Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

I’ve never been much of a book borrower, that’s about to change, because Ashfield Library has entered the 21st century!

I walked into the main branch and sheepishly asked Cathy and Gina, the smiling librarians, for a new card, much as a six year old might (“Please ma’am, may I have a library card?”). With it, I was able to download the Overdrive app on my iPad and immediately borrow a book on furoshiki. I was so excited that I had to try the watermelon wrap straight away, only I didn’t have a watermelon, so I used a pot instead…

The books automatically disappear at the end of the selected loan period (7, 14 or 21 days) and the interface works in a similar way to the Kindle app, minus a few bells and whistles.

Then I discovered that the library also offers Zinio for Libraries, which lets me download and read e-magazines like the National Geographic. Remember when we all had piles of old copies on our shelves? What a joy to be able to borrow, read and delete, without the paper waste and space! I’ll never pay for a magazine subscription again…

Finally, there are a squillion free comics available for loan via the Comics Plus service that our local library now has available. I’m catching up on old Peanuts and Doonsburys, not to mention the enormous Archie catalogue…


Heaps of public libraries all over the world now offer these services, so if it’s been a while since you joined one and you’re an e-book lover like I am, then I highly recommend you check them out again (no pun intended). You’ll be able to access a world of reading without paying a cent or ever leaving your house again!

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One thing that has me particularly excited is the wide selection of e-cookbooks that our library has on offer. I was delighted to find Greg Malouf’s The New Feast on the list…

His granola recipe is easy to make, uses just a tiny bit of added oil, and was very popular with Big Boy, the toasted muesli eater in our house. I’d advise sizing up, as the quantity we made lasted less than a week!


  • 250g rolled oats
  • 60g sunflower seeds
  • 60g sesame seeds
  • 150g almond slivers (original uses blanched almonds)
  • 60g brown sugar (we used dark muscovado)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 100g apple purée (we used homemade apple sauce but it was a tad too sweet, so next time I’m going to try tinned apple baby food)
  • 50g honey
  • 40ml pomegranate molasses (we buy ours from Harkola)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Malouf recommends pistachios, sour cherries and currants, but we used 100g of roasted blanched hazelnuts and 100g of cranberries.

. . . . .

Step 1: Preheat oven to 150C. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sunflower and sesame seeds, almonds, sugar, salt and spices.

Step 2: In a small jug, whisk the apple with honey, molasses and oil, then add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix well with your hands.

Step 3: Tip the mixture into a large baking tray and spread out evenly. Bake until deep golden brown (45 – 60 minutes) stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent burning.

Remove from the oven and stir in the hazelnuts (or whatever nuts you’re using – add them in the last ten minutes of cooking time if they need toasting), then allow to cool before adding dried fruits. Store in an airtight container, although it’s so delicious that it probably won’t have time to go stale.

. . . . .

This tangy and spicy granola makes a nice change from regular toasted mueslis. What a treat to be able to borrow such a gorgeous cookbook, full of photos and hyperlinks, and not have to worry about returning it on time, as it disappears automatically at the end of the loan period.

Hooray for 21st century public libraries! Are you a library user as well?

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At the start of each season, we host a vegetarian dinner party for close friends. It’s a night we all look forward to with great excitement, and often the only times in the year when the six of us get together.

A couple of days before the most recent dinner, our dishwasher died. It’s only five months old and under warranty, and Andy, our fabulous Miele repairman has now fixed it for us. But that didn’t change the fact that we had two big dinners planned that week, and no dishwasher.

The next day, the fan elements in the oven failed. Thankfully, our large Smeg has top and bottom elements we could use as well, but we decided it was time for a new oven. Old Bob has worked hard for sixteen years, and Pete noticed that we’d started to fry the coating off the electrical wiring. More on that soon.

So…we were a bit scattered that week.

We’d decided to focus on Middle Eastern flavours for the dinner and thankfully, the Moro Cookbook came to our rescue. It was a 50th birthday gift from my wonderful friend Tanya of Chica Andaluza

. . . . .

Then lovely Carol offered to host the dinner at her house, where the dishwasher was working perfectly. So Pete and I cooked all day, then wrapped everything up in furoshiki to transport it. Ha! That almost made up for the dishwasher and oven being broken…

. . . . .

This was one of the most enjoyable vegetarian dinners we’ve ever prepared and with a few minor changes, it could easily have been vegan-friendly. The Moro Cookbook has clear instructions and wonderful flavour combinations. We made fatayer (recipe to follow), chick pea salad, turlu turlu (roast veg ratatouille), walnut sauce and harissa, and accompanied it with Sawsan’s hummus and Barbara’s moghrabieh

Fatayer are stuffed flatbreads from Lebanon and Syria, traditionally filled with spinach and cheese. The Moro version has pumpkin, fetta and pinenuts, but they would work just as well with other flavour combinations. As I’ve had some experience with bread baking, I abbreviated the dough making process a bit, and was very happy with the result.

Make the dough by whisking together 220g white bread flour, ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt and ½ teaspoon dried yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 100ml room temperature water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Squelch everything together, then give the dough a short knead in the bowl. Cover and allow to rest.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 230C and toss 800g of peeled and deseeded pumpkin cubes (about 5cm each) in a tablespoon of oil and a clove of garlic, crushed to a paste with a little salt. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 25 minutes or until soft. Remove, allow to cool, then puree and adjust seasoning.

Divide the dough into four and roll each into a ball. On a well floured bench and using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a flat circle about 17cm in diameter. Put a dollop of the pumpkin puree in the centre, then top with a little fetta, oregano and toasted pinenuts.

Now here is the only tricky bit – moisten the outside of the circle with water, then fold the edges in to form a triangle. Press the edges tightly together…

Trim off any excess dough carefully, then pinch the edges together again to make sure the parcel is well sealed…

Bake in the hot oven on a parchment lined tray for 10 – 15 minutes until the fatayer starts browns, but doesn’t go hard and crusty. These were great fun to make, and a nice alternative to pastry wrapped pies and pasties.

. . . . .

To finish off, we served Portuguese tarts from the Honeymoon Bakery in Petersham – absolutely delicious and ridiculously good value at just $2 each. I’d bought them the day before and Carol crisped them up to perfection in her airfryer on the night. Mind you, Big Boy got to them before the dinner, so there was only enough left for one each!

. . . . .

If you don’t already have it, I’d highly recommend the Moro Cookbook. And you’ll be pleased to know that I have a fully working kitchen again. I can’t wait to tell you about our new stove!

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Kombu Sourdough

Have you ever cooked with kelp?

The Japanese call it kombu and they use it to make dashi stock, the backbone of many traditional dishes. The Koreans refer to it as dashima (pronounced “dah-sheema”) and it’s readily available in grocery stores like Komart in North Strathfield (providing you know what to ask for).

There are both dried and fresh salted versions available – I found this bag in the Komart fridge section for about $2.50…

It was heavily salted, so needed a good rinse and an hour’s soaking time before use…

I squeezed the water out and chopped up the prepared seaweed, stirring a handful into my sourdough…

It was a huge hit with the boys and the neighbours, with the kombu adding a little bit of salt and a subtle umami kick to the loaves…

Here’s a second batch that I made last weekend. This time I added more kombu – 100g (soaked and drained weight) to my four kilo batch of sourdough…

The leftovers made spectacular croutons…

Kombu/dashima is more readily available in dried form, which rehydrates brilliantly for use in stocks and soups…

My clever hubby tried grinding up a little of the dried seaweed in the spice grinder with flossy sea salt (50/50 by weight) and ended up with this delicious blend. I’ve been sprinkling it on everything from focaccias to steaks – it adds flavour with less actual salt…

Do you cook with kombu? I’d love to know what you do with it!

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I wrote my original hot cross buns post in April 2009.

Over the past eight years, it’s become one of the most used recipes on our blog. Since that time, we’ve simplified the methodology (ie. I’ve gotten lazier), so that it can now be made by hand with very little kneading, or in a large stand mixer. Two tips: buy a fresh box of yeast before you start, and don’t rush the second rise. And remember, as my friend Jay says, there’s no such thing as too much glaze!

I’ve now updated our old post and hope you’ll give these a go for Easter! ♥

Fig Jam and Lime Cordial Yeasted Hot Cross Buns

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Sometimes, the best recipes come about purely by chance.

Last week, I put some sweet potatoes into the oven to roast. Rummaging through the fridge to find something to top them with, I combined the dregs of a jar of sundried tomatoes with the leftovers from a tin of chipotle chillis in adobo, then spread the resulting paste over the soft, roasted kumera. It was delicious…

Inspired, I tried again the following day.

We buy our sundried tomatoes from Costco – they’re julienne cut and come in a one kilo jar. The chipotle chillis are widely available (I source mine from Fireworks Foods online). Both items are pantry staples at our house…

This easiest of recipes is made by simply blitzing together:

  • 1 cup  (200g) sundried tomatoes (drained, but it’s ok to leave a little of the residual oil)
  • ¼ cup (60g) of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Pulse together in the small bowl of a food processor, scraping down the sides as needed. If your tomatoes are very dry, you might need to add a little oil, but I didn’t. Process until the paste is as coarse or fine as you prefer…

This was the perfect addition to a vegetarian plate for our garden elves, Emma and Millie, accompanied by Sawsan’s hummus, sourdough bread and dark chocolate rocky road…

That night, I spread a little of the paste under the tomato base of a focaccia pizza, then topped it with the leftover roasted sweet potatoes, cheese, onion and anchovies…

This very simple but highly versatile paste now has its own permanent tub in our fridge. The sweetness of the tomatoes enhances the smoky heat of the chipotles, and we’ve already stirred it into pasta soups, spread it on crackers and mixed it into dips. Definitely a keeper!

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