July 8, 2009

Simple Crunchy Winter Salad

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500g sugar snap peas, cooked for 30 seconds in boiling water - then cooled completely by running under the cold tap or plunging into very cold water.
3 punnets of cherry tomatoes - halved
200g fetta, diced
1 cucumber, halved and seeded, then cut into thin slices
1 red onion, finely diced
1 bunch of basil, roughly torn

Dressing - put in a jar and shake the bejeezus out of:
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp seeded mustard
1 clove crushed garlic
6 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the cooled, blanched sugar snap peas into smaller pieces (cutting them in half or into thirds - depending on what you like!). Now in a big mixing bowl, toss the sugar snap peas, the halved cherry tomatoes, the cucumber, the red onion and the basil. Mix well. Then add the fetta. Dress with the shaken-and-nicely-mixed-up dressing and toss well. Plonk into a serving bowl and VOILA!

Serves 6

July 7, 2009

'The Brown Owl' :: Mulled Wine for Teetotallers (or Not!)

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Brown Owl Mulled Wine

Makes 3 Litres - enough for 6 people!

1 litre of non alcoholic dark grape juice
1 litre of cranberry juice
1 bottle of red wine*
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
2 star anise
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced

Mix all ingredients in a large pot whilst stirring - heat until nearly boiling - but don't boil it! Set aside for a couple of hours for the flavours to develop. Reheat gently until nearly boiling again and serve. Delish! (Be sure to cool it a little if you're giving it to kids!)

*Note - You can make this WAY boozier if you like - or you can omit the alcohol and add another litre of grape juice and the kids can partake too. That's a nice idea, huh?

Pip's Tomato and Fish Curry

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Please note :: you can substitute steamed or roasted pumpkin for the fish if you are not fishy! Or even tofu would be good! ALSO this is a really mild, gentle curry, perfect for everyone in the family - but you can heat it up if you like by adding lots of fresh or dried chilli!

1kg of roughly chopped tomatoes
1kg of trevally fillets - cut into generous bite-size chunks (no bones please!)
200 grams beans, topped and tailed and cut into small pieces and steamed for just a couple of minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped finely
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely or grated
1 tsp of mild curry powder
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of mild paprika
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
a slosh of soy sauce
1 cup of coconut milk
1 cup of stock (fish, chicken or vegie is fine)

  1. Heat the oil and fry the onion until golden brown (this takes time!) Meanwhile - make a paste with the rest of the spices, the soy sauce and 1 tbsp of water.
  2. When the onion is nice and golden, throw in the ginger and fry for 30 seconds, then the garlic and mustard seeds and fry for another 30 seconds or so.
  3. Next add the spice paste you just mixed up and fry for a minute or so, stirring as you go.
  4. Add the tomatoes and give it a good stir. Put a lid on the whole schmozzle and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  5. Now blend this tomatoey and spicy base until pureed (use a food processor or a stabby mixer or even a good go with a potato masher). You want to get a nice even sauce - no big lumps allowed. No need to strain it though - rustic is good.
  6. Now back on a gentle heat with the blended curry-tomato base - add the coconut milk - and the stock. Slowly heat the mixture until it's nearly boiling. Do not let it boil though!
  7. Add the fish pieces and the beans, pop on the lid and turn off the heat. Let the curry sit for half an hour or so so the flavours develop - or overnight even in the fridge - and then reheat it gently and serve - the fish really doesn't need much cooking at all - the residual heat and the gentle reheating will do the trick - taste a piece to see!
  8. Serve with rice or roti or naan even! YUM!

Serves 4 - 6 people

xx Pip

July 2, 2009

Overnight Rise Casserole-Dish-Baked Bread

Makes one big loaf - or break dough into 3 sections before putting it in the dish and you'll have 3 pull-apart loaves

6 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
3 cups of tepid water
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
a sprinkle of polenta - optional

Mix the yeast with the water and sugar and set aside for 5 minutes. In a mixer with a dough hook (or a big bowl with a wooden spoon), combine the flour, salt and the yeasty water. Mix well. It will be lumpy and a bit sloppy. Sloppy is good.

Cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight to prove. Somewhere cool is good - the fridge is fine too.

In the morning - punch the dough down and flop it onto a lightly floured benchtop. Knead it as best you can for a minute or two. Grease a heavy, ovenproof casserole dish (round is best - ceramic or heavy metal is the go) The dish needs to have sides at least 5cm high (or higher!) for this to work well and for the bread to rise up (rather then spread out) Sprinkle the dish with polenta if desired. Carefully pop the dough into the greased dish. Dust the top with flour.

Cover with a clean teatowel and let rise for a couple more hours in a draught-free spot.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Then pop the risen dish full of dough into the hot oven. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding when you tap it. Turn out and eat it up! Yum!

Porcupine Meatballs w Tomato Sauce

2 440g tins of crushed tomatoes - nice ones
1 onion, finely diced
1 large jar of tomato sugo
250ml of stock - whichever you like (not fish though!!)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
a bunch of basil

250g pork mince
250g beef mince
1 cup of cooked rice
1 egg, beaten
1tsp of dried oregano
salt and pepper

For the Sauce
In a BIG POT. Fry the onion in the olive oil until transparent. Add the garlic and give it a quick fry before tipping in the crushed tomatoes, sugo and salt and pepper. Add half the basil - just tear the leaves and throw them in. Leave to simmer away nicely while you make the meatballs.

For the Meatballs
Mix all the ingredients up until well combined. Roll into small balls (wet your hands so they don't stick to you! and have the sink full of nice warm soapy water so you can clean up when you get to meatbally!). Drop the balls into the simmering sauce.

When you've rolled all the meatballs and they are sitting in the sauce - simmer slowly over a gentle heat for 20 minutes. Serve with hot rice, pasta, mash or in a nice soft roll! Yum!

Make Salmon Patties....


We cook some fancy stuff at our house sometimes - but usually we cook simple stuff. The kind of old fashioned food that kids will eat two helpings of. I like to see the kids gobbling their dinner down. No point serving them fancy schmancy if they won't eat it. Well. Max doesn't mind fancy schmancy if he can pick the meat and potatoes out of it. Ari = no fancy schmancy.

1 440g (or thereabouts) tin of pink salmon
1kg of nice potatoes, mashed
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard - or seeded is good too
a squeeze of lemon
2 eggs
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Mix the salmon, mashed potato, mayonnaise, mustard, egg and salt & pepper together. If it seems super moist, throw in some breadcrumbs until it's a dry enough to shape into patties. Next, tip some breadcrumbs onto a plate. Now form a heaped tablespoon into a pattie shape, using your hands, then roll in the plate o crumbs until well covered. Set aside and continue until you've pattied and crumbed all the mixture. You can store these in the fridge until you are ready to eat, if you like! To cook, heat about half an inch of oil in a big frypan over a medium-high heat and cook each side of the patties until golden. Keep warm in a lidded dish until you've fried all the patties. (Don't stop - you need to fry them all - they are super good cold too!)

You can serve them with more mash, or a salad, or in a sandwich with sauce if you're finiquey. You can also add other things to the patty mix - like fresh herbs, peas, chilli and garlic.. whatever takes your... fancy.

Soft and Sweet Dinner Rolls


6 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tsp dried yeast
1/2 cup soft butter
1 egg

makes 30 more-ish rolls

Dissolve yeast in 2 1/2 cups of lukewarm tap water. In your mixer using a dough hook, plonk the flour, beaten egg, sugar, salt and butter - begin to mix it up gently, pouring in the water/yeast slowly. Knead until smooth and elastic. (You can do this by hand too - it'll just take longer).

Leave to rise for a couple of hours. Then punch down and knead again until smooth and elastic. Let it recover for 15 mins and then split your dough into 3. Each third will make 10 dinner rolls - so divvy up the dough into tens. To shape the rolls - flatten each little piece of dough and then roll it into a 'roll like' shape, tucking the ends under and putting it seam/join side down on a well greased oven tray. You'll need a couple of trays - be sure to grease them.

Let your dough rise again for an hour or so - until the rolls are a bit puffed up and nearly twice as big. Bake in a HOT oven for around 15 minutes until nicely browned.

July 1, 2009

Simple Eggless Tiramisu

4 tbsp icing sugar
250g marscarpone
250ml cream
100ml espresso coffee (cold)
1 packet of savoiardi biscuits
100ml kahlua or liqueur of your choice
good quality chocolate for grating on the top

Whip the cream and the icing sugar until fluffy. Add the marscarpone and beat until well combined. In a separate dish, mix the coffee with the kahlua. Dip the savoiardi into this coffee mix and pop into a shallow serving dish. Continue dipping and popping until the dish is lined with a layer of coffee soaked savoiardi. Now spread half the cream/marscarpone on top of the biscuits. Add another layer of soaked bickys. Then finish with the rest of the marscarpone/cream. Grate some chocolate over the top and refrigerate for a few hours.


1 cup of SR Flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
3/4 to 1 cup of milk - until a dropping (not pouring) consistency!

Mix together until lump free. Drop spoonfuls into well buttered frypan and turn when bubbles form on the top (uncooked) side. Cook other side for 30 seconds and then transfer to a dish lined with a tea-towel. Put another tea-towel on top to keep the pikelets warm until you have made enough for the family! YUM!

Basic Sweet Pastry - For Dessert Tart

Blitz the following in the food-processor until it forms a ball

2 1/4 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup of sugar
180g butter
2 egg yolks lightly beaten
1 tbsp cold water

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.
Roll out and top/fill with whatever fruit takes your fancy

Nanna-rific Raspberry Jelly Cake


from 1977 Royal Flying Doctor Women's Auxiliary Historical Cookbook

two and a half cups self raising flour
one tablespoon custard powder
four dessertspoons of raspberry jelly crystals
three tablespoons of boiling water
four ounces of butter
six ounces of sugar
three eggs
two tablespoons of milk

Sift the flour and the custard powder. Dissolve the jelly in boiling water. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, add the eggs and beat well. Add the milk to the jelly (it will curdle). Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the jelly/milk. Place into a greased 7" cake tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 50 minutes. Ice with soft icing and sprinkle with jelly crystals.

Pip's Gluhwhein

For those ecstatically cold Wintery evenings on the bearskin rug. Or in a thermos for a picnic!

3 bottles of red wine
1 litre of orange juice
2 cups of water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2tbsp honey
1 tbsp golden syrup
a slosh of vanilla essence
1 tsp mixed spice
4 cinnamon sticks
1 sliced lemon
1 sliced orange - peel and pith removed

Put all these things in a big pot and heat gently until nearly boiling. Taste it and make sure it's sweet enough for you - if not add more sugar. Turn off the heat and let the flavours develop for a couple of hours. Reheat until steaming but not boiling and serve. Serves 8 wine liking people.

Pour into thermoses and take on outdoorsy type trips to stay very, very warm.
Substitute cranberry juice for orange juice if you prefer