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Main dishes

Vegetable custards

Leeks in Sour Cream

You’ll need:

Minimum 1 leek



Trim all green and tough bits from the leek. You will be left with a disappointingly small amount of leek, but it will be divine so don’t cheat and add any iffy bits. Give the larger portion to the chooks, to keep them amused pecking at it for hours, then cut the slim white remnants in half long ways. Place in a baking dish. Cover with sour cream. Bake at 150 ºC for at least 2 hours, but 4 does no harm at all. The cream will soak into the leek and all that will be left will be a hint of what is almost butter, crusty crispy tops and sides and meltingly glorious leek. Eat with crusty bread, and nothing else, no meat, no spuds, no salad. This is complete in itself.

Lemon Zucchini with Pasta


4 cups cooked pasta

¼ cup olive oil

4 tbsp chives, chopped

2 large red onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

6 zucchini, chopped

juice of 3 lemons

4 tbsp pine nuts


Sauté the zucchini on high in the olive oil till lightly browned. Lower the heat to low. Add pine nuts, onion and garlic and sauté till the onion is soft. Turn onto high; add the lemon juice, sizzle for ten seconds then mix in the cooked pasta and chives. Take off the heat. Serve hot or as an excellent salad.

An Autumn Caponata


You can only make this in autumn- the veg must be fat and sweet

6 red capsicum

6-12 large red toatoes, peeled by dipping in boiingw ater

12 red onions peeled and quatered

a bulb garlic, peeled

10 small egg plants, halved and sprinkled with salt

10 tb olive oil

6 tb red wine vinegar

2 tb brown sugar



Oil a baking tray. Bake the onions and garlic  till soft.

Place in an oven dish.

Squeeze the juice from the eggplants and bake till soft.

Place in oven dish.

Bake capsicum on high till blackened. Place in a plastic bag or

container till the peel wrinkles as they cool. Remove skin and seeds.

Place in oven dish. Add the rest of the oil, vinegar, sugar, and bake

at 200C  with the lid off, stirring only a little, till the toatoes

are cooked.

It will be extraordinary.

Eat with crusty bread, hot cold or tepid. Keep in a sealed container

for up to a week.


Carrot soup


4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 large potato (or two small) peeled and chopped

1 large carton chicken stock


Boil ten minutes. Blend. If you don’t have a blender, chop the onion finely; otherwise, big chunks are fine.

You can sprinkle the top with summer savoury - a great herb, but you need to grow your own – or chopped coriander.

Variation: add 1 tablespoon of curry paste: I prefer it this way, though I usually make my own curry mix. Coriander is especially good as a garnish with the curried version.

Peas with Parmesan and Pasta


4 cups of freshly cooked peas

4 heaped tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 tbsp double cream

3/4 cup cooked pasta per person

Generous grinding of black pepper


Mix the hot veg with the pasta in a saucepan; add cheese and cream, stir in at a high heat for thirty seconds, then serve hot and delicious.

Ultimate comfort chicken soup


Take a very large pot and add:

1 kg chicken wings, chicken carcasses or one elderly chook

6 carrots, chopped

6 leeks, white part only, well chopped

1 bunch celery, well washed (leave on the leaves), chopped

6 red onions, chopped

10 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bunch parsley

1 fresh chilli

¼ cup barley


Cover with water

Simmer 1 hours.

Remove the chook when cool and chop up the meat. Keep soup in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to three months. You can  omit the barley, and add your favourite noodles when reheating.  

You can also strain off the vegetable and chicken rich liquid; throw the old veg and meat to the chooks, and add freshly sauteed veg (your choice: chopped leeks, skinned tomatoes,  chopped carrots,  or fresh chopped mushrooms with chopped parsley or coriander) just before serving. This gives you a rich stock plus the taste of fresh veg- more work, but a far more delicious result., But the ‘all simmered together’ soup is wonderfully comforting too, if less haute cuisine)

Onion not quite a tart


4 large red onions, peeled and finely chopped (wear wrap-around sunglasses)

 4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp fresh thyme, the soft leafed kind, not the skinny extra fragrant ones

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs

1 tbsp poppy seeds

Sauté the onions till very soft indeed in the olive oil. They should be gold, but don’t let them brown or they’ll be bitter. Mix with all but the poppy seeds. Place in a baking dish, scatter on the poppy seeds. Bake at 200º C for about 30 minutes or till firm. Eat hot. The cooking time may vary, depending on how deep your dish is. Deeper dishes need more cooking. The top should be pale brown and firm, but don’t overcook or it will be rubbery.

You can make this in a pre-cooked pastry ‘tart’ case, but as the filling is usually more delicious than the pastry, save calories, time and money and don’t bother with it.

Asparagus Pasta

1 bunch asparagus

1 cup water

1 heaped tb butter

1 heaped tb flour

half cup cream

juice of half a lemon

1-3 tb chopped parsley

4 eggs, not too hardboiled ie cooked for about 6 minutes

possibly a little milk

Black pepper

Salt to taste

Optional: 1 tb parmesan cheese, grated


Boil asparagus in the water till it's as soft as you like it. Scoop out the asparagus and snap off the hard bottom bits- don't do this before cooking as they will flavour the water.

In another pan melt the butter; stir in the flour; slowly add the asparagus water, stirring well so it isn't lumpy. Add the cream; stir till thickened over a low heat. you may need to add milk to thin it. Add the lemon juice, the parsley, the cheese if you are using it. Stir again over a low heat while you add the chopped asparagus. Take off the heat as soon as the asparagus is warm- don't cook it any more.

Pour the sauce over the pasta; chop the hardboiled eggs on top of it, one or two per person.

Provencal Loaf


1 French loaf

6 small eggplant, thinly sliced

 3 tbsp olive oil

12 very ripe tomatoes, cored, peled and chopped into rough squares

6 cloves garlic, chopped

6 tbsp chives, chopped

3 cups of good strong cheddar cheese, or stringy mozzarella,  grated, per metre of loaf


Fry the sliced eggplant with the garlic till the slices are brown on both sides. Remove from the pan.

Cut slices in the top of the loaf to about two thirds of the way down, and about three centimetres apart. Pull out about a a third of the bread so you are left with thinnish rough slices. Brush these with olive oil.

Place the loaf in a hot oven for about five minutes. It will just begin to crisp at the edges. Remove from the oven, place eggplant, tomatoes, cheese etc between each slice, replace in the oven till the loaf is dark brown on top, the tomatoes hot and their juice is running into the bread. Take out, scatter on the chives. Eat at once.

Potato and Leek Soup


Again, creamy without cream. Also fast.

Bung in a pot:

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced

3 leeks, tough green bits chopped off and tough outer layers removed. If you have a blender, don’t chop. If you don’t, chop as finely as you can.

1 large container of chicken stock

Optional: 2 peeled and chopped carrots


Boil ten minutes. Mash or blend.

This can be served hot or cold; each bowl can be sprinkled with finely chopped parsley. You can also add a splodge of cream in the centre of each bowl just before serving.

Spinach Soup


The eggs in this may not be cooked enough to destroy salmonella or other nasties that you can get in a soft-boiled or raw egg. Do not serve to anyone who is pregnant, frail, very young or where there is any other reason why their immune system may not be able to handle semi-cooked egg.


2 cups thickly packed spinach, cooked and finely chopped (yes, it can be frozen – squeeze well)

3 red onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

6 cups stock, chicken or vegetable

4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs


Sauté the onions in the oil for about twenty minutes on low, till soft and almost caramel coloured, but not browned, as that turns them bitter.

Add the stock and spinach; bring to the boil, simmer for two minutes and turn off the heat.

Now beat the eggs well, then mix in the cheese. As soon as the soup has cooled for about five minutes in a wide pan, slowly and steadily mix in the egg/cheese mixture. If it’s too hot, or too fast, you’ll get scrambled, cheesy eggs in spinach soup, which is still quite nice – do not throw it out. But what you’re really after is a delicate, velvety, thickened soup. Once it has been mixed in, heat again, but not to boiling or it may curdle, and serve at once. Baked croutons – small squares of bread baked till crisp in the oven – are good added at the last minute.

Thai Style Chicken Soup


This is hot.

12 chicken pieces, or one elderly chook


for paste

6 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh turmeric

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 small red chillies, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup coconut milk

Extra tb oil

Optional, and not at all Thai: 4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped


Also: 2 small red chillies, very finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons palm sugar

1/2 cup lime juice

Water as needed


At the end: 8 tb fresh coriander leaves, chopped


Mix the paste ingredients. I use a small, wooden spoon handle, but a blender or a mortar and pestle may be used. Saute for a few minutes, stirring well, in the extra oil over low heat.  All chicken, other ingredients, including as much water as needed to cover it all. Simmer till chicken is tender, which may take 20 minutes or two hours, depending on the age and tenderness of the meat.

This can be left to scoop off the fat when it cools. Add corader  when you reheat, or about 30 seconds before you serve.

Potatoes and sour cream

Thinly slice as many peeled spuds as you are greedy for. Layer them in a baking dish, cover liberally with sour cream. No cheese. No garlic. No salt. No pepper. Just the two simple ingredients. Now add time and gentle heat, baking at 150 ºC for 2-4 hours. Eat hot but they are also good reheated, though the flavour is quite different, equally good, but not the same as a once-cooked spud. Eat this one with a salad, lots of crisp green to counter the soft, rich, splodgy potato with its hint of crisp at the edges.

Baked Lemon Eggplant

This is simple, and stunningly delicious if you like eggplant, and possibly even if you think you don’t.

3 large or 20 small eggplant, cut into thin wedges, rather than slices

½  tsp salt (Yes, you do need this, even though I rarely use salt)

6 cloves garlic, crushed

½  tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves

  1. tb extra virgin olive oil

6tb lemon juice

Optional: a chopped red chilli

Place everything in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Pour into a baking pan, and spread out evenly. Bake at 200C for half an hour, then turn the chunks over and bake again for another half hour, or until very tender and slightly browned. Eat hot, or cold, or tepid. Can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days, but don’t eat it chilly- it needs a little warming to room temperature for best flavour.

Serve with fresh black pepper just before serving- if you add it sooner it may turn bitter.

Perfect and not so perfect Pizzas


First find your wood fired oven. These were cooked in the two giant community ovens in Albury, on the banks of the gently flooding Murray. They’re manned by volunteers, heated by any fallen tree collected by the council. Anyone can take their food to be cooked in them on Sundays- three minutes for a pizza, four for a quiche, and now and then they have speakers and food prepared and given out free, as we did two weekends ago.

And it was magic.

These are the recipes that I made up and the  volunteers prepared and cooked while I spoke. They made them with far more expertise and artistry than I could have managed.

Then pizza dough was also prepared  and donated by a local restaurant. Which leads me to the next requirement for the recipes below, dough.
The best pizza dough is made by a bloke, or a woman with large hands and major muscles, nota dough hook. Somehow strong fingers give the dough better texture, and well textured dough also has a better flavor. I’ve found it best to make the dough the day before; let it rise all night then punch it down again an hour or two before you want to cook it,  push, don’t roll, it into shape, as thin an possible- the pizzas below are thin crust only. If you are a novice the dough needs to be about four times thinner than you think- it will rise again inside the oven

Which needs to be hot. His  is another reason for making thin crust- your home oven almost certainly won’t get hot enough to cook your pizza in three minutes, but an oven this hot makes the best pizza. Wood fired and large also helps, with low humidity, so even with moist toppings the pizza won’t get soggy.

For a home oven, heat it on the highest setting for half an hour before putting in your pizza. This may set off the fire alarm- be warned. Place the pizza on the top shelf and shut the door fast. Make it a small pizza and don’t try cooking two at once. Remember: heat.

Pizza stones help by retaining even more heat in your oven and directing it to where they’re needed. If you make pizzas often, invest in one.

 Don’t think of pizzas as ‘all carbs’ a or junk food, either. If the dough is thin and the topping healthy, they are an excellently healthy food, delicious, and good to share. Pizzas only become junk food with junk crusts and toppings. And all the crust needs is flour, high in gluten, yeast and water, no fat at all, and certainly not the salt or sugar some restaurants add.

If there are more than one of you try all the recipes below, eating the first while the second cooks, and keeping the sweet one for dessert. Two of the versions below are ‘pizza pies’ with tops as well as bottoms, but they can equally be served with a single crust.

Caponata Pie

Dough for one small pizza

1 large can tomatoes, roughly chopped with their juice, or Dix fresh tomatoes, peeled

Half cup pitted black olives, small

Two tb brown sugar

 Two tb red wine vinegar

Four tb sultanas

Two small eggplants, sliced and salted, left for two hours then washed salt free and the juice squeezed out

Two red onions, peeled and sliced

Four tb extra virgin olive oil

Six cloves garlic, peeled and chopped


Seethe the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion is very soft and almost transparent., then add the garlic and cook another five minutes on low heat, stirring all the time. Don't skimp this bit or the onion will turn plastic like, many don't let them brown or they will be bitter. When totally DIDT add all but the dough and simmer till very thick.

, not oozing juice.

Place filling on half the dough, top with the other, squeeze edges hard together and roll up do no juice oozes out.

Brush the top with olive oil.

Bake till risen and brown. Eat hot or cold.

Sardine Sliced

Dough for one pizza 

One large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Half cup milk

Half cup sardines in oil

One bunch chives, chopped finely


Soak raw onion in milk overnight. Drain. If lactose intolerant, use almond milk.

Roll out pizza dough into two rounds i.e. twice as thin as usual. Top with sardine, onion, chives, then with the top of the pizza. Bake in a very hot oven till risen and brown.

The top can be brushed with olive oil for a glaze.

Serves about eight in small slices.

5-Spice Sticky Chicken Wings

(As devoured by everyone at the table including the kids, with enjoyment and much stickiness)

2 kg chicken wings

½ cup honey

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tbsp five spice powder

1 cup chicken stock, or orange juice if you have no stock.

Mix in a baking dish. Bake at 200 ºC for an hour till brown and almost falling apart. You will need to turn them with tongs or a fork two or three times to brown them evenly.

About half an hour before serving mix 1 tb cornflour with a little cold water and mix the paste through the juices. Stir well, then turn two or three times before the end of cooking.

These are good hot, cold, or reheated in the microwave, As with any food, don’t reheat a second time.

Roast chicken soup

(About 8 serves)


The remnants of one large roast chook

4 large red onions, peeled and chopped

1 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped

4 tb olive oil

half a cup barley

10 - 12 cups chicken stock

1 cup creamed sweet corn

3 tb soy sauce

3 sticks celery, chopped, with a few chopped leaves

4 tb parsley, chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

juice half a lemon or 1 lime

1 tb corn flour (or 2-3 if you like a thicker soup)

optional: 4 tb garlic chives, chopped

4 tb spring onions, chopped

a little fresh cauliflower, chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 cup fresh peas or broad beans

white of 2 leeks, chopped

half cup orange sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 tb fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1-3 fresh red chillies, chopped


Stir onions and garlic in olive oil in a large pan till soft. Add the flour; stir. Add the stock, stir so it isn't lumpy. Add everything else except the chook. put the lid on, simmer half to 1 hour. Chop the chicken meat. Add to the pot. Simmer 1-5 minutes. Serve hot with good bread.

Keep in the fridge, and have a good big bowlful for lunch or dinner for the rest of the week.

Potato not pizza

Six medium potatoes, finely sliced

Olive oil

Twenty shallots, peeled and roughly chopped, seethed very very gently in olive oil till soft, not browned and not black, but care sliced and sweet

One cup grated mozzarella cheese


Brush the pizza dish with olive oil and dust with flour.

Arrange the potato  slices overlapping, till they firm a pizza shape. They must overlap by least fifty percent.

Bake till they are just beginning to brown.

Scatter on the shallots, then cheese. Bake till cheese begins to bubble.

Slice and eat hot.

Serves eight small slices.

Chilli Jam Not Pizza

Prepare potato as above.

Spread with chilli jam, instead of the shallots, then scatter on grated cheese. Bake again as above.

Many different cheeses  can be tried with the chilli jam, from chunks of haloumi I to crumbled feta or ricotta or even Brie, Camembert, and blue cheese. Each will give a very different result, but all are good.

For a lactose free version, top the Chilli jam with anchovies...not too many.

Sweet Pizza Pie


Serves eight small slices

Pizza dough for small pizza

Six apples, peeled and cored and chopped

12 dried apricots

2 cloves

Half stick cinnamon

Two cups orange juice, not navel orange juice as it will turn bitter

3 tb butter

One tb brown sugar


Simmer apricots in the Orange juice for ten minutes. Leave to swell and soften overnight.  Add sugar, Apple, cinnamon, cloves and one to butter. Simmer till the Apple is cooked. There should be very little liquid, quite thick. If it is too dry at any stage, add more juice. If too liquid at the end, scoop out the fruit and simmer and stir till it is a thick syrup.

The apple pieces should be about the size of a thumb nail.


Roll out the pizza dough thinly. Spread with a third of the butter. Double over, repeat, till the butter is used up. Divide into two then roll into two rounds.

Put the filling on one. Top with the other. Roll the edges together, pressed down well so the juice can't escape.

Place on. A hot Greased tray scattered with a little cornmeal. Bake in a very hot oven till risen and brown. Time varies with the heat of the oven.

Slice and eat hot.

Nb.  Make sure the syrup is very thick, not oozing. The mix should be dry but moist, if this makes sense, and full of flavour.

If the apples and juice aren't sweet, add more sugar.

You can also sprinkle the top of the pizza pie with brown sugar before baking to glaze it.

Pumpkin and tumeric risotto

Tumeric used to be known as 'Indian saffron' ..which is why the so called 'saffron robes' are dyed with tumeric, and often saffron cakes were flavoured with tumeric instead.

Tumeric has also been used as an anti inflammatory herb.

(It really is delicious- don't let the pumpkin put you off)


Half cup basmati rice

3 teaspoons tumeric

1 Spanish /red onion, very finley chopped

1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cubed(tiny cubes)

5 tb ghee or margarine

juice half a lemon

2 cups chicken stock or water

salt if necessary; black pepper

Melt butter in pan on VERY low heat; add onion and rice; stir till onion is soft(Add more ghee/margarine if necessary); add tumeric; stir for another three minutes; add other ingredients; simmer till rice is soft; add more stock/water if necessary. Add salt(if desperately needed only) and pepper when you take off the heat.

This is excellent.

Bung It In a Pot Soup

(ie concentrated essence of deliciousness, not to mention good for you)



3 carrots

1 bunch parsley

2 parsnips

1-2 leeks

3 sticks celery

6 cloves garlic

2 large red onions

300gm or so blade steak or similar

6 largish mushrooms


Fry till onion is soft in olive oil. Bung in pot. Or just bung everything in a pot. Add:

2 large cartons chicken stock

2 small cartons beef stock

half a cup pearl barley

Simmer 3-4 hours.

Add a can of tomatoes or chopped tomatoes after about 2 hours- not sooner or the onion and leek will toughen and 1 large  can red or white beans

Keep in sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Great for lunch or dinner or serve it in a mug for afternoon tea. Also good thermos soup for football match survival.More stock can be added to thin it a bit, or add a chopped spud or two if a horde of guests arrive.

Chicken with tomatoes, almonds, orange and basil

This is incredibly delicious. the almonds thicken the sauce.

You'll need:

 8 chicken pieces or 1 whole chicken
6 peeled chopped red tomatoes – or a can of pieces if the only tomatoes around are pink and globulous
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh orange juice (not navel as it turns bitter soon after its sqqueezed)
½ cup ground almonds
3 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic
6 dessertspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped basil



Preheat oven to 200ºC

Bake  the chicken in the oil till brown and almost cooked. This should take about an hour.

Add the garlic after about  half an hour.

Take the pan out of the oven.

Pour off excess fat.

Add other ingredients except for the basic. Bubble for twenty minutes or till it begins to thicken.
Garnish with basil and serve hot, with cous-cous, or on fresh, soft white home-made bread; or a rich potato dish. (Not rice, the textures aren’t compatible).

'one dish' cheese and asparagus (or Bacon) Quiche (I don't eat bacon, Bryan does)

You'll need:

4 bunches asparagus, (where 'a bunch' means all you can comfortably hold in one hand) tough bits snapped off, brought to the boil then removed at once, chopped
or  6 thick slices bacon, chopped, sauted till bits are transparent
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped (see above for 'bunch)
 250ml cream
250gm favourite cheese, grated (blue vein or brie will give a very different result to cheddar or feta, but all are good)
6 very large eggs, or 8 not so large ones (elderly chooks lay very very large eggs)



Mix everything in a large baking dish well with a fork.

Place in the oven. 
Turn on to 200ºC (do not preheat).
Cook 30-40 minutes (a larger pan will cook more quickly as the quiche will be shallower). 
Take out when browned, puffed and firm. 
Serve hot, with salad, or nothing else at all. 
Also excellent cold, or reheated for breakfast.

Eggplant loaf

You'll need:

1 crusty French loaf

3 tbsp olive oil plus a pastry brush to apply it (or a clean finger)

6 small eggplants, thinly sliced

3 tbsp olive oil

12 very ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled and chopped into rough squares

6 cloves garlic, chopped

6 tbsp chives, chopped


Cut slices in the top of the loaf to about 2/3 of the way down, and about 3 cm apart.

Pull out about a third of the bread so you are left with thinnish rough slices.

Brush these with olive oil.

Place the loaf in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. It will just begin to crisp at the edges.

Fry the slices eggplant with the garlic till the slices are brown on both sides.

Remove from the pan.

Divide between the slices in the loaf that you have just removed from the oven.

Top with the tomatoes, replace in the oven till the loaf is dark brown on top, the tomatoes hot and their juice running into the bread.

Take out, scatter with the chives.

Eat at once.

Chook and apples

You'll need:

1 boiling chook
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cornflour
3 cups cider
2 tart apples (such as granny smith)
1 cup cream
black pepper


Brown the chook in the butter.

Slide it into a casserole.

Add the cornflour to the pan with the butter and brown.

Add the cider quickly and let it bubble for 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chook.

Add the apples and put the lid on. Simmer in the oven or on top of the stove as gently as you can until the chook is tender.

(Don’t cook it beyond this stage or it will be stringy.) Remove the chook.

Add the cream and a dash of black pepper.

Reheat. Carve the chook and pour the sauce over it.

Chook with tomatoes and olives

You'll need:

 1 leek, chopped
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup olive oil
6 deep red tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup black olives
scrape of lemon rind
1 jointed chook



Preheat oven to 180ºC

Sauté the chopped leek and the saffron in the olive oil for 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and bubble for another 10 minutes.

Throw in the olives and the lemon rind then pour the whole lot over a chicken in a small casserole dish. (If the casserole dish is too big, the sauce will form a layer on the bottom. It should cover the chicken. If it doesn’t quite cover the chicken, you will have to baste it regularly with the sauce while it is cooking).

Place in a moderate oven and cook for 2 hours. Serve hot with very fresh bread (to scoop up the sauce) and a salad.


Magic soup

1 kg chicken wings

6 carrots

2 cartons chicken stock – large

1 carton water, or more if needed

6 large leeks

2 cans creamed corn

3 tbsp soy sauce

3-6 chopped chicken thighs

½ cup barley

Optional: chopped onion, garlic, parsnip, mushrooms, parsley


Simmer wings in the stock and water for 'a while'. A while depends what book you're reading i.e. half an hour to two hours but check it doesn't boil dry. Remove wings. Do not feed to the cat or dog as the bones may now be sharp. (Peel off the tough bits from the leeks and wash out any grit.

Chop and add to stock. Simmer for another 'while' until they're soft – maybe half an hour. Now add all the other stuff and simmer till the barley is soft – again, at least half an hour.

By now the leeks will have vanished into thick rich soup stock and so will the corn, mostly.

Keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze any leftovers.

This is very, very good.

Cheese and Anchovy loaf

There is a confection from the southern USA I’ve never eaten, called the oyster loaf. I’m unlikely to ever eat it either. But it sounds divine, and in compensation for my lack of oysters, and any likelihood of getting enough to waste them by frying them, I’ve come up with these.


The loaves below are delicious as lunch, brunch or dinner in front of the DVD player. Use a long loaf and share, or a long one-person bread roll, but only a good crusty one. The supermarket versions in plastic do not work at all. They are also good eaten with a mug of tomato soup, made from all the tomatoes you hopefully bunged in the freezer at the height of summer cropping.


You'll Need:

1 crusty French loaf

3 tbsp olive oil plus a pastry brush to apply it (or a clean finger)

A sufficiency of anchovies, about 25 per metre of loaf

3 cups of good strong cheddar cheese, or stringy mozzarella,  grated, per metre of loaf



Cut slices in the top of the loaf to about 2/3 of the way down, and about 3 cm apart.

Pull out about a third of the bread so you are left with thinnish rough slices.

Brush these with olive oil.

Place the loaf in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. It will just begin to crisp at the edges.

Remove from the oven, place 1-3 anchovies in each slice then be lavish with the cheese between the slices, too.

Put back into the oven till the top is rich brown and the cheese melted.

Eat at once, hot.

knitted spaghetti with zucchini and prawns


You'll need:

1 standard packet spaghetti

2 knitting needles, any size


1 large can chopped tomatoes

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

4 cups raw prawns, shells and heads removed

1 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped

6 small zucchini, thinly-sliced

2 large red onions, peeled and chopped

10 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lime or of ½ large lemon



Place spaghetti in boiling water till just soft – not cooked, just rope-like.

Drain, wash with cold water under the tap, then cool.

Knot the ends together with a reef knot — left over right then right over left.

Cast on 20 stitches. Knit one serving — about the size of a patchwork square or plate size.

Cast off.

Repeat with three more squares.


To serve:

Bring a big pan of water to the boil.

Drop in squares and cook for 3-5 minutes, or till soft.

Place each square on a plate and add a dollop of sauce.

Serve at once.

N.B: This is best eaten with a knife and fork.  


Cook the garlic and onion SLOWLY in the olive oil till soft.

Add the tomato. Simmer till thick. the sauce can now be let till you are almost ready to eat it.

Add the zucchini, prawns, parsley and lemon juice. Cook on high, stirring all the while, till the prawns change colour and are cooked- about 3 minutes.

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin is both sweet and meat in a curry - and good.

You’ll need:

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

Chilli to taste (I use two chopped red chillies for a medium hot curry).

2 cups peeled chopped tomatoes or 1 can tomatoes

2 cups chopped pumpkin - choose a firm finely grained one

2 onions, chopped

12 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil



Cook the onions and garlic slowly in the oil till soft, add the spices and stir well for a few minutes.

 Don't let them burn.

Add the other ingredients and simmer till the pumpkin is cooked.

For the best flavour leave the curry in the fridge overnight and reheat the next day.

olive loaf

You'll need:

1 crusty French loaf

3 handfuls parsley

1 handful chives

2 cloves garlic

6 tbsp olive oil

2 cups chopped seeded black olives (do not blend the olives– you need lumps)

and ½ cup chopped walnuts, (though this is still good without the walnuts if you have a nut allergy).



Cut slices in the top of the loaf to about 2/3 of the way down, and about 3 cm apart.

Pull out about a third of the bread so you are left with thinnish rough slices.

Brush these with olive oil.

Place the loaf in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. It will just begin to crisp at the edges.

Mix the chives, garlic olive oil, parsley and walnuts

Divide mix between the slices.

Place back into the oven until the top is mid-brown and the filling hot.

Eat at once, very hot.

This loaf is also good made with thinner slices, and no bread crumb removed, a bit like a green and lumpy version of garlic bread.

Stir Fried Chicken with Mandarin or Tangello Peel

The chicken in this recipe is cooked too quickly and at too high a temperature for it to toughen. The marinating also helps to tenderise it. You can use tough chicken in this way in many stir fry recipes.

You’ll need:

4 cups raw chicken, chopped into thin strips

3 tbsp chopped spring onions

1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger

3 tbsp dry sherry

3 tbsp soy sauce

6 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 tbsp chopped mandarin or tangerine peel (remove all strings and white pith)

1 chilli, chopped

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp sugar



Combine chicken, spring onions, ginger and half the sherry and soy sauce. Marinate for two hours or overnight. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok. Add the chicken and fry for five minutes. Remove chicken. Add the peel and chilli and fry for 30 seconds, then add the chicken again. Fry for 1 minute, then add the remaining sherry and soy sauce. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the sesame oil and serve hot.

Pumpkin pie

Another wonderful recipe from Matthew Giakoumatos Grandmother

You’ll need:

½ a large Kent pumpkin or one whole butternut pumpkin, diced or grated

1 diced onion

1/3 cup raw rice

A dash of sweet chilli sauce

Two handfuls of pinenuts (Matthew says: my innovation – pumpkin and pinenut is the best flavor there is, in my opinion. Use however much you like, or not at all. Mum has started using walnuts occasionally)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil


Pastry of your choice


Preheat fan-forced oven to 190ºC/200ºC

Put everything except the pastry into a big bowl and mix well.

Line your tray with the pastry, add the filling, and put more pastry over the top.

Brush the pastry with olive oil, milk, water, or beaten egg.

Bake until golden brown (approx. 1 hr)

Spiced roast chicken

You’ll need:

1 medium-sized chicken
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cumin
1/2  tsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp butter
1 fresh chilli, optional


Pastry of your choice


Cook the ginger and garlic in the oil for 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring all the time so that they don’t stick.

Take off the heat and leave until cold.

Now mash the oil and spice mixture into the butter. Take a sharp, pointed knife and make small holes in the skin all around the chook.

Insert a little of the butter and spice mixture into each slit.

Place the chook in a buttered roasting pan, or, even better, a close-fitting clay casserole, with a little more butter.

Roast in a medium oven for 11/2 hours.

Serve with the juices from the pan, unthickened.

Spectacular Vegetarian Timbale

You’ll need:

1 very large or 2 or 3 small eggplants, sliced

3 large red capsicums, quartered and seeded

6 fresh largish Bocconcini cheeses

6 small zucchinis, thinly sliced

1 fat orange sweet potato, very thinly sliced

1 large bunch silver beet

1 large red onion, peeled and chopped

10 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp pine nuts

4 cloves garlic, chopped finely

6 semi-dried tomatoes

1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley or coriander leaves

juice of 1 lime or lemon



Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt; leave for two hours, then wash in cold water.

Brush each slice with olive oil. Grill, chargrill or fry on each side till cooked - about 5 minutes. 
Brush zucchini slices with olive oil; fry, grill or chargrill them.
Brush sweet potato slices with olive oil; fry, grill or chargrill them. (Make sure they are cooked – you might have to try a small sample as you go!)
Grill the capsicum till the skin is black and blistered. Place in a plastic bag till cool, then rub the skin off. Brush the capsicum with olive oil.
Leave everything to cool.
Sauté the onion and garlic in 4 tbsp of the olive oil till the onion is soft; add the silver beet, chopped or torn into small pieces (the stems can also be added but must be very finely chopped). When the silver beet is soft, take it all off the heat and add the pine nuts.
Slice the Bocconcini thinly.

To assemble:
Place four slices of Bocconcini side by side on a plate, so they form a largish sort of circle.

Now add a layer of eggplant, capsicum, sweet potato, zucchini, then cheese, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini till it's all used up.

Place the dried tomato on top.

Surround the circle with the chopped silver beet and pine nuts.
Combine the remaining olive oil and lemon or lime juice.

Add a touch of salt or pepper if you like. Pour it over the mound, then sprinkle on the parsley.


A wonderful recipe from Matthew Giakoumatos Grandmother

You’ll need:

A large bunch of spinach, blanched or two boxes of chopped frozen spinach

1 or 2 diced onions

1 or 2 tsp garlic

1/3 cup rice (raw – it cooks in the pie and absorbs the moisture)

1 to 1 ½ cups mixed cheese (Matthew: I used to use some fetta and some ricotta. I’m vegan these days and have found that the Oliana brand ‘fetta’ and Notsarella ‘mozzarella,’ both grated, are quite good. Expensive, though)

A dash of sweet chili sauce (my grandmother’s secret ingredient for most of her recipes)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil (family recipes of course mean non-specific measurements – maybe 1/3-1/2 cup? Enough that it coats the rest of the ingredients without drowning them)

Pastry of your choice (Matthew says: my grandmother uses filo or makes her own, I tend to stick to puff pastry since it is easier to work with – pastry has always been my downfall in the kitchen)



Preheat fan-forced oven to 190ºC/200ºC

Blanch and roughly chop the spinach or thaw the frozen spinach.

Put everything except the pastry into a big bowl and mix well.

Line your tray with the pastry, add the filling, and put more pastry over the top.

Brush the pastry with olive oil, milk, water, or beaten egg.

Bake until golden brown (approx. 1 hr)

Gemista (actually pronounced yemista)

Another wonderful recipe from Matthew Giakoumatos Grandmother

You’ll need:

(amounts based on 4-6 vegetables for stuffing)

Vegetables to stuff. I like to use a mix of capsicums, large tomatoes, and sometimes potatoes. Thick zucchini, eggplant, and anything else you want to hollow out works, too.

1 onion finely diced

1/3 cup rice

Olive oil
Salt and pepper, other seasonings or spices to taste (I like diced chilies, my grandmother uses sweet chili sauce again)
1-2 other diced and grated vegetables, for filling



Preheat fan-forced oven to 180ºC

Cut the top off your vegetables and scoop out the insides.

Keep the tops (Matthew says: the coring is why I rarely use potatoes. Coring them takes an age and you need to make sure the walls and base are thin so that they cook properly. There’s also a real risk that you might put a hole through the bottom).
Put the insides in your mixing bowl (except any you wouldn’t usually eat, such as capsicum pith) along with the onion, rice, oil, seasoning, and your other grated vegetables.
Spoon the filling into the cored vegetables and put the top back on them.
Lightly non-stick spray an oven pan and place the stuffed vegetables in. Add ½-1cm water to the pan, to keep the vegetables hydrated while they cook.
Bake for approx. 1hr.

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