Crunchy Beans with Humus and Feta


This healthy dip or shared plate is delicious and easy to make. Even the grandkids loved it.

1 can white cannelini beans, drained thoroughly
1 good pinch chilli flakes
1 Tbs cornflour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried rosemary or another herb (optional(
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs olive oil
1- 2 cups humus (bought or home made)
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Chopped fresh herbs to garnish or spring onion slivers
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat ovento 200C. Mix beans with chilli flakes, corflour, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic powder and olive oil. Line a shallow baking sheet with baking paper. Spread the beans over the paper in one layer. Bake for 20-30 mins or until golden and crunchy. Move them around a bit halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile spread humus over serving plate. Sprinkle feta over the top, then, the crunchy beans and a few fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with nice bread.

Serves 4-6 as a shared plate

Salmon with Ginger and Sweet Chilli Sauce

This recipe is so easy, I have never bothered to include it in this blog.

I’m going to do so today, for two reasons. Firstly it’s a favourite in our house, so I make it at least once a fortnight and sometimes once a week. Secondly, if I serve it to guests they invariably ask for the recipe.

2 portions salmon, skin on or off
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (see note below)
1 Tbs Thai sweet chilli sauce
Lemon to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper.

Pat the salmon fillets dry and arrange on the tray. Mix ginger and chilli sauce and spread evenly over the tops of the salmon. Bake for 8-10 minutes. We like our salmon pink in the middle. If liked, cook longer.

Serve garnished with lemon, with an Asian Coleslaw or steamed green vegetable.

Serves 2

Note: Peel half a kilo or more of fresh ginger, then chop very finely in food processor. Freeze in ice cube trays, pressing down to fill. When frozen, tip into a ziplock bag or container and freeze. Just take out one cube at a time. Perfect for stir-fries and marinades.

Baked Figs with Creamy Goat Cheese & Honey

Fresh figs are only in season for a very short time. We have a tree and the figs are ripening a few at a time which is good, so we don’t have to eat them all in one week. This is a delicious starter for four or a light lunch for two with a side salad.

4 fresh figs
4 heaped tsp creamy goat cheese
Runny honey
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Fresh herbs and cracked pepper

Wash and dry the figs. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cut through the figs from the top, cutting them into quarters but stopping halfway so they’re still attached at the bottom. Arrange in a small heatproof dish, lightly oiled. Stuff each fig with about a heaped teaspoon of creamy goat cheese. I use the Aldi spreadable goat cheese in a little pot.

Drizzle a little honey over the figs. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is just starting to colour.

Arrange figs on serving plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with herbs and pepper.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light lunch

Variations: use a creamy blue cheese instead of goat cheese and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each fig.




Prawn Scramble with Crispy Shallots

Looking for a quick and easy lunch or light supper?

This is my variation on a dish I have ordered several times at my favourite lunch-time café, Deakin and Me. It’s basically scrambled eggs with prawns and salad served on toasted sourdough. Sometimes I ask them to skip the toast and serve mine on a large piece of roasted pumpkin with the skin on. Either way it’s delicious.

I got distracted and overcooked the crispy shallots but they still tasted good. If preferred, buy some crispy shallots sold in Asian stores and some supermarkets, in a packet.

I think they use raw prawns, but I used cooked ones. The photo is of my serving, which I had without the toast.

4 eggs
2 Tbs milk
2 Tbs butter or oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g cooked prawns (about 125g shelled weight)
¾ cup beansprouts, trimmed if necessary
½ cup each coriander leaves and flat parsley leaves
Green part of a spring onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce (or another chilli sauce, such as harissa)
2 slices sourdough bread, toasted (& buttered if you like)
1 Tbs lime juice
2 wedges lime (optional)
Crispy shallots:
3-4 shallots
Vegetable oil

Peel prawns, cut into chunks and season. Mix mayonnaise with sriracha sauce and lime juice.

Beat eggs and milk with a fork and season. Heat butter or oil, add prawns and stir fry until hot (if using raw prawns this will take a little longer). Remove prawns and keep warm. Add the eggs and gently scramble them, stopping when they are still quite soft. Gently fold in the prawns.

Place toasted sourdough on two warmed plates. Arrange scrambled eggs and prawns on the toast, buttered if you like. Top each serving with some beansprouts, spring onions and herbs. Drizzle some spicy mayo around the edge and sprinkle with crispy shallots. Garnish with lime wedges, if using, and serve immediately.

For the crispy shallots, place the peeled and chopped shallots in a small frying pan. Cover with cold vegetable oil. Cook over medium heat until they are golden and crunchy. Drain and leave on paper towels to cool.

Serves 2

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers or capsicums are delicious served hot or at room temperature.

The filling is flexible. This version has a vegetarian filling, but if preferred you can add some browned minced beef, chicken or pork, or some chopped ham.

4-6 small to medium capsicums (peppers), red or yellow
1 cup rice, quinoa or pearl (Israeli) couscous
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup pine nuts
Olive oil
½ cup home made breadcrumbs
To garnish:

1 long green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
Or fresh parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Cook the rice, quinoa or pearl couscous in boiling salted water until al dente, drain well.

Cut capsicums in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place cut side up in a large oiled baking dish in one layer. Mix ingredients for filling, except for the olive oil and saving a bit of the feta and pine nuts for the topping. Fill the capsicum halves.

Mix the saved feta cheese and pine nuts with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the capsicums are starting to char a bit – see photo.

Garnish with the green chilli – or some fresh parsley leaves – and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts and Raisins

We have six perpetual spinach plants in the garden. It’s a great leafy vegetable to grow because you just break off the leaves as you need them and it keeps on growing.

Ours are in a raised bed which we can cover at night in the cooler months, like a greenhouse, so the plants don’t get damaged by frost.

This is a healthy, quick and easy dinner for two, but easily doubled for four. If liked serve with rice, potatoes or Israeli pearl couscous

1 large or two small chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Herbs or spices of choice (paprika, thyme etc)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch spinach, washed, stalks removed
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs pine nuts
2 Tbs sultanas or raisins
Balsamic glaze

Cut chicken into six or eight lengthwise fat fingers. Season with salt and pepper and a good pinch of any spices or herbs you fancy. Last time I added a good pinch of curry powder. Place sultanas in a small bowl, cover with hot water, leave 3 minutes, then drain.

Pour boiling water over the spinach and leave for 2 minutes. Drain, squeeze out all the water and if spinach has large leaves, chop roughly. If using baby spinach, no need. Leave in a sieve to continue draining while you cook the chicken.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a frying pan and cook chicken on both sides for 8-10 minutes, turning a couple of times, until cooked through. When chicken is cooked, remove from the pan. To the pan add the second Tbs of oil – you might not need it – spinach, garlic, pine nuts and sultanas or raisins. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes then season to taste.

Divide spinach among two serving plates. Top with chicken, then garnish with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Serves 2

Quick Falafel

When we lived in Israel in the late 1970s, we loved the street food called falafel. Crispy chickpea patties served in a warm pita bread pocket with humus, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.

Falafel are traditionally made with chickpeas. Using a can doesn’t work – they end up mushy. This recipe uses red lentils instead of chickpeas which you just soak for an hour. The photo shows the falafel ready to fry – which is why they look a bit insipid. Next time I think I’ll make them a little bit smaller.

1 bunch parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 cup red lentils soaked one hour in cold water then drained
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander and salt
4 tbs chickpea flour (besan flour)
¼ cup olive oil + extra for frying the felafel
To serve:
4 pita bread pockets
Hummus (bought or home-made)
1 small cucumber, diced
2-3 tomatoes diced (or 8-10 cocktail tomatoes)
½ red onion, diced
Coriander or parsley, chopped
Avocado diced (optional)
Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the felafel. I use the food processor to finely chop the parsley and onion, then add the drained lentils, spices, salt, chickpea flour and olive oil. Process just enough to get a chunky mixture. You don’t want it smooth. Form into 2cm flattened balls with damp hands.

Deep fry or shallow fry the falafel or spray both sides with oil and cook them in an air fryer for about 10 minutes, turning once about halfway through.

Meanwhile warm or toast the felafel pockets. Mix the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, coriander or parsley and avocado if using. Add a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, fill each pita pocket with some hummus, cucumber and tomato mix and two or three crispy warm felafel.

Serves 4

Chicken with Israeli Couscous and Citrus Marmalade

I know chicken with marmalade sounds a bit weird, but think duck with orange.

Choose a tart chunky marmalade such as Seville Orange, Grapefruit or similar. I used a home-made Cumquat and Ginger marmalade. If you’ve never cooked Israeli Couscous, also known as Pearl Couscous, it’s just bigger than normal couscous. It makes a nice change from rice.

1 very large or 2 smaller chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup Israeli (Pearl) couscous
2 Tbs chopped parsley
A knob of butter or 1 Tbs olive oil
2-3 Tbs chunky citrus marmalade

Pat chicken dry and season to taste. Flatten out a bit if it’s very thick in some parts. Heat oil in a frying pan and cook chicken for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway, or until cooked through. Remove from the pan and slice downwards. Meanwhile while chicken is cooking, cook the couscous in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain well then add the parsley, butter or oil and season to taste.

Divide couscous between two serving plates. Top with the chicken slices and the marmalade.

Serves 2


Sticky Spicy Chicken

This is a quick and easy mid-week recipe for two which is easily doubled for four. Serve it on a bed of steamed rice or home-grown rocket. Or why not both.

The rocket we grow in the garden has large leaves and, compared with the rocket you buy, which tends to be thin with tough stalks, it’s very tender, as you can see in the photo.

I make my own salad dressings, with one exception. If you can find Kewpie Japanese Roasted Sesame Dressing in your supermarket, I highly recommend you try it. It comes in a 210 ml bottle, although in Costco I’ve seen it in a one litre bottle.

2 chicken breasts (or 3-4 boneless, skinless thighs)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Harissa (or another chilli paste or sauce, such as sriracha)
1 Tbs runny honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve:
4-5 handfuls rocket
Salad dressing of your choice (see above)
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 Tbs pistachio nuts or pine nuts

Cut chicken breasts into four or five lengthwise fillets. If using thighs, trim and cut into chunks.

Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden but not quite cooked through. Mix the Harissa, honey, cinnamon and garlic and add to the pan. Continue to cook the chicken for a few minutes, turning regularly until the sauce has virtually disappeared and the chicken is nicely glazed.

Toast sesame seeds and nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly coloured.

Dress the rocket and arrange on two serving plates. Top with the chicken and any remaining sauce and garnish with the seeds and nuts.

Serves 2

Weetbix Date Loaf

Many Australians grew up eating Weetbix for breakfast and some are still fans. Not Weet-a-Bix, sold in England, but the Aussie equivalent by Sanitarium, called Weetbix.

In the post-War generation of my mother-in-law, when nothing was thrown away, women invented recipes to use up the broken Weetbix at the bottom of the packet.

This is an adaptation of a typical Date Loaf, with the addition of some crushed Weetbix. It’s quickly made, nice and moist and keeps for several days in a tin. If you don’t have Weetbix, use any crushed breakfast cereal such as raisin bran, All Bran or even cornflakes.

What I like about this recipe is that you just throw all the ingredients into a saucepan, so there’s minimal washing up and mixing involved. By the time the oven has heated, the loaf is ready to go in. It’s also a very flexible recipe so if you don’t have dates you can add any dried fruit or nuts you have available. To make this dairy free use olive oil instead of butter.

80g butter
1 cup (250ml) water
1 cup pitted dates chopped (or raisins, or mixed fruit, or fruit & nuts)
¾ cup sugar (white or brown)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 crushed Weetbix – about 2 cups
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a loaf pan and line with baking paper. I just line the bottom of mine, but you can line the sides as well if preferred. Just a standard size, whatever you have.

Place butter, water, dates and sugar in a medium to large saucepan. Turn on the heat and when the butter has melted turn it off. Add the bicarbonate of soda, Weetbix, vanilla and sifted flour and lastly mix in the egg. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes then run a knife around the sides if you haven’t lined them with paper, tip out and remove paper. Serve as it is or buttered. Store in a container with a lid.

Makes 1 loaf