Category Archives: Recipes

Semi dried tomatoes

We had a good crop of beautiful organic tomatoes this year. We had both cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes and we grew way more than what we could eat so I decided to semi dry and preserve them in olive oil.


Light olive oil (enough to cover the tomatoes)
3 cloves of garlic
1 Table spoon of salted capers
1 Teaspoon of dried basil


Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and the larger tomatoes into 1cm (about a third of an inch) slices.

Dry the tomatoes in a dehydrator for 12 hours at 60 degrees C (about 140 F).

Place enough jars and their lids in a oven heated to 120 degrees C (about 250 F) for 30 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot oven until you are ready to use them.

Heat up the olive oil with the three cloves of finely sliced garlic, a table spoon of salted capers and a teaspoon of dried basil. Heat the oil until it starts to cook the garlic then it take it off the heat. You don’t want to really cook the garlic, it’s heated just to help infuse the flavours into the oil and help with keeping things sterile.

Pour a little of the hot oil with the garlic, basil and capers into each the hot sterilised jars and then place the semi dried tomatoes in the jars a little at a time, covering them with a little more hot oil as you fill up the jar.

If you try this, I’d suggest that the oil pouring is done in the kitchen sink in case the jar breaks. Needless to say, hot oil can cause very serious burns so take care at all times.

Have crepe maker. Will travel.

This weekend I went to my in-law’s holiday home with my wife and an old friend (Doug) with one of his co-workers (Sebastian). Doug suggested that he and Sebastian bring Sebastian’s crepe maker and they would make breakfast for us the next day. Sebastian is from Alsace in north of France and we thought it would be a great idea to have authentic crepes made by a Frenchman, and it was!


Sebastian making crepes

The humble crepe is so versatile. Not as heavy and stodgy as normal pancakes, the crepe is good with sweet or savoury fillings. Fortunately Sebastian made too much batter and we had crepes for breakfast one day and crepes for lunch the next. The breakfast crepes were filled with fresh fruit, cream and maple syrup and the lunch crepes were filled with mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms and smoked salmon. Heaven on a plate.

Recipe for 4 people (about 2 crepes each)
Batter Ingredients

3 Eggs
250gr plain flour (you can substitute 1/3 of the flour with buckwheat flour)
500 ml milk
Pinch of salt
Dash of olive oil

Savoury Crepe suggested ingredients
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Smoked salmon or ham
Sautéed Mushrooms

Sweet Crepe suggested ingredients
Sliced fruits of choice
Double cream or Crème Fraise
Maple syrup

Mix all the batter ingredients in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Longer is better as it reduces the bubbles that are formed when the batter is cooked.

Grease up the crepe maker (or pan) when it gets hot, with either butter or olive oil. Pour about one and a half ladles of batter onto the crepe maker and spread quickly with a T-scraper (or spatular) using an arching motion. Allow the crepe to cook until the up side of the crepe is dry and the edges are starting to brown.

Next, lift the crepe with a spatular and flip it over.

If you are making a savoury crepe, this is the time to sprinkle on some cheese and what ever other ingredients you wish over the cooking crepe. Leave the crepe to cook for about another minute or two and then, using the spatular, fold over the sides and remove to a plate to serve.

If you are making sweet crepes, just remove the crepe and place the ingredients in the middle and roll it all up on a plate to serve.

Another sweet variation is to sprinkle some sugar onto the flipped side of the crepe and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the sugar as it caramelises. When the sugar has melted and mixed with the lemon juices, roll up the crepe with the spatular and serve.

Doug in crepe heaven

One of the really good things about crepes, besides their simplicity, is the fact that each person can make their own. It’s all a bit of social fun that tastes fantastic.

On an interesting side note, Sebastian who has lived in Australia for nearly ten years, told us of how when he travels, he “couch surfs”. Couch Surfing is a worldwide network of people who contact each other over the Internet and arrange free accommodation with other like-minded people. Sort of like hitchhiking but from couch to couch rather than car to car. Sounds like a great way to meet the gregarious and generous people of a society. If Sebastian is anybody to judge “couch surfing” by, then I’d say it’s a good way to meet interesting nice people from overseas.

Perfect Blueberry Pancakes

Makes about 10 of the most delicious side-dish sized pancakes

This is a modification of a Neil Perry recipe from his book “Good Food”. Neil Perry is one of Sydney’s gods of food and amongst many other things he owns and runs two of Sydney’s better restaurants, XO and Rockpool. I’ve tried several of Mr Perry’s recipes and they are superb.

The pancakes in this recipe are similar in taste and texture to the buttermilk pancakes that are in Neil Perry’s book. I found the original pancake recipe took too long to cook and the middle was still a little too moist for my taste, even when I spread around the dough during the pouring. In his cookbook Neil Perry says that his recipes are a starting point. So I started, and changed things a little.


150g (5 ½ oz or 1 cup) fresh of frozen blueberries
150g (5 ½ oz or 1 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 eggs
500ml (2 cups) thick natural Greek style yoghurt
80g  (3oz) unsalted butter melted

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. In another smaller bowl beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add the yoghurt and eggs to the dry ingredients and mix well. Then stir in the melted butter.

Pour out enough dough for a pancake into a heavy based frying pan over medium heat (I use an electric grill plate). Spread the dough around a little so the pancake isn’t too thick and place several blueberries on the cooking dough. Cook the pancake until the formed bubbles have broken and the top has started to look a bit dry. This is the time to turn the pancake over and cook for 2 more minutes.

Serve with maple syrup and butter.



2 ripe* avocados
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes** or 1 small ripe tomato, diced into small pieces
1 small Spanish onion diced into small pieces
1 lime (about the size of a ping pong ball)
1/3 cup fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
Chili, to taste. I use 3 or 4 slices of my own pickled chili, minced
Season with a little salt

If you want the Tex-Mex version, add 1 teaspoon of cumin


The first thing to remember about making guacamole is that “less is more”.  If in doubt, use less of the onion, lime, chili and coriander, as all of these can overwhelm the delicate flavour of the avocado. Be particularly careful with the coriander (cilantro) if you are making this for guests, you might love it but many people who are used to plain food can be turned off it for a lifetime if they have too much of it in a dish. Slowly, slowly catchy monkey.

If you are in doubt about the ingredients, halve everything but the avocados and add the remains a little at a time to suit your taste. If you screw up, just add another avocado.

The second thing to remember is that there are NO DAIRY products in traditional guacamole. This recipe is for the real deal; so don’t go wrecking it with sour cream.

Also resist the desire to puree the ingredients in a food processor.  Guacamole tastes way better if it is left chunky.
Just mix the ingredients in a bowl with a fork until the avocado is in chunks.

Serve with corn chips. For an interesting variation, serve with prawn chips (shrimp crackers like you used to get in Chinese restaurants in the old days). I first tried this variation in Bali and I was surprised how well it went with guacamole. The pastel pink of the crackers is a pleasing contrast to the light green of the guacamole.

*The way to tell when an avocado is ripe is to press one’s finger gently into the top of the avocado (where the stem was) to feel if it is yielding but not too soft. DO NOT go around squeezing the middle of the avocados in stores as you will damage the fruit for future buyers. If you buy avocados that aren’t ripe you can hasten the ripening process by putting them in a plastic bag with a banana.

**I recommend cherry tomatoes because they have a much better flavour than the rubbish masquerading as tomatoes that are commonly available in supermarkets. 

Razzbuffnik with his own home grown tomatoes

Needless to say, if you have access to home grown tomatoes then use them. Once you grow your own tomatoes there is no going back to buying them from supermarkets.



1 teaspoon of salted capers, rinsed
1/2 cup of pitted and drained green Spanish olives
1/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes, drained of excess oil
2 marinated red capsicum (bell pepper)*
1 clove of garlic

Make sure the capers and olives are well rinsed and drained or the tapenade will be far too salty. Puree all ingredients in a food processor.

*If you want to use fresh red capsicums, cut them in half, take out the seeds and place the halves, skin side up, under a hot grill. Grill until the skin begins to go black and starts to smoke and burn. When skins are mostly black and blistered, place the capsicum in a plastic bag and tie the bag closed and allow it to sit in the unopened bag for about 10 to 20 minutes, to sweat. Take the capsicum out of the plastic bag and peel the skin off. The skin should just lift off quite easily.

Serve with soft goat or sheep cheese on pumpernickel rounds; thin slices of sourdough baguette or your favorite crackers. This tapenade also goes surprisingly well with German sausages.

Chickpea salad

This is a sure fire winner by my wife. This salad goes very well with just about any Mediterranean dish and is particularly good with grilled fish or lamb.


Serves 4 to 6

1 marinated roast capsicum (red bell pepper) chopped into 1cm (1/2 inch) squares
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small Spanish (red) onion, diced
2x400gr (14oz) cans of chickpeas
1/2 cup Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped
2 lemons juiced
1/3 cup of virgin olive oil.

Combine ingredients in a bowl and serve.

If you want to use a fresh red capsicum, cut it in half, take out the seeds and place both halves, skin side up, under a hot grill. Grill until the skin begins to go black and starts to smoke and burn. When skins are mostly black and blistered, place the capsicum in a plastic bag and tie the bag closed and allow it to sit in the unopened bag for about 10 to 20 minutes, to sweat. Take the capsicum out of the plastic bag and peel the skin off. The skin should just lift off quite easily.

Artichoke dip

This is a quick and easy recipe that is always popular with my dinner guests.



1 small jar (170gr or 6oz) of marinated artichokes, drained
1 400gr (14oz) can of cannellini beans, drained
1/2 of a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon (or more to suit taste) fresh basil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.


Puree all ingredients in a food processor.

Serve with either crackers or pide (Turkish bread)

My version of Baba Ghanoush

This is a very quick easy dip that is always a hitiat any diner party I hold. This recipe is my own and I’ve strayed quite far from traditional baba ghanoush.



1 300gr jar of grilled eggplants (I use the brand “Always Fresh” here in Australia)

1/2 a cup of yoghurt (I use a Greek style one with S. Thermophillus and L. Bulgaricus cultures)

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of tahini (be careful to not put too much in as it can over power the whole dip)

1/2 a cup of almond meal (this isn’t essential but it helps soak up the moisture of the yoghurt and gives the dip body)

Juice of one lemon (start of with half the juice and then add more to suit your taste)

Pinch of pimenton (smoked paprika). It’s not essential but the smoky flavour and colour do add a nice touch.


Drain the grilled eggplant (if you like lots of oil, pour some of the oil on the dip when it’s complete). Place all the ingredients with the exception of the pimenton in a food processor and puree. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the pimenton.

Serve with fresh hot pide (Turkish bread). If you can’t get the Turkish bread, barbeque rice crackers or sesame water crackers go well with the dip.


If you’re a bit of a purist and want to use a fresh eggplant, here’s what you do. Prick an eggplant all over with a fork and stick it in a very hot oven for about 45 minutes until is starts to smoke and burn. The next step is to take it out of the oven and cut it in half. Scoop out the insides of the eggplant. At this point some people squeeze out the excess moisture. Then just follow the recipe above, substituting the fresh eggplant for the bottled eggplant.

What to do with your excess chillies

Each year I harvest far more chillies than I can use at one time. I have only two small chilli plants and each year I’m amazed at how productive they are. One of the problems that so many chillies pose, is that they are so hot that one only needs to use a few at a time and the majority will rot before you can put them to use. As a consequence, you don’t have any home grown chillies when you want to use them in the future.


I overcome this glut of chillies by pickling them. Pickling is extremely easy.

The first thing to do is get some jars, of a suitable size (I like using the smaller, wide mouthed salsa jars), wash them and then heat them up (with the lids, detached from the jars) in an oven for about half an hour at about 120 degrees C (about 250 degrees F).

After washing and rinsing the chillies, slice them (discarding the stems), complete with the seeds. A note of caution here, if you have sensitive skin wear rubber gloves. Needless to say, keep you hands away from any mucosal membranes afterwards, or you’re going to be in for a character building experience.

Pour enough apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar that you have on hand) to cover the sliced chillies into a pot. Then add olive oil equal to about 20% of the volume of the vinegar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the vinegar and oil is at a rolling boil, carefully add the chillies. Boil the chillies in the mixture for about a minute or two.

As a variation to this recipe, you can slice up some garlic and add it to the chillies at this point.

Take the jars out of the oven and put them in a dry sink. While constantly stirring the pot contents, ladle the chillies and vineger mixture into the warm jars, leaving about 1.5cm (about half an inch) space to the top of the jar. When you have no more chillies left, top up the jars with the remaining oil and vinegar mix, making sure that you completely cover the chillies and then take the warm lids out of the oven and screw them onto the jars.

The remaining oil and vinegar mixture can be kept as a condiment chilli oil. When the jars have cooled down to room temperature wash the jars in soapy water, to removed any residual chilli oil.


Store the chillies in a cool dark place. I’ve used chillies preserved like this, one and a half years after I’ve pickled them, with no ill effects. Always store the opened jars in the refrigerator after use. When the pickled chillies have been refrigerated, the oil solidifies, but don’t let that worry you as it doesn’t affect the flavour.

I use my pickled chillies in cooking and I’ve noticed that the oil and vinegar take up a lot of the chillies “heat” so keep that in mind when you cook. Just add more of the oil and the “heat” goes way up.

A cake to have with coffee

This is a fairly dense moist cake that is perfect with coffee and it’s very easy to make.

The recipe here, is my modification of the “5 cups cake” recipe I found at



1 1/2 cups of self raising flour

1 cup of shredded coconut

1/2 cup of sugar

1 cup of coconut cream

2 eggs

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

1 teaspoon of coconut flavouring.


Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F. These temperatures are for fan forced ovens.

Mix the ingredients and then pour into a greased, round 185cm baking tin (spring form if you have one). Bake for approximately 45 minutes (a little longer if your oven isn’t fan forced)