Friday 11 July 2014

Paw Paw Chutney

I'm one of those people who work best under pressure. If there's no deadline looming, you can be guaranteed I haven't started it yet. It seems that this is not only an area of talent in my professional life, but the skill also transfers into the kitchen as well! Some of my best recipes have been thrown together at the last minute, and this is no exception... It was created in 10 minutes on Monday afternoon at about 4:30, when I needed to have it ready to go by 6:30 the same day. I'd also been in Toowoomba all day. No pressure.. Luckily, we have a fabulous green grocer around the corner and I picked up a couple of 1/2 ripe papayas and a bottle of malt vinegar in a flying rush when I picked up N from Kindy. A quick practice run and I was in business. I flew out the door at 6:29 with my Thermomix bowl still warm from the practice batch. This is great to make when mangos are out of season, it has a similar taste & texture and is still just as delicious. It seemed to be a hit with my fellow Thermomix posse and I've had lots of them gently reminding me to hurry up and post the recipe all week!!! So... here goes. Just like the green mango chutney, this keeps well in the fridge or preserved in jars in the pantry. It's delicious with cold meats, dolloped on the side of a bbq plate, perfect with some sharp cheese on a cracker. It's excellent on sandwiches, it can be blended and mixed with a little oil to be used as a glaze for meats or roasted vegetables and is great with curries .

TM Instructions

450gms Green or 1/2 ripe Paw Paw or Papaya (approx 1/2 medium paw paw)
1 medium green apple - peeled and cored and cut into 4
1/2 medium red onion
10 gms peeled ginger
4-5 cloves garlic
1 birds eye chilli - if you want it spicy you can add more. If you're not keen on chilli remove the seeds
100gms pitted dates
100gms sultanas
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
300gms malt vinegar
100gms water
300gms brown sugar


1. Cut the skin off the paw paw and remove the seeds, cut into 3-4cm cubes 

2.) Add Paw Paw, Green apple, red onion and garlic to TM bowl and chop 2 secs | speed 5, set aside. 

3.) Add ginger and red chilli to bowl and chop 5 secs | Speed 6| scrape down side

4.) Add paw paw and apple/onion/garlic mix to TM bowl, add 
100gms dates and 100gms sultanas, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 tsp salt, 300gms malt vinegar, 100gms water and cook 10 mins | varoma |sp 1 | reverse with MC cap on
5.) Add 300gms brown sugar and cook 50 mins | 100 deg | Sp soft | reverse with the varoma bottom on top - this lets the steam out but catches the spitting.

6.) Cook for a further 20 mins | varoma | Sp 2 | reverse with varoma bottom on top You should be able to tell if the chutney is ready, as it will be thick and sticky, and it will 'gel' when tested on a cold plate. 

Bottle in hot sterile jars.

This recipe makes approximately 1 litre of chutney.

Stovetop Method 

3-4 medium to large paw paws
5 green apples
1 cup water
1.5 litres brown vinegar
1.5 kgs brown sugar
2 handful dates
2 handful sultanas or raisins
1 large knob of green ginger (peeled)
1 large knob of garlic  (all cloves peeled)
6 birds eye chillies (if you don't like spice you can leave these out or reduce down the amount)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 large red onions

1. Prepare paw paw as per TM method (peel, remove seeds)
2. Either use a food processor top chop paw paw/apple/onion/garlic/ginger OR dice up paw paw, apples, onion and garlic with a knife and grate ginger. Chop chillies finely. 

3. Add paw paw and apple to a large pot with 1 cup of water and bring to the boil stirring regularly

4. Add all ingredients EXCEPT sugar to a large pot, bring to the boil and then gently simmer for 1/2 an hour, stirring regularly

5. Add sugar and simmer on a low heat for 2.5 to 3.5 hours stirring regularly. 
This recipe makes about 3.5 kgs of chutney. If you don't have a pot large enough to put everything in, you can split it between 2 pots. Just halve the recipe if you don't want to make as much, the cooking time is similar though. 
Bottle in hot sterile jars.

Friday 20 June 2014

Cumin & lemon salted macadamias

It's been rainy and cold here over the past few days. This always inspires me to make things that are yummy and warming. I threw these salted nuts together and they were so popular I had to make another batch the next day!!

These are delicious & will keep well in an air tight jar, or in the freezer. Be warned though..... They are addictive!!

Cumin & lemon salted macadamias


2 cups macadamias
1 tbsp oil (I used olive, but you can use macadamia or whatever you like)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated lemon rind
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used fine ground Celtic sea salt


Preheat oven to 180*c fan bake.

Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl until the macadamias are evenly coated.

Spread evenly on oven tray, bake for 3-6 mins - depending on the size of your macadamia nuts, if you have whole nuts, 6 mins is fine, if you have halves or pieces they cook faster so give them 3 mins. If you have very small macadamia nuts, perhaps err on the side of caution & check them after 3 mins. 

Let them cool on the tray. 

Enjoy with cheese & wine! (Try not to eat them all at once!!) 

Monday 14 April 2014

Preserved lemons, rubbish sleepers and my chiropractors superfund.

I don't get to blog as much as I would like to. Most of my posts are done one handed on my iPhone while I rock my baby to sleep. My babies are rubbish sleepers. It seems the best and only place to be sleeping when you're a bebe - is on top of me. Mr 3 is a good sleeper now, but as a baby - rubbish. Mr 9-months is trying hard to break his brothers record of rubbish-sleeping-ness. It's going to be a close call. I know it won't last long and one day I'm going to look back and miss these days when all they wanted was to be tangled in my arms. <3 ..... although it does get tiresome, especially in the wee hours of the morning.  I bought a giant comfy armchair and ottoman when I was pregnant with my first son,  it's turned out to be a stellar investment as I have spent many a night in it (each one contributing handsomely to my chiropractors superfund) - many hours passed with a little boy tangled in my arms. So tonight, with Spider-man gently snoring on the other side of the room & my littlest super-hero snoozing on my chest, I shall pass on another recipe.

Preserved Lemons

I love lemons. LOVE them. Such versatile little things. I love a bit of lemon squeezed into cold water on a hot day. I love the juice of half a lemon in a mug with a tablespoon of honey when I'm feeling average. A couple of slices of lemon, a sprig of mint & a slice of ginger makes for a lovely simple tea. I use them in salad dressing, marinades, dips and desserts. I always have a few in my fruit bowl, even when you have to remortgage your house to buy them just before they come into season again!! As a kid I used to eat bush lemons, peeled like an orange & sprinkled in salt. Yum! Truth be told, I still do occasionally. I was so excited to see them appear on my co-op order list about 4 weeks ago! The first thing I did with my kilo of new season lemons, was preserve them. I was watching an episode of Food Safari ages ago & I saw someone preserve some lemons. I remember thinking how simple it looked. Then, when I paid $14 for a tiny  jar of them  in order to make my favorite chicken, preserved lemon & green olive tagine (that recipe comes later!), I almost died! I came home & promptly made my own. This year I have done several small jars - now you can do the same. 

Preserved lemons

*quantities depend on how much you want to make as explained below

You will need some sterile jars - depending on how many lemons you have. You can work on about 4-6 lemons for an average sized jar.


Cut the tops & bottoms off your lemons like so...

Then cut a cross in them, about 3/4 of the way down the lemon.

About this far down..

Then pack a heaped teaspoon of good quality salt into the centre....

.....and then into the other side....

Then pack lemons tightly into a jar. To make them fit better you can cut in half and pack with one heaped teaspoon of salt instead of 2.

Once all your lemons are in, add a couple more heaped teaspoons of salt on top for good luck. Then fill with filtered water. 

Seal tightly, and keep in a cool dark place for a month before using.  The water will 'thicken' when they're ready. Once you break the seal keep in the fridge.


Tuesday 1 April 2014

Tomato Passata - a chunky homestyle delicious sauce.

I just can't resist home made passata. It's simply sunshine in a bottle. When I lived in Cairns, I used to buy gorgeous plump ruby red tomatoes from the 'Happy tomato plantation' at Rusty's markets every week. These amazing farmers made the trip down from the tablelands each week so we could have the best and freshest produce. God bless farmers!!!!! I used buy kilos of their juicy tomatoes which only continued to get more delicious as they sat in a bowl on my windowsill and ripened further. 

Every time I'm in Cairns, I can't resist a trip to Rusty's markets to reminisce. I try and head in early on a Friday or Saturday morning and enjoy the mixture of tourists, backpackers, locals, farmers, buskers and characters. I buy myself a fresh coconut, a Govinda's yummy samosa or a Hasham's vegetable spring roll and walk around and enjoy. If I'm up home for a while, I usually arrive back at my Mum's house with a bunch of tropical flowers for her and a few bags of happy tomato plantation goodness - hopefully they are still there in the same spot - selling their gorgeous tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis eggplants and other delicious produce!

Tomato Passata - makes 750gms - 1 litre


1.5 to 1.6kgs ripe red tomatoes (make sure you leave them to ripen until they are red and soft to touch , or get your hands on a box of seconds)
1 brown onion
2-4 large cloves garlic (I use 4 large cloves)
a large hand full of basil leaves (I use the large sweet basil)
50gms olive oil
2 tablespoon of TM vegetable stock
2 tablespoons raw sugar
200-300gms water

a couple of stems of basil leaves for the preserving jars

TM Method

1.Prepare your tomatoes, with a paring knife, cut the core out of the tomato and cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato - this will mean that the skins will slip off easily once boiled. (I don't usually take the core out of mine, but you can)
2. Put the tomatoes in the varoma dish - you should be able to fit 1.5kgs approx at a time. If you are doing more than one batch of tomatoes, second and subsequent batches will only need 10 mins of steaming time. 



3.Cook tomatoes 20 mins | Varoma | Spd 2

4. Remove the varoma and set aside to cool (you may want to place a glass bowl underneath to catch any drips)

5. While the tomatoes are cooling, peel 1 medium brown onion, cut in half and add to TM bowl with peeled garlic cloves and basil. chop 1 sec | Sp 7 scrape down sides with spatula. Chop again 1 sec | Sp 7

6. Add 50gms olive oil and cook 4.5 mins | Varoma | Sp 2 with the MC off. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel off the skin off and add to TM bow with 200-300gms of water (if you have collected any cooking liquid in the bowl under the varoma from the tomatoes, you can use this as part of your 200-300gms water. I like 2 add 300gns but 200 with give you a slightly thicker sauce). Add 2 tbsp of TM vegetable stock & 2 tbsp sugar. 

7. Cook 45 mins | Varoma | Sp soft with basket sitting on top to prevent spitting. At the end of the 45 mins, taste and adjust seasoning if need be. If you prefer a thicker sauce you can reduce by cooking for a further 15 mins at varoma Spd soft with the basket on top.

8. Blend 5 secs | Sp 3. If you want a very smooth sauce, you can blend on a higher speed - be warned though, over processing of the tomatoes will cause the sauce to turn orange. 

If I am going to preserve this in bottles, I usually put a sprig of basil in the jar or bottle first and then pour the sauce on top. See below for my preserving tips.

I use this sauce as a base for so many meals - a base for pizza - just spread a little olive oil and then some of this sauce with some chopped garlic and add whatever toppings you please! I also use it for various pasta sauces. For a very quick easy lunchtime pasta, I mix some of this passata with a few tablespoons of smooth ricotta or a handful if crumbled feta and add a pinch of chilli flakes. Heat and stir through pasta (I would use Barilla Conchiglie Rigate for this sauce) with some freshly torn basil. I also use this with my Greek meatballs which are always a hit with my boys. 

Tip - You can freeze this sauce in portions (I always do 2-3 batches in a day) if you want to freeze for pizza, put some into icecube trays so you can take out a few at a time for quickly thawed pizza sauce. You can also bottle it. If you bottle, please follow preserving guidelines, using clean sterile bottles and bottle piping hot sauce into hot bottles.

I generally set my TM bowl of liquid aside after it's cooked and sterilise a 1 Lt bottle and lid in 500 mls water for 12 mins | varoma | sp 2. Then I add hot liquid to hot bottle/jar and seal immediately. Once I've completed all my batches, I boil the jars/bottles in a big pot with water up 3/4 of the side of the bottles or jars for 30 mins on a gentle simmer. 


A quick lunch pasta in progress. 

Monday 31 March 2014

Spelt pizza with cured salmon, avo & cucumber

My first attempt at curing salmon was a hit! Of course I wanted to try it straight away so I threw together a quick 'salad pizza' for dinner last night.....which was an absolute hit and demolished by Mr Slice of Vi & Mr 3. It was such a hit with Mr 3 that he asked for pizza for breakfast, there was a little flatbread and some salmon and avo left, so he had a brekky version this morning, I did need to do some explaining though when I dropped him off at kindy and he told all his teachers that he had pizza for breakfast...!!!! If you can't be bothered curing salmon, you will achieve a similar result with store bought smoked salmon. 

Spelt Pizza with cured salmon, avo & cucumber and lemon yogurt drizzle.


Pizza dough 

2 cloves garlic
300gms warm water
1pkt of instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt 
30gms oil
260gms plain white bakers flour
240gms spelt flour
Extra few pinches of flour for rolling 


A few hundred grams of finely sliced cured salmon (see my cured salmon recipe or you can use pre purchased smoked salmon) 
1 ripe avocado sliced - hass is my favorite!
1 cucumber finely sliced

Lemon yogurt drizzle sauce 

4-5 tablespoons thick Greek yogurt (unsweetened) 
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A few pinches of salt - to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper


Add garlic to TM bowl and chop 2 sec | Spd 7 
Add warm water and yeast, salt, oil & then flour. Mix 6 secs | Spd 6.
Kneed for 2 mins and set aside in a bowl covered with cling wrap to rise until doubled in size. 

Pre-heat your oven to 220*c or put your pizza stone in your BBQ on high (or if you're lucky enough to have a pizza oven in your backyard fire it up!!!)

While this is happening you can slice your salmon, cucumber and avo and set aside in fridge until pizza base is cooked. 

In a clean thermomix bowl, mix yogurt, lemon juice and salt and pepper 5 secs | Spd 4 and set aside in fridge.

Once dough is ready, divide the dough into the amount of pizza you want to make (I usually get 3 - 4 thin pizzas out of a batch of dough, as that's what we like, but if you like a thicker crust split the dough in 2) , roll out on a floured board into a round shape and put onto an oven tray. Spread a little olive oil on top and cook on a pizza stone or a hot oven until crunchy & golden. Once out, drizzle a tiny bit more oil (if necessary) and layer salmon, avo, cucumber & drizzle with lemon yogurt sauce.


Peppery Cured Salmon

I love salmon. LOVE it. It's one of my favorite things of all time. And smoked & cured salmon - I think I hear Angels calling!!!  I don't know why I've never made it myself - it's probably just never occurred to me that it's something you can easily do yourself.... But boy is it ever! This recipe is based on Fiona Hoskin's recipe from 'Devil of a Cookbook' if you don't have this cookbook I highly recommend you invest in it - it's fantastic. Fiona's original recipe is for 'Anise-scented cured salmon' - as soon as I read 'Anise' I though - I bet this would go beautifully with Szechuan pepper. One of my dearest friends Amy taught me to make this beautiful Chinese chicken dish which uses both Star Anise & Szechuan pepper and I love it - So I changed it a little bit. I hope you enjoy - we certainly did x

Peppery cured salmon


3 whole star anise
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons Szechuan pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
250grams rapadura sugar
250grams pink Himalayan rock salt 
a pinch of dried thyme
1 fillet of fresh Tasmanian salmon


1.) Remove the pin bones from the salmon - just run your finger along the salmon to find the strip of bones and pull them out with a pair of tweezers (I bought a new pair specifically for this you can pick then up cheap enough at the supermarket).

2.) places all spices into your thermomix bowl and mill 30 secs | Spd 9

3.) add salt and mill 3 secs | Spd 9

4.) add sugar and thyme and mix 10 secs | Spd 5 

Depending on the size of your fillet of salmon, you may want to divide this mixture in half as this quantity will cure a whole side of salmon. I cured a piece approx 600/700gms with half of the mixture.

5. Evenly coat both sides if the salmon with the mixture patting it down firmly and put it in a Pyrex type dish with glad wrap on in the fridge over night. I did mine mid afternoon & left overnight. In the morning, turn the fish over and leave it until the afternoon evening 6-10ish hours. Time will vary depending on the size & thickness of your piece of fish. Wash the fish under the tap and then pat dry with a paper towel. Slice very thinly and enjoy! 

If you don't have a thermomix you can use a food processor or mortar & pestle using the above recipe as a guide. 

Saturday 22 March 2014

Bread salad

It's lunchtime on a busy Sunday and I realise I haven't planned anything for lunch... I know I have some probably now stale bread stick in my tiny pantry and 3 ripe tomatoes glistening in the fruit bowl. So I quickly throw together a bread salad. Anything that uses bread and vinegar is usually a hit in this house, and this was no exception! 


1/4 loaf of stale hard bread - French stick, ciabatta, sourdough ect 
3 ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 garlic clove (I use 2 but we love garlic) 
1/4 red onion
8 slices hot salami
A dozen or so green olives 
2 tbsps capers
3 tbsps olive oil
1 tbspn red wine vinegar


Roughly chop bread, tomato and cucumber and add to salad bowl.
Crush garlic, fine line slice red onion and roughly chop salami and add to salad bowl. 
Add olives and capers to salad bowl.
Pour over olive oil and red wine vinegar & add salt and pepper to taste. 
Toss and serve immediately.

I add my olive oil and vinegar & taste if it needs more. I didn't have basil or Italuan parsley but both would be beautiful.


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