Anzac Biscuits

On the 25th of April Australians and New Zealanders remember those who have lost their lives in military conflict. The date of Anzac day marks the anniversary of the landing in Gallipoli (Turkey) during the First World War, when many lives were lost. The acronym Anzac stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Dawn services are held on this day in many countries, including France and Turkey.

Anzac biscuits were apparently sent by wives to soldiers abroad because they kept well during naval transportation. Nowadays they are made commercially, but many people make their own. There are some variations in the recipes so here is mine.


1 cup porridge oats
½ cup plain flour
½ cup self raising flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
2 Tbs golden syrup (see note below)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 Tbs boiling water

Preheat oven to 170°C. In a large bowl mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut. Place butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan and stir over gentle heat until melted. Mix soda with boiling water and add to the butter mixture, then mix into the dry ingredients.

Using your hands, place balls of about one tablespoonful of mixture on lightly greased oven trays, or trays lined with non-stick baking paper – 12 per sheet, not too close together as they will spread. Flatten them out slightly with a fork. Bake for 12-20 minutes, or until a nice honey-brown colour. Ovens vary. If you prefer them more chewy and less crunchy, remove from the oven a bit earlier. If on tins without paper, loosen while still warm, then cool on the trays. Store in an airtight tin.

Makes about 20

Note: unless you live in Australia, New Zealand or the UK you may have difficulty finding golden syrup. There are some online sites which sell British ingredients. I have tried substituting honey but it’s not the same.

Tea Cake

The proper name for this old Welsh recipe is Barra Brith.  In our house it’s always called Tea Cake, because it’s made with cold tea.  In the good company of the Date and Walnut Loaf, this cake is simple, quick to make and it keeps for a week in an airtight tin.  I used to use half a cup of sugar, but I cut it down as the dry fruit provides quite a lot of sweetness. Try leaving the sugar out altogether – there’s plenty of sweetness from the dried fruit.

2½ cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, chopped dates, currants,) and nuts if you like (walnuts, pecans)
1 cup cold tea, including leaves
¼ cup brown sugar (optional)
2 cups self-raising flour
1 large egg
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
3 Tbs oil

Soak fruit (and nuts if using) in tea overnight. Preheat oven to 160°C. Mix in remaining ingredients. If the mixture is rather dry add one or two tablespoons of milk. Scrape into a loaf tin approximately 12 x 25 cm, greased and bottom-lined with baking paper. Or use a silicone pan which doesn’t need greasing or lining – you can see mine in the photo. Smooth over the top with a knife. Bake for about an hour or until well-risen and browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Don’t overcook or cake will be dry. Leave in tin 5 minutes then turn out and cool on a rack. Keep at least a day before using. Serve sliced, either plain or buttered. Keeps for about a week in an airtight tin.


The end of summer is a good time to make ratatouille. The tomatoes are full of flavour and you may even have some in your garden. We also have zucchini, so I only had to buy the eggplants, onions and peppers. While you can use green peppers, I prefer red or yellow as they’re sweeter. Once made, ratatouille can be frozen for several months. Ifyou have a glut of veggies, this is a good way to use them.

Ratatouille is a delicious Mediterranean side dish to serve at a BBQ or buffet. Serve some with a couple of fried eggs on top and some crusty bread for a satisfying lunch.

500g onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
olive oil
500g-600g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
3 large capsicums (peppers) green, red or yellow, cut into strips
500g-600g eggplants, (aubergines) cut into 2cm cubes
500g-600g zucchini (courgettes) unpeeled and cut into fat sticks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley to serve

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions and garlic over gentle heat, stirring often until soft and slightly golden. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, bay leaves and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 5-10 minutes. Place in a large heavy-based saucepan.

Wipe out the frying pan, heat a little more olive oil and then fry first the peppers, then the eggplant, then the zucchini, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. As each vegetable is ready, add it to the casserole.

If you have an air fryer you might find it easier to “fry” each vegetable in there rather than in a frying pan, which is what I did. Just place the chopped vegetable in a bowl and mix with a drizzle of olive oil, then tip it into the air fryer and cook on high for about 10 minutes, stopping and shaking every few minutes. When they look sufficiently fried, tip them in with the tomatoes and onions. Using an air fryer allows you to use less oil.

Simmer on low for about an hour, stirring from time to time. If it starts to stick add a little water.

Check seasonings, remove bay leaves and serve at room temp, garnished with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

Fig Jam

Serve this jam, which is made with dried figs, on a cheese board. It goes well with most cheeses. It also pairs well with pâté, ham and chicken. Serve it in sandwiches or in this easy chicken recipe, instead of marmalade. A jar also makes a nice gift, if you can bear to part with any.

Serve a dollop on Greek yoghurt, or as a topping for baked brie. It also makes an unusual filling for scones, with or without whipped cream.

Last time we were holidaying in France I bought a few cans of pâté de foie gras. I served some recently as a starter, with a mini onion quiche and some brioche toast fingers.

500g dried figs, stems removed
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice

Cut each fig into quarters and place in a large saucepan with a heavy bottom. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Use a stick blender to puree the jam. Or tip it into a blender or food processor and process using the pulse butter. You want a chunky not smooth finish. Tip the jam back into the saucepan. If you used a stick blender you can do that in the pan. Continue to simmer the jam for 5-10 minutes or until thickened. It will thicken more when it cools. If it gets too thick, add a little water.

Meanwhile wash and dry several small jam jars. Place them in a microwave (without the lids) and zap them for 2-3 minutes on high. When the jam is ready, tip it into the hot jars, then screw the lids on and store them in a dark cupboard.

Note: while balsamic vinegar gives a nice flavour, if you don’t have any substitute another vinegar such as sherry, red wine or cider.





Salmorejo with Seafood Medley & Goat Cheese Mousse

Salmorejo is a Spanish soup, made from tomatoes, bread, olive oil and garlic. It’s served cold and is best described as a smooth Gazpacho. My son-in-law, who is a fabulous cook, served it when we were visiting earlier this year. I had never tried it before and thought it was delicious, so he sent me his recipe.

Having decided to use it as a base for a medley of seafood, I was concerned that when I heated it up in the microwave the Salmorejo might split, but it didn’t. It behaved perfectly.

Salmorejo relies on good quality tomatoes, so if it’s the middle of winter and the tomatoes in the supermarket are looking pale and unloved, use a couple of tins of good quality Italian tomatoes. As you can see from the photo, I didn’t do a very good job of making the goat cheese mousse into a beautiful shape with two spoons. The pressure was on to get the plates on the table for our guests before it got cold, so I ended up just putting rustic blobs. It still tasted good though.

600g ripe tomatoes
1 baguette
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbs sherry vinegar (or red/white wine vinegar)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
1 small piece of skinless white fish per person (I used Ling)
1 small piece of skinless salmon per person
1 large scallop per person
1 large green (raw) prawn per person
50g butter, melted
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Basil oil:
½ cup fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Goat Cheese Mousse:
1 cup whipping cream
100g soft goat cheese

Skin tomatoes, remove cores and place the rest in a blender. Remove the “guts” from the baguette. You should have 2-3 cups. Keep the outer crusts for another use.

Add 2 cups of the bread, vinegar and garlic to the blender. Blend until smooth, adding the olive oil through the chute with the motor running. Add salt to taste. Add more bread if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Refrigerate till serving time.

Remove shells from prawns, leaving the heads and tips of the tails intact. Melt the butter with the garlic and  season to taste. Use it to brush all the seafood on both sides. Can be prepared ahead to this point and kept in the fridge.

Make basil oil by blending the basil with enough oil in a blender or food processor to make a thick sauce. For the goat cheese mousse, whip cream with electric beaters until thick then add the goat cheese and continue to whip until combined. Keep in the fridge.

At serving time, grill or pan fry the seafood. I cooked the prawns and scallops in the air fryer and the fish on a paper-lined tray in a hot oven. They took about 10 minutes max.

To serve, heat the Salmorejo in a microwave, ladle into 8 serving bowls and top with the seafood. Place a blob of goat cheese mousse in the centre and drizzle some basil oil around the edge. Serve with crusty bread and follow with a green salad – we had fresh rocket from the garden with toasted pine nuts.

Serves 8

Frozen Chocolate Mousse with Coffee Ice Cream

We were served this dessert in a restaurant in the north of Spain. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant and I didn’t come away with the recipe, just the name and the memory of the delicious flavours and textures.

It’s been in the back of my mind to replicate it, so here is my version. The recipe is easy to halve to serve 6-8.

250g dark chocolate, broken into squares
250g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 eggs, separated
2 Tbs Cointreau or Grand Marnier
Pinch of salt
4 Tbs sugar
1 tub of good quality vanilla ice cream (half a litre)
3 Tbs instant coffee
3 Tbs boiling water
To serve:
A few berries, fresh or frozen
Pouring cream

Melt chocolate and butter in a microwave or in a bowl over boiling water. Cool a bit then mix in the egg yolks and the orange liqueur.

Beat egg whites and salt with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to beat until you have a glossy thick meringue. Add half to the melted chocolate and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Add the rest and do the same. When thoroughly mixed, pour into small dishes and freeze for several hours or overnight.

Coffee Ice cream: Take the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer for about 15 minutes, so it softens a bit, then scrape it into a bowl. Mix the instant coffee and boiling water until smooth, then mix it into the ice cream. When thoroughly mixed, scrape back into the ice cream container and put it back in the freezer. Recipe can be prepared ahead to this point.

Serve each mousse with a scoop of coffee ice cream and, if liked, a few berries and pouring cream. Mine were frozen home-grown boysenberries, which is why they look frosted in the photo.

Makes 12-16 little mousses, depending on the size of your moulds

Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon

I used to make this classic French dish many years ago and then for some reason I stopped. With a large crop of tarragon in the garden this vintage recipe is back on the menu. Serve the sauce with a whole roast chicken or chicken pieces or breasts.

Roast or pan fried chicken (whole or pieces or breast)
Seasoning to taste
25g butter
25g flour
3 Tbs white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1½ Tbs Dijon mustard
1-2 Tbs cream
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Juice from ½ a lemon or 1 lime

Season chicken and cook as desired. I used chicken breasts, cut into 3-4 pieces, seasoned then pan fried until cooked in a little oil.

While chicken is cooking make the sauce. Heat butter in a non-stick pan and cook, stirring until slightly brown. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and stock, stirring or whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. Add mustard and cream and keep stirring. Check seasoning. Let simmer for a couple of minutes then mix in the tarragon. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water.

Drizzle lemon juice over the chicken and spoon over the sauce.

Makes about 1½ cups sauce

Baked Pears with Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Honey

This year we have our first crop of pears. A delicious way to use pears when you can’t eat any more fresh is to bake them. This savoury baked dish makes a great starter or light meal, served with a rocket salad.

3 pears (some of mine were smaller so I used 4)
2-3 tsp olive oil
50g creamy blue cheese (e.g. Gorgonzola)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3-4 stalks fresh thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1-2 Tbs honey
½ tsp Aleppo pepper (available from specialty shops)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs to garnish

Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut pears in half lengthwise and remove core and seeds with a melon baller. Place in a baking dish in one layer, cut sides up. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then turn them over. Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn the pears over, so they are cut side up and stuff with the blue cheese, walnuts and thyme. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the Aleppo pepper. The Aleppo pepper is not essential, but it adds a bit of extra colour and flavour. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve with a lightly dressed rocket salad.

Serves 3

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

I’m not vegan, but I saw this recipe and it looked so quick and easy I thought I’d give it a try. It was delicious.

The packet of tofu I bought weighed 450g, but I threw it all in anyway. If you want to make the mousses dairy-free, don’t serve them with cream.

400g silken tofu
200g dark chocolate
4 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
To serve:
Whipped cream (optional)
Grated chocolate

Place tofu in a food processor or blender, and mix until smooth with the maple syrup and vanilla. While it’s mixing, heat the chocolate, broken into squares, in a microwave for about two minutes, or until melted.

Add the melted chocolate to the blender and mix until smooth. Scrape into small serving dishes and refrigerate. If liked serve with whipped cream or pouring cream and garnish with some chocolate, shaved off with a vegetable peeler.

Serves 4-6


Scotch Eggs in the Air Fryer

A hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried becomes a Scotch egg.

There are various explanations regarding the origin of the name of these traditional British snacks. They were first mentioned in Britain in publications from the early 1800s, so they have been around for quite some time.

The advent of the air fryer makes cooking them so much easier and healthier. Instead of deep frying, just give them a quick spray with a can of oil before they go into the air fryer.

Served at room temperature they make a perfect addition to lunch boxes, summer buffets and picnics.

Serve with Spicy Tomato Sauce (recipe below) for dipping.

6 large eggs, hardboiled and peeled
600g pork sausages
1 very small onion, grated (optional)
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (or maybe a bit more) panko breadcrumbs (or ordinary breadcrumbs)
Fresh herbs or thinly sliced spring onion to garnish
Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce:
½ cup tomato ketchup
1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs vinegar
1 small onion, grated
1½ Tbs honey
½ tsp hot English mustard
2 tsp grated fresh ginger

While the eggs are boiling, remove the casings from the sausages and discard them. Mix the sausage meat with the onion, herbs, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into six and flatten each portion into a circle about four inches (10cm) in diameter. Place an egg on each, wrap the sausage meat around the egg and pinch to close any holes an make a nice oval ball. Roll each one in beaten egg then breadcrumbs, patting them in to cover evenly. Can be made ahead to this point and kept refrigerated for up to several hours. My eggs were not very big so I hardboiled 7 rather than 6.

Place the Scotch eggs in an air fryer in one layer and preferably not quite touching. Spray lightly with oil then cook at 200°C for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn them over and spray again.

Remove from air fryer when cooked and leave to cool. Serve cut in half, garnished with herbs or spring onion and with the sauce for dipping.

Makes 12 egg halves

Sauce: heat ingredients together in a saucepan, then cool. Use as a dipping sauce for Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and empanadas.