Tandoori fish and cucumber tomato salad

Tandoori fish ingredientsEasy: 100 delicious dishes for every day, 256pp.
by Bill Granger
HarpersCollinsPublisher, Sydney, 2012
Cooking on page 32

Bill Granger is well-known in Australia and beyond. He regularly contributes to national magazines and newspaper, and his television series has been viewed in 30 countries worldwide. A self-taught cook, Bill focuses on recipes that use fresh, local ingredients. In addition to running restaurants in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the USA and Korea, Bill has written 10 cookbooks.

I own three of his books—made these page-32 recipes three years ago—but I checked this one out from the library.

Tandoori fish and cucumber salad

Tandoori fish and cucumber tomato salad

3 tablespoons thick Greek yoghurt
3 tablespoons tandoori curry paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
4 white fish fillets (about 180g each), skinned
lime pickle (shop bought)
1 lime, cut into wedges

Cucumber tomato salad ingredientsCucumber tomato salad
1 Lebanese cucumber, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons thick Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed

Preheat a grill to high. Mix together the yoghurt, tandoori paste, lemon juice, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Add the fish and coat well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Lift the fish from the marinade and place in a single layer on an oven tray lined with foil, keeping space between each fillet. Grill for 3–4 minutes, or until just cooked. Serve with cucumber tomato salad, lime pickle and lime wedges. Serves 4.

Cucumber tomato salad
Place the cucumber, tomato and yoghurt in a bowl and stir gently to combine. Add the mint leaves and scatter the cumin seeds.

Tandoori sauce Tandoori fish to bakeHow it played out
Have wanted to make this for ages and kept peering into the cupboard, searching for my jar of tandoori paste. I finally accepted the fact that I was out of this important ingredient and bought some at the Indian deli.

I then made this mostly as written. I had three fish fillets that were slightly larger than 180 grams (6 ounces) each, so made the full amount of marinade. I didn’t have a lime. They aren’t in season and currently running at $3 each. Argh!

My Lebanese cucumbers were quite small, so I used two for the salad. I toasted the cumin seeds for about a minute in a small cast iron pan.

For those of you who weigh ingredients, 3 tablespoons of yoghurt and curry paste each weigh about 53 grams or 2 ounces.

The fish took 10 minutes to cook through. I don’t grill often, and the extra timing is probably due to user error or incompetence. I used a timer and checked every few minutes.

Easy by Bill GrangerI completely forgot to serve with lime pickle, which is surprising because it is one of my favourite Indian condiments. Luckily I ate about a tablespoon of it at lunch.

On tasting, Poor John’s first comment was ‘this is so nice for a change’ which meant he loved it and noticed that I hadn’t made anything tandoori in a while. I loved it too.

We have fish once or twice a week and I can foresee making this regularly. Was perfect served with the cucumber salad and corn on the cob.

We love Indian food and have been lucky enough to visit India three times in the last few years. Here’s a post about one of the best tandoori meals we had.

Tandoori fish with salad and corn

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Creamy spinach in zucchini

Zucchini to bakeThe no time to cook book, 80pp.
edited by Sheryl Eastwood
JB Fairfax Press, Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales, 1989
Cooking on page 32

These days I have plenty of time to cook, but I bought this many years ago when work obligations interfered with my lifestyle. Back then, Poor John and our daughters carried out much of the cooking duties at our house. They tried hard, but we ate way too much processed food. That’s history now.

This book has lots of speedy recipes. Page 32 is in a chapter entitled ‘Healthy lifestyles’.

Creamy spinach in zucchini

Creamy spinach in zucchini

6 medium zucchini
250 g frozen spinach, thawed
125 g ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
2 rashers bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
1/2 cup (60 g) grated tasty cheese

zucchini and ricotta spinach mixtureMethod
Trim ends from zucchini and drop into a saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 8–10 minutes or until just tender. Drain and halve lengthways. Carefully scoop out centres leaving shells with a little flesh. Finely chop scooped out flesh.

Squeeze spinach to remove liquid. Mix with chopped zucchini, ricotta, nutmeg and egg. Spoon into zucchini shells, top with combined bacon and cheese and dust lightly with paprika. Place on a greased oven tray and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 15–20 minutes or until golden.

Serves 6.

How it played out
It was just Poor John and me last week, so I made half a batch using three zucchinis but still one whole egg (how do you measure half an egg, and don’t tell me to weigh it). As an aside, the three zucchinis weighed almost 500 grams (0r about one pound).

No time to cook cookbookI cooked the zucchinis for 8 minutes and they probably could have used 9. Not to worry. It all worked out well. Baked the assembled zucchinis for 16 minutes.

Oh my goodness, this is a delicious way to prepare zucchini. We loved every bite, and I’ll be making this again regularly.

It’s summer in Australia, and I’m lucky enough to have two zucchini plants growing in the garden.

Zucchini always reminds me of a wonderful vegetarian meal we had in Selçuk Turkey. You can read about it and the unexpected chef here.

baked zucchini and spinach

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Bloody Mary oyster shooters

Bloody Mary ingredientsThe best collection: fast fabulous food, 272pp.
by Lyndey Milan
New Holland Publishers (Australia), Sydney, 2009
Cooking on page 3

For more than 30 years, Lyndey Milan has been one of Australia’s most recognised food and cooking show personalities. Over the years she has contributed widely to television, radio and print media. She has written nine cookbooks and hosted eight television series, including Fresh with the Australian Women’s Weekly. She was also food director for The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine.

This is the first time I’ve cooked one of her recipes. To be honest, I couldn’t resist the main ingredients.


Bloody Mary oyster shooters

150 ml (5 fl oz) vodka or gin
1 tablespoon (1 fl oz) Worcestershire sauce
10 drops Tabasco, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
generous salt and freshly ground pepper
1 litre (2 pints) tomato juice
2 dozen oysters

Combine vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice, salt, pepper and tomato juice and shake with a dozen ice cubes. Drain and pour into shot glasses. Drop an oyster in each and serve immediately. Makes 24.

Shucking oysters Oysters

Note: Oysters can be bought on the shell, or inexpensively in jars. You can substitute sherry or port glasses for shot glasses.

How it played out
Poor John is my hero when it comes to oysters. He has a great oyster knife and he’s not afraid to use it. We also have a great supplier, The Oyster Shed, which sells a bag of 40 smallish unshucked oysters for $21. I remember the days when the same bag was $14. But I digress.

I love oysters with a squeeze of lemon juice, a grind of black pepper and some good buttered sourdough bread on the side. I’m also fond of a Bloody Mary.

This recipe is a bit fussy for me. I made it as written, but only a 1/6 of a batch. Poor John doesn’t drink alcohol and this wasn’t a special occasion, so it was just me.

Because the oysters were small, I put two in each little glass (which left quite a few plain oysters for us to share with lemon juice and bread.

Served just before New Year, which accounts for the fancy decoration.

Lyndey Milan cookbook

Aw shucks (pun intended), it’s a nice enough way to use tomato juice and oysters, but I won’t be doing it again. I still prefer my oysters with a squeeze of lemon juice, pepper and bread. And I prefer a Bloody Mary with celery. You can check out another page-32 recipe here.

Also, I was puzzled by the amount of Worcestershire sauce. One tablespoon is not one fluid ounce. A tablespoon is half an ounce. Because I made a sixth of a recipe, I just used a couple of splashes. 

After I checked this out of the local library, I realised that I had bought it at a second-hand bookstore. Will pass my copy on to someone who might enjoy it.

Poor John and I are off to West Africa again in February. We’ll be on another truck. This time with Overlanding West Africa. You can read a bit about our cooking experiences in the past here.2019


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Stir-fried pork with mushrooms

sliced mushroomsKen Hom’s top 100 stir-fry recipes, 144pp.
by Ken Hom
BBC Books, London, 2004
Cooking on page 32–33

Although born in America, Ken Hom came to prominence as a chef through a Chinese cookery television series he did for the BBC in United Kingdom. The role was given to him in the early 1980s after the BBC conducted a two-year global search for just the right person.

Since then he has written 20 cookbooks, focusing on Chinese as well as other Asian cuisines.

This book features stir-fries, the most famous of all Chinese cooking techniques and probably the simplest. The introduction explains how to choose and use a wok, and other useful utensils.

Stir-fried pork with mushrooms

Stir-fried pork with mushrooms

1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons deseeded and finely chopped red chilli peppers
225 g (8 oz) minced (ground) pork
2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
a large handful of fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons sesame oil

For the mushrooms
1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
225 g (8 oz) (2 cups) button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

garlic, scallions and chillies sautéing minced porkMethod
Heat wok or large frying pan over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. When it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic and chilli peppers and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the pork and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add the spring onions, soy sauce, sugar and water and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then add the basil and stir-fry for another minute. Remove the mixture from the wok and set aside.

Wipe the wok clean and reheat it over a high heat. Add the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the mushrooms and stir-fry them  for about a minute.

Add the rice wine or dry sherry and some salt and pepper and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through and have re-absorbed any remaining liquid.

Return the pork mixture to the wok, combine with the mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until heated through. Just before serving, add the sesame oil and give the mixture a couple of quick stirs. Turn it on to a warm serving dish and serve at once. Serves 4–6.

How it played out
As famous as Hom is, this is the first time I’ve ever made one of his recipes. Given that he is so well regarded, I decided not to tinker with the ingredients or the method. That said, at first I wondered if the cooking times would be adequate, but they were perfect.

Ken Hom's stir-fried recipesI no longer have a wok—the surface of my expensive brand-name one has blistered badly, and I’ve never used metal utensils on it. I used a large frying pan and that worked fine. I followed everything else.

Served on a bed of udon noodles and lettuce. My only other comment is to say it won’t feed 4–6. Maybe 3.

First off, I love sesame oil. Second, on reflection I shouldn’t have been surprised by how delicious this simple recipe was. Ken Hom deserves his fame. Third, I liked the fact it used minced pork—meant I didn’t have to cut strips. Perfect for a busy night.

This book was given to me by a friend, Margaret. After copying out about 15 recipes, I have passed it on to another friend, Lyn. She flipped through it when it was sitting on my dining table and said how much she’d enjoy owning it.

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Sour cream brownies

Coffee, sour cream, walnutsBlissful brownies, 96pp.
by Love Food kitchens
Parragon Books, Bath UK, 2007
Cooking on page 32

I’ve been going to a seniors gym class for many years. We are, of course, called the Super Seniors.

I wasn’t a senior when I started going, but a friend and I went to the gym twice a week at the same time as the class. It was such a welcoming group of people, we decided to join in. We were young pups back then.

Over the years, we’ve gone through quite a few instructors. We’ve had to teach a few of them that jaw exercise is just as important as the arms and legs, which means we talk A LOT. Once a month, we also have morning tea after gym. I bet you wondered when I’d get to the food and cooking?

Anyway, I bring brownies, as well as blue cheese and biscuits. I’ve always made the same brownie recipe, but when I saw this at Canty’s Bookstore, I had to buy it.

Now that I’ve made the recipe, I’ve given the book to Chloe, who has so kindly helped me with many page-32 recipes. She’s often asked to make something for morning tea at her work, so I hope she’ll get good use out of this book.

Sour cream brownies

Sour cream brownies

2 oz/55 g butter, plus extra for greasing
4 oz/115 g semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp strong coffee, cooled
generous 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup shelled walnuts

Chocolate and butter Brown sugar and eggs Brownie mix with walnutsFrosting
4 oz/ 115 g semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2/3 cup sour cream
mini chocolate balls, to decorate

Preheat the over to 350°F/180°C. Grease an 8-inch/20-cm square cake pan with butter and line with baking parchment. Place the chocolate and butter is a small heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of gently simmering water until melted. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and thick. Fold in the chocolate mixture and coffee. Mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the cake batter and fold in. Fold in the walnuts. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until set. Let cool in pan.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water until melted. Stir in the sour cream and beat until evenly blended. Spoon the topping over the brownies and make a swirling pattern with a spatula. Let set in a cool place. Cut into bars of squares, then remove from the pan and serve, decorate with mini chocolate balls if liked. Makes 9 large or 16 small.

Brownies in panHow it played out
I made these as written EXCEPT that after the pan went in the oven, I realised I forgot to add the 2 tablespoons of coffee. Argh! This is a frustrating and occasional habit of mine. Once I made a chicken casserole and forgot the chicken. Another time I forgot to add tuna to a tuna casserole. At least the coffee wasn’t critical in this recipe.

Anyway the lack of coffee may have explained why I couldn’t exactly ‘pour’ the mixture into the pan. I had to scrape it in and then smooth it out with a knife.

It took 25 minutes to bake. After the brownies cooled, I removed them from the pan to add the frosting, or icing as we say in Australia. There was way, way too much frosting and, in future, I would make it with 90–100 grams of chocolate and about 1/2 cup of sour cream. That said, Poor John didn’t mind having some extra frosting to put on his ice cream.

I didn’t have any mini chocolate balls to use a decoration.

Blissful brownies cookbookVerdict
In addition to the gym crowd, I took these as a treat for book club.

Everyone enjoyed them, but I thought the cake or frosting mixture could have used a teaspoon of vanilla. I also thought the frosting overpowered the brownie. Seriously, there was enough to have spread over a double batch of brownies.

A couple of people said they prefer the brownies I usually make, and I think I do too. That recipe has vanilla, but no frosting. It’s also chewier. Let me know if you want that recipe.

As an aside, the sure to check out my travel blog.



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Bar nuts

sauce for bar nutsFood52 genius recipes, 272pp.
by Kristen Miglore
Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2015
Cooking on pages 32–33

‘Genius recipes’ is a weekly column that appears on the popular Food52 website. Along the way, author Kristen Miglore has gathered together 100 recipes from the best cookbook authors, chefs and food bloggers around. She points out that some of the recipes are already legendary, such as Barbara Kafka’s roast chicken and Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. 

The creator of each recipe is identified. Thumbing through the book, I see many familiar names—James Beard, Marcella Hazan and Julie Child—and many that are new to me. The recipe on page 32–33 is from the famous Union Square Café in New York City.

Bar nuts

Bar nuts

1/4 pound (115g) each peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnut, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds, or 1 3/4 pounds (800g) unsalted assorted nuts
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Flavourings for nuts mixed nuts bar nutsMethod
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Toast in the oven until they become light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and melted butter. Thoroughly toss the warm toasted nuts with the spiced butter, adjust seasoning to taste, and serve warm.

How it played out
By mistake, I bought a bag of unsalted mixed nuts to serve with drinks. Even though the best-before date was the middle of 2019, the nuts were rather tasteless—not stale—but boring. I’d had my eye on this recipe for just such an occasion.

I had 400 grams of nuts, so made half a batch. That said, I misread the amount of butter, and used 1 1/2 tablespoons, instead of 1/2 a tablespoon. No problem. We love butter.

The nuts browned nicely in 10 minutes and it was super easy to stir them through the butter, herb and spice mixture. Also, I’m not sure I can buy kosher salt in Australia, so I used a nice sea salt.

Genius KitchenVerdict
You can bet I’ll be making these again. The nuts were wonderfully crunchy and the taste was absolutely divine. I couldn’t stop eating them. A great way to turn boring into brilliant.

Most of the nuts disappeared while they were still warm, but the few leftovers were just as delicious at room temperature the next day.

Go on, try it. You know you want to. I reckon they’ll be perfect for Christmas drinks.

P.S. I can’t wait to cook my way through this book.

Poor John is crazy about nuts. I buy them by the kilo and he buys them at every opportunity on our travels. Heres a post about a nut and dried fruit shop in Armenia.

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Crab omelette

Omelette ingredientsLow carb Chinese cooking, 192pp.
by Charmaine Solomon
New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2005
Cooking on page 32

Charmaine Solomon was prompted to create these recipes (and write this cookbook) when her husband, Reuben, was advised by the doctor to lose weight and limit carbohydrates. He was such a ‘dedicated Asian food freak’ that she knew she would have to prepare permitted foods in a way that would keep him happy. She turned to Chinese food and applied a range of modifications.

Within six weeks of eating these new recipes, Reuben had lost 6.3 kilos and his blood results had returned to normal.

Each recipe is accompanied by a breakdown of carbs.

Crab omelette


Crab omelette

4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup crab meat
extra salt and pepper for seasoning
squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped

Omelette with crab Method
Beat eggs slightly, as for a French omelette. Season with salt and pepper. Season crab meat with salt and pepper to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Grease a heavy omelette with oils and gently fry half the spring onions and chilli for a minute or two. Pour in half the beaten eggs and cook until set and golden on the bottom, creamy on top. Meanwhile heat crab meat in a separate pan. Spoon half the crab meat down the centre of the omelette and fold over once. Slide onto  plate and serve hot. Repeat with remaining mixtures to make a second omelette.

Serves 2. Total of 11.8 grams of carbohydrate.

How it played out
I had an issue with one aspect of the instructions. It’s easy enough to divide piles of spring onions, chilli and crab into halves, but it’s darn hard to beat four eggs and then pour out half. So I suggest beating two eggs in one bowl, and the other two eggs in another bowl.

Low carb Chinese cookingAlso, I used a red chilli (on hand), added salt and pepper only to the eggs, and re-oiled the pan for the second omelette.

We enjoyed these delicious omelettes for lunch and I can imagine making them often.

They were super easy to make, but a little tricky to get out of a cast iron pan. Maybe someday I’ll buy an omelette pan.

Also, you can sure that life will be a lot easier if you beat the eggs separately.

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