Tag Archives: recipes

Prawns are such a yummy ingredient…

So tonight I am making Basil, Lemon & Prawn Pasta.

Oh yes I am…

Now we all know that recipes are difficult…so have some patience with me please.

This one is just for one person.


  1. A handful of pasta. I quite like the spinach fettuccine, but folks anything you fancy goes.
  2. Prawns. De-veined. I like them with tails on, which I chuck off once cooked. Now really I am kinda crazy about prawns…so I like a lot. 2015-09-24 17.43.33You may like less. Figure it out how many you feel like !!!
  3. A handful of chopped basil.2015-09-24 17.43.03
  4. A handful of drained capers.
  5. A tablespoon lemon juice.
  6. A tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Enough baby spinach leaves to cover your plate.2015-09-24 17.41.26

And here we go…

Cook the pasta until almost al dente. Then throw in your prawns for about three minutes. While all this is cooking wash and lay out your spinach leaves on the plate. Chop the basil. Me personally…I have so many lemons I squeezed the lemons while I waited.

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Once the pasta and prawns are cooked…throw them in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, capers, basil & olive oil. Toss your little old heart out.

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Then place them on top of the baby spinach leaves.

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Add salt & pepper to taste…and away you go.

Heaven for your tummy !!!!


Pets, Friends, Fresh Fruit & Preserving

Although we are heading in to winter here in New Zealand there is still loads of fruit around. Kiwifruit season has started.

Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don't think it is 'real' kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.
Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don’t think it is ‘real’ kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.

At the moment I have a couple staying with me from China who are on a year long trip around New Zealand. Sophie & Bob are very sweet and I am really enjoying the cultural exchanges that happen when you have people from another country staying with you.

Bob & Sophie checking out the local 'old' car show.
Bob & Sophie checking out the local ‘old’ car show.

The fur babies are a hit. They are loving all the attention they are getting from two extra people. Which is good news as a few of them have had incidences in the recent past. Charlie in particular has been propping up the vet’s bank account though Jackie has done her fair share to keep up.

Jackie in her 'happy' place.
Jackie in her ‘happy’ place.

Recently she took to hiding under my bed. Warning signals flashed when she began to refuse to come out for two days. When we visited the vet it turned out three of her teeth were infected. I felt like the worst fur baby mama ever. The vet was a little shocked as only a few months ago she had her regular check up and though there was some tartar it was not enough to worry about. Apparently that can change quickly. We had to have the teeth taken out and for a week or more I had one very unhappy pussy cat. Sophie & Bob were sure I only had the one cat, as she was not at all social. Though under the bed still seems to be her ‘happy’ place, at least these days she is back to eating normal food and seems quite happy to venture out again. Now the baby of the family [Charlie] thinks he needs to make sure that other cats in the area know he is man. When the neighbours recently had family staying which also added three new cats to the mix, things got a little hairy. A trip to the vets was in order when he came home barely able to walk. The pads on his feet were in a terrible state and he had had a knock around his shoulder as well as scratches to his neck. We are still unsure what happened but either he tried to take on the whole neighbourhood’s cat population or possible a dog got hold of him. Seems that wasn’t enough of a deterrent. Last Friday evening he again came home in a sorry state. Does anyone else notice pets seem to get in to strife when the vets are closed ????? Great gouges out of his eyelid and nose, as well as one very sore left shoulder area. He was lucky though that the claw that did the damage missed his eyeball. I was lucky [financially] that the tear in his lid does not require surgery to stop it irritating the eye in future. Today is the first day he has been allowed outside since the incident. We have had to listen to a rather loud ongoing vocal disapproval of being confined indoors. I wondered if he was going to fly this morning when I opened the door for him, he took off so fast his feet seemed airborne.

The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.
The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.

As for Chevvy…luckily for me she is behaving at the moment. Though a wee while ago she also got in to a scrap which saw her eye and paws in a sorry state. I am thinking of arranging an extra mortgage just to keep up with the vets bills. We have managed to fix the fence problem. For a small dog she sure can scale things, but these days she no longer escapes the minute my back is turned. She does enjoy a good bone on the lawn as a reward.

The bone is almost as big as the dog.
The bone is almost as big as the dog.

I have taken to soothing my nerves with cooking. I recently raided a few friends’ gardens and came home with bags full of bounty. From one friend I came home with enough Red Cherry Guavas to make 13 jars of guava jelly.

Red Cherry Guavas
Red Cherry Guavas

This is the cookbook I got the recipe from…isn’t it beautiful ??

Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.
Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.

This was my second attempt at the jelly and I am thrilled with the results. This recipe makes it hard to go wrong…I did add a little extra pectin. I also had to look up how many cups a quart is. 2015-04-21 10.37.39I have become a bit of an addict when it comes to guava jelly.

Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.
Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.

From another friend I scored two bags of feijoas and some Chilean Guavas.

Chilean Guavas...tiny yes but sooo delicious.
Chilean Guavas…tiny yes but sooo delicious.

By crikey, I think my love affair with guavas has become a permanent relationship. I might try my hand at feijoa jam next. I will keep you updated.

Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.
Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.

Although I have been advised that feijoa chutney is pretty good too. My next stop saw me bag a whole lot of apples. They reminded me of growing up. These days in the supermarket the only fruit you see is shiny and there is never a mark to be seen. Of course this all comes about because of pesticide use. Growing up, fruit was never perfect, but it was still delicious and pesticide free. Those apples took me back to a time when you either cut out the bad bits…or you just ate them anyway.

Pesticide free apples.
Pesticide free apples.

I picked what may well be the last of the chillies from my garden yesterday.

There is something so tempting about red food.
There is something so tempting about red food.

Later today I am attempting to make Chilli & Apple Jelly. This could be interesting. I have already a jar of chilli sauce fermenting in my pantry. Yes I did say fermenting. I am in to fermenting these days. Even made a batch of Zuurkool the other day.

Zuurkool ready to eat.
Zuurkool ready to eat.

That is the Dutch name for Sauerkraut. I haven’t made it in years and feel that perhaps I added too much salt. But we live and we learn, and after a good rinse it was very yummy. To finish off what was a rather long winding post I thought I would leave you with a video of Chevvy…doing what Chevvy does best…being cute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2RJZYvlwmQ

Moist Orange Poached Egg Cakes

This is my version of a recipe that was adapted from another version by a chef at the Auckland Heritage Hotel. It tasted amazing. I did not have a straight up muffin tin so they were not as high I think. Next time I might investigate using baking paper in the tins and making them higher. I also want to try making them with lemons, limes or grapefruit.


  • 1 large orange
  • 1/4 cup of castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 8 free range eggs
  • 200-220g of ground almonds
  • 185g of castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

First off you have to put the orange in a pot and cover it with cold water. This was interesting as the orange kept floating higher and higher in the pot. Eventually I gave up and just hoped for the best. Then stir in the 1/4 cup castor sugar and slowly bring it to the boil. Cover the pot and leave it to simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours, turning the orange occasionally.

IMG_8634 copy
See…I told you it kept floating !

Then go and have a nice glass of wine with a friend while you chat and wait for the 1 1/2 hours to pass. Or you could watch a good movie together.

I'm on the telly !!!!
I’m on the telly !!!!

Now it is time to take the orange out and let it cool. Once cooled chop the orange in to segments and get rid of any pips.

Make sure you have an audience who will cheer you on as you continue to make this masterpiece.

Please, please drop something, why don't you !!!
Please, please drop something, why don’t you !!!

Get a frypan, add water and bring it to a simmer. Add the apple cider vinegar. Now crack open three of the eggs and poach until they are just cooked. Don’t ask me what that means. I like mine a little runny still.

IMG_8644 copyThen take the eggs out and allow them to cool down. If you like them a little runny like me…for God’s sake…don’t drop any. At least try not to. However, if you do stay calm. Do not let the BIG GREEN monster out. You will regret it.

441287de56f147383Next step…have another glass of wine. Especially if you dropped one of the poached eggs.

Day 104 - 14.4.2013Now we get to the serious part…preheat your oven. About 160%C. Lightly grease your muffin tin [a 12 muffin muffin tin]. Make sure the Muffin Man has left home first.

Put the ground almonds and sugar in a nice BIG bowl. Yes people, you need a BIG bowl. Take it from me who spent a lot of time wiping down benches and clothing from NOT using a BIG bowl.

IMG_0270Add the chopped orange segments, the remaining five eggs and the three [hopefully you still have three] poached eggs.

IMG_8645 copyTurn on the beater and go for it. Do not worry if there is any heckling in the front rows.

IMG_8637 copyI told you you need a BIG bowl. I am NOT kidding.

m3yqe5Ihnx9PazUjyJBdvwYou have to beat the mixture until the mixture becomes smooth. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin holes.

IMG_8647 copyBake for 40 minutes.

IMG_8648 copyIt is now time to have glass of wine number three. A bold full bodied one is recommended here.

L4CzEth68HcyMpJpQ_KczQTake a wooden skewer and test the muffins.

IMG_8649 copyIf it comes out clean you are done. Turn out on to a wire rack and cool. This is the time to take a rest.

PhotoFunia-43316d0.1This is great if you top it with one of the following.

  • Thick yoghurt
  • Whipped cream
  • Mascarpone

Then grate either some orange peel or dark chocolate over.

Last step…pour another glass of wine and eat. And remember you are a super hero…

PhotoFunia-4323983Now…just because this is funny…hamsters are insanely good at falling over ‘dead’, but OMG…the parrot at 50 seconds in, I nearly wet my pants laughing !!!!

White Chocolate Mud Cake Panic…

When my daughter was turning 21, she asked me to make her a cake.

I was thrilled.

One of the traditions from my kids’ birthdays, was making THE cake. Over the years I have made trains, a marshmallow doll, racing cars, rockets, pianos. So many cakes.

Once they reached the age where it was no longer cool to have such things – I reluctantly conceded defeat and hung up my cake making apron.

For about 33 seconds my heart was jumping about in my chest with joy. Then she told me she wanted a white chocolate mud cake – with raspberry jam, and marzipan and royal icing. The joy ran out the building screaming.

The more I looked into to it the more panic I felt.

With a lot of cajoling I convinced her that marzipan icing was not the best idea. So we settled on just the royal icing.

Thankfully, although I live in a small rural town, we boast a terrific cake maker. She was kind enough to talk me through some of the more difficult moments.

I began with a recipe from a friend for the actual mud cake. Making two batches, I used a loaf tin which I later trimmed to look like a number 1, and a tin shaped as a number 5, which I turned around for the 2.

Anne – our local cake wizard suggested that as I had not made royal icing before – perhaps now was not the time to start.

So off to the supermarket I went to purchase two packets of royal icing – that stuff is magic – I love it, and by the time you buy all the ingredients plus spend time making it yourself – nah. It is a bargain, really !!!!!!!

It was a time consuming process. First the cakes had to be made and then sit for a day. this makes cutting them to shape and icing them easier.

I’m sure I looked a bit demented during the icing process. The number 1 was where I began. It looked the easier of the two cakes, and I thought a bit of practise, handing the icing before tackling the number 2, was needed.

This was my schedule:

Day 1 – bake the cakes

Day 2 – cut the number 1 to shape and smother them with raspberry jam. Leave this to soak in thoroughly, away from any animals that might be tempted to take a large bite out of it.

Day 3 – ice the cakes

Day 4 – finish the decorating

Day 5 – get up at an unholy hour to finish off all the other food needed. Then drive 2 hours, praying we never had to stop suddenly, to get to the daughter’s house. Spend the rest of the morning preparing food that will be eaten as if everyone has turbo suction attached to them.

It’s not their fault – they’re students and don’t eat properly due to funds being spent on more essential items such as

  • concert tickets
  • alcohol
  • clothes

and other such items.

The following is the recipe I used:

Cake ingredients

300g white chocolate

200 grams of butter

250 ml (1 cup) milk

165 grams (3/4 cup) of caster sugar

2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

100 grams  (2/3 cup) of self-raising flour

150 grams (1 cup) of plain flour


First, preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius (145 degrees Celsius fan-forced).

second, grease your cake pan and line the base and sides of the pan with baking paper.

Place chocolate, butter, milk and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when chocolate and butter have melted, and stir mixture until it is completely smooth. Then allow the mixture to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Now add the vanilla and eggs to the chocolate mixture, stirring until it is well combined.

Stir flours together in a large bowl. Add one cup of chocolate mixture to the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms.

Repeat with another cup of the chocolate mixture.

Add remaining chocolate mixture and stir until mixture is smooth. This gradual method of combining the wet and dry ingredients helps prevent lumps.

Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. When the cake is ready, a fine-bladed knife inserted into the centre of the cake should come out without any batter attached.

Loosely cover cake with grease-proof paper or a clean tea towel and allow it to cool to room temperature in pan before turning it out.


Leave the icing to warm to room temperature before using.

Cover a board in icing sugar and sprinkle more, liberally, over the top as you roll it out to the thickness you desire. You need to be able to handle it without breaking.

It is an art. I started over again a few times, but eventually got into the swing of it.

Joining the edges requires some patience. Warm a knife in hot water and running it over the edges smooth them together. It sounds easier than it is – or am I just a clutz?

Eventually I had that done.

But I am Australian born – so of course that didn’t satisfy me did it?


I had to add not only self-made chocolate stars all over it, but shooting ones as well.

That process in itself is almost worthy of another discussion.

The finished cake…


Homemade Spinach Soup

This recipe came about because I found out I had high cholesterol – and needed ‘oat bran’ in my diet. Oat bran washes the cholesterol your liver produces out of your system.

I’m always looking for ways to add it to my diet WITHOUT RUINING THE FOOD.

I love spinach – and a friend gave me a plant, so SPINACH SOUP it was.

Fresh Spinach

This soup is really creamy and hearty, and YUMMY – great with crusty bread.


1 cup of onion, chopped (red onion lightens the onion flavour a little)
1/4 cup spring onions, chopped
1/4 cup apple juice (I juice my own – leave the skin on, if it is organic – just cut out the core and pips)
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (you can use dried if you have to – about 1/8 of a cup)
1/4 cup celery, chopped
4 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme (again dried is okay – 1/2 of a teaspoon)
a good pinch or two of black pepper

Take a large saucepan and using a reasonably high heat, sauté onions and spring onions in the apple juice and oil for five minutes.

Stir frequently while doing this.

Next, you add the spinach, parsley and celery.

Cook for five minutes, stir now and then.

Chuck in the vege broth, oat bran, salt, thyme and pepper.

Bring this to the boil.

Lower heat to medium.

Cover the soup mixture and let it simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

Take of the heat.

Cool for approximately 10 minutes.

Puree in a blender. I like soup to have a bit of chunkiness – so I don’t make it too smooth. Taste as you go along until it is at a consistency YOU like.

Return to the pot to reheat and serve.

Then – eat, eat, eat and ENJOY.


This soup is also great with homemade melba toast (stick some stale bread in the oven on a low heat for an hour or so), with the Tuna, Cannellini Bean, Avocado and Red Onion Salad on top.

Homemade Broccoli Soup

Margaret's Broccoli Soup

I had this at a friend’s place for lunch one day and was addicted immediately.

700 g broccoli

1 small onion

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

salt & pepper to taste


1. Cook the broccoli and onion in the stock until tender.

2. Add the mustard and blend (I like to leave it a bit chunky still)

3. Add a cup of cream or yoghurt

4. EAT

Even kittens know how yummy broccoli is…

Fresh Tomato Soup

This is a friend’s recipe – and it really is the best!!

25 g butter

1 onion thinly sliced

1 carrot thinly sliced

1 tablespoon flour

750 g tomatoes peeled and chopped (if you want to cheat – use 2 x 400 g cans)

3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock

1 bay leaf

a pinch of ground mace


1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion and carrot.

2. Cook over low heat (covered) for 5 -10 minutes.

3. Stir in flour.

4. Add tomatoes, stock and spices.

5. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes

6. Puree in blender/food processor.

7. Enjoy

Bean and Vegetable Curry

1 large red onion, peeled and thickly sliced

1 large orange-fleshed kumara (sweet potato), peeled and diced

1/2 a cauliflower or 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets

1 cup water or vegetable stock

1 green or red capsicum, diced

400 g tin of kidney or butter beans (I prefer the butter beans)

400 g jar of curry sauce – or you could make your own (I do – here it is)

1 cup plain unsweetened Greek yoghurt


1. Cook the onion in a dash (that sounds so professional don’t you think?) of oil in a large lidded frypan for 5 minutes over a low heat until it begins to soften.

2. Add the kumera (sweet potato), cauliflower/broccoli, and water/stock.

3. Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir the capsicum, beans (drain well first), and curry sauce into the mixture.

5. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

6. Stir in the yoghurt, heat, being careful NOT to boil it.

7. Perfect as a dish on its own or you can pour it over rice.

This recipe will serve 4 people.

It freezes great – so for those of us cooking for one, divide into four servings.

Then you can reach for it on a lazy day – sounds great to me !!!

Tuna, Cannellini Bean, Avocado and Red Onion Salad

This recipe will serve 4 people.


400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

300g good-quality tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked into large chunks

1 diced avocado

1 small red onion, finely sliced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved or 4 truss ripened tomatoes, diced

large handful fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1 small lemon, juice

1 tsp hot English mustard

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and pepper, to season

fresh or jalapeno chillies (optional)

4 thick slices any good hearty bread

3 tbsp tomato paste or for a change you can use basil pesto

1 small lemon (extra), cut into wedges, to serve

1 To make salad, in a bowl combine beans, tuna, onion, tomatoes, avocado and parsley. In a separate bowl whisk 2 tbsp of the oil, lemon juice, mustard and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mustard mixture over bean mixture and toss lightly.

2 Heat a griddle pan until hot. Brush bread on both sides with remaining oil and griddle for 1 minute each side until golden with charred lines. You can also turn the oven to 100% C and slowly cook the bread into melba toast – it takes approximately an hour.

3 Spread 1 side of toast with tomato or basil pesto. Top with salad and serve with lemon wedges (extra).

4 Another delicious alternative to the bread/toast is to wrap the salad mixture in an iceberg lettuce leaf for a refreshing snack.