Quince compote


quincesCooking solo: the joy of cooking for yourself, 226pp.
by Klancy Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2016
Cooking on page 32

When I first moved to Australia in 1982, I was confronted with a fruit tree I did not recognise. It was a quince tree. I knew nothing about quinces and the internet wasn’t around as a source of recipes. So I often bought cookbooks based on whether or not they had a quince recipe.

I’m way past needing to do that, but I still have the quince tree. This book tempted me because it has a straightforward recipe to use up a few quinces.

By the way, Klancy Miller is an American writer and pastry chef, and a commentator on the Cooking Channel. She earned a Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She’s passionate about everything French.

Quince compote with ice creams


Quince compote

3 ripe quinces
1 cup water
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

quince purée

Peel, core and dice the quinces. Put into a small saucepan with the water and brown sugar.

Set the pan over high heat and bring the mixture just to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, uncovered, until the fruit breaks down and the mixture thickens, 15 to 18 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the cinnamon into the compote. Serve warm, or refrigerate in an airtight container. The compote can be served cold in yogurt or on toast and keeps for approximately 3 days.

How it played out
The quince tree had another bumper crop this year, but we always forget to spray in spring so we also have a bumper crop of codling moth. Ugh.

My friend, Caroline, and I tackled the job of peeling and coring about 15 quinces. She did more work that I did, but I was making dinner at the same time. I set a couple of quinces aside for this recipe and the rest was made into a quince paste. My only change was to purée the fruit before adding the cinnamon.

Cooking solo

We all had some tonight served with two kinds of ice cream—chocolate and a raspberry, another page-32 recipe coming soon.

As the recipe says, it would also be good with yoghurt or on toast, but I think the best reaction came from Mathilde, the Danish exchange student who is with us for four months. She said, ‘It smells and tastes like Christmas!’ What a great recommendation!

P.S. Had to laugh that a book on solo cooking has a bulk recipe like this.

Quince is especially popular in Spain and South America, but I think we also had it at a homestay in Georgia (the country, not the state).


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Florentine salad

egg and prosciutto

Betty Crocker’s cookbook, 575pp. (I think)
by Betty Crocker Kitchens
Golden Press, New York, 1981
Cooking on page 32

In keeping with my love of snooping through other people’s bookshelves, I pounced on this when we visited my friend, Joy, in Oklahoma. Betty Crocker and her books are cooking bibles in the USA. If you check out this one on Goodreads, you’ll find more than 30,000 glowing reviews and a ranking of 4.26 out of 5.

Page 32 has four or five recipes for salads and I chose to make one that features spinach. I’ve made this several times since first photographing the book cover and recipe at Joy’s, but I’ve never managed to get decent pics.

Florentine salad, Betty Crocker's cookbook

Florentine salad

1 clove garlic, slivered
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
12 ounces spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 hard cooked egg, chopped
2 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled

salad ingredients spinach salad

Let garlic stand in oil 1 hour; discard garlic. Mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a salad bowl. Add spinach; toss until leaves are well coated. Sprinkle with egg and bacon; toss. Serves 3.

Hot Florentine salad: Prepare as directed except heat oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in chafing dish or saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until hot.

How it played out
We love spinach—raw or cooked—and I use it often. I had a 300-gram bag of baby spinach (that’s about 10 ounces), so made this without bothering to tear the leaves into smaller pieces.

This time I made it with a small packet of prosciutto (6 thin slices) that I had on hand, so used that in place of bacon. Have used bacon in the past, which is also great. I also crushed the garlic into the dressing. We love garlic and it seemed a waste to use it to just flavour the oil. Used red wine vinegar and added several chopped spring onions.

Betty Crocker's cookbook

We must like this recipe because I’ve made it several times since I found it. The family even requests it.

I think this works especially well with baby spinach. The 300-gram bag of veg (10 ounces) is probably equivalent to 12 ounces of, say, English spinach, which I would have had to trim (cut off the stems) and chop.

So if you are a fan of the ingredients, I can highly recommend this recipe. Have made it both raw/cold and hot. Thumbs up on both. Oh, and feel free to add an extra egg.

We had a great time in Oklahoma visiting Joy and my sister, Susan, and her family. We did a lot of baking on one of our visits. Joy’s small town introduced us to the ferocious and stinging velvet ant.


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Coconut ice slice

chopped glacé cherries

The big book of beautiful biscuits, 128pp.
by the Australian Women’s Weekly
Australian Consolidated Press, Sydney, no date given
Cooking on page 32

This is one of the first cookbooks I bought when I came to Australia in the early 1980s. With one child and a baby on the way, I could imagine the countless batches of biscuits (Australia’s word for cookies) I’d make in years to come.

It’s been a wonderfully useful cookbook, but I’d never made the recipe on page 32—until now.

Coconut ice slice

Coconut ice slice

90g (3oz) butter
1/4 castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cornflour

2 cups coconut
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
125g (4oz) glace cherries

1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk
red food colouring
2 tablespoons coconut

beating in egg crumbly slice base making coconut ice slice

Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add egg yolk, beat well. Fold in sifted flours. If mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water. Divide pastry in half. Roll out one half on a lightly floured surface to fit base of 28cm x 18cm (11in x 7in) lamington tin which has been lined with lightly greased aluminium foil. Extend foil 5cm (2in) over edges of the tin for easy removal of slice. Trim off any excess pastry.

Combine coconut, sugar and eggs in bowl, add chopped cherries, mix well. Spoon filling evenly over pastry.

Roll out remaining pastry, fit over filling. Trim if necessary. Bake in moderate oven 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

Sift icing sugar into a bowl add melted butter, milk and a few drops of food colouring, beat until smooth.
Spread icing over slice, sprinkle with extra coconut. Cut into small squares.

How it played out
I made a colossal mistake at the beginning of this recipe—and I knew better. I bake A LOT and I know a cup of flour weighs 125–130 grams or about 4 ounces. But at the back of this book, it said a cup of flour weighs 155 grams or about 5 ounces.

pressing down topping coconut ice slice

I knew this was wrong, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll follow the cookbook’s measurements. It meant I ended up with a dough that was so dry that even 3 tablespoons of water wasn’t enough to make a dough that could be rolled out. At that stage I could have thrown out the dough and started over (not a huge loss), but I chose to carry on, so I could tell you how to recover from such a problem.

I merely pressed half the dough into the base of the pan, using my hands and the back of a large spoon. I added the filling and then managed to press the last of the dough over the top. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but was more than adequate.

Baked the slice at 180°C (or about 350°C).

I had rose (not red) food colouring and accidentally splashed in rather more than a few drops, hence the shocking pink colour.

Beautiful biscuits cookbook

I made this as part of my Christmas baking, so the pink added great colour to the plate. They are quite a bit sweeter than I normally like, but are perfect for sweet tooths. Our son-in-law enjoy rather a lot of them.

We had some guests around to help us to eat them, and I sent some home with them. I’ve recently learned that their grandkids are calling them Peggy’s Pinkies. Guess that means they’s be great for children’s birthday parties.

By the way, sometimes bakeries sell versions of this.

P.S. I’ve given this cookbook to Lyn, a friend and neighbour, and I’ve already been on the receiving end of two kinds of biscuits/cookies. How smart am I?

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Braised lamb and yogurt

onion, ginger, garlic, cookbook

Easy curry cookery, 128pp.
by The Australian Women’s Weekly
ACP Publishing, Sydney, 1996
Cooking on page 32

I first encountered this book many years ago when Steve, a workmate, brought leftover curry for lunch. He heated it in the microwave and the smell was divine. Everyone was keen to know the recipe. So a couple of days later, Steve brought the cookbook to work to let us have a look. For the next few years, I searched second-hand bookstores to find a copy for myself. Finally found one for $5 at a small bookstall in Adelaide’s Central Market.

Now I own lots of curry cookbooks, so I use this one only occasionally. This is the first time I’ve made the recipe on page 32.

braised lamb and yogurt

Braised lamb and yogurt

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 1/2 kg leg of lamb, boned, chopped
30g ghee
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup cream
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 tablespoon water, extra

coriander, cumin, cardamom, lime marinating lamb cooking lamb curry

Blend or process onion, ginger, garlic, seeds and juice until well combined. Place blended mixture and lamb in medium bowl, stir until lamb is well coated, cover, refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Heat ghee in large saucepan, add cayenne pepper, turmeric and garam masala, stir over medium heat for 1 minute.

Stir in yogurt, then lamb, stir over high heat until lamb is well browned. Stir in combined cream and water, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for about 1 hour or until lamb is tender.

Stir in blended flour and extra water, stir over high heat until sauce boils and thickens.

Serves 6.

How it played out
I wasn’t all that keen to bone a leg of lamb, and I didn’t have to. Instead I got a great deal on a boneless lamb shoulder roast that weighed 1 1/2 kilos. I trimmed off all the fat and cut the meat into cubes. The rest of the process was so straightforward.

The spices and other ingredients are things I always have on hand, so it was just a matter of following this simple recipe. Served with steamed rice and another page-32 recipe—green peas in a creamy sauce.

Easy curry cookery

A very nice lamb curry, but not the best one I’ve ever made. I thought it really needed more cayenne or a few chopped chillies.

A while back I made a fiery lamb curry. It was another page-32 recipe and called for 25 chillies. While it was a teeny-tiny bit too hot for my liking, it was a complete winner. I’ll post that one soon.

Next time I make that recipe, I’ll cut back to 15 chillies. And no, I’m not a fire-breathing dragon. In fact, I think I’ll make one of the ice cream recipes in this book.

I never tire of eating curry dishes. It’s one of the reasons I love travelling in India. Here’s a post I did about some of the curry meals we had there.

P.S. for Sharon and Paula—you don’t have to make this—but someday I’ll come make it for you! 🙂

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Penne carbonara


Eggs, parmesan, cream

Commonsense: quick and easy meals, 384pp.
no author named
Murdoch Books, Millers Point, NSW, Australia, 2010
Cooking on page 32

Publishers can be a bit sneaky. I ended up with two copies of this book. They had totally different titles and covers, but the contents were exactly the same. The blue one was published in 2009 and the orange one a year later.

I bought both at different Lifeline Book Fairs, so didn’t recognise the sameness until I was going through looking for page-32 recipes. This is the second time I’ve had two cookbooks with different covers and the same contents. I’m glad I buy these for a couple of dollars each at the book fair. I’d go broke paying full price.

I gave the blue one (which had a ring-binder) to Chloe who so graciously made the amazing negroni tart and chocolate truffles, as well as several other impressive page 32s soon to appear. You’d be right thinking Chloe likes to make desserts.

Penne carbonara

Penne carbonara

400 g (14 oz) penne
1 tablespoon oil
200 g (7 oz) piece pancetta or bacon, cut into long thin strips
6 egg yolks
185 ml (6 fl oz/ 3/4 cup) pouring (whipping) cream
75 g (2 1/2 oz/ 3/4 cup) grated parmesan cheese

Commonsense cookbook

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well and return to the pan to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Cook the pancetta for about 6 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towel.

Beat the egg yolks, cream and parmesan together in a bowl and season well.

Pour the egg mixture over the pasta, tossing gently. Add the pancetta and cook over very low heat for 30–60 seconds, or until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta. Season and serve immediately.

Note: Be careful not to cook the pasta over high heat once you have added the egg mixture, or the sauce risks being scramble by the heat.

egg and parmesan mixture

Serves 4–6.

How it played out
We were at the coast with five teenage exchange students, so this seemed the perfect recipe to at least halfway fill them up.

Obviously I went for quantity, so used 500 grams of pasta, quite a bit of extra bacon instead of pancetta, six whole eggs rather than just six yolks, and extra parmesan. Added plenty of freshly ground black pepper, which isn’t suggested in the recipe. 

Given the changes I made, it goes to show you how flexible and versatile pasta recipes can be. Served with salad, crusty bread and sautéd greens.

30-minute meals

This may not be the best carbonara I ever made, but it’s pretty darn close. I actually think using just six egg yolks might have made it a bit too rich for the amount of pasta. Anyway, the kids inhaled it and there weren’t any leftovers. Poor John and I got some too.

I wished that I’d sprinkled over some chopped parsley.

If you love pasta, check out one of my very early travel posts (seven years ago) about a wonderful pasta dish I ordered in Berlin.

Posted in Cheese, Eggs, Light meal, Main dish, Pasta | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Swedish pork meatballs

breadcrumbs and buttermilk pork meatball mixture

Classic country recipes: the essential cookbook, 256pp.
by R&R Test Kitchen
R&R Publications, North Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 2008
Cooking on page 32

I have two slow cookers and hardly ever use them, so I bought this to give myself a little kick along. While not devoted entirely to slow-cooked meals, the cookbook opens with a chapter focusing on just that. I especially appreciated the cooking-time conversion chart. I’ve always wondered how oven and stovetop times compare to slow cookers set on low or high. Now I have a handy reference.

Other chapters cover baked pies and pastries, dishes featuring garlic and rice-based dishes.

We’ve had a cool snap in Australia recently, so I made recipes on page 32 and page 38 (which is shown on the book’s cover). I also had three willing helpers staying with us—exchange students from Finland, Norway and Denmark. The page-32 choice seemed oh-so appropriate.

Swedish pork meatballs

Swedish pork meatballs

1 1/2 cups white breadcrumbs
1 cup buttermilk
500g lean pork mince
250g lean beef mince
2 eggs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon dill seeds
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
60g butter
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley

dill seeds, allspice, nutmeg, stock sautéing meatballs sautéing meatballs meatballs in slow cooker

Soak breadcrumbs in buttermilk for 5 minutes. Add meats, eggs, onion, salt, dill seeds, allspice and nutmeg. Mix well, cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Shape tablespoons of mixture into balls.

Heat butter in a frying pan and cook meatballs until lightly browned.

Place meatballs into the slow cooker as they are browned. Add stock, wine and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

Approximately 20 minutes before serving turn the heat to high and add cream. Serve meatballs garnished with parsley and accompanied by crusty bread. Serves 6.

How it played out
It’s been ages since I made a recipe that called for dill seeds, but I have a hefty supply so it was nice to make use of them. Also good to use some of my homemade breadcrumbs. The meat mixture came together easily—I squished it by hand—and then it sat in the fridge for way longer than 30 minutes. In fact, we went sightseeing, so dinner plans were rearranged and this stayed in the fridge overnight. That did it no harm.

The next day, the girls made the meatballs in no time (they ended up with 43). How nice to have three to do a job that I otherwise would have done by myself.  I followed everything else and, while the meatballs cooked, we did more exploring.

Served with mashed potatoes and mixed steamed beans. Completely forgot to sprinkle over the parsley, which annoyed me because I’d made a special trip to get some.

Classic country recipes cookbook

We may not have had a Swede with us, but these meatballs were a definite hit with everyone. They were so good that two days later I got out the slow cooker and cookbook again, and made the lamb shanks recipe on page 38. This cookbook is a keeper.

We visited Finland and Sweden last year (as well as several neighbouring countries). We had many wonderful meals and fantastic sightseeing experiences. A favourite was the Vasa Museum in Stockholm to see the ship that was resurfaced after 300 years. It is the most visited museum in all of Scandinavia.

making meatballs

Olga, Tomine and Mathilde get their hands dirty making meatballs

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Green peas in a creamy sauce

lemon, chilli, coriander

100 essential curries, 208pp.
by Madhur Jaffrey
Ebury Press, London, 2011
Cooking on page 132

This is one of 14 cookbooks (maybe more) in the My Kitchen Table series published by Ebury. Each volume has 100 recipes by a well-known chef. In addition to Madhur Jaffrey (who has done two of the books, authors include Mary Berry, Ainslie Harriott, Sophie Grigson, Rick Stein, Ken Hom and others.

Topics covered include cakes and bakes, Chinese, vegetarian, fish and seafood, quick meals, low-fat, stir-fry, pasta and more.

This is the only one of the set that I own. Jaffrey is one of my favourite Indian chefs.

Page 32 has a recipe for prawn pullao (pilaf), but I’ve already done one such recipe for this blog (it’s here), so I moved on to page 132.

Green peas with creamy sauce

Green peas in a creamy sauce

1⁄4 teaspoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon tomato purée
175ml (6 fl oz) single cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped green coriander
1 fresh hot green chilli, finely chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seed
1⁄4 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
2 x 275g (10 ounces each) packets frozen peas, defrosted under warm water and drained

cream, cumin, chilli powder, garam masala sauce for peas

Combine sugar, ground cumin, garam masala, salt, chilli powder and tomato purée. Slowly add 2 tablespoons water, mixing as you go. Add the cream slowly and mix. Add the lemon juice, green coriander and green chilli. Mix again and set this cream sauce aside.

Put the oil in a large frying pan and set over medium–high heat. When hot, put in the cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop—this takes just a few seconds—add the peas. Stir and fry the peas for 30 seconds, then add the cream sauce. Cook on high heat for 1 1/2–2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, stirring gently as you do so.

How it played out
I made this for an Indian feast. I let the peas defrost naturally in a colander—why waste water. My only other changes were to use a red chilli and thickened cream because that’s what I had on hand. In future, I’d probably use up to a teaspoon of mustard seeds.

This was so easy to make and really took just a few minutes. There was plenty of cream, so you could get by with 125–150ml (4–5 ounces) if that’s all you have.

100 essential curries

The feast included another page 32—braised lamb and yogurt—coming soon.

I’m adding this to my Indian feast repertoire. Tastes fantastic, super quick and easy to make, looks great on the plate and is a lovely way to serve peas. In fact, you can be sure I’ll be making it for non-Indian meals.

We’ve spent a lot of time in India over the last few years, mostly in search of wildlife. The tigers and Asiatic lions have been some of the stars.

Posted in Side dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments