Monday, 28 October 2013


I have had the most horrendous time lately.  What started off as an ensuite renovation turned into a major nightmare.  When the contractors pulled out the existing bathroom they discovered half the house was sinking and needed restumping, to lift the house up to level.  The red gum stumps over the last 60 years had rotted and needed replacing! No choice really it needed to be done before anything else could continue. The house had to be jacked up on hydraulic jacks and new concrete stumps installed.  No mean task and no cheap exercise. Consequently I have a large number of large cracks in my plaster that has started falling off my freshly painted walls and my neat and tidy house is covered in dust and dirt.  What seems like a dozen  workmen are back and forward from front to back to disappear down the hole in the ensuite floor much like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. To add to this there is no electricity, so computer, TV and  oven are null and void.  The stream of workmen is very distracting which makes it near impossible to settle with a book or magazine.

Cooking could be the answer except the stove top is the only thing in operation (gas) and all recipes would have to rely on elbow grease. Hence I ended up flicking through my cookbooks waiting for a "jump out at me" recipe to appear.
I have had "Marion - Recipes and Stories from a Hungry Cook" up and down from the bookshelf for a few weeks but now with some recently bought beetroots her "Colour-me-Autumn Salad (even though we are crawling through Spring) looked pretty good.
Marion Grasby competed in the 2nd Australian series of Master Chef back in 2010. Everyone thought she was the favourite to win but was eliminated just before the finals which made front page news down under.
So with my fresh beetroots and  some local Boosey Creek Blue Cheese from a recent visit to the Royal Melbourne Show  a salad seemed to be the answer.
4 large beetroots
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons honey
125g cheese
Mixed Salad leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used Maggie Beers Vino Cotta)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 What to do…….
I debated boiling the beets and then the electricity came back on!
So wrap the beets in tin foil and roast in a preheated oven at 180C for 45-60 mins (depending on size).
To test beets, use a skewer or sharp knife to pierce through the foil and if they are tender all the way through they are cooked.

 While the beetroots are cooking, spread walnuts on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and drizzle with honey. Bake for 5 mins or until toasted and caramelised. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Remove from the paper before they are completely cool.
Remove beets from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes,   wearing rubber gloves gently peel off the skins, which should come away easily, cut off the tops and bottoms.  Cut into quarters.

Crumble or break into chunks the cheese. Lay salad leaves on a plate, lay on the warm beetroots, toss on the cheese, scatter over the honeyed walnuts, drizzle with balsamic or in my case the beautiful rich vino cotto and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This made my day just so much better. I am squeezing into Dom's Challenge for October Random Recipes and Local with this lovely cheese and beets.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder with Red Wine

Before the weather gets too warm spring is the best time to cook lamb.  I spied lamb shoulders recently that took me back to my childhood and as they were only $7.50 per kg I couldn't walk past them and decided to buy a couple for a Sunday roast.  My mother would always buy shoulder instead of leg when we were living at home - probably for economic reasons but we loved it hot and then cold in sandwiches.

So I bought my shoulder vaccum packed and on the back was this basic recipe that I just had to try.


2kg shoulder lamb
olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper
2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste
1 whole bulb of garlic broken into cloves
1 handfull of fresh rosemary
1 handful of fresh thyme
3 carrots pealed and roughly chopped
2 onions quartered
2 sticks of celery cut into pieces

3 potatoes diced
1 large leek washed thoroughly and chopped
8-10 tomatoes halved
3 bay leaves
2 x 400g tins of diced tomatoes
750ml of red wine

What to do...

Preheat oven to 160C
Rub lamb with oil salt and pepper
Place in a roasting tin ( put mine on a rack)
Make small incisions all over lamb and insert quartered cloves of garlic
Add rest of garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, leeks tomato paste and tomatoes to the tray around the meat.
Tuck rosemary and thyme under meat.
Pour tinned tomatoes over the top and fill tray with red wine.
Cover tray with tin foil and roast in oven and walk away for 3 hours !
Remove foil from tray and continue cooking for an additional hour or until lamb is soft and tender.
Remove from the oven and rest the meat on a board for at least 10 minutes
Continue to roast the veg in the red wine until you are ready to serve the lamb.

Gently break up the meat pull out the bones!

I had great reservations that this would happen, but amazingly the shoulder bone gently came away from the lamb so easily I couldn't believe it.

Remove any herb stalks. Season to taste.

Serve with the thick vegetable wine sauce and any other vegetables you fancy.

This serves 6 and takes four stress free hours to cook - So delicious!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Wish I was in Sydney tonight!

Just watched the spectacular fireworks, light show, music and Last Post played on the Harbour in Sydney tonight on TV (click her to see ABC coverage) to commorate the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet. It was the most wonderful sight, wished I was there!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Damper - Australian Bushman's Bread

I have been meaning to make damper for a while, admiring the simple recipe on the back of the flour bag for ages. Tonight was the night and spurred on by Kate at whatkatebaked I got my act into gear. Tea Time Challenge this month is bread.

500g Wallaby's Bakers Flour
20g Baking Powder
10g Milk Powder
5g salt
15g Canola Oil (I used vegetable oil)
310g water

What to do....
Combine oil and water
Sift and mix all dry ingredients together
Add the liquids and knead into a dough.
Turn out onto the bench and knead until smooth
Dust with flour and bake in a conventional oven for 20 minutes at 210C

Tap the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds hollow it is cooked. 
I made mine plain but you can add cheese, bacon, herbs for savoury or fruit, sugar or cinnamon for a sweet version.