Honey nut loaf with eggs

Honey, flour, dates
Honey nut loaf batterKangaroo Island honey cookbook, 60pp.
compiled by Mildred Wilson
Arena Publishing, Fitzroy Victoria, 1993
Cooking on page 32

This was one of about 16 cookbooks that were advertised on the Gumtree trading website in Canberra. Elieen, who owned the books, offered them for free to anyone who wanted them. I was the first to reply to her message. I picked them up at her home and met her gorgeous dogs—Scottish terriers.

We had a wonderful chat that afternoon and we have kept in touch ever since.

Just recently, Eileen passed me another bundle of cookbooks and, as a thank you, I gave her an apron and tea towel covered in Scottish terriers. Kicking myself that I didn’t get a photo of them.

But I digress. This cookbook talks about Ligurian bees, an Italian race of honeybees, that occur on Kangaroo Island. They were introduced there in 1885. The Ligurian bees on the island are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this Italian bee anywhere in the world.

Page 32 has two recipes for honey nut loaves. I made the first one, which included eggs.

Honey nut loaf

Honey nut loaf with eggs

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 cup sultanas
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Bread batter Honey nut loaf

Cream butter and honey. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add milk and the dry ingredients alternately. Gently stir in fruit and nuts. Grease and flour 2 small nut loaf tins and divide mixture evenly between them. Bake in a moderate over for 50–60 minutes.

How it played out
I made this mostly as written, using butter instead of margarine, and chopped dates instead of sultanas. I usually never run out of baking ingredients, but there wasn’t a sultana in the house. As for the raisins, I used golden ones. Also used chopped walnuts. I thought cinnamon and vanilla would add a lot of flavour, but decided to remain faithful to the actual recipe.

I have no idea what size a small nut loaf tin size is, so used one regular loaf tin, and baked the loaf for 60 minutes at 180°C (about 350°F).

Kangaroo Island Honey Cookbook

I’m still laughing over how tasteless this loaf was. Boring in the extreme. I nearly threw it in the compost bin and then thought, Hang on, this might be salvageable.

Guess what, I was right. I sliced the loaf thickly and made it into the best-ever bread and butter pudding (shown below). It called for cinnamon and vanilla.

I can’t find the online recipe now, but it was along the lines of this one. So just remember that if you ever have a disaster making a loaf of fruit or nut bread, maybe you can turn it into something marvellous.

Bread and butter pudding

Posted in Baking, Bread, Dessert, Snack | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Pepper steaks with horseradish sauce

BBQ, 200pp.
by Murdoch Books test kitchen
Murdoch Books Australia, Millers Point, 2008
Cooking on page 32–33

Horseradish and black pepper are two of my favourite flavours so I absolutely had to buy this book when I saw it at a recent Lifeline Book Fair. It cost me all of $3.

I have no idea how long it will take me to work my way through all these amazing recipes. I might even get to page 132 and tuna burgers. 🙂

Steak with horseradish sauce

Pepper steaks with horseradish sauce

4 sirloin steaks
3 tablespoons seasoned cracked pepper

Horseradish sauce
2 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons beef stock
4 tablespoons pouring (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
½ teaspoon sugar

Eye fillet steaksMethod
Coat the steaks on both sides with pepper, pressing it into the meat.

Cook on a hot, lightly oiled barbecue grill or flat plate for 5-10 minutes, until cooked to your liking.

To make the sauce, put the brandy and stock in a pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Stir in the cream, horseradish and sugar and heat through. Serve with the steaks.

BBQ Cookbook

How it played out
This is such a simple recipe that I had no choice but to follow the instructions. Because I made it for just the two of us, I splurged and bought some of the very best steaks—eye fillet—that I can get in Australia.

Served with a simple green salad, baby potatoes tossed with fresh herbs, and a mushroom casserole with a breaded topping (I have a recipe for that too, but it’s not page 32).

An absolutely delicious way to prepare steaks. I might not cook steaks (or meat) very often, but this is definitely the way to go on those rare occasions. Truly a dish worthy of company, and oh-so quick and easy to prepare.

We’ve just been travelling in seven European countries and have had some amazing meals. Along the way, we enjoyed vety sandwiches—a special treat that comes from a Finnish town called Lappeenranta.


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Herby potato salad

chopped spring onions

My grandma’s kitchen, 81pp.
by Louise Fulton Keats and Margaret Fulton
Hardie Grant Books (Australia), Prahran, Victoria, 2011
Cooking on page 32

Louise Fulton Keats wrote this cookbook to recall the fun she had when she spent time in her grandmother’s kitchen. That’s not at all surprising when you know that her grandmother is Margaret Fulton, one of Australia’s leading recipe creators (I’ve already shared a few of her recipes on this blog).

The book covers easy-to-make recipes (perfect for kids to try) for breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas and dinners. The younger Fulton wrote the text while the senior Fulton provided the recipes. Michelle Mackintosh drew the whimsical illustrations.

Herby potato salad

Herby potato salad

2 eggs
4 medium–large potatoes (desiree or similar variety)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Hard-boil the eggs (this will take about 10 minutes) and set aside to cool.

potatoes, vinegar, scallions scallions and herbs

Boil the potatoes until tender and allow to cool before peeling the skin off with your fingers. Cut each potato into 8 pieces, place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the vinegar, oil, herbs, spring onion and celery and mix well. Leave for a few minutes to allow the dressing to absorb.

Peel and quarter the eggs. Add to the bowl with the mayonnaise and gently toss. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4–6.

How it played out
I made this in the morning so Poor John and I could have it for lunch (it’s in the lunch chapter). I boiled the eggs yesterday (actually I steamed them). Because my potatoes varied in size I peeled and cut them before boiling so they would cook evenly. Plus I was out of celery so used 5 finely chopped green beans, fresh from a friend’s garden.

My timing was excellent for collecting the herbs from my garden. It was sprinkling rain when I went out to snip them, and bucketing down just a few minutes after I got back inside. 🙂

My Grandma's kitchen cookbook

I used white wine vinegar and my homemade mayonnaise (no added sugar). That recipe is here (scroll down).


Really, really liked the addition of the herbs, especially the chives. Must remember to add them to any potato salad in future.

As much as I love my homemade mayo, I thought 1/3 cup of it overpowered the rest of the ingredients. I think 1/4 cup would be more than enough.

Oh, and green beans were fine to give it some crunch, so don’t worry if you don’t have celery.

We travel a lot and potatoes are on the menu all over the world. This was part of our first breakfast when we arrived in India for our first overland trip there.

P.S. Speaking of travel, Poor John and I are on our way tomorrow morning. We’ll have about 20 hours in two different airplanes and at least 19 hours in airports. Don’t expect to hear much from me for the next 48–60 hours.

Herby potato salad

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Prawn pilaf

prawn pilaf

Epicure: summer, 192pp.
by various contributors
The Age newspaper, John Fairfax Publications, Sydney, 2006
Cooking on page 32

This cookbook is filled with yummy-looking recipes from three of Australia’s leading lights in the food industry—Jill Dupleix, Brigitte Hafner and Stephanie Alexander.

Being named Summer, it focuses on seasonal produce that is available in Australia in the months of December, January and February. It covers starters (appetizers), soups and salads, main dishes and desserts.

I bought it a couple of years ago at a secondhand bookshop and this is the first time I’ve cooked from it. Brigitte Hafner offers page 32 as a starter (appetizer). It’s the first time I’ve made one of her recipes.

Prawn pilaf

Prawn pilaf

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
150g long-grain rice
1 can roma tomatoes, chopped (use only the tomatoes, not the juice)
450ml water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
500g shelled prawns (shrimp)
100g feta
3–4 tbsp chopped parsley and mint
lemon wedges

tomato, onion, garlic sautéing rice cooking pilaf

Gently fry the onion and garlic in oil until soft and golden. Add rice and cook, stirring for a minute before adding the tomatoes, water and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Add the prawns, tucking them in the rice, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until rice is just-soft.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then crumble over the feta, parsley and mint and serve direct from the pot with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 4.

How it played out
I made this as written except, when I went to use my only tin (can) of whole roma tomatoes, I found the can was blown (you know, bulging at both ends and full of botulism). So I had to substitute a tin of chopped tomatoes that I didn’t bother to drain. So this was most likely much juicier than it was meant to be (see Verdict), but really not by much.

Used parsley, mint and lemons from our garden, and a strong Greek Dodoni feta cheese, which is my favourite.

Epicure, summer

It may be winter now in Australia, but this recipe is absolutely sensational for any time of year, and for a main course or a starter.

We completely loved this recipe, even with the slightly extra juice that wouldn’t have been there if I’d drained a tin of whole roma tomatoes and then chopped them.

Try it and I hope you love it as much as we did. So glad I bought this cookbook because many more recipes look fantastic.

Prawns (shrimps) have featured in many of our travels. Here’s a post about a great seafood meal we had in a market in St Tropez.

Posted in Appetiser, Fish and seafood, Main dish, Rice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Cherry, walnut and fetta salad


Cherry, walnut and feta salad

Traditional Christmas, 144pp.
by The Australian Women’s Weekly
Bauer Media Books, Sydney, 2015
Cooking on pages 32–33

I know it’s not Christmas, but Australians often celebrate a mid-year christmas in June or July when it’s winter in our part of the world. Cherries aren’t in season now in Australia, but they’re available all over France where we are now. And besides the recipe says when cherries aren’t available, use baby beets (or beetroot as we say in Australia).

Anyway, this is a two-in-one cookbook that I checked out of the library for inspiration. Half the book focuses on traditional holiday recipes for starters, mains and desserts. Flip the book over and there is the Modern Christmas collection of recipes.

I’m not so sure the offering shared on pages 32–33 is strictly traditional. I bet I didn’t eat feta (in my opinion, that’s the proper way to spell it) cheese until I was in my 20s and living in Egypt. So let’s see how it turned out.

Cherry, walnut and feta salad

Cherry, walnut and fetta salad

125g (4 ounces) mesclun
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives
1 cup (125g) seeded fresh cherries, halved
½ cup (50g) walnuts, roasted
100g (3 ounces) fetta, crumbled

Lemon dressing
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
i tsp dijon mustard
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil

Make lemon dressing. Whisk ingredients in a small bowl until combined; season to taste.

Place mesclun, chives, cherries, half the nuts and half the fetta in a large bowl with dressing; toss gently to combine.

Serve salad sprinkled with remaining nuts and fetta.

Women's Weekly Traditional Christmas

When cherries are not in season, use quartered canned baby beetroot instead.

How it played out
I made this as written, using cherries from the very tail end of Australia’s cherry season and a mixture of lettuce leaves I had on hand. I toasted the walnuts in a cast-iron skillet over a medium–high heat, and was very pleased to find a bottle of tarragon vinegar in the back of the cupboard.

Sensational, sensational, sensational. I guarantee you I’ll be making this regularly next cherry season, and often in between using the suggested baby beets.

Seriously, it’s delicious to the max and looks like Christmas on a plate.

P.S. Sorry about the limited variety of pics. I had photos of the all the ingredients before making, but cyberspace grabbed them and I can’t find them, so these will have to do for now. Besides, you all know what they look like. 🙂

Women's Weekly Traditional Christmas


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Lamb with herb and garlic rub

herbs for roast lamb

Roast dinner, 160pp.
Reader’s Digest kitchens
Reader’s Digest (Australia), Ultimo NSW, 2007
Cooking on page 32–33

Oh my, I can’t count how many roast dinners I’ve made over the years.

Poor John’s Aunt Esther lived with us for eight years (before she went into demented aged care at age 97). She loved a roast and I obliged regularly.

This cookbook is part of a Reader’s Digest series that covers various cooking styles, cuisines and core ingredients. Chapters in this book cover meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and desserts, as well as sauces, stuffings and accompaniments.

Aunt Esther would have loved the recipe on page 32.

Lamb with herbs and garlic

Lamb with herb and garlic rub

2 kg (4 lb) leg of lamb
1 lemon, halved and seeded

Herb and garlic rub
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) olive oil

Herbs for roast lamb Herb and garlic mixture Lamb ready to roast

To make the rub, mix the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour in the oil and mix until well combined.

Using a sharp knife, make several small slits all over the lamb. Rub the herb mixture all over the meat, pushing it into the slits, then leave the lamb for 1 hour at room temperature to marinate.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Place the lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up, and cook for about 2 hours (30 minutes per 500 g/1 lb). Cover with foil after 1 hour.

Transfer the lamb to a carving board. Squeeze the lemon juice over lamb then allow to rest for about 10–15 minutes before slicing. Serve with roasted vegetables and steamed beans.

Cook’s tip
It is important to rest a joint of meat for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving. When rested, the internal and external temperatures even out and the juices are redistributed, making the meat more succulent and easier to carve.

How it played out
I’ve made this twice in just a couple of weeks—once in Canberra and then again on Flinders Island, using their wonderful locally produced lamb. In both places, I was lucky enough to be able to use homegrown herbs and Australian olive oil.

I followed the recipe exactly, using all the garlic and all the herbs finely chopped. Resting the joint is an important step, so be sure to follow the cook’s tip noted above. I made gravy while I waited.

Roasted lamb

The first time I made it, I served it to fellow travelling companions, Martin and Gwynne from the USA. They love lamb but sometimes find it hard to find in America.

An absolutely brilliant recipe for roast lamb. We must have loved it or I wouldn’t have made it twice so close together.

For those who can’t get or who don’t care for lamb, I’m sure you could successfully make the same recipe with a beef roast.

P.S. I’ve taken several pics of the cover of this cookbook and now can’t find any of them. Will try to add one later.

We loved Flinders Island. Here’s a post that covers our walk there on Earth Day.

Mining scoop

We travelled with Martin and Gwynne for almost a year in Africa. Here they are in a giant mining scoop in the National Museum of Australia



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Chickpeas with tomato (chhole)

cooked chickpeas

Curry nation, Britain’s 100 favourite curries, 224pp.
by Madhur Jaffrey
Ebury Press,
Cooking on page 132

We love curries. It’s probably just as well because, over the last three years, we’ve spent almost six months in India and eaten some version of curry virtually three times a day.

The British love curries too: so much so that the country’s former favourite dish, fish and chips, has been replaced by chicken tikka masala. Madhur Jaffrey includes her recipe for this dish, but it is on pages 76–78.

Page 32 doesn’t have a recipe, so I moved on to 132 and one of my favourite ingredients—chickpeas (often called garbanzo beans). This north Indian recipe is from Sarita Udaniya of the Chaat House in Leicester.

Chickpeas with tomato

Chickpeas with tomato (chhole)

200g (7oz) dried chickpeas
½ large onion, finely chopped, plus 1 medium onion, finely sliced
2½ centimetres (1 inch) peeled root ginger, cut into slivers
3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 tablespoons tomato purée
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala

ginger and onion cooking chickpeas chickpea liquid

The night before, wash the chickpeas well, then place in a large bowl with 1.5 litres (2¾ pints) of water.

Next day, put the chickpeas and their soaking liquid into a large, deep pot about 25 centimetres (10 inches) in diameter, along with the chopped onion and the ginger. Bring to a boil over a high heat. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low and cook slowly for one to three hours, or until the chickpeas are very tender. (Or you could use a pressure cooker. Cook on full pressure for 17 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pressure drop by itself.) Drain the chickpeas and set aside, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the cooking liquid to make it up to 375ml (13 fl oz).

Clean out and dry the same pot. Pour in the oil and set it over a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the sliced onion and stir and fry for about five minutes, or until it turns light brown. Mix in the tomato purée and stir well for two minutes. Add the salt and return the chickpeas to the pot. Mix well. Pour in the reserved chickpea liquid and bring to a simmer. Add the garam masala and simmer over a low heat uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

How it played out
Lyn and Pete, our neighbours at the South Coast, were coming to Canberra for a couple of days, so I offered to make them one of my Indian feasts. This is when I make at least one more curry than the number of guests who are coming.

That means I have to start the proceedings at least two days in advance and that works perfectly when you need to remember to soak the chickpeas the day before.

curry nation cookbook

I made this recipe as written (not using a pressure cooker because I don’t have one). I used garam masala that I bought in India about six months ago. Great flavour.

Besides rice, served with chicken kabuli, paneer palak and a corn curry (recipes available on request). And a big plus was that I could serve it in one of the lovely copper bowls I bought in India.

I love chickpeas in all forms and this recipe did not disappoint. I plan to soak dried peas regularly, just so I can make dishes like this on the spur of the moment.

Here’s a post from my travel blog on one of the delicious meals we had while in India.

Indian feast dishes

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