Rainy day play – leftovers

Meanwhile,as the pets peacefully slept, it seemed like a good idea to use up leftovers in the fridge.

I had thought it was a good idea to freeze labna. It seemed fine, and it would save having to use all that olive oil to cover them. Defrosted a container, went to ball it up and oh dear, the texture had changed so that it proved impossible. It wasn’t bad, just crumbly and the balls del apart as fast as I rolled them.

I could have made raita, if I’d only had a cucumber. So instead decided to use some leftover lime pastry, a half jar of lemon/lime curd I made the other day, the juice and zest of slightly sad, ageing limes and lemons and the last of my eggs to make a version of lemon/lime tart.


Thank goodness for food processors, because it smoothed the mixture out perfectly. That tart is now baking in the oven and looking promising.

I’d seen Robert heading back from the veggie patch with a bucketful of tomatoes, the last of the season I expect. He didn’t bring them inside, but shortly after when I went in search of a tart plate, I found him in the cooking school kitchen in the throes of preserving them, while at the same time making a brew of beer.


I have to say he’s made a neater job of things than I have. The kitchen in the house after making a salmon and corn loaf, two pumpkin cakes, pumpkin soup and now the lemon/lime tart, looks like a cyclone has hit with a vengeance. It would surely never grace the cover of “Home Beautiful”.


Oh well, I’ll just poach some lime slices to accompany the tart and then I’ll get to cleaning I expect.

Now all I need is someone to eat everything I’ve cooked or else they will just be leftovers of a different kind!

When rain is on the way

Best indicators of rainy weather on the way are twofold. Firstly, and not at all pleasantly, are Huntsman spiders, one of which shared, uninvited, my shower this morning.

The other is old Tom the ex-feral. Most days he loves to sleep in the dog’s bed on the front verandah surveying the paddocks in front of him. However, when rain is in the offing we always know as he comes indoors, demands the alpaca rug, and settles down to sleep on the couch for the entire day.

The only time he stirs himself is to ask for food, or milk, or best of all an egg nog, his special favourite.

No photo of the spider here! (I dare say he was no more pleased than I was about being in the shower with me).


The morning after the (pizza) night before

Yesterday, a blissful day of rain, at last.  It was not enough of course, but we are happy with every single drop.

Truffles, my lovely little kitten, spent the day happily curled up in her basket.

IMG_1696 Last night there was to be a meeting here, followed by the baking of many pizzas in “Herman”, the outdoor oven Robert built.

The oven cooked amazingly as always, but then there are always the leftovers to deal with.

As usual I prepared too much dough. Once upon a time I used to just send it to the compost heap or cook it up in the chooks’ mash next day.

However, I’ve now discovered a much better use. If you should end up in the same situation, with unused balls of dough sitting on the bench top, risen but with nowhere to go, you might want to try this.

Knock the air out of them and just scrunch them up a bit (you can re-roll into balls if you want). Grease a loaf tin to about the size you think you might need. Throw the balls of dough into this (the tin should be about half full).

Let this combined dough rise almost to the top of the tin and bake for about 40 minutes at 200 degrees C, until it is browned and sounds hollow when tapped with the fingertips. There you have it – a nice fresh loaf of bread for the next day.

It can be prepared and cooked like this while you are cleaning up the kitchen after guests have gone home.IMG_1705This morning when we opened the Herman’s door, there was still a good bed of coals and a lot of residual heat inside the oven. It felt perfect for slow cooking a casserole.


By way of leftover toppings, there were a large bowl of sliced onions and capsicums, and a lovely bowl of chopped fresh tomatoes. I’d already sautéed them in some oil, so into a casserole dish they went, along with some osso bucco pieces. That’s dinner sorted.

IMG_1707The leftover pizza sauce topping will be pressure canned later today. I am anticipating that this new piece of equipment is going to be a real asset in the kitchen for safely preserving low acid foods.


Recipes – Oat Bread and Old Fashioned Boiled Fruit Cake

I’ve had lots of requests for the recipes, so here they are.  I haven’t tasted the fruit cake but the bread is delicious, very tasty and well worth making.  It has a good texture and is quite moist, so I’m sure it won’t go stale in a hurry.

Oat Loaf

(Inspired by Alton Brown)

On tv I saw Alton Brown on “Good Eats” make this loaf. Mind you, I made so many changes to the recipe, some by accident some intentional, that it barely resembles the original.

You are supposed to knead the loaf once it’s mixed, but I didn’t. For one thing I don’t want to break the habit of a lifetime by starting to knead any bread I make, plus it’s a very wet dough, too wet to knead for sure. I compromised by giving it a hundred enthusiastic stirs with a spoon.

350g plain flour

2 tablespoons rolled oats, toasted

375g cooked porridge (warm)

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant dried yeast

2 teaspoons molasses

1 egg yolk, lightly whisked

60ml warm water

For glazing

1 egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon water

1 tablespoon rolled oats, toasted

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together and then mix in the cooked porridge, mixed with the molasses, egg yolk and warm water. (This is where I gave it the hundred strokes of mixing).

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or plastic bag and leave to rise in a warmish place for about an hour until doubled.

Stir the dough vigorously again, and then pour into a greased 12cm x 23cm (approximately) loaf tin.

Cover the tin with cling wrap and place in the fridge until risen to the top of the tin.

Brush gently with the egg yolk/water glaze mix and sprinkle with the toasted oats.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes in a moderately hot oven (180 degrees C in my stove).


Old fashioned Boiled Fruit Cake

 600g dried fruit (I used a combination of dates, currants and sultanas)

1 large apple, cored and grated

200g butter, chopped

1 scant cup sugar

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon mixed spice

2½ cups liquid – I used 1 cup of fruit wine with 1½ cups water

3 eggs, lightly whisked

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 ½ cups plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Grease a 23cm tin and line the base with baking paper, grease again.

Place the fruit, apple, butter, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, spice and liquid in a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.

Cool to lukewarm. Mix in the beaten eggs and then the combined flours and baking powder.

Pour into the tin and bake in a moderately slow oven (150 degrees C in my oven) for approximately one and a half hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to dry out. Store in an airtight container.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

The fruit cake and oat bread continues…

OK, so here they are straight from the oven.

IMG_1692As you can see, the fruit cake has a couple of small cracks on top, the reason being that I had the oven too high for a few minutes, toasting the oats for the bread dough at the same time.

The bread didn’t need 8 hours to rise in the fridge by the way, it was ready in three. Maybe I could have let it rise just a little more, but then it can tend to spoil the texture if it rises too much. Besides, I was sick of waiting.

The proof of the pudding (and bread) is in the eating of course, but so far so good.

Speaking of which, the fruit cake could always be used, slices or wedges of it, as a dessert with lovely creamy custard and ice cream.

That’s pudding for tonight sorted then, as well as a little something sweet to enjoy occasionally with a cup of tea or coffee.

I can provide the recipes if anyone wants them, just let me know.

Oats and Fruit Cake

We had lots of visitors on Saturday, friends and family, which was just wonderful with lots of cooking, experimenting with new dishes, and I was especially happy with some gluten and dairy free recipes.

However now, a day and a half later without cooking since then (there were lots of leftovers)  and I’m climbing the walls. I have a great deal else to do but I can’t get motivated without a little kick start of baking.

I saw a recipe a few days ago for oat bread. It looked quite impressive, oats are supposed to be really good for you, lower cholesterol and all that, so thought I’d give it a try.

First cook your porridge. I noticed then that the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of agave syrup – for just one loaf it seemed a bit excessive, so used 3 teaspoons of molasses instead. I hope I haven’t ruined it.

It’s mixed up now and on the rise for the requisite hour, then it has to be placed (more like poured, it’s a very wet dough) into a loaf tin and left to prove for 8 hours or more in the fridge before baking.

Yesterday I could finally no longer stand the state of the pantry in the house and had a serious culling of ancient ingredients lurking inside. I couldn’t bear to waste the dried fruit though. Then I remembered the boiled fruit cake I used to make decades ago.

A friend of ours back then, an older man, had a great fondness for a good, really moist, preferably sunken in the middle fruit cake. I used to make it very often for him and each time he would critique it – it became a bit of a game in the end.

I added extra liquid, usually by way of alcohol, and once the mixture was poured in the tin, I would pick it up and slam it onto the bench really hard several times, hoping that it would then have the sink factor.

Robert was pretty fond of it too, and so have just made an updated version this morning, as coincidentally there was some older butter in the fridge, also in serious need of being used.

How it will all turn out in the end I don’t know, but all least I’ve had my baking ‘fix’ for the day.

Incidentally, the fruit cake, if made into a loaf, was really, really good sliced and served with a cheese almost as strong as a Stilton. Strange but true.

Here are photos of the initial stages of baking in progress – if they turn out ok, I’ll post the finished product. If they don’t appear, you’ll know I should never have messed with the recipes in the first place.IMG_1688IMG_1689

A Country Kitchen – Super Food Ideas

A surprise in the letterbox today – I received a copy of the May edition of Super Food Ideas. It contains an article about “A Kitchen in the Valley”, with recipe excerpts.

The article, entitled “A Country Kitchen”, makes special mention of the fact that my book is inspired by the “local produce and relaxed living of the beautiful Derwent Valley in Tasmania”. Very true.


Recipes from Derwent Valley Autumn Festival

Yesterday was, of course, the day of the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival.

Taste of our Valley Avenue was in full swing with presentations given by producers from the region.

Some of the recipes were requested by the audience, so here they are as promised:  the salmon sausage rolls, very easy and made with a fabulous product – Tassal’s salmon mince.

With salmon fillets I made Honey Soy Salmon with Chilli and Lime, which was very popular indeed.

There’s a recipe for fritters also, made with that mince.  When inventing this recipe at home, I son tired of cooking the fritters, so added an extra egg, tipped the mixture into a loaf tin, which in turn made an excellent salmon loaf that could be served hot or cold.

A sweet dish I made for Westerway raspberry Farm was little Caribbean Raspberry Tarts with a crisp lime infused pastry.  The recipe for that pastry is also included here.

There are no photos sorry, as all the samples were eaten as soon as they were cooked (which has to be a good sign that they were well received).

Salmon Sausage Rolls

 500g salmon mince

1 onion, grated

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 dessertspoon chutney

1 dessertspoon soy sauce

1 dessertspoon kasoundi (tomato chilli pickle), optional

½ teaspoon salt

250 to 300g smoked salmon slices

5 sheets ready rolled puff pastry, thawed

Combine all ingredients except the smoked salmon and pastry sheets. Mix until well combined.

Cut each pastry sheet in half and place slices of the smoked salmon along each, leaving and edge of 10mm. Dampen this edge with a little water.

Distribute the salmon on top of the smoked salmon, forming into a sausage shape, more or less. Roll up as usual for sausage rolls, enclosing the filling.

Place the long rolls on baking trays that have been lined with baking paper. For good colour, brush with a little milk or and egg whisked together lightly with 1 tablespoon water. Prick or slash the top of each roll in several places.

Bake at 200 degrees C for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through and the rold are golden brown.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then with a sharp knife, cut each roll into 5 or 6 pieces to serve.

Honey Soy Salmon with Lime and Chilli

If you would like a little more heat, add one long red chilli, finely chopped, tothe pan with the salmon when the fillets are turned over.

600g salmon fillets, skin on

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons mild flavoured honey

1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons lime juice

3 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce

Rub the skin of the salmon with salt (you needn’t use it all).

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Place the salmon, skin side down in the pan and cook until the skin is crisp. Turn the fillets over and cook one minute more.

Pour over the honey, soy, lime juice and sweet chilli sauce and cook until the resulting sauce reduces almost to a glaze.

Salmon fritters with corn and zucchini

 1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup Self Raising flour

½ cup grated parmesan

½ cup grated tasty cheese

300g coarsely grated zucchini

2 teaspoons chopped thyme, optional

1 tablespoon sour cream or yoghurt

250g chopped smoked salmon

300g tin corn kernels, drained

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

squeeze lemon or lime juice

1 onion, grated

500g salmon mince

Mix all ingredients together well and shallow fry tablespoonfuls of the mixture, turning once until golden brown and cooked through.

If baking as a loaf (in a large loaf tin), bake in a moderate oven for one hour.

Lime Infused Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

125g butter, softened

125g sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind

1 egg

250g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Whisk the butter and sugar together, then whisk in the egg until well combined. Mix in the combined flour and baking powder with a metal spoon to make a soft dough. Wrap in cling wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes at least before using.

Salmon Practice

Just the sort of day I like – inventing and practising recipes to demonstrate at the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival this weekend. The salmon was donated by Tassal.


It’s finally cold enough outside to have an excuse to light old Carmichael the stove – already a pot of beetroot is bubbling away on the hotplate. There’s nothing quite like the warm cosiness that comes from a slow combustion oven.


And so to work, if indeed it can be called that, more like play or recreation.

See everyone at the Festival on Sunday – make your way to Taste of our Valley Avenue to hear presentations by local producers, sample some of their wares and generally have a great day.

Pickled Peas

Peas in a pot waiting to be pickled, hope they turn out ok – haven’t done this before.


Then there’s lovely red capsicums to roast and quinces to slow bake.

I’m actually supposed to be cleaning the house thoroughly, but if I do that in and around cooking that still counts doesn’t it? After all, a day without cooking is a day half lived…..