After the last four years of a gypsy lifestyle, you would think I would know a thing or two about travelling light. And while it’s true I can now pack a suitcase sparingly, there are some things I just can’t do without.
And chief amongst these indispensables are books.
I have gathered favourite books for the last 40 years and I would never part with them. Some have run away from home, others I have loaned to friends and family never to return, but there are hundreds and hundreds of books in a storage unit waiting to be reunited to me. In my When-I-Win-Lotto fantasies I dream of a book-lined study with a brass ladder. It’s at the top of my list, only then is it followed by a lovely kitchen. Continue reading Desserts – Peanut Butter Pie
Blame my son. He turned up in Melbourne recently with his girlfriend and after introductions were made – and a soothing cup of tea to ease my acute nerves – he gently told me both of them were vegetarian. To which my response was, ‘Yes, and?’
I think we can safely say I have that side of things covered off. And while I didn’t bat an eyelid, it was a good excuse as any to make a round of these rolls on what turned out to be the first really cold day of the year. Continue reading Day 13 – Spinach and Fetta Rolls
Sometimes I have an urge to bake but my empty-nester status makes this problematic. Do I make a full batch of tarts and hope I don’t eat away my feelings, or do I find a friend to share the spoils with?
I have a new housemate who works very long hours and says he doesn’t have a sweet tooth anyway, so there’s not much hope he will dive right in. But still, I had an urge to make Bakewell Tarts. Not the kind you see here, plainly adorned with a scattering of almonds, oh no. I wanted the full catastrophe, with icing AND a cherry on top. Continue reading Sweet Treats – Bakewell Tart
I sat on this recipe for the longest time, then included it in my cookbook. This being apple season, it’s worth re-visiting. Use the largest crispiest apples you can find and don’t be too worried when they form a mini-mountain in the middle of the pie crust – they cook down to sweet perfection.
When I look at apple pie recipes, instructions invariably begin with a request to open a tin of apple pie filling and it’s all downhill from there. This being a simple recipe, it requires the very best components. A light and buttery pastry, with filling unadulterated with cinnamon or cloves or excess sugar. Continue reading Dessert – Mrs Windsor's Apple Pie
Quince are related to the apple and pear family and the only reason they are not as well known as their cousins is their plug-ugly looks. They are hard, lumpen, as big as a baby’s head, furry. No wonder novices walk straight past them, despite their cheap price, having no clue what they are or what they taste like. Continue reading Dessert – Quince Crostada
“Sandra, N has invited you to lunch, only she didn’t have your number so she asked me to ask you.”
“Oh, that’s great, what’s her number so I can reply?”
“I’ll send it to you.”
[Eight days later, and just one day before the party, I finally get N’s number]
“Hi N, it’s Sandra, I’ve only just got your number, but I would love to come tomorrow. What do you want me to bring?”
“That’s great! It’s a very casual affair, just bring cheezels, or lollies”
“Oh, so you don’t want me to bring the salmon quiche that’s now cooling on the bench?”
“That will also be wonderful!”
Gosh, I love take-me-as-I-am friendships.
Continue reading Day 2 – Salmon and Spinach Quiche
There is nothing more satisfying than using up some fridge based odds and ends and then having the resulting effort taste even better than you could have hoped for. To be honest, using up leftovers can sometimes feel as bit hit and miss – for every triumph, there can be lots of what was I thinking? disasters. No wonder so many people are risk adverse to leftovers and often throw out perfectly good food rather than reheat it or re-use it.
This was the result of chucking in some cottage cheese (the result of a too-brief clean eating fad, when my housemate was reminded how bland cottage cheese can taste), some eggs, two red capsicum and some week-old mushrooms that were in danger of shrivelling up. The result was a rich, more-ish, flavourful meal, a great addition for lunches and it guaranteed everything got used up in those crucial days before the next big shop.
You can’t ask for better than that. Continue reading Day 1 – Red Pepper and Mushroom Tart
Never one to say no to a lemon pie, I have to say this recipe intrigued me. Combine whole sliced lemons with sugar and egg. Could such a simple recipe really be that good?
To answer this question, one has to look at the origins of the pie. From early settler American origins, the Shaker religious movement is known for its simple and straightforward style of design in everything from furniture to household implements to recipes. Quite simply, this form of lemon pie is well-known for its purity of flavour and for its reliability- so why change it?
Yet change it I did. Continue reading Desserts – Shaker Lemon Pie
With pumpkin well in season, now is the time to take advantage of prices as low as a dollar a kilo. The question then becomes one of how to use it all up, especially if you don’t much care for pumpkin soup.
Hard to believe I know, but as my housemate reminds me, it does happen. Pumpkin soup is not universally popular, despite our best efforts to convince the nay-sayers.
The lovely thing about this pie is that you can substitute many of the ingredients. It’s a fantastic resource for an end-of-week fridge clear out. I used pumpkin, but a layer of sweet potato works just as well. Instead of capsicum you could use a layer of squeezed out frozen spinach. Use roast vegetables, peas and corn kernels, some sliced carrots, even lentils or quinoa. Substitute the ricotta for cottage cheese, and if you have none, use mozzarella or bocconcini, or some grated tasty cheese mixed through the vegetables. It’s a very generous and compliant meal, generously supporting many food combinations. Continue reading Day 6 – Chicken and Pumpkin Layer Pie
I rarely stray from the classic combination of cream, eggs and bacon when making a quiche, if only because to my way of thinking a classic quiche recipe can be very easily adulterated and diminished. I won’t add grated cheese over the top for example. I rarely add tomato.
To my way of thinking more can be too much – I take the option of admirable restraint and keep it pared back to one or two key ingredients. In doing so I find the result to be packed full of flavour rather than forcing each ingredient to compete for attention.
Still, it must be said that a quiche is a wonderful carrier for all sorts of leftovers and is always a reliable standby for lunch boxes and it’s highly suitable for the great pairing of chicken and leek. I also had some mushrooms and found that the trick of adding them to this combination was to be sparing so they didn’t crowd out the delicate flavours of the other two and didn’t discolour the creamy custard. Continue reading Day 12 – Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Quiche