Cauliflower, capsicum and chickpea curry

cooking vegetable curry

Winter express, 240pp.
by The Australian Women’s Weekly kitchens
Bauer Media Books, Sydney, 2016
Cooking on page 32

Cookbooks by The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine (now published monthly) are sold all over the world, and they always seem to hit the mark on what people are wanting to cook and eat. This edition focuses on recipes for cold weather, and it seems right for us because Australia is still shivering through winter.

All the recipes seem tempting, easy-to-make, warming, and comforting. The chapters cover soups and stews, bakes and roasts, pasta, grills and pan-fries, and desserts.

Page 32 has an Indian-style vegetarian option with chickpeas and cauliflower—two of my favourite ingredients.

capsicum, cauliflower, chickpea curry

Cauliflower, capsicum and chickpea curry

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium brown onion (150g), sliced thinly
1 large red capsicum (bell pepper) (350g), sliced thickly
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 fresh small red thai chillies, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1 small cauliflower (1kg), trimmed, sliced thickly
400g (12 1/2 ounces) canned diced tomatoes
400ml canned coconut cream
1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato puree
175g (5 1/2 ounces) chopped green kale
400g (12 1/2 ounces) canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh small mint leaves

curry ingredients spices, kale, chillies, ginger kale, capsicum, onion

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium–high heat; cook onion, capsicum (bell pepper), garlic, ginger and chilli, stirring, about 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add spices and cauliflower; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, coconut cream, stock and paste; bring to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add kale and chickpeas; simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season to taste.

Serve bowls of curry sprinkled with mint.

Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4.

How it played out
These are the kinds of ingredients I usually have on hand—only had to buy kale—so I made this as written.

It came together very easily, and the timings were right for the cooking.

By the way, I’m often intrigued by how recipes are written for cookbooks that have to bridge the metric and imperial systems of measurement. Grams are often abbreviated to g, while ounces are spelt out. And 400 grams are converted to 12 /2 ounces, while 400 ml aren’t given the same treatment.

Winter Express cookbook

I’m glad that after all my years in Australia, I can say that these conversions don’t faze me at all.

A very tasty recipe that has spice levels that are just a bit light-on for me. While I’d probably double the cumin, cardamom and fennel, many would find it just right.

Really pleased that it includes so many vegetables and no sugar.

We’ve been frequent travellers to India over the last three years and it is one of few cuisines I could eat day after day after day. Here’s an overview of some of the amazing everyday meals we have had on those travels.

If you’re not big on Indian food, check out the wonderful breakfasts we had in May in Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

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Mexican chicken casserole

Cumin, black beans, salsa and cheese

Budget-friendly meals, 192pp.
by Better Homes and Gardens
John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2010
Cooking on page 32

Graeme, the saint who usually minds our house and dog when we travel, bought this cookbook a while back to give him some ideas for things to cook in our absence. It’s loaded with lots of clever and economical ideas for family meals.

I especially liked the look of the recipe on page 32. It has all my favourite flavours.

Mexican chicken casserole

Mexican chicken casserole

Mexican chicken casserole

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chunky salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 x 2 to 2 1/4-pound deli-roasted chicken
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers (1 ounce)
dairy sour cream (optional)

black beans in dish with chicken and salsa chicken dish with salsa

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, stir together beans, 1/4 cup of the salsa, and the cumin. Divide bean mixture among four individual au gratin dishes or casseroles; set aside.

Cut chicken into quarters. Place one piece on bean mixture in each dish. Spoon remaining 1/4 cup salsa evenly over chicken pieces. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. If desired, serve with sour cream.

Serves 4.

How it played out
Tinned black beans have only recently been available in Australia, so I’ve been waiting a while to make this recipe. Of course, I could have soaked and cooked dried beans, but the purpose of this recipe is the economy and ease of preparation. One-pound bags of dried black beans cost about $4, but I can buy a tin on special for $1.

The economy really kicked when I managed to buy a nice-sized deli-roasted chicken for just $6.

The recipe was easy to put together, but my au gratin dishes were small enough that it made sense to get rid of the most of the chicken bones and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces.

We can’t get Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño here, so I used a nice cheddar and a pickled jalapeño. I made this a second time, using jalapeño relish. Both worked well. Oh, and sour cream shouldn’t be optional. It’s a perfect addition.

Budget-friendly meals cookbook

This recipe is a complete success in every way. The first time I made it, I took two servings to Yass to share with my friend, Maggie. Left one at home for Poor John and gave one to daughter, Petra, for her dinner. We all loved the flavours and I especially loved how easy it was to make.

A highly recommended dish for busy cooks—actually for anyone who enjoys chicken and a touch of chilli. That said, I’m sure you could replace the chicken with a different meat—such as ground beef or ham—or even a vegetarian meat substitute.

If you have a moment, be sure to check out my travel blog.

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Honey nut loaf with eggs

Honey, flour, dates
Honey nut loaf batterKangaroo Island honey cookbook, 60pp.
compiled by Mildred Wilson
Arena Publishing, Fitzroy Victoria, 1993
Cooking on page 32

This was one of about 16 cookbooks that were advertised on the Gumtree trading website in Canberra. Elieen, who owned the books, offered them for free to anyone who wanted them. I was the first to reply to her message. I picked them up at her home and met her gorgeous dogs—Scottish terriers.

We had a wonderful chat that afternoon and we have kept in touch ever since.

Just recently, Eileen passed me another bundle of cookbooks and, as a thank you, I gave her an apron and tea towel covered in Scottish terriers. Kicking myself that I didn’t get a photo of them.

But I digress. This cookbook talks about Ligurian bees, an Italian race of honeybees, that occur on Kangaroo Island. They were introduced there in 1885. The Ligurian bees on the island are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this Italian bee anywhere in the world.

Page 32 has two recipes for honey nut loaves. I made the first one, which included eggs.

Honey nut loaf

Honey nut loaf with eggs

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 cup sultanas
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Bread batter Honey nut loaf

Cream butter and honey. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add milk and the dry ingredients alternately. Gently stir in fruit and nuts. Grease and flour 2 small nut loaf tins and divide mixture evenly between them. Bake in a moderate over for 50–60 minutes.

How it played out
I made this mostly as written, using butter instead of margarine, and chopped dates instead of sultanas. I usually never run out of baking ingredients, but there wasn’t a sultana in the house. As for the raisins, I used golden ones. Also used chopped walnuts. I thought cinnamon and vanilla would add a lot of flavour, but decided to remain faithful to the actual recipe.

I have no idea what size a small nut loaf tin size is, so used one regular loaf tin, and baked the loaf for 60 minutes at 180°C (about 350°F).

Kangaroo Island Honey Cookbook

I’m still laughing over how tasteless this loaf was. Boring in the extreme. I nearly threw it in the compost bin and then thought, Hang on, this might be salvageable.

Guess what, I was right. I sliced the loaf thickly and made it into the best-ever bread and butter pudding (shown below). It called for cinnamon and vanilla.

I can’t find the online recipe now, but it was along the lines of this one. So just remember that if you ever have a disaster making a loaf of fruit or nut bread, maybe you can turn it into something marvellous.

Bread and butter pudding

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Pepper steaks with horseradish sauce

BBQ, 200pp.
by Murdoch Books test kitchen
Murdoch Books Australia, Millers Point, 2008
Cooking on page 32–33

Horseradish and black pepper are two of my favourite flavours so I absolutely had to buy this book when I saw it at a recent Lifeline Book Fair. It cost me all of $3.

I have no idea how long it will take me to work my way through all these amazing recipes. I might even get to page 132 and tuna burgers. 🙂

Steak with horseradish sauce

Pepper steaks with horseradish sauce

4 sirloin steaks
3 tablespoons seasoned cracked pepper

Horseradish sauce
2 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons beef stock
4 tablespoons pouring (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
½ teaspoon sugar

Eye fillet steaksMethod
Coat the steaks on both sides with pepper, pressing it into the meat.

Cook on a hot, lightly oiled barbecue grill or flat plate for 5-10 minutes, until cooked to your liking.

To make the sauce, put the brandy and stock in a pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Stir in the cream, horseradish and sugar and heat through. Serve with the steaks.

BBQ Cookbook

How it played out
This is such a simple recipe that I had no choice but to follow the instructions. Because I made it for just the two of us, I splurged and bought some of the very best steaks—eye fillet—that I can get in Australia.

Served with a simple green salad, baby potatoes tossed with fresh herbs, and a mushroom casserole with a breaded topping (I have a recipe for that too, but it’s not page 32).

An absolutely delicious way to prepare steaks. I might not cook steaks (or meat) very often, but this is definitely the way to go on those rare occasions. Truly a dish worthy of company, and oh-so quick and easy to prepare.

We’ve just been travelling in seven European countries and have had some amazing meals. Along the way, we enjoyed vety sandwiches—a special treat that comes from a Finnish town called Lappeenranta.


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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

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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


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