Pork with pickling spices

Garlic and gingerIndian cooking for family and friends, 128pp.
by Meena Pathak
New Holland, London, 2003
Cooking on pages 64–65

I have several of Meena Pathak’s books. Over the years, I’ve made a lot of her recipes and have never been disappointed.

She is responsible for some of the creative genius that goes into the products made by the authentic Indian food brand, Patak’s (notice the different spelling).

While I use Patak products occasionally, I really appreciate her books because all the recipes are from scratch, using none of the bottled items the family sells. 

This book has recipes for family meals, easy entertaining, comfort food, special occasions and quick dishes. Pages 16 (half of 32) and 32 don’t have recipes, so I moved on to page 64 (32 x 2) and found a recipe I make all the time.

Here’s a great article about Pathak’s background and contributions to Indian cuisine.

Pork with pickling spicesPork with pickling spices

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 cm (2 in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
450 g (1 lb) pork tenderloin, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) strips
2 tablespoons sweet mango chutney
2 tablespoons hot lime pickle
2 tablespoons diagonally cut green shoots of spring onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

sautéing pork sautéing porkMethod
Heat the oil in a wok and gently fry the ginger and garlic for 1–2 minutes. Add the pork and stir-fry for 8–10 minutes. Add the mango chutney and hot lime pickle.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little water if the meat begins to stick. Turn off the heat, stir in the spring onion and chopped fresh coriander and serve. Serves 4.

How it played out
I’ve been making this recipe for a couple of years. It originally comes from page 171 in Pathak’s book, Tastes of India.

I was thrilled to find it on pages 64–65 in this cookbook (no recipe on page 32), so now I have a reason to share it with you.

Indian CookingMy common changes are to add extra spring onions, extra coriander and at least 1 extra teaspoon each of mango chutney and lime pickle.

We love this recipe. It’s one of my go-to curries that can be made in minutes. If you’re not a fan of hot lime pickle, try a mild or medium version or even lime juice.

All but two recipes in this cookbook also appear in my Tastes of India, so I gave this book to my friend, Caroline. The pic below is a glimpse of one of my Indian feasts, with the pork in the foreground.

An Indian feast



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Turkish beetroot dip

Beets, spices and herbsVegie side dishes, 192pp.
by The Australian Women’s Weekly kitchens
Bauer Media Books, Sydney, 2018
Cooking on page 32

Here’s another useful book from The Australian Women’s Weekly kitchens. As usual, the recipes are triple-tested, clearly explained and beautifully photographed.

The recipes will help you to make the most of almost 40 different vegetables—from artichokes to zucchinis. There are explanations on how to choose, store and prepare each vegetable.

Pages 30–33 are devoted to beetroots.

Beetroot dipTurkish beetroot dip

3 medium beetroot (500g), trimmed
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
3/4 cup (200g) yoghurt
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cook beetroot in medium saucepan of boiling water, uncovered, about 45 minutes or until tender; drain. When cool enough to handle, peel beetroot then chop coarsely.

Meanwhile, dry-fry spices in a small frying an until fragrant; cool.

Blend or process beetroot, spices and remaining ingredient until smooth. Makes 2 cups.

Vegie side dishes cookbookHow it played out
I bought three beetroots (Australians call this vegetable a beetroot, not a beet) on special at the Sunday market. I then made this recipe exactly as written.

I reckon this is as good as any beetroot dip I might get at a Turkish restaurant. Over several days, I served this colourful dip, with crackers, to many people at home and at a neighbourhood barbecue.

Wish I had taken a pic of all the people who enjoyed it, because such gatherings might not happen again for a long time. Much of Australia is in lockdown with rapid spreading of Covid-19. One daughter and her husband are in their eighth week of being locked down in Sydney. We are currently in week two.

beetroot dip ingredients

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Old Giovanni’s parsley eggs

eggs and parsleyCharmaine Solomon’s family recipes: good food, sharing and celebration, 314pp.
by Charmaine Solomon
Viking, Penguin Books Australia, Ringwood Victoria, 1998
Cooking on page 32

I was thrilled to find this book at Canty’s, my beloved secondhand bookstore. Our daughter, Petra, is friends with Jenna, one of Charmaine Solomon’s granddaughters. I’ve always said I’d be on the lookout for any of her grandmother’s cookbooks she might want.

Turns out this is an especially cherished cookbook within the extended Solomon family. It’s filled with stories, photographs and recipes loved by family members. This copy is being passed on to Jenna’s sister, Elana, who doesn’t yet have one.

Page 32 just happens to have one of two recipes that Jenna herself contributed to the book when she was a child. She remembers learning it from Play School, an Australian children’s television program.

parsleyed eggsOld Giovanni’s parsley eggs

6 cold hardboiled eggs
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
freshly ground black pepper
slivers of red capsicum (bell pepper)
sprigs of parsley

mashed eggsMethod
Shell the hardboiled eggs under running cold water. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and, without damaging the white, remove each egg yolk using a spoon. Mash the yolks in a bowl with the parsley, olive oil and garlic, then add salt and pepper to taste. Fill the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture and garnish with a sliver of red capsicum and a small sprig of parsley.

Family Recipes by Charmaine SolomonHow it played out
Made exactly as written but using only 3 eggs (half a batch). These days, I hardboil eggs by steaming them. I like mine quite firm, so give them 13 minutes in a steamer over boiling water. Then remove from heat to cool. This process makes them super easy to peel. If you like your eggs runnier, then experiment with timings. 

This is a great recipe—tasty and super easy to make. When I gave the cookbook to Jenna a little while ago, she shared some stories about how the cookbook came together.  Lots of great memories.

Posted in Appetiser, Dairy, Eggs, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Coconut bread


Australian food, 272pp.
by Bill Granger
Murdoch Books, Crows News NSW, 2020
Cooking on page 32

Bill Granger opened his first restaurant in 1993 and published his first cookbook, Sydney food, seven years later. In this book, he tries to capture the essence of Australian food through more than 100 diverse recipes.

Maybe that carefree attitude is why I’ve been able to happily cook from so many page 32s.  As an aside, not long ago our local newspaper published an article about Granger, this new book and this recipe.

As he says in the introduction, ‘ There is no “set menu” in Australia. Perhaps that’s why it’s interesting. We’re up for anything and open to change. We thrive on sushi one day, pasta the next, fish and chips by the sea, octopus marinated in the Greek style, yum cha on Sunday morning…’


Coconut bread

2 eggs
300ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
375g plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
150g caster sugar
150g shredded or desiccated coconut
75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

To serve
unsalted butter
icing sugar

Grease the sides and line the base of a 21 x 10cm (8 1/2 x 4 in) loaf tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Mix together the eggs, milk and vanilla. 

Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined. Add the melted butter and stir until just smooth, being careful not to overmix. 

Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.

Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, the turn out onto a wire rack to cool before slicing. Butter and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve. Makes 8–10 thick slices.


This is easily frozen. Cut into slices first and slip a piece of baking paper between each slice. Store in an airtight container in the freezer and toast straight from frozen. 

How it played out
I’ve made this recipe several times and always followed the ingredients and instructions. Very simple to bring together and totally delicious. I’ve never frozen it because it doesn’t last that long.

A lovely bread that goes very nicely with the first Bill Granger recipe I made for this blog—chai tea.

P.S. After many months, this is my first go at the block editor. Not as straightforward or intuitive as I had hoped. Not sure how I finally managed to post pics. Also no idea why there’s a line through the last pic.

Also no idea how to add categories and ingredients. Advice and tips are most welcome.

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Orange cake

Orange and vanillaA spoonful of country: cooking from a Cootamundra farmhouse, 214pp.
by Catherine Bragg and Noelene Reading
Lothian Books, South Melbourne, 2001
Cooking on page 32

Catherine Bragg is a farmer’s wife on a property near Cootamundra and was inspired by Noelene Reading, who owned a catering company and whose recipes are also included. Recipes cover suggestions for breakfast in a country kitchen, harvest lunches, picnics and camp ovens, and a chapter on relishes and jams. There are also extracts from poems and reflections on country life.

Orange cakeOrange cake

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
125 g softened butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
grated rind of 1 orange

butter and cookbook Orange zest, flour and sugarIcing
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
juice of 1/2 orange
a squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a deep 20 cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Place all the ingredients in a mixer or food processor and beat until well combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack.

cake batterTo make the icing, melt the butter and add the sugar and orange juice, adding the juice a little at a time until it is the right consistency for spreading. Mix well, adding a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the citrus flavour. The icing should be of a thin consistency, but not so runny that it will not sit on the cake.

When the cake is cold, ice.

How it played out
I’ve made this cake twice, both times using the food processor. These were my first forays into mixing a cake in the processor.

A spoonful of countryThe first cake collapsed quite a bit in the middle. The second not quite so much because I processed for no more than 30 seconds. Apparently over-mixing can cause a cake to collapse and I reckon that was the problem.

I think I’ll try this again using a hand mixer.

Flavour-wise this cake is sensational even if the middle sinks. The citrus flavour is perfect and you can bet I will make this often. A while back I gave this book to a friend who grew up on a farm in Cootamundra.

If you love fancy cakes, check out the gorgeous wedding cakes we saw in Germany.

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Avocado salsa

onion, capsicum, olivesThe garden of vegan, 256pp.
by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer
Arsenal Pulp Press Vancouver, 2002
Cooking on page 132

This is a sequel to the 1999 book called How it all vegan! and has come to me very highly recommended. Luckily I was able to buy it secondhand at my much loved Canty’s Bookshop.

We’re not vegan, but have friends who are, and I like to cook great food that suits their lifestyle. The authors have a helpful website called GoVegan.net.

Pages 30–32 have a list of 45 useful and interesting tips to do with baking soda (I’ll be checking those out), so I moved on to page 132.

Avocado salsa

Avocado salsa

1/2 cooked or canned corn niblets
1/4 cup olives (your choice), chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper (capsicum), chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 avocado, diced

Corn, avocado, onion, garlic, capsicum Method
In a large bowl, combine the corn, olives, red pepper, and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salsa. Stir in the avocado just before serving. Makes approximately 2 cups.

How it played out
I made this exactly as written using lemon juice, kalamata olives and the kernels from one ear of fresh corn. I zapped the corn in the microwave for about 90 seconds. The balance of dressing to other ingredients was perfect.

The Garden of VeganVerdict
This salad is delicious and so simple to make. But the thing I like the most about this vegan cookbook is that is focuses on real ingredients, and not tablespoons of things with names I don’t recognise. No wonder it is highly recommended.

I’ve started giving away some of my cookbooks—ones that I am unlikely to use again in future—but this one isn’t going anywhere.

I’m quite a bit behind on my travel blog, but I hope to get going again this week. Here’s a post from Guinea, West Africa. When we were there last year I bought 10 avocados for $3. Bargain.

Avocado salsa

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Stewed curry beef brisket

spices for stewed curry beef brisketComplete Chinese cookbook, 352pp.
by Ken Hom
BBC Books, London, 2011
Cooking on page 132

This is the second time I have cooked one of Ken Hom’s page-32 recipes. The first was stir-fried pork with mushrooms. It was so delicious I’ve been on the lookout for another cookbook and recipe from him.

Page 32 in this cookbook describes some of the ingredients commonly used in Chinese cookery, so I moved on to page 132. This is a Hong Kong dish that has been influenced by Indian cooking.

Stewed curry beef brisket

Stewed curry beef brisket

1.4kg (3lb) beef brisket or shank
3 tablespoons groundnut or vegetable oil
675g (1 1⁄2lb) carrots
675g (1 1⁄2lb) potatoes

For the curry
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
6 tablespoons Madras curry powder
3 tablespoons whole yellow bean sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons sugar
1 litre (4–6) cups water or stock (this was not noted in the original recipe)

Beef chunks Boiled beef chunks Stewed curry beef brisketMethod
Cut the brisket or shank into large chunks and blanch them for 15 minutes in a large pan of boiling water. Drain well and blot dry with kitchen paper.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot and add the oil. Brown the meat for 10 minutes, then add the curry ingredients. Turn the mixture into a large clay pot or flameproof casserole, cover and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours.

Meanwhile peel the carrots and potatoes. Cut the carrots into 5cm (2in) pieces and the potatoes into large cubes. Leave them in cold water until you are ready to use them. Add the vegetables to the beef after 1 1⁄2 hours and continue to cook for another 35–40 minutes, or until the meat is meltingly tender.

Serves 6–8.

How it played out
I have found that it’s not necessary to tinker with Ken Hom’s recipes. He writes clear instructions that work. That said, I noticed that the meat browned nicely within 6 minutes.

I also found that he didn’t specify adding any water or stock in the original recipe. Oops, an important oversight! Luckily this cookbook has three other beef/lamb stew recipes. They called for somewhere between 900 ml (just under 4 cups) to 2.8 litres of water or chicken stock. I guessed and added a litre of chicken stock, and had to add 2 more cups as cooking progressed.

I didn’t have yellow bean sauce, but know that hoisin sauce is a good substitute. I used ordinary curry powder, which is milder than Madras curry powder, because I was making this to take to friends who have a low tolerance for chilli.

Ken Hom Complete Chinese CookbookVerdict
We must love it because it has become a go-to recipe. In fact, I have made this three times in three weeks. The second two times, I’ve made about half a batch, using 750–800 grams of chuck steak and a litre of chicken stock.
I’ve also used a combination of normal and Madras curry powder. If you’re not a fan of heat just use ordinary curry powder because the Madras version does give a good kick.

Keep an eye on the liquid. The second time I made it (half a batch) I needed to add a little water. That’s why, for today’s half batch, I used a full litre of chicken stock.

We’ve travelled and eaten in many Asian countries. Here’s a post from our time in Vietnam when cat wasn’t on the menu.

Stewed curry beef brisket

Packed up to take to a friend’s place

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Mashed banana and raspberries on toast

Raspberries and bananasMade in the office: tasty and hasty meals with just a kettle, toaster and microwave, 175pp.
by Rachel Maylor
Frances Lincoln Limited, London, 2016
Cooking on page 32–33

When Rachel Maylor moved to London to start a new job, she discovered her daily meals became a limited selection of not very tasty or healthy options. She wasn’t particularly keen on making her breakfasts and lunches the night before, so she decided to work on making dishes at the office that could be made using only a kettle, toaster and/or microwave.

The book opens with a list of office cupboard essentials such as grains, oats, seeds and nuts, dried noodles, olive oil, interesting vinegars, herbs and spices, stock cubes, salt and pepper, lemons and limes, garlic and sweeteners.

Page 32 uses cacao powder and honey.

Bananas and raspberries on toast

Mashed banana and raspberries on toast

1 or 2 slices of seeded or wholemeal bread
1 large banana
a handful of raspberries
1 tsp honey
a pinch of cacao powder

Raspberries and mashed bananas Blueberry banana breadToppings
chopped dates or nuts
desiccated coconut

First, put the bread into the toaster. Next, peel the banana and chop it roughly into chunks.

Tip the chunks into a bowl and gently mash with the back of a fork until soft and spreadable. In a separate bowl or mug, mash the raspberries.

When the toast is done, pop it on a plate and spread the banana mash generously on top. Drizzle with the honey, spoon on some of the crushed raspberries and garnish with a pinch of cacao powder. Heavenly.

How it played out
Poor John and I received some amazing gifts earlier this week (a couple of months ago now). Long time friend, Anne, dropped off some of her garden produce. The bounty included wonderful herbs, some red chillies and a small bag of fresh raspberries. Fresh raspberries are like gold. A 125-gram (4-ounce) punnet can cost as much as $5. The bag from Anne weighed just over 105 grams.

Made in the office cookbookSo I made this as written for the two of us—using one slice each of homemade blueberry banana bread. I didn’t bother with any toppings except for sprinkling on some shaved coconut.

This made a delicious breakfast for two. While it’s delicious, I’m unlikely to repeat it until next year when Anne gifts us some more raspberries. They cost too much here to buy regularly. I’ll try to be patient because I love raspberries.

Speaking of berries, nine years ago in Germany we bought amazing strawberries and white asparagus in Germany. You can check out that post here.

Bananas and raspberries on toast

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Chilli con carne

Onion, garlic, chilli powderVegemite cookbook: delicious recipe ideas, 64pp.
by Kraft Kitchens
Ark Publishing, Back Rock, Victoria, 1992
Cooking on page 32–33

Love it or hate it, Vegemite has cult status in Australia.

Created in 1922 in Melbourne, Vegemite is a thick, dark brown food spread made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives. It’s similar to Marmite, Promite and other ‘mite’ products, and has a taste that is salty, slightly bitter and malty. It’s also rich in glutamate—giving it an umami flavour similar to beef bouillon. Amazingly, it is vegan, kosher and halal.

Just so it’s perfectly clear—I love Vegemite.

Chilli con carneChilli con carne

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon chilli powder
350g minced (ground) beef
1/2 green capsicum (bell pepper), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Vegemite
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1 x 440g can red kidney beans, drained

Mince beef and bell pepper Vegemite and tomato pasteMethod
Heat a little oil in a frying pan, add onion, garlic and chilli powder and cook until onion is tender. 

Add Vegemite, tomato paste, water and beans, simmer for 10 minutes. Add beef and capsicum and cook until meat is golden brown. Add Vegemite, tomato paste, water and beans, simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with rice or pita bread. Serves 4.

How it played out
I bought this cookbook years ago because I love Vegemite. Most mornings I spread it (very thinly) on a slice of homemade bread, and top with slices of cheddar cheese and tomato. A breakfast made in my salty heaven. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of Vegemite to a stew that calls for beef stock powder.

I’m late posting this recipe because I made it in January and sent tubs of it to one of our fire-ravaged communities on Australia’s South Coast. I usually make a much spicier chilli, but thought this one would suit most tastes.

Vegemite cookbookI followed all the ingredients and instructions, except to make a double batch. If you don’t have Vegemite, just use a teaspoon of beef stock powder. 

Although I made this to give away, I had a taste before I packed it into takeaway containers. It’s a lovely, mild chilli. Personally, I’d go for one with more kick, but this is great if you don’t know your guests’ heat tolerance. Plus, it’s easy enough to jazz it up to something that suits your tastes.

Ive given this cookbook to Daniel, our son-in-law who also loves Vegemite.

No one is travelling much these days, so I have been sorting through old photos instead—both print and digital. The kidney beans in this recipe reminded me of a bean-laden meal we enjoyed in Columbia in South America. You can check out that memory here.

Chilli con carne

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Roasted tomato salad

tomatoes and garlicDelia Smith’s summer collection: 140 recipes for summer, 224pp.
by Delia Smith
BBC Books, London, 1993
Cooking on page 32–33

Delia Smith is one of Britain’s most popular cookbook authors and television presenters. As a celebrity chef, she is known for teaching basic cooking skills in a no-nonsense manner. Through her television programs, she has influenced viewers to become more adventurous food-wise.

Smith has written more than 20 cookbooks, including her popular Delia’s how to cook in three volumes. I was interested read to that she made the cake that is featured on the cover of The Rolling Stones’ album Let it bleed.

This book celebrates summer and its glorious ingredients. Australia is in winter and I made this with store-bought truss tomatoes. I’m envious of the tomatoes that are being grown and harvested in the northern hemisphere.

Roasted tomatoes, Delia SmithRoasted tomato salad

12 large tomatoes
12 large fresh basil leaves
2 large or 4 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salat and freshly milled black pepper

For the dressing
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

To garnish
12 large fresh basil leaves
24 black olives

tomatoes to roastMethod
Heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C.

Skin the tomatoes first of all by pouring boiling water over them and leaving for 1 minute, then drain and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. (Protect your hands with a cloth if necessary.) Now cut each tomato in half and place the halves in the roasting-tin (cut side uppermost) and season with salt and freshly milled pepper. After that sprinkle on the chopped garlic, distributing it evenly between the tomatoes. Follow this with a few droplets of olive oil on each one, then top each one with a half of basil leaf, turning each piece of leaf over to get a coating of oil.

Now place the roasting-tin in the top half of the oven and roast the tomatoes for 50 minutes–1 hour or until the edges are slightly blackened. Then remove the tin from the oven and allow the tomatoes to cool. All this can be done several hours ahead.

Delia Smith's summer collectionTo serve the tomatoes, transfer them to individual serving plates, place half a basil leaf on top of each tomato half, then whisk the oil and balsamic vinegar together and drizzle this over the tomatoes. Finally top each one with an olive. Lots of crusty bread is an essential accompaniment to this. Serves 4–6 as a starter.

How it played out

I bought a pack of four gorgeous kumato tomatoes to make one-third of a recipe as a side dish for three of us. I followed the instructions except I didn’t bother to peel the tomatoes. Because my tomatoes weren’t large, they roasted within 45 minutes. I put a small basil leaf and two olive halves on each tomato half.

I love tomatoes period, so it’s no surprise that I loved these. A very straightforward recipe, with attractive and delicious results. I’ll make this often when the summer crop of tomatoes arrives in my back yard. Those of you in the northern hemisphere should be able to enjoy it soon.

Roasted tomatoes with steak and potato

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