Summer Salads

The perfect meal on a hot Summer’s day, especially when the ingredients are straight from the vegetable garden! These recipes are perfect as they are very quick and easy to prepare, as well as being light and delicious and include :

  • Warm Chicken Salad
  • Bean There, Done That Salad
  • Warm Potato Salad with Mustard Mayonnaise
  • Green Salad with Vinaigrette
  • Gorgonzola and Pear Platter
  • Prawns with Seafood Sauce

Warm Chicken Salad (serves 4)

With many thanks to one of my favourite TV chefs, Ian Parmenter, from his book ‘Consuming Passions’. This is equally delicious served cold.BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 20.04.32Slice 2 skinned chicken breasts into thin strips and marinate in 1 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil and 1 dsp chilli sauce for at least 1 hour.BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 17.38.03Fry chicken pieces in 1 tbsp olive oil over a high heat for 1 minute. Do not overcook. Remove chicken pieces to a warm place.

In the same pan, stir 1 finely chopped clove garlic, 1 finely sliced red capsicum, 4-5 spring onions sliced into bite-sized pieces, 200g snow peas and 100g unsalted cashews for a few minutes, then toss in chicken.BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 19.56.01Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves on a large serving plate. Sprinkle with the juice of 1 lime or lemon and  1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander.

Bean There, Done That Salad (serves 4)

Another ‘Consuming Passions’ recipe! Super quick and easy and a meal in itself, which is perfect if you haven’t much time or energy!!!BlogSummerSalads20%ReszdIMG_5452Drain 1 large can tuna and 1 can white beans and put both tuna and beans in a bowl.

Add 1 finely sliced red onion, 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh basil, 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1.5 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp rinsed capers, freshly ground pepper and lastly, 1 tbsp plain low fat yoghurt and toss the salad well.

Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves, top with the salad and garnish with 2 tomatoes chopped into wedges. Serve with crusty fresh bread!

Warm Potato Salad with Mustard Mayonnaise (serves 6)

This is the recipe I have always used for potato salad, as it is very quick and easy to prepare and always delicious, whether eaten hot or cold! It only ever lasts one sitting, as it’s always demolished first go, no matter how many potatoes you use !!! This recipe comes from a book called ‘Luncheons’ by Ann Creber.BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 20.04.11Cut 1kg potatoes (peeled or unpeeled according to your preference) into bite-size pieces,  and steam till tender. It is much easier to pre-cut the potatoes before cooking than trying to slice steaming hot potatoes! Place in a large bowl.BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 19.20.04Mix together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup cream, 1 tbsp coarse-grained mustard and freshly ground pepper. Toss the potatoes in the sauce until well coated. Allow to stand till barely warm, then serve.

Green Salad with Vinaigrette

This is our standard daily lunchtime salad and the ingredients vary according to what we have in the garden or fridge!BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 20.03.28Wash, spin and tear a variety of lettuce leaves and rocket or baby spinach leaves and place in a bowl. Before I had a salad spinner, I used to put the salad leaves in a pillow case and whirl it round my head! The salad spinner is a lot easier!!!

Add diced cucumber and/or diced capsicum, cherry tomatoes, blanched snow peas, sliced avocado, olives, carrots, fresh herbs (basil, thyme, parsley)… basically whatever you feel like.

Make a vinaigrette from extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil and balsamic or white wine vinegar (or even lemon juice) in a ratio of 3:1. So, 3 tbsp oil to 1 tbsp vinegar! Add 1 clove finely diced garlic, 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp coarse-grained (or Dijon) mustard and shake well in a jar. Toss the salad in the vinaigrette just before serving or serve separately, especially if you think that all the salad may not be eaten. It keeps better in the fridge without the dressing on it!

Gorgonzola and Pear Platter

Very simple! Cut a Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia  and a pear into slices. Top each bread slice with gorgonzola cheese and a pear slice. Divine!!!BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 20.04.36Prawns in Seafood Sauce

I have always made this seafood sauce for as long as I can remember, so long in fact that I cannot remember its source!!!BlogSummerSalads20%ReszdIMG_5383 - CopyWhen we were living inland, I would always make this sauce before a trip to the coast, where we would feast on prawns and fresh bread rolls! When our ‘children’ were teenagers, I remember going to pack all the ingredients into the car, so I could make the sauce when we got there, only to discover that the large bottle of brandy was completely empty, when I knew we had had at least half a bottle the previous day! And no, the little darlings hadn’t drunk it! They’d rubbed down the coat of the old horse, who looked ‘cold’! Lucky old Rowie!!! If, like me, you discover the brandy cupboard is bare, I have substituted rum or whisky on other occasions and they all taste good!

Any more brandy?!

Mix together 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 tsp tomato sauce, 1 tsp brandy (Yes! That’s all I needed!!!), a few drops of Tabasco sauce to taste, a pinch of curry powder, 1 tsp lemon or lime juice and 2 finely chopped shallots. It’s that easy! And it tastes divine on prawns! I often double the recipe, especially when presented with a huge tub of sweet bay prawns, freshly caught that very morning from Bermagui, as we were recently! Thank you, Louise and Peter!!!BlogSummerSalads20%ReszdIMG_5291We had a delicious anniversary feast to celebrate our first year here in Candelo, much of it straight from the garden!BlogSummerSalads20%ReszdIMG_5260Here is a photo of our first anniversary meal!BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 20.03.16BlogSummerSalads20%Reszd2016-01-10 20.09.11Happy Holiday Feasting!!!














Christmas Pudding Wishes

It’s the end of November and Christmas is just around the corner! I always try to be on top of things coming up to the Festive Season, so I can enjoy it, rather than be stressing about getting everything done at the last minute!

Some things cannot be done until the day itself, like cooking the turkey and decorating the ham ; Some things need to wait until December, like decorating the Christmas tree or writing Christmas cards, though these days, instant email has a lot of advantages. I do still like Christmas cards to hang on a string across windows or decorate the mantelpiece, but I’m very selective now with my Christmas card list, especially given the price of postage these days!

Christmas gifts are often bought during the year, when I see the perfect present or a great sale price!

And I really like to prepare my Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake by the end of November at least, so their flavours can develop!

There are so many wonderful recipes for these Festive offerings. These are my favourite standbys :

Light Christmas Pudding

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I found this recipe in a book called  ‘Creating Gourmet Gifts’ by Barbara Beckett, which I bought over 20 years ago. It is a lovely book with many wonderful culinary gift ideas, so well worth searching for in secondhand bookstores.

I really like this recipe, as it is comparatively healthy and much lighter than the old suet-based recipes. Remember to allow extra time, as the fruit needs to soak for a few days before cooking and make sure all family members are present in the house on Pudding Cooking Day to make their wish for the coming year!

A few days beforehand

Slice 1.5 cups of prunes and put in a bowl with 2 tbsp mixed peel, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 cup sultanas, 1/2 cup currants, 1 grated carrot and 1 grated apple (I like to use a  Granny Smith apple).

Pour over 1/2 cup brandy and stir well. Cover and leave to macerate for several days.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 19.02.36BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 19.04.23Pudding Cooking Day

Put the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 eggs in a bowl and whisk well. Stir into mixed fruit.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.43.32BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.47.05BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.49.10BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.50.12Add 1 tsp grated nutmeg, 1 tsp ground allspice, 1 tsp ground cinammon, 3 cloves ground, 1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs, 1 cup sifted wholemeal self-raising flour and 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Let stand for 1 hour.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.55.07BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.57.26Meanwhile, double-grease the pudding basin to ensure the pudding turns out easily. Grease the bowl well with butter, put in the fridge for 15 minutes, then grease it again and refrigerate until ready to use. In the old days, I used to tie the pudding mixture up in a boiled, sterilized calico pudding cloth, but it was messy to clean up at the end and in the hot, humid Queensland Summers, I would invariably end up with a mouldy pudding by the time Christmas arrived. It is so much easier and quicker to use a bowl, so it is well worth investing in a classic pudding basin!BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.14.46BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.11.58Clean and sterilize pudding silver and let dry before use. I have a much prized collection of old shillings, sixpences and  threepences, which I count out every year after eating the pudding, as they are not so easy to come by now. When our family was young, we also bought each family member their own significant sterling silver charm – a lyrebird for Ross (which has disappeared since) , a thimble (well-chewed) for me and a pig, camel and hippo for the kids, representing their alter-egos.  Note that the silver used must be sterling silver, so modern currency cannot be used. Also, be extra carefully when eating, so that you don’t swallow the charms or break a filling or dentures!!!

Put the coins in the pudding mixture.

Assemble all the family to each take their turn at stirring the pudding mixture and making a wish for the coming year, eyes shut of course !BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.40.52Fill the pre-greased pudding basin with the pudding mixture and smooth the top flat. Cover the top of the basin with 2 layers of Gladwrap for a tight seal, then 2 layers of aluminium foil and tie around the lip of the bowl with string, then create a string handle to lift the bowl in and out of the boiling water.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.43.23BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.43.28BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.56.35Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then lift in the pudding basin and replace the saucepan lid. Make sure you don’t put too much water in the saucepan, as the pudding bowl will displace water. If the pudding bowl is sitting on the bottom of the pot, put a folded teatowel between the bottom of the pot and the pudding bowl, so the heat is not concentrated on the base.

Steam pudding for 4 hours, covered. Check the water level regularly and keep topped up with boiling water. When the four hours is up, remove the pudding basin from the hot water very carefully with the string handle and let cool.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 15.33.06When cold, refrigerate pudding till Christmas.

On Christmas Day, boil for another 1.5 hours before eating.

Remove pudding from the basin. It should slide out easily. Serve upside down on a Christmas plate and decorate the top with a holly leaf or greenery.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2014-12-25 11.25.06BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.31.41When you reach dessert, remove the decoration, then pour over spirits – rum, brandy or whiskey and set it alight! When the flames have died down, cut slices for everyone, hiding any exposed silver as you go, and serve with Hard Sauce or Rum Butter, both recipes of which also come from Barbara Beckett’s book ‘ Creating Gourmet Gifts’ and both of which can be made days or weeks beforehand.BlogXmaspudding40%ReszdIMG_8983BlogXmaspudding40%ReszdIMG_8988

Hard Sauce for Christmas Pudding

Mix 1/2 cup caster sugar and  1/2 cup milk powder together.

Add 1/3 cup melted butter and 3 tbsp rum and mix well.

Chill and serve cold with hot pudding.

Rum Butter

Put 1 cup unsalted butter in a bowl and stand in a saucepan of simmering water.

When the butter has melted, stir in 1.5 cups soft brown sugar.

When the sugar has dissolved, pour in 1 cup brown rum slowly, whisking all the time.

Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp grated nutmeg.

Pour into a butter dish and when cool, cover and keep in the fridge. This recipe can be made weeks beforehand.

Christmas Cake

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For the last few years, I have used an Irish Fruit Cake recipe, as I love the idea of soaking the fruit for three weeks, turning it every day and dreaming of the coming Christmas. It’s an exciting time! Here is the method :

Three weeks beforehand

Chop 360 g raisins, 360 g sultanas, 90 g dates, 90g glace cherries, 60 g mixed peel, 60 g depipped prunes and 30 g glace pineapple.

Combine in a large screwtop jar with a tight seal with 1 tsp grated lemon rind, 1 tsp grated orange rind, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup whiskey and 1/2 peeled grated green apple.

Shake well to mix fruit evenly.

Store in a cool, dry place for 3 weeks, reversing the jar every day.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.45.21

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At the start
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After 3 weeks

Baking Day :

Line a 20 cm square tin with Gladbake, extending 5 cm in height above the top edge of the tin. Set the oven to 150 degrees Celsius, with the baking shelf in the middle of the oven.

Add 30 g chopped walnuts and 60 g ground almonds to the fruit mixture in a bowl.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.42.27BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.43.02BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.43.42Sift 1.5 cups plain flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt.

Cream 180 g butter and 3/4 cup caster sugar and add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.38.01 - CopyAdd fruit and nut mixture to the above, then fold in the flour and spice mix.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.47.18BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.48.29Pour into tin and flatten the top.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.52.49Decorate with blanched almonds in your desired design.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.58.07Bake in 150 degrees Celsius oven for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 140 degrees Celsius for 1.5 – 2 hours, covering the tin with reflective aluminium foil,  if the top of the cake looks like it is burning .BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 20.39.17

When cooked, brush with 1 tbsp whiskey, cool in the tin and wrap in greaseproof paper and foil.

Remember to leave a slice out for Father Christmas with his beer on Christmas Eve ! Happy Feasting!!!