Aug 9, 2020

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Italian Potato, Mussels and Rice Tray Bake

Silvia Colloca Apulian tray bake of mussels potatoes and rice

Like most people right now we’ve been cooking (and eating) a hell of a lot more than we usually do and this tray bake of mussels with potatoes and rice is one of the best things we’ve had during the last few months. There’s something about the simplicity of the flavours that makes it just so so delicious. I saw this recipe on Silvia Colloca’s television programme Cook Like an Italian and I must have made it at least 3 times now. I made one change from the original and that was to briefly cook the mussels first to open them – Sylvia shucks them raw but I found this quite time consuming. This is one you really have to try if you love mussels.

Ingredients – Serves 4   Adapted from Silvia Colloca

100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1-2 large French shallots, thinly sliced
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5 mm-thick slices (I used Desiree)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
350g cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to plunge them in hot water for a minute and remove their skins)
200g arborio rice, well washed in cold water
40g freshly grated pecorino
Small handful parsley leaves, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 220°C. Lightly grease a large, deep baking dish with olive oil (I use a 26 cm long, 7 cm deep dish that is perfect).

Mussel, Potato & Rice Tray Bake

Place a large pan with a lid over high heat and when hot add the drained mussels and put the lid on straight away. Shake the pan a little and leave for 30 seconds. Remove the lid and take the mussels out as soon as they start to open. Place the mussels in a bowl and remove and discard one half of the shell making sure to catch any juices.

Mussel, Potato & Rice Tray Bake

Place half the sliced shallots on the bottom of the dish, then cover with a layer of potatoes. Season with salt and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Top with half the cherry tomatoes. Place the opened mussels in one layer (if they won’t fit in one layer, I place any extra mussels onto one shell so some shells with have 2 mussels on it), then scatter the rice and remaining shallots over the top. Sprinkle with half the pecorino, the reserved mussel juices, more olive oil, salt and pepper and some chopped parsley. Add a top layer of potatoes, then the rest of the cherry tomatoes, a drizzle more oil, salt and pepper to taste, then the remaining parsley and pecorino.

Mussel, Potato & Rice Tray Bake

Pour enough water carefully down the sides of the dish (you don’t want to disturb the layers) to reach to just under the top layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200°C and bake for another 35 minutes. At the very end turn on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the top is golden and crunchy. Serve at the table in the dish.

Mussel, Potato & Rice Tray Bake

Apr 15, 2020

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Ina Garten’s Crispy Mustard Chicken with Frisee and Potatoes


Ina Garten Crispy Mustard Chicken

Ina knocks one out of the park again with this chicken dinner. It’s a complete meal on one platter and it’s super delicious. I wish more cookbook authors would test their recipes as thoroughly as the Barfoot Contessa. It’s reassuring to know that you can pick any of Ina’s recipes and, if you follow her instructions, end up with a fabulous dish. Having said that I did improvise a little with this recipe. Instead of using wine in the marinade I used buttermilk (actually I used cream with a splash of lemon juice to replicate buttermilk as I didn’t have any) – I wanted to really tenderise the chicken and the sturdier nature of buttermilk meant the breadcrumbs attached better to the chicken. I also used mainly fresh bread crumbs instead of Panko and I think it delivered more crunch. My husband declared this one of his all time favourite meals. There’s something about the vinaigrette over the salad leaves and potatoes and the crispy crumbed chicken pieces that makes this meal both comforting and elegant.

Ingredients – serves 2-3 (I made it for the two of us and the small amount of leftovers were delicious)
Adapted from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Cook Like a Pro

2 garlic cloves
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves – I used a couple of tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs and ¼ cup Panko crumbs
1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup good Dijon mustard
½ cup of buttermilk, you can sub with cream and a splash of lemon juice if you don’t have buttermilk
4 large skin-on chicken thighs
750g fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise 
300g baby frisée or chicory salad greens – I used mixed salad leaves and tried to find a mixed pack that used sturdier varieties

Mustard Vinaigrette
¼ cup minced shallots
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200C

To make the vinaigrette place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined and emulsified.

Place the garlic, thyme (or parsley), 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the butter and pulse a few times to moisten the crumbs. Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the mustard and buttermilk.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then place them in the buttermilk mixture making sure the marinade is all over the chicken and leave for 30 minutes (you can leave them for longer in the fridge if you like but just make sure you bring them to room temperature for dipping and cooking).

Whilst the chicken is marinating wash the potatoes well and halve them lengthways. Place in a pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Cook until just tender then drain and spread on a sheet pan with 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

After the marinade time is up dip each thigh on the skin side only in the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. After the first couple of pieces I found it easer to just pat the crumbs onto the chicken. Place the chicken on a sheet pan, crumb side up, and press any remaining crumbs onto the chicken.

Roast the chicken and potatoes for 40 to 50 minutes, turning the potatoes once during roasting. The chicken and potatoes should be done at the same time. Ina places the chicken and  potatoes on the same sheet pan which makes for easier clean up but I used two separate pans.

Meanwhile, place the greens on a serving platter. When the chicken and potatoes are done, toss the salad with enough vinaigrette to moisten and place the chicken and potatoes on top, adding any crumbs from the sheet pan. Sprinkle the remaining vinaigrette over the potatoes and serve straight away.

Ina Garten Crispy Mustard Chicken

Apr 4, 2020

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Lyonnaise Potatoes – Oven Baked but just as Delicious


I’m always searching for different potato recipes to add to our rotation and one classic I forgot about, until a recent holiday, is Lyonnaise potatoes. Crispy buttery potato discs with sweet caramelised onions, I can’t tell you how seriously delicious these are – so much so that it’s the only potato dish I’ve made for the last few weeks. When I searched for  recipes on-line I noticed nearly all of them required the potatoes to be pan fried. I’m not a fan of crisping up potatoes on the stove top. They need too much looking after and let’s face it when you’re trying to juggle various elements to bring dinner together you don’t want to be flipping and frying potatoes as well. So I decided to make my own version that are oven baked. The potatoes are sliced and par boiled then roasted. You caramelise some onions beforehand and then stir them through the potatoes in the last 10 minutes in the oven. All the prep can be done earlier in the day and the potatoes popped into the oven an hour before you want to eat. This is one you have to try!

Ingredients – serves 3-4, depending on how greedy you are
1kg yellow fleshed potatoes (large fingerlings are good), peeled and sliced – not too thin
2 good sized onions, peeled and sliced into thin round moons
Light olive oil or vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 220C. Rinse the sliced potatoes in a couple of changes of cold water. Place them into a saucepan and cover with cold water and a couple of teaspoons of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for a 2 minutes then drain.


Place enough oil in a shallow sided baking tray/sheet (non stick is best) until you have a thin coating on the bottom of the pan. You want to use a tray that will fit the potatoes snugly with most of the potatoes in one layer or only slight overlapping. Drizzle some more oil on top and season with some salt and pepper. Dice the butter and scatter over the potatoes. You can make it to this point ahead of time if you wish.  Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.


Whilst the potatoes are roasting, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a non stick skillet or frypan and add the onions along with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring the onions regularly, to ensure even browning until they are nicely golden and staring to caramelise. You don’t want to get them too dark as they’ll finish cooking in the oven.


After the potatoes have had their first 25 minutes of cooking, turn them over gently and roast for a further 20 minutes or until the potatoes are mostly golden and crispy. Add the cooked onions and stir them gently through the potatoes and cook for a further  10 minutes.



Aug 31, 2018


Kimchi Gratin

Restaurant Hubert Kimchi Gratin Recipe

Just when I thought I had gratinated everything possible, from potatoes and Brussel sprouts to chicken, I came across this Kimchi gratin at Restaurant Hubert in Sydney. What a fantastic concept – I love Kimchi in any form but it never occurred to me to use it in a gratin. If you’re not a fan of Kimchi don’t be deterred from trying this because the cream in the gratin (and the sweetness from caramelised onions) rounds out some of the more stringent Kimchi flavours, not enough to diffuse the essence of the Kimchi for those of us who love it, but enough to make it approachable for those who aren’t as keen. This pairs incredibly well with roast pork and chicken – I love having a side dish for a traditional roast that strays away from the usual offerings and has a little kick.

Ingredients – Serves 4  Adapted from Restaurant Hubert, Sydney

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg onions, thinly sliced
500 gm cabbage kimchi, thinly sliced
200 ml pouring cream
20 gm panko crumbs
100 gm finely grated Gruyère
Finely grated parmesan, to serve
15 gm butter


Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté onions, stirring often, until softened and lightly caramelised (25-30 minutes) – add more oil if you need it. Add kimchi and cook, stirring occasionally until warmed through (5 minutes). Add cream and reduce until the mixture thickens slightly (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and cool. While still warm, but not hot, stir in three-quarters of the Gruyère and transfer to a baking dish or individual shallow gratin dishes.


Heat a grill to high. Combine panko crumbs and remaining Gruyère and parmesan in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over kimchi, dot with butter, then grill until gratin is golden and bubbling. You can can also prepare the gratin in advance then pre-heat the oven to 200C and cook for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve hot.

Best Side Dish for Roasts - Kimchi Gratin

Aug 7, 2018


Blueberry Crostata – An Easy Free Form Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Crostata

I made this crostata, which is really just a free form pie, a few months ago during a small window in summer when berry prices here in Sydney were relatively inexpensive. Right now of course, being the depths of winter, it’s not going to be an ideal time to cook this and unfortunately frozen blueberries won’t really work. But I’m posting this for all you lucky people living in countries where it’s the height of summer and summer fruits and berries are in abundance. I’m actually not really fond of blueberries in their raw state but I love them when they are cooked and there is no better way to show off their flavour than in a pie. This pie is incredibly easy because it’s a free-form base that doesn’t need fitting into a pie dish, no upper crust to roll out and crimp on top and no blind baking. You could make it even easier by buying good store-bought all butter short crust pastry. One tip when making any fruit pie is to make sure to put some cornflour into the fruit mixture to soak up any excess liquid and I also dust the pastry with a small amount of cornflour too. This makes for a nice crisp crust as it protects the pastry from getting soggy from any juices that escape from the fruit. I like to make this in advance so as the fruit and pastry have time to settle before being cut – I usually make it a few hours earlier and serve it at room temperature but you could rest it for as little as 20 minutes if you prefer to serve the pie warm. If you try to slice it straight from the oven it will ooze a lot of juice. You can serve this plain but its even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients – Serves 6-8

For the Pastry: (You can also use all butter store-bought sweet crust pastry)
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Pinch of salt
90g cold butter, diced
Ice water (about 2 tablespoons)

For the Filling:
2 cups fresh blueberries (about 3-4 punnets)
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornflour divided
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup demerara sugar


Pre-heat oven to 200C. To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it is in small pieces and distributed throughout the flour. With the machine running, add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently form into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Once rested, place a large piece of baking paper onto your kitchen counter and roll the pastry out to 10 inch circle. Lift the paper and pastry and place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile place the blueberries into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of cornflour, the caster sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon and gently stir to combine. When the pastry has finished resting sprinkle the centre of the pastry lightly with the remaining cornflour. Place the blueberries in a pile in the centre of the pastry leaving a 2 inch border. Gently fold in the edges of crust all along the circle. Brush the outside of the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle on the demerara sugar.

Free Form Blueberry Pie Blueberry Crostata

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. You want the fruit to be bubbling and the crust golden. If the fruit is not bubbling leave it in until it is as the cornflour will not activate and thicken until the fruit and juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to settle for at least 20 minutes (I like to leave it for at an hour, or more) before slicing and serving.

Easy free form Blueberry pie

Jun 5, 2018

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Suzzane Goin’s Farro with Pumpkin & Slow Cooked Cavolo Nero

Suzzane Goin's Farro with pumpkin & Slow Cooked Cavolo Nero

Have you ever purchased a cook book and loved the sound of every recipe it contains only to get home and look properly through all the methods and realise there’s very slim chance you’re going to make any of them, despite how amazing they sound? Well that’s what happened to me years ago when I bought Suzzane Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques cook book. I had every intention of not being put off by the complicated and fiddly prep involved in most of the recipes because I knew the effort would surely lead to amazing results, but alas I never did. Until now, when I saw this recipe online and realised hey, this one doesn’t sound too laborious and gave it a whirl. I’m really glad I did because it was sensational. We pared it with a simple roast chicken but kept returning to the farro and pumpkin for more spoonfuls and it eclipsed the chicken so much that we probably could have done without it. There this recipe lay, lurking on my bookshelf, all these years and it took a search for farro side dishes on google for me to discover it! Now, when I say this recipe isn’t too laborious that’s only relative to other “normal” side dish recipes. There are a few extra steps here and you’ll go through a few more dishes than you think is necessary but trust me you’ll smile when you eat it and think to hell with the extra dishes and work, I’m going to make this again next week, which is exactly what I did. I’m going to dust off my copy of Sunday Suppers at Lucques to make sure I’m not missing out on any other gems, which I’m pretty sure I am – I’ll keep you posted.

Ingredients Serves 4 as a side dish   Adapted from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques

300-400g squad or pumpkin, diced (I used butternut pumpkin and peeled it as well as dicing)
180ml olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
450g cavolo nero leaves, cleaned, centre ribs removed and chopped (I used 1 bunch but I should have used more and weighed it properly
½ a sprig of rosemary
2 chiles de arbol, crumbled (i used a couple of pinches of chilli flakes)
2 onions, sliced plus ½ an onion cut into three wedges, with the root still attached
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into three pieces
1 stalk of celery, cut into three pieces
300g farro (spelt)
60ml sherry
30g unsalted butter (use olive oil if you want it to be vegan)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220C. bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Toss the squash with 30ml olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, ¾ teaspoon salt and a healthy pinch of pepper; spread out on a baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender.

Blanch the cavolo nero in the rapidly boiling water for 2 minutes, drain, let it cool and squeeze out excess water with your hands.

Heat a large pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes. pour in 60ml olive oil and add the rosemary spring and half the chilli. let them sizzle for a minute then turn the heat down to medium-low and add the sliced onion. season with ½ a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. cook for 2 minutes and stir in the sliced garlic. continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and beginning to colour.

Add the cavolo nero and 30ml extra olive oil, stirring to coat the greens. season with a ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook the greens slowly over a low heat for around 30 minutes until they turn a dark, almost black, colour and get slightly crispy on the edges. turn off the heat and set aside, removing the rosemary and chilli (if using a whole dried chilli).

While the cavolo nero is cooking, heat a large pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes. pour in the remaining 60ml oil and add the onion wedges, carrots, celery remaining chile and bay leaf. cook for about 5 minutes until they have begun to soften and turn golden. add the farro, 1 tablespoon of thyme and 2 teaspoons of salt to the pan, stirring to coat the farro with the oil. add the sherry and 1 ½ litres of water, bring to a boil, lower the heat then simmer for about 30 minutes until the farro is tender. drain the farro and spread out on a baking sheet to cool. discard the vegetables.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. swirl in the butter and when it foams add the farro and sauté, stirring continuously, for another 3-4 minutes, until it’s slightly crispy. add the squash and greens and stir well to combine. taste for seasoning and serve when it is all warmed through.

Suzanne Goin's Farro with pumpkin & Slow Cooked Cavolo Nero

Apr 13, 2018

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Polish Plum Cake – An Elegant & Delicious Old World Cake

The best cake ever to feed a large crowd

Wow, this is one amazing cake. I needed a cake to feed at least 12 people for a birthday morning tea, no simple feat. Well this cake did the job and it could have fed quite a few more as well. It’s the perfect coffee cake – moist and with a nice tang from the plums. I love the coffee and cake culture that exits in Europe. We were in Vienna last year and the cakes that we tried, almost on a daily basis, were just wonderful. This Polish plum cake is right up there with the best that we sampled. I think it would even translate well as a dessert. You do need to have a crowd to feed though as it requires a 30cm cake tin. As I mentioned, we had a quarter of cake left after feeding 12 hungry people, although the cake did keep well and we enjoyed it over the next few days -lets face it, left over cake is no great hardship. As I write this I suddenly remembered Mothers Day is only a few weeks away and this would be a great cake to serve after lunch and with plums still in season this is going on our menu.

Ingredients – Makes a 30cm cake which will feed 12-15  Adapted from Monday Morning Cooking Club

225 g plain flour (8 oz) (all purpose)
225 g self-raising flour (8 oz) (self-rising)
250 g Butter unsalted, chopped
230 g caster sugar (8 oz) (superfine)
3 whole egg yolks
150 g Sour Cream (5 1/3 oz)
12 – 16 whole plums (blood) washed, halved, stones removed (less if your plums are large)
1/4 cup Cinnamon Sugar for sprinkling
For the Crumble
300 g plain flour (10 1/2 oz) (all purpose)
345 g caster sugar (12 oz) (superfine)
190 g Butter chopped


To make the dough, put the flours and butter in a bowl and use your fingertips to mix them together, until the butter is evenly dispersed and the mixture forms crumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolks and sour cream and mix together using your hands or a wooden spoon. When a soft, sticky ball of dough is formed, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

To make the crumble, use your fingertips or a food processor to combine the flour, sugar and butter until crumbs form. Refrigerate until needed.


Remove the dough from the fridge 30 minutes before using. Preheat the oven to 180C (350 F). Grease a 28 – 30 cm springform cake tin. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough thickly, to fit the base and halfway up the side of the tin. Line the base and side of the tin with the dough, then place the plums on top, arranging them very close together.

Best Ever Coffee Cake - Polish Plum Cake

With your hands, squeeze the crumble mixture together, then break it up over the top of the plums. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the cake is golden on top and cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or ice cream.

Monday Morning Cooking Club - Polish Plum Cake

Jan 25, 2018


Soy Braised Mushroom Noodles

Stir Fried Mushrooms & Noodles

This is a big bowl of comforting goodness. I love mushrooms in any shape or form but when they’re braised in a sticky soy-rich sauce and paired with soft noodles they really become a thing of beauty. This is an easy dish to prepare and substantial enough to stand on its own as a main dish or you could serve it as a part of a multi-course Asian meal. I used Hokkien noodles from the supermarket but this recipe deserves a trip to the local Asian grocer for a bag of fresh Chinese wheat noodles which will make it even better, but at a pinch good quality Hokkien noodles from the super market will still be very good. You can make this dish vegan by using mushroom flavoured dark soy sauce.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6 (reheats well)   Adapted from Woks of Life

6 large dried shiitake mushrooms
240g oyster mushrooms, wiped clean and toes into bite size strips
240g shimeji mushrooms (or any other type of mushroom), wiped clean and sliced
3 tablespoons oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
3 spring onions, with the white parts chopped and the green parts julienned
1½ tablespoons dark soy sauce (use mushroom flavoured soy to make this dish vegan)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
The dried mushroom-soaking water, plus enough water to yield 2½ cups of liquid
1½ pounds fresh wheat noodles or other noodles of your choice
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Salt, to taste


Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of hot water for at least 30 minutes or until they are completely re-hydrated. Squeeze the water out of the rehydrated Shiitakes, then slice them thinly. Remember to save the mushroom soaking liquid.

Heat the oil in a wok or thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and white parts of the spring onions. Cook for a minute or two until the shallots turn translucent. Turn up the heat to high and add in all of the mushrooms, and spread them evenly across the wok.

Turn up the heat and let cook for a couple of minutes before stirring. Keep a steady heat to cook off any water in the mushrooms. Only stir when one side is browned slightly, and repeat the searing process until all of the mushrooms are browned and any liquid in the pan has been cooked off.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, the sugar, and 2½ cups of liquid––the mushroom water and fresh water combined. Cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime cook the noodles according to package directions and drain well.


After the mushrooms have been braising for 20 minutes (there should still be a good amount of sauce in the pan), add the cooked noodles, the sesame oil, and the julienned green parts of the scallions. Toss everything together so the noodles get fully coated in the mushroom sauce. Salt to taste and serve with chili oil or your choice of spicy condiment on the side.

Stir Fried Mushrooms with Noodles

Dec 18, 2017

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Easy Christmas Trifle with Peaches & Strawberries

Best Trifle for Christmas

If you need an easy Christmas dessert that’s delicious and a total crowd pleaser then a trifle might be just what you’re looking for. Now you can go all high-brow with trifles and make every element from scratch and there’s no problem with that at all, if you have the time and inclination, but a trifle is one of the rare instances where I’m not sure the extra work results in a better end result. At the end of the day a trifle is a mish-mash of flavours and textures – a kind of sweet mushy mess, so spending an afternoon making your own sponge or Swiss roll is probably a wasted effort. In this trifle everything is pretty much store-bought and hence it’s merely an assembly job. The only time-consuming element is waiting for the jelly to set and for the trifle to sit in the fridge for all the layers and flavours to meld. The only caveat to this being a great trifle is you need to buy really good quality store-bought ingredients. Look for the best ready-made custard with real vanilla seeds (no packet powered custard) and a sponge from a nice bakery – you get the picture. I’ve used fresh peaches and strawberries but you can sub it with any fruit you like and even use canned fruit in a pinch. I’ve kept this trifle booze free so as the kiddies can dig in too but of course feel free to douse it with your favourite tipple if you want to. Once you’ve stocked up on the ingredients it’s a breeze and you’ll end up with a dessert that looks impressive and will feed 8-10 greedy people.

Ingredients – Makes One Large Trifle, serves 8-10

2 packets of raspberry jelly
600ml of thickened cream
395g tin of condensed milk.
500g plain sponge cake or jam swiss roll
1 punnet of strawberries cut into large slices
4 peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
500ml of best quality store-bought vanilla custard
large handful of flaked almonds – toasted


Make the jelly as per the packet instructions and pour it into a large container (so as there is a thinnish level of jelly in the dish) and place into the fridge to set. Cut the sponge cake into large dice or slice the jam swiss roll into 1cm pieces. Place the cream and condensed milk into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Set aside until needed.

Arrange half of the sponge over the base of a 3 litre serving bowl and top with half of the custard, half the strawberries and peach slices, half of the jelly and half of the cream. Repeat in the same order until your serving bowl is filled and a layer of cream is on top.

Place your trifle into the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight if possible. Sprinkle the toasted flaked almonds over the top of your trifle just before serving.

Best Trifle for Christmas

Nov 16, 2017


Turkish Eggplant & Mince Kebabs – Tepside Paltican Kebab

Tepside Patlıcan Kebabı

Turkish people love their kebabs, almost as much as Persians, but the variety of kebabs available in Turkish cuisine is far more than any other country. Grilled, baked, chicken, lamb, seafood, mince, the list goes on and the variety of vegetables and spices incorporated into their kebabs are a thing of beauty. This oven baked kebab is perfect for those times when you want all the taste sensation of a good kebab but don’t want to bother firing up the grill. It can be made with minced lamb or beef but my preference is for good quality lamb mince that’s not too lean – the sort of fat to lean ratio you would use for a burger. The taste of the juicy lamb kebabs combined with tomatoes and eggplant is fabulous. Make sure you serve this with plenty of rice to soak up all the cooking juices, as well as some garlic spiked yogurt.

Ingredients – Serves 4 generously

For the Kebabs:
700g minced lamb (or beef), not too lean – see above
1 medium white onion, grated and excess juice extracted through a sieve
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Turkish chilli flakes – optional. Turkish chilli flakes are very mild, if you can’t access some, leave it out.

To Garnish – Long continental green capsicum/pepper, sliced (optional)

For the Tomato Sauce:
Olive oil or vegetable oil
1 large white onion finely diced
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons Turkish mild red pepper paste, you can substitute with tomato paste
1 x 400ml can of crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt & black pepper

For the Eggplants:
2-3 eggplants – long and narrow ones are best that are roughly the same width all the way
Light olive oil or Vegetable oil


Place all the ingredients for the kebabs in a bowl and knead well until the mixture becomes tacky and sticky. Alternatively you can place the ingredients into a food processor and process for a few minutes to achieve the same result. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Using wet hands shape the meat into small round patties that are roughly the same width as your eggplant (maybe slightly larger as they’ll shrink a little) and about 1.5cm thick. Heat a non stick fry pan over medium heat and cook the patties for a couple of minutes on each side until lightly seared. They won’t be cooked all the way through. Reserve any pan juices. Note: I didn’t pan sear my kebabs first and just layered them raw with the eggplant to cook in the oven. I think frying them first will lead to a much tastier end dish.

To make the tomato sauce. Heat a generous splash of oil into a small saucepan and add the onion along with a pinch of salt and cook over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes or until onion is completely soft. Add the garlic and turmeric and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the red pepper paste or tomato paste and cook it off for a minute or two. Add the crushed tomatoes and about 150ml of water and any reserved pan juices from cooking the kebabs and bring to a simmer. Add the sugar and season with some salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste again and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Baked Turkish Kebabs with Eggplant & Mince

Prepare the eggplant by slicing them into 1.5 cm rounds. Place them into a colander and sprinkle generously with salt and leave them to drain for 30 minutes. Place a large non stick fry pan over medium-high heat and add enough oil to come 1cm up the side of the pan. When the oil is up to temperature dry the eggplant slices with kitchen towels and add enough pieces to cover the pan in one layer. Cook until one side is lightly golden then turn and cook the other side. Repeat until all the eggplant is cooked, adding more oil as necessary. You will want to drain the eggplant on paper towels once cooked.

Once all the elements are prepared heat the oven to 180C. Take an oven proof round baking dish that is roughly 30cm and cover the base with a generous amount of the tomato sauce. Then layer the eggplants and meat patties in concentric circles to fill the pan. Spoon a bit more of the tomato sauce over the top and top with some slices of green capsicum/pepper if using. Cover tightly with baking paper lined foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from he oven and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving with rice or flat bread.

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