Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bits and pieces

Meals have been simple here, the heat is keeping me out of the kitchen as much as possible.

Last nights dinner: fish cakes with tartare sauce and salad. Today, home alone for a few hours, I thought I would share a few simple recipes that have we been making and enjoying over the summer.

Tartare sauce has been served with fish cakes and homemade fish and chips. We have put it on burgers and it's very good on chicken sandwiches too.

Tartare Sauce

makes 3/4 cup

• 3/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon shallots (finely chopped)
• 1 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)
• 1 tablespoon dill pickle (finely chopped)
• 1 tablespoon capers (finely chopped)
• 1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve.


I made up these two dressings to have in the fridge over Christmas, they make a simple salad much more exciting. To make a warm dinner salad, we added grilled chicken, lamb or prawns and then drizzled over some dressing. I also like the lemon vinegar dressing tossed through warm potatoes, or liberally poured over salads of white beans or chickpeas.

Honey Mustard Dressing

• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 3 teaspoons honey
• 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
• 1 teaspoon djion mustard

Mix all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.


Lemon Vinegar Dressing

• 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely chopped)
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.


I have been making this recipe for years, simple marinated olives, that I took 'everywhere' this summer. Most days I marinated them just a few hours before eating them and they were fine. Any olives not eaten, were tossed through salads: leafy, pasta, or cous cous. Yum.
Tuscan Olives

makes 1 cup

• 1 cup kalamata olives
• peel of half an orange (cut into 1 inch pieces)
• peel of half a lemon (cut into 1 inch pieces)
• 1 clove garlic (crushed)
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (lightly crushed)
• black pepper
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients and marinate overnight. If you cover the olives completely with the oil, you can leave the olives for 10 days to let them infuse.


And with chillies from the garden, we made sweet chilli sauce. For dipping homemade chicken nuggets and making asian salad dressings. The rest is in the fridge for cooking. The crushed chillies (sambal oelek) is great when there are no fresh chillies at hand. I have used it in marinades for barbecued meats and to add a little kick our our favourite pasta sauces.

 Sweet Chilli Sauce

makes 1 cup

• 12 red thai chillies (roughly chopped)
• 4 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
• 250 ml white vinegar
• 125 grams sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt

Crush the chillies and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Put into a saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and put into a sterilized jar. This can be kept in the fridge for 2 months.


Sambal Oelek

makes 1/2 cup

• 20 red thai chillies (roughly chopped)
• 3 teaspoons salt

Put both the chillies and salt into a mortar and pestle. Pound into a course paste. Put into a sterilised jar. This can be kept in the fridge for 1 to 2 months.


 What have you been eating to keep the heat at bay?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hello 2013 and hello to the readers of my very neglected blog.

I feel very blessed this festive season, we have been able to spent time with so many of our loved ones from far and near. There has been some cooking, but mainly a lot of eating.

This year, in the kitchen, I am going back to basics. 

Hopefully I won't bore you by posting recipes for old favourites like lasagne, apple pie or the perfect roast beef. I will be continuing on with my goal for last year, of 'cooking from scratch'. I cooked quiet a lot more than I blogged about last year, so as the seasons progress, I can post some of my new favourite recipes. I'll be starting as soon as I get a day at home: old fashioned tomato ketchup, plum jam, mango chutney and french apricot jam.

If your not interested in old fashioned favourites, then you'll be happy to hear that I will be recipe testing new recipes for a friend: Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Caribbean, Indian, Greek and more. She is hoping to open a new restaurant by mid-year, so that should be fun.

And in the wake of my Christmas eating marathon, I will need to throw in a few healthy eating recipes now and then. I turn forty this year and I really need to starting looking after myself a little better. After all, you are what you eat.

But forget I said that... because the recipe I am going to share today is pure, homely, comfort food. I had Gravox in the cupboard from when I made my Nana's roast chicken, so I thought I would attempt to make my Aunts famous 'the day after' sausage stew.

In August, there is usually a shared birthday party in our family and often the party is at my Aunts house. A barbecue. There are always leftovers. The next day the barbecued sausages and barbecued onions are turned into a yummy stew for breakfast. Served with baked beans, grilled bacon, fried eggs and piles of toast, we all return to share breakfast, a highlight, being the stew.

This sometimes happens over Christmas as well, but as my Aunt is getting older, these parties aren't happening anymore and neither are the breakfast get-togethers, which were just as fun as the parties themselves. Missing this, I made it instead. We had sausages leftover over from New Years Eve and ate ours for dinner with mashed potato and steamed green beans. It's not the original, but it was close. I'm sure you could make it with fresh sausages or other meat.

'The Day After' Sausage Stew 

serves 4-6

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 onions (diced)
• 125 grams bacon (diced)
• 1 x 400 gram tinned diced tomatoes
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 500 grams cold barbecued sausages
• 1 tablespoon Gravox
• salt and pepper to taste (add the salt sparingly. I found the Gravox very salty) 

Heat the oil in a large heavy based casserole pot and gently saute the onions and bacon until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of stock to the pot. Add the sausages and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the Gravox with the remaining 1/2 cup of stock. Add the Gravox mixture to the pt and stir to thicken.

Do you eat anything at this time of year, for nostalgia reasons only?

I'm not sure where is image came from (deep in the archives of my bookmarks) If you know where it is from, I'd love know.
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