Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Pritikin style" Beetroot

I have had several people recently diagnosed with diabetes and lots of people I know have their cholesterol edging up. This is a particular issue for those of us who have taken aromatose inhibitors such as Femara or Arimidex. So I dredged back in my head to the days when I was a Pritikin person and came up with this simple beetroot recipe to include amongst my Christmas produce along with the sugar filled relishes.


6 large beetroot
1.5 cups cider vinegar
1.5 cups apple juice


Prepare jars in hot wash in dishwasher and cool
Cut the ends of the beetroots and slit the base and top with a cross
Add the beetroots to a large pan of water and bring to the boil
Simmer gently until tender
Allow to cool in water
Drain and rub off skins
Slice beetroot and half fill first jar
Sprinkle 3-4 cloves in
Fill to below rim with rest of sliced beetroot
Repeat for other jars (this makes about 3 jars depending on size)
Mix apple juice and cider vinegar
Pour slowly into jars allowing mixture to filter through to bottom
Place on lids and seal tightly
Decorate as required if giving as presents.

Cauliflower & Chickpea soup

This soup was the result of opening up some stock to cook couscous in and wondering what to do with the other three cups of it! Well I found half a cauliflower in the firdge and went on from there with what I had on hand and made a very yummy soup.

3 cups low salt chicken stock
1/2 cauliflower
1 can chickpeas (or use dry chickpeas and pre-soak and pre-cook)
4 spring onions
3 cloves garlic
Heaped tbs ginger root
1/2 teaspoon Sambal Oelek
Small bunch coriander

Place large pan on heat and add stock
Break cauliflower into flowerlets, roughly chop leaves and stalks, and add to stock
Clean and roughly chop spring onions and add
Crush garlic and ginger and add along with Sambal Oelek
Roughly chop coriander and add
Bring to boil and gently simmer until vegetables are tender.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Easy Pork & Silverbeet Lasagne

I am very fond of lasagne but sometimes it just takes a bit too long to cook up all the component parts, assemble them and then cook the assembled product. The other evening I felt like lasagne but wanted it a bit for quickly. So I used a few prepared ingredients and was creative about including what I had on hand in terms of vegetables and ricotta.


375gr reduced fat ricotta
500gr minced pork
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 piece of broccoli
400gr Bertolli Summer basil & pasta sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp Sambal Oelek
4 leaves of silverbeet
Ready to cook lasagne sheets
Grated parmesan


Preheat oven to 160c.
Pour pasta sauce into pan and heat.
Add peeled and sliced parsnip and carrot to sauce and stir.
Add pork mince to mixture and stir to combine.
Break broccoli into florets and add.
Stir, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables tender.
Meanwhile fill steamer with water and bring to boil.
Roughly chop leaves and stalks of silverbeet and add to steamer.
Add crushed garlic and Sambal Oelek to silverbeet.
Steam until silverbeet tender.
Assemble lasagne with layers of pasta sheets, meat sauce, silverbeet and ricotta.
Commence with layer of meat sauce in bottom of dish, add pasta sheet, then silverbeet and top with ricotta.
Continue in this order until to top of dish, ending with meat sauce layer.
Place in middle of oven and cook for 50 minutes in 160c oven.
Allow to sit for 15 minutes then slice into chunks to serve.
Sprinkle with parmesan and serve either alone or with a green salad.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beef & pumpkin meatballs

Readers of this blog know that I like meatballs in any shape or form and that necessity (or not having ingredients I want on hand) sometimes forces me to improvise. These pumpkin and beef meatballs were no exception. I bought minced beef and planned to cook my normal meatballs with bread, onion and cumin. Uh oh! No bread! What do I have in the house that could be used bind them a bit? Hmm, there is some pumpkin in the fridge that really needs cooking. I'll try that. I am very glad that I did try pumpkin as it was a great combination: beef, cumin and pumpkin.


600 gr minced beef
1 onion
2 cups pumpkin pieces
1 egg
2 tsp ground cummin
Extra cummin
Olive oil
Ready made tomato sauce


Prepare tomato sauce and have simmering
Chop pumpkin into small portions and peel
Place in steamer or microwave until soft
Chop onion finely
Place beef, onion, egg, pumpkin and cummin in bowl and mix until combined preferably with hands
Place flour on a plate and add a few grinds of pepper and a little cummin and stir
Using tablespoons of mixture form meatballs by hand and roll in seasoned flour
Heat oil in pan
Add batches of meatballs and seal
Add meatballs to tomato sauce and simmer until cooked through (about 20 minutes)
Serve with rice or pasta

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beef & shiraz pie with lemon thyme potatoes

One of the meals that I really loved in England and Wales earlier this year were the yummy pies, particularly the beef and ale ones. I had never made pies like that but thought I would have a go tonight. I didn't have any Guinness on hand or on tap but I did have red wine so I thought I would try my hand at a beef and red wine pie.

To accompany it, I cooked potatoes roasted with lemon thyme and lemon-infused olive oil. It ended taking a lot longer than I expected. So it is certainly a meal to make on the weekend or a meal to do a lot of the preparatory cooking before! I certainly enjoyed my pie but think that I like the ale ones better!

Beef & shiraz pie with lemon thyme potatoes

12 potatoes
Several sprigs of lemon thyme
Lemon-infused olive oil
880 gr topside beef
Plain flour
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
4 handfuls mushrooms
1.5 glasses shiraz
Puff pastry
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 220c
Chop the potatoes into halves or quarters and place in ovenproof dish
Sprinkle with lemon-infused olive oil and add lemon thyme
Mix to coat, preferably with hands
Put aside potatoes
Heat oil in pan
Place flour on plate, add pepper and mix
Chop the topside into cubes and coat with seasoned flour
In batches quickly brown the meat in the oil and add to a lidded casserole
Roughly chop the onion and crush the garlic
Add to the pan once the meat has been removed and cook until soft
Slice the mushrooms and add to the onion mix in pan
Cook a further few minutes and then add to meat mix in casserole
Pour the shiraz into the pan and bring to the boil loosening the pan scrapings
Pour over the meat mixture in the casserole
Place the casserole in the oven and cook at 220c for 30 minutes
Check and stir the casserole and add potatoes to oven and cook for 45 minutes
Check and stir the casserole and turn the potatoes
Cook for a further 30 minutes or until meat is tender
Remove casserole from the oven (leaving potatoes in oven)
Decant the meat into six individuals oven-proof dishes (I used souffle dishes)
Roll and cut the pastry into circles to cover the dishes and cut out decorative pieces if desired
Wet the rims of the dishes and seal the pastry around the edges
Pierce the pastry in a couple of places with the point of a knife to allow the steam to escape
Add decorative pastry leaves if desired
Beat the egg and use it to brush the pastry lids
Place pie dishes on oven tray and return to oven for 15 minutes
Allow to cool slightly and serve with the potatoes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lamb's fry and bacon

Earlier in the week I was browsing in the supermarket meat shelves looking for something to improve a cat's anaemia and generally tempt her appetite. I was amazed to see a shelf of lamb's fry. I hadn't eaten lamb's fry for years but we used to have it regularly when I was a child.

The cats weren't at all keen on it, but I really enjoyed looking up recipes for lamb's fry in my old favourites Margaret Fulton and my Stephanie bible. It was also fun trying to remember how we used to cook it when I was a child.

The resulting recipe is an amalgam of all these sources, combined with what I had on hand in the kitchen.


1 lamb's fry
6 rashers of shortcut rindless bacon
1 cup combination of stock/red wine
Olive oil


Moisten the bottom of pan with oil and heat
Add the bacon rashers and cook until crisp
Put aside in serving bowl which is being kept warm
Meanwhile chop the lamb's fry into pieces a couple of inches long
Season the flour with pepper
Coat the lamb's fry pieces in flour
Once the bacon has been taken from the pan add some margerine to the bacon fat
Cook the lamb's fry in fat/margerine in batches for 2 minutes each side
Add cooked lamb's fry to the bacon in serving dish
Make up a cup of stock and red wine
Clarify the pan with this and then simmer until reduced
Pour sauce over lamb's fry and bacon in serving dish
Serve with mashed potatoes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Pastries

After using half a tub of ricotta to make my meatballs, guess what? I needed to decide what to do with the rest. And what goes with ricotta? Spinach! So I decided to make some spinach pastries using ready made sheets of frozen puff pastry I had in the freezer. The result was pretty yummy, if I say so myself, and incredibly simple to do.

2 sheets frozen puff pastry
200 gr low fat ricotta
2 spring onion chopped
Handful shaved Parmesan
6 individual serves frozen spinach
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed
Half teaspoon Sambal Oelek
1 egg
Sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200 c.
Take sheets of frozen pastry from freezer and put on wire rack to thaw
Place frozen spinach, spring onion, garlic and chilli in bowl
Cover with greaseproof paper and microwave for 2.5 minutes
If microwave not available, place in top level of steamer until cooked
Place ricotta and parmesan in mixing bowl
Beat egg in cup with fork and add most of it to cheese mixture (leave enough to baste the pastries)
Add vegetable mixture to bowl and stir until combined
Cut pastry sheets into four equal portions
Spoon heaped dessertspoon of mixture onto each square
Pull each corner to centre and press together to seal
Make sure that the four outer corners are also sealed thoroughly to prevent leakage
Using pastry brush baste tops of pastries with beaten egg
Sprinkle with sesame seed
Place in middle of oven and cook for 20-30 minutes
Leave for 15 minutes before serving

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Beef and Ricotta Balls

Last night was my first night at home after being in the Dandenongs for three days at a libraryland retreat and after catching up at work later. I was exhausted. On my way home I decided I wanted meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta for dinner. So I stopped by the shops on my way home. Alas! When I got home I realized I didn't have any bread and I didn't want to cook rice.

I started making the meatball mixture anyway but it really needed something else. Voila! I saw some low fat ricotta in the fridge. I sometimes make salmon cakes with ricotta and wondered how it would go. It was fine. I would never have thought of making these meatballs otherwise, but they are really delicious. And just as well as there are more for tonight (or freezing).


Tomato sauce (previously prepared)
600gr minced beef
1 onion
1 egg
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tsp Sambal Oelek
1 teaspoon ground cummin
Half cup grated cheese
150 gr low fat ricotta
Olive oil


Have prepared tomato sauce simmering on stovetop
Peel and chop onion finely and place in mixing bowl
Add minced beef and egg and mix (perhaps giving a taste of meat to hovering cat pictured above)
Chop and crush garlic and ginger and add to mixture
Add chilli, cummin, grated cheese and ricotta
Stir until completely integrated, preferably with hands
Place flour on flat plate
With soup spoon and hands shape meatballs and roll in flour
Heat olive oil in pan and quickly seal meatballs in batches
When sealed, add meatballs to tomato sauce which has been prepared previously and is simmering on stove
Simmer meatballs in tomato sauce until cooked
Serve with rice or pasta

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lentil soup with carrot and silverbeet

Yesterday I had to spend the afternoon at work, a semi-reluctant #saturdaylibrariansortoff, because a historic display celebrating 150 years of Hawthorn Library needed to be completed. No food shopping was done. As a result, cooking this weekend has featured around stuff that I had in the house. This variant on the more traditional lentil soup is the yummy result of my foraging and I am posting the recipe here at @mundoo's request.


2 400 gr cans lentils (ie 800 gr)
1 400 gr can crushed tomatoes
1 bunch baby silver-beet
2 carrots
1 tbs tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs ginger
1 tsp Sambal Oelek
2-3 cups of water


Heat soup pot on stove and add canned tomatoes
Stir in tomato paste
Strain lentils and add to pot
Peel and crush garlic and ginger and add to pot along with Sambal Oelek
Peel and slice carrots and add to pot
Roughly chop leaves and stalks of silver-beet and add to pot
Stir to combine, add cup of water and bring to the boil
Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, adding more water as needed.
Serve with buttered crusty bread.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beef stroganoff

Geraldine Dillon isn't much known these days but in the 1960s and 1970s she was well known in Melbourne as a cooking presenter and writer. She had a weekly cooking program on Channel 9 for years, gave demonstrations at Gas & Fuel and at Myers, she wrote for the Age and the Women's Weekly and had a regular cooking column in the Melbourne Advocate. My mother always watched her cooking program and, as it was on during the day (on Friday I think), I only got to watch it during the holidays. My mother used to jot down recipes while watching the program and sometimes we wrote into Channel 9 for a roneoed version. We also went off occasionally on holidays to see her real life demonstrations. We tried lots of her recipes in our family and these recipes were often the reason for us trying different recipes and ingredients. Apart from cooking with my mother, I am sure that Geraldine was one of the main reasons for my abiding interest in and love of cooking.

Recently I was asked by a young colleague if I had a good recipe for beef stroganoff, probably because a boomer would be expected to cook such a thing I speculated. Well, indeed, I had but I hadn't cooked it for decades. And there it was in my copy of the The Geraldine Dillon cookbook, published by Paul Hamlyn in 1974. That was the stroganoff that I had cooked, that my mother had cooked and that I had a vague memory of Bert Newton doing some skit about on IMT one night. However, I thought I really should try it again before giving it out.

I was also mystified by Tania's mention of a recipe with paprika in it. I didn't remember using paprika in beef stroganoff and sure enough there was no paprika in the Geraldine recipe. So I thought I would explore a little. I didn't Google. I just looked at a few of my own recipe books and discovered variants. Geraldine's recipe, which would have come through her Cordon Bleu background, had stock, tomato paste, mustard and sour cream along with the meat, mushrooms etc. She used stewing steak. Margaret Fulton, an Australian cooking icon (@margaretfulton - yes, she's on Twitter!) who was writing at the same time, didn't have mustard or stock but did have mushrooms and sour cream and used fillet steak.

Hmm, I thought, is this really an Anglicized version of a Russian dish or just some Anglo dish given a fancy name? So off I went to my trusty Time Life Foods of the World series - also dating from 1970s. Sure enough there in the book on The Cooking of Russia was a recipe for Bef Stroganov. The recipe was prefixed by the statement: "Bef Stroganov, created in the late 19th century for a Russian count, has become one of the world's famous dishes. The recipe that follows is the classic Russian version. The numerous European and American variations called Beef Stroganov do not in any sense reproduce the dish as it was originally made."

And the differences? Well, Margaret Fulton and Geraldine Dillon both use butter, whereas the Russian recipe uses oil. Apart from that the recipe is pretty similar to the Geraldine Dillon one apart from that she adds stock and powdered mustard, and the Russian recipe made up the mustard in water. It also didn't include tomato paste. However, I found another Russian recipe which this time had both the made up mustard and the stock as well as tomato paste, but no mushrooms though a footnote said that another variant included mushrooms. Both the Russian recipes called for fillet steak.

I decided after all this that the recipe I was still going to cook was the original Geraldine Dillon one. However, I am not very good at sticking to recipes so there were some differences. She said grilling steak: I purchased stir fry beef. She said stock (not sure what kind) I used low salt beef stock. And I didn't include the added salt. I normally use light sour cream but I got the full catastrophe. The Russian recipe suggested doing the meat in two batches as being essential. So I did this. Otherwise the recipe is Geraldine Dillon.


90 gr butter
1 medium onion
250 gr mushrooms
750 gr stir fry beef
2 tablespoon plain flour
1 cup salt-reduced beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch mustard
1/2 cup sour cream


Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and fry the finely chopped onion until golden.
Slice the mushrooms and add to the onions with a further tablespoon of butter.
Saute for 2-3 minutes, then remove the onion and mushrooms from the pan.
Add the remaining butter to the pan and brown half the meat strips quickly.
Remove from the pan and repeat with the rest of the meat.
Add the flour, stock tomato paste, pepper and mustard to the pan and bring to the boil.
Return the meat and vegetables to the pan, cover and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Once the meat is tender, add the sour cream the sour cream and heat.
Serve with rice or noodles.

So what was beef Stroganoff like decades after I had last had it? I found it pretty rich I must say with butter and sour cream but it's a good taste. As I am much more used to cooking with oil and normally only use low fat sour cream I might try another variant. But pretty tasty really.

Thanks for being the trigger for this trip down memory lane, Tania!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Veal and pork meatballs in tomato sauce

One of my very favourite meals is meatballs in tomato sauce. I usually make them with with beef or chicken but last weekend I got some veal and pork mince and thought I would have a go making meatballs with it.

I just wanted some fairly light flavours to go with the meat so I settled on parsley and parmesan. I wondered for a while if I had overdone the parsley, but once cooked the flavours all balanced beautifully. I used already prepared tomato sauce.


500 gr veal & pork mince
1/2 bunch Italian parsley
1 large slice bread
1 egg
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Splash red wine
Tomato sauce previously made


Place the bread in a bowl and cover with milk to soak
Chop parsley
Place the mince in a large bowl
Add parsley and squeezed out bread
Add egg
Grate Parmesan and add to mix
Stir all ingredients to combine
Meanwhile have tomato sauce simmering in large casserole
Roll up sleeves and use hands to ensure that meat mixture is combined
Place flour on flat plate
Using a dessertspoon take spoonfuls of the mixture, form into balls and lightly coat with flour
Heat olive oil in pan
Add meatballs a few at a time and quickly seal
When sealed, added to tomato sauce in casserole
Continue in batches until all meatballs sealed and added to casserole
Splash red wine onto hot pan and use to gather meat juice, oil and flour
Pour into casserole and stir
Cook meatballs in casserole on top of stove or in 180c oven for 45 minutes to an hour
Serve with noodles or rice.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sweet potato and cauliflower for @shewgirl

When I recently returned to Australia, it was to discover that many of my online friends were participating in a #blogeverydayofjune project. I have been reading their blogposts and sometimes commenting and all the while reflecting on how slack I have become in my own blogging. So one of my aims this weekend was to do a few blogposts and in particular to finish off a few outstanding and half-written posts. This post is not one of those though it was triggered by my online community within some Twitter comments last night.

It has been a very long week here in Australia with the excitement of a new Prime Minister and all the lead-up to that. I also had a very busy week ending with all day Friday at Lilydale in a workshop on emergency management standard operating procedures. It was cold and pouring rain. When I finally got home after 7pm I wasn't in any mood to cook anything that was going to take time; nor did I even want to go to the supermarket on the way home to pick up anything.

A search of cupboards and fridge revealed that I wasn't going to starve (God forbid that that would ever happen!) and I started making a quick old vegetable stand-by. I think the origin of it was in an old Penguin Indian cookbook and related to cooking green peas with onion and turmeric. Over the years I have usually cooked the dish with green peas and often added potatoes. I often cook it with turmeric but sometimes with the first spicy ingredient that comes to hand, be this Malaysian curry powder, Vindaloo or whatever. Last night the potato shelf was bare, but I had a sweet potato and a cauliflower. And a jar of curry powder was the first spicy jar my hand reached for. So that was what I prepared to cook quickly before catching the end of the news and the start of the Geelong St Kilda match.

As I sat down to await the cooking, I reached for my iPod and found myself in the middle of a Twitter exchange that was about people wanting something quick for Friday dinner. After I mentioned my sweet potato and cauliflower, quick as a blink @shewgirl pointed out her expectations of a blog post so that she could check it out! So here it is @shewgirl! I think it has taken me longer to write this than it did to reach for the ingredients, chop, and cook!

Curried sweet potato & cauliflower

1 white onion
Olive oil
1 orange sweet potato
Quarter cauliflower
Curry powder


Heat some olive oil in a saucepan which is large enough to contain all ingredients
When oil is hot, add sliced onion and stir until softened
Add to onions about a tablespoon of curry powder of your choice and stir
Slice the sweet potato and add to mix stirring again
Break the cauliflower into small flowerlets and add to mix and stir to combine
Add a cup of water to the saucepan
Place on the lid and cook until tender

Last night, I also unearthed some spicy sausages in the freezer and grilled them while the vegetables were cooking. I served them with Maggie Beer's plum sauce (ala Polyxena) and the vegetables. That was a yummy and very quick dinner. Unfortunately the AFL match was not so yummy :((

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trahanas in chicken stock

As some of you have been keen to tell me I have been very bad with my food blogging recently. I do apologize. Unfortunately my home PC was suffering and in death's throes and then I went off on long service leave. However, I am back now and ready to chase up all those half-written posts dating back to Christmas.

Today's post is a new one though. Trahanas is a Greek "pasta" apparently created by shepherds as an instant food as they could drop the yoghurt noodles into boiling water while tending their flocks. Today these noodles can be purchased ready made at shops carrying Greek produce and come in two forms, "sweet" which are made with milk and "sour" which are made with yoghurt. You can find a recipe here.

Trahanas is normally cooked with water and then served with crumbled fetta, parsley or avgolemeno. I well remember eating a bowl of it made by a student in Thessaloniki in the 1970s. Tonight I decided to do something a little different. I had some dried sour trahanas in the pantry. I heated some chicken stock, added the trahana and some dried thyme. Before serving I added some shaved parsley. It was delicious!


1 litre chicken stock
1.5 cups sour trahanas
Dry thyme
Shaved parmesan

Bring stock to boil
Add trahana
Add dry thyme
Stir regularly until thickened (about 15 minutes)
Serve topped with shaved parmesan

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Abla in print again!

Great news for lovers of Abla's Lebanese cooking!  The Penguin website has an forthcoming announcement that Abla's Lebanese kitchen will be published in hardback as part of the Lantern imprint in 2010. Abla Amad's The Lebanese kitchen was published by Penguin under the Viking imprint in 2001 and was very soon being re-printed and then out of print.  It is not clear from the forthcoming promo whether this is simply a reprint or whether it will be a new edition. That the title is different makes one live in hope.  The Lantern imprint is the one which recently published Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen garden companion in time for the Christmas market.   That's to Pat Miller for this headsup!

I love Abla's food and only last night cooked lemon and garlic chicken drummettes made according to her recipe for chicken wings.  For those of you who don't know Abla, her eponymous Lebanese restaurant has been a Melbourne institution for years.


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