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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Neighbourhood : A Cookbook Review


 Neighbourhood, by Hetty McKinnon. is a cookbook full of hearty salads, delicious sweet treats and charming stories about food, family and friendships.

Hetty MckInnon who wrote it used to run a very popular community kitchen called Arthur St in Surry, a Sydney suburb, where she  delivered her salads to the locals on her bicycle.
She recently relocated to New York with her family and, inspired by her travels, is now creating salads with more international flavours. She sees food as the best way to bring neighbours together and build healthy communities.

Her salads are inventive, generous and made to share. The desserts and sweet treats such as the olive oil and sea salt molten brownies, the lemon curd and coconut slice and the almost instant raspberry mousse are irresistible.

These recipes may well inspire you to invite some of your neighbours over to share a meal with you during the festive season. Especially those who live on their own and might be feeling a little lonely would be really appreciative,
Or cook up a batch of this delicious eggplant and tomato relish .A jar of this, tied with a red ribbon and with a pretty handmade label, would be the nicest way to thank them for always being there to collect your mail and feed your cat when you go on holiday.

This spiced eggplant and tomato relish is my Christmas gifting staple. Packed into pretty jars, this is the most delicious edible gift, to be enjoyed over the holidays with cheese and crackers. When not gifting, pair this relish with sweet roasted butternut pumpkin and chickpeas for a hearty, vegetable-packed salad. This dish denitely exudes a fancy festive attitude. It is VG and GF and serves 4-6.
80 ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggplants (about 800 g), peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 long green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
400 g diced tomatoes (about 1 can)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
115 g (½ cup) caster sugar sea salt
To make the relish, heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a high heat. Add half the eggplant to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and golden, then remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes until soft, then add the mustard seeds and cook for about 2 minutes, until the seeds start to pop. Add the ginger, chilli, garlic, cumin, cloves, paprika, turmeric and a large pinch of salt and cook for a further 2 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and 125 ml (½ cup) of water. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes until the mixture thickens and the
eggplant is very soft.

1 butternut pumpkin (about 1.4 kg), peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
500 g cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans), drained
2 cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
sea salt and black pepper,
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Place the butternut pumpkin on a large baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20–25 minutes until golden.
Combine the pumpkin, chickpeas and baby spinach and spoon over the relish. Mix everything together well, then scatter over herbs and slivered almonds to serve.
butternut pumpkin: any variety of pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower chickpeas: butterbeans, lentils
This recipe is reprinted with permission from Neighbourhood, by Hetty McKinnon. Published by McMillan RRP $39.99

 This review first appeared on the GrownUps website

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Bill Granger's Thai Fishcakes

On our beach walks in the morning with Abby the lab I can't resist picking up empty scallop shells which have been washed up on the sand . They make perfect  miniature individual serving dishes for Bill Granger's Thai fish cakes.

Served on a platter, with a bowl of creme fraiche (to which a dab of wasabi paste has been added) and thinly sliced cucumber briefly marinated in sushi vinegar, they make great finger food.


500 gm of boneless, skinless firm white fish , roughly chopped (hoki will do)
3 tbsp of red curry paste (Vacom brand is the best )
1 tsp of white sugar
2 tbsp of fish sauce
6 kaffir lime leaves ( very finely sliced) or zest of 2 limes
60 gm of snake/green beans( very thinly sliced)
4 tbsp of light flavoured oil
cucumber relish ( see recipe below)


Blend the fish in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides down once or twice. Add the curry paste and pulse with the sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves.

Scrape into a large bowl, add the snake beans and stir to combine. Take a handful of the mixture and throw against the side of the bowl to firm up the proteins, repeating a few time until the mixture is noticeably firmer.

With moistened hands, form slightly heaped  tablespoons of the mixture into discs. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat  and fry in batches until browned and cooked through. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot with the cucumber relish.

For those who like it hot you could have some some Hot Samoan Boys chilli sauce on hand as well.
Makes 24.

Bill 's Cucumber relish
1/2 cup of rice vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 cup pofcastor sugar
1 Lebanese cucumber , quartered lengthwise and finely sliced
1/2 tablespoon of finely julienned ginger
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

Place the vinegar and sugar n a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Pour into a bowl, add the cucmber and chilli and stir to combine

My shortcut: Just finely slice 1/2 a telegraph cucumber and marinate it briefly in sushi vinegar. Optional: add some finely sliced red chili

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Butternut and Pumpkin Soup with Brazil Almond Butter and Miso

This mellow autumnal soup is enhanced by some brazil almond butter and white miso.

Kashmiri chili powder provides a gentle heat. Beware of substituting it with other chili powder, you would need much less!

The crunchy savoury Purebread wild oats muesli sprinkle is optional but adds a little oomph!

Ingredients for Soup:

500 g of butternut ( cubed but not peeled)
500g of kumara (peeled and chopped)
1 teaspoon of kashmiri chili powder( or to taste)
1/2 leek (finely sliced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of butter
400 ml of chicken stock ( I used Campbell's salt reduced)
1 small can of coconut milk ( 165 ml)
1 tbsp of white miso
1 tbsp of brazil almond butter ( I used Purebread)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
Toss the kumara and butternut in a mixture of olive oil and kashmiri chili powder
Roast  in a single layer in an oven dish for about 20 minutes until soft and browned
In the meantime fry the leek and garlic gently for about 10-15 minutes until soft
Pour over the chicken stock and cook for about another 5 minutes
Add the pumkin and kumara and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more chicken stock if necessary.
Mix the white miso and brazil almond butter together
Put the soup in the blender with the light coconut milk, and th enmiso  and brazill nut butter mixture
Whizz till smooth
Add more chicken stock till the desired consistency is reached

Nice with a savoury walnut and muesli sprinkle

savoury sprinkle:
Toast briefly in a frypan:
1/4 cup of purebread wild oats muesli,
 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon red  Chipotle salt ( I used Tio Pablo)

Tio Pablo Red Chilpotle salt is another favourite of mine. This complex spicy Mexican salty condiment includes such ingredients as chilpotle, annatto seed, coriander. lime and juniper berries

Wonton Soup


Making wonton soup together is a great way to keep grandchildren and grandparents happily occupied for a few hours in the holidays!
The recipe comes from Simon and Alison Holst’s latest cookbook: Everyday Easy 100 Soup Recipes.
This large collection of Holst family favourites was gathered over many years. Included are golden oldies like Grandma’s farmhouse soup which used to simmer away on the back of a wood burning stove (but is easier and just as tasty made in a slow cooker today) as well as new ones which show the influence of Asian cuisine on our soup kitchen. Some come in multiple versions. There are five recipes for pumpkin, seven for lentil and eight bean soup recipes.
We took a shortcut when making this soup as there were a lot of other activities we wanted to pack into the week with our granddaughters. So we used a good quality bought chicken stock instead of making our own.
Mastering the art of filling and shaping the wontons wasn’t too difficult.  We soon got into a rhythm and filled a baking paper lined tray ready to lower them gently into the flavoured stock.
A good thing about this soup is that it can easily be adapted to different tastes. Our granddaughters all have some vegetables they like and some they hate. We finished up pleasing everyone by using just broccoli and mushrooms.
The end result was bowls of tasty soup filled to the brim with wontons and vegetables, such a healthy and tasty lunch!
Everyday Easy 100 Soup Recipes will be well used at our house this winter. Our granddaughters have already picked out the soups they want to try next. And that’s fine with me as you can always rely on a Holst recipe to be family friendly, reliable, inexpensive and tasty.
Wonton Soup
Reproduced from Everyday Easy 100 Soup Recipes by Simon & Alison Holst, published by Hyndman Publishing, RRP$34.99, available nationwide
This soup was very popular with several generations of our family. For a real treat, we would buy the wonton wrappers at a specialty Asian food store (now you can get them at most supermarkets!) then make the soup together.
For 4 large main or 8 starter servings:
4 cups cold chicken stock (homemade recipe attached)
2 cups prepared vegetables (e.g. mushrooms, bean sprouts, spring onions, small spinach leaves, snow peas)
4 cups water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sherry
½ tsp salt
32 wonton wrappers
Wonton Filling:
250g pork or beef mince
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp salt
4 spring onions, chopped

Put the chicken stock and thinly sliced vegetables in a large pot and set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the water, soy sauce, sherry and salt until simmering.
To make the filling, mix all the filling ingredients, then divide into 32 small portions, as evenly as possible (cut mixture into 4, then 8, then 16, then 32).
Place a portion of filling in the centre of a wrapper then fold in half diagonally to form a triangle. Dampen one folded corner with water.
Hold folded corners between thumbs and forefingers. With one middle finger, press filled area gently so the dampened corner can be brought towards then under the other folded corner. Pinch together firmly.
After you have made 4–6 wontons, drop them gently into the boiling liquid in the frying pan, jiggling the pan so they do not stick to each other or the pan.
Cook for 5 minutes after liquid returns to the boil. Lift each, with a slotted spoon, into cold chicken stock when cooked. Prepare and cook the rest of the wontons, then pour the remaining liquid from the frying pan into the pot.
To serve, heat carefully until the wontons have just heated through, then ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves, if desired.
Chicken Stock
Freeze raw chicken trimmings and giblets (except livers which make bitter stock) in a bag in the freezer, adding to the bag until it is full. Alone, or with fresh chicken backs bought specially, they make good stock, as long as other flavourings are added.
For 8 cups:
about 1kg raw chicken bones, chicken backs, skin, giblets, feet, etc
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2–3 bay leaves
about 12 peppercorns
4 whole cloves
12 cups (3 litres) water
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Simmer chicken with everything except the salt and pepper in a very large pot for 3 hours.
Strain through a sieve and discard the solids. Skim off and discard the fat from the surface.
Season to taste and refrigerate for up to 2–3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Chicken Bones Stock
The skeleton and other remains of roast, barbecued, grilled or baked chicken may be used to make useful, small amounts of good stock. Start cooking the stock while you do the dishes, while you still have the bones, drippings and vegetable trimmings from dinner close at hand.
For 2–4 cups:
cooked carcass, chicken bones, giblets, skin, fat, etc
1–2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 carrot
1 onion
1 stalk celery, optional
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp salt
6 peppercorns (or 1 dried chilli)
water to cover
Put all the chicken remains in a fairly large pot, with any cooking juices scraped from the original cooking pan, and any suitable vegetable trimmings.
Add the ingredients listed, cover and simmer for about 2 hours.
Strain off stock and refrigerate for short storage or freeze in covered containers for up to 6 months.
Reproduced from Everyday Easy 100 Soup Recipes by Simon & Alison Holst, published by Hyndman Publishing, RRP$34.99, available nationwide

Review By Lyn Potter. 

This review was written for the GrownUps website and and may also be viewed there at


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Susie's Chocolate Cupcakes

My granddaughter Susie created these amazing chocolate cupcakes, She decorated them with a swirl of buttercream icing flavoured and coloured bright pink with Fresh As freeze dried strawberry powder.

The chocolate flowers were a decorative finishing touch. To make them she sprinkled some of the powder into miniature flower shaped chocolate molds before pouring in the chocolate.

This was such a great holiday project and much appreciated  by all of us who got to taste one!

Fresh As freeze dried strawberry dried powders are all natural, and give icing a lovely fruity flavour, so good for children to use in their holiday baking.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Three Spicy Tortillas

It's been a pleasure to try Tio Pablo's  three new tortilla flavours: red jalapeno, green jalapeno and red chilpotle. 
I  let my imagination roam and created these tasty  recipes with them . Each one makes a great little breakfast or brunch.
I like to serve them on a plate with the topping spooned in the middle. You can then choose to eat them with a knife and fork but it's more fun to fold them over and eat them in your hand (with a stack of paper towels or serviettes handy)
Before adding the topping I heated each tortilla on both sides in a hot frying pan.
Dribbling a flavoured oil the tortillas before or after adding the topping was my daughter Kate's idea. I agree, it makes them more moist and flavoursome.

New Wave Scrambled Egg tortilla:

For this I warmed a Tio Pablo Red Chilpotle tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side in a hot frypan.
I sprinkled it with macademia oil
Then I topped it with scrambled egg and added a garnish of finely chopped sundried tomatoes,
 coriander and flat leaved parsley
The finishing touch :a sprinkle of Tio Pablo Red Chilpotle salt.

Spicy Pumpkin on a Tio Pablo red jalapeno tortilla

For this I mashed some pumpkin with finely grated ginger, smashed garlic, a splash of cream and freshly ground Himalayan rock salt and spread this mash generously onto a warmed Tio Pablo red jalapeno tortilla. Then garnished it with shredded parmesan,  chopped coriander and parsley. A sprinkle of Tio Pable red chilpotle salt was added before a final drizzle of macademia oil.

Spicy Mushroom Tortilla

This was my favourite. To make it I fried some portobello mushrooms and crushed garlic in a little butter and heaped these onto a Tio Pable green jalapeno tortilla. I drizzled over some hazelnut oil ( which I think really complimented the earthy flavour of the mushrooms) . Then added plenty of shredded parmesan, and a  garnish of coriander and flat leaved parsley.

Colour me Red: Rhubarb and Apple Compote

As we all know there is more to food than taste, appearance can make all the difference.

Yesterday I stewed some rhubarb and apples in a little pineapple juice with just enough sugar to take away the tartness. After letting it cool a little  I whizzed it in my blender to make a smooth compote. It tasted great but it was an unappetising brown colour. 

Could I fix it? I had an idea.

While still warm I added a teaspoonful of Fresh As freeze dried beetroot powder and it turned a fetching pink, then a little more and now it was a soft cerise red, just gorgeous.
It didn't spoil the flavour at all, If anything it enhanced it.   

Lovely with orange juice//pear juice as well.
When I  whizzed my compote in a nutri bullet it became super smooth. 
And when I roasted the rhubarb and apples with a little orange juice and brown sugar there was very little liquid and the resulting compote was thick enough to use as a coulis with some chocolate brownies, some vanilla icecream and a wild berry sorbet.So decorative!

apple  peeled and sliced/cubed
pineapple juice
a little brown sugar
stew till softened rhubarb and apple
put in nutibullet
unappetising brown colour
added some Fresh As freeze dried beetroot powder
A gorgeous pinish red colour

Monday, 27 June 2016

Rocket, kumara, feta and walnut salad with a ruby red dressing

A great salad to serve at this time of year when kumara are plentiful.
The Fresh As freeze dried beetroot powder gave this dressing its gorgeous ruby red colour.
I had roasted some kumara the previous day and saved some to make this salad.

Blend :
6 tbsp of macadamia oil
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 mandarin
1 teaspoon of Fresh As Freeze Dried beetroot powder

Add salt to taste.

Arrange rocket leaves. feta. chunks of roasted kumara and walnuts in a shallow serving bowl.
Dribble over the dressing.

Variation: Add slices of orange or mandarin segments.
and/or add chunks of roasted beetroot

or if you would like a sweeter dressing substitute the balsamic vinegar 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Thai Mushroom Broth with Freeze Dried Herbs

A bowlful of steaming mushroom broth can be quickly made with Fresh As freeze dried herbs and a good chicken stock.Tasty on its own but all the better with the addition of  thinly sliced pieces of left over roast pork.
I love it moderately hot but if you dislike a slightly burning sensation add a little less chilly powder,
And you can play with the balance of the flavours by adding more or less of any of the freeze dried powders.The first time I made it I added only 1/2 teaspoon of Fresh As freeze dried kaffir lime powder but wanting this flavour to be stronger I stirred in another 1/2 teaspoon at the end which gave it a more distinctive lime flavour.
I imagine that a vegetarian option using vegetables stock and adding small cubes of firm tofu towards the end would work well. And a more substantial broth could be made with the addition of rice noodles.

1-2 tbspn of vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
1/2 teaspoon Fresh As freeze dried lemongrass powder
1 teaspoon of Fresh As freeze dried kaffir lime powder
1/2 teaspoon of Fresh As freeze dried ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon of Fresh As freeze dried garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of Fresh As freeze dried chilly powder.
200 gm of brown mushrooms (finely sliced)
1 tablespoon of soy/tamari sauce
3 cups of chicken stock.
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.
A squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Heat the oil in a fry pan and fry the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes over a moderately high heat.
Add the Fresh As freeze dried  powders and fry for another minute, tossing and stirring as you go.
Add the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. ( If the liquid reduces too much add a little more stock)
Stir in the soy/tamari sauce.
Season the broth  to taste.
A squeeze of lime juice is good but optional.
Add in the slices of roast pork.
Serve while piping hot sprinkled generously with fresh coriander.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Cheesy Mite Scrolls

As I was leafing through 'The Marist Kitchen" a great little cookbook from the Marist Catholic School in Herne Bay, I thought of my great friend Hilary Hall who used to teach there and the wonderful art the students created with her. She would have loved this book and all the effort that went into creating it,

Scattered throughout are lots of photographs of the students tucking happily into the recipes contributed by their families. Lots to choose from but one stood out: The Cheesy Mite Scrolls . Our granddaughters are going to love getting into the kitchen and trying their hand at them.

And if Grandparents want a treat of their own they can easily divide this recipe into thirds .

Cheesy Mite Scrolls come from the Quesnel family and the recipe was passed on from Luc's Grandma.

Marist kids are rugby kids and these are a great favourite after a rippa rugby game. "Twice as delicious as the ones you buy in the local bread shop and brimming full of melted cheese," they write.

Cheesy Mite Scrolls

3 cups of flour
6 tsp of baking powder ( yes, this is correct even if it seems like a lot)
1/4 teaspoon if salt
75 gm of cold butter
11/2 cups of milk
3/4 cup more or less of grated cheese (or a combination of cheeses you like)
Marmite or Vegemite
extra grated cheese for the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C and place baking paper on an oven tray
Add the flour, baking paper and salt to a food processor and process for 1 minute to sift the dry ingredients together

Add the butter and process for about 1-2 minutes until the mixture is crumbly.
With the processor running add the milk and briefly mix together ( do not over mix)
Remove the mixture and knead it into a dough.
Roll the dough into a rectangular shape about 3 cm thick, using a little flour to avoid sticking.

Scoop the vegemite or marmite onto the dough and spread it out thinly.
Sprinkle the dough with the cheese and then roll the dough, from the long side, into a tube. Use a little water to stick the edge to the tube.

Cut it into 2-3 cm slices on the baking tray and sprinkle with a little extra cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are golden and the melted cheese is bubbling.
They are crispier if left for a minute or two more but be careful not to burn them. Remove from the oven, leave them to cool slightly, then enjoy!

Hints and Tips:
Roll the dough out onto gladwrap so it doesn't stick, makes clean-up a breeze.
They taste better straight from the oven but if you have any left over they are good the next day or even frozen and saved for school lunches.
They can also be heated straight from the freezer.  Put a frozen scroll on a paper towel and microwave on high for about 40 seconds

Make or buy a thick custard and spread all over the dough with a little cinnamon for a sweet treat.