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

Posted in Side dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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


Posted in Cheese, Fruit, Light meal, Nuts, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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



Posted in Main dish, Meat | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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

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

Chewy chocolate chunk slice

coconut, cocoa, chocolate

Epicure chocolate, recipes from 20 years of indulgent ideas, 191pp
edited by Kylie Walker
The Age, John Fairfax Publications, 2006
Cooking on page 32

Melbourne’s main newspaper, The Age, has been publishing recipes for many, many years and this cookbook captures 20 years worth of their chocolate and other indulgent dishes. It also celebrates the 20th birthday of The Age’s weekly food and wine section, Epicure. Looking at the publication date, the section is now into its 31st year.

According to the introduction, the section has shared more than 300 chocolate recipes, but some years were sparse, with only four such recipes published in 1991. This page-32 recipe is by a reader, Linda Nguyen.

chocolate chunk slice

Chewy chocolate chunk slice

1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
125g butter, melted
1 x 395g tin sweetened condensed milk
100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate
½ cut chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts (optional)
icing (confectioner’s) sugar, to dust (optional)

condensed milk, brown sugar, flour dessert batter dessert ready to cook

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the sides of a 22cm square tin or equivalent (e.g. a lamington tin.)

Combine flour, coconut, sugar, cocoa powder, butter and condensed milk in a large bowl and mix well. Spread mixture into the prepared pan.

Roughly chop the dark and white chocolate into chunks and press into base. Sprinkle nuts over the base (if using).

Bake for about 25 minutes. Make sure it’s still a little soft when taking out of the oven (the softer it is, the more fudgy it is!).

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan. Cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar to serve, if desired.

Makes 16 pieces.

How it played out
Oh my, oh my, oh my! What a brilliant recipe for using chocolate.

I followed the recipe as written—good grief, what would I change? Used chopped walnuts, dark chocolate buds that I broke up a bit, and white chocolate chips.

Made this to share with our daughter, Petra, and her cricket team. I cut the slices a little smaller than recommended so the pieces would go further (got about 24 pieces). A bonus was that they had slightly fewer calories (kilojoules). But who’s counting?

Epicure chocolate cookbook

A complete success and beautifully chewy. I should weave the word ‘decadent’ into the title. Really popular with everyone except the one lass who avoids gluten. Oops sorry, I forgot about that.

We’ve had plenty of chocolate on our travels in far flung places. But one memorable day in Germany saw us enjoying ice cream AND chocolate in the one place—Münster. Both were sensational.

Posted in Baking, Chocolate, Dessert | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sugar pumpkin with lentils and tangy dressing

pumpkin and lentil salad with crayfish

Fired up vegetarian: no nonsense barbecuing, 184pp.
by Ross Dobson
Murdoch Books, Crows Nest NSW, 2013
Cooking on pages 132–33

I really like Ross Dobson’s flair with food. I first came across his recipe five years ago when we were visiting friends in Victoria. Jan went through her cookbooks to find a likely page-32 option for us to make. That memorable fish dish remains one of my favourites on this blog, and it led me to track down more of Dobson’s books.

In this book, Dobson sets out to prove to us that vegetarian cookery deserves a place on the barbecue. Page 32 is a chapter divider, so I moved on to a great looking option on pages 132–33. Let’s see how good it is.

pumpkin and lentil salad

Sugar pumpkin with lentils and tangy dressing

55 g (2 oz/ 1/4 cup) puy lentils or tiny blue–green lentils
1 sugar or butternut pumpkin (squash), about 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz)
1 tablespoon rice bran oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 cup small mint leaves
1 cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

Tangy dressing
60 ml (2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup) light olive oil
1 large red chilli, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
60 ml (2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

pumpkin, oil, onion, garlic chilli, coriander, lentils chopped veggies tangy dressing

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, chilli and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the chilli and garlic start to sizzle, cook for just a minute or two longer, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar, sugar and salt and mix until dissolved. Pour into a jar or bowl and set aside to infuse.

Put the lentils in a small saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy—this may take as little as 5 minutes, or up to 20 minutes, depending on the age of your lentils, so check them regularly. Drain well and set aside.

Preheat the barbecue grill to medium.

Cut the pumpkin in half, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Leaving the skin on, cut the pumpkin into wedges no thicker than 2 cm (3/4 inch). Brush the flesh with the rice bran oil and cook on the grill for 10 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through, checking regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn too much.

Put the hot pumpkin in a large bowl with the onions, herbs and lentils. Stir the dressing , then pour it over the pumpkin.

Toss gently to combine. Serve warm. Serves 4.

How it played out
I made this during our stay in Flinders Island in March. We were invited for a barbecue at Ken and Carolyn’s and I volunteered to bring a couple of salads. 

I was pleased to find puy lentils in the small supermarket in the main town on Flinders. There was already a large chunk of pumpkin in the fridge where we were staying, as well as a bottle of rice bran oil in the cupboard. While I got all the ingredients ready (I cut the pumpkin in chunk), Poor John and Graeme cleaned up the gas barbecue. Too many of the holes on the main burner were clogged, so they went to work with a safety pin. 🙂

Of course, some of the pumpkin pieces got a bit charred, but that didn’t affect the taste. Served with a wonderful feast of crayfish, whiting, kebabs and more.

Fried up vegetarian cookbook

A really great vegetable salad recipe that I will make often. It looks so colourful and the flavours are wonderful. The dressing adds a lovely tang, and some of us squeezed over a bit of lemon and lime juice to give a bit of extra zing.

Soon I’ll be writing more about Ken and Carolyn and others who provided catering and food service on Flinders Island. That will appear on my travel blog and I’ll add a link when it’s up.

Posted in Salad, Side dish, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments