Beef bourguignon

Beef, carrot, leekTasmanian trail: from passion to plate, 208pp.
by Ben Milbourne
New Holland Publishers, Auckland, 2014
Cooking on page 132

Tasmania is Australia’s smallest state and one of the country’s most thriving food paradises. In producing this cookbook, Ben Milbourne travelled the state meeting the owners, farmers, fishermen, chocolatiers and brewers whose love of fresh, locally made products have established them as purveyors of fine food.

The book showcases the various produce available in the state from beer and cider to seafood and lamb to berries and cheese. Page 32 introduced Ashgrove Dairy but had no recipe, so I moved on to 132.

Beef bourguignonBeef bourguignon

1 kg (2.2 lbs) casserole steak, roughly chopped into large chunks
¼ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
150 g (5 oz) smoked bacon, cut into batons
8 eschalots, peeled
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, white part sliced
2 carrots, diced
750 ml (3 cups) red wine
500 ml (2 cups) beef stock
5 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 bay leaves
8 button mushrooms, halved
8 chat potatoes, cut in half
¼ cup picked parsley leaves, finely chopped, for garnish

Beef and bacon Cooking beefMethod
Preheat oven to 140°C.

Toss the beef in the flour, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish. Fry the beef in small batches, adding extra oil if needed, until browned all over. Remove the beef and in the same pan, fry the bacon and set it aside.

Fry the eschalots, garlic, leeks and carrots in the oil for 5 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the stock, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and the reserved beef and bacon. Cover with the lid and place the dish in the oven for 2 hours.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven and add the mushrooms and potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. If the sauce is a little thin, leave the lid off.

Scatter over the parsley leaves just before serving.

How it played out
I made this towards the end of a pandemic lockdown when shopping opportunities were limited, so I had to improvise a bit. I had 700 grams of gravy beef in the freezer. Given there was just two of us, I decided to make half a batch with a little less beef and the full amount of bacon.

Tasmanian Trail cookbookHad 2 eschalots on hand and added 2 small red onions. Luckily I have parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves in the garden, and had mushrooms and smallish red potatoes on hand.

Followed the instructions exactly and the timings were perfect. I wanted to serve over mashed potatoes, but had run out, so made steamed rice.

Oh yum, oh yum, oh yum! Easy to make and full of flavour. My modifications worked well, which goes to show the recipe is versatile. Perfect for chilly days. And the leftovers are even better.

Cooking veggies

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Crunchy herb roasted fish

The instant cook, 192pp.
by Donna Hay
Fourth Estate, Sydney, 2004
Cooking on page 132

Donna Hay is a well-known Australian cook, food stylist, author and magazine editor. This cookbook, which was her eighth, focuses on home-cooked meals that can be made quickly, using fresh and simple ingredients. Page 32 is a chapter divider so I moved on to page 132 and a collection of four fish recipes.

Crunchy herb roasted fish

4 firm white fish fillets

herb topping
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
60g (2 0z) butter, melted
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Fish with crumb toppingMethod
Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). To make the herb topping, combine the breadcrumbs, lemon, chilli, parsley, dill, butter, salt and pepper. Place the fish fillets on a tray lined with baking paper. Press the herb topping over the fish. Bake for 12–15 minuses or until the fish is just cooked through and the herb topping is crisp. Serve with lemon wedges and a simple green salad. Serves 4.

How it played out
I had three ling fish fillets (weighing just over a pound), so was keen to try this recipe.

The instant cookHowever, I didn’t have all the exact ingredients. My fillets were small, so I halved the topping ingredients. I used 1 cup of dried panko breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of dried dill (in place of fresh), a generous teaspoon of lemon zest, a half teaspoon of chilli flakes (in place of fresh) and a little more than 30 grams of melted butter. Baked for 12 minutes, which was perfect.

Served with baked potatoes and a pickled cabbage salad.

Delicious recipe with a great crunch, and so versatile. It reminds me that recipes are just a guide and that you can be flexible. Will make again and will feel free to swap around and substitute ingredients. If you like chilli, then add more. 

Crumbed fish

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Asparagus wraps

Asparagus and prosciutto4 Ingredients Christmas: the easiest entertaining cookbook you will ever own, 176pp.
by Kim McKosker
4 Ingredients, Caloundra, 2011
Cooking on page 32

After being turned down by every major publisher in Australia, Kim McCosker self-published her first cookbook, 4 Ingredients. It went on to become the best selling self-published book in Australian history, selling 400,000 copies in 2007 alone.

Since then she has published about 25 additional books in the series. This is the first time I have cooked from one of her books, and I thought it was perfect for a lead up to Christmas.

Asparagus and prosciutto

Asparagus wraps

2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
8 slices prosciutto
1 tbs (15ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs (15ml) balsamic vinegar

4 ingredients ChristmasMethod
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Use a sharp knife to cut the prosciutto lengthways into long, thin strips. Wrap each piece of prosciutto around each asparagus spear, creating a log, spiral effect. Place each spear on a paper-lined baking tray, drizzle with oil and balsamic, and season with sea salt and pepper. Bake for 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 16.

How it played out
Such a straightforward recipe. I made half a batch of these exactly as written. In fact I have made the recipe three times. It’s spring in Australia, asparagus season, and coming up to Christmas.

Still surprised that it took McKosker so long to find a publisher. Heck, a collection of easy recipes is an absolute gold mine. I’ll make this often as a special treat when asparagus is in season.

Asparagus and prosciutto

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Garlic prawn spaghetti

FettucineJulie Goodwin’s 20/20 meals: feed your family for $20 in 20 minutes, 248pp.
by Julie Goodwin
Hachette Australia, Sydney, 2014
Cooking on pages 32–33

This is the first time I’ve cooked from one of Julie Goodwin’s cookbooks. Back in 2009, she won Australia’s first MasterChef competition. Since then she has appeared on television regularly and written four cookbooks. In addition to this one, there are Our family table, Heart of the home and Gather.

I bought this autographed copy from Canty’s secondhand bookstore because I was tempted by the recipe on pages 32–33.

garlic prawn spaghettiGarlic prawn spaghetti

1 tablespoon cooking salt
375 g dried thin spaghetti
2 teaspoons olive oil
300 g raw prawn meat
40 g butter
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1 cup thickened cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons cornflour
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
100 g mixed salad leaves
ground black pepper to serve

Cream, garlic and mustard Cooking prawns with pastaMethod
Put 2 litres of water in a large pot over high heat. Add the cooking salt and put the lid on. Boil a kettle of water and top up the pot. When the water is boiling rapidly, add the spaghetti. Put the lid back on for a minute or until the water comes back to a rapid boil.

Put a chef pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the prawns until just cooked. Remove to a small bowl. Add the butter into the pan and crush the garlic into it. Stir for about 2 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add the wine and cook for a further minute. Pour in the cream and add the mustard and pepper. Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and stir into the sauce. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Taste and add salt.

While the sauce is cooking, place the second olive oil and red wine vinegar in a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly with a fork. Toss through the salad leaves and place the dressed salad on a serving platter on the table.

20/20 Meals cookbookTake 1/2 cup sauce out of the pan and place in a mixing bowl with the prawns. Put the spaghetti in the pan and mix thoroughly to coat. Divide the spaghetti between 4 bowls. Divide the prawns between the bowls and sprinkle with pepper.

How it played out
I made this mostly as written. I wasn’t worried about making this in 20 minutes so just boiled cold water from the beginning.

Given that we were in a Covid lockdown, I used the fettuccine I had on hand. Also thought 3/4 cup of cream would be enough and it was.

I usually make more interesting salads so didn’t feel the need to make hers. Sprinkled chopped parsley over the finished pasta.

Quick and easy to make, and full of flavour. I will definitely make this again.

Garlic prawn pasta

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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

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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