Articles in Category: Recipes

Savoury Basil & Poppy Pancakes #251

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess


Hello Hinterlanders,

This month’s recipes are about food as a social occasion. We recently had the pleasure of dropping in to a neighbour’s place for a ‘cup of tea’, and we left Leonie and Ray’s four hours later after a delightful repast of simple and very social food. The spread included spinach and fetta muffins, fresh bread, cheese, chutneys, vege frittata and a divine vegan choc cake. Well for me, this was the real definition of ‘slow food’. It had the essential ingredients of local produce, care and right intention on the part of the cooks, and a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere to dine in. So here is a small offering of what you could serve as ‘slow food’ on a lazy weekend, or at an evening supper.

The ‘swilli’ recipe from Lisa needs to be made and kept in your larder, and is well worth the effort. If the ‘swilli’ isn’t made, try some grilled tomato or caramelised onion as a topping.

If you eat cheese, grill some haloumi slices to serve with the pancakes or simply serve with creamed or cottage cheese. If you don’t want the dairy, try it with a mild hummus or baba ganoush, or even a roasted capsicum spread.

Savoury Basil & Poppy Pancakes

Ingredients (makes about 16):

2 cups of self raising flour

1 and a half cups of milk (use soy or rice if you like)

juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon of poppy seeds

a few sprigs of fresh basil, chopped

a pinch of chilli powder

a little salt and pepper to taste


Beat all the above ingredients together with a fork or whisk. Grease a frying pan with a very small amount of olive oil and heat to a medium heat. Drop spoonfuls of your batter onto the pan. Turn with a flat spatula once little holes form on the top of the pancakes. These usually take a couple of minutes each side but it will vary depending on how hot your pan is. Serve warm with spreads as suggested in the introduction.

Swilli Sauce

(courtesy of my friend Lisa)


7 or more Red medium/mild chillies (Thai style)

1 large capsicum,preferably roasted (peeled) if possible - but ok raw (optional 2 capsicums)

4 large cloves of garlic

5 tblsp Thai Fish Sauce

1 cup vinegar (white, white balsamic or rice)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water (or less)


1. Roast capsicum under griller or above gas flame, till skin steams up. Cover with teatowel or foil for 5-10 min to make the capsicum “sweat” and skin easier to peel. Discard seeds. Chop.

Alternatively chop fresh red capsicum as is.

2. Chop chillies (set seeds aside) and grind in mortar with pestle with garlic.

3. Combine with fish sauce, vinegar, water & sugar. Add the seeds.

4.Bring to boil in saucepan, reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and lightly coats the spoon – about 20-30 min.

5. Bottle and seal (Easy tip – pour into clean jar/bottle, seal lid tightly and invert until cool to vacuum seal)

Optional Flavour Enhancement

Add grated ginger to taste before boiling (approx 3 tsp) and /or

4 Finely chopped kaffir lime leaves at the end.

Marvelous Mango Chutney #2501

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

Domestic Goddess

What do I do with my huge mango crop? I’m over smoothies, I don’t want another mango cheek, and my fridge is overcrowded with mangoes!!!! Don’t despair, you don’t need to put all your surplus mangoes in the compost….


• 1 bucket of mangos (2 kg raw mango pulp) It is good to have a mix of a bit green and ripe.
• 1 litre of brown vinegar- good quality not plain brand
• 2 kg brown sugar
• 3 full bulbs of garlic, finely chopped or ½ a bottle of the garlic you can buy already mashed
• 1 kg of onions finely chopped
• 6 big green apples peeled and chopped or 2 large tins of pie apples (available near the other tinned fruit).
• 3 big chunks of fresh green ginger, finely chopped or ½ a bottle of crushed ginger
• 5 limes finely sliced and chopped- don’t peel them
• 500g pitted dates, chopped
• 500g raisins or sultanas
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon ground Ginger
• 3 tablespoon of garam masala
• 1 tablespoon of turmeric
• 1 tablespoon of cumin
• 1 tablespoon of coriander
• ½ tablespoon of peppercorns, more if you like
• 10 or 12 whole cloves
• 3 hot red chillies, finely chopped (or more if you want it HOT!!!!)


• Peel the mangos and dice the flesh into small pieces about 1-2 cm. Chop all other ingredients as necessary.
• Mix all the ingredients except the sugar, in a big heavy-based pot. 
• Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30-40 mins. Sitr lots and make sure you put lots of love and care in with the other ingredients.
• Stir in the sugar and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. You will need to watch it carefully and stir it lots.
• Allow to cool slightly then spoon into cleaned and warmed glass jars just like for jams. 
• Get some jam covers from the supermarket to put on under metal lids as the vinegar rusts the lids of you are going to store it.
Best stored for 3 months before eating. Use with cheese, cold meats, in Indian dishes, or even mixed with cream cheese for a quickly prepared dip, or give as a great gift to friends and family.

Vegan Chocolate Delight Cake

It is hard to believe that this dark and scrumptious cake is both egg-less and dairy-less. It’s economical and low-cholesterol, and what’s more, it goes into the oven in 12 minutes with a minimum of fuss. It is surprising to see vinegar in the ingredient list, but it’s not a mistake as it is the combination of vinegar and baking soda that causes the cake to rise.

Remember to line the bottom of the cake pan with baking paper, and generously oil the sides of the pan and dust with flour. Then the cake can be removed from the pan with no trouble at all.

For the chocolate glaze, use a good-quality chocolate. Or try it with your favorite frosting or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or sliced fruit. This delightful treat serves 8.

Cake Ingredients

1 ½ cups plain flour
â…“ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup of cold water or coffee
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Chocolate Glaze
½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
¾ cup hot water
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


• Preheat the oven to 375ºF/180ºC.
• Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar. 
• In the measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, cold water or coffee, and vanilla. 
• Pour the liquid into dry ingredients and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk. 
• When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
• Bake for 30-35 minutes and set aside to cool.
• To make the optional glaze, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or microwave oven. Stir the hot water and vanilla into the melted chocolate until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake. Refrigerate the glazed cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

All I can say is YUM!!!!!!!!

Lisa’s Pickled Dill Cucumbers #249

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

VJ 249-wires-alicia-carter

My friend Lisa is very clever in the kitchen. She uses every bit of produce from her garden to stock her larder with delectable foods and nibbles for her family and friends.

Lisa gave me this recipe for Pickled Dill Cucumbers and it is easy and immensely worthwhile as the result is much better than the product you can buy off the shelf. Make sure you use good quality white balsamic vinegar as this makes all the difference. If you haven’t got cucumbers growing madly in your garden, buy some of the small Lebanese cucumbers to make this recipe. Thank you Lisa for pickled cucumbers, shared laughter, good conversation, a shoulder to cry on, and for just being you.


Pickling solution

500ml white balsamic vinegar of good quality

375 ml water

1/4 cup salt

200g sugar

In the Jar

Small cucumbers to fill a large sterilised glass jar, approx 1.5-2 litres capacity

3 garlic cloves, sliced roughly (more if you want as they are yummy)

1 bay leaf (optional)

2 tsp whole peppercorns (you can substitute 1 tsp with pimento if desired)

2 tsp mustard seeds (yellow preferably, not critical)

2 tsp dill seeds or fennel seeds, or large bunch fresh dill with crowns

2 onion quarters


1. Heat pickling solution in a pot, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Wash the unpeeled cucumbers well and place in the sterilised jar whole. Add the spices.

3. When pickling solution has come to the boil, pour over the cucumbers in the jar. Place the jar on a washer on the bench so the boiling solution does not crack the jar.

4. Leave out on the bench till cool or overnight. Refrigerate.

Good to eat after 2-3 days, though better after a week or more. Store in the fridge if you like them crunchy. Serve with salads, platters, on sandwiches, or straight into your mouth!


Slow-baked Pumpkin and Nut salad #248

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

VJ 248 Peacock

Now is the time to start thinking of what to servie in the Festive Season. If it is a lazy Sunday lunch or an al fresco evening meal, the secret is preparing something that is light, delicious and easy for the cook in the hot summer days ahead. If you a tiring of coleslaw, potato salad or rice salad, grab a pumpkin to make something simply gorgeous for your guests.

You need:
• 1 cup walnuts or pecans
• 3 cups baby cos leaves or baby spinach leaves
• 1/2 a jap pumpkin (the mottled one with green and beige spots/mottles –the sweetest member of the pumpkin family)
• 1 cup of good quality fetta
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or a good red wine vinegar if you don’t like balsamic
• 1/2 cup olive oil plus one more tablespoon for the dressing
• 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
• 1 dessertspoon of finely chopped Italian parsley
• salt and lemon pepper


Wash outside of pumpkin well, de-seed and slice in moon shaped wedges roughly 5 cms long. I leave the skin on but if you like you can cut it off.

Mix the garlic and olive oil together. Coat each piece of pumpkin in garlic/olive oil mixture and season well with the salt and pepper. Place on baking tray in oven for about 30 minutes on 180°C or until cooked and well browned. The pumpkin pieces should be soft with sticky browned bits on the edges. The best way to achieve this is to turn the pieces a few times while they are in the oven. Remove from oven and cool.

Over medium heat, lightly toast the nuts in a dry fry pan. Cool.

Meanwhile make some dressing with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Add the really finely chopped Italian parsley.

On a serving plate alternately arrange the pumpkin pieces with the cos, the feta, and the nuts and then sprinkle with the dressing.

Serve with whatever you like! Works well in combination with chicken or lamb, or with a chickpea salad.


Hearty Pie for Cool Spring Nights #247

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

VJ 247

Well, summer and salad time will be upon is at any moment (if it isn’t already here), so here is one last warm dish to serve when you want the comfort of warm food. This vegetarian pie will be a welcome addition on a cool night in spring. There are a few ingredients and it takes a little effort to make but it is certainly worth the effort. For the meat eaters, this is one pie where you will not miss the meat!

• 1 cake firm tofu (about 250 – 300 grams) chopped finely
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
• ½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
• a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
• ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 
• juice of ½ lemon 
• 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce 
• 1 tablespoon of tamari soy sauce 
• 1 tablespoon of savoury yeast flakes (optional as they are sometimes hard to find - try Fundies)
• 1 large zucchini, grated
• 4 large potatoes, peeled (if you want) and cubed into 1 cm cubes
• 2 large carrots treated the same
• some fresh peas or some frozen ones - about ½ a cup
• you can add some corn kernels if you want
• ½ a preserved lemon or a large tablespoonful of good homemade chutney
• 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
• 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
• ½ cup milk
• a good pinch of salt

Mushroom Gravy

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 250 grams mushrooms, sliced
• 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
• 1 dash of red wine if you like wine in your food (this really adds a zing)
• large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
• 1 ½ cups hot potato water
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water

This combines three separate preparations: fried tofu with a great vegetable mix, mashed potatoes, and a mushroom sauce. If you make the three at the same time, you will shorten the preparation time considerably.

For the tofu /vegetable layer, sauté the chopped onions in the oil with the thyme, coriander, and black pepper until the onions are translucent. Stir in the chopped walnuts and tofu. Then add the other veges and stir in the lemon juice, savoury yeast flakes, chutney/preserved lemons, tomato paste and soy sauces. Cook gently for 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

To make the mashed potatoes, place the cubed potatoes in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted COLD water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the potatoes are soft. Drain, saving the hot potato water to use in the gravy. Mash the potatoes with the butter and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Substitute soy or rice milk and omit the butter if you prefer dairy free.

For the gravy, heat the oil in a frypan. Stir in the mushrooms, soy sauce, red wine and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender. Add 1½ cups of potato water and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook, continuing to stir, until the gravy is clear and thick.

Now it is time to put it all together. Oil a large casserole dish. Layer the tofu /vege mixture, then the mushroom gravy, and then the mashed potatoes. Dot the top with butter or margarine. Bake at 200º for 15 to 20 minutes until the top becomes golden.

Serve with crusty bread and some salad if you want. Serve leftovers warmed on toast the next day for brunch.

Serendipity Tart(Fig and walnut meringue tart) #246

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

VJ 244

Hello Hinterlanders,

My thoughts have turned to entertaining again this month. Our son is soon to be married and I have been making many batches of cupcakes as a practice run for the cupcake wedding cake. But this week I really felt like making something else, so I looked through the larder and found some lovely fresh walnuts from the Greek grocer and some delightful dried figs. I had also been given some farm eggs so I was ready to create my serendipity tart!


  • • 180 g walnut pieces
  • 330 g dried figs (steam them with a little water to soften them up). The little Australian native figs are great if you can get them - they are sometimes called Mission Figs and are small and very dark.
  • 6 free-range egg whites
  • Some natural vanilla essence
  • 250 g soft dark-brown sugar
  • Mascarpone cheese or some whipped cream
  • Slices of candied or fresh lime (optional but in my mind the crowning glory to this tart)


  • Preheat the oven to 220C. Roast the walnuts on a baking tray for about 5 minutes, shaking the trays to prevent the nuts from burning. If they are not fresh this season, rub the walnuts in a clean tea towel to remove the bitter skins, then sieve away the skins. Allow the walnuts to cool.
  • Reduce the oven to 170C.
  • Line and grease a 24 cm springform cake tin.
  • Remove the hard stem from each fig, then chop the figs into small pieces (this should give you about 1 ½ cups of figs).
  • Toss the walnuts and fig pieces together.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly add the soft dark-brown sugar in heaped tablespoons until incorporated and the resultant meringue is thick and stiff. If the mix is taking a while to stiffen, add a pinch of salt and this will help.
  • Add a dollop of natural vanilla essence while you are mixing
  • the meringue.
  • Take a large spoonful of the meringue and mix it through the figs and walnuts. Tip this mix back into the meringue and fold it through with a spoon.
  • Spoon the meringue mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45–50 minutes, until the tart pulls away from the sides and feels ‘set’ on top.
  • Allow to cool - the tart will collapse a little as it cools but this is what it should do.
  • Candied or even fresh lime is a wonderful accompaniment to this tart – decorate the edge of the tart with a ring of really fine slices of the lime.
  • The tart is meant to be sticky and soft, so don’t get distressed if it falls apart as you serve it. Add a dollop of mascarpone or whipped cream as you serve.

This is a perfect tart to take to a dinner party or to an afternoon tea.

Fish Cake ingredients & Llyr’s Lively Red Curry Paste Recipe #243

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

Hello Hinterlanders,

Well the weather has been wet, and many of us have been on an enforced stay at home during the floods. I had to use some fish I had in my freezer before it spoiled due to the power outage and I remembered this favourite recipe from when I lived in tropical Queensland. These tantalizing little fish cakes are a winner with adults and children alike. They are great finger food or served with a salad or some cocoanut rice. I like them because they give a great result for not too much fiddling. For a spectacular look serve with a bowl of special sauce on a platter lined with a banana leaf.

Fish Cake ingredients

VJ 243

• 100g green beans, trimmed
• 2 spring onions, white sections only or about six shallots if you have them instead of spring onions
• ½ kilo of firm, white, boneless fish, roughly chopped
• 1/4 cup (45g) rice flour 
• 2 tablespoons homemade red curry paste (I have included my brew instructions at the end of the recipe), or 2 teaspoons commercial red curry paste (it is usually much stronger than mine)
• 3 teaspoons of fish sauce
• 1 large egg
• 1 cup of coriander leaves and stems
• olive oil or peanut oil, for frying
Special Sauce ingredients
• 3/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
• 50ml lime juice
• 50ml iced water
• 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander
• 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Making the cakes

1. Combine the special sauce ingredients and set aside for a dipping sauce to accompany the fishcakes.
2. Use a sharp knife to really finely chop the beans and the spring onions and set aside. 
3. Take out your food processor and add all of the other fishcake ingredients except the oil and process in short bursts until mixed and finely chopped. At this time it will look like a bit of a sticky mess. That’s perfect! Add the beans and spring onions and mix well by hand.
4. Using well washed wet hands, form golf ball sized pieces of mixture into small flat patties. Sit them on a plate dusted with rice flour to prevent sticking.
5. Heat oil in a large heavy based frying pan then when hot, add 5- 6 patties at a time to the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove golden cakes and set aside in a warm oven while cooking remaining patties in batches.

Serve immediately with the special dipping sauce. Count the patties first and tell everyone how many they can have. Seriously, they will be highly contested once the family gets a taste!

Llyr’s Lively Red Curry Paste Recipe

• 1 teaspoon roasted coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon prepared shrimp paste
• 10 roughly chopped shallots, all of them, the green and white parts
• 6 cloves of garlic
• 1 finely chopped stem of lemon grass, inner tender section only
• 4 red chillies (heat depends on your likes and dislikes - if you like milder, then use a milder red chilli)
• 3 torn kaffir lime leaves without the tough stem bits
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 125ml oil (olive or peanut is fine)

Making the paste is easy. Place all ingredients into the food processor and blend until paste is smooth. Store in the fridge with a layer of oil on the top if you are going to use it within a week or it can be frozen in individual curry meal servings ( about 2-3 tablespoons each) for up to 3 months.


Jean’s Tomato Relish #242

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

Talk of relishes and other things in bottles.

VJ 242

There are lots of things in my cupboard, made when nature has provided a glut of fruit, veges or other things that I could not bear to see ‘wasted’ in the compost. Not that composting is ever wasting! But that is the topic for another time.

My mother used to call it ‘laying away’ or ‘putting up’ some preserves. She was a diminutive woman, used to living in times when all the treats you got were the ones you made from what was around you. One of my earliest cooking memories is of preparing rosellas for jam and wine. We sat together on a shady back verandah and used a homemade cutter to separate the rosella’s inner green core from their red frilly dresses. The rosellas that year made a sweet sticky jam, some light bubbly wine for the next Christmas, and many pie fillings. We felt like the richest people in the world when family or friends came from town and raved about the wonderful home grown fare.

Anyway, enough of childhood memories, it’s time to discuss relish.

Relish is a delightful spread that is not quite as heavy as a chutney. It can be used equally successfully in sandwiches, as an accompaniment to cold meat or cheese, with a roast or a steak, or as a taste lifter to a casserole, stir fry or gravy. It is easy to make and has what I would call a ‘big bang for its buck’, considering it is made from readily available and easily prepared ingredients. I’d like to give you a very old recipe from my mother, used when all the tomatoes ripened at the same time. This is a good recipe if you see ‘cheap’ tomatoes at the market that are really nice and ripe.

Jean’s Tomato Relish.

Mum never measured anything, she said you could ‘feel’ when the recipe was right, but for those of you feeling less intuitive, I have put some measurements here.

You need:

• 6lbs or about 3 kilos of ripe tomatoes (a couple of greenish ones won’t hurt)
• 2lbs or 1 kilo of brown or white onions
• 2lbs or 1kilo of sugar (white or raw)
• 2 tablespoons of curry powder
• A handful of salt (don’t worry - it’s not all going in the relish!)
• Half a teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 ½ tablespoons mustard powder
• Vinegar to barely cover (use good quality apple cider vinegar)


• Cut the tomatoes in small slices/chunks, put in a ceramic or plastic dish and sprinkle/mix with half of the salt.
• Slice the onions thinly and sprinkle/mix with half of the salt, and put in a separate ceramic or plastic dish.
• Leave both of these mixes lightly covered and undisturbed in a cool place for 12 hours.
• Pour off (discard) the liquid that has collected (goodbye to most of that salt!), and put together in a large saucepan with the sugar and cayenne, and barely cover with vinegar.
• Bring to the boil and cook rapidly for 5 minutes.
• Mix the curry powder and mustard powder with a little vinegar, and add to the other ingredients in the pot.
• Put on a low heat, enough to keep it slowly rolling over but not catching on the bottom of the pan, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
• Allow the relish to cool and scoop into sterilised glass jars or bottles. Sterilise your jars well by immersing them in boiling water for five minutes or in a bottle cleaning solution and dry in a warm oven. If your dishwasher has a very hot cycle this works well also as long as the dishwasher is clean when you start and you should still dry the jars in the oven.
• Seal the jars well with wax or jam covers and good lids.
• Put in your pantry and try not to eat it for about two weeks to let the flavour mellow. Decorate and give to friends.

• Enjoy!

Llyrs Excellent Risotto #241

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess

This issue I thought we’d have a bit of a look at the difference we can make to our budgets if we decide to cook and entertain at home. The average cost of a risotto meal at a restaurant is anywhere between $15.00 to $25.00, and that usually does not include some crusty bread and a glass of wine to go with it! I have eaten some restaurant risotto where the rice perched on its plate, glaring at me and waiting to pick an argument with my digestion. Really special risotto is engineered to seduce your taste buds and give you a sense of being cherished when you eat it.

VJ 241

With this risotto recipe you will share a hearty meal between four to six people at home for about the price of one person eating out, and the result will be much tastier for doing it yourself. It is a dish that needs concentration and commitment to get it right. If you have a headache, have had a shocking day, or are generally not feeling inspired, give this one a miss until you feel better.

Before you cook…

1. Prepare your eating place. It doesn’t matter how humble your dining room or verandah, try a white sheet for a tablecloth, a square of bright cloth over this as a centre decoration and some candles or tea lights and a few flowers or even fern fronds.

2. Time the preparation of this meal to start 40 minutes before the guests arrive. Your guests need to be ready to eat this right when it is done, so make sure they will all be on time.

3. The recipe: Read the whole recipe through a couple of times and make sure you have all the parts prepared. I have written this recipe so you need to do it that way. It’s all about the energy you put into this dish. If you don’t mind alcohol, a glass of wine whilst you are cooking is advised as it helps with the specific movements involved in magic stirring. More on magic stirring later.

Flavour suggestions (have these ready before you start the rice method).

Chicken, shitake mushroom and broccoli-

• Slice (into 2.5 cm cubes) and brown one kilo of chicken breast fillets (organic please).

• Soak 12 dried shitake mushrooms in boiling water and then drain them and slice them finely after removing the stalks.

• Lightly steam 2 large heads of broccoli broken into flowerettes.

• Have a large handful of Italian parsley chopped finely.

OR Roast pumpkin and garlic –

• Roast ½ a pumpkin and about 12 cloves (more if you want) of garlic with some olive oil for 25 – 35 minutes on a shallow tray in a fairly hot oven to encourage browning. Cut the pumpkin pieces small and separate out the garlic cloves, and season with cracked pepper and a little salt. They will go all sticky and smell absolutely divine when they are baking.

• Have a large handful of Italian parsley chopped finely for this one too.

Llyr’s Magic Stir – Special Instructions.

* Use a nice flat ended wooden spoon. Stir the rice in large sweeping figures of eight, all the time thinking of the magic of those rice grains changing and absorbing the wonderful stock. Be creative and swirl your wrists, put energy into it!

* Make sure you stir each and every part of the pan as you progress. This is a sexy and satisfying movement, so don’t be mean with it. If you get tired, enlist some one else to assist.

* The aim is to make sure that almost all the stock is absorbed before you add the next ladle full, so you are looking to see the spoon leaving a ‘trail’ of almost clear pan bottom as it moves around.

* This is NOT a dish you walk away from and leave to cook itself.

Rice Method:

• Heat a very large heavy based frypan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

• Add 2 finely chopped onions and fry until soft and translucent but not brown.

• Add 2 cups of Arborio rice (it has to be this one - jasmine or long grain will not work) and stir - cooking gently for a few minutes until the rice goes translucent. It changes colour from a flat white to a pearly sheen on the rice.

• Add ½ - ¾ cup white wine or verjuice and stir until almost all absorbed. This is only a minute or so.

• Add 1 lemon’s worth of peel, grated.

• Have 2.5 litres of stock warmed on the stove. You can use chicken stock or vege stock - make your own if you have time.

• Slowly add the warmed stock to the rice - two ladles at first go, then one ladle at a time using Llyr’s Magic Stir (see box for instructions). Keep up the magic until the rice is creamy and soft and almost all fluid is gone. This can take up to 25 minutes or more - don’t hurry it.

The heat should be enough to encourage absorption but not enough to burn, or sizzle the liquid.

• Now this dish may take all of your stock or not quite all, you need to judge. To judge you need to put a couple of grains of the rice in your mouth and bite through them. Are they hard in the middle? Well, they aren’t done. Add more stock as per the method and keep stirring. Is the rice soft and kind of creamy and oh so wonderfully flavoured? They are done! Remember to try a few grains from different parts of the pan to make sure all is cooked.

• At about ¾ the way through add the finely sliced reconstituted mushrooms if you are making the chicken and mushroom dish.

• At the end add the flavours you have chosen - chicken and broccoli, or pumpkin and garlic, and the parsley.

• Take off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter (yes it is a lot but this is a special dish - if you want it stunningly, sexily, sumptuously creamy, the butter seals the deal!) and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan (grate your own from a good lump of parmesan).

• Grind black pepper on the top and serve to the table in the big pan.

Serve immediately with crusty bread and red wine. If you want you can have salad but I think it spoils the appreciation of the risotto. Remember to light your candles. This amount will serve 4-6 hungry adults with some left over for tomorrow. Congratulations! You will be very much applauded and appreciated at this meal.

Banana Cake #240

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess with Llyr Otto


This is the time of year when there are still a few excess bananas around the place and if you are fortunate like me, a friendly neighbour may call over with a bag of fresh ripe sweet bananas. Thank you to our wonderful neighbour Michael Hill, who gave me beautiful bananas this week, so I could make this banana cake.

You will need:
3 large ripe bananas (the riper the better)
120 grams of butter 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of natural vanilla essence
1 cup of sugar – brown is best
1.5 cups of self raising flour 
1 teaspoon of garam masala spice
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of baking powder or a scant ½ teaspoon of baking soda (bi carb soda for cooking)

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy and add the vanilla. 
2. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar, then slowly add the flour and spices. 
3. Mash the bananas with a fork and add to the mix. 
4. Dissolve the baking powder in the milk, and add to the cake batter. 
5. Pour into a greased medium sized cake tin (about 20cm diameter). 
6. Bake at 170 to 175 degrees C depending on your oven for about 45 minutes or until a deep golden brown. 
7. Don’t cook on too high a temperature as this cake will dry out too much. 
8. Cake is cooked when a skewer placed into the centre of the cake comes out without wet mushy cake mix on it.

Serve warm or cold. You can ice it with cream cheese icing if you want, but the cake is great just as it is!

Potato & Olive Salad #239

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess with Llyr Otto

Happy New Year to VJ readers. After the excesses of holiday food simple fare is definitely in order. Potatoes are a great lunchtime main meal. Serve this with a tossed green salad and crusty bread. Enjoy!!!

Potato & Olive Salad

1 kg new potatoes
Salt, as needed
1 teaspoon sugar
Generous sprinkling of each, cumin and paprika
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
A handful of black Mediterranean olives
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover; add 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (timing depends on the size and age of the potatoes).

Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan and shake in the dry pan for a few minutes, until thoroughly dry.

Cut the potatoes into quarters. Place in a bowl and toss with the cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic and olives. Dress with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or better still take out of the fridge before serving and serve at room temperature.


Summer Surprise Salad #238

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess with Llyr Otto

Well, the warm balmy days of summer are here and it is time to get creative with salad. Not all salad needs to contain lettuce! Here is an exotic salad that is easy to prepare and is a great accompaniment to any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern meal. In fact on a hot day it makes a great meal itself served with cool drinks and crusty bread.

I hope that the festive season brings you and your families love and laughter.

Summer Surprise Salad

1 cup of dry couscous
1 good pinch of saffron threads
1 bunch of spring onions
1/2 a large Lebanese cucumber 
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of currents
1/4 cup of raisins chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
1 tbsp of slivered almonds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp oil - olive oil is best

Cover the couscous with boiling water, add in the saffron threads and leave to soak for about 20 minutes – ‘fluff’ the couscous periodically with a fork. Drain through a sieve, pressing out the excess water. Place in a salad bowl.

Trim the spring onions and chop finely. Cut the cucumber into small cubes. Chop the tomatoes in halves or quarters depending on their size.

Add the spring onions, cucumber, tomatoes, currents, raisins and almonds to the couscous with the chopped herbs and seasoning to taste. Pour over the lemon juice and oil. Mix lightly together. If not eating immediately, cover and chill until required.


The Absolutely Best Fruitcake for the Festive Season #237

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess with Llyr Otto

Hello everyone,

As the celebration season is very rapidly approaching, it is time to turn to thoughts of a festive cake for friends and family. This is a great recipe that works well for when guests drop by, or for dessert served with a really good drop of port. This cake lasts well and improves on storing, so if you can keep it away from prying fingers, it’s good to cook it in November for a special treat in December.

The Absolutely Best Fruitcake for the Festive Season.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes (plus soaking)

Cooking Time: 2-3 hours


500g Raisins 
250g Pitted Prunes, chopped 
250g Pitted Dates, chopped 
125g Sultanas 
125g Currants
200g Glace Cherries or use cranberries for a different taste. 
1½ cups rum (or brandy) 
250g butter, cut into small pieces 
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar 
1 tablespoon vanilla essence 
4 x eggs 
200g dark chocolate 
½ cup apricot jam 
½ cup apricot nectar 
2 cups plain flour 
½ cup self raising flour 
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ginger powder 
1 teaspoon of garam masala 
Extra rum or brandy for finishing.


1. Mix the dried fruit in a bowl and add 1½ cups of the rum (or brandy) and leave overnight. You can add nuts at this stage if you want - try walnuts, pecans, macas and almonds all chopped finely, about 1 cup in total.
2. Line a 23 cm deep round cake tin (or a square one or a heart one) with a double layer of baking paper on sides and base. Wrap outside of tin with a double thickness of brown paper and tie with string or secure join with a paper clip. 
3. Heat oven to 160°C. 
4. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy, then beat in the eggs one by one, beating well. 
5. Add to the fruit and mix well. 
6. Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over simmering water, or in the microwave oven for about 2 minutes, and then stir in the apricot jam and nectar and pour over the fruit. Stir in. 
7. Fold in the flour and spices, and tip the cake mixture into your prepared tin. Smooth the top and tap the pan firmly against the worktop to settle contents and remove air holes. 
8. Bake for 2 ½ - 3 hours (don’t rush this and don’t use fan forced on your oven setting) until a skewer test comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin, wrap in kitchen towels.
9. After three hours, keep the cake in the tin and use a skewer and put lots of holes in the top of the cake, carefully spoon at least 2-3 tablespoons of rum or brandy into the holes, wrap in kitchen towels and leave overnight. 
10. Cake may be wrapped in plastic film or foil and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for many months. 


Llyr’s Luscious Lemon Drizzle Cake

Hello Hinterland Folk,

Anybody fond of lemon will love this cake and with lots of lovely lemons around it’s time to make it. You can make this cake with a mixmaster or even by hand - remember to cream the butter and sugar well. Double the mix if you want to feed lots of friends - it will take about 15 minutes longer to cook with a double mix.

Llyr’s Luscious Lemon Drizzle Cake


2 large eggs 
175 g caster sugar 
150 g soft butter or margarine 
Grated zest of 1 lemon 
175 g super-sifted self-raising flour 
125 ml milk 
Pinch of salt 
Lemon syrup 
150 g caster sugar 
70 ml fresh lemon juice (about 1½ large lemons)


1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 
2. Line the bottom of a greased 23 x 13 x 7.5 cm loaf tin with baking paper, or use a springform pan. 
3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixmaster, scraping the sides down once with a rubber spatula. 
4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix.
5. Add the flour, milk and salt, and mix until the mixture is smooth in texture and even in colour, scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula if necessary (do not over-beat). 
6. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean in the middle. 
7. Remove from the oven and stand the tin on a cooling rack. 
8. While the cake is baking, make the syrup - gently heat the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, stirring until a clear syrup is formed (approximately 5 minutes). Do not boil or leave unattended. 
9. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer, then gently pour the syrup over it, until it has been completely absorbed.
10. Leave until cool, then carefully ease the cake from the baking tin (helps if you use a springform pan) and remove the baking paper. 
11. Just before serving, sift a little more icing sugar on the top or cover with poppy seeds.
Eat cold or warm, by itself or with sour cream, cream, icecream and/or fresh berries.

Llyr’s Sunday Night Leek Colchannon #235

Meanderings of a Domestic Goddess with Llyr Otto

Well its great to see the new growth coming to our hills again, but perhaps there is a little bit of winter left yet!

The recipe this month is a favourite, uses easily available ingredients, is easy to make and can be adapted for all types of diets. If you are no fat and no carbs focussed, this one probably won’t suit you.

Llyr’s Sunday Night Leek Colchannon

The measurements and weights in this recipe are not important - just make it up to the amount you need. I have listed the amounts I use so Kurt and I can have two main meals and a couple of lunches from it. You can use it as a side dish but it is hearty enough for a main meal.

Take six potatoes, peel boil and mash them. Use milk, soy milk or rice milk to mash (with a dob of butter if you want) and add salt and pepper to taste.

Steam up a half a cabbage that you have sliced very finely. Set aside.

While the potatoes and cabbage are on to cook, preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Gently fry three rashes of bacon chopped, one big or two smaller sliced leeks (if you don’t have leeks use onions). Season this mix with loads of chopped parsley, a couple of sprigs of chopped oregano and a small pinch of caraway seeds. If you don’t want to use bacon, then you may like to add a pinch of mild curry powder or savoury yeast flakes to your leek to increase the flavour.

Combine all three mixes ( potato, cabbage and leek and bacon) and place in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese and a couple of dots of butter (or not if you don’t have cheese) and a generous pinch of sweet paprika.

Bake in the oven for about 20 mins.

Enjoy with home made tomato sauce. Reheat the next day.

This is simple soul food, great for kids and parents alike. It makes me think of Kurt’s Grandad.

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