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

Chilli eggs

tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper

Delia’s complete cookery course, 640pp.
by Delia Smith
BBC Books, Random House, London, 2008
Cooking on page 32

As usual, I was snooping through someone’s bookcases and found this classic edition of this Delia Smith cookbook first published in 1978. I could hardly count all the editions and reprints there have been, so I gave up trying. This edition has been completely revised and updated but, according to the back cover, still contains all the established favourites.

I’m not sure whether page 32 is an oldie, but it definitely looks like a goodie with ingredients our family loves.

Chilli eggs

Chilli eggs

4 fresh eggs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp hot chilli powder
½ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp oregano (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil)
few drops of tabasco
14 oz tin Italian tomatoes (400 g)
4 oz Cheddar cheese (110g), grated
salt and freshly milled black pepper
freshly chopped parsley, to serve

cheese, tomatoes, parsley chilli eggs baking

Heat the oil in the frying pan and fry the chopped onion, pepper and garlic gently for about 10 minutes. 
Stir in the chilli and cumin powders and add the oregano along with a few drops of tabasco. Mix thoroughly and then add the contents of the tin of tomatoes.

Turn up the heat a bit and let the mixture cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced to a thick pulp. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper.

Carefully break the eggs into the pan on top of the mixture. Sprinkle the cheese all over the eggs and cover the pan with a close-fitting lid or a suitably sized plate. Lower the heat and simmer gently for about 10–15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Alternatively, you can place the pan under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and the eggs are just set (7 minutes for soft eggs, 10 for well done).

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lots of bread or toast to dunk into the juices. Serves 2.

Delia's Complete Cookery Course

How it played out
There were three of us this morning, so I made a batch and a half, using six free-range eggs. My only other change was to use a fresh chilli because I was completely out of chilli powder. And I used a tin of tomatoes, plus two fresh ones.

The tomatoes reduced to a pulp within 8 minutes, and the final stovetop simmer was too long for our liking. We prefer slightly runnier yolks and these were firmly set after 10 minutes. I think 8–9 minutes would have been enough.

A single batch of the sauce would have been enough. We had sauce leftover—enough for two on toast tomorrow.

Absolutely delicious way to serve eggs. We loved them for breakfast. Add a salad (and a bit of bacon) and they’d make a great dinner on a lazy day. Also easy to adjust the amount of chilli and final cooking time to suit your preferences.

We’ve had some fabulous breakfasts on our travels. A particular favourite was the amazing egg dish—arepas con heuvos—in Cartagena, Colombia. I really must try to make them at home.

Chilli eggs with toast

Posted in Breakfast, Cheese, Eggs, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Chocolate truffles

Cream, butter, chocolate

Christmas cooking with kids, 128pp.
by Annie Rigg
Ryland Peters and Small, London, 2010
Cooking on page 32

Christmas isn’t far off and I bought this cookbook as inspiration for cooking with grandchildren—even though I don’t have any! 🙂

Annie Rigg is a long-time baker and this is one of two cookbooks she has written that focus on recipes that kids can make by themselves or with some adult assistance.

The contents cover gifts, edible decorations, cakes, desserts and party fun, as well as some baking basics. The instructions are clear and simple, and geared for younger chefs. The photographs, by Lisa Linder, are colourful and make each recipe look so tempting.

Chocolate truffles

Chocolate truffles

50 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75 g light brown soft sugar
150 ml double cream
175 g dark chocolate

150 g milk or dark chocolate, chopped
chocolate sprinkles
cocoa powder
edible silver balls
chopped nuts (hazelnuts or flaked almonds)

chocolate truffle mixture rolling chocolate in hand rolling ball in sprinkles

Ask an adult to help you put the butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan over low heat. Leave until it comes to the boil and the sugar has melted.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and tip into a heatproof bowl. Carefully pour the melted butter mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted, smooth and shiny. Leave to cool, then cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge until it’s firm.

Making one truffle at a time, scoop a teaspoonful of the chocolate mixture and roll quickly between your hands into a ball. Place on the prepared baking tray.

For the toppings, get an adult to help you put the extra chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave on a low setting. Stir very carefully until it has melted. Leave to cool slightly. Sprinkle each of your chosen toppings onto a separate plate.

Scoop a teaspoonful of the melted chocolate into your hand and roll one truffle at a time into it to coat completely.

Roll in one of the toppings. Repeat with the remaining truffles and leave to set on the baking tray before serving or packing into a pretty box.

How it played out
I know this is meant for kids, but I had to laugh at some of the instructions. ‘Get an adult to help you’ to do anything is probably not an effective approach these days. I can just hear most kids say, ‘I can do it myself’. I have a 10-year-old nephew who could make these without any help from me. He’d have probably figured out how to avoid the mess we made.

chocolaty hand

Chloe (who house and dog sat during our recent travels) and I had a bit of a challenge making these. Actually Chloe (who also loves to cook) did most of the work, but we were both completely stymied when we got to the second-last step that told us to scoop ‘a teaspoonful of the melted chocolate into your hand and roll one truffle at a time into it to coat completely’. There was no way we could do this (see the photo at right), so we simply skipped this step, and went straight to rolling the chocolate balls/truffles in various sprinkles.

By the way, the day I shopped for sprinkles, the only ones in stock were Dr Oetkers. They cost a fortune—about $4 per tiny bottle.

Christmas cooking with kids

These truffles are absolutely delicious but, unless you are a professional chef, don’t think for a minute that you can roll the balls in a teaspoon of melted chocolate in your hand. It just can’t be done.

I’ve given this cookbook to my friend, Lyn, who has two grandchildren and a son who is a former chef. She’s on her way to Sydney now to join them for Christmas. I hope the book gets a lot of use in future.

Happy holidays
Whatever holidays you observe, I wish you the happiest ones ever.

Posted in Chocolate, Dairy, Dessert, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Chicken and asparagus pasta salad


Fast pasta, 400pp.
tested by Woman’s Day Kitchens
Bauer Media Group, Sydney, 2017
Cooking on pages 32–33

It’s summer in Australia and this week has been especially hot with temperatures approaching 34°C (93°F), so the goal has been to cook meals that are light and quick to make. I try not to turn on or even approach the oven unless I need to bake a loaf of bread.

We love pasta and this book is loaded with tempting recipes. Pages 32–33 were particularly tempting because it’s our asparagus season, and the recipe offered a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken or take advantage of a large already barbecued chicken. Better still—a perfect way to use up some leftover turkey.

chicken and asparagus pasta salad

Chicken and asparagus pasta salad

500g macaroni
250g asparagus, trimmed, chopped coarsely
3 cups (480g) shredded cooked chicken
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

1/3 cup (80g) light sour cream
1/2 cup (150g) mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

button mushrooms Dressing for pasta salad Chives and dressing

Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, uncover, until just tender; drain. Rinse under cold water; drain. 
Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave asparagus until just tender; drain.

Make dressing. Combine ingredients in a small bowl or jug.

Place pasta and asparagus in large bowl with dressing and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.

How it played out
I already had a good amount of leftover chicken from making this page-32 recipe, so it was easy to assemble all the ingredients. The biggest task was to head to the garden to cut some chives.

I debated whether to sauté the mushrooms, but this was a salad, so I left them raw, which was probably best.

I used normal sour cream, my homemade mayonnaise (recipe here) and a little extra lemon juice. Also stirred the chives into the dressing. I thought that would give a better distribution.

Fast Pasta cookbook

This recipe sure lives up to the book’s title. I was able to get a yummy dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Served with a bean salad and a green salad. It was equally nice warm and at room temperature (we enjoyed leftovers the next day). It makes 6–8 serves depending on how hungry your eaters are.

By the way, I’m sure you could vary the ingredients using, say, turkey and green beans, so I hope this is useful recipe for you in the aftermath of holiday festivities. I know I’ll be making it again soon.

Posted in Main dish, Pasta, Poultry, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Garden greens and chorizo soup

broccoli, onions, asparagus

Will and Steve: home cook, aspiring chef, 224pp.
by Will Stewart and Steve Flood
Harlequin Mira, Sydney, 2016
Cooking on page 32

When Will Stewart and Steve Flood won our national My Kitchen Rules in 2015, they were the first all-male team to take the title.

The two met when they both moved to Australia as employees of the same English investment bank. As their friendship grew, they found themselves bonding over their mutual love of good food. That’s just as well, because when they were later made redundant, Steve lined them up to do battle in My Kitchen Rules.

They now work full-time in the food industry on recipe development, food photography, styling, cooking classes and corporate catering.

Page 32 is loaded with ingredients I love.

Soup of greens and chorizo

Garden greens and chorizo soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large head of broccoli, florets separated
12 spring onions, finely chopped
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
16 asparagus spears, finely chopped
2 cups frozen peas
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
juice of 1 lemon
1⁄2 cup thickened cream
3 chorizo sausages, cut into 1cm thick slices
coriander leaves, to serve

broccoli, asparagus and onion peas cooking green veggies cooking chorizo soup of garden greens

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan over medium–high heat. Add the broccoli florets and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the spring onion and the remaining butter and olive oil and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the asparagus, peas and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the white wine and flambé. To flambé, tip the pan carefully away from you but towards the open flame, allow the vapours to ignite and keep the pan at arm’s length. Allow the alcohol to burn off naturally before you continue cooking.

Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and blitz the vegetable mixture with a stick blender until smooth. Alternatively, you can place it in a blender and puree. Add the mint, coriander, lemon juice and 1⁄2 cup of cream, stir and season to taste.

Fry the chorizo in a dry frying pan on high heat until golden brown, roughly 2 minutes on each side.

Pour the soup into four serving bowls, top with the chorizo, and add a few coriander leaves to garnish.

How it played out
I made this mostly as written. By chance, I had everything on hand except fresh asparagus spears, so I had to use tinned ones. Luckily, I had a large tin hiding in the back of the cupboard (25 per cent extra at the same price). Used frozen peas too.

Of course, I couldn’t get the flambé action to happen. I tried and tried, but in the end just had to let the wine cook off without me tilting the pan. No way to tell if this affected the final taste, but at least I didn’t set my arm on fire!

Used a stick blender to purée the mixture and then added the cream, lemon, seasonings and fresh herbs. Finally topped with chorizo sausage slices that I cut on an angle and cooked slightly longer than 2 minutes a side.

Will and Steve cookbook

From the outset, I wondered whether the mix of greens in this recipe would work together. I shouldn’t have worried because the combination was brilliant. Chorizo slices are the perfect addition to this recipe.

We really loved this soup. I made it on a chilly day, but can imagine being enjoyed on warm day too.

Despite the recipe’s name, not one ingredient came from my garden. But I urge you to try it. If you do, let me know if you liked it, what the weather was like and whether you could use your garden produce! 

Poor John and I are nearing the end of our latest jaunt—it will be good to be home for Christmas. We won’t have any snow in Australia for Christmas, but you can check out the gorgeous snow we saw in Iceland.

Posted in Stew/soup, Vegetable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Stir-fried squid with garlic and chilli

limes, chillies, garlic, ginger

Kylie Kwong: Lantern Cookery Classics, 144pp.
recipes by Kylie Kwong
Penguin Group (Australia), Melbourne, 2012
Cooking on page 32

This book is part of the Lantern Cookery Classics series published by the Penguin Group. Each book features popular recipes for a much-loved Australia cook or chef. As far as I can tell, there are 14 books in the series. 

My dear friend, Maggie, gave me this (and another book from the series) when she was getting rid of stuff in anticipation of a move from Yass to Adelaide. Thank goodness, she decided to stay in Yass, and wonderful that she gave me the cookbooks!

As an aside, I already own several of Kwong’s cookbooks and found that this recipe originally appeared on page 134 of her Simple Chinese Cooking. I’ve already cooked from page 32 of that book and you can see that recipe here.

Stir-fried squid with garlic and chilli

Stir-fried squid with garlic and chilli

600g squid, cleaned and scored (ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely diced ginger
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 large red chillies, finely sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons of shaohsing wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
9 spring onions finely chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 limes, halved
2 large red chillies, finely sliced on the diagonal, to garnish

squid, garlic, spring onions, chillies stir-fry ingredients stir-fried squid

Heat half the oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the squid and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Remove from wok with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining oil to the hot wok, toss in the remaining squid and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Return reserved squid to wok, with ginger, garlic and chilli and stir-fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly to ensure garlic does not burn. Add shaohsing or sherry, water, sugar and salt and stir-fry for 20 seconds.

Toss in spring onion and stir-fry for a further minute or until squid is just cooked through. Finally, add lime juice and remove from heat.

Arrange squid on a platter, garnish with chilli and serve immediately with lime halves.

How it played out
I was cleaning out the refrigerator yesterday and noticed a 500-gram pack of pineapple-cut squid in the freezer. Oh yippee, I’ve been hanging out to make this recipe. Other than being 100 grams short, I followed all the instructions, using the shaohsing wine.

As you can imagine, it took longer to cut all the vegetables, than it did to cook the squid. When you count it up, the entire cooking time is less than 5 minutes.

This dish was complete perfection—absolutely sensational. I think it could quickly convert non-squid lovers. We were all stunned by how tender the squid/calamari turned out, and impressed that 4 chillies didn’t produce too much heat. 

I’m whizzing out the door to buy more squid. Oh, and 500 grams of squid and two largish salads were plenty for three people.

Posted in Fish and seafood, Light meal, Main dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Banana bread

Banana, eggs, cinnamon

Home food: all your favourites with a twist, 400pp.
edited by Gordana Trifunovic
Murdoch Books, Sydney, 2003
Cooking on page 32–33

This is one of many cookbooks given to me by exchange students who have brought so much joy to our family and home. Whether they stayed with us for one month or 12, I did my best to teach them all some basic recipes.

This cookbook is a good all-rounder that covers dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, as well as a chapter on the cooking basics.

Page 32 is in the breakfast chapter.

Banana bread with ice cream

Banana bread

3 ripe bananas, well mashed
2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
180 g (3/4 cup ) caster (superfine) sugar
75 g (2 1/2 oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped

Eggs and zest batter in tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Grease a 17 x 8 cm (7 x 3 in) loaf tin.

Combine the bananas, eggs and orange zest in a large bowl. Sift in the flour cinnamon, salt and bicarbonate of soda, mix, then add the sugar and walnuts.

Mix thoroughly, then tip into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

To serve, eat warm or allow to cool, then toast and serve buttered.


How it played out
No need to change a thing with this recipe, except that I used lemon zest in place of orange because that’s what I had on hand. The baking time was perfect.

Home food cookbookI made this in the afternoon to take along to a friend’s place for an after-dinner dessert. It went perfectly with some vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Being an accommodating guest, I left the rest of the loaf with them to enjoy the next day for breakfast.

A lovely version of banana bread. I especially liked the addition of the lemon zest, cinnamon and walnuts. I understand that young Jack gave it a complete thumbs up!

Poor John and I are travelling this month, and enjoying lots of different kinds of bread. Breakfasts have been quite varied, but we had some sensational ones in Finland and the Baltic States.

Jack and banana bread

Jack tackles a slice of banana bread

Posted in Baking, Bread, Dessert, Fruit, Nuts, Snack, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments