Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Mediterranean Vegetable Frittata for Brunch or a light Dinner is Healthy, and so Easy

This Frittata recipe is a combination of roasted capsicum, spinach, chick peas and smoked paprika and the best eggs I can find.  I have also added healthy turmeric as we harvested a lot of our crop recently and then dehydrated it and ground it up into a wonderfully aromatic powder. You can find that story here. Other combinations that I like are kale, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese, or grated fresh beetroot with goats cheese and thyme.The ingredients that I use often depends on what I happen to have in my frig at the time. I am always reaching for fresh herbs from the garden as well, so the Frittata can be a reflection of what I have found. Olives and basil could also be added. Leftovers can be heated up the next day for lunches or even breakfast, and taste great.

I've always been a fan of a good quiche, and now with the cooler weather the Frittata has become my favourite option, particularly on a Sunday when brunch suits the mood of the day. Most people cook a lot during the week, so something easy, nutritious and healthy on a relaxing Sunday is great. I love that there are no rules that must be applied to a Frittata, and no need to make pastry as with a quiche. So after a busy day, it can also be a great option for dinner with a colourful salad, or extra vegetables.

Mediterranean Vegetable Frittata


Serves 2

4 large eggs, beaten
2 red capsicums (or 1 small bottle of char grilled capsicum)
3 spring onions, chopped or 1 small red onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (depending on personal taste and the freshness of the turmeric)
Freshly ground pepper (Besides adding flavour, pepper assists our body to absorb the anti-inflammatory benefits of the turmeric)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
100g baby spinach leaves
Pinch of Salt to season
Feta or goat's cheese for garnish
Mint leaves or chopped parsley for garnish
Olive Oil


Char grill the capsicum

Cut the capsicums into halves or quarters depending on their size, and scrape out the seeds. Brush them lightly with oil, and then char grill them in the oven by placing them skin side up on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet and grill them on a high setting, until the skin blackens and blisters. Place the hot capsicum in a heatproof bag  and seal it tightly to cool. Peel the charred skin from the capsicums and roughly chop them. If you are time poor though, just use bottled char grilled capsicum purchased from the supermarket. They are always good to have on hand anyway.

Cooking the Frittata:

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Gently saute the spring onions and garlic until soft. Add the capsicum pieces and chickpeas to the pan. Then add the spices, the paprika, turmeric and ginger. Saute it all together for 5 minutes.

Add the spinach and keep stirring the mixture until the spinach wilts.

Add the beaten eggs and ground pepper and pinch of salt, and stir to incorporate the eggs into the mixture. Allow it to set over on a medium heat for about 2 minutes lifting the base slightly to allow the runny egg mixture to run to the bottom of the pan. The surface will still look a slightly runny though.

Preheat your oven grill to high, and slide the pan under the grill to set the top of the Frittata.

The top will become light golden and puffed up, and this should only take a minute or so.

Sprinkle the top of the Frittata with chopped feta or goat's cheese, and chopped mint or parsley.

So what do you prefer, quiche or Frittata, and do you opt to cook easier meals on the weekend like I sometimes do?

Thanks for taking the time to read my recipe and I would love to hear about your favourite Frittata recipe.

Best wishes


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Power of Raw Chocolate and My Recipe for How to Make Chocolate at Home

Chocolate making at home is really the story of Raw Cacao, not cocoa, although Cacao does originate from the wonderful fruit called  the Cocoa Pod. My homemade chocolate is a very different product to the chocolate we are used to buying from the supermarket with many more health benefits and is a dark chocolate. Cacao is one of the richest sources of Magnesium available which is great for our heart and energy levels and it is full of other valuable antioxidants as well. As we don't temper the chocolate we make at home or add emulsifiers to ensure longevity on supermarket shelves, the health benefits of the cacao aren't removed in the chocolate making process. 

Mr. HRK and I have been experimenting with making chocolate during the past few weeks and now I feel confident in passing on this recipe with some of the tips we have learned along the way. We can now make a batch of chocolate in around 15 minutes, set it in the freezer for 40 minutes and voila it is ready to eat in an hour from start to finish. This recipe makes about 20-30 chocolates depending on your mold size.

So prepare to relax. Making chocolate should be an enjoyable activity and is the perfect time to remember to enjoy life.  Chocolate should make you feel good, and not guilty about eating it. This recipe is Lactose free (no dairy is used) and sugar free ( the natural sweetener Agave is used.) We like to turn on our favourite music, and make some chocolate. Because it is a dark chocolate, we don't feel the need to eat  more than two chocolates at once. One with a coffee is perfect for me.

Vanilla powder for flavouring is used in this recipe and we have found it difficult to source locally. So we have been substituting with scraping the seeds from two Vanilla Beans, and crushing them, which works well. We have ordered Vanilla powder online which should arrive shortly.

Equipment you will need:

A pyrex heatproof bowl and a pyrex jug (Don't use metal)
A smallish saucepan (slightly smaller in diameter than the bowl so that the bowl can sit in it without touching the bottom or the 2cm of water simmering in the bottom of the saucepan)
Silicon Chocolate  molds (or 2 ice cube trays will work)

1 small whisk
1 spatula
Tea towel
A sieve or flour sifter
Knife, chopping board & measuring spoons/cups
Kitchen scales
Kitchen thermometer (optional as I don't use one)
An apron for me

Ingredients for basic Raw Chocolate Recipe:

80g Cacao Butter chopped into small pieces Available from Health Food shops (Or 65 grams Cacao Butter and 15 grams Cold Pressed Coconut Oil).
55g Cacao powder (sifted through a sieve) Available from Supermarkets and Health Food shops. Cacao powder from Ecuador is very good but not essential.
*3 Tbsp Dark Agave Syrup. Available from  Health Food shops.
1/4 tsp Vanilla Powder (you might need to purchase this online)
*Use a 15ml Tbsp measure
(I am still experimenting with other variations to the basic recipe such as using various nuts, Cacao Nibs, Goji berries and desiccated coconut. Stay tuned for more on that later.)

Let's make chocolate:

 Bring approximately 2cm of water to the boil in a small saucepan

Place the chopped cacao butter & vanilla powder in your pyrex bowl. If you are also using Coconut Oil add it as well now. Coconut Oil was used in this batch for the photo, but generally we just use Cacao butter.

Turn off the heat and sit the bowl on the saucepan. The water shouldn't be touching the bowl. It's just the steam that will melt the butter.

Allow the steam to let the cacao butter completely melt.

Once melted, put a little heat under the cacao butter again (just get the steam going) then turn it off and add the agave syrup. Whisk VERY WELL to combine. If you want to use a thermometer, the temperature should be 46c.

Now mix in the sifted cacao powder and whisk well. You can sift the cacao straight from the sifter into the butter mix if you are well coordinated. Let the liquid chocolate sit for a minute on the steam, (ideally at 46C) then stir well.

Remove the pyrex bowl from your saucepan on the stove top. WIPE ANY CONDENSATION CAREFULLY from the bottom & edges of the bowl (Water + Chocolate = Tears!!) 

Carefully pour the chocolate into your molds and shake or tap the molds well to allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface. This ensures a solid chocolate and no little imperfections on the surface of the chocolate, although this doesn't affect the flavour, and not everything has to be perfect. Mr. HRK is better at this step than I am.  He just pours some chocolate from the jug over the mold tray, and then smooths the surface of the mold tray with a plastic spatula until all of the holes are filled with chocolate, and smooth and then starts on the next tray.

Place the molds in the freezer for 30-40 minutes or the fridge for 1-2 hours (no longer as condensation can form on the chocolate.) When set, take the chocolate out of the fridge or freezer, leave it sitting for 2-3 minutes, then twist the silicon mold to loosen the chocolate. Then gently remove the chocolate from the molds as it eases out. As we do not "temper" this chocolate, it is very important to store your chocolate in an airtight container in the fridge. Transport it in an esky with cold blocks if required. If you are sharing them with friends, of course they will be devoured quickly, but I play safe and serve them on a chilled plate as well.

Your chocolate should stay fresh in the fridge for up to 8 weeks, however it is there to be eaten and shouldn't last that long.

We have made a batch  using Hazelnuts, by just popping one Hazelnut into each mold, and whilst the crunch was great, the flavour of the Hazelnut wasn't as obvious as we expected. We also substituted aniseed powder for vanilla powder in one batch however we couldn't really taste the aniseed so perhaps we need to use more next time. I am looking forward to using Macadamia Nuts in my next batch, so I will let you know how that goes.

If you try this recipe, and I hope you do, I would love to hear of any successful variations that you have. One of the things we have found with this process, is that it is important to make the basic chocolate recipe first, and then stir in desiccated coconut or chopped nuts just before pouring.


Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and if you make some chocolate or have any other ideas I would love to hear from you.

Best wishes


(Thank you to Willow for initially showing us how to make chocolate and for sharing his recipe.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Making the best Lemon Curd from the Bush Lemon tree

 I just love citrus season, don't you? With all of these juicy lemons available, I decided to make some Lemon curd or Lemon butter as we used to call it. Bottles of the curd will keep in  your frig for a long time if well sealed in sterilised jars, and is refrigerated after opening. It is a precious commodity. I remember always being told during citrus season at home that the preferred lemon to make Lemon Butter from is the Bush Lemon, and my Mum was always on the hunt for a fruiting Bush Lemon tree, as each year she would make a batch of Lemon Butter. However two lemons  makes only two to three small jars with this recipe so it is good to collect a lot of Bush Lemons and small bottles if possible. The traditional lemons growing on most backyard trees or available in the supermarkets these days will still produce a nice Lemon curd which is probably what most people need to use.

The juicy Bush Lemon

The Bush lemon tree is a species with a very thick skin, and a true lemon flavour, however it doesn't fall into the Bush tucker category as it is not native to Australia.  The fruit are extremely juicy. Surprisingly, the roughness of the rind grates very well to provide a terrific zest so valuable in many dishes using lemon. I have been fortunate to be given some Bush Lemons this week, and have made Lemon Curd with some of them. It's nice to be able to give a bottle of  my Lemon curd back to my generous friend as a thank you for the lemons. Most larger Australian properties particularly in the subtropics, always had a Bush Lemon tree in the backyard in years gone by, and they still tend to self seed in the bush. However they are very prickly, so if you find one take care when picking the knobbly looking fruit.

Lemon butter is delicious on toast for breakfast, or on scones. It also transforms into a very quick and easy morning or afternoon tea when used to fill small tart shells, which are available already baked from the supermarkets. Or if you feel like doing some fiddly pastry baking, make your own. I can remember my Mum and my dear old Aunts using it to sandwich together sponge cakes for Church afternoon teas and fetes, and then just sprinkling icing sugar over the top layer. They were always delicious. Another idea with a sponge cake was to hollow out a recess in the top and fill it with lemon curd.  We are only limited by our imagination really and lemon curd is still a favourite across the generations.

However beware, there is a lot of stirring and meditation involved in making this recipe. So make yourself a cup of tea, put on some nice relaxing music and prepare to spend some time at the stove. There are no shortcuts with making Lemon curd as I found out with my second batch, when I thought I would increase the heat slightly. Whilst it didn't boil or  curdle, there were just a few faint white streaks through  the mixture, where the egg white had started to cook, so patience and lots of stirring on a low to moderate heat is the key.  However the streaks haven't affected the consistency or the flavour. I just won't win first prize in the cooking section at the Agricultural Show this year with that batch, Ha, ha.

Keep stirring slowly until the mixture starts to thicken, and with my first batch I wasn't sure if it was thick enough as it can be hard to tell from the mixture in a hot saucepan. To test the consistency I placed a small amount on a small saucer and it set beautifully straight away, so it was ready to ladle into hot, sterilised jars. I filled two average size jam jars from the first batch and three smaller jars from the second batch.

Lemon Curd recipe


2 large lemons, or 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
100 g unsalted butter
175 g sugar
3 eggs, lightly whisked and strained

Finely grate the the zest and juice the lemons.
In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, lemon juice, zest and sugar. Stir constantly over the heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the whisked and strained eggs to the saucepan off the heat and stir to mix well.

Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened.

Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.

This recipe is taken from Stephanie Alexander's book, "The cook's companion".

If you happen to make this recipe or really like lemon curd, or remember Bush Lemons growing in  your backyard, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for visiting and have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Our turmeric crop is now harvested, dried and ground up into a gut friendly spice

Turmeric is a yellowy-orange spice used frequently in South Asian cooking, just in case you haven't heard. However, I doubt that very much as Turmeric has become very big news because of the health claims being made about it. The particular compound in turmeric that is now considered beneficial to us is curcumin, and evidence seems to be mounting that it is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, it's not that simple, as whilst it does our gut a lot of good, particularly the walls of our intestine, we are told that  the gut will only absorb the necessary amounts it needs if we add pepper at the same time, and perhaps a touch of chilli.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake: the Easiest and most Delicious Cake for Afternoon Tea

Cake dusted with icing sugar and Nasturtium petals

Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake

This cake lovingly made by hand with honey, yoghurt and dark chocolate chips is a winner, and the family will come back for more. It's pretty healthy too really. We were staying at Pine Trees Lodge on Lord Howe Island looking forward to the traditional afternoon tea at 4.00 pm but I had already promised myself that I would forego having something to eat in favour of  enjoying a three course dinner that night. It was Thursday and we had been enjoying afternoon teas and amazing dinners each night since the previous Sunday when we arrived, so perhaps it was time to cut back. Then I saw this cake on the table made by the chefs that day,  and need I say anymore. It was absolutely delicious, and I have been wanting to make it ever since we came home. 

Have a nice weekend and I hope you are tempted to make this cake. It will be well worth it, and your friends and family will love you for it.


150 g honey
300 g butter
170 g full-fat plain yoghurt
100 g raw sugar
200 g dark chocolate chips
2 free range eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
130 g plain flour
130 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Let's cook:

This recipe requires an oven set to 180 deg. C or a moderate oven. The oven doesn't need to be turned on until halfway through the cooling period of Step 1. Grease and line a 25 cm round spring-form or loose based cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  1. Put the honey, butter, yoghurt, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest into a saucepan over low-medium heat and melt together, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool for 45 minutes.

2. In another bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.
3. Whisk the eggs into the cooled butter mixture.
4. Add the chocolate chips to the sifted flour and give it a light stir to coat the chocolate chips so that  it     distributes throughout the cake mixture well
4. Then slowly fold in the sifted flour mixture and chocolate chips.


5. Pour the mixture which resembles a batter into the prepared cake tin and cook for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and stand in the tin for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
7. Serve dusted with icing sugar, edible flower petals from nasturtiums, tarragon or whatever you have on hand in your garden and thickened yoghurt or cream.

Have a happy and healthy weekend everyone. I would love to hear from you if you make this cake, or just say hello in the comments box below.

The recipe comes from the beautiful Pinetrees Lodge Recipe book which guests were all given a free copy of. I think I will be using it a lot.

(Thanks to Nanna Chel's blog for the Speedy illustration below. I thought it was cute.)

Best wishes


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Featuring Tropical Orchid Cattleya Blc Burdekin Futhure "Sharon" x Blc Sylvia Fry 'Esse', and my Garden in June

Blc Burdekin Futhure"Sharon" x Blc Sylvia Fry 'Esse'

It's a beautiful time of the year to spend time in the garden in the Tropics, as the weather cools down but the temperatures don't plummet significantly, bringing much needed relief from the humidity. One of the joys of retirement is being able to sit out on our patio over a leisurely breakfast and a home brewed coffee and enjoy our garden and the birds which are revelling in all of the plants in flower, in particular, the zygocactus, the various Pentas, the Bromeliads, the orchids on the trees, and a lovely purple flowered bush which we planted a row of because Mr. HRK loved them and I think they are called Purple Dazzler.

The star of the show for me at the moment in my garden though is Sylvia, this delicate Cattleya which I bought a couple of years ago at the Annual Orchid Spectacular in Mackay and each year the flower is larger, more fragrant and deeper in colour. When we were sitting on our patio a couple of days ago a beautiful butterfly landed on the flower and stayed there in a trance for quite a while. However I was too slow to get a photo. This orchid is now full of meaning for me though, as last Thursday, when the bloom on this flower first opened, our beautiful Grand dog Kali, passed away over in Chidlow, W.A. I haven't felt like writing since it happened as it has been a very sad time for the family, as we thought she was pulling through and she was expected to go home that evening. Thank you so much to those friends who  sent me lovely comments when I first wrote about Kali last week. She was very special and will be missed for a long time.

Another one of my Mum's orchids just coming into flower at the moment is this next Cattleya. Her name is Molly Tyler. Good on you Molly.

Molly Tyler

Are you like me though, and have lots of happy and sad memories connected to your gardens? They are really an extension of our lives and ever changing. Or do you also just remember as I do that a special friend gave you a cutting which you planted and now it is doing really well. I love that aspect of gardening, and it is a great place to engage with friends and spread the love of gardening. Then of course there is the real advantage of being able to bring in the herbs and vegetables from the garden to include in my cooking. This last week we have planted some silverbeet, some mint in a pot, lettuces (the red ones as they repel the bugs better), my rocket seeds are coming up, and we have a few broccoli and zucchini plants hoping they will do wondrous things. I also have a large Rosella bush which is close to being harvested.

The is is the Purple Dazzler which we planted en mass, and which the sunbirds adore at the moment.
Purple Dazzler

Our Turmeric plants have just been harvested, dried and ground into a therapeutic and very aromatic powder, so stay tuned for that story.

Last but not least is this spectacular Dendrobium which I attached to our New Guinea Bottlebrush tree last year, and after surviving the winds and rain of Cyclone Debbie, it is starting to flower bigger and better than ever. Dendrobiums are happiest growing on trees and are obviously very resilient.

So there is a lot happening in our gardens at the moment on the Tropical East Coast of Queensland and it is nice interest that Mr. HRK and I both share.

Happy gardening and thanks for dropping by. I'd love to hear from you if something special is happening in your garden at the moment or even on your patio. Some very successful and productive gardens are growing on patios.

Best wishes