Orange mint coffee

coffee brewing

Treasury of country recipes, 551pp.
by Land O’Lakes Test Kitchens
Tormont Publications, Montreal, 1992
Cooking on pages 32–33

Land O’Lakes was founded in 1921 in Minnesota, by representatives from 320 creameries, as the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association. The organisation wanted to improve marketing and the quality of butter, and thus increase the profitability of dairying. I guess it worked because, having grown up in the USA, I completely associate Land O’Lakes with butter.

The co-op handles 12 billion pounds of milk each year supplied by 3600 direct producer-members and 1000 member-cooperatives. Its 10,000 employees process and distribute products on behalf of about 300,000 agricultural producers.

Pages 32–33 have drink recipes. I’m not a big fan of rum (old-fashioned hot buttered rum), so I made the iced version of orange mint coffee.

iced coffee

Orange mint coffee

Ingredients for iced coffee
6 sprigs fresh mint
6 orange slices
10 cups (2.5L) fresh brewed coffee
2 1/2 cups (625mL) vanilla ice cream

orange orange and mint

Place mint and orange slices into large heat-proof pitcher; add fresh brewed coffee. Let cool 1 hr. Cover; refrigerate until chilled (about 2 hr.). Into each of 6 glasses scoop 1/2 c. (125 mL) ice cream; pour chilled coffee over the ice cream.

Note: the hot version is virtually the same without the chill time and using sweetened whipped cream instead of ice cream.

How it played out
Poor John adores his coffee and got a new maker (not a new wife, but a new machine) in early January. I can’t drink coffee after mid-morning (affects my sleep) so I started one serve of this for him in the morning.

I brewed the coffee and then added the orange slice and mint. I let it sit (in his favourite cup) on the bench for an hour and in the fridge for two hours. Then I added a scoop of coffee mocha ice cream. Hey, if you’re going to do coffee, you might as well use coffee ice cream.

He had the drink after lunch.

Treasury of country recipes

You need to know that Poor John likes his coffee strong, black and without sugar, so this was not a typical choice for him. While he enjoyed the brew, he thought it was a recipe for people who didn’t like coffee all that much or who preferred it with milk and sugar.

Would be a great drink after a dinner party—iced version on a hot night and the hot version on a wintry night. Could add Bailey’s Irish Cream too.

Note: Poor John almost always makes his own coffee, so me making it was an exception.

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Insalata di prosciutto e rucola (Cured ham and rocket salad)

Grana Padano, prosciutto, lemon

The ASK Italian cookbook, 192pp.
edited by Carla Capalbo
Penguin Group, London, 2012
Cooking on pages 32–33

This cookbook combines favourite dishes from the ASK Italian restaurants in Britain, as well as recipes from chef Theo Randall and author Carla Capalbo. Capalbo lived in Italy for 20 years and specialises in Italian food. Randall was head chef and partner in London’s River Café and now runs his own restaurant.

The book is dedicated to the children and staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. I was impressed to see that almost one-third of the book’s selling price is donated to the hospital’s charity group.

Pages 32–33 have two recipes. I was keen to make the no-cook one because it’s been super hot in Australia lately.

Cured ham, rocket and mushroom salad


Insalata di prosciutto e rucola (Cured ham and rocket salad)

60g (4 good handfuls) rocket (arugula) leaves
2 tablespoon Italian extra virgin olive oil
12 slices speck of prosciutto crudo
4 large firm chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

rocket and lemon-infused oil

Dress the rocket leaves with the oil in a mixing bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper and just a pinch of salt.

Arrange the ham slices on a platter or 4 individual serving plates. Cover with the rocket leaves. Top with a layer of sliced raw mushrooms.

Grate as much cheese as you like over the salad, Finish with a squeeze of lemon before serving. Serves 4.

How it played out
Poor John is up and out the door early in the morning, so I made this recipe for my breakfast (I love savoury). I quartered all the ingredients and used prosciutto, Grana Padano, button mushrooms and homegrown rocket. Given that the recipe called for lemon wedges, I also used lemon-infused olive oil—just 1 1/2 teaspoons.

ASK Italian cookbook

This recipe surpassed all my expectations. Initially, I thought it was an odd mix of ingredients and didn’t expect it to come together so wonderfully. Frankly, I could eat this for breakfast every day. So easy to make and the balance of flavours is perfect, although I think the lemon-infused oil contributed to that.

Go on, try it. Ever-so easy to make and with fantastic flavours.

Please take a moment to check out my travel blog.

Posted in Appetiser, Light meal, Salad, Vegetable | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Negroni tart (and sweet shortcut pastry)

oranges for negroni tart

Love to eat, 302pp.
by Valli Little
HarpersCollinsPublishers Australia, Sydney, 2014
Cooking on page 32

This is yet another book in the collection produced by Australia’s popular delicious magazine, which was voted Magazine Brand of the Year for 2018.

I’ve always liked their books. The recipes are top notch, the writing is clear and informative, and the photos are enticing. This book shares 120 recipes from around the world.

Chapter 1 and page 32 are devoted to Italian recipes.

Negroni tart

Negroni tart (and sweet shortcut pastry)

1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (see recipe below) or 435g packet frozen vanilla bean sweet shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
6 oranges (seedless if possible, such as navels), 3 finely zested, then juiced, 3 peeled, pith removed, sliced)
100ml Campari
300ml thickened cream, whisked to stiff peaks
250g mascarpone

almond praline rolling out pastry squeezing oranges pastry to bake with weights

Almond praline
3/4 cup (105g) roasted slivered almonds
1 cup (220g) caster sugar

For the almond praline, line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread almonds over the baking paper. Combine sugar and 2 tbs cold water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil.  Cook without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush, until the mixture turns a golden caramel colour. Pour caramel over the almonds on the tray, then set aside until it hardens. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, crush praline to coarse crumbs. Store in an air tight container.

Grease a 12cm x 36cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Line with pastry, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prick the pastry base with a fork, then line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10–12 minutes until pale golden. Remove weights and paper, then bake for a further 5–6 minutes until pastry is dry and crisp. Cool in the pan.

Meanwhile, place the sugar and 1/3 cup (80ml) water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add vanilla pod and seeds, and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add orange juice, zest and Campari to the sugar syrup, then return to the boil and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate.

Combine whipped cream, mascarpone and 1/2 cup praline. Spread over the tart shell and top with orange slices. Just before serving, drizzle over the orange syrup and sprinkle with extra praline crumbs. Serves 6.

baked pastry pastry filling peeled oranges

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Whiz 1 2/3 cups (250g) plain flour, 2 tbs icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor to combine. Add 180g chilled, chopped unsalted butter and whiz to fine crumbs. Add 1 egg yolk, the scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean and 1 tbs chilled water, then whiz until the mixture just comes together. Shape into a ball, enclose in plastic wrap, then chill for 1 hour before rolling out. The pastry will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes one 23cm tart shell, one 12cm x 36cm tart shell or six 10cm tart shells.

How it played out
I’d love to say I made this recipe, but I handed the main challenge to Chloe. She likes to make desserts and, after minding our house and dogs while we were away, she stayed on until her place was available. My contributions were to buy the Campari, toast the slivered almonds and purchase the right tart tin ($13.95). Geez, no burden at all.

Chloe reckons the recipe has a lot of fiddly steps, but she thought they were all straightforward and easy to do. The only challenge was the pastry. Easy enough to make and it didn’t shrink when baked, but once baked it was still quite crumbly. In the end, we served the dessert from the tart tin base.

Love to Eat cookbook

Chloe whizzed the praline in the food processor (good thinking) and found it was darned easy to prepare. We used dried chickpeas as pastry weights, and they worked very well. I’m saving them for future use.

We used large oranges and there was lots and lots of orange syrup leftover. I’m still trying to think of ways to use it up.

Given the Campari was on hand, we made negronis to keep us going as we cooked—made with equal parts of Campari, red vermouth and gin served over plenty of ice and with a strip of orange peel. 

This is a wonderful dessert that is perfect for a festive meal. It’s both beautiful and delicious. Easter is coming, so it could be a fantastic chocolate-free choice.

Can also highly recommend the colourful and tasty negroni cocktails, but a warning—have just one and don’t plan on driving after having it. 🙂

Another warning
I promised to let my WordPress friend, Sharon, know when to avoid a recipe. She says she is not a great cook (I’m guessing under-confident). So Sharon, this is a recipe you don’t want to try unless you’ve had a couple of negroni cocktails or unless Chloe and I are there to help! 🙂 Seriously, it’s not that hard to make, but just too many steps to keep you sane.

Negroni cocktail



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Chicken and winter-vegetable soup

carrot, turnip, leek, potato

Cuisine rapide, 372pp.
by Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller
Times Books, New York, 1989
Cooking on pages 32–33

This cookbook is all about making meals on the fly. The recipes are originally from an American PBS (Public Broadcasting System) television series by the same name. Obviously, it’s not about fast food, but about good food that can be made quickly.

I no longer remember where or when I bought this book, but I also own Franey’s The 60-minute gourmet, which has one of the best quick fish recipes ever.

So let’s see what starts on page 32.

Chicken and winter-vegetable soup

Chicken and winter-vegetable soup

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
3/4 pound potatoes, peeled
1/4 pound turnips, peeled
1/4 pound carrots, trimmed and scraped
1 large leek, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
5 cups fresh or canned chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/3 teaspoon dry
1 bay leaf
salt to taste, if desired
freshly ground black pepper to taste

stock and vegetables


Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips. Cut the strips into 1/4-inch dice. There should be about 2 cups. Put the potatoes in cold water and set aside until ready for use.

Cut the turnips, carrots and parsnip into dice of approximately the size as the potatoes. There should be about 2 cups turnips, 1 1/2 cups carrots and 1 cup parsnips.

soup vegetables cooking soup vegetables

Split the leek down the centre and rinse well between the leaves. Pat dry. Cut the leek into very fine dice. There should be about 1 1/2 cups.

Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan or small kettle and add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium het, stirring, until wilted. Add the chicken and stir. Add the turnips, carrots, parsnips and leek, and cook, stirring about 2 minutes.

Add the broth, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Serves 4–6.

How it played out
I made this pretty much as written—even made a special trip to the supermarket to buy a turnip. I already had everything else on hand, except that the chicken was thigh meat rather than breast. If the potatoes had been younger, I wouldn’t have peeled them, but today I did. Oh, and I used store-bought stock.

All the timings were right and we enjoyed this for lunch.

Cuisine Rapide cookbook

We loved this soup and it was a lovely version that was a perfect use of several winter vegetables.

I discovered that I’m not all that keen on turnip in this particular recipe, but everything else was spot on, and I will happily make again when all the ingredients are on hand.

Soup lovers—scroll down here to see a great soup that we enjoyed in Central Asia.

Posted in Dairy, Light meal, Poultry, Stew/soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Baked onions


baking onions with stock

The new cookbook, 320pp.
by Miriam Polunin
Doubleday, Sydney, 1984
Cooking on pages 132–33

I’ve had this cookbook for more than 30 years and haven’t cooked from it for about two decades. It’s been parked on a bookshelf in our coast house since the early 1990s. That’s where I usually cook old standards that I can make blindfolded, so the cookbooks down here don’t get much attention. But I’m working my way through all my cookbooks, and this one caught my eye.

Page 32 has a recipe for a creamy herb sauce. I might go back and make that, but the recipe on pages 132–33 was too tempting. We had company coming and I had onions that were crying out to be cooked as a side dish.

baked onions


Baked onions

4 large onions, unpeeled
10ml (2tsp) any fat or oil
150ml (1/4 pint) stock
cottage cheese or cheddar cheese, grated, to taste
black pepper or paprika, to taste

Baked onions

Heat the oven to 150°C (300°F) gas mark 2.

Cut the roots from the onions but do not peel them. Sit them in a baking dish, brush them with the oil and pour stock around them.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, depending on size. To test whether an onion is done, squeeze it gently between a finger and thumb, it should give slightly.

To eat, cut back the brown skin and sprinkle the tops with a little cottage cheese or grated cheddar cheese plus black pepper or paprika.

How it played out
This is a no-brainer, but I still changed a few things. I was going to serve these with baked salmon steaks and potato wedges, so I set the oven to 200°C. I then put these in the oven (using chicken stock and olive oil) along with the wedges for about 50 minutes, adding the salmon for the last 12 minutes.
It’s always satisfying when everything for dinner is ready at the same time.

New cookbook by Polunin

Because I cooked the onions at the higher temperature, a couple of the centres popped up, but that was easily disguised with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of paprika. No cheddar or cottage cheese on hand. 

A delicious way to prepare onions—the dinner guests want the recipe! I’ll be making these often when doing a roast or another dish that requires a longish bake.

By the way, I peeled the onion completely for serving, rather than cutting back the skin as shown in the photo in the cookbook.

Posted in Cheese, Dairy, Side dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Asparagus and quail’s egg salad

quail eggs, lemon, asparagus

Food you can’t say no to, 192pp.
by Tamasin Day-Lewis
Quadrille Publishing, London, 2012
Cooking on page 32

I hadn’t heard of Tamasin Day-Lewis before. Turns out she is a noted English television chef and food critic, and has published a dozen books about food, restaurants, recipes and places. She also writes regularly for The Daily Telegraph, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Daniel Day-Lewis is her brother.

Page 32 got my attention because I’d never cooked with quail eggs before, so I checked this out from the local library. It just happened to coincide with springtime in Australia, so asparagus was plentiful and cheap. Quail eggs weren’t.

Asparagus and quail’s egg salad

Asparagus and quail’s egg salad

12 homegrown asparagus spears, trimmed, woody ends snapped off
2 tbsp good, fruity olive oil
salt and black pepper
12 quail’s eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon and a little spritz of juice
1–2 tbs walnut oil, to taste

salad ingredients cooking quail eggs

Cut the asparagus tips from the stalks and keep them separate. Now cut the stalks on the bias into shorter lengths (so that you have a larger cut surface than you would from simply chopping into chunks). They cook more quickly like this and look prettier in the dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan and throw in the asparagus stalks. Cook turning, for a couple of minutes, then add the tip (which take less time to cook through) and sprinkle with a little salt. Once the tips have been added, the asparagus will take another 5 minutes or so to cook through, depending on the thickness; test with a skewer. 

While the asparagus is cooking, cook the quail’s eggs; carefully add them to a small pan of boiling water bring back to the boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain and briefly hold under cold running water until just cool enough to handle, then peel while still hot. (A bit of a fiddly task, but worth it, and you can always seek help from your fellow diner.) Cut the eggs in half lengthways.

sautéing asparagus asparagus and quail egg salad

As soon as the asparagus is cooked, sprinkle with the lemon zest and remove the pan from the heat. Scrunch over some pepper, add a spritz of lemon juice to taste and trickle over the walnut oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a little more lemon juice or oil if needed. Tip the contents of the pan into a serving dish and add the halved quail’s eggs. Serve warm with good home-made bread.

Serves 2.

How it played out
The biggest challenge for this recipe was finding quail eggs. Not found in three standard supermarkets, not at the farmer’s market, not at the poultry shop, I finally found some in a small Asian shop.

The rest of the recipe was straightforward although I cooked the asparagus for a shorter amount time; maybe 4 minutes in all.

Also used a different approach to cooking the quail eggs. This blog has a wonderful, illustrated explanation on cooking quail eggs and I followed the 4-minute approach. Perfect.

Food you can't say no to

I didn’t have any walnut oil, so added some chopped walnuts instead. Oh, and I didn’t have homegrown asparagus!

Totally and completely delicious. I will definitely make this the next time asparagus season rolls around. And I’ll be saving up to buy quail eggs—$5.50 for a dozen.

We ate a lot of eggs when we travelled and camped in Africa. Here’s a post explaining a bit about our cook groups.

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Salsicce (sausages) with white beans and gremolata

sausages, peppers and lemon

Food, Cook, Eat, 256pp.
by Lulu Grimes
Murdoch Books Australia, Millers Point, 2003
Cooking on page 32–33

The inside cover of this book says the recipes are designed for people who enjoy eating in cafés and bistros, and who want to recreate that kind of food at home. It covers dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the chapters are set out by main ingredient.

I like the premise of the book—buy it fresh, cook it simply, eat it now. Every recipe is accompanied by a dazzling colour photo.

Lulu Grimes knows her way around food. She is currently deputy editor of the BBC’s olive. She was previously the food editor; a post she had held since the magazine’s launch in 2003. She has wide experience as a magazine food editor (Food and Travel and Sainsbury’s Magazine), and as an editor for Murdoch books in Australia.

Sausages with peppers


Salsicce (sausage) with white beans and gremolata

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 salsicce cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves smashed
120g (4 oz) chargrilled red or yellow capsicum (bell pepper)
400g (14 oz) tinned cannellini beans drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon zest grated
3 tablespoons parsley chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

chargrilled peppers sausage mixture gremolata mixture

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the salsicce until they are browned all over and cooked through. Lift them out of the frying pan with a slotted spoon and put them to one side.

Put 2 garlic cloves in the frying pan and cook them over a gentle heat until they are very soft. Cut the capsicum into strips and add them to the pan, along with the beans and salsicce. Stir everything together and cook over a gentle heat for 2 minutes to heat the salsicce through. Season well with salt and pepper.

To make the gremolata, smash the remaining two garlic cloves to a paste, with a little salt, in a mortar and pestle. Mix in the lemon zest and the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, stir the gremolata through the sausages and beans and then finish the dish with a sprinkling of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 2.

How it played out
Unless you’re Italian or a very knowledgeable cook, I bet you were like me and had no idea what salsicce were.
It’s the Italian word for sausages. To help you, I added the word sausages to the title. When I read the recipe, my first thought was how could a recipe for two people need 6 salsicce/sausages?

Maybe salsicce are really small, but I didn’t really know what to look for, so I settled on three fat chorizo sausages, which meant there were plenty of leftovers. Plus a bit of spice.

Otherwise I followed the recipe.

Food, Eat, Cook cookbook

This is a lovely and easy-to-make recipe that is perfect for busy nights. 
I’m sure you could add or subtract ingredients to suit family preferences—different vegetables or sausages (thin pork would be especially good). You could even pile the finished mixture on a burger bun, slices of toast or rounds of flat bread.

The gremolata is a wonderful and refreshing addition.

By the way, three chorizo sausages gave us more than enough to serve three or four. We had enough for our dinner and plenty more for a couple of lunches. 

Very happy, very delicious and very likely to make again.

News flash
My dear friend, Ken, who is well-travelled and a brilliant cook, has let me know that salsicce are typically small, thin Italian pork and fennel sausages. Thanks Ken!

Posted in lunch, Main dish, Meat, Pulses | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments