Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tarte owt of Lente #blogjune Day 23

Two of my favourite interests are history and cooking. And at the moment I am enjoying both with my MOOC through FutureLearn.  It's conducted by the University of Reading in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces and the theme is food cooked in the royal palaces of Britain. It goes for five weeks and covers five monarchs. It's called "A History of Royal Food and Feasting".   Apart from the historical exploration, there is cooking exploration and each week we have recipes to experiment with.

This Tarte owt of Lente is my first recipe, a Tudor cheese pie which includes all the ingredients people would have eaten in Lent: cheese, butter and cream.  I know these are not necessarily what all would think of as fasting, but there you go. Tudor recipes, such as this one, are guides for cooking rather than prescriptive lists of ingredients and procedures. We watched a video cooking demonstration as part of the course. But I didn't want to cook it quite as the demonstrator had done, so I enjoyed myself playing around with possibilities. I used a combination of ricotta and Cheshire cheese, while he used just Cheshire, though we were told that soft cheeses were also used. Yummy!


375 gr ricotta
30 gr Cheshire cheese
2 eggs
100 ml thick cream
2 sheets shortcrust pastry
Freshly ground pepper



Preheat oven to 180c
Remove pastry from freezer (in my lazy case) or make with butter and flour
Crumble the Cheshire into a mortar
Pound with pestle until soft and combined
Scrape the Cheshire into a mixing bowl
Add ricotta and combine cheeses
Add one egg to the cheese mixture and combine until smooth
Add cream and stir to combine
Add generous amounts of freshly ground pepper and stir
Line a pie or tart dish with pastry base
Add cheese mixture
Beat the remaining egg with a fork in a cup
Cut the pastry lid for the pie and cover the pie, using the egg mixture to seal
With a pastry-brush cover the top of the pie with the egg mixture
Bake in 180c oven for 45 minutes

Friday, June 17, 2016

Chicken balls with stirfried vegetables #blogjune Day 17

It's a cold wet night in Melbourne again.  Winter is here. What is more delicious than some chicken balls?  I flavoured them with thyme and dill, but I always like the combination of Mediterranean and Asian flavours, so I added ginger to the chicken mixture and bok choi to the vegetables. Dashes of sweet chilli sauce and Vietnamese fish sauce added to the Asian flavour.  This recipe served three, with nutty wholegrain brown rice.


700 gr minced chicken
1/4 bunch fresh dill
1 tbs dried thyme
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
Olive oil
2 carrots
6-8 green beans
1 stem bok choi
Sweet chilli sauce
Fish sauce


Crush garlic and ginger
Chop dill roughly
Crumble thyme  discarding stalks
Add chicken, garlic, ginger, thyme and dill to a bowl
Combine ingredients thoroughly with hands
Using a heaped soup spoon of mixture form meatballs 
Heat olive oil in pan on stove top
Add the meatballs and quickly seal on both sides
Cook for a few minutes turning constantly
Meanwhile, chop the beans, bok choi and carrots
Add to the meatballs and stir to combine adding more oil if needed
Sprinkle with chilli sauce and fish sauce
Mix to combine and ensure that all ingredients are covered with the sauces
Stirfry quickly until all ingredients are cooked

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Eggplant Parmigiana #blogjune Day 16

On the weekend I went out for a very pleasant lunch with my friend, Letizia, and she ordered eggplant Parmigiana.  When it arrived, we were both quite surprised by its appearance as it had obviously been baked in a tray in layers and served as a slice, like lasagne. Neither of us had seen it cooked like that before.  So, of course, I wanted to experiment and work out how to cook it - especially when I saw some shiny eggplants when I was out shopping.

The end result was absolutely delicious, if I say so myself, but was also the result of what I had in hand in the kitchen (apart from the eggplant).  I am sure it could be equally nice with another herb.  I shall have to try some other variants.


1 eggplant
1 can diced tomatoes
Dried thyme
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp chopped ginger root
Olive oil


Slice the eggplant lengthwise as shown in photo
Place on a plate, sprinkle with salt and leave for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180c
Rinse the eggplant and put aside
Place the canned tomatoes in a saucepan on a fairly high flame
Add the tomato paste and stir to combine
Crush the garlic and ginger and add
Crumple the thyme and add, discarding stalks
Stir to combine
Bring tomato mixture to the boil and simmer to thicken
Meanwhile heat olive oil in a frying-pan
Fry the eggplant slices turning regularly
Place half the eggplant slices on the bottom of baking dish
Cover with half of the tomato sauce
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan
Place the remaining half of the eggplant on top
Cover with the rest of the tomato sauce
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pork rissoles with Vietnamese mint #blogjune Day 10

A cold, wet day called for some fun cooking. There was minced pork to be had at Piedimonte's and I had a bunch of Vietnamese mint so pork rissoles with Vietnamese mint was the answer. I served them with some stir-fried vegetables.



600 gr minced pork
1/2 bunch Vietnamese mint
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp chopped/crushed  ginger
1 tsp Sambal oelek
2 tsp chopped lemongrass
Olive oil


Place the pork in a large bowl
Peel and crush the ginger and garlic and add
Chop the Vietnamese mint and the lemongrass and add
Finally add the Sambal oelek and stir to combine fully, using hands to finish.
Using a spoon form the mixture into rissoles and roll in flour
Heat olive oil in a pan and add the rissoles
Fry until cooked through, turning regularly.
Meanwhile prepare vegetables which you wish to serve with them.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Preserved limes #blogjune Day 9

I was recently the fortunate recipient (or one of a number of recipients) of the bounty of my friend, Neville's lime tree.  So what to do with them?  I drank some of them instead of my normal morning lemon juice, but then I remembered years ago making preserved limes.  So that became my plan. 

There are many recipes for both preserved lemons and preserved limes around on the web and in various cook books on my shelves. I kept it fairly simple with limes, cloves, cinnamon sticks and salt.  I have purposefully been rather vague in my quantities as it depends on what you have on hand and what tastes good to you. I used 200 gr of salt flakes and I probably had a couple of dozen limes.  This made three reasonably sized jars of limes and I used one cinnamon stick per jar and scatterings of cloves.

I remember from last time that I made them that they took quite a while to reach their prime: much longer than lemons.   Now all I can do is put them away for a few months and see how they go.  But I will keep on eye on them for a while and top them up with extra lime juice if they seem to be getting dry.


20-24 limes
200 gr salt flakes
3 cinnamon sticks
Extra lime juice (if required)


Place the salt flakes in a large bowl
Quarter the limes and add to the salt
Mix thoroughly to ensure that the limes are coated
Cover and set aside for 24-36 hours
Meanwhile sterilize the jars you plan to use (I simply do this by putting them in the dishwasher)
Place some of the salt in the bottom of one of the jars and add the limes interspersing them with cinnamon stick and cloves
During the packing and particularly at the end use a spoon to squash down the fruit and release the juice
Be sure to leave space at the top of the jar as they will expand.
Repeat the process until all the limes and their liquid are in jars
Check the levels and if necessary squeeze extra lime juice and add to ensure that the limes are covered.
Observe them for a few days in case the limes are getting dry and add extra juice if necessary.
Then label them and store them high away in the top of the pantry for a few months!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Chicken and dill balls with gnocchi #blogjune Day 5

What's not to like about the taste and texture of crunchy, fresh dill?  I brought some home with the aim of using it for lentil soup, but it ended up being used for making yummy chicken and dill balls.  I cooked them in tomato sauce, and served them with gnocchi and freshly shaved parmesan, but you could eat them by themselves without sauce, or with sauce served with rice or other sorts of pasta.


600 gr minced chicken
1/2 bunch fresh dill
3 cloves garlic
4 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp Sambal Oelek
Olive oil
250 gr ready made tomato sauce



Place tomato sauce in large pan to heat
Reduce to simmer once it comes to boil
Crush garlic and ginger
Chop dill roughly
Add chicken, garlic, ginger, Sambal Oelek and dill to a bowl
Combine ingredients thoroughly with hands
Using a heaped soup spoon of mixture form meatballs 
Heat olive oil in pan on stove top
Add the meatballs in batches and quickly seal on both sides
Add sealed meatballs to the tomato sauce
Simmer on the top of the stove for 20-30 minutes
Meanwhile boil water, add gnocchi and cook for 6-8 minutes until cooked
Serve chicken balls on a bed of gnocchi
Top with shaved Parmesan

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pork with green olive tapenade pie

I am lucky enough to have a nephew who keeps me supplied with tapenades. So when I was doing shingles cooking with staples I had on hand, olive tapenade not surprisingly came to mind. This one is a pork pie baked with delicious green olive tapenade. One of the few benefits of having shingles (maybe the only one in truth apart from learning about the kindness of friends) was that I came up with a number of recipes that I could cook with ingredients that were hanging around the kitchen as staples.  I have been pleased with them and will definitely be making them again - without shingles to provide the trigger.


2 pork butterfly steaks (about 400 gr)
100 green olive tapenade
1 sheet puff pastry


Preheat the oven to 180c
Remove pastry from refrigerator or freezer and bring to room temperature
Spoon half the tapenade into the base of an oven-proof pie dish
Place the pork steaks on top
Spread the rest of the tapenade over the pork
Cover with puff pastry and decorate as desired
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.


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