Baked Potatoes in the Air Fryer

As kids we all loved baked potatoes and our kids loved them too. Try this quick and easy  “new take” on a retro recipe by cooking them in an air fryer. Vegetarians can leave out the bacon.

4 medium to large baking potatoes (Russets are a good choice)
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g butter
½ cup milk or cream or sour cream
1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 rashers bacon, finely diced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
To serve:
Sour cream (optional)

Wash and dry the potatoes, prick them all over with a fork, then rub them all over with a little olive oil and salt. Place in air fryer and cook for 35-40 minutes at 200°C, turning halfway through, or until tender.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle – but still hot – cut them in half lengthwise and scrape out the middle into a bowl, leaving a 1cm thick shell. Mash the potato with the butter and milk or cream. Mix in half the cheese and half the spring onion slices and season to taste.

Divide the filling between the 8 potato halves and place them in the air fryer. Cook at 200°C for 6 minutes, then top with the remaining grated cheese and cook for another few minutes, until golden brown on top. Meanwhile fry the bacon dices in a non-stick pan until crispy.

Serve the potatoes garnished with the remaining spring onion and the bacon. If liked serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Makes 8 portions

Potato Waffles with Prosciutto and Rocket

Do you have an electric waffle iron languishing in the back of a cupboard? If you do then you might be interested in today’s recipe. Especially if you have kids or grandkids. And even if you don’t.

With this recipe (which came from the American magazine Food and Wine) you squash some bought potato croquettes (Tater Tots in the US) with a waffle iron to make a potato cake. In Australia I found something similar to Tater Tots in Aldi, which are called Potato Jewels.

Once the potato cake is ready you can top it with anything you fancy. We had prosciutto, but smoked salmon or trout would be nice. I added a few roasted pumpkin cubes to the topping (because they needed using up) and they went well.


Non-stick cooking spray
About 50 frozen Tater Tots or Jewels, thawed
Salt flakes
¼ cup sour cream or creme fraîche
2 Tbs whole-grain mustard
2 handfuls rocket
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
6 slices prosciutto (or smoked salmon or trout)
Thinly sliced gherkins for serving (optional)

Heat an 8 inch (20cm) electric waffle iron and grease with non-stick spray. Arrange about 25 Tater Tots or Jewels on the waffle iron to cover it. Sprinkle with salt, then close the lid and cook for 6-8 minutes or until golden and crispy on both sides. Open the lid a couple of times during cooking and press the potatoes down with a fork, in order to fill in any gaps. Repeat with another 25 or so Jewels to make a second potato waffle.

Meanwhile mix sour cream and mustard in a small bowl. Mix rocket with the olive oil and lemon juice.

To serve, spread each potato waffle with some of the mustard cream. Arrange 3 slices of prosciutto and half the rocket on each. If liked garnish with sliced gherkins.

Serves 2

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon

Our potato crop has just started so I put these delicious potato cakes on the menu for a light lunch last weekend. They originate in Scandinavia and when we were living in Copenhagen we ordered them quite often in restaurants.

They don’t contain any flour making them gluten free, which is good news for readers who avoid eating wheat and other grains.

500g potatoes
1 small onion, grated (optional)
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil to fry
To serve:
Smoked Salmon or Trout
Sour Cream
Snipped chives

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand or using a 0.5cm attachment on your food processor, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes for a couple of minutes then drain well in a colander. Spread potatoes on a tea towel and roll up. Twist towel tightly over the sink, to remove as much liquid as possible.

Transfer grated potato to a bowl and mix in the grated onion (if using), egg, salt and pepper. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of four, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per potato cake into frying pan, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook for 4-5 minutes, until undersides are browned. Turn over and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season lightly with salt. Add more oil to pan as needed. Keep potato cakes warm on a wire rack over a shallow baking pan in a low oven. Leftovers can be reheated in a low oven.

Serve potato cakes with smoked salmon or trout, sour cream and chives and cracked pepper.

Makes 6-8 cakes serving 3-4

Roast Potatoes with Harissa and Garlic

Yotam Ottolenghi is one of my favourite chefs and this is another of his scrumptious recipes. These spicy potatoes roasted in duck fat with confit garlic have an unbelievable crunch, achieved by adding semolina. The best roast potatoes I’ve ever eaten.

Use Harissa, Sambal Oelek or any chilli paste you have and adjust the amount, according to how spicy you like things. If preferred, use olive oil instead of duck fat.

Don’t be tempted to halve the recipe, they’re too good.

2 large heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
130g duck fat
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2kg roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks
40g ground semolina
2 tsp caraway seeds, toasted and lightly crushed (I used cumin seeds)
1-2 Tbs Harissa (Sambal Oelek or another chilli paste)
2 tsp Maldon sea salt

Preheat oven to 150°C. Put garlic, duck fat and herbs in a small ovenproof casserole with a lid. Cover and roast for 40 minutes, until garlic is caramelised and soft. Remove from the oven and strain fat into a large heatproof bowl. Put garlic and herbs aside.

Increase oven temperature to 200°C Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add potatoes and parboil for 10 minutes, until half-cooked. Drain into a colander, shaking the potatoes to fluff up the edges, then leave to dry for 10 minutes.

Mix potatoes, semolina, caraway or cumin seeds, harissa and two teaspoons of Maldon salt into the bowl of reserved fat, then spread out on a large oven tray. Roast for 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until golden-brown, then stir in the confit garlic and herbs and roast for 10-15 minutes more, until potatoes are dark golden-brown and crisp. Serve hot, sprinkled with some extra salt.

Serves 6-8

Balsamic Roast Potatoes

A large bowl of roast potatoes is a good addition to a buffet table, even if everything else is cold. We have potatoes in the garden at the moment, so as I like to use what I have available I’ve been cooking a few of these versatile tubers lately.

I came across this recipe on and it’s a real winner. There’s no need to par-boil the potatoes or even peel them, so the preparation time is less than 10 minutes.

The original recipe calls for kipfler potatoes, but just use whatever you have. If you’re buying the potatoes get ones which say they’re good for baking/roasting.

Balsamic Roast Potatoes

1.5kg potatoes
500g French shallots, peeled, halved if big
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3-4 rosemary sprigs broken up
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra rosemary to garnish

Preheat oven to 180°C. There’s no need to peel the potatoes unless you prefer to do so. Just scrub them and cut them into even-sized pieces – about 3cm square – and place in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well then spread out in one layer on a shallow baking tray. Bake for about 50 mins, turning twice, or until crispy, golden and cooked through. Tip into serving bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Serves 8

Steak Tartare with Pommes Gaufrettes

On the menu of a restaurant in Geneva where we once ate Steak Tartare was translated as Raw Meat. Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?

SBS Television’s French Food Safari with Maeve O’Meara and chef Guillaume Brahimi recently featured his Steak Tartare served with Pommes Gaufrettes. Now when it comes to kitchen gadgets I have to confess that I’m pretty well stocked, but I didn’t have the special mandoline cutter you need to make these lacey potato chips. So of course I simply had to get one. The Børner Wave Waffle Cutter from Germany cost just $20 including postage when I ordered it online. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

Matthew is very fond of Steak Tartare and I don’t mind it once in a while, so I decided to try my new gadget last weekend. Guillaume’s Tartare recipe includes tomato ketchup, but I prefer to use olive oil and lemon juice as I think ketchup can be a bit overpowering. The photo makes it looks a bit like an uncooked burger. But when all’s said and done, that’s what it is – raw meat!

Pommes Gaufrettes:
2 medium potatoes, peeled
Vegetable oil to fry (see note)photo
320g good quality lean beef, trimmed (see note)
2 tsp capers, chopped
2 Tbs finely diced cornichons or gherkins
2 shallots or spring onions, finely diced
2 Tbs snipped chives
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce or a little wasabi paste
1 tsp cognac or brandy
1 egg yolk
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice, to taste
To serve:
A lightly dressed green salad (I used rocket)

Slice potatoes with a waffle cutter or an ordinary mandoline and place in cold water to remove starch. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil and fry potatoes in batches, until crisp and golden, then drain on paper towels. The oil needs to be very hot so they cook quickly. Test with one first.

Very finely dice the beef by hand. Mix all ingredients for Tartare. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Form into quenelle shapes with two spoons, or use a stacking ring or biscuit cutter to form into a neat round shape on 4 serving plates.

Garnish with Pommes Gaufrettes and a small green salad.

Serves 4


  • Meat should be very fresh but it doesn’t have to be fillet. So long as it’s lean and very finely diced with a very sharp knife you can use topside or round steak.
  • You don’t need a deep fat fryer to cook the potatoes. I used about 2cm of oil in a medium sized frying pan and cooked them in two batches.
  • If preferred serve the Tartare with garlicky bread croutons made from a French loaf.


Baked Ham with Gratin de Pommes de Terre Dauphinois

Matthew and I met in Geneva in the 70s when I was working for the British Mission to the UN and he was working for the Aussies. We were each there for 3 years and did lots of skiing and eating, but we didn’t meet until he was just about to leave. Somehow we worked things out and here we are decades later!

In Switzerland baked ham is served in many restaurants, invariably accompanied by gratin de pommes de terre dauphinois – or spuds dauphin style in English! Indeed, there’s one place we used to frequent in Geneva which serves nothing else. Ham and potatoes baked with cream, cheese and garlic go so well together – it’s a marriage made in heaven.

A chest freezer in the garage allows me to take advantage of special offers and freeze excess produce from the garden, such as tomatoes and cumquats. Early in the New Year our local supermarket was selling off legs of smoked ham with a good discount, so I bought one and stuck it in the freezer.

We had friends coming to Woodlands for lunch and as we’ve all had time to get over the festive season I decided it was time to get the ham out of the freezer. There are lots of different recipes for glazes and below are three of my favourites. Basically anything sweet and sticky will do. The gratin recipe is one I picked up on a card in a supermarket while living in Geneva, so it’s very authentic. Gruyère is the traditional cheese for this dish. Other hard cheeses such as Emmenthal or Cheddar will work but the flavour will be different. Forgot to take a photo, so you’ll just have to use your imagination!

Glazes for Ham

Glazed ham

Brandied Apricot Glaze:
1 cup apricot jam
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbs vinegar
1 tsp hot English mustard
¼ cup brandy

Citrus Liqueur Glaze:
1 cup concentrated orange juice (or other juice)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs Cointreau or Grand Marnier

Pineapple-Orange Glaze:
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbs orange marmalade
1 Tbs honey
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs brandy

Heat all ingredients for glaze in a saucepan, stirring until dissolved. If chunky, push through a sieve, then cool.

To Glaze the Ham:

Remove rind from ham by running your thumb around edge just under skin, loosening and pulling as you go. When you have pulled it to within 15 cm of the shank end, take a sharp pointed knife and cut through rind around shank end in a zigzag pattern, then pull off the rest of the skin up to this edge.

Make parallel cuts through fat at 2-3 cm intervals, just through the surface, not deeply, first one way and then the other to achieve a diamond effect. If liked stick cloves into each diamond space.

Place ham in a large baking dish. Brush with chosen glaze and bake at 180°C for about 45 minutes, brushing with more glaze every 10 minutes or so. It’s ready when it’s an even amber colour all over. Serve hot or cold.

Store the ham on a large plate or chopping board in the fridge. Place the plate inside a cotton ham bag or substitute an old pillowcase. Every time you use the ham rinse the bag in cold water and wring it out tightly. This will help to keep the ham fresh and moist for up to 4 weeks.

Gratin de Pommes de Terre Dauphinois

1 kg potatoes
200ml milk
100ml cream
50g butter
50g grated Gruyere cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Preheat oven to 180°C. Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Place in overlapping rows in a greased shallow, oven-proof dish, seasoning as you go with salt, pepper and half the garlic. Mix milk, cream, the rest of the garlic and nutmeg and pour over. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender – test with a knife. Turn oven up to 220°C and remove foil. Sprinkle with the grated cheese, dot with butter, cut into small pieces and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown.

Serves 6-8

A Birthday Dinner

A family birthday is a good excuse to cook up a storm and open a few bottles of good wine. Last weekend was one such occasion, so I worked out a menu which included some of the birthday boy’s favourite foods.

Instead of a starter I made 4 different finger foods from Drinks and Nibbles, a Marie Claire book by Michele Cranston, served with Chile’s delicious national cocktail Pisco Sour, which we’re all rather partial to after a four year posting to Santiago.  The grilled prawns were definitely the hot favourite, followed by the seared tuna, then the ceviche and lastly the watermelon and feta squares. But they were all good.

For the main we had rack of lamb with herb and caper crust, served with thyme infused carrots and minted peas – all recipes from this month’s Delicious magazine.  Individual potato soufflés, inspired by a meal we enjoyed at the Artisan restaurant recently, completed the plate.  I had to invent the recipe, but they turned out well.  As you can see in the photo, the plating of the main course left something to be desired – a result of too many cooks in the kitchen, all trying to get the various ingredients onto the plates and onto the table before they went cold!  D’Argenberg’s Footbolt Shiraz was a good choice to go with the lamb.

For dessert we had a tasting plate of three small desserts –  all faves of the birthday boy – chocolate ganache with pink peppercorns, white chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis and a salted caramel tartlet.

Here are the recipes, tweaked and adjusted a bit as usual.  I have changed the cooking method for the carrots, because they ended up more or less steamed rather than glazed as I would have liked them.  This method will achieve that.

Prawns with Coriander and Lime

2 Tbs coriander stalks
2 Tbs chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemongrass stem, white part only, roughly chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp ground coriander
20 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined (or 40 smaller ones)
½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp sugar
A pinch of salt
20 small wooden skewers, soaked in hot water for 20 mins

Thread prawns onto skewers – using one prawn per skewer if large and two if smaller, then place in one layer in a shallow dish. Place coriander root, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, vegetable oil and ground coriander in food processor and blend to a paste, then pour over the prawns, turning them to coat.  Leave to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Place chopped coriander leaves, lime juice, olive oil, sugar and salt in a jar with a lid.  Shake to combine then put aside. Grill prawns on a moderately hot BBQ or grill for 2-3 minutes each side.  Place on serving dish and drizzle with the coriander dressing.

Makes 20

Seared Tuna with Lime Leaf and Peanuts

2 Tbs tamarind water
1 Tbs palm sugar, chopped small or substitute brown sugar
⅓ cup lime juice
1 Tbs grated ginger
1 Tbs fish sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbs finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 Tbs chopped lemongrass, white part only
300g tuna fillet, cut into logs about 2cm thick and wide
3 Lebanese cucumbers
½ cup coriander leaves
½ cup toasted and chopped peanuts

Place tamarind water, palm sugar, lime juice, ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, chilli, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass in a jar with a lid.  Shake then put aside.  Peel and slice cucumbers and cut into 1cm rounds.

Heat a lightly greased frying pan over high heat and sear the tuna fillets for 1 minute each side.  Remove from  heat, season with a little salt, then cut into pieces about the same size as the cucumber rounds.  Add coriander and peanuts to the dressing in the jar, shake then spoon some onto each square of tuna, then place onto a cucumber round and arrange on serving tray.  If you put the tuna on the cucumber first, then the dressing, it tends to go everywhere.

Makes 30

Ceviche with Coconut Dressing

500g firm white fish fillets (e.g. Hoki, Barramundi)
juice of 3 limes
100ml coconut cream
2 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs finely chopped coriander root/stalk
½ tsp salt
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal

Cut fish into bite-sized cubes and place in a glass or ceramic dish.  Cover with lime juice and refrigerate 2 hours.  Mix coconut cream, ginger, turmeric, sugar, coriander root and salt.  Drain fish, discarding lime juice and mix into coconut dressing.  To serve, place a cube of fish onto each Chinese spoon and garnish with the spring onion.

Makes about 40

Watermelon and Feta Squares

½ large seedless watermelon
100g creamy feta cheese
1 tsp sumac
6 pitted black olives, finely sliced
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves

Cut watermelon into 2cmx2cm, bite-sized cubes. Cut feta into 1cm cubes. Mix sumac, olives, olive oil, parsley and thyme.  Place a small amount on a feta cube, then place the feta cube on a watermelon cube and arrange on serving plate.  Repeat with the rest of the cubes and serve immediately.

Variations: use green olives instead of black; use basil or mint instead of thyme

Makes about 25

Roxana’s Pisco Sour

½ bottle Pisco (about 375ml)
6 ice cubes
2 Tbs icing sugar, or to taste
½ cup lemon or lime juice, or a mixture
½ an egg white

Place pisco, ice and sugar in blender and blend for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, mix for 2 minutes, then add egg white and continue to mix until sugar has completely dissolved. Pour into 6-8 cocktail or champagne glasses and if liked place a few drops of Angostura bitters on top of each.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8

Lamb Rack with Caper and Herb Crust and Rhubarb Compote

Olive oil
2 French-trimmed 8-cutlet lamb racks (see note below)
8-12 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
Rhubarb compote (see below)
Caper & Herb crust:
2 Tbs salted capers, rinsed and drained
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
½ cup mint leaves
8 cloves garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon
2/3 cup (100g) peanuts

For the crust place all ingredients in food processor except the peanuts and process until finely chopped.  Add peanuts and process briefly leaving it quite chunky.  Set aside.  Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Season lamb racks with S and P and cook in two batches, for about a minute each side, or until nicely browned.  Rest for 15 mins then press the crust onto the fatty side of each lamb rack.   Place shallots in a baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil, then place the lamb racks on top, propping the bony sides up against each other.  (I prepared the dish to this point in the morning)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Roast lamb for 35 minutes for medium-rare (see note below) or until cooked to liking.  Rest for 10 mins then carve into individual cutlets and serve with the roasted shallots and rhubarb compote.

Note: the Delicious magazine recipe calls for spring lamb.  The lamb racks I used were larger and had 9 cutlets each.  I had also done the browning earlier in the day, so they had got cold.  So I roasted them for 45 mins, plus resting time and they were perfectly cooked, medium-rare. If the crust starts to get too brown during cooking time, cover loosely with a piece of foil.

Serves 8, two cutlets each

Rhubarb Compote
2 bunches rhubarb, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 Tbs pomegranate molasses (from delis and specialist cookshops)

Cut rhubarb into 1-2cm pieces. Place in a saucepan over medium heat with sugar and water.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-12 mins or until thick.  Add pomegranate molasses, place in serving dish and put aside to cool.  Serve with lamb.  It would also be nice with chicken, pork or ham. (Note: the recipe in the magazine used 2 cups of water which was far too much!)

Thyme Infused Carrots
2-3 bunches baby carrots
40g butter
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Juice 1 orange

Scrub carrots and trim, leaving a short bit of green at the ends, then halve lengthwise.  Cook in boiling salted water until just slightly under-cooked.  Refresh under cold water, drain then put in a frying pan which is wide enough to fit the carrots.  Add remaining ingredients then put the pan aside until close to serving time.  Bring to the boil then simmer, turning the carrots until they’re nicely glazed and the liquid has evaporated.  Serve immediately.

Serves 8

Minted Baby Peas
4 cups frozen baby peas
1 tsp sugar
30g butter
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
S and P to taste

Cook peas in boiling salted water for 2-3 mins.  Refresh under cold water, then drain.  Place in a saucepan with remaining ingredients.  Can be prepared ahead to this stage.  At serving time reheat over medium heat, stirring.  Season to taste and serve immediately.

Serves 8

Potato Soufflés
80g butter
1/2 cup plain flour
450ml (just under 2 cups) milk
shake of ground nutmeg
2 cups mashed potatoes (mashed with some cream and a large knob of butter)
S and P to taste
4 eggs
1 beaten egg for painting the soufflés prior to baking

Set oven to 180°C and oil about 10 half cup soufflé dishes and place them on a baking tray.  Preheat oven to 200°C.  In a non-stick saucepan heat butter and when melted add flour.  Stir for 2-3 minutes until the flour is cooked but not coloured, then gradually add the milk, mixing to incorporate before you add more.  When sauce is thick and smooth add nutmeg, mashed potato and season to taste.

Remove pan from heat and add the egg yolks one by one, placing the whites in a large mixing bowl.  Beat the whites until soft peaks form, using electric beaters.  Add some of the sauce to the whites and mix well, then add the rest and mix thoroughly using a plastic spatula.  Divide mixture between the soufflé dishes, filling them almost to the top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown.  If liked you can serve them now, leaving them in the dishes and just sitting them on the side of the dinner plates.  Or you can use the following twice-baked method which takes a bit of the stress out of the last-minute nature of soufflés.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.   Line a baking tin with baking paper and spray it with oil, run a knife around each soufflé and tip onto the paper, leaving a space of 2-3cm between each one. Recipe can be made ahead to this point and kept refrigerated and covered, for up to 24 hours.

To serve set oven to 200°C.  Using a pastry brush, paint the top of each soufflé with a little beaten egg, then bake for 10-15 minutes, or until puffed and golden.  If serving with the rack of lamb, place in the oven during the last 10 mins of the lamb’s cooking time, then they can continue to cook when lamb is removed to rest for 10 mins.  Soufflés will take slightly longer if they’ve been in the fridge. Remove with a fish slice to serving plates.

Makes 10

Tasting Plate of Favourite Desserts

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

200ml cream
150g dark/bitter chocolate
pink peppercorns (from specialty shops – dry, slightly perfumed not the ones in brine)

White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis

150g white chocolate
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp gelatine
200ml cream
2 eggs
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup caster sugar

Salted Caramel Tartlets

8 small tartlet shells made with sweet shortcrust pastry, baked and cooled
1 can Nestlé Top ‘n Fill Caramel
250ml cream
Maldon or Murray River salt flakes

Chocolate Ganache: heat cream to boiling point.  Add chocolate broken into squares and stir until melted.  Divide between about 8 shot glasses (will depend on size) then chill or you may prefer them at room temp.  Serve sprinkled with a few pink peppercorns.

White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis: place chocolate, milk and vanilla in a bowl over simmering water until chocolate has melted, stir well and remove from heat. Dissolve gelatine in a Tbs of water, zap in the microwave then mix into the chocolate. Cool a bit then mix in the egg yolks. Whip the egg whites first then using the same beaters whip the cream (not the other way round as the whites won’t whip with greasy beaters!). Fold the cream into the chocolate, then lastly the egg whites. Pour into about 8 shot glasses (will depend on size) leaving a small space at the top for the coulis. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Coulis: defrost the raspberries and mix with the sugar. Leave for a while so the sugar dissolves, whiz in a blender, then push through a sieve, discarding the seeds. To serve, pour a layer of coulis on top of each chocolate moussse.

Salted Caramel Tartlets: in a small saucepan heat cream and caramel Top ‘n Fill gently until thoroughly incorporated.  Cool slightly then use to fill tart shells.  Store at room temperature for up to several hours.  Serve sprinkled with a few salt flakes.  This is enough filling for about 20 tartlets.

Arrange the three desserts on a small plate or individual serving tray (as shown in photo).

Serves 8

A mid-week BBQ

Some neighbours have sold their house and are moving, so we invited them round for a farewell BBQ dinner. With drinks I served Tuna and Avocado Spoons, drizzled with a Wasabi dressing. Invented by my daughter Catherine, these delicious mouthfuls make the most of sashimi grade tuna and are made in a jiffy.

For the main course we barbecued some Chicken and Chorizo kebabs and served them with Crispy Potatoes with Bacon and Rosemary (Delicious magazine February 2012) and Shaved Fennel and Zucchini Salad topped with crumbled feta – another winner from Catherine. For dessert a crustless Lemon Tart with cream. The weather has suddenly turned wintry so we had to eat inside. A week ago we were able to sit outside until eleven when some other friends joined us for dinner. It’s been a very strange summer weather-wise.

Tuna and Avocado Spoons with Wasabi Dressing

200-250g piece of sashimi-grade tuna
1 or 2 avocados, halved and thinly sliced
Fresh Coriander leaves
Lightly toasted sesame seeds to garnish – black ones look good
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs soy sauce
1½ Tbs sesame oil
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs brown sugar
¼ tsp wasabi paste, or to taste

Slice tuna thinly. This is easier to do if the tuna has been frozen and is only partially thawed. Arrange a piece on Chinese spoons, top each with a slice of avocado and a coriander leaf. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve when the tuna has thawed – it will only take a few minutes.

Dressing: Place all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Makes 16-20 spoons

Chicken and Chorizo Kebabs

1kg boned and skinned chicken thighs
About 1.5kg raw chorizo sausages
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika (or ordinary paprika is fine)
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp brown sugar

Soak about 16 wooden skewers in cold water for 20 mins or so. Place marinade ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Trim chicken to remove any fat or gristle and cut into 2.5cm cubes and add to marinade. Stir to combine – chicken will pretty much absorb it. Cut the sausages into 1cm slices. Thread chicken and chorizo onto skewers, alternating them. Leave aside in a dish to continue marinating. Can be made ahead and kept covered in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Cook on a medium-hot barbecue for 8-10 minutes each side or until cooked through.

Makes about 16 kebabs

Shaved Fennel and Zucchini Salad with Dill and Feta

1 or 2 zucchini depending on size, sliced very thinly
1-2 bulbs of fennel, depending on size, sliced very thinly
2/3 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
½ cup toasted pine nuts
100g feta cheese
4-5 handfuls rocket leaves
¼ cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
salt to taste
1 tsp honey

The quickest way to cut the zucchini (courgettes) and fennel is through the slicing blade of a Magimix or using a mandoline. Place in a bowl with dill and rocket. Place dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Mix dressing with salad then pile into a shallow flattish serving dish. Sprinkle the pine nuts and crumbled feta over the top.

Crispy Potatoes with Bacon and Rosemary

1 kg potatoes cut into 3cm cubes (I used kipfler from the garden)
2-3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked off
1/4 cup + 1 Tbs olive oil
3 rashers bacon, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs chopped parsley

If liked peel the potatoes or just scrub them well and cut into cubes. Line a roasting pan with baking paper and set the oven to 180°C. Mix potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, rosemary leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Tip into the roasting pan and roast for about 40 minutes, or until golden, stirring once or twice during cooking time.. Meanwhile heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a frying pan and cook bacon for 2 minutes, stirring, then add onion and garlic and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add onion and bacon to the potatoes, mix through then continue to bake for a further 10 mins. Mix in the parsely and serve.

Crustless Lemon Tart

120g butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
250ml cream
1/2 cup lemon juice
finely grated rind of 2 lemons
120g self-raising, sifted

Preheat oven to 170°C. Lightly butter a ceramic quiche or similar round dish and line the bottom with baking paper. With electric beaters, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. In another bowl with the same beaters, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks, cream and lemon juice and rind. Fold in the sifted flour and lastly the egg whites, in two batches. Tip into the dish and bake for about 25-35 minutes or until set to the touch and golden. Turn off the oven, open the door and leave the tart to cool in the oven.

When cool, refrigerate until serving time. Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick cream.

Serves 8-10

Note: the reason for whipping the egg whites first even though you add them last is simply to save having to wash the beaters. Egg whites must be whipped with clean beaters.,