Bolognese Sauce

•April 24, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Bolognese Sauce.

Seems like a very very misunderstood sauce, this is a sauce that has been mucked up by almost every country. It has certainly been mucked up by members of my own family and me.

Bolognese Sauce is a native of Bologna region of Italy where it is known as Ragu, it is not a tomato sauce, but a meat based sauce that has some (in fact quite little) tomato in it. The recipes from ‘experts’ vary between using canned tomato or tomato puree or both.

Canned tomato is a relatively recent innovation of the past 100 years or so, before that it was preserving tomato by drying them or by drying the flesh and this lead to Tomato Paste. Tomato was introduced into Europe in about 1490 (give or take) and spread throughout the Mediterranean regions because it was found to be ideal growing conditions.

Pasta itself was (thought to be) introduced into Italy when Marco Polo returned to Italy in 1295. It is clear that from that date, sauces were created to cater for the eating of pasta. It is not known how old Bolognese Sauce may be, but that it is ancient, is not in dispute and that it was a sauce for the wealthy is also not in dispute.

What is more apparent is that it has been seriously badly treated around the world. The cry of Spag Bol and many other names given to this sauce/dish are a clear indication of it being turned into a go to cheap fast food for busy and not particularly discriminatory eaters. Bolognese people would never eat it with spaghetti, but with wide noodles like tagliatelli.

A bit of research among the Italian foodie community has turned up a few interesting facts and ‘issues’. The queen of Italian cooking, now no longer with us, Marcella Hazan, is as ever, quite determined in content and method… whilst I don’t swear that my recipe is her’s, or that I slavishly followed her recipe, I didn’t. But the spirit and essence are here.


1 kilo of minced beef (ask the butcher to please have at least 20% fat).

1 kilo of minced pork, same proportion of fat to meat.

200 to 250 gram of minced bacon, pancetta or similar (I have occasionally used Salami when all else was unavailable).

The Rest

1/2 cup good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 pieces of celery about 20 cm long

2 large carrots

2 large onions (Italians use yellow onion if they can, its milder)

4 large cloves of garlic

1 cup of cream

1 x 200 gr organic tomato paste

1 cup of red (or white) wine… I used red

1 cup of beef stock

1 can of chopped tomato (500 gr)

1 tablespoon of herbs, I used dried oregano, but rosemary, thyme or basil are all acceptable.


Put the carrots, celery, onion, garlic in the kitchen whiz and blend until all is chopped but NOT reduced to a puree.

Put the oil in a saucepan (I always use a bigger than I should need pot, easier to stir!) and add the chopped vegetables and the meat, allow this to cook until the meat has commenced to turn grey, here Marcella is very strict… you must NOT fry the meat and allow it to become browned, it will ruin the taste!! At this point add the cream and allow the meat and vegetables to cook a little in the cream and then add the stock, wine, tomato paste, canned tomato and stir well, this now needs to commence a long slow cook for three or four hours until the meat and juices have all combined. I add some herbs at the point where the long cook is starting, but not salt or pepper, this is added at the end.

Should the sauce start to become too dry, add some water or beef stock, just remember that the stock could be salty.

In the end, your sauce should be very rich, the meat well cooked and very soft, it should NOT look like an over ripe tomato. This is a meat sauce.

Peaches – first restaurant

•October 26, 2019 • Leave a Comment

First view of what was to become the first ever restaurant was a bit over whelming. An old Queenslander set high on stumps and surrounded by a million windows, every single one was bubble glass and non see. There was a tennis court, very old and in slight disrepair, a pineapple packing shed that was sturdy and quite large and open to the elements on one side. Two large water tanks, an ancient chook yard, still in working order, but no chooks. Old persimmon trees, a few Lychee trees and the inevitable Pawpaw and joy of joys, a couple of big old Mango trees. All in all, I was convinced I had fallen on my feet and landed in subtropical paradise.


Inspired by reading all the alternative magazines (I think it was called Earth Garden) on sustainable living, growing vegetables, keeping chooks, maintaining soil, preserving and all in all, living a life free from modern stresses, we signed on the dotted line, a small doable mortgage, a consultancy for design work and proceeds from sale of a business were, I though sufficient to maintain a growing family. I was wrong.

It’s not cheap being alternative, equipment doesn’t fall of a truck, wire to mend the chook house, a whole truck load of chicken pooh to kick start the garden beds, a tiller to make the garden beds and then help in the form of Bo to get it happening.


Bo was an old gentleman from Buderim, his every move was observed by his long time dog, Pebbles, where Bo went Pebbles went. Bo was eternally dressed in a very baggy pair of khaki shorts and solid work boots, his summer top was a singlet, his winter a flannie. He had the same hat that kind of perched on the top of his head, not shading either back or front but simply making a statement. Bo was a mine of information, he knew everyone in the area, knew the soil, knew what would and wouldn’t grow, he became my garden guru. Under Bo’s instruction, garden beds were carved out of the space between a row of pine trees and the chook shed. Bo took a slightly dim view of the pines, he said they had no right to be there and that they depleted the soil. He was right of course, but it was beyond my power, they were on next doors land.


The truck carrying the chicken pooh was huge, so big it would not fit through the front gate, the dilemma was then where? There was no choice, it had to go between the front fence and the road. What no one had told me was the shuddering aroma that wafted from it. It took about twenty minutes for the neighbours (the Laveracks, who we later found out had a slight problem with Sweet Sherry) to be beating on the door with complaints. They said they were unable to be in the front part of their house and had relocated their beds. It was hard to disagree, but how to solve the problem. Bo said to hose it down and after a day or so it would form a crust. In the end, it was easier to get some large plastic sheets and cover it. Served the purpose of halting the pong and letting it naturally rot down. In the end however, did not solve the Laverack problems which were to continue into the future.


For those who have lived in South East Queensland, you will be aware of the phenomenal garden growth, I was stunned by the productivity of the garden beds that Bo and I had made, using a small walk behind tiller that took a fair bit of effort to control, the only things that would not grow were those fruits and vegetables that needed a cold winter. Grapes were a challenge. The now well composted chicken pooh was rich beyond belief, the garden loved it. I began to see myself as a full on alternative life styler, a delusion of course, growing good vegetables did not pay for the electricity or council rates. I needed to become creative with the produce, the Buderim Provender was born and soon the kitchen was awash with small glass jars being filled with anything I could come up with. I think as ever, my ambitious nature made me do too much, I was convinced that a good show of products would impress and hence sales would blossom. They did, to some extent, the problem was with a domestic kitchen, family and lack of patience on my part, besides which I hate selling, I needed to do more.

I’ve always been a competent cook, occasionally inspired even. I depended a lot on my mothers and my aunts lessons in the kitchen to help me in tricky situations. I had also developed a deep interest in food and became a devoted follower of cooking women like Elizabeth David and Julia Child whose books opened up whole new worlds to me. I think too that having a group of friends who all enjoyed food, helped. I decided to impart some of my knowledge and skills to the locals of the Sunshine Coast. I advertised and soon had a group of eight who were ready to buy my skills. After a few months, the decision was made to start a cooking club and this was named after out Basset hound. The Sebastian Club was formed.

The barn at Tanawha was large, when we arrived we had the task of emptying it of years of junk. We had taken sympathy on the elderly owners who were moving to Toowoomba to live with their daughter. It was mostly junk except for a pine table and pine dresser base and four glorious windows from a recently demolished hotel in Brisbane. It took many trips to the Buderim tip but eventually we had an empty very old barn, uneven floors, tin roof and open rafters, we also discovered a resident carpet snake that had clearly lived there for years, it was removed by Lloyd Duval who was the local ranger, the snake was so long its head was in the rafters when its tail was on the ground. Lloyd was given a decent bath of white snake pooh as the creature was removed. Of course it returned, quite unfased and continued to live with little concern in the rafters.


My urge to create kicked in, it was clear that with a little creative effort, the barn could be turned into a food establishment. We had found a set of windows from some old hotel in the barn, four in total, beautiful bevelled glass and old pine frames, three were designated for the left hand wall overlooking the car park, the fourth would find its way into a new house some time later. We hired a local carpenter and created a his and hers toilet complete with wash basins and a kitchen space. I had this idea that the kitchen should be open to what would be the floor of the restaurant, but that plan was thwarted in time. A sliding glass door was installed at the front of the building, along with some steps, further glass doors lead to a grassed terrace garden on the left hand side. All I needed was council permission, of course forgotten in the over zealous enthusiasm. And a kitchen.


The kitchen equipment was all purchased from a second hand shop, a great stove, still one of the best things ever, four burners, 2 ovens, salamander, hot plate and deep fryer… what more could I want. A decent fridge, a commercial sink and away. I planned to have marble topped benches, as you do! And they were dutifully installed along with lots of shelving. Sadly at a six year old birthday party, I gingerly climbed on the bench and it shattered. Soon replaced by deep maroon laminex and much approved of by council. I had taken the decision that an open kitchen, given the size, was not practical and so a wall was built to enclose me. I did have a back door and a very efficient range hood that removed smoke and stale air well. In time an air conditioner was installed.


The council saw the wisdom of having me legal and granted permission, Peaches was born and launched.


The interior was candle lit and decorated with our own furniture and art collection, we purchased as good a quality glassware, table ware and cutlery as we could, Jennifer made table cloths and serviettes and a stack of canvas deck chairs purchased and tables made from good pine, we sat 36 people. I wasn’t quite ready to launch, but wanted a few dummy runs, the Sebastian Club and members were invited along and some kitchen testing done, I decided after a few weeks that it was time and began advertising. The first night, a Friday was half full and I went all out, even baking the bread. Everyone left I think feeling satisfied and I was still standing, so ready for a full house on the next night.


Our menu was based on a fixed price and there were four choices across entre, main and desert. The tables were given an Hors D’oeurves when they sat, usually a pate, terrine of some sort, bread and allowed to mellow. The BYO wine was stored in chiller boxes and poured by the staff. Jennifer had a written menu and would go from table to table reading, explaining and taking orders. I think that I made one mistake, the menu could have remained static for say three of the dishes in each category and allow me the choice of seasonal or occasional good produce or a simple inspiration for the fourth. It would have made life much easier and given me better (read easier) preparation.


I was inspired by the hugely successful restaurant of Stephanie Alexander and the ladies cook books, I wanted the experience to be filled with deliciousness. A sorbet was offered between entre and main, and frankly I deserve a medal for the huge number of sorbets I created. After main course a salad was served and then cheese. The cheese was quite special and came each week from an importer in Brisbane. Desert was then offered and real coffee with small sweet treats. No one ever left hungry. Peaches was born!!

Port Fairy 1950

•October 5, 2019 • Leave a Comment


Dublin House

The birds sat on the edge of the roof and occasionally flew down to test the fruit. The tree had a life of its own, over the years its roots had succeeded in destroying the concrete and travelled over a wide area to where it felt they should be. It had resisted all efforts to tame it, cutting it back over the years had only made it spread broader and the branches had become gnarled and knotted in the process. It burst into pink flower every spring although in any year, apart from rain, not one drop of moisture was offered to it. I lay under the tree in the summer when the branches were filled with leaves and fruit, the sunlight came filtering through in patches and watched the birds enjoy the picking on the higher branches.‘Mum… Mummm… can I eat some of the nectarines?’


‘Just one or two, make sure they’re ripe.. watch out for worms.’

‘Bring in some ripe nectarines when you come, we’ll slice them up for sweets and have them with ice cream.’

I liked the smell of the ripe fruit that perfumed the air and its independence, just like the mint patch that someone had foolishly planted under a dripping tap and now filled the entire yard, only the nectarine tree had resisted the mint and kept it at bay. It had several places where you could snuggle among its roots or lower branches to feel part of the tree to share in its feelings, to understand it. Towns, hospitals, car racing tracks and secret hidy places where you could safely keep any valuables, they were all there, all in that tree.

‘When you’ve done that, come in and give me a hand.’ My mother was calling again.

‘Awright! Do I have to?’ I had to.

It was too late, she had gone back into the kitchen and the door was closed.

I finished the nectarines and carefully planted the stones, a tree will grow there, a big tree, just like this one with plenty of fruit. Picking eight ripe fruits from the tree, headed for the house, passing the fern, I ran fingers along the feathery leaves and at the end, snapped off a small piece to look at more closely.

‘Help me get the seeds out of the melon’ It was jam making time and every year it was the same.

My Mother was holding the wire door open and calling me in.

‘Aw Mum, do I have to?’ There was no way out, but it was worth another try.


‘Here’s the nectarines, where’ll I put them?’ carrying the fruits in the front of my jumper.

‘Over on the sink.’


Sitting on the kitchen table were two huge yellowy green melons.

‘Mum, doesn’t this leaf look like those biscuits, you know, the ones with the small dots?’

Mum had planted the fern outside the dining room window and the back of the leaves had small even brown dots, it was one she’d collected from someone else’s garden, like most of the flowers, shrubs and pot plants, she was forever striking a cutting.


‘Get the small knife out of the drawer.’

Looking at the back of the fern leaf picked on the way past, I was again taken by the absolute symetry of the brown dots and the velvety smooth feel.

‘Which one?’

‘The small one that I use for vegetables.’

‘This one?’

‘That’s it, now I’ll cut the melon into slices and you use the small knife to get out the seeds.’

‘Where’ll I put the seeds?’

‘In the bowl. I’ll put them into boil with the jam in a cloth.’

The huge copper jam boiler stood on the table which had been carefully covered with some newspaper to protect the new surface.

‘Is it melon and ginger or melon and lemon?’

‘What do you like best?’

‘Melon and ginger.’

‘Me too.’

I begrudged the time spent picking the seeds from the melons,  but it was good to sit with Mum and watch as she weighed the melon and sugar, layering it in the pot as we worked. As we got to the end of the melon and the last layer was going into the pot, she added the chopped preserved ginger and a squeeze of lemon before putting the pot on the gas.


‘Why do you put the jars in the oven Mum?’

‘It stops them breaking when the hot jam goes in!’

‘Where’d you get all the jars from?’

‘I saved them from last year!’

‘How many jars will it make Mum?’

‘About three dozen, now hop off and let me finish,’ never allowed to help in the bottling, mother’s fear that I would burn myself on the hot jam meant she did the job alone.

‘Can I lick out the saucepan when it’s finished?’

‘Come back in a jiffy and I’ll give you the spoon to lick.’

‘Can I do the front step now then?’

‘All right, but don’t get boot polish all over you.’

Polishing the blue stone front step until it glowed, gave me a chance to sit at the front door and watch the passing parade for a while. I wasn’t allowed to sit at the window in the lounge room, even though it looked out onto the street,  my mother didn’t like the way I had to open the curtains to see out, she said that people in the town would say I was a sticky beak and a reputation of that sort was not worth having. The step was different, there, you could stretch the job to a full hours worth of watching,  there was a plenty to see, people coming and going from the butcher shop, ladies coming in to see Mrs Phillips, the new dressmaker who had just rented the shop on the other side, the shop in front of the nectarine tree. Across the road and down the lane a bit the blacksmiths shop was always being visited by farmers to get their horses shod or have some welding done. If timed it right, I might even be able to see Mrs Snow as she walked her dog Boofie and chatted amiably with it the whole time. The highlight would be if Boofie decided to pee or pooh, in which case Mrs Snow would stop, wait until he had completed the task, remove a small roll of toilet paper from her bag and wipe clean which ever organ had been used. The dogs that owned that stretch of street, decided that Boofie was too stupid for words and, at the sight of Mrs Snow, retreated to the opposite side of the road and there, followed Boofie and Mrs Snow’s progress down the street with continuous barking. Mrs Snow would occasionally make an charge accross the street clutching Boofie under one arm and swing her handbag in the other. The local pack would break up for a short time, but quickly re-assemble accross the other side of the street and the parade would continue.


‘Can’t get the washing dry!’

‘Mine’s in front of the kitchen fire, too wet’

The opening gambit for Mrs Miller and Mrs Caulfield for their mid morning daily across the street chat. They had lived opposite each other for years, all their conversations were carried on this way, mid morning cup of tea and late afternoon. They hung over their respective front fences, Mrs Caulfield at the front gate of the tiny house and unoccupied shop and Mrs Miller over the front verandah rail, right on the street of the house and corner shop opposite. In the course of time they discussed the business of the entire town, interrupted by passing traffic and occasional delays as Laura Miller paused to serve a customer in her tiny milk bar shop, right on the corner.


Even though I had to strain my ears, they lived four or five houses up, over the years both had developed the ability to cast her voice and it was often claimed that they could be heard at the other end of the block and certainly heard by people walking down the street or up the street giving them the choice of being involved or waiting it out before they passed.

‘Heard that Mrs Pressnell was in hospital!’ Mrs Miller called.

‘I didn’t know that, how is she?’

Mrs Caulfield didn’t like being beaten to the draw with the latest news.

‘Speak up I can’t ear yer!’

Mrs Miller had missed the last bit, a car had trundled by.

‘Quite sick, poor thing.’

He knew who they were talking about, my mother knew Mrs Presnell. Poor old Pressie, she called her. When she died, she remained, poor old Pressie. Poor old Pressie’s only interest in life after her husband died was the bowling club. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, she donned the whites, put her bowling hat at a jaunty angle, collected her basket and handbag and strolled the one block up to the bowling green. Rain, hail or shine, she went there, always in whites. If the weather was too bad to play, she and the other bowlers would heat up the huge hot water urn and drink tea and gossip for a couple of hours. Her shopping was always delivered, based on a standing order she had with the butcher, greengrocer and grocer, she insisted on the same delivery people every time and each was given a small token at Christmas time in thanks, left neatly wrapped in some old paper that she had saved during the year. She never once had her house painted and the original paint peeled slowly away, leaving weatherboards exposed and looking like faded tiger skin. The garden had been allowed to die, a lawn of springy grass that never needed mowing, allowed to grow. The  house seemed to be in mourning on the outside and on the inside, she lived in absolute privacy. Deliveries were made to the laundry where the correct money was always left and even when my mother visited her after she became ill one time and was not seen for a week at the bowling club, she was met at the front door by poor old Pressie wearing a sensible apron and not asked in. Only when she died and they went to look for her  because no one had seen her for a few weeks and the groceries and meat were not collected from the laundry did someone enter. Maybe that’s why my mother called her poor old Pressie. She died alone and in private in just the way she wanted and lived her life. The house was left to a distant relative who never even came to see it, just put it up for sale along with the contents. It was only when the contents were auctioned that towns people got a chance to see how she lived and saw that the house was filled with large dark wooden furniture and a few oval framed coloured photographs of her and her late husbands distant relatives.


‘How’s Jack today?’ Mrs Miller called again as she returned after serving her customer, Mrs Caulfield was well used to these interuptions.

‘Orff at work, that place’ll kill ‘im yet.’

Jack worked for the shire and was on the roads, he rode to work on an ancient bicycle with handle bars set at a very upright position and the seat well sprung and  looked truly sedate as he rolled majestically down the street. Jack rode the bicycle four times each day, going to work in the morning, home for lunch at twelve noon, back to the shire yard at one then home again, via the Caledonian for his customary three stouts, at five. His dinner was on the table whether he was there or not at six sharp and was removed at six thirty if he had not made it home. It would re-appear again the next evening after Mrs Caulfield had reheated it on top of a saucepan of boiling water with the saucepan lid on top at exactly the same time the next day. And not a word would ever be said. It was considered by the people in the town that they had a perfect marriage since no one in living memory had ever heard a raised voice or a word spoken in anger between them. Jack’s only other bicycle ride was to the local football field on a Satrurday where he watched his son play in the local team and sat with his mates near the beer tent that was set up along side the grandstand and which the women of the associates committee frowned upon and would not give up their useage of the catering room at one end of the grandstand in which, every Saturday, they raised the wooden sides, propped them up on long pieces of timber and sold hot dogs and sandwiches. Mrs Caulfield was on the auxillory committee, but she rode to the football field in the car of another committee member or walked if no ride was available. She liked working in the catering room, that way she could keeop an eye on Jack and glare at him if she thought he was drinking one too many.


‘ang on a minute.’

Mrs Miller had another customer.

Mrs Millers shop was her only means of support after her husband had died leaving her with two daughters and a son to raise. She had opened the shop after contacting the local area representative of the chocolate comapny and asked him for a number or large cardboard replicas of the various chocolates and sweets, these she used to fill the window and then hung a lace curtain, which she could easily see through, between the window and the shop. She contacted the area manager of the most popular brand of ice creams and was lucky enough to be able to purchase, quite cheaply, a second hand ice cream fridge that had been re-enamelled a lovely shade of green, the stainless steel top had been rebuffed and the ice cream containers slipped down into the circular pits that were topped with a heavy lid with thick rubber seals and black handle. There was one or two vacant circular holes and in one she kept the milk and in the other, supplies of the ice blocks she made two or three times a week from cordial she purchased from the local soft drink manufacturer and sold to the children in cones for a couple of pennies. Apart from that Laura Miller had two major claims to fame, she made the best meat pies in town, even though she wasn’t a baker and she only made enough every day to cover what she knew she would sell. She purchased the meat from my father and was very demanding about how big it should be cut and how red it should be. The price for the meat would be subject to a daily discussion where the quality and amount of fat would enter into negotiations. Laura Miller always asked for Linsday since she trusted him and made it clear, that although she had known old Jack as she called my grandfather, since she was a girl, she didn’t trust the old bugger nor most of his thieving sons. Just why my father should have been chosen as the only fair and trustworthy member of the family was not clear, but she would deal with no one else and the meat pies would be delayed until he was able to serve her, her secret, so some of the women in the town claimed was that she included celery in the pies and this gave them a different flavour and kept them moist.  Her second claim to fame and the one which gave her the most satisfaction was that she made the best sponge cakes in the town, every year she took off the Port Fairy show prize against all the country women, many of whom had built fine and respected reputations on the lightness and texture of their sponge cakes. It was rumoured that she used swans eggs for the cakes giving them that extra something that no one else could match, although no one ever saw her collecting the eggs, it could have been possible since the upper reaches of the river were the home of swans and her son was known to enjoy hunting. The rumours would always begin to increase as the annual show approached and reach a crescendo when she was again announced as the winner and her cake stood proud with the sort after blue ribbon and printed card that said ‘best sponge in the annual show’. Many of the women who each year comperted against her were heard to be muttering ‘old rubber kneck’ is up to something. She had a long kneck which over the years was to become more and more lined and enable her to live up to her name.


The postman rode up on his cycle and handed me the letters from the morning delivery instead of pushing them through the brass letter slot that was part of the job of cleaning the step. I watched as he peddled up the street towards the two gossiping women and saw him hessitate. Too late, he was trapped, Laura Miller engaged him in conversation immediately, he was a golden source of local information and a chance not to be missed. He remained sitting on the seat of the bike while leaning against the railing of Mrs Millers verandah. If he had some time, he would allow the two women to press him for tit bits of information, in return for a cup of tea in which case this was taken as a signal by both women that there was indeed some gossip worthy of their attention and in time, and at his own pace, he could be coerced into divulging the gossip. If time was against him, he made his excuses and quickly peddled around the corner to continue his rounds, over many years and knowing his customers as well as he did, just watching the mail and knowing where it came from gave him a lot of insight into the lives of the locals. The only person likely to know more than the postman was the telegram man who not only recieved the telegrams on the morse code reciever, but delivered them. if there was a death, a win or some other major event, he was always the first to know.


Fridays was the best day for the exchange of gossip, it was the day that the country people came to town for shopping, providing more material for cross the street conversations since it could now encompass a much broader area as the people from the districts farms came to town for a days outing. For the two women, Friday was the day, a chance to expand their own horizons and to catch up with some of the country women who stopped by to collect some juicy bits and pieces of town gossip in return for whatever gossip was the local titilation in the many small farming communities around the town. It was a busy day and often saw Mrs Miller and Mrs Caulfield spending more time that they should leaning on the verandahs, but in view of the comming weekend when gossip would bound to be quiet, Fridays collections of titbits could carry them through. The only highlight on the weekend would be the local football match or the rush at six o’clock closing when those who had hurried to drink a few extra glasses and beat the clock would turn out from the hotels in bewildered and stunned conditions attempting to look sober and find their way home, or in the case of the dedicated drinker, spill out from the hotels clutching a few bottles and continue in the street outside.


‘Them Tilley girls was in town again.’ They were in town every friday, but it was an event and was mentioned each friday without fail by Mrs Caulfield whose fascination for the activity of the Tilley’s knew no bounds. She found herself on Thursday evenings anticipating the events of the next day with a certain vicarious thrill and not a little degree of wonder at the daring and exploits of the famous girls.

‘Gawd, did you see Josephine?’ Mrs Miller had made sure she saw her by popping a note on the front door which read ‘back in ten minutes’ and scooted down to the main street for the express purpose of seeing the sisters.

‘The way she chases after men, her father should stop her.’ Mrs Caulfield did not approve and was prepared to let anyone know who would care to listen.

The Tilley sisters, Josephine, Margaret and Babe were famous. They wanted to be glamorous, look glamorous and act glamorous and against all odds, not the least of which was a major shortage of money, they succeeded. Every Friday afternoon the Tilley sisters, arm in arm would parade up and down the streets, looking in all the windows, making eyes at all the men and generally turn the women folk of the town hostile.  They had the reputation as men chasers, thoroughly undeserved, since no man had ever won any of their hearts until Joe the Italian came along. And he won Josephine in a courtship that was heard and seen by the entire town and followed with increasing interest as it became clear he was succeeding.


The Tilley girls based their wardrobes on the latest styles that were on at the movies, part of the Friday experience, the whole family, after having a meal at the Craig Lea cafe or, later on when it was transformed, the Golden Fleece Road House, would attend the movies. Those in the know placed side wagers about the following Fridays outfits which, during the week would have been worked over restyled and redecorated in the current Hollywood style and they would arrive in town hairstyles changed, make up perfect and begin the parade all over again. The girls each had favourite stars and it was not difficult to tell who they were, Mae West featured prominently and was a real favourite of all three. In their own ways they had created a world of magic, when they lived in a real world which was harsh and difficult, they chose to live for short periods of every week, make believing they were somewhere else and quite different people.My mother knew that on Fridays I would peddle straight from school to the main street, just to catch a glimpse of the Tilley’s and then rush home to deliver the news on the latest look. Although reviled and laughed at by many women in the town, they lived a life that was full and rich and made the lives of many of the towns people dull and boring by comparrison. There second appearence was at the local Catholic Church each sunday for Mass when they would wait until the priest and altar boy had entered and begun their prayer where upon they would sweep into church as the organ was swelling with the last trumpets of sound and walk to the very front pew where they seated themselves in full view of the entire congreation.


Norma had spotted me doing the step and propelled her wheel chair along and was waiting for me to speak to her.

‘G’day Norma’ I wondered what her mood would be like today.

Norma mumbled a reply.

‘What are you doing today Norma?’ She did the same thing every day, but it was polite to at least ask her.

She mumbled another incoherent reply.

‘Mums’ takin me shopping, soon as I finish the step!’

I lied, she liked it when I took her for a walk and I wasn’t in the mood today. Down to the Caledonian Hotel and back, but the chair was hard to push and the footpath was badly cracked. I always worried that I might tip her out and nearly did one day when the home made wooden chair with the large back wheels got stuck in a crack in the footpath and if it hadn’t been for the help of a passing pedestrian, Norma and her chair would have tipped over.


At first Norma had frightened me, she looked so different, she couldn’t speak properly from her twisted mouth, she was short and dumpy and had a hairy face. Her Mother did her hair in a severe bowl cut which only succeeded in making her look more frightening. It was not the custom for families to expose their physically or mentally retarded children but Norma didn’t care nor did she conform to other peoples rules. Her biggest problem was a short temper which, if she was frustrated or angry could flare in seconds and the object of her temper was her Mother. Over time, her family had learned to allow Norma certain freedoms which she guarded carefully and learned to live her life making the most of the freedoms she had. She enjoyed the pictures and the local dances and balls, her family took her to the football all through the season and she had a special place reserved for her at the ground. Norma also enjoyed the accross the road conversations between Mrs Miller and Mrs caulfield and would propell her chair along the street to a spot closer so she could properly hear the conversations.


Norma had a brother Leo, who became the local real estate and stock and station agent. A confirmed batchelor, Leo, dressed in conservative country style drove a large black jaguar, never at spead, always within tolerable limits for a car of its delicacy and birthright, the car was a symbol of success and could often be seen in slow and sedate procession proceeding about the town and into the countryside. On the weekends it was to be seen doing the circuit that everyone did, when there was nothing better to do, around the oval, up to the east beach and then down to martins point.  Leo’s office was in the main street, next to the newsagent was correct in a military way, spartan and spare with the only sound being a pen on paper as everytthing was meticulously noted down and the occasional jingle of the telephone, but only with one or two rings from the hand opperated exchange, anything else would have been distracting. Interviews with potential customers were conducted in his office which he had equipped with a good solid desk, a filing cabinet in wood, an office chair of timber which swivelled and two guest chairs that could be moved from the back wall as necessity demanded. On the walls he had placed some photographs of the town which he’d had hand coloured and one of towerhill lake. The only other decoration was some photographs of horse race finnishes that he had sent off for when a particular race had taken his fancy. His office was closed when he was not in attendance and neat note was pinned to the door to inform customers when he would be returning. Leo always took great care to let the ladies of the telephone exchange know when he would be out so as not to inconvience any of his customers. As Leo’s fortunes improved, he moved away from the family home and the problems of deeling with his handicapped sister and purchased a house down near the river where he was able to live a life more suited to his taste.


‘Better go in now, I finished the step.’ Norma’s habbit of staring at people often made me uncomfortable.

Norma spun the chair around and stationed herself a few feet away from the door of the butchers shop, she could watch the boys at work and get a word or two of conversation. My father stuck his head out the door.

‘How’s my girlfriend today?’

Norma chuckled and looked girlish, she liked my father and he always had a kind word for her, he claimed that he had no trouble understanding her speach and they could occasionally be seen engaging in conversation although, I doubt this since her handicaps rendered her speach, to me at least, quite uninteligible.


‘I finished the step Mum! Can I go round to the gasworks?’ I called as I replaced the shoe black and brushes with the brasso and rags in the laundry box.

‘Don’t you get in their way and stay away from the fires.’

‘I’ll be awright Mum, I promise.’

I had two choices to get to the gas works, through the swamp and up by the fire station or down to the Caledonian Hotel and along the street past Miss Wrights, the piano teachers. Up to Mrs Millers Shop, turn left, down towards the Cordial factory, left at Digby’s house, the house directly behind our, through the shiny leaf hedge which we used in the summer time as our headquarters and into the areas of sluggish still water covered in swamp grasses and the several small streams leading in. It was the streams that most interested me since they were the breading ground for frogs. The swamp had been there a long time and was not the result of development, but a natural drain for the area. It was believed, at least by us, that the swamp area was a magical aboriginal site used on important ceremonial occasions and we spent a lot of time hunting for evidence.


Knowing your way across the swamp without getting wet was essential, keeping your shoes as free from mud as possible, just as important. Either one could have seen me prevented from going into the swamp and I spent a lot of time there. In the spring and summer when the swamp dried a little, it became a magic place, filled with endless possibilities, worlds within worlds. Life teamed in the small streams of water, tadpoles, larvae and even tiny fish all living in a minature world and all possible to see, observe and be part of. It was possible to create dams, divert streams and alter the flow of the water, to transform the place from swamp to busy harbour, to a city where the roads were all rivers, to wild mountains and deep oceans.  Water birds loved the swamp and a pair of spur winged plovers had nested there for years and every spring, took to the air squawking loudly and dived bombed anyone who entered their territory, as the eggs hatched and the chicks began to grow, the birds would redouble their efforts, anyone who came near to the nest was repeatedly dive bombed until they retreated to a safe distance, even hugging the ground and crawling was not helpful since the birds would swoop lower and lower. In the summer, the reeds would move in the breezes and the sun shine on the ripples of the water creating tiny waves of silver and gold. It was not difficult to create my own world, one far removed and completely different to the every day life of the town.


Comming up between the fire station and the housing flats, the side door of the fire station swung open and Tony Buzzard walked onto the street.

‘Whadya think your doin boy’ he spoke gruffly and directly.

‘Nothing’ I replied.

‘Whadya bin upta, making a nuisance of yerself I bet!’

‘Nothing’ I had no wish to speak to the man any more than was necessary.

‘Don’tya get in my way, now git orf withya’ I was told.

All muscles and aggression and smelling of liniment; and a well developed dislike of boys who he regarded as inherrently bad that must always be brought under control, he had no children of his own and treated the children of the town as nuisances, his attitude was little different with the fire brigade men. He was the Chief and they did what he wanted or hell and scorn were heaped on them from his fiery tongue. The fire brigade practised twice every week, Tuesdays and Thursdays and when it got closer to the annual fire brigade meetings where all the district brigades met in competition, every night and the relentless barage of abuse and abasement would be heaped on his men in ever more fulsome fashion. Because the fire station was just around the corner from the house, after tea, I was allowed to go and join the other kids who had come to watch. Tony Buzzard would stand in front of his men and roar abuse at them.

‘Yer bloody bunch of useless rubbish, yer couldn’t put out a match.’

‘Yer the spawn of the devil, yer bloody useless, not a bloody brain in yer head.’

It was always amazing the amount of abuse that each man seemed capable of taking without retort. If in the end, one of the men did retort it became a slanging match of vast proportions that could last for days as the victim discussed the whole matter with his mates at the pub and spent a lot of time feeling agrieved at being treated in this purile manner.

‘Make those bloody kids stay on the foorpath! Keep the little bastards out of the way. Git back you’s kids, git outtha way, keep back or else!’ We all moved out of the way.

‘Yer know which way to pull the bloody cart, yer like a bunch of old women, bloody poofters!’

‘You, you Mathews, why couldn’t you keep up you fat fool!’

‘Do it right this time Noggy or else I’ll kick yer ass.’

And the abuse would continue. The hose was not curled correctly, the water was turned on too soon, the cart was not travelling straight, the ladder was in the wrong place. They could do nothing right, his eyes were filled with fire and his chin set in a defiant and no nonesense way. Appealing to his better side was usueless since he had none. When that part of the practise was over, they all headed inside and polished the brass until it shone and even then the abuse continued. Even as he gave each man a quick rub down with the linament that he mixed himself, the abuse did not abate. Nothing made him happy and no matter how hard they tried, they never succeeded in doing what he wanted. The fact that they frequently did win the highest honours at the local meetings must have been why they stayed since putting yourself through the pergatory of a twice a week session of abuse could not have been easy. His reputation as a man who could repair muscular and other phyical problems with his own forms of massage was wide and every day, people would arrive from all parts of the country to consult him and submit themselves to his special form of verbal abuse as he bent and twisted their bodies. Over the years many claimed to have been cured of quite sever illnesses by this strange man and as his reputation grew, so too did his abuse. When I asked my father about Tony Buzzard, all he would say was that he was alright and when I met his wife, I wondered at why this placid and peaceful woman had ever married this strange excitable and foul mouthed man.


Later that year when the fire bell began to ring in the middle of the night, I ran to the window to see if I could spot the fire. It was David Browns house, just around the corner burning fiercely, I got the chance to see all that training in action and at last begin to appreciate the results of the abuse, our local fire brigade, although poor in equipment and forced to use things that they had had and nursed along for years, were an extrordinary team capable of dealing with any fire with great efficiency. Although David Browns house was damaged beyond immediate occupation, the fire was quickly controlled and stopped from spreading to the houses on either side. Many in the town claimed that it was because of David Browns drinking that the fire occurred in the first place, he would have had a lighted cigarette and have dropped off to sleep induced by too much beer. In time the whole town knew that David Brown was drinking too much as his appearence became more and more dissipated and he was known to be incoherent after lunch each day. At the weekends, in the winter when the hotel was closed, the serious drinkers of the town all went to the golf club where it was legal to drink, the gold club closed in the summer and so the drinking was transferred to the bowling club.


The gas works smelled of fresh tar and burning coal, the whole place was covered in a thick layer of coal dust and grime from the smoke. A maze of massive pieces of ancient steel equipment installed in the centre of a huge shed over the top of a fire pit where the ashes dropped from the tons of coal shovelled in. You could walk completely around the huge burners, but the back section was a fearful dark hot place and after venturing there once, it was not a place to return to.  I had to be careful, if I got in the way, I would be told to ‘git lorst’. The men spent a great deal of the time shovelling in huge spade fulls of coal into the roaring fires and watching the gauges, occasionally they would spurt a bit of water into the flames if they got too hot.

‘Hoo’s the kid?’ asked one of the men who had stripped down to a pair of overalls and a black berret in the intense heat and was freely sweating.

‘Bully’s boy’ my father was  called Bully by many of my friends and specially those who had been to the war with him, like so many names given to people in those days it was in complete contrast to him as a person since he was the least likely person to bully anyone. I asked him often how he had got the name and the only answer I could get was that he didn’t know. Uncle Syd suggested that it was because he used to kill the cows in the slaughteryard, but that was the most he would say.

‘Don’t come too close’ the younger man in the overalls was concerned, he was new and had not seen me here before so did not know if I was aware of the dangers.

‘I won’t, can I watch you for a while?’

‘Longas yer stand back and keep outa the way’ my fathers friend knew I was safe and would not get in the way.

I watched for a bit as the two men kept up a steady flow of coal into the four doors, it  was best when they opened one of the doors and the blast of heated air filled the room and the darkened corners of the old shed with the coal black walls was lighted up like someone throwing a piece of burning wood down a dark well, then the light would fade and return to black as the light from the burning coal would dim with the addition of new coal. The ovens reminded me of some fiersome beast as they roared and belched. The four great ovens all lead up to one single chimney, all day and all night it spewed black smoke into the sky, you could see the smoke rising well before you ever saw the town. It was one of the ways I always knew that we were nearly home when the family had travelled away from the town, that and the water tower which rose up like some small medieval castle as you approached it from the hills to the south.


There were two gasometers, one bigger than the other, neither was as big as the one behind Auntie Mons, but then Port Fairy was a small town. The gasometers themselves floated on water as they rose and fell with the amount of gas inside them, painted industrial red above a black line which was the line to indicate the gassometre was reaching its lowest level they sat within there great frames and rumbled up and down. In the late afternoon, they were always full and very high, by the next morning they were very much lower as the towns demand for gas had been met.

‘Who put all the gas pipes around the town?’

‘Dunno, maybe them convicts’ my father’s friend answered.

‘D’you know who done it Kevie?’


‘Do the fires ever go out?’ It seemed that this was impossible since they were always there every single time I had visited and I rarely walked past the gas works without dropping in.

‘Only when we clean em out’

‘How often do you have to clean em?’

‘Once a year’

‘But how do people cook when there’s no gas?’

‘It’s only one day, they manage.’

‘Shire’ll let em know when.’ The shire was the thing that everyone depended on and yet was the first thing to be critricised.

‘How do you clean them out?’

‘Wait’ll ay cool and git inside, scrape out all the tar, bugger of a job.’

‘To bloody hot ay Kevie.’

‘Dunno, I ain’t never done it.’

‘Your turn’ll come! haw haw haw’

‘Better git now, Shire engineer’s due and he’ll toss yer out.’

They were right, once before I’d been caught on the premises by the shire engineer and he was less than pleased and had spoken to my father when he called in for his parcel of meat and I had got into trouble for being a nuisance.


If I came one way to the gas works, I like to go home the other way.


Winifred Wright taught piano, played the organ, taught at sunday school as well as running choir practice as the Church of England. Her house, built right up to the street with a few steps leading up to the front door and windows that overlooked the footpath, her house was worth dawdling past on the off chance you could listen to some person trying to play the piano and stubling through the scales and notes. A spinster, she kept a neat house and divided her interests between church and teaching piano. The daughters of a local farming family who had missed out on finding a husband,  she had turned her genteel talents to making a small living.

‘Hello Peter’

‘Hello Miss Wright’ I muttered

‘When are you coming to Sunday school?’

I had been an intermittent student at Sunday School and only when my mother remembered was I made to go.

‘I dunno’ I replied, hoping that she was not going to speak about this to my mother when she next saw her.

‘Well come along soon.’ Miss Wright called over her shoulder.

And she was off, peddling the bicycle for all she was worth.

I headed towards the Caledonian Hotel and home, just in time for lunch and well within time so that my mother would have no cause to to cross with me.


‘Tonight’s the first night of training for the debs.’ My mother said as we sat at the tea table.

‘Where are you doing it?’

‘In the drill hall!’

‘What time?’

‘Eight o’clock!’

‘Can I come Mum, please Mum, I won’t get in the way.’

I liked to watch my mother doing things, she had spoken about the debs before and this would be my chance to be in on the workings of the whole thing before the big night came. I looked accross the table and noticed that my mother had carefully curled her hair and was wearing a hair net.


Mum was the official trainer of the debs to be presented at the Shire ball every year, she trained them how to walk, how to make the debs bow and how to do the dance. She also advised them on proper dress and what was expected of them on that night. It was a social highlight of the year. I knew that if they were doing it in the drill hall, there would be a good chance that the picture theatre with the connecting door would be open and this would give me a chance to test the echo’s in the empty theatre and frighten myself with the sounds and the darkness.


‘Only if you’re good and you have to come home after an hour.’ My mother was happy that I wanted to come even though she thought that I would become quickly boored, she enjoyed the chance of showing me that she was not just a housewife, but had talents and abilities that were in demand. Balls were Mum’s big thing, not only was she in demand as a deb trainer, but in the supper room she was regarded as the best meat carver in the district and was asked on many occasions to lend her talents.


When the nervous debs came in and took off their coats, hats and gloves, they were able to see for the first time who the competition for the great event was going to be. Girls from the town and girls from the country, some who had never before met each other were going to be vying for the attention of the public on the big night. They were weighing figure against figure, bust against bust, hair do against hair do and assesing their chances. Having been at first made to attend, they now had become determined to make the most of it all. Their partners were not required for the first few lessons and just as well since some of the girls had not yet settled on nor secured partners, at least, not acceptable partners. All sorts of things could be read into a couple at the debs ball, it more or less signalled that they were going out together and if some of the local gossips had their way, much more. The choice of a man to accompany a deb was fraught with a great deal of emotion on the part of the girls, much of which owed it origens to the first blushes of girl friend and boy friend learned years before in school when love notes became the game in class rooms. If all else failed and an acceptable and pliable beau could not be secured then a member of the family would have to be chosen since too much was read into the twosome and many young elligible men were very hessitant to accept and often had to be forced into accepting by parents who had made arangments between themselves after having decided that their two children would look good together. Some parents reacted with indignity when their daughters announced their choice for a partner and it did not fit in with the notion of the type of young man who deserved the honour, this was specially true of country girls whose familes may strongly dissaprove of a boy from a farm which ran sheep, when they had a dairy herd. Religion too played an important role and crossing the divide between catholic and protestant was only done rarely and resulted in increased gossip when it occurred. At this early stage of the proceedings, there were yet a couple more weeks before final choices of partners had to be made and frantic negotiations were taking place and would continue to take place until the deadline in order to secure the most efficatious outcome. From the towns point of view this was both expected and anticipated and people felt entitled to draw conclusions based on choices made.


‘Come on girls, pay attention!’ My mother was beginning to get the girls into some order. Twenty girls began to settle down and face the task of getting it right before the big night, partners asside, their own performance would come under intense scrutiny and the smallest mistake, lack of attention to detail, even a hair out of place would be noted and form the basis of much discussion at the many afternoon tea parties and auxillory meetings that would take place shortly after the big night.

‘Now I want you to watch me carefully’

My mother began to demonstrate the walk down the hall, pretending to be arm in arm with her partner and then, when she had reached a couple of yards away from the imaginary Mayor and his good wife, she performed the debs curtsy, the highlight of the event and the one thing apart from the dance which drew the most criticism. This consisted of swinging the right leg up and out, then swinging it in a gentle curve behind the left leg and bending the left knee while inclining the head. It all looked so simple. Just why my mother felt it to be so important, I couldn’t understand, that only became clear when the girls all tried to emulate her simple and smooth curtsy, most found it impossibly hard and several even fell over.  My mother delivered a short speach, telling the girls that the debs ball is the equivalent of a local show where experts judge the texture of the sponge, the lightness of scones and the distribution of fruit in a fruit cake. The only difference was this was them being judged, but none the less severely. She was attempting to get the girls to take the whole matter seriously and to frighten them into getting it right. For many of the girls, this night would be the crowing glory of their lives, since later, when they married and began to raise families, the photgraph of them making their debut, would take pride of place along side the wedding photo’s as the two times in her life when she dressed in a long gown and looked beautiful. In her own way, my mother knew this and went to as much trouble as she could to make certain that this night would be one to remember.


‘You be the Mayor, sit up there and the girls will all curtsy to you.’

‘Ohh Mum.’ I was feeling embarrased.

‘Go on, or go home.’ my choices were now limited and I sat up in one of the two chairs placed for the mayor and my wife. The girls, all holding imaginary partners walked or in some cases, stumbled down the hall and in front of me, performed a variety of curtsy’s which, in many cases spoke a great deal about their upbringing. The country girls, shy and not used to any form of public airing, had spent more time rounding up the cows or riding horses, found the experience a daunting one, the town girls, more accustomed to public exposure and more sure of themselves soon picked up on the theatrics of the event and were beginning to enjoy themselves. What was clear was that none of them actually wanted to be there, but the persistent nagging of mothers determined to see their siblings ‘come out’ was the motivation, that and the fact that many would become the proud owner of their very first long frock and for a short time, become the centre of their familes attention.


The town had been abuzz for some weeks before hand as mother’s, egged on by those mothers who had succeeded in convincing daughters to participate worked hard on their own daughters. Age did not appear to be a relevant factor in deciding when a girl should be a deb, rather it was the time that it took a mother to convince her daughter as to the necessity of coming out. Mrs Miller had last year stood proudly watching her own two daughters, partnered by ‘acceptable’ young men, perform well in front of the town and country elite. This year, with her help many other mother’s had become convinced of the necessity of having their daughters do the same and the numbers had swelled. This was to be a bumper year. Nominations had to be in at the Shire Office some month or so before the event and the last minute rush spoke volumes about the effect of Mrs Miller’s gossip and persuasive powers along with the overall success of last years ball.


‘All right girls, that will be enough for tonight, could you all wear a long skirt next week, Miss Wright is coming along to play the piano for us.’ My mother was giving orders for the next weeks session.


It was over for that week and I had been allowed to stay for a whole two hours. I thought that it would be a bore when I discovered that the door adjoining the picture theatre was locked and my chance to test then echo’s and spend a little ‘fear time’ in the darkened theatre was thwarted, but had enjoyed watching the girls trying to get it right and succeeded in staying in my mothers good books. Next week dawned and I assumed that since I was so well behaved, would be allowed to attend once again. That was wrong, this week was ladies only since Mum intended to speak about the proper undergarments as well as dresses. Last year, she had succeeded in creating quite a spectacle, all the debs had warm the same dress but in varying shades of pale rainbow colours and the effect was applauded by all, This year she had to cap that and she did not require me to interrupt her train of thoughts. There was still eight or nine weeks training to come and the best part was watching the partners trying to master the steps of the walz as Miss Wright pounded it out on the piano and the dust was raised in the old hall. I hoped that I would be allowed to attend that night and watch the fun as the now partnered debs began to awkwardly practice the old fashioned dance steps which would take them from wall flower to blooming rose.

Cook Books and more

•September 23, 2019 • Leave a Comment

A relative did a massive cleanse and clearance of years of accumulated … well crap. Much of it was showered on my household and then took a trip to its final resting place.


However, from the cascade of years of detritions, a few things were interesting. Said relative was a huge fan of catalogue and online buying of a wide cross section. This ended in an accumulation of amazing gadgets. The vast majority of gadgets found their way elsewhere. The cook books, landed with me.


The library of cook books I have now is substantial and tell a tale of radical change in the food we cook and eat. Up until the sixties and seventies, the kitchen and what came out of it was fairly stable, we did see the influence of France and Italy on the food we ate. With the advent of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school by Hume and Downes in 1975, with the impact of foodies like Julia Child and Elizabeth David who encouraged us to spread our wings.


And spread we did, vast doors swung open. In 1975, the National Trust ( a group who included many wealthy influential people who had an interest in the finer things of life ) produced and published a work called Cork Fork and Ladle (written in ornate cursive script to indicate its adherence to tradition). The book took me on an immediate journey.


1975 saw me involved in a world of design and food. I was an up and coming Interior Designer, pawing his way up the social ladder since it was the key to success. Jennifer and I attended way more openings, social events and dinners, cooked more Fillets de Boeuf than a decent son of a butcher had a right to. Urged on by Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1 and 2, were soon producing Pates as fine as any that ever graced Haute Cuisine (except I never ever pushed the pate through a fine sieve, I thought that was overkill) , delved into the world of Terrines. Drew a line at poncing up vegetables in small round unnatural things, but adored the many things that could be done with chocolate. On one spectacular occasion, was greeted by a hostess who had produced no less than three of the great chocolate dishes, roulade, mouse and chocolate pate. It was a tour de force chocolate feast.


Another of the books, not part of the shower, but bought by me at a junk sale was called ‘Cooking with a French Touch’. Published in London in 1952 by two Swiss/French authors. The introduction itself is a wonder of good advice that today, would be roundly ignored.  The 1950’s was a hot bed of cook books, Elizabeth David published her first five books, Julia Childs first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in the USA in 1961. James Beard, famous American cook and writer published his first book in 1940, the influence of which was small and limited to the USA. Margaret Fulton, the undoubted queen of cooking in Australia and major influencer in every Australian kitchen, published her first cook book in 1968, followed by a flood of others.


It seems to me that there is great danger in change, the loss of men and women who can cook, the loss of people who want to cook, the confusion of cooks who find themselves overwhelmed by recipes and choices. The influence of ‘influencers’ whose job is to direct people in the direction of their employer. The influence of media who quickly saw food and cooking as a great money making opportunity and promoted modestly talented chefs to great heights because of their ability as TV stars. Their actual contribution to the cooking of food was questionable. In one case the celebrity Chef, rarely appeared sober and consumed vast quantities of wine as he cooked. Perhaps it can be said that he assisted the wine makers more than the cooks.


Hospital Auxiliaries were guilty of producing an endless flow of cook books, as was the Country Women’s Association of Australia, I was an avid collector of all, they were a window into a world that I much admired, cooks who were the backbone of Australia, who could run up a sponge cake or a batch of scones in a jiffy. Cooks who knew how hot their wood stoves were, who every day produced 3 meals for their families and often for others during intense work times in the country, who could also keep cake tins filled and biscuit boxes topped with sweet and savoury. My absolute all time fave from the CWA and Hospital Auxiliary world was ginger fluff sponge filled with mock cream. That said, I was also exceptionally fond of the banqueting stuff, the times when the towns come together to celebrate. My mother was always in charge of getting the debutantes up to scratch for the local Deb Ball. The supper room was a sight to behold.


I am told I am getting close to my use by…  I am channelling my Grandfather, he worked until he was 85+ and when he stopped, moaned about the inactivity of it all.

I have not changed, the bloody world has changed, become way way less careful in its choices, is it organic?? More importantly was it made with care, love, knowledge and understanding. Organic is absolutely no criteria, so slack, so little faith so little regulation, anyone can claim organic. There is no one to stop you. It’s like free range eggs, now if ever there was an area of dishonesty, this takes the cake. Even organic free range poultry is massively suspect. Organic, free range – indeed.


It has taken years and years to gather the experience, knowledge and understanding of what I do, it has taken about five minutes for modern technology to develop, even less time for people to live their lives on social media. And that will all change soon as the next new thing rolls along. As I said to someone today, I liked the times of writing a good letter, if it was urgent, send a Telegram or make a call. I am far from convinced that immediacy has improved our lives. Not at all sure that being able to watch a life being snuffed out by ISIS executioners on my IPhone is ripper. I don’t get it, why do we need to see the war and horror as it happens?


We have lost so much, time mostly, simple elegant time. No one has the ability anymore to do nothing, just be in the moment. Everyone has to be fulfilled, jumping about from place to place, making deals, stitching up this or that, money money. What happened to the striving and obtaining of the 40 hour week? Where’s that gone. Is it really necessary to work 60 + hours a week just to pay a mortgage.


When was the last time you sat with family, enjoyed food, batted the air, laughed and cried. God I miss that, I miss my family rocking up for Sunday nights food, I miss getting to know my grandchildren around a great table, sharing love and laughter.


No one can go back, there are lots of times when I would love to be able to live a more genteel life, kick back. But you can’t. Preserving the whole past doesn’t allow for a future. Keeping the best bits seems the way. The UK has a better handle on this, they all love the past, the rituals, the foods, the country side, more mellow. I’m dead sure that London beats with a vibrant thrum, social media ruling. Yet in amongst all this there remains a great love of bespoke things. Food, clothing, lifestyle items, all made with great care and love and a tender vibrant acknowledgement of the past, the routes.


True to, that this way of living is not something that everyone can afford. But I don’t make product for the masses, I like to tip my hat to them and deeply acknowledge their right to a place in the now, they don’t understand me! Never have. I remain as enigmatic to them as they to me with their love of fast foods and beer. I don’t get it. I don’t frankly expect them to get me. We just have to co-exist.


But you know what, I am not going to bend to social media, I will use it any way I can to further the causes I care about. I will post the written word on Instagram, I will get katty and bitchy with politicians and anyone else I perceive to be mucking with a world I have grown to cherish. I will continue to make food and products that are the best, I will occasionally be drawn into new worlds as portrayed by people like Ottolenghi. But I will hold on tightly to the ways and means of people like Julia Child and battalions of foodies who have gone before, leaving legacies of great food, simply cooked and steeped richly in tradition.


A question, is it possible that someone today will create and leave a legacy of food dishes like Beef Burgundy, fabulous Pasta dishes, for that matter a family roast dinner. Or is it all done. Sorry I cannot think of a dish that has been created by todays doyens of food that is passing/has passed into greatness and will be cooked by generations to come. Take a look at what is lost, what has simply vanished, sponge cakes, fruit puddings, suet puddings (most people have no idea what suet is) home baking in a simple, everyday feed the family sort of way. We are losing beef and lamb stews that are the backbone of early country cooking in Australia.


It is important to grow, to explore and enjoy, it is important to know the foods of other countries, knowledge matters. But knowing is not synonymous with throwing out the old, what was wrong and awful with the old is for the bin, but not what was simple and good. Complexity is fine, diversity of food also fine, but we are not all chefs with kitchens equipped with every known device, mostly we need to cook foods that will feed, enjoyably, our families and friends.


We all use the vast array of electronic devices to explore, many think that television cooking shows are sufficient and induce a warm glow of satisfaction. Social media now is useless in trying to impart knowledge, more than three words, a challenging image and all is lost. Devices rule and how a whole generation is heading towards becoming blind because the writing on a mobile phone is about 3 point and in my case, unreadable.


I am reliably informed that ‘Instagram’ is widely loved, widely accepted and the way of now. This has to be garbage, this is simply a device for vicariously looking into a few lives, gathering followers and not having to leave the safety of a secure environment. If living is heading this way, we are in deep doodoos.


It’s imperative that we continuously look at the way we live, how we communicate, how we eat, what we eat, preservation of the planet. It’s not right to look with envy at the life styles of the wealthy, it’s not alright for governments of all persuasions to need more and more money to keep them in ineffective office. I am seriously considering a move to Denmark or Sweden, they seem to have it about right.


Thank YOU Basque Country

•August 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Thank you Basque Country… great food.


Trying to find food that is interesting, tasty, simple and fulfilling can be a challenge in this world of fake over chemically treated, non sustainable and very changeable food and eating. The simple concept of eating what is sustainably raised, with love and care, of not always having to follow the intricate peripatetic moves of celebrity chefs, chefs who think too highly of themselves and cooks who have lost the art of simple eating, is not simple. We are in the thrall of determined profiteers who will do what ever it takes to make money. Food is not about money, not about financial bottom lines, it’s about feeding our rapidly growing world population.


I am reminded that much has changed since the days when my Grandfather would select cows, sheep and pigs that has been well raised, had eaten good food, lived lives that did not make them suffer. They would be transported to Port Fairy where they would be allowed a month or two of rest on the family farm and then my Father would dispatch them for the family butcher shop. I can say, since I spent many many days with my Father when he was slaughtering the animals, that none suffered. Naturally they did not go to their death with joy, but they did not unduly suffer. The quality of the meat spoke for itself.


Confusion is something that we seem to have to live and deal with daily. There is little in life that can be said to be simple and easy. In the past a retreat to a quieter life in some rural idyll seemed to work, now even that has changed and we are forced by a never ending set of rules and regulations, climate change and a million other things, to be ever vigilant. The desperate brawling of supermarkets struggling for your money is such that strip shops, local corner shops, local butcher shops are in rapid decline. Farmers markets, once the hope of artisanal producers, now often given over to endless home jars of bad jam and chutney. Local genuine growers of great product, makers of butter and cheese are so overwhelmed by rules and regulations, health and safety rules, that they give up. Growers of meats that can be transformed into wonderful charcuterie are so burdened by rules and regulations they don’t even try.


One of the sadness’s of my growing up was that my family, great butchers, did not engage in anything but sausages, corned beef, pickled pork and dripping. The sausages were always and only beef sausages, made in the English style with finely minced meat and as I remember, a handful of ‘sausage spice’ that was kept in a large tin. The dripping was made in a large 44 gallon drum that resided in the back yard over a smouldering wood fire, filled with all the fat scraps from the shops and allowed to melt over a few days. This bit I loved, the bits of meat that were left were crisp and crackly and delicious. Although they raised pigs, and Dad and his brothers slaughtered them, it never occurred to them to consider ham or bacon or other smallgoods. I think in the early days before my birth, it was done, I recall seeing a large cement tub that had a huge wooden lid that was used for salt curing. Its fair to say that Australian butchers followed the British traditions and only when European migration started, did changes happen.


This is not about meat, but about a dish that is somewhere between a soup and stew, a dish that embodies the world of real food, treated with simple respect and completely delicious. The cost of seafood, long with many other meats is on the rise, suggestions are afloat that people will not be able to afford meat or seafood in the near future it will disappear from our tables. Perhaps to be replaced by plant based meats now rapidly developing in the USA. However, this dish calls for Tuna and that is not abundantly cheap in Australia, so could be replaced by any cheaper firm fleshed fish. For Vegetarians, the fish could be replaced by tofu, large white beans (precooked) chickpeas (also precooked) or vegetable such as pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant or even green beans.


I think the point I am making above, is that we eaters must reclaim the day, we must not allow our own fears on health overwhelm us, we must not let government at any level continue to bind us with endless rules and regulations … I am reminded that a good butcher in Central Victoria, a man who cares about meat, to the extent that he has his own small farm (just like my father) where he fattens the animals to his needs on natural grass, has had an enormous struggle with local authorities to do this. Having your own slaughter yard or small shed, is not any longer allowed. My feelings are that we have become so over cautious about cleanliness and the likes, that international food catastrophes sweep the globe with such ease (swine fever) that much of the cause of this can be sheeted to countries who under regulate, we need to claw back local production to just that, to separate from ambitious exporters who will do anything for money and leave them to their fate. Look what has happened and is continuing to happen in the dairy industry because of over ambitious central companies. We need to not fall victim to supermarket chains who will, with no hesitation do what ever it takes to improve the bottom line. We need to encourage and support small operators who offer us good food, good service and a future. We need to support the John the Butcher, Mick the Butcher and the local green grocer, corner store and mini mart. We need to not allow our consumption of food to be driven by time constraints, celebrity chefs or lack of knowledge or any one type of consumer, don’t allow yourself to be railroaded by Vegans or any other ism, they have a right to eat what they wish, so do you. Nothing is gone, no recipe forgotten, just slightly hazy. We can reclaim the day.



500 gram of Tuna fillet or similar cut into 2 cm dice

125 mil EVO

2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped

1 medium red onion peeled and chopped

½ red bell pepper (I use the peeler to remove the outer skin) chopped into 1 cm squares

2 large potatoes peeled and sliced into ½ cm slices

2 large tomatoes chopped (or one can of chopped tomato if the fresh are not up to scratch)

½ tspn fresh thyme leaves

½ tspn smoked paprika

1 tspn capers

1 bay leaf

½ cup of white wine

1 ½ cups of fish or chicken stock.

Place a good terracotta or steel pan on heat, add the onion, garlic allow to cook till onion turns translucent, add the tomato and potato, the herbs, the wine and stock and allow to cook until the potatoes are 95% cooked through and the liquid reduced by 1/3 rd, add the fish and turn heat down to cook the fish through. To serve, drizzle some oil on top and scatter with freshly chopped parsley. Have a good supply of crusty bread on hand.






Love those Lentils and Dahl

•July 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Black Lentils with Caramelized Onions

Boil in a large pot of water until cooked to your preference

2 cups black lentils

Meanwhile, saute over low heat until soft and golden brown:

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cups thinly sliced onions

When the lentils are cooked, drain them and return them to the pot. Stir in, along with the cooked onions:

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

Serve with Nahn bread and a dollop of yoghurt.

Kaali Daal (black lentils) – Daal Makkhani


  • 1 cup split urad daal (black lentils)
  • 2 large onions sliced thin
  • 2 green chillies slit
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinchof asafetida
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped into cubes
  • 2″ piece of ginger jullienned
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 2 tsps coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 cup thickened/ double/ heavy cream, whisked
  • 2 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
  • 2 tbsps ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Boil the lentils with 3 cups of water, 1 sliced onion, green chillies, asafetida and salt to taste till they are very tender.
  • In a separate pan, heat the oil and fry the other onion till soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin and red chilli powders and fry for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the boiled lentils and enough water to make a thick gravy-like consistency and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in the whisked cream and mix well. Turn off the fire. In another small pan, heat the ghee2 and when hot add the cumin seeds and cook till they stop spluttering.

Pour this into the lentils (it will all sizzle) and mix well.


Mt Byron Black Lentil and Speck Crostini

1 small red onion, diced finely

50 grams speck, cut into lardons

½ cup black lentils, rinsed

chicken stock (or vegetable)

sea salt and finely ground white pepper

toasted slices of baguette, for crostini

Sauté the speck until golden before adding the onion, reduce the heat and cook slowly until the onion has softened. Add the lentils, stir to mix through before adding enough stock to just cover the mixture. Simmer until the lentils have softened – you’ll find that you’ll need to top up the stock a couple times. Taste and season with sea salt and white pepper if desired.

Generously top the crostini with lentil mixture. These are best served hot or warm.


Salad of Lentilles du Puy
About 6 servings


Lentil Salad

1¼ cup (250 gr) French green lentilles du Puy
1 bay leaf
a few springs of fresh thyme
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 bulb of fennel (optional), finely diced
freshly-ground pepper

For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, peeled and minced

Transfer the lentils to a large saucepan then cover with a copious amount of water, which should cover the lentils by at least 3-4 inches. Add the bay leaf and thyme.Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add a bit of salt, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender, adding more water if necessary. Be sure not to overcook them.While the lentils are cooking, heat a few spoonfuls of olive oil in a skillet and add the carrots, onions, and fennel (if using). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently until tender. Set aside.In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.When the lentils are done, drain them well, then toss them in the vinaigrette with the cooked vegetables. Stir a few times to release the steam. Taste, and season with more salt, pepper, and olive oil if desired. Remove bay leave and thyme sprigs.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooked lentils will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. They can be reheated in a pan on the stovetop or in a microwave.

Some other ideas:Dress the lentils with less vinaigrette and omit the mustard. When the lentils are cool, dress them right before serving with a very, very good-quality walnut or hazelnut oil and a handful of toasted nuts.Once cool, add a big handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley and more fresh thyme or savory.Add other root vegetables, like celery root or parsnips. Oven roast cubes of them in olive oil with salt and pepper until browned, then add them with the vinaigrette. Add morsels of cooked, smoky bacon.Stir a spoonful of duck fat into the warm lentils.

Crumble coarse chunks of fresh goat cheese into the room temperature lightly-dressed lentils. This is particularly good drizzled with walnut or hazelnut oil.


Spicy Lentil Soup

Serves 4

1 eggplant, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large carrots, diced
1 celery stick, diced
400g can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup Australian French green lentils
4 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper 
Natural yoghurt to serve

  • Place eggplant cubes in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20 minutes. Rinse well and dry using paper towel.
  • Saute onion in oil until golden. Add eggplant and stir until softened.
  • Add spices and stir for a minute. Add the carrot and celery and stir for 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir through coriander then serve with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of pepper.

French lentil & lamb salad

1 1/4 cups (250g) French green lentils
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped freshly ground salt and black pepper 
Lamb fillet, grilled and sliced

  • Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and stand for about 5 minutes or until lentils are just chewable or “al dente”. Drain and rinse under cold running water.
  • Saute onion, garlic, carrot and capsicum. Stir this into the lentils along with parsley, oil, vinegar then arrange lamb slices on top and season.
  • Serve as either a warm or cold salad.

Spicy lentil salad

Serves 6-8
1 1/4 cups (250g) Australian French green lentils 
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 fresh chilli, seeded and finely chopped 
1 red capsicum, seeded and finely chopped grated rind and juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbs fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbs sesame oil 
2 tbs toasted sesame seedsPpinch salt

  • Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and stand for about 5 minutes or until lentils are just chewable (do not overcook otherwise you will not get a nice crisp salad). Drain and rinse under cold running water.
  • Add remaining ingredients and combine. Cool and serve.


Beef fillet with french lentils & red wine sauce

A great easy meal to impress family and friends

Serves 4

Beef fillet, cut into steaks 
Mashed potato (for 4)

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 mushrooms, chopped finely 
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup (100 g) Australian French Green lentils 
1/3 cup red wine
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley

Red wine sauce
2/3 cup red wine
2 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs soft brown sugar

  • Lentils: Heat oil in pan and cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic and mushroom and stir for 1 min. Stir in the lentils, wine and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until reduced. If the mixture is too wet, remove the lid and boil until slightly thick. Stir in the parsley and keep warm.
  • Red wine sauce: Heat red wine in a pan, then add combined tomato paste, stock and sugar and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 mins, or until reduced and thickened.
  • Make mashed potato and grill steaks.
  • Serve steak on top of mashed potato, spoon lentil mixture on top of the steak then drizzle with red wine sauce.

Chicken breast on a bed of french lentils

Serves 4

Olive oil
4 chicken breasts, skin on
1/2 cup AUSTRALIAN french green lentils
1 red capsicum, roasted, de–seeded and sliced into thin strips
2 kipfler potatoes, steamed and cut into cm thick slices
2 cups spinach leaves, washed
Chicken stock
3 tbs verde sauce (recipe below)

  • Heat pan with a little olive oil and place seasoned chicken breast skin side down. When golden, place in a preheated oven at 180°C skin side up. Cook until just pink in the centre and rest in a warm place.
  • Meanwhile heat pan with a little olive oil, add spinach, lentils, kipfler potato slices and capsicum and toss until spinach has wilted. Season well with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Add a little chicken stock and verde sauce and allow to reduce.
  • Serve lentil mixture on plates with chicken breast on top.

Verde sauce 
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 cup flatleaf parsley
1 tbs olive oil 
1 garlic clove
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 anchovy fillet, drained and rinsed
salt & pepper

Blend all ingredients, except olive oil to form a paste. Add olive oil gradually to form a thick emulsion.


Lamb shanks with french green lentils

1/3 cup olive oil
4 french trimmed lamb shanks
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed 
1 red capsicum, sliced 
400g can crushed tomatoes 
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cups french green lentils
Mashed potato to serve
2 spring onions, sliced 
1 tsp ground coriander 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat half the oil in a frypan and brown shanks each side. Remove from pan into casserole dish. Add onion, garlic and capsicum to pan and saute until golden. Stir in the tomato, wine, bay leaf and cinnamon stick then pour over lamb shanks. Cook for 1 hour, then uncover and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the shanks are tender and the meat is just falling off the bone. Keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, place the lentils in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
  • Make mashed potato.
  • Heat remaining oil in frypan, add spring onion, spices and cook over medium heat for 3 mins. Stir in the lentils and parsley and cook until warmed through.
  • To serve, spoon lentil mixture over a mound of mashed potato on each plate. Stand the shanks upright on top and drizzle with cooking liquid and vegetables from casserole dish.


Persian red lentil tabouli

130g burghul
1 1/4 cups (250g) Australian Persian Red lentils 
1 cup coriander, finely chopped
1/ 2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 large Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped 
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp chili powder
Freshly ground salt and black pepper

  • Cover burghul with cold water and leave for 30 minutes. Drain through a fine sieve and spread to dry on paper towel.
  • Add lentils to boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and cool.
  • Combine soaked burghul, lentils, coriander, parsley, onion and tomato.
  • Whisk oil, lemon juice, chili powder, salt and pepper together then mix through the tabouli salad.

Refrigerate then serve.


Rocket & Green lentil soup

Serves 6

2 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1 /2 cups Australian Green lentils 
6 cups vegetable stock 
12 rocket leaves
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup natural yoghurt

  • Saute onion, leeks and garlic in oil and stir until onions are golden.
  • Stir in lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add rocket and lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Puree then return soup to saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer over a medium heat for a few minutes until soup is hot.
  • Stir in yoghurt and serve.

Moroccan style lentil soup

Serves 4

2 tbs olive oil 
1 onion, diced 
1 leek, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup AUSTRALIAN Green lentils
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbs fresh coriander, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Natural yoghurt to serve

  • Saute onion, leek, garlic and carrot in oil until onion is golden. Add turmeric and lentils and stir for a minute.
  • Add stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 mins.
  • Stir through coriander then serve with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of pepper.

Lentil Nicoise salad

2 cups Australian Green lentils
3 sticks celery, diced
1 capsicum, sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered 
425g can tuna in oil, drained

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white vinegar 
1 tbs lemon juice
Ground black pepper

  • Add lentils to boiling water then simmer for 20 mins, drain.
  • Add celery, capsicum, eggs and tuna to lentils.
  • Pour on dressing and mix well.
  • Chill then serve.

Green lentil & prawn chilli balls

1/2 cup Australian green lentils 
2 tbs onion, finely chopped 
2 green chillis, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbs fresh coriander, finely chopped
12 shelled green prawns
Canola oil for frying

  • Add lentils to boiling water, simmer for 20 minutes then drain.
  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend.
  • Shape mixture into balls.
  • Deep fry in hot oil until crisp.

Lentil “sausage” rolls

1 cup Australian green lentils
1 leek, white part only, sliced finely 
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 egg
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped 
Puff pastry sheets
1 beaten egg

  • Cook lentils in plenty of boiling water for 20 minutes then drain. Roughly puree in food processor.
  • Saute leek until golden then add garlic and ginger and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add curry powder and stir through.
  • Combine lentils, leek mixture, egg, breadcrumbs and coriander in a large bowl.
  • Cut pastry sheets into small squares and brush edge with beaten egg.
  • Put a little of the lentil mixture in the center and fold the pastry over. Seal and trim the edge.
  • Brush top with beaten egg and bake on a greased tray for 20 minutes at 230°C.

Leek & lentil pasta

Serves 4-6

2 cups (400g) Australian green lentils
1 tbs oil
2 leeks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
25 g butter
2 tbs flour
3 cups chicken stock
4 tbs vinegar 
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs Dijon mustard
3 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
100g green beans, blanched
150g pitted prunes, sliced
2 cups pasta (spiral or penne), cooked

Bring lentils to the boil in plenty of water. Cook for 15-20 mins until just soft then drain. Saute leeks, onion and carrot in oil until soft. Put aside. Melt butter, add flour and stir until golden. Add stock, vinegar, sugar, mustard, rosemary and bay leaves. Stir and cook gently for 15 mins. Add leek mixture, lentils, beans and prunes and cook gently for 10 mins. Serve over hot pasta.


Lentil & vegetable curry

1 tbs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbs curry powder
2 tbs coconut milk powder 
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup AUSTRALIAN green lentils
1 medium carrot, chopped 
500g cauliflower, chopped 
400g green beans
2 tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped
Low-fat yoghurt and ground cumin to serve

  • Saute onion and curry powder in oil until onion is soft.
  • Add blended coconut milk powder and water, then add stock and lentils. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add carrot and cauliflower and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in beans and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir basil through. Serve and top with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of cumin.


Lentil burgers

1 cup Australian green lentils
1 leek, white part only, sliced finely 
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 egg
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

  • Cook lentils in plenty of boiling water for 20 minutes then drain. Roughly puree in food processor.
  • Saute leek until golden then add garlic and ginger and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add curry powder and stir through.
  • Combine lentils, leek mixture, egg, breadcrumbs and coriander in a large bowl.
  • Form individual burgers from mixture and fry in pan or on BBQ.

Mexican lentil wraps

Serves 6

1/2 cup Australian Red lentils
2 cups rice
1 onion, diced
250g minced beef
450g tin refried beans
420g tin Mexican chilli beans
400g tin crushed tomatoes
350g jar salsa (either mild, medium or hot according to taste)
12 tortillas 
cheese, grated
tomato, diced
lettuce, shredded

  • Add lentils to boiling water add cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
  • Cook rice.
  • Brown onion in a little oil, then add minced beef and brown on medium heat.
  • Turn heat down and stir through lentils, beans, tomatoes and salsa until heated through.
  • Mix rice through.
  • Spoon onto warm tortillas, topped with grated cheese, diced tomato and lettuce then wrap.

Lentil chocolate cake with berry coulis

Lentils give our famous cake a wonderful moist texture
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 tbs vanilla essence
4 eggs
2 cups Green lentils, pureed (1 cup Green lentils boiled for 20 mins in boiling water, drained, pureed then let cool)
2 cups plain flour
1 /3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
Berry, Coulis
250g strawberries or berries of choice 
1/2 cup caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Icing sugar and cream to serve

  • Blend oil, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs and lentil puree, mix well.
  • Add sifted flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix until well combined.
  • Put mixture into a well greased 23cm round cake tin and bake in 180°C oven for 20 — 25 minutes.
  • Puree berries then heat and blend berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan until sugar dissolved.
  • Serve wedge of cake dusted with sieved icing sugar, with a drizzle of coulis and dollop of cream.

Tip: This cake freezes really well.


Lentil & pecan nut cheesecake

Serves 12

1 1/4 cups plain flour 
1/2 tsp salt
90g butter or margarine
2 tbs caster sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tbs iced water

1/2 cup (100g) Australian green lentils 
500g cream cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each nutmeg and allspice 
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pecans, roasted and chopped
250g low-fat cream cheese
2 tbs icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp orange liqueur 
1/2 tsp grated orange rind

  • Pastry: Mix flour and salt then rub butter or margarine through flour between fingers until mixture is like coarse meal. In another bowl, combine egg yolk and iced water. Add to flour mixture; stir briefly to get an even dough. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Roll out dough and press into pie dish.
  • Place lentils in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and puree.
  • Beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth.
  • Add eggs one at a time; beat until just blended then add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into pastry–lined dish.
  • Bake for 45 minutes in oven at 180°C, until centre is just set.
  • Beat all icing ingredients together then set aside.
  • Remove cake from oven and run a knife around the edge to loosen from dish. Cool to room temperature and cover with icing mixture.

Lentil carrot cake

2 eggs
1 cup castor sugar 
3/4 cup peanut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup Marsala
1/2 cup grated carrot
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup Australian Red lentils
Icing sugar, sifted

  • Add lentils to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, drain then puree.
  • Beat eggs, sugar and oil then add vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix through.
  • Stir in flour a bit at a time and combine well.
  • Stir through marsala, carrot, walnuts and lentil puree.
  • Put mixture in greased 23cm cake tin and bake for 40-45 mins at 180°C.

Immediately dust with icing sugar and serve.


Roasted carrot & red lentil dip

A simple, delicious and healthy dip for any occasion

500g carrots, trimmed and halved end-to-end
Olive oil
1/2 cup Australian Red lentils
1/2 small chilli, seeds removed
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbs low fat natural yoghurt
1 tbs fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Extra coriander leaves to garnish
Pita bread

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Brush carrots in oil then bake for 20mins or until soft.
  • Add lentils to boiling water and simmer for 5 mins. Drain.
  • Return lentils to saucepan then add chilli, paprika, coriander and garlic.  Stir and cook for 2 mins.
  • Blend carrots in food processor then stir carrot, yoghurt and coriander into lentil mixture.
  • Serve dip garnished with coriander leaves beside wedges of warm pita bread.

Indian style red lentil dip

1/2 cup Australian Red lentils, rinsed and drained 
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbs oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tbs chilli paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tomato, chopped
2 tbs instant coconut milk powder

  • Bring lentils, stock and turmeric to the boil then simmer, covered, for 10 mins. Stir occasionally.
  • Fry onion in oil until soft then add garlic, chilli, cumin and coriander. Stir for 2-3 mins.
  • Stir the onion and spices into the lentil mixture then add tomato. Stir in the coconut milk powder for 1-2 mins.

Serve with wedges of Pita bread

Spiced chicken & lentil soup

2 tsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper 
2 tsp cumin
4 chicken thighs on the bone
1 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils
800g tin of crushed tomatoes 
4 cups chicken stock 
4 cups water

  • Saute onion, garlic, carrot and celery in oil until softened.
  • Stir through peppers and cumin then add chicken thighs and brown.
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, chicken stock and water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes until chicken cooked.
  • Remove chicken from soup and place on a clean board. Cut pieces of meat from the bone and add it to the soup. Simmer for a few minutes then serve.

Turkish style lentil soup

Serves 6

1 small onion, diced
1 tbs oil
1/4 cup minced meat
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 cup Australian Red lentils 
4 cups water
1 tomato, diced
1 carrot, diced
125g fresh green beans, diced
1 handful parsley, chopped

  • Saute onions in oil until golden then add minced meat and brown.
  • Add tomato paste, lentils and water and boil for 5 mins.
  • Add vegetables and simmer for 10 mins.
  • Stir through parsley and serve.

Chickpea & Lentil soup

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups AUSTRALIAN  chickpeas
2 tbs oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 cup Australian Red lentils
400g tomato puree
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp ground coriander
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

  • Soak chickpeas overnight and drain or boil chickpeas in plenty of water for 30 minutes and drain.
  • Saute onions in oil until golden. Add garlic, ginger and cumin and saute for a few minutes. Add chickpeas and lentils. Saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato puree and stock. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add ground coriander and half fresh coriander. Puree. Stir in lemon juice. Return to stove and heat.
  • Serve garnished with remaining coriander.

Red lentil & coriander salad

2 tbs oil
1 red onion, halved, sliced 
1 garlic clove. crushed
1 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup sultanas
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped 
Freshly ground black pepper

  • Saute onion and garlic in oil until golden.
  • Add lentils, cumin and coriander and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and stir until it evaporates.
  • Add stock, half at a time, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Stir in sultanas then remove from heat and stand, covered, for a few minutes.
  • Add coriander and pepper and mix through. Serve warm.

Red lentil patties with yoghurt mint sauce

1/2 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils 
1/2 stick celery, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 cups water
1 /2 tsp ground coriander 
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground oregano
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley 
1 cup stale breadcrumbs
2 tbs plain flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup packaged breadcrumbs 
1 tbs canola oil
Yoghurt Mint Sauce
1/4 cup low-fat plain yoghurt 2 tsp chopped fresh mint 
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp lemon juice

  • Add lentils, celery, carrot, water, coriander, cumin and oregano in pan, bring to boil, simmer covered, for about 20 minutes or until mixture is thickened; cool.
  • Stir in parsley and stale breadcrumbs.
  • Shape mixture into patties, toss in flour, dip in egg white, then coat with the packaged breadcrumbs.
  • Heat oil in non-stick pan, add patties, cook until well browned on both sides; drain on absorbent paper.
  • Make yoghurt mint sauce: combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Serve with patties.

Patties suitable to freeze.
Recipe can be made a day ahead.
Not suitable to microwave.


Lentil Wontons

15g dried mushrooms
1/4 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils 
100g spinach, finely chopped 
60g cabbage, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbs dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
40 prepared wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten with 3 tbs water vegetable oil for deep frying

  • Place mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water, soak for 20 minutes. Drain then finely chop.
  • Add lentils to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, drain.
  • Combine mushrooms, lentils, spinach, cabbage, spring onions, ginger, sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil.
  • Place a teaspoon of lentil mixture on each wonton wrapper. Brush edges with egg mixture and gather up wrapper, pressing edges firmly together.
  • Heat oil in a deep saucepan and cook wontons for 5 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Lentil & vegetable rosti

1 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils 
1 large potato, grated
2 medium carrots, grated
2 medium zucchinis, grated 
2 medium apples, grated 
1 cup cheese, grated
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup plain flour 
Oil for frying

  • Add lentils to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, drain.
  • Combine lentils, potato, carrot, zucchini, cheese, onion and garlic then mix flour well through so mixture sticks together.
  • Take a tablespoon of mixture and form into a ball then flatten.
  • Heat oil in pan and fry each rosti on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Serve hot

Roasted tomato & eggplant on red lentil mash

Serves 6

To roast
6 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthways 
1 eggplant, cut into 6 thick slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
freshly ground salt and black pepper
Red lentil Mash
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock 
1 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils
1 tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
To serve
Rocket leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C. Line a large baking tray with foil and grease with oil.
  • Combine dressing ingredients and stir.
  • Place the tomatoes, cut side-up, and eggplant on a baking tray and brush with 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Bake for 40 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and keep warm. Return the tomatoes to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. Transfer to plate to keep warm.
  • Bring stock to the boil then add the lentils and paprika. Return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the dressing and continue stirring for 5 minutes, or until the lentils break up and form a thick mash.
  • To serve, divide the red lentil mash between each plate. Top with rocket leaves, then the eggplant and tomato. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve as an entree or lunch.



Red lentil curry

Serves 4

1 1/4 cups (250g) AUSTRALIAN Red lentils
2 cups vegetable stock 
1/2 tsp ground turmeric 
2 tbs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs chilli paste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander 
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup instant coconut milk powder
Naan bread or rice to serve

  • Bring lentils, stock and turmeric to the boil then simmer, covered, for 10 mins. Stir occasionally.
  • Fry onion in oil until soft then add garlic, chilli, cumin and coriander. Stir for 2-3 mins.
  • Stir the onion and spices into the lentil mixture then add tomato. Stir in the coconut milk for 1-2 mins.
  • Serve with naan bread or rice.

Lentil spaghetti bolognese

Serves 6

500g minced beef
2 large onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup hot water
3/4 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs mixed dried herbs
2 bay leaves
250g tomato paste
2 tbs red wine
500g spaghetti, cooked 
Grated parmesan cheese

  • Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft.
  • Add minced beef and brown.
  • Add hot water, lentils, pepper, herbs and bay leaves. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and red wine and stir through. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve on top of hot spaghetti pasta and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese


Chickpea Recipes


1 cup AUSTRALIAN chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Add chickpeas to plenty of boiling water and simmer for 30 mins then drain and cool.
  • Blend chickpeas, garlic, oil, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper in a food processor.
  • Chill and serve with chunks of warm Turkish bread.

Chickpea & Lentil soup

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups AUSTRALIAN chickpeas
2 tbs oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 cup AUSTRALIAN Red lentils
400g tomato puree
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp ground coriander
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

  • Soak chickpeas overnight and drain or boil chickpeas in plenty of water for 30 minutes and drain.
  • Saute onions in oil until golden. Add garlic, ginger and cumin and saute for a few minutes. Add chickpeas and lentils. Saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato puree and stock. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add ground coriander and half fresh coriander. Puree. Stir in lemon juice. Return to stove and heat.
  • Serve garnished with remaining coriander.

Chickpea & Leek soup

Serves 6

1 cup AUSTRALIAN chickpeas
1 potato, peeled and diced 
1 tbs oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 leeks
4 cups chicken stock
Parmesan cheese, grated 
Freshly ground black pepper

  • Soak chickpeas overnight and drain or boil chickpeas in plenty of water for 30 minutes and drain.
  • Saute garlic and leek in oil then add chickpeas and potato and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add stock and simmer for 10-15 mins.
  • Remove half of the soup, puree then stir back into the remaining chunky soup.
  • Serve topped with parmesan cheese and pepper.

Lemon Coriander Chickpea Soup

Serves 4

1/2 cup AUSTRALIAN chickpeas 
1 tbs oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 /2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
250g cooked chicken, chopped
310g can corn kernels, drained 
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbs fresh coriander, chopped

  • Cook chickpeas in plenty of boiling water for 20 mins then drain.
  • Add onion, ginger, coriander, turmeric and cumin to hot oil and stir until onion soft.
  • Add stock, chickpeas, chicken, corn and simmer for 10 mins.
  • Just before serving stir in rind and coriander.

Vegetarian option: substitute vegetable stock and omit cooked chicken.


Chickpea, tuna & pasta salad

A sensational salad for BBQ’s

1 cup AUSTRALIAN chickpeas, cooked to nutty texture (see below)
300g spiral pasta, cooked al dente then cooled
425g can of tuna in oil, drained 
250g cherry tomatoes, halved 
1 red onion, thinly sliced 
100g baby mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of rocket

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Ground sea salt & black pepper

  • Add chickpeas to plenty of boiling water and simmer for 30 mins, drain.
  • Combine ingredients for dressing and shake well.

Add chickpeas, tuna, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms and rocket to pasta and stir through. Pour over dressing and mix to combine.



1/2 cup AUSTRALIAN chickpeas
1 cup frozen broad beans
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbs fresh parsley
2 tbs fresh coriander
2 tbs fresh mint
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed finely
2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed finely pita bread, chopped tomato, chopped lettuce and tzatiki dip to serve

  • Soak chickpeas overnight or add to boiling water and cook for 30 minutes. Drain.
  • Add chickpeas, broad beans, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, mint, coriander and cumin powder to a food processor and blend until all ingredients finely chopped.
  • Form a tablespoon of mixture into balls then flatten. Place in a covered container and refrigerate for a half hour.
  • Deep fry the falafel in hot oil for 3-4 minutes until they turn dark golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
  • Serve as appetizers or for lunch inside pita bread wraps topped with tomato, lettuce and tzatiki dip.



Chickpea and chicken tagine

Serves 4

1 tbs plain flour
2 tsp each ground coriander, cumin, ginger
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into pieces
3 tbs olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cups chicken stock 
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp sugar
1 cup AUSTRALIAN chickpeas 
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander 
1/2 cup blanched almonds 
Cooked cous cous, to serve

  • Soak chickpeas overnight or add to boiling water and cook for 20 minutes. Drain.
  • Combine flour and spices in a bowl and add chicken and coat.
  • Fry chicken in half of oil until each side golden brown. Set aside.
  • Add remaining oil to pan with onions and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute.
  • Return chicken to pan. Add chickpeas, stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Stir through dates, coriander and almonds and heat for a few minutes.

Serve on a bed of cous cous.


Spanish lentil and chorizo soup

  • 150 g lentils 2 bay leaves 75 g Spanish chorizo, sliced1/2 onion (preferably red), chopped2 cloves garlic, chopped 200 g roasted and peeled chestnuts, chopped a bit 150 mL red wine 250 g canned tomatoes 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • red chili flakes and salt to taste

Cook the lentils and bay leaves in a pot of boiling water for about 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still firm. Drain the lentils, saving the cooking water. In the meantime, heat a splash of olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat and sauté the chorizo for a minute. Remove the chorizo and set it aside, then sauté the onion in the oil for about 10 minutes, until it’s soft. Add the garlic and sauté a minute or two, then add the chestnuts and cook them for a few minutes too. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, chili flakes if you’re using them, and salt to taste.Simmer all of this until the mixture has thickened, roughly 15 minutes. Then stir in the lentils and as much lentil cooking water as you want (I make this like a thick lentil stew, but you can add more liquid if you want something more soup-like). Cook this together for another 10 minutes or so, adding the chorizo towards the end to heat it through. Season again if you need to, then serve it up! I like to use small, firm lentils such as Puy lentils for this, but I’m sure regular brown lentils would work just as well (or for extra authenticity, use Spanish Pardina lentils if you can find them). The chestnuts add a nice texture and sweetness, but I’ve made the soup without them and it’s still very good (and by the way, I don’t roast my own chestnuts—I just buy them already roasted and peeled).


How to Make Spanish Lentils


3 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 cup red wine

2 cups vegetable stock

400g/14.1oz can of chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 cups brown lentils

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika (ordinary paprika if smoked unavailable)

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste


  • 1
Heat the olive oil in the saucepan.
  • 3
Add garlic and carrots and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • 4
Pour in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • 5
Pour in the vegetable stock and add the tomatoes, lentils and bay leaves.
  • 6
Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down, cover and allow to simmer gently for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the cooking and if the lentils become dry earlier, add a little more stock to keep it cooking.
  • 7
Add the herbs and stir in. Season with the paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve. It is best served in a table suitable dish that diners can help themselves from.


Spanish Lentils / Lentil Soup

1 cup lentils
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 medium potato
1/2 bell pepper
1 tomato
1 carrot
2 tsp oil
1 bouillon cube or stock cube of your choice
1 tsp lime juice

Soak lentils for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Chop all the vegetables into cubes. 

In a pressure cooker, heat oil. Fry onion and garlic for a minute. Do not brown them. Add all the veggies and fry for another minute. Add lentils, pepper and stock cube. Add water just enough to cover the lentils. Cook for 2-3 whistles. Adjust salt. Usually the salt in the bouillon cube is enough. Squeeze some fresh lime juice. 

Serve with bread.


Persian Red Lentil & Onion Soup

1 TB olive oil

3/4 lb (one large or two medium) onions, diced

1/4 tsp turmeric

3/4 cup red lentils

1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) boiling water

1 tsp sugar, sucanat, agave nectar, or sweetener of choice

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp mint, chopped fine

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Salt & Pepper to taste

Place oil into the bottom of your stock pot. Add onions and turmeric, and sauté gently until the onions are softened through, but not browned. Add the red lentils, water, and sugar, and let the water come up to the boil. When the water is boiling, drop the heat down to medium-low, and cover the lid. Let the soup cook for about 45 minutes.

When the lentils have turned from red to yellow, and are falling apart, add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, mint, cinnamon, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat, and let it sit for another five minutes or so.

You don’t want to cook the cinnamon or the fresh mint very much, so you add them towards the end. If you prefer the red lentils to cook down a fair bit more, go ahead and do so, and it’ll still be delicious.


Spicy red lentil and pumpkin soup

Preparation Time

15 minutes

Cooking Time

25 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 370g (1 1/2 cups) red lentils
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 625L (6 1/2 cups) vegetable stock
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste


  • Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold running water.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until it softens. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli powder and turmeric. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic.
  • Add the lentils and stir to coat in the onion mixture. Stir in thepumpkin and stock. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until pumpkin and lentils are very soft.
  • Use a potato masher to roughly mash the pumpkin and lentils. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Red Lentil Dhal


Place lentils, tomato (if using fresh tomato) and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are tender and have lost their shape, about 40 minutes (begin checking that there is still water in the pot at 30 minutes and add small batches of water as needed). Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over low heat. Make the spice mix as follows.. Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add cumin seeds. After seeds have stopped sputtering, add the garlic and onion and saute over medium heat until most of the onion has turned dark brown, 5-10 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric, and cayenne, stir, and pour the onion/spice mixture over the dal. Add the butter/margarine, tomato (if using canned), (cilantro/parsley), and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve hot


Green Lentil Dhal (Indian)


1 cup whole green lentils

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

a small pinch of brown sugar (optional)

1 tbsp ghee / vegetable oil

1 heaped tsp of cumin seeds

1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly (or chopped finely, if you wish)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 – 3 birds eye green chillies, sliced

1/4 tsp Punjabi garam masala

chopped coriander for garnish (optional)


  1. Put the lentils into a pan with 2 cups of water (for now, you might need more later if you want it runnier). Let it boil, and skim the scum from the top. Now add turmeric, and continue cooking until soft. When the lentils are soft, add the salt. Add a pinch of sugar if you want now. Add some warm water if you like your lentils less thick or even soupy. (Vicky leaves her lentils whole, but I like to mash some of them up to make the dish creamier.)
  2. To make the tarka, first pop the cumin seeds in some hot ghee. First, heat the ghee or oil (it’s hot enough when it starts sizzling when you insert a wooden spoon in it), and then add the cumin. Fry for a few seconds, until the cumin releases its fragrance (watch out, it burns quickly). Then, add the onion, sprinkle it with salt, and fry until golden brown. Now add the chillies, ginger and garlic, and fry for some more, until they soften and loose their raw flavour. If the ginger starts sticking to the pan, add a little water and scrape off. (I usually chop the onion first, then while they’re frying, prepare garlic, ginger and chillies, and add it as I go.)
  3. Pour the onion mixture into the dhal and stir through, leaving some tarka on top. Now add the garam masala.
  4. Garnish with coriander if using, and serve with some chapattis or rice.


Green Lentils (Yeşil Mercimek)

The eastern Thrace is the north western or the European part of Turkey. The region (except for Istanbul) is mostly occupied by people who migrated from the western Thrace (Greece and Bulgaria). Most of those people, like my grandparents, settled down in the region after the 1924 population exchange. This green lentil dish is cooked widely in eastern Thrace and known to be a western Thracian recipe

1 cup dry green lentils 3 tbsp olive oil or butter1 big onion, chopped1 tbsp flour2 tbsp tomato pastesaltpepper2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

sauce1/4 cup vinegar2 cloves of garlic, minced1 tsp rd pepper flakes

Cook 1 cup green lentils with 3 cups of water on medium until water is completely soaked.In a different pot heat the oil and stir in onions. Cook until soft. Add flour and stir for a couple of minutes.Add tomato paste and stir for another couple of minutes. Add lentils with 2 1/2 cups of water. Salt to your taste. Cook on medium low for 30 minutes. Add dill after you turn it off. For the sauce, in a little bowl mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and crushed pepper. When you serve the lentils, put a couple of spoons of the sauce on lentils. Serve with bread or rice.


Lentil, Potato & Spinach Curry

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon garam masala (or, if not available, mild curry powder)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups water

2 cups green lentils, rinsed

2 fist-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 14oz can chopped tomatoes

2 cups vegetable stock/broth


1 bag fresh spinach (or 1 pack frozen spinach)

1 large bunch cilantro, chopped

In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook until tender and slightly browned. Stir in ginger,garam masala (or curry powder) and garlic, and cook for one minute.

Add water, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, broth and a little salt. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are tender. Add a little more water if needed (lentils absorb a lot of water)

Add spinach and cilantro. Stir.



Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 5-inch sweet potato
  • about 1 cup lentils
  • 2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste OR Indian curry powder
  • a pinch or two of Aleppo pepper flakes or crushed red pepper flakes
  • a pinch of salt
  • about two cups water or vegetable broth
  • about 3 or 4 handfuls of spinach
  • chopped mint

First things first: prep your ingredients. Doing this first makes cooking less stressful. Sometimes I get lazy and decide to chop as I go, and it’s almost never a good idea. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the carrots into small bites. With carrots, I usually chop the thicker parts into quarters and the skinnier parts into rounds, so everything is about the same size. Cut the sweet potato into one-inch pieces. Trim the stems from the spinach and rinse it well to remove any grit and sand.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the onions and give them a good stir. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are light golden and just beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds before stirring in the carrots. Cook for about another minute before adding the sweet potatoes, then the lentils.

Now stir in the curry paste or powder. Stir well so all the vegetables are coated. Add a healthy pinch of salt and some pepper flakes to your taste (if you’re not sure about your taste, add a small pinch to start; you can always add more later). Now stir in the water or the broth. Stir well, cover the pot, and bring to a boil.

Once the liquid is boiling, lower the heat to about medium low, so the liquid stays at a low boil. Cover the pot and let the lentils cook for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are soft. At this point, I usually add another splash of water to loosen things up a bit, if it seems too dry. Then just stir in the spinach. Stir well until the spinach is wilted and mixed in.

Now give it a taste and add a little more salt or pepper flakes, if you think it needs it. Salt will intensify the flavors, and pepper flakes will add heat. Lemon juice will brighten things up a little, if you that’s what your lentils need. Serve over rice and garnish with mint; I love the flavor that mint brings to this dish: just a little bit of sweetness balances out the heat from the curry perfectly.


Green Lentil Curry With Potatoes And Vegetables


2, cups, dried lentils – rinsed

green, red, or brown

2-tablespoons-vegetable oil

1-medium-onion – diced

12–mushrooms – sliced

1-small-zucchini – diced

2–tomatoes – cored and diced

4-cloves-garlic – minced

1–jalapeno pepper – seeded and minced

1-tablespoon-fresh ginger root – minced

1-tablespoon-curry powder (Madras style)

1-teaspoon-ground cumin

1-teaspoon-ground coriander – or

garam masala


1/2-teaspoon-ground black pepper

2-cups-white potatoes – unpeeled, diced

2–carrots – peeled and diced

8–broccoli florets – or

cauliflower florets

8-cups-hot cooked rice

Place the lentils in plenty of water to cover and cook until tender (see package for time; 30 to 45 minutes). Drain the lentils in a slander, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid, and set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the seasonings and cook 1 minute more. Blend in the lentils, reserved cooking liquid, potatoes, and carrots and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until broccoli is fork tender. Remove from the heat and serve with basmati rice. A cucumber raita or plain, lowfat yogurt make a soothing accompaniment.


Warm Red Lentil Salad With Goat or Feta Cheese

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves, crushed (1 tsp minced garlic)

2 teaspoons grated gingerroot (I’d use powdered ginger)

1 1/2 cups split red lentils

3 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 red onions, thinly sliced

4 cups baby spinach leaves

1 teaspoon hazelnut oil

100 g soft fresh goat cheese (I’ll use crumbled feta)

4 tablespoons plain yogurt, strained



1 lemon, cut in quarters

toasted rye bread


Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in the lentils and vegetable stock. Let cook, covered (but with venting for the steam), for 20 minutes on medium-high heat.

After 20 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the mint and cilantro.

In a frying pan (or skillet), heat the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add the onions, and cook for about 10 minutes or until softly translucent and browned.

Toss the spinach in the hazelnut oil in a bowl, then divide between 4 serving plates.

Mash the goat (or feta) cheese with the yogurt in a small bowl and season to taste with pepper.

Divide the lentils between the serving plates and top with the onions and cheese mixture. Garnish with lemon quarters and serve with toasted rye bread, pitas, or toast.


Salad Dressings

•June 20, 2019 • Leave a Comment



I must have eaten a million salads, not all of them came to expectation, some soggy, some dry, some with wrong dressing completely. We have been hurled around the place with a thousand or two variations on multiple themes, most thanks to the endless inventiveness of the USA cooks and TV presenters. Think BBQ pit masters and huge number of diner’s, think a population who, unless the plate is filled to the extreme and in danger of causing major catastrophe, don’t regard it a meal. Chefs needed to have a large repertoire of dressings. In some cases, all topped off with litres of melting cheese (can you believe the cheese is kept melted on the stove just to pour over the dish).


As a kid, I knew just two salad dressings, one was a mix of boiled egg yolks mashed with some cream and vinegar, I think this is what the Brits called a salad cream, then Mum discovered the condensed milk and vinegar combo, but she always had the boiled 2/4/6/8 dressing in the jar in the ice box. I left Port Fairy to work in Melbourne and begin my education in food and eating.  I came home raving about the delicious combination of Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar (Mum was stunned over this one, the only vinegars she had ever known were Malt and the mouth wrenching White Vinegar made from ascetic acid) who knew that wine would become vinegar if left alone. I don’t think Mum had ever tasted red wine, maybe her sisters who had married well and moved to Adelaide, but Mum married a butcher in a seaside town. She cooked what her mother had cooked. But then when I said that the new fangled garlic that Edgar Egan, local greengrocer had bought in at the behest of several European families, had to be included, along with a bit of Dijon mustard, her eyes bulged. She thought it too sour, but tasty, I added a splidge of sugar and that helped. It never did get the tick of approval from Dad!


Salad Cream how ever did..


2 free-range eggs, hard-boiled, yolks only

2 tbsp English mustard

½ lemon, juice only

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

150ml/5fl oz double cream

150ml/5fl oz olive oil

salt and ground white pepper


Place all of the ingredients, apart from the oil and seasoning, into a food processor.

Blend until the cream starts to thicken then gradually add the oil, until the salad cream is smooth and emulsified.

Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper.


Mum had several Boiled Salad Dressings, some were very sweet. The one I think she did most was 2/4/6/8

2 eggs beaten

4 level tblspns sugar

6 level tblspns milk

8 level tblspns white vinegar

1 tspn sugar

salt to taste.


Put all in the top of a double boiler saucepan and place over heat, stir all the time until the mixture thickens. If you boil the water too hard, you may curdle the mix.


This one is good… it contains flour and is a bit more punchy.


1 level tblspn plain flour

1 level tblspn mustard powder

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup milk

1 tblspn butter


Place all but the milk and butter in the top of double saucepan, bring to heat and stir constantly, when thickened, add the milk stirring well, allow the sauce to thicken, remove from heat and stir in the butter. Allow to cook and store in a cool place.


And then..


I once went on a fruitless search of exploration for wine vinegars and their history in Australia. My conclusion was that very little wine vinegar was used, if it was, it was mostly by the Upper Classes, the wine makers found in South Australia and the Hunter Valley. Fruit vinegars were made in patches, often Tasmania, but never widespread until the advent of Raspberry Vinegar and about that, enough said. My mother’s go to was always Malt vinegar, it was the vinegar cuisine poverra in Australia. Made from beer it was easy to do and with less sourness than wine vinegars, greatly favoured.


Mums salads were not extravagant, they consisted of lettuce (most often grown in Dad’s garden) tomato, carrot, celery, cucumber, beetroot, salad onion (all also from Dad’s garden) on the odd occasion and to say to the world, some left over green peas, some grated apple and later, a potato salad. Salads were thought of as ‘summer’ food and rarely made an appearance in winter, Sunday evening was the exception when the cold left over meat from the Sunday roast would appear, usually with some mashed potato and a bowl of shredded lettuce and some beetroot. Mums go to dressing for this was salad cream and I quite liked it drizzled on the mash potato.  The other option was what Mum called a Russian Salad and that was a lettuce cup filled with vegetable left over from the roast and dressed with her go to dressing.


Let me digress a bit, the Sunday Roast was an institution in my youth, and much anticipated. My favourite was a corner Topside that Mum would stuff with her usual sage and onion stuffing, wrap in bacon and slather large amounts of beef dripping  and place in a moderate oven and cook for hours. The roast potatoes would be dark brown and crisp, the gravy delicious and the meat, if carved in thin enough slices, pretty damn good.  Mum’s decision later on Sunday usually after the bowls club was, will we have cold meat that meal or more likely the Monday meal which would have Bubble and Squeak from the roast or three vegetables. My job was, usually after the beach, boil a couple of eggs, peel, cool and use the yolks for a dressing. I lived in hope that Mum would decide on scones and that would also mean a scone pizza… bits of bacon, cheese, tomato and onion all baked in the oven. Mum had mastered this and it appeared often on card nights.


Scones with a pizza top..

How ever many scones you have left over cut in half.

Enough slices of tomato to allow one per as above.

1 small 2 cm x 2 cm square of bacon to cover scones

Enough small onion rings to allow one per scone

Grated cheese to allow a small dollop on each of above

Place all on a tray and get the oven set onto 180 c, drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the scones and bake until they are cooked, about 30 minutes.

Serve warm.


If I knew that Mum was doing these for a card night supper, I was so nice, so polite and quite crawly until I got three or four and banished to my room.







Correct NO KNEAD bread recipe

•June 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I love baking bread, its one of the things that takes me back to the tastes and smells of my childhood, to Caddy’s bakery where Tommy Digby wove his magic, baking breads, pastries, cakes, all came from the depths of his huge oven, part gas, part wood fired, from him always singing hymns as he worked and pure skill. I learned that Tommy only accepted the best ingredients, his flour was milled in the Wimmera where it was grown, the butter came from cows that grazed on rich grassland around Port Fairy. The jams, lemon butters and other fillings were made by local ladies who kept up a constant supply as the seasons turned. Tommies large supplies of dried fruits came from Mildura where he knew they grew great fruit. Apples and apricots for the pies came from Portland where there were large orchards and reliable growers.

Apple slice… between two slices of crispy short pastry with pink icing scattered with cinnamon,

Jam Roll… a delicious sponge cake slathered with absolutely delectable Raspberry Jam.

Vanilla Slice… a rich creamy thick custard wedged between two layers of puff

Rainbow Cake… three layers of cake, chocolate, plain, Raspberry with mock cream and chocolate icing

Neapolitan Slice… my fave, two sheets of melt in the mouth flaky pastry with a sponge layer, raspberry jam, mock cream and iced.

Tommy made great slabs of pastry, puff and short, every day and who would ever bother making their own when his was so good.


Sitting in a small cozy Italian restaurant last night with two of my grandchildren, their mother and father, the conversation turned to ‘what if’… the electronic data of the world was to be destroyed by a solar flare. My granddaughter said that would be the end of school and her social life as she knew it, no lap top, no tablet, no phone. Quite clearly the end of the world. Made me start to think of my life when all that did not exist, where the phone was not a dial up, but you had to be connected by an operator. Where radio was the only entertainment, apart from the movies on Friday or Saturday night, where the technologies we take for granted now, didn’t exist. Tommy Digby did, the family Butcher shop did, my Dad was the slaughterman and killed the animals with care. Wool was spun and jumpers knitted, vegetables grown, fruit in season bottled and preserved. Shoes were polished by mixing some beeswax with ash from kitchen wood fired stove. School was about writing in exercise books, carefully covered at the beginning of the year, exams were all written by hand. There was no electronic help. I joined the National Bank, ledgers were all hand written and the only assistance was an adding machine.


It can be done. The ties of the electronic age need to be loosened and blinkers removed to see that a world can exist without dependence on electronics.


This bring me round to baking bread. Just a little history. Baking bread was slightly hysterically steered into the sour dough area (simply an active bread starter called a leavener, no different to yeast in action, but different in taste) then we were directed into the ‘no knead’ area, where a miniscule amount of yeast is used and a long waiting period to encourage wild yeasts. The result is a sour tasting, soft textured bread that for me was often too moist, crusty outer and a wettish centre. I suspect that it has been undercooked. Usually the accepted cooking time is 30 minutes in a preheated lidded dutch oven and then a further 10 minutes with the lid off. This is not enough cooking, I suggest that it needs 45 minutes, lid on and 15 minutes with the lid off. Yes, the loaf will be a dark shade, but the inside will be properly cooked and not wet.

My latest version.

4 cups of good bread flour.

2 teaspoons sugar (flat not rounded)

2 teaspoons yeast

600 mil of water, warmed to blood temperature

1 dessertspoon sale.

Mix the sugar, water and yeast, allow to activate

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl (that you can use cling film on)

Mix the active water/yeast with the flour and mix to a sort of shaggy dough, cover with tea towel.

After 20 minutes, wet your hand and drag the dough from one side to the other, sort of folding. Do this from the 4 corners.

This should be done a total of 3 times with 20 minutes between.

Cover with cling film and leave for 5 – 6 hours.

Remove dough to a floured surface and mould into a dome, this now needs to rise for 90 minutes.

After 15 minutes, turn your oven on to 220 Celsius and place your bread cloch or cast iron pot (lids and all) and allow heat to get to 220. Will take 30 minutes.

Remove to a safe place and tip the dough into the well flowered cloch or pot, put a couple of slashes into the top, replace lid return to oven and cook for 45 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

The bread will be well browned, completely cooked and delicious. Still no kneading.



I love baking bread, its one of the things that takes me back to the tastes and smells of my childhood, to Caddy’s bakery where Tommy Digby wove his magic, baking breads, pastries, cakes, all came from the depths of his huge oven, part gas, part wood fired, from him always singing hymns as he worked and pure skill. I learned that Tommy only accepted the best ingredients, his flour was milled in the Wimmera where it was grown, the butter came from cows that grazed on rich grassland around Port Fairy. The jams, lemon butters and other fillings were made by local ladies who kept up a constant supply as the seasons turned. Tommies large supplies of dried fruits came from Mildura where he knew they grew great fruit. Apples and apricots for the pies came from Portland where there were large orchards and reliable growers.


Apple slice… between two slices of crispy short pastry with pink icing scattered with cinnamon,

Jam Roll… a delicious sponge cake slathered with absolutely delectable Raspberry Jam.

Vanilla Slice… a rich creamy thick custard wedged between two layers of puff

Rainbow Cake… three layers of cake, chocolate, plain, Raspberry with mock cream and chocolate icing

Neapolitan Slice… my fave, two sheets of melt in the mouth flaky pastry with a sponge layer, raspberry jam, mock cream and iced.

Tommy made great slabs of pastry, puff and short, every day and who would ever bother making their own when his was so good.


Sitting in a small cozy Italian restaurant last night with two of my grandchildren, their mother and father, the conversation turned to ‘what if’… the electronic data of the world was to be destroyed by a solar flare. My granddaughter said that would be the end of school and her social life as she knew it, no lap top, no tablet, no phone. Quite clearly the end of the world. Made me start to think of my life when all that did not exist, where the phone was not a dial up, but you had to be connected by an operator. Where radio was the only entertainment, apart from the movies on Friday or Saturday night, where the technologies we take for granted now, didn’t exist. Tommy Digby did, the family Butcher shop did, my Dad was the slaughterman and killed the animals with care. Wool was spun and jumpers knitted, vegetables grown, fruit in season bottled and preserved. Shoes were polished by mixing some beeswax with ash from kitchen wood fired stove. School was about writing in exercise books, carefully covered at the beginning of the year, exams were all written by hand. There was no electronic help. I joined the National Bank, ledgers were all hand written and the only assistance was an adding machine.


It can be done. The ties of the electronic age need to be loosened and blinkers removed to see that a world can exist without dependence on electronics.


This bring me round to baking bread. Just a little history. Baking bread was slightly hysterically steered into the sour dough area (simply an active bread starter called a leavener, no different to yeast in action, but different in taste) then we were directed into the ‘no knead’ area, where a miniscule amount of yeast is used and a long waiting period to encourage wild yeasts. The result is a sour tasting, soft textured bread that for me was often too moist, crusty outer and a wettish centre. I suspect that it has been undercooked. Usually the accepted cooking time is 30 minutes in a preheated lidded dutch oven and then a further 10 minutes with the lid off. This is not enough cooking, I suggest that it needs 45 minutes, lid on and 15 minutes with the lid off. Yes, the loaf will be a dark shade, but the inside will be properly cooked and not wet.

My latest version.

4 cups of good bread flour.

2 teaspoons sugar (flat not rounded)

2 teaspoons yeast

600 mil of water, warmed to blood temperature

1 dessertspoon sale.

Mix the sugar, water and yeast, allow to activate

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl (that you can use cling film on)

Mix the active water/yeast with the flour and mix to a sort of shaggy dough, cover with tea towel.

After 20 minutes, wet your hand and drag the dough from one side to the other, sort of folding. Do this from the 4 corners.

This should be done a total of 3 times with 20 minutes between.

Cover with cling film and leave for 5 – 6 hours.

Remove dough to a floured surface and mould into a dome, this now needs to rise for 90 minutes.

After 15 minutes, turn your oven on to 220 Celsius and place your bread cloch or cast iron pot (lids and all) and allow heat to get to 220. Will take 30 minutes.

Remove to a safe place and tip the dough into the well flowered cloch or pot, put a couple of slashes into the top, replace lid return to oven and cook for 45 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

The bread will be well browned, completely cooked and delicious. Still no kneading.




The Bowling Club

•June 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Port Fairy Bowling Club and the away days…

My father was obsessed with lawn bowls. Dad had been a great swimmer and a member of the life-savers in Port Fairy when he was younger and I loved to watch him as he swam in his languid style, effortlessly cruising through the waves and seemingly never getting tired. As he aged and since Port Fairy had no swimming pool, the sea became less attractive and for a few years Dad gardened.. he grew everything. Then along with his good friends he had grown up with all his life, he discovered lawn bowls.

The bowling club in Port Fairy was on the corner of Bank Street and Gipps Street, opposite the river. It had tall shiny leaf hedges all around it above the green corrugated iron fence, mostly to protect the bowlers from the cold winds that could spring up at any time and send the ladies hats spiralling into the air and everyone running about looking for their cream cardigans. On the Bank Street side of the greens, was the entrance, it was sort of an arch that had been carved out of the shiny leaf and had its own door way, the street was a metre or so below the level of the greens and walkways, so you had to climb a few steps and woe betide you if you did not shut the gate, you would be stridently reminded by the ladies either those who were busy preparing the afternoon tea or those on the greens and even those sitting with their knitting watching proceedings. There were some things that just had to be.

In the end Mum I think realised that she had little choice but to join the club or her life was going to be socially dull. Mum was soon in training and in the end turned out to be not a bad bowler although I don’t think her heart was in it. All her lady friends were members, even the few single ladies of the Borough enjoyed the social life of the club. Mind you, I have to say that those who saw themselves as upper echelon of the social ladder, seemed not to be interested, I can’t recall ever seeing any of the local doctors, solicitors or old family at the club. Its also fair to say that most of the Catholic community did not participate… a strange thing but any town in this country was divided along the lines of religion and class.

Summer was the main bowling season, it was at that time of the year that lawn bowls was at its busiest and the tournaments and regional competitions were held. There was great competition to be selected a member of the team to compete in these events. Dad was a younger and somewhat inexperienced bowler at that stage so only made it rarely to the team. I suspect too that his bowl delivery was somewhat dubious, even though he had been approved by officials as being correct. Dad had taken his rather laconic style to the bowling green and delivered his bowls straight legged and bending, he was very good and in time became one of the regulars at the competition.

Port Fairy summers were for me, all about the beach, I roamed from beach to beach, The East Beach when the surf was up, I even joined the life-savers for a brief time, but I was never good at any of the demands of clubs, so boy scouts, life savers and even a short stint in the local band left me as a loner, but able to jump all over the place. The South Beach was stunning, still wild, yet with tamed areas that at various times had housed such oddities as the nuns bathing box… in the days when nuns lived hidden lives and played the modesty game to extremes, the nuns would, when the summer sun was hot and biting, head across some open land between their convent and the beach, there they would all pile into the bathing box which was then slid, on rails, down to the water where the nuns would cavort and play until it was time to return, they never once left the box and to my knowledge, no one had ever seen them actually swim. Further along the South beach was one of my favourite places, everyone called it Pea Soup, I have no idea why, it was a piece of beach that was sheltered like much of the south coast, by large rocky outcrops which prevented the pounding surf from reaching the beach. Pea Soup itself was shallow, still and safe for little kids, a bit of  clamber over some rocks you could find the diving pool. This was a naturally occurring deep hole that had a diving board built, in the early days there was two boards, one higher than the other, as time and tide took over, only the lower board remained but that was enough.  Just near the diving pool was a natural area of rock on which we would lounge, change and should there be any girls around, pose.

My bike was the means of me getting around and that had a history, Dad had bought it for me second hand and I loved it, bright red with a racing seat, no gears of course, but for me freedom. At that time I had a dog called Monty who was particularly devoted to me and would come with me where ever I went, trotting along behind the bike, swimming with me till he got too cold and then waiting by the water with a worried look on his face. Monty loved to chase rabbits and often when I was at the South Beach, Monty would head off into the sand dunes to see what he could scare up, after being sure that I was settled for a bit and unlikely to head home before his return. Even if that was to happen, Monty knew his way around town and could be relied on to be home in time for his dinner. It was this fun activity that eventually, to my utter horror, claimed his life. As he was romping through the marram grass, he was stabbed with a burr that lodged in the cheek of his face and eventually became a canker and then cancerous, I held him while the Vet injected him and his life slipped away with that same worried look on his face to be sure that I would be alright. I cried for days and could not even ride past the house of the vet. No dog has ever replaced Monty in my affections.

I usually ended up at the bowling club because that’s where Mum and Dad would be and if I made my timing right, there was bound to be a sandwich or even a sausage roll left over for a hungry kid who had been swimming all day. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING stopped when time for afternoon tea was called, just who called it I have no idea, but I suspect that it was the team of ladies who were charged with the vital task of preparing the repast. And, since many of the bowlers would have also been travellers to other clubs, it was also likely that some other club members would also be present, then it had to be good. And good it was.

The tea urn was the centre of the table and the cups were stacked, cup and saucer in piles all around, you were expected to help yourself to tea, milk and sugar were already on the individual tables, coffee if wanted had to be ordered at the hatch and it would be made in the tiny kitchen using Turban coffee essence and milk.

Alcohol was frowned upon at Afternoon Tea and the bar only opened after the games had nearly finished and only those in the finals on the greens. There were a few ways of dispensing the food, it was either put onto one long buffet table and constantly refreshed as the hungry bowlers munched their way through endless sandwiches, sausage rolls, baby egg and bacon tarts, scones, drop scones with home made strawberry jam and cream,  cakes, big and small, sponge cakes which the ladies of the country seemed to excel with, my all time favourite was Ginger Fluff, or it was served to each and every table on separate plates. The supreme taste sensation was undoubtedly the sandwiches. It was these that provided the local ladies with the chance to excel.

Mock chicken, beef paste, sardine paste, sliced roast meats, eggs in so many ways, curried, mixed with chutney, stuffed back into their whites (one of my absolute favourite things, I had a great eye for a good stuffed egg and knew just who had done them. I have to confess here that even at that young age, I was a died in the wool foodie and was known to court some of the local ladies who I knew would always give me a cool drink and what ever was in the tins at the time!) I suspect that the shortages of the times of war were great teachers in terms of making do. While its certain that we did not have the elegant pates and terrines of French cooking, we did have the delicious meat pastes, the potted meats and the home preserved meats of the day. In todays world, we turn our noses up at the prospect of dealing with a calves tongue, but for my mother it was one of the delights of her kitchen and to this day, I remember with enormous fondness the thin slices of pink tongue served with brown bread and mustard One should perhaps point out that should you be lucky enough to enjoy a Bolito Misto in Italy, you would be given tongue to eat, with a mustard, the beautiful Mustard di Cremona, or even mustard preserved fruits.

In the cookbooks of the day, whole chapters were devoted to what was usually called ‘savouries’ and this included dozens of sandwich fillings utilising fish, vegetable and meats as well as the rarely seen poultry, however eggs were used in so many ways. I have often come across what I guess is the local Australian (via the UK) type recipe for ‘meatloaf’ or equivalent that was certainly a lesser creature than the wondrous terrines of France, but none the less, in their own way, were just as important as the terrine to locals in preserving the meats and offal.  I have come across recipes for an anchovy spread that was rather unusual since the wide use of anchovies was not common. Anchovy paste was readily available and I suspect that this is what found its way into the spread. I think two sandwiches were regarded as essentials for the fine buffet table, one a ham (off the bone naturally) and the other, an asparagus roll, tinned asparagus of course.

Entertainment was a lot more common in the days prior to television and before people took on debt loads that would cripple Pharaoh. With us now time poor, we never seem to have the time to get into the kitchen and spend the time making food that is economical, delicious and individual. In my home, some form of visitor entertainment would happen at least twice a week and that did not include trips to the Bowling Club, pop in for cups of tea with lady friends, or even dropping in to family members who were still expected to be able to produce a small, but delicious, array of accompaniments to the pot of tea. My mother spent at least one day a week, baking and filling the cake tins and biscuit barrels. Cakes would always be two, a fruit cake of some kind, Mum’s Sultana Cake was my favourite and that would be baked every two weeks or so, it kept well and so long as she could keep me and Dad away from the tin, lasted. A butter cake of some kind would be made and that would last a few days as the cream would get sour or the cake become hard. For special occasions or even just because my Father loved them, Mum would make a Tea Cake that you ate with butter, and for Dad if she was being specially nice, a Caraway Seed Cake, which I hated.

Its fair to say that most of the women of the town found no contradiction in popping in to Caddies bakery to get some of Tommy Digby’s cake. Tommy made a very fine jam roll, something that not many would do at home, although it was only a sponge. His Rainbow Cake was much loved and I recall to this day that the chocolate icing on the top was raked at a strange angle. The layers of pink, brown and yellow cake were separated with a thick layer of mock cream. Delicious. Tom also made Napoleon Slice, a slice consisting of cake, cream, jam, puff pastry (or more properly rough Puff) and topped with a modestly pink icing… very very yummy and, I am told, still to be found in Tasmania and New Zealand.. a trip worth taking.

One of my all time favourite things was to be told to ride my bicycle up to Caddies and get some pies and pasties for lunch… such a treat. Made fresh every day and the pastry was flaky, buttery and simply melted in your mouth. I knew that the meat fillings were fresh since the meat came from my own families butcher shop. Oddly enough, Dad was not a fan of the pasties, I was! I recall when he and I were sent one day to collect Mum from Mount Gambier, we passed through a small town just out of Portland, Dad spotted a bakery and since it was lunch time, we stopped. Dad bought two pasties for himself and one for me and we sat in the car to eat. My father declared them the best pasty he had ever eaten and returned to the shop for two more.  I think that I had been eating fresh crisp Delicious Apples as we had also stopped at our favourite apple growers orchard and got two boxes. Mums work would be cut out for her when we did get home, making the apples in many different things. One of my favourites was apple and cucumber relish.

Tommy also was the provider of puff and rough puff pastry for the town and it sat in great slabs on the counter to be cut up by the serving ladies into what ever you needed. No one bothered with the arduous task of making these two butter rich pastries. Mum varied her Sausage Rolls, sometimes making her own short crust pastry, sometimes getting some of Tommy’s Puff Pastry and even on occasions, making her own Rough Puff pastry, something that I loved. Mum had a few secrets with her Sausage Rolls, she used sausage meat of course, but she added not only onion and some ‘mixed herbs’, but she grated an apple and even a carrot and they went into the mix… she of course made her own Tomato Sauce, so these beauties where a thing of much delight and even on occasion, Mum would make a larger, fatter version which would be sliced and served with some mashed potato and green peas. Not half bad.

Asparagus Rolls

2 tins of asparagus spears, well drained… mum would use one tin green and one white although she said that the white asparagus was a little too thick for a real lady to get her mouth around.

1 loaf of ‘brown bread’, course wholemeal will not do, you could be better to get a high quality pre sliced loaf or have it sliced by the baker. You will need to trim the crusts from the bread. Mum on occasions would lay the bread out and lighty iron it with a warm iron, it was, according to Mum, more elegant if it was thinner.

Butter, mayonnaise ( a home made proper egg mayonnaise with a touch of Dijon) salt and pepper.

Lightly butter the bread and then smear with mayonnaise, add some salt and pepper. Take one  spear of asparagus, starting from one corner, begin to wrap the asparagus spear in the bread, rolling it up. If the bread is thin enough (and it should be) the roll will stay glued up, if not, it is permissible, but not desirable to use a toothpick.

Pile these up on a plate like logs.

Stuffed Eggs

Most people just love these tasty treats that somehow only make an appearance on the buffet table or when guests are coming.

use hard boiled eggs and follow any of these..

*remove the egg yolks, mix with cream, salt and pepper, mustard & paprika with a dash of white wine vinegar, return to the egg white and pipe it in. dust with chopped parsley.

*add anchovy fillets to  above

*add some chopped gherkin and pate to above

*add some chopped ham to the basic recipe above

*chop some olives and capers into the basic mix

*add some curry powder for curried eggs.

*chop some fresh herbs into the basic mix

If you are one of those people who have or can find, a piping bag, then pipe the egg mix into the whites for a great 50’s presentation. Remember that no home would have been without one in the fifties.

Sultana Cake

This is the much loved cake that is so easy to eat, its hard to know when to stop.

Pre heat the oven to 180°c/360°f (it will take 20 minutes to reach heat and have a shelf set just above centre, but not the highest)

250gr (8oz) butter softened

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tspn baking powder

2 tblspns milk

1/4 tspn lemon essence or a squeeze of lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sultanas

Cream the butter and sugar until it is light and creamy, there should not be any feeling of sugar in the cream, add the eggs, one at a time and beat in well after each addition

Sift the flour with the baking powder and begin to fold into the egg/butter/sugar mixture alternately with the milk and lemon juice, when this is well combined and not overworked, fold in 1 1/2 cups of sultanas.

Use a 20cm cake dish and butter and flour it well, put the mixture in and bake for 1 hour at 180°c/360°f, turn the temperature down and cook for a further 30 minutes (150°c/300°f) or until cooked.

Allow to rest in the pan for a few minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.



* sardines and crisp bacon with mayonnaise on whole-wheat toast.

* tapenade, sliced tomatoes, and arugula on sourdough bread.

* fried flounder, bacon, sliced tomato, and red onion rings on a toasted, buttered hot crispy bun.

* thinly sliced prawns, cucumber and radishes with dill butter on pumpernickel bread.

* sliced ripe summer tomatoes, drizzle of extra virgin oilive oil, salt, pepper and basil on fresh white bread with crusts removed.

* cream cheese, currants, and chopped pecans on cinnamon toast.

* bananas, bacon, and peanut butter drizzled with honey on raisin toast.

* cream cheese, golden caviar, orange nasturtium petals, and snipped chives on very thin slices of black bread.

* tasty cheese and chilli chutney on toasted sourdough bread.

* scrambled egg, sliced ham, and sliced red onion on toasted rye bread.

* grilled Italian sausage and warm fennel or onion confit on a toasted roll.

* sliced roast lamb, eggplant caviar and yoghurt on pita garnished with chopped cucumber.

* sweet Gorgonzola cheese, sliced fresh purple figs, and fresh mint on grilled panettone.

* sliced roast lamb with fresh mint mayonnaise on toasted soda bread.

* roasted red and yellow peppers with sliced smoked ham on a thin baguette.

* sliced avocado, tomato, cucumber and alfalfa sprouts with mayonnaise on toasted multi-grain bread.

* hot tuna fish with chopped arugula, roasted red pepper, and sliced parmesan cheese.

* hot steak sandwich with roasted shallots and tarragon mayonnaise on a thin baguette.

* sliced sweet onion on buttered white bread rolled in mayonnaise  and chopped parsley.

* roasted cheese sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese, sliced tomato and crisp bacon.

* thinly sliced roast pork with apple butter on walnut whole-wheat bread.

* corned beef and cole slaw and mustard on toasted sour dough bread.

* egg salad and asparagus tips with dill mayonnaise on croissant.

* sautéed garlic sausage, onion confit, and  Dijon mustard on a thin baguette.

* sardines and egg salad on toasted rye bread a red pepper and ginger marmalade topped with a fried egg on roasted multi-grain bread.

*great freshly sliced ham off the bone with a home made mustard on chunky white rolls.

*focaccia loaded with slices of Italian sausages, roasted capsicum, tapenade and cos lettuce.

*smoked salmon, cream cheese and red onion on bagel, scatter a few capers on top.

*don’t forget thin white bread with cucumbers and a light spread of mayonnaise.

*creamed cheese and celery with fresh herbs on brown bread makes great sangos.

*rare roast beef on rye with seed mustard and sun dried capsicums.

Cold Boiled Ox Tongue

This is a very old dish, certainly on every great banqueting table, pressed tongue would have appeared. Although today we are likely to shudder a little at the prospect of even handling a tongue, the meat is delicious. Tongue can be obtained either fresh or pickled in brine, either way, this recipe will work for both.

1.8 to 2 kg (4lb) piece of pickled or plain ox tongue (pickled is best)

1 large onion cut into quarters

2 leeks split and washed

2 carrots cut into chinks (no need to peel, they are for flavour)

1 – 2 cloves of garlic peeled but not cut

6 parsley stalks (if you have them) if not a few leaves from some celery will do.

1 bay leaf

6 whole black peppercorns

2 tspns of powdered gelatine

2 tblspns of good port

You will need a good bowl that you can cover and weight for pressing the tongue, make it wide enough so that you can sit a board and a house brick on it.

Use a good firm scrubbing brush and give the tongue a good hard scrub then soak it in water to cover for a good half day.

Remove from the water and place in a deep saucepan along with the onion, leeks, carrots, garlic, parsley stalks, bay leaf and peppercorns, cover this with 3 litres of fresh water and bring to the boil. As it boils, skim away any scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon. Simmer for 3 – 4 hours.

The tongue is cooked when the skin on the surface begins to blister and the T shaped bone at the root of the tongue comes away easily. Take the tongue from the water and plunge it into cold water to cool. Pull all of the skin from the tongue and clean off all the gristly pieces under the tongue and at the root.

Fold the tongue into a circle and place in the bowl.

Boil the cooking liquid briskly to reduce by about 30%. Taste the liquid, sometimes this can be lacking in flavour in which case, add a stock cube or two, but be mindful of the salt.

Strain the liquid and reserve 280mil,(9floz) try and get the liquor when it has settled a bit to make sure that you are getting the clearest part of the stock. Add to the port wine. Dissolve the gelatine in a kitchen cup with a dash of water over a small saucepan, add this to the 280mil (9floz) and pour over the tongue.

Weigh it down as heavily as you can and leave it overnight, turn it our and it will be able to be carved easily. Serve with a selection of delicious pickles and chutneys as a garnish.

English Potted Meat

This is a very old fashioned way of eating meat. It originated in the days when meat could not be kept and this way it was able to be preserved for longer. No mater how it started, it is truly delicious and worthy of a picnic table or a great autumn or spring lunch. Eat this meat with a good hearty hot mustard or perhaps some of the wonderful Italian mustard fruits.

1.5kg (3lb) shin of beef on the bone, get the butcher to cut it into thickish slices, go for meat that has not got too much fat, some is necessary, but not excessive.

750gr (24oz) pickled salt pork belly, skin on.

6 black peppercorns

1/4 tspns ground cloves

1/2 tspn mace

1 bay leaf

2 tspns of anchovy essence (available from grocers or use 2 pounded anchovies)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beef and pork into a saucepan and cover with cold water, add the peppercorns, bay leaf and spices, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer. Simmer for 3 hours skimming off the scum that rises every now and then.

Remove the meat from the liquid and cool. When it is cool, take all the meat from the bones and skin of the pork, you can pull it apart with a fork or chop it, which ever you please, it should be on the small side.

Strain the stock and return the meat to the stock along with the anchovy essence or the two anchovies. Return the pot to the boil and cook on moderately high for 20 – 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning and if salt is needed, add now.

Take a nicely shaped bowl and pour the contents into the bowl, after you have rinsed it with cold water. Allow to set, this is best overnight in the refrigerator under a piece of kitchen plastic.

Turn it out onto a board, cut into thick slices and eat with great mustard fruit and a tomato salad.





Roasted Cauliflower

•May 27, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Roasted Cauliflower


Seems like it has become the flavour of the moment… thanks Ottolenghi perhaps? That said it is delicious and deserving of wide use. Cauliflower is a vegetable that I associated with just two dishes, simple boiled and tossed with some butter or in the occasionally mucked up, baked Cauliflower Cheese.


My Mother was a cook who was taught that no vegetable should be lightly cooked, consequently the water that cooked the vegetables held all the taste and goodness and was sent down the sink. Her cauliflower cheese was by any standards, mushy. On the other hand, there have been some that I have eaten where the cauliflower was undercooked and that does not work either. The BBC food log, usually quite reliable, suggests..


  1. Place a pot of well salted water and bring it to the boil.
  2. When boiling place in the segmented cauliflower (broken into florets).
  3. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes and then drain.


Not in my mothers case, cook for 20 + minutes.


The Cheese sauce, is as follows

40 grams butter

40 grams plain flour

400 mil milk

1 tspn English Mustard powder

100 grams mature cheddar cheese


Melt the butter, stir in the flour, add the milk (gradually or in my case all at once and whisk well), add the mustard and cheese, continue stirring until cheese is melted, season with salt and pepper.


Place cooked cauliflower in a dish with 5 cm high sides, top with the cheese sauce, scatter some good breadcrumbs, dot with some butter (not too much) and scatter some bacon pieces on, if liked.


Bake for 25 – 30 in 190 c oven.


Back to the roasted version. Slice the cauliflower in wedges of about 1.5 cm thick, place on a well oiled tray, brush with more EVOil and scatter some cumin powder, salt and pepper, place in a 190 c oven and roast until the top is browning, turn the wedges (some call them steaks) and cook until the underside is also browned, pour just a little EVO onto the underside. Cook till browned and they have some slightly burned bits.


Meanwhile, you need to decide what the next step will be.


  1. Tahini with Pomegranate seeds, caramelised Onion and Parsley.
  2. Blue Cheese with Caramelised Walnuts.
  3. Hummus with Yoghurt and parsley with a squeeze of Lemon.




A dressing that I like is:

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons mustard (Dijon)

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, crushed with the salt

2 tablespoons of EV Oil.


Crush the garlic with your knife blade with the salt, add to mortar, with the rest of your ingredients, with the pestle, blnd to a smooth paste.


The use of Caramelised nuts (walnuts is the most common, but Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pistachios and Cashews are also great) is often suggested to accompany. This is for 1/2 cup.


1/2 cup whole roasted walnuts

2 heaped teaspoons white sugar


Use a small heavy based saucepan, melt the sugar until it starts to go golden, this happens all of a sudden, so keep an eye on it. Cook the sugar a little more until it starts to brown… not too much or it will go bitter. Remove from the heat, pour in the walnuts and toss well to coat all, pour out onto a sheet of baking papper, with a skewer, separate and allow to harden.


There are many ways to use roasted cauliflower, be creative and devise your own.