Kingston Biscuits 2

Sweet Treats – Kingston Biscuits

Somewhere between inspiration and publication, a recipe gets made and tested to ensure you won’t have any mishaps. How many times? Well, in this case, three times.

If you live in the Antipodes, you know Kingston Biscuits. They are small, crisp, butterscotchy biscuity goodness, jammed together with a milk chocolate cream. In a packet of Arnott’s Assorted Creams, they are the first to go. (And if you disagree with me on that, you’d need to have a good reason. Monte Carlos don’t come close.) Continue reading

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Salmon, Dill and Asparagus Fettuccine

Day 9 – Creamy Salmon and Dill Linguine

Before making this recipe I would have told you I’m not a fan of dill. I went so far as to say this to my friend Twitchy when we ate lunch last week and she hoed into a dill-laced tuna sandwich, her eyes rolling back into her head with pleasure.

Then I made this and I found myself adding more and more dill until it was just right. I added spoonful after spoonful, until the flavours of salmon, cream, lemon and dill had balanced out nicely – by which time I had added nearly half a bunch of dill. Continue reading

Sausage and Leek Casserole

Day 8 – Sausage and Leek Casserole

I seem to be on a bit of a pimenton kick.  I’ve added smoked paprika to about three dishes in the last week, even sprinkling it over some cheddar for a grilled cheese toastie.

This time it was the turn of some sausages to be given the pimenton treatment, in this case some small chipolatas. Once the sausages are browned this casserole can be finished off in the oven in 30 minutes, which makes it a very useful meal to make during the mid-week mayhem. Continue reading


The Sweet Swap 2014

The Sweet Swap is a wonderful idea, it really is. Food bloggers from around the country donate a small fee to charity and in return receive the names and addresses of three of those bloggers. They then send out a sweet gift before receiving three in return from all around the country.

It’s wonderful. You meet bloggers you may not have heard of and the treats! Oh my, what a wonderful, incredible array of treats. Continue reading

Salted Caramel Hearts

Sweet Treats – Salted Caramel Hearts

There’s only one thing better than chocolate and salted caramel and that’s when it’s combined in a gift package.

Sarah from BellyRumbles and Amanda from Chew Town run an annual event called The Sweet Swap and this year I participated. The premise is a simple one: Register and receive three names of bloggers and foodies, to whom you send a gift pack of whatever sweet you decide to bake. In return, like an early Kris Kringle, you receive three packages of wonderful sweet treats from all over the country.

Needless to say, deciding what to make was not a simple decision. There was so much to choose from, but in the end I opted for something I hadn’t done before – some handmade chocolates.

I wanted to do it to show you just how simple they can be, and they are simple, but these chocolates do take a little time. It’s the sort of project you should do for five minutes an hour, over three to four hours. But the result? Oh my goodness. Continue reading

Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup

Day 7 – Dave’s Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup

Downloading TV shows off the Net. I’ve never been able to, and as a result, I’ve never really felt connected to, you know, this century. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Wire - these shows and plenty more have aired in their entirety and I’ve never seen an episode.

Not that I’ve really minded, until earlier this year when I stayed with my dear friend Cuppy and we binge-watched the entire fourth season of Downton Abbey in one air-conditioned day while it sweltered outside. It was glorious.

And then came the news that they were going to make a TV show of my favourite book series in the entire world and I started cyber-stalking Twitter feeds and Instagram accounts and I was transported. I mean, it had everything I could want, chief amongst them a tall well-built red-head in a kilt. Oh and costumes, and scenery and a bunch of great British actors. But, mainly, kilts.

It was desperate times, readers, so with the help of my erstwhile friend Iain, I finally downloaded that first ep. And readers, I was away.

Delighted with my new-found skills, I bragged to my non-downloading mother about it and she replied by expressing a desire to see this hawt red-heided kilted wonder TV show for herself. So I burned a DVD for her.

And it took forever.

It chewed up huge amounts of download data. I went to sleep, ate three meals, considered a course in origami and STILL it took its time. Enraged, I went on Twitter and vented, only to be advised by Dave that perhaps I was actually converting a data file to a DVD file rather than you know, just copying it over.

When I had come back inside after much screaming and cussing and swearing in the garden, Dave had helpfully sent me this recipe for Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup.

It’s a beautiful soup, full of smokey bacon and pimenton flavour and perfect for slurping on while watching kilted action. Mind you, it’s not exactly the same as licking Jamie Fraser all over, but then what is?

On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

I made a batch of this up then whipped down to the coast for a couple of nights and took it with me.  My old friend Brenda quite liked it, polished off two bowls of the stuff…

Cheap as, I paid $1.40 for a 1.5 kg chunk of sweet potato.  The soup can be jazzed up with cream, fresh or sour, lemon juice or olive oil.  If I were entertaining maybe some garlic croutons would work.

Sweet Potato and Bacon Soup


  • 1-1.5 kg of sweet potato, peeled and chunked
  • Splosh of olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • ½ – 1 small red capsicum seeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped or squashed
  • 4 rashers of short smoked bacon or about 150g spec, finely diced
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2-3 tsp smoked paprika
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Coat the peeled and chunked potato in oil – toss it in your pan to get a thin, even coating.  Put the potato onto a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.  Take the tray out and give it a shake –  if they’ve stuck, turn them over using your tongs, then back into the oven for another 10 minutes.  The aim is solid potato with some caramelised edges and corners.

Meanwhile, sweat the onion and red capsicum in the remaining oil until the onion is transparent, add the bacon and cook for another 5 minutes on a low heat.  Add the garlic, black pepper and paprika and give it a good stir.

Finally combine the roasted sweet potatoes, onion and bacon mix and add the stock.  Bring the pan up to a simmer and let it cook for 20 minutes. Cover the pan and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes then use a stick blender to finish it off to a consistent texture.

Makes 8 decent sized bowls.


$5.75 for up to 8 serves


We have a winner …

Baker's Secret 2


We have a winner to our Baker’s Secret bakeware giveaway.

After dozens and dozens of entries, wonderful comments about the joys of baking – that sounds like a great name for a book, I must remember that … – it would have been difficult for me to select one winner on the basis of awesome and clever comment.

So I got a random  number selector thingy to do it for me.   And I sent off an email on Monday evening to the lucky winner.

I haven’t heard anything back from her yet.

So, this is a special request for everyone who entered to PLEASE look in your emails to see if there’s one from me with the headline ‘WINNER’. It may well be in your junk mail or spam files.

This lovely gift is valued at $170.00. I want desperately for the winner to claim it.

If I don’t get a reply by 5pm AET Friday 12th September, I will re-draw the prize, which would be just a little awkward, because I would hate to deprive you of that.

So please, all of you, look for that email. It’s in there somewhere.

Ginger Shortbread

Sweet Treats – Janine’s Ginger Shortbread

About the only thing I love more than ginger is shortbread. When my friend Janine told me she was making a combination of the two I couldn’t resist asking her for the recipe and she very kindly sent it to me. Janine is a dog lover like myself and also has the happiest chooks I know. The eggs they produce are the most brilliant yellow you will see.

Continue reading

Salmon with Wasabi Avocado Mayo

Day 5 – Salmon with Wasabi and Avocado Mayonnaise

Somewhere in the last week, I saw a photo on Instagram that showed a pretty rural scene and underneath declared that spring was on the way. “You can tell by the light,” said the caption and it forced me to look up and out the window.

The light around here has changed. It’s not as flat, not as washed out, it somehow feels fuller, rounder, even if the cold wind still blows here more often than not and I won’t be putting away my gloves any time soon. Nor will I be eating loads of salads in the next couple of weeks, but I will be eating lighter, just the same. Continue reading

Classic Lamb Shanks

Day 4 – Classic Braised Lamb Shanks

It’s not often I have lamb shanks but recently I’ve had a yen for them. With so many ways to cook them (lamb will after all adapt nicely to just about any regional cuisine in the world – with the possible exception of Thai or Mexican), I have instead opted for the basics – rosemary, garlic, wine, and lots of time.

This is the very best of winter food, using your trusty slow cooker to ensure a wonderful meal waiting for you when you get home. Really, why would you want anything more? Continue reading

Baker's Secret 2

Giveaway – Win a Baker’s Secret Kitchenware Pack

This weekend I am going to a wedding, the first in years, and the first in our family for over twenty years. Much as I love weddings, it’s now something I view as a young person’s game. I’ll be sitting with the older folks at the reception, and I don’t mind admitting that this leaves me perplexed that such an arrangement happened so fast. I still feel 15 years younger, at least on the inside.

But I digress. Back in the day it was quite the thing for women to collect household items in anticipation of getting married. Such a collection was put aside for the quite splendidly named Glory Box, up on the top shelf away from everyday use until the Happy Event arrived. Continue reading

Beef Cheek Ragu

Day 3 – Beef Cheek Ragu

Once upon a time, I would have to nervously ask a butcher to order beef cheeks in. Then, I saw them (briefly) appear in Aldi and thought that at long last they would be a regular item.

Now, my local butcher routinely stocks them. He calls them Ox Cheeks, but they are one and the same. He sells them at $8.99 a kilo, a little cheaper than chuck steak or gravy beef. I almost wept with joy. Continue reading

Whiting Escabeche

Day 2 – Whiting Escabeche

Fish can be expensive, yes, but even more worrying is when we stick to our favourites and in the process damage the sustainability of fish stocks. Tuna, I’m talking about you.

It is a truism, more relevant than ever, that ugly unloved fish are also likely to be in greater stocks in our domestic waters, and they will always be cheaper than the piscatorial glamourpusses. Red mullet, bonito (sometimes called snook) and the humble sardine are routinely good value. As is whiting. Continue reading

Spinach and Haloumi Pancakes 2

Breakfast – Spinach and Haloumi Fritters

It’s a huge irony, to me at least, that English spinach seems to grow best in Australia during the cooler months, which is why it’s frequently cheaper to buy at this time of year than say, summer.  Feel free to insert your own joke about the English and cold weather at this point.

Full of iron and vitamin C, these nutrients diminish rapidly if spinach is over cooked, which is where fritters and pancakes and the like are so handy. It makes for a speedy meal, which you can enjoy just as easily at the other end of the day to this breakfast. Continue reading

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Sweet Treats – Orange and Poppyseed Muffins

Poppy seeds are not in every pantry, but if they are, chances are you don’t use them all that often. However, given it’s high season for perfect local citrus, you have the best reason in the world to throw a spoonful into your next muffin batch.

With lemon and ricotta, poppy seed muffins are lovely, but with orange and cream cheese, they are sublime.  As with other herbs and spices, buy only a small amount of poppy seeds and keep them in a sealed container in a dark cupboard for freshness.  Continue reading


Giveway – Win a Kambrook X-Blade Pro Stick Blender

For the last few weeks I have played with a wonderful new toy, courtesy of my friends at Kambrook. About this time last year they gave me an X-Blade stick blender to use, so I was somewhat surprised when they offered me their X-Blade Pro. Why would I need another one?

Well. Imagine a small food processor on steroids. Continue reading

Pumpkin and Goat's Cheese Tart

Day 1 – Pumpkin and Goat’s Cheese Tart

If you want to save on your grocery bills, you need to start paying close attention to the amount of food you buy.

Not eat. BUY.

We have become somewhat unconscious shoppers, not paying too much attention to the sizing of packages. We get so used to buying cheese in 500g blocks – even 1kg blocks – that a small amount of soft cheese – a mere 120g – can seem inadequate.  Measly. Continue reading

Apple Scrolls

Breads and Pastries – Apple Scrolls

My bread maker is in storage at the moment, so bread making has been a little sporadic around here, but I had a yen for some sweet fruit-filled rolls so in the midst of a cold and very blustery day I gave this a whirl.

I used bread improver to help prove the dough, and set the dough to rise in a partially-filled sink of hot water, but I really shouldn’t have worried – the dough rose steadily over an hour, the apple filling was just right, the oven warmed the rest of the house as they cooked.   Continue reading

Pork in Cider

Day 13 – Cider Pork Chops

A while back, I walked into my local shopping centre and there ran into a display stand of Bulmers cider and in an instant I was a gauche teenager all over again.

Growing up in Britain’s West Country, drinking cider was not so much a rite of passage as part of the natural order of things, like three-day weeks and cups of strong tea. We came to it sooner rather than later – it was the passion pop of choice for any party.

And it was at just such a party where I sipped cider nervously, with one eye on the clock to catch the last bus home before my midnight curfew. Continue reading

$120 – A Week of Family Meals – It Can Be Done


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