Thursday, 2 November 2017

Five Quick Desserts

I hate to post so late during the week, but I like to think that there are some out there who would love to get stuck into some great desserts over the weekend. Enjoy!

If you need some quick desserts that will get you out of trouble when you have little time and people arriving on your doorstep?

My husband loves his desserts, but to be honest I don't have time to be making them every day, and my waistline doesn't need to have anything extra added to it. When there is dessert on offer - I eat it, and because of that I need to try and stick to something reasonably healthy, or just eat fruit, except on special occasions.

I've been stealing playing with recipes from friends and family, internet, my old recipe file and just about everywhere to come up with a few quickies.  These have seen me through a few desperate days when I needed something fast, yet good enough to serve to friends and family.

Luckily, I have a lot of rhubarb in the garden, and it is growing like crazy at this time of year.  Here are a few of my favs, with links to the websites where applicable. I have made all of them as the photos will show, and they are all fast to make and pretty darn healthy. Well, I am stretching that a little......

Roasted Rhubarb- serves 4 

a quantity of rhubarb stalks washed and chopped into large pieces
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 star anise
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice

Chop up the Rhubarb into small lengths and place it in an oven tray. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and spread this over the rhubarb. Bake in a moderate oven 160º fan forced/180º/350º until soft, around 30 minutes. Remove star anise and serve with custard, ice cream or cream.

Alternatively, you can make this into a Rhubarb Fool. 
Whip a carton  of cream, 300mls until thick and slowly incorporate the rhubarb. Keep some of the juice aside. Now fill up some sundae dishes, glasses or whatever is at hand, dripping the juice over the top. Add a sprig of mint to finish this off. Serve by itself.

Apple - Pastry Roses

I was really impressed with the way these 'Apple Roses' looked - so pretty. This was very fast to make and I only cooked them for 30 minutes.  The only problem I found with the recipe was that after cooking the cream cheese just seemed to disappear. I have replaced cream cheese with Mascarpone and mixed in lemon zest. I found this worked much better. Also cook the apples until they are really soft so they are easier to roll.

You will find the recipe here:

Raw Chocolate Mousse - 4 serves

2 ripe avocadoes
1/2 cup carob powder
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut milk
pinch salt

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend together. Empty into a container and place in the fridge for 1 hr. Serve with fresh fruit or by itself. Just increase the quantities if you need to make for more people.

Banana and Raspberry Ice Cream - 4 serves

2 large frozen bananas, peeled
1 cup frozen raspberries/strawberries

Place the bananas and the raspberries in a food processor and pulse until it turns into ice cream. You may need to stop the machine a few times and scrape down the sides. Use immediately or store in the freezer in a sealed container. But remember to take out of the freezer for a good 10 minutes before serving, to allow it to soften. 

Its worth keeping some frozen bananas in the freezer at all times. They are great for smoothies too.  Don't forget to peel and slice them before freezing.Because it's damned hard and messy trying to peel them after they are frozen - believe me I have tried. This is fabulous on a hot day and really as good as any home made ice cream.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Leek, Zucchini and Cheddar Cheese Hand Pies

The last time I made these Leek, Zucchini and Cheddar Cheese Hand Pies, I had a picnic in mind. Preparing to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Overland train, my thoughts as usual were on food. Train food I'd heard, was pretty average which  meant I really needed to pack my own.  I anticipated a glorious picnic on the train and wanted something special to eat.

What an interesting way to experience the countryside from the Adelaide plains, through the hills to the River Murray and out into the rural and farming areas of South Australia and Victoria.

The day started well, cool morning but no rain and the train gathered speed after the hilly bits as we were heading across country at over 100 kms an hour. Compare it to the Bullet Train in Japan and that is a walking pace but it was lovely to see the River Murray from this vantage point as it curls its way down to the sea.

The sun was shining, I was reading "Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins and I settled down to the comfort of the Overland. We passed huge wheat silos, kangaroos and emus, sheep and baby lambs. We glimpsed the runners of the Stawell Gift, Australia's richest foot race and saw other animals and farming implements. It was a truly relaxing time.

And resting in my lunch bag was a box full of these hand pies. Cold of course. But when I opened the lid and the smell wafted out into the train all eyes were suddenly on me. Other passengers noses were in the air, they could smell the aroma coming from my lunch box and they were salivating.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough to hand around and i felt quite guilty eating them myself because they truly were delicious.

And to avoid the same situation recurring, I've shared my recipe.


To make 10 - 12 pies you will need;

  • Filling
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1.5 - 2 cups of cheddar cheese, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano/marjoram, finely chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • small nob of butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • salt and pepper


I used bought sheets of Pampas Butter Puff Pastry.

This is how you make them:-

I used a medium sized fry pan, added the oil and butter and gently cooked the zucchini, leek and herbs until they were slightly browned.

In a small bowl I added yoghurt and an egg and gave it a quick beat together. I added salt and pepper, flour and cheese and stirred until it was combined.

Once the leek and zucchini are cooked, let them cool a little, then add them to the yoghurt and egg mixture. Now cover and place in the fridge until completely cold. You can do this the day before if it is easier.


Find something round you can used as a template for making circles. I used a mixing bowl that was  5 inches/13 cms in diameter and scored around it with a knife.  My pastry came in sheets and I managed to get 2 circles out of each sheet.

Place a large tablespoon of the mixture in the centre of the pastry circle, wet the edges of the pastry using water and a pastry bush. Now fold the pastry in half and seal the edges with your fingers. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut a small v in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.

Put the pies on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 200ºC/400ºF/6 for 15 - 20 minutes. Eat them piping hot or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Delicious Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup with Pistachio Pesto

Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup was my saviour. Yesterday was a miserably cold, wet day. Magpies were sitting under the verandah shivering and the wind was bitterly cold, coming straight off the Antarctic!

If you are in Northern America or Canada, you are probably laughing your head off, because our cold 14 degrees C, is nothing like your cold! But to us, it's the same as being buried in a snow drift.

That said, a good way to warm up the kitchen is to turn on the oven, chuck in some veg and get roasting. And that is exactly how this soup happened.

I had half a butternut squash, sliced it up with olive oil, salt and pepper and put it in the oven to roast. I was thinking I could use it in a vegetable stack, a salad, or a roast vegetable baguette. But as I watched the trees outside of the kitchen window, thrashing around in the wind and the spring blossom slowly disappearing down the block, I yearned for soup.

What turned this soup from being 'Soupa' to extra super was adding the Pistachio Pesto. That really did give it that extra zing. Swirl it around with a spoon of yogurt and thats one fine lunch on a cold day. This is how I made it.

This might be my last winter soup for a while because I have just checked out the weather forecast and we might be in for a tad of sunshine - whoo hoo! Summer is coming!


For 4 serves you will need;

600g golden sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
250g butternut pumpkin, peeled, chopped
1 brown onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 litre of vegetable stock/stock cube/water
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and peper
knob of butter
Spoonful or 2 of plain yoghurt

Pistachio Pesto

1/2 cup raw, shelled pistachios
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups loosley packed basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons lemon juice 

Prepare a tray with baking paper, add chopped butternut, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a pre heated oven 160º fan forced/ 325º/3 Gas, for 20 - 30 minutes until golden.

While the pumpkin is cooking, melt butter in large pan and add onion, and cook until transparent. Add garlic and olive oil and cook a further 2 minutes.

Place the sweet potato into the pan and mix it around until it is well coated in butter and olive oil, 3 minutes or so. You can put in your stock, water or stock cube and water at this point and allow it to come to the boil.

Add salt and pepper and turn down to a simmer. 

Just as the sweet potato begins to soften, around 20 minutes, add the cooked pumpkin. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the sweet potato is nicely soft and tasting very sweet. (You could cook the pumpkin a day ahead of time, if that works for you).

Cool a little and puree with a hand blender or food processor. The soup can be used by itself with a little extra cracked pepper and a hint of yoghurt. Or you can make the pesto while the potato is cooking.

Pistachio Pesto

Place pistachios in food processor and blend until finely chopped. Set aside.

Add cloves and salt and blend again.

Place the basil into the processor and blend until finely chopped. then again all the other ingredients, except oil and blend again.

Lastly, with the motor running, add the olive oil as a stream. Once all is blended together, check seasoning again and adjust to suit. You can now add a spoonful of this to your soup.

This pesto can be used with any pasta too.