Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

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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I had a grand plan.

I was going to use a kilo of my recent bargain buy to create a salt dough, which I would then wrap and roast a chicken in.

Only…when it came time to make dinner, it just seemed like too much work.

So instead, I dragged out my trusty Römertopf baker and sat it in a sink of water to soak.

Then I blitzed up half a loaf of stale sourdough in the food processor and squished it together with two pork sausages (squeezed out of their casings), a handful of frozen cranberries, garlic, salt, pepper, a chopped onion, an egg and shredded sage leaves from the garden. I threw the fat from the chicken in as well, for good measure…


The stuffing mixture was laid into the base of the wet Romy and topped with a free range chicken, which had been rubbed with olive oil, salt and a little pimenton (smoked paprika)…


Lid on, then into a cold oven. The temperature was turned up to 200C with fan and the timer set for an hour. And I went out for a late afternoon walk by the water…


When I came home, Pete had taken the lid off the pot and put the chook back into the oven for a further 45 minutes until the juices ran clear…


. . . . .

The Römertopf makes creating midweek dinners like these a doddle – yes, I know, I bang on about this all the time. But it took me less than 30 minutes in total to prep, and then I had an hour to stroll along the bay while it cooked by itself. Every morsel of chicken and stuffing was eaten – the addition of extra sausage resulted in just the right amount of food for the hungry wolves.

So…I’m sorry this isn’t a post about salt-crusted chicken. If you’d like to try that, here’s the recipe I’d originally planned to make (it even specifies flossy salt).

But as I plonked the dirty clay baker into the dishwasher and rinsed the breadcrumbs out of the food processor, I wasn’t at all sorry that I didn’t have to scrape up shattered salt dough or mop up leaking juices.

Some recipes require more chi.

For all the other times, there’s the Römertopf!

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Small Man’s Berry Crumble


Mixed berry crumble is Small Man’s new favourite dessert.

If he finds out that I’ve made it, he’ll actually stop eating his dinner to leave room for it. He can eat an entire dish on his own, but out of politeness, will usually limit himself to just two-thirds. I’ve blogged an earlier version of this recipe before, but we’ve now refined it to (our) perfection.

It’s incredibly simple, and uses just a few fridge and freezer ingredients…


Welch’s frozen fruits are a Costco find and we’ve been delighted with them. They’re reasonably priced, packed in Canada, and the berries and cherries are delicious without being overly sweet. We always keep a couple of packets in the freezer.

The fruit is sweetened with a little of our neighbour June’s apricot jam, and the topping is made from a quarter portion of our tea cake recipe (made without the added fruit, then carefully wrapped in clingfilm and frozen). Any plain pound style cake should work equally well, and it’s worth freezing end bits of stale cake for this.

Yesterday afternoon, I taught Small Man to make his favourite dessert. Here are the basic ingredients…

  • 3 cups of frozen mixed berries (don’t bother defrosting them)
  • ¼ cup of good jam
  • 250g (or whatever you have) of plain butter, pound or tea cake (defrosted, if frozen)
  • 30g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

It’s completely fine to just eyeball these quantities, as it’s hard to go too far wrong.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 160C with fan. In a pretty baking dish, mix the berries with the jam (I usually do this with my hands). We added a little peeled and diced apple as well this time.

Step 2: In a mixing bowl, crumble up the defrosted cake and mix in the melted butter and brown sugar. Try not to squish it together too much – the aim is to make a fine crumb…


Step 3: Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the fruit, then bake for 30-40 minutes (start checking after 20 minutes to make sure it’s not browning too much)


Step 4: Voila! The crumble is ready when the top is a golden brown and you can see the berry juices starting to bubble up at the sides…


. . . . .

Now seriously, isn’t this the easiest dessert ever? We like to use homemade cake and jam, but I can’t see any reason why this wouldn’t work with bought ingredients – a good supermarket jam (try to pick one that isn’t too sweet) and a plain madeira or pound cake should be fine. I hope you enjoy this as much as Small Man does – it’s a sure-fire way to brighten up a mid-week dinner!

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