Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Capon" with orange #blogjune Day 30

Week 2 of my FutureLearn course on Royal Food and Feasting saw me looking at Elizabethan food. This recipe is for "capon" with oranges and herbs and spices. As I had no capons available (castrated roosters), I cooked it with a chook.  The oranges and spices would have been significant additions to the dishes in Elizabethan times as they would have had to be imported and expensive additions to impress. The original recipe called for 6-8 oranges but, as they are not a luxury to me, I thought that four were enough. The oranges in the original were also peeled but I left the peels on as I think they provide a great taste. I also didn't add the sugar as suggested.

So what did I think?  The process of cooking was quite long, but the chicken tender and imbued with the flavours.  I put bread-crumbs in the sauce for the last part of the cooking but didn't find that it thickened the sauce much. That was a slight disappointment but maybe I didn't use enough bread-crumbs or else I was thinking that the sauce would thicken differently? Or I should have added the bread-crumbs earlier? I would have liked to have eaten it with gnocchi again, but as I didn't have any on hand I used organic wholewheat noodles, again rather an anachronistic addition.


1 1.4k free-range chicken
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups red wine
4 Navel oranges
Cinnamon sticks
3 heaped tbs white breadcrumbs


Heat stock in pan
Add chicken and bring to boil
Reduce to simmer and simmer for 45 minutes
Take off two ladles of the stock and mix with wine
Add wine and stock to chicken
Slice oranges into quarters and then half the quarters
Add oranges to pan with chicken
Tie together sprigs of thyme, rosemary and parsley and add to the pan
Add mace, cloves, cinnamon sticks and mace to the pan
Raise the heat and boil to reduce
Just before serving add breadcrumbs, stir to combine and continue boiling until sauce thickens.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fylettys en galentyne #blogjune Day 27

Like my last recipe, Fylettys en galentyne is one of the historic recipes I have been playing with for my FutureLearn course on Royal Food and Feasting. This is an example of the use of exotic spices cooked to flavour meat, not as I mistakenly thought to cover up bad meat, but to provide evidence of the wealth of the host providing the food. It is interesting to note that at the time of Henry VIII in England if you visited any other European court you could expect the same exotic spices to flavour your food.

This is a pork dish.  The original recipe would have used roast pork from the day before, but I used fresh pork and sealed it with the spices and butter while cooking the onions. The spices are ones which we don't use for meat much today: pepper, cinnamon, cloves and mace, but the mace was the only one I found a bit elusive in terms of purchasing. We were given both the original recipe and a simplified, modern version. I drew what I did and have recorded below from a combination of both recipes and it is neither one nor the other.

The recipe used whole cloves but I used ground cloves for the simple reason that that came to my hand in the pantry before the whole cloves. It also meant that the whole cloves didn't need to be picked out during eating. I accidentally omitted the saffron that the original recipe says to add with salt at the end.  I wasn't going to add the salt as I don't usually cook with it, but I found the saffron on the bench still waiting later.

Apart from adding the bread into the sauce while cooking (I used seeded sourdough but use what you have on hand), this dish would have probably have been eaten with more bread at the table. I ate it with potato gnocchi. definitely not a Tudor dish for a number of reasons.  But I am always keen to try fusion cuisine and this tasted delicious. And the kitchen smelt wonderful for 24 hours!  I'll certainly try this dish again, maybe with the saffron next time.


450 gr pork
1 litre beef stock
2 onions
25 gr butter
Ground cloves
2 slices bread
1 tsp vinegar


Place the stock in a large pan on the stove top
Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer
Meanwhile slice the onion and chop the pork roughly
Melt the butter in a pan
Add the onions and cook until softening
Add the pork and turn until sealed on all sides
Add the pepper, cinnamon, mace and ground cloves in desired amounts
Combine everything and cook for a few minutes further stirring regularly
Transfer the meat, onions and spices to the stock
Bring to the boil again and then reduce to a simmer
Simmer slowly until all the ingredients are tender and the stock has reduced considerably.
Place the slices of bread in a bowl and pour two ladles of the stock over them
Leave to soak for ten minutes
Using a spoon press the bread and stock mixture through a sieve
Add the resulting mixture to the pan, stir to combine
Continue simmering until ready to serve.
A few minutes before serving add the vinegar to the pan and stir.

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


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