Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Hot Smoked Salmon Kedgeree


On Sunday we ate this dish of hot smoked fish fillets and spiced rice for lunch, however it is also perfect eaten for breakfast with the addition of softish boiled eggs. Or you can take it up a notch for an easy Sunday night dinner by adding some thawed frozen peas, some more spice or curry powder if you like, and serve it with mango chutney or a relish. Easy peasy! It's a riff on my Friday Night Special, which is a family favourite, still very fishy, and is made on canned tuna or salmon. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Slow Cooker Vietnamese Pulled Pork with Char Sui Sauce and a Wombok Salad


Vietnamese cuisine is one of our favourite styles of cooking, and whilst we enjoy eating out occasionally at a very good Vietnamese restaurant here in Mackay, it is also very easy in this tropical weather we are still experiencing to place all of the ingredients for the Char Sui Pulled Pork into the slow cooker, set it for 8 hours, make a delicious Wombok salad to accompany it, cook some rice, and eat in the comfort of our own home. The flavours of the Pulled Pork combined with the Wombok salad will excite your taste buds, I promise you, and you will be looking for seconds. 

Let's Cook:


2 kg piece of skinless shoulder of pork
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass, bruised
3 cloves of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup char sui sauce (almost a full bottle)
1/2 cup rice wine or sushi vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Using a sharp knife, remove the layer of fat from the pork and discard the fat
  2. Place chopped onion over the base of the slow cooker and place pork on top. 
  3. Add the Lemon grass
  4. Combine garlic, ginger, char sui sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. 
  5. Pour sauce over the pork and  cover the slow cooker. 
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  7. When cooking time has finished, remove the pork from the slow cooker and keep it warm on a large serving plate in a warm oven, 100 deg. C, covered tightly with alfoil.
  8. Skim excess fat from the sauce and and remove the lemon grass. If there is a lot of sauce which seems a bit thin it can be reduced down in a saucepan on the stove for 10 minutes if you have time.
  9. Remove meat from the oven and pull apart. It will be juicy and succulent. To serve, drizzle pulled pork with the Char Sui sauce, a few finely chopped spring onions,  and serve with more sauce in a jug on the table.
  10. I sometimes like to serve this dish with a bowl of purchased pink pickled galangal, often served also with sushi,  or you might like to make your own. Galangal is often available fresh at Farmers Markets. Here is my recipe for Pickled Galangal. Our galangal will be ready to harvest in a month or so I hope.

The pork can also be roasted in a covered baking dish at 110 deg. C for 8 hours. It is much easier though to use a slow cooker for this.

Wombok Salad and Dressing (gluten free option as well) 

I haven't written about the Wombok salad recipe before because I thought everyone knew about it, bought womboks regularly and that I would be putting up something as common as sliced bread. Well I've realised that's not the case,  and whenever I make this salad for dinner parties and friends I am always intrigued how little is known about the wombok and the wombok salad.This is one of the most popular summer salads in our family, and I always make it as part of our Christmas festivities, as it has become a tradition. 

Wombok salad is also delicious with shredded cooked chicken tossed through it, which extends the life of a cooked chook that bit further.  It is a satisfying meal in itself. This recipe can be easily made as a gluten free option just by ensuring the Dressing ingredients are gluten free. and replacing the Fried Noodles with the gluten free version of the product. (see below)

I know this is sure to become your new favourite salad. It is perfect for when you need a big yummy salad, there is a BBQ on or when it's your turn to make a salad. It will be perfect to serve to the family over Easter.  So here it is, even though I feel as if I am preaching to the already converted. 
Ingredients:  (Serves 8) 

1/2 a Wombok (Chinese cabbage)
1 packet Changs Original Fried Noodles,(found in the Asian section of the supermarket) also now available in a gluten free range

4-6 Spring onions 
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts or slivered almonds, for crunch
6 Kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded with middle vein removed
1/2 cup finely chopped coriander (or more if you just love it)
1 grated carrot (optional) 
1/2 finely chopped red capsicum
(If you are making this for a large party, just buy a whole wombok, double the salad dressing and the other ingredients.)


Wash the outer leaves of the wombok, dry them and shred the wombok finely, right down to within about 5 cm of the base.

Toast the pinenuts or slivered almonds in a frypan, stirring continuously, being very careful not to burn them. This won't take long. I often toast a few packets at a time and keep them in a bottle for easy use when I need them. 

Place all of the salad ingredients except the pinenuts and the noodles in a large covered container in the frig until you are ready to serve your salad. 

Essential Dressing for the Wombok salad:


1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup Light olive oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil is too heavy for this dressing)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup castor sugar


Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat on low until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.

To serve your salad, place the refrigerated greens in a large serving bowl, add the pinenuts and mix through, add the dressing and toss into the salad, (you might not need all of the dressing), the greens only need to be lightly coated. Then sprinkle the noodles on the top of the salad. It's now ready to serve. The pine nuts and the noodles should always be added at the last minute before serving so that they stay crisp. Alternatively, you can serve the dressing separately in a jug and everyone can add their own dressing to their salad. Any salad leftovers will then stay fresh for a couple of days in a covered container.

The Wombok  (Brassica rapa var. pekinensis)  is an ancient crop and has been around for over 6000 years in Asian countries and belongs to the same family as the broccoli, the cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, and is also commonly known as a Chinese Cabbage or a Tientsin cabbage. We grow about 11,000 tonnes of the stuff annually valued at AUS $9.3 million, most of it being consumed domestically, however a small volume is exported mostly to Singapore. I read where it is grown mostly in South East Queensland and Western Australia. (AgriFutures Australia.)

Japanese Pickled Cucumber ( nice to serve with Char Sui pork as well)

1 large cucumber or 3 small ones
2 teaspoons salt

Pickling solution:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, white or black (I originally used 2 tablespoons which is in the photo however I think I prefer less)

Wash the cucumbers and slice into thin rounds. To remove excess moisture, place the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons of salt, and set aside for 5-10  minutes. Rinse off the salt with water in a colander, and drain the cucumbers thoroughly.

Combine all of the remaining  pickling solution ingredients in a bowl.

Place the pickled cucumber in a lidded container and leave it in the refrigerator if possible for 24 hours. They will be delicious to eat then, but they can be made a few days in advance by which time the flavours will have really developed.

Bye for now my friends and thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear from you and I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Best wishes


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Edith's Perfect Plum Dessert Cake


(Monday Morning Cooking Club, 2017) 


Perfect for morning tea and for dessert as well, I adore baking and eating this plum cake. The cake batter after beating, has a light and fluffy creaminess to it, and then when taken out of the oven, the tart yet sweet cooked plums taste heavenly in this nostalgic style of cake. Surprisingly, it is also delicious eaten cold out of the refrigerator, in fact that is how Mr. HRK prefers it, with thickened cream on the side of course. For dessert we prefer it with ice cream.


Serves 14-16 (18 at a stretch)

180 g (6 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

345 g (1 1/2 cups/12 1/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

4 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

300 g (2 cups/10 1/2 oz) self-raising White Wings Flour (A good quality flour must be used)

12 medium plums, or 25 sugar plums, halved and pitted

Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), for dusting

double cream or ice-cream, to serve


Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C (350 deg. C/Gas 4) 

Line a 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inches) rectangular baking tin.  Leave an overhang of baking paper up the sides of the tin to make lifting the cake out easier. (I bought a new baking tin from Woolworths supermarket just this morning ($11.00), to cook this cake in as my other one this size is very old and has other uses now in Mr. HRK's man shed!)

Cream the butter and sugar in your electric mixer on quite a high speed, around 6 on my Kitchen Aid, until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

By hand, use a large spoon to fold in the flour gently until just combined.

Now spoon the cake batter into the lined baking tin and spread it evenly with the spoon. Lay the halved plums cut side up in rows on top of the batter, trying not to press them into the batter.

Bake for 1 hour, and test after 45 minutes by inserting a skewer lightly into the centre of the cake. It should come out clean when the cake is cooked. It took exactly 1 hour in my oven. Even though it was browning nicely on the surface, it still wasn't cooked through at 45 minutes.

Cool the cake completely in the tin, and lift out using the baking paper. It is much easier to cut into slices when cool.

This recipe was tried, tested and loved by the Monday Morning Cooking Club sisterhood before being published in their third cookbook, "It's always about the food." Sliced apples or berries could be used instead of plums, but stone fruits work so well in dessert cakes don't they?

I made this for afternoon tea yesterday when my group of friends came to play our weekly game of Mahjong. I dusted slices with icing sugar and we ate it with some thickened cream. For dessert, I  would serve this warm or cold with ice-cream, and with more fruit on the side if you like. 

This cake should keep well in a tin for up to 4 days in a cooler climate, however in the North Queensland tropical heat that we have been experiencing when I baked this, I store leftovers in a covered container in  the refrigerator. Reheat gently if you wish in Winter, but as I said above, it is also delicious cold. Needless to say, the leftovers didn't last long this time.

Black and Red Plums are in season and plentiful in the fruit shops so it's the perfect time to make this cake right now. I used the black plums for this recipe at $3.50 a kilo, which is a pretty good price for here.

So who was Edith? This was her family cake recipe, and I love a good cake story and to share the importance of continuing it's legacy. Edith wasn't a relation of mine, but was Garry Enston's mother, and Garry contributed her recipe, to be judged along with 9 other plum cakes for inclusion in this book. This particular one was chosen and I know why, it's simply marvellous. Edith and her husband emigrated to Perth, Australia from Prague, in 1939 during the German occupation and she loved good food and loved to entertain although Garry says she wasn't a passionate cook herself. She had several wonderful cake recipes from her Mother and her uncle who was a pastry chef at the Palace Hotel in Prague, and reading between the lines, this is one of those recipes, laced with Czechoslavakian nostalgia.

Hope, my Mother, was also a very good cook, particularly sweets, which I really appreciate now,  and she loved to serve good food within the confines of our budget, so my love of cooking and eating good food is definitely genetic. If you are reading my blog and this story, I think you must love quality food with traces of nostalgia as well. Is your love of food genetic or acquired and is there a nostalgic element to some of your cooking?

Happy baking,


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Plum Jam Crumble Biscuits


When an Anzac biscuit meets a Jam Drop, it's like boy meets girl in the biscuit tin and these delicious Jammy Crumbly biscuits are created. When you have some home made jam and some rolled oats in the pantry, and I always do, in addition to the normal baking staples, these biscuits can be made within the hour. I had plum jam, but any jam will do. I recommend these biscuits to you and hope you make them. This is an easy and delicious mid-week recipe.  
I saw it in the Woolworths supermarket catalogue and was smitten with them straight away. For fun you can even use a few different jams for a variety of jammy colours, and to use up the last spoonful of jam left in those jars in the refrigerator. I am definitely doing that next time I make these, and that's not far away. These are delicious with a cuppa anytime at all.  This batch disappeared in two days.


2 cups Rolled Oats

1 cup Plain Flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup brown sugar

125 g butter, chopped

1/3 cup Golden Syrup

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 1/2 tablespoons plum jam or other type of jam


Preheat your oven to 180 deg C./160 deg. C. Fan forced.

Grease and line 2-3 baking trays with baking paper, depending on their size. This recipe makes 20-24 biscuits. Mine fitted on 2 large trays, 12 to a tray.

Pour the dry ingredients i.e. oats, flour, coconut and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Choose a medium sized saucepan, and add the butter, syrup and 1/4 cup water to the saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the butter is melted. Take the pan off the heat and add the bicarb of soda. The mixture will foam up which is great. (If it doesn't foam up, the bicarb of soda is probably old and past it's use by date. It needs to be replaced.)

Add this foaming mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine and integrate all of the dry ingredients. This will result in a wet, quite sticky mixture.

Wetting your hands and shaking off the excess moisture might help with the next step. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place, 5 cm apart on trays. 

Press each ball down slightly with a spoon to form 5 cm rounds. Then create an indent in the middle of each biscuit by using the end of a wooden spoon or your thumb.

Fill each indent with 1/2 tsp of jam and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. I might have just added close to a teaspoon of jam in some of mine, oops, but that's ok. They tasted very good.

Place the biscuit trays on  cooling racks and leave for 10 minutes before carefully removing the biscuits with a large knife onto the cooling racks to finish cooling and firming up. 

I like to bake biscuits during the week so that I always have something sweet and delicious on hand, do you? These biscuits were  perfect to eat on the same day I baked them, however by the following day in the tropical weather they had slightly softened even though I stored them in a covered container. I put them in the frig and they firmed and crisped up again. So I would suggest that during Summer, when they have cooled, place them in a lidded container and store them straight away in the frig

It's hard to believe, but next month it is actually Anzac Day on the 25th April. The way time is flying it will be here before we know it. Here is my Anzac Biscuit recipe if you want to start practising in advance, however in the meantime, these Jammy Crumbly biscuits  are definitely a riff on the traditional Anzac and will suffice.

Best wishes,


Sunday, March 7, 2021

In My Kitchen, March 2021

It's March already, and as I start to write this, the tropical heat has been replaced by rain showers today, as Cyclone Niran builds up off the Far North Queensland coast to a Category 3 and keeps us all guessing as to her next move. These systems are so unpredictable and still seem to keep the meteorologists guessing, despite all the technology at their disposal. One minute they are intensifying and moving out to sea, next report it is stationery and could track south. So we will see. I have a well stocked pantry, however many times living here on the coast we have burst into action fortifying our property as the cyclone approaches, only for it to wave to us as it passes down the coast further south. However the winds and rain from this cyclone have already annihilated valuable banana plantations up North costing the industry millions of dollars.It's tough being a farmer. P.S. A week later, life took over for a while, and thankfully for us the cyclone has moved East and is now a very destructive Category 4-5 over New Caledonia. They are in our thoughts as they battle this dreadful storm. 

I brought these orchid flowers inside when they bloomed a few weeks ago. This is my Cattleya Bowringiana Orchid, a very old species which my Mum originally gave me. The Cattleyas are showing signs that they will flower in the next couple of months, and I'm really looking forward to that. I hope to have some flowers to show you over the coming weeks.  With the weather starting to cool down slightly, I hope to start some gardening again in a few weeks.

February was a quiet time for us, with Mr. HRK having sinus and septum (nose) surgery two weeks ago, and thankfully he is starting to feel a bit better now. Recovery hasn't been pleasant. So leading up to this and up until now I have been cooking the kind of meals he loves, which is just good old fashioned cooking. I don't have many photos to share but we really enjoyed this dish of Cottage Pie, although my Mum always called it Shepherd's Pie due to her Scottish origins I suppose. Cottage Pie is made from minced beef, and Shepherd's Pie traditionally is a base of savoury minced lamb. Both are delicious.  The topping is creamy mashed potato, and lots of it. I often add a layer of seasoned sliced tomato between the mince and the potato.

Savoury minced beef has lots of potential for use as a base in minced pies, Cottage pie,  pasta sauce, Chilli Con Carne or just  mince on toast for an easy tea or cooked breakfast. It also freezes very well as a batch. I lightly sauteed 2 onions, 4 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, added a kilo of beef mince and browned that off,  and added my secret ingredient, a tablespoon of vegemite and mixed it in well. The vegemite is Mr.  HRK's family secret. Then for extra flavour, 2 teaspoons of dried mixed herbs or fresh equivalent if you have them, and 2 tablespoons each of Worcestershire sauce and Tomato sauce take the dish to superstar status. I also added a can of tomatoes, and sliced zucchini and finely chopped capsicum can also be added. Mince for a cottage pie may need to be thickened with a little cornflour and water or the juices will spill over the side during the cooking process. 

Then for dessert I made Apple Crumble, another family favourite. I also poached some pears in a red wine sauce, served with ice cream of course for a little extra pink pizzazz. Mr. HRK could actually taste all of this food after his surgery, so he was in seventh heaven. This is all very easy cooking, the type of food I grew up with. However it is healthy, tasty and just perfect for those times when we aren't feeling very well. I feel a bit guilty even writing about these dishes dear reader as they are probably in your regular cooking repertoire as well, however I can't really presume that they are.Much better for us than refined food from the supermarket or takeaways and they contain lots of fibre. I am so pleased that all of our food is mostly cooked from scratch.

This is my original Apple Crumble recipe which I have been told by my family not to change.


FRUIT (apple)

4-6 Granny Smith cooking apples, peeled and chopped into quarters
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup water
(However when rushed I have also used a large can of cooked apples, it does the job.)

Other Fruit Variations

Rhubarb and apple
Pie peaches
Stewed dried apricots


1 cup plain flour (wholemeal is preferable)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Rolled oats 

Crumble waiting to be added as topping for the apple

Let's cook
  1.  Peel and core apples and slice thinly.
  2. Place in a saucepan with water and simmer gently until soft. Add sugar to taste and stir to dissolve.
  3. Allow to cool then pour into a pie dish, keeping back excess juice.
  4. Place flour in a bowl then rub in butter with the fingertips.
  5. Add sugar, coconut, rolled oats and cinnamon and mix well until a good crumbly consistency.
  6. Sprinkle lightly on top of apples.
  7. Bake in a moderate oven until lightly browned on top.
  8. Serve hot or cold with boiled custard .
(I like doing steps 4 and 5 by hand, however you could use the food processor.)


This Poached Pears in Red Wine recipe is simple but sophisticated and because it is based on fruit and red wine, must be healthier as a dessert. 

Serves 4. Prep and cook time: 40 minutes


2 cups  sugar
2 cups  red wine
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 strips of lemon rind
4 cloves
4-5 just ripe pears, with stems attached

Let's cook:

Place sugar, wine, water, cinnamon and lemon juice into a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.

Meanwhile, peel pears and, using a small sharp knife, remove cores from underside of pears.

Lower pears into the poaching liquid and simmer upright in the sauce, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes or until tender, turning pears occasionally during cooking so that they colour evenly.You might like to cover the pears with a round of baking paper nicked with scissors, so that the stems poke through. It helps if the pears fit snugly into the saucepan to reduce movement. My saucepan was a little too large but the pears still cooked beautifully. I should have added an extra pear for good luck.

Transfer pears to a heated plate and cover to keep warm. Boil the remaining liquid for about 10 minutes or until it becomes syrupy. Serve pears with syrupy red wine sauce and ice-cream or double cream, if desired.

TIP: I cooked the pears early in the morning before I left home for a mid-morning appointment, and kept them in the frig with some of the sauce in a covered container. I warmed up the pears and the sauce in the microwave just before I served them. They were delicious. 

Another option is to simmer down some of the sauce until it is almost like a toffee consistency. This is then really delicious dribbled down the pears.

This is such a cinch of a dessert recipe to make, I have vowed to make it more often. Pears  transform into such an elegant dessert, and have so many delicious uses in dishes, and now they are available all year round.

One other night I cooked a Baked Rice Pudding, which is always very easy to make and delicious. It is Mr. HRK's favourite.

Ready to pop in the oven

A baked rice pudding, straight out of the oven

February was my birthday month, and I had a lovely day, which was just a few days before Mr. HRKs operation. Wasn't that lucky? We went out for lunch to our favourite Vietnamese restaurant, spoke to our daughter and our family in the Falkland Islands, and I received lost of beautiful messages from my special friends.

I don't have any expectations about receiving gifts for my birthday anymore. However Mr. HRK and my wonderful daughter collaborated and bought me a cast iron Challenger Bread oven pot, online from the U.S. I was pretty amazed. So my friends I am now educating myself in perfecting an oval cob loaf in my new breadware. The first loaf I made turned out pretty well, but could have been larger. However the crust was very crusty and the bread tasted delicious. 

Cooking in this pot requires a very different technique to cooking  sourdough high top loaves in my loaf tins, and the high top sandwich loaves are more suited to slicing and freezing. I like to make a cob loaf for the weekend.

The only fault with this bread ware is that is very heavy to take out of the oven when it is very hot, and it does get very hot. It is meant to be heated in the oven for an hour prior to baking at 260 deg. C., the bread dough is then added, and the temperature reduced to 224 deg. C for 15 minutes. The lid is then removed and the bread cooks for a further 30 minutes. It then produces a lovely crusty loaf of bread.

I was concerned about the heat of this pot, so on the advice of Mr. HRK and my friend Julia, I bought a pair of welders gloves, this my friends was the high point of a shopping expedition to Bunnings. I kid you not. However, the heat of the pot is even too hot for these gloves, and they need to be doubled over to work. They will still be put to good use in my kitchen though or the shed. Challenger stock breadmaker's gloves, so I might invest in a pair of those when they restock, or buy a better pair of industrial gloves. 

So this weekend My Kitchen activity has focused on  bread making and experimenting and researching as we stay quietly at home until Mr. HRK feels a lot better. Our house has been smelling like a bakery, not hard to take at all.

These are photos of my first attempt at cooking my first sourdough loaf in my new bread pot. 

An improvised oval banneton for proofing

Adding an ice cube to the pot for some steam.

Into the oven she goes. The pot rests on the inverted lid for the second baking to prevent burning of the base.

The final product. When I am happy with the whole process, I will let you know. In the meantime, if you use Challenger bread ware, please contact me and let me know what works best for you.I would love to hear from you.

My first cob loaf baked in the Challenger Breadware.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to read more In My Kitchens. 

Best wishes