potato, rice or polenta. Add a green salad and a glass of wine and you will think you are in heaven.

Jamie says any leftovers, if there are any, should be chopped up the next day, and added to some penne or rigatoni to make a wonderful chunky pasta dish. Great idea!

Best wishes