Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Roasted Pumpkin with Yoghurt and Coriander

Sometimes you come across a recipe and think 'wow, this is turning a boring vegetable into something exotic'. Such as when I came across Adam Liaw's Roast Pumpkin with Coriander recipe in his cook book Adam's Big Pot.

We grew over 50 Kent and Queensland Blue pumpkins this last winter.  The Kent variety is my favourite pumpkin, colourful, moist and small so they can be easily chopped up with your cleaver.

Winter gardening is wonderful, although Spring and Summer are preferable.

My father is now in his 80's, he is a gorgeous, sweet and caring man who has gardened all of his life.
 I notice he has some eccentricities now that were not noticable before.

My hubby and my father get on very well but at times have this teasing kind of relationship.
One day my father asked my mother to chop down an apple tree that has never done well and hubby was thrilled as he could then plant a fig tree in that spot.  When hubby commented to Dad that he would chop down the apple tree, Father said "no, leave it there I want to keep it" so hubby had to bite his tongue and wait for a change of mood to cut down the tree.  I am sure Dad is having fun with him.

At the end of the day we all reap the benefits of gardening both in our garden and in my parents garden.  Hubby has taken the time to upgrade and net in their vegetable/fruit tree garden to keep the wildlife away from eating and digging up all that is planted which is a huge step forward and a pleasure for my parents.

We rotate yearly in growing pumpkins ... one vine is enough to feed many families.

Here are our two Himalayan cats,
Casper and Chloe,
waiting to come in for breakfast.
Which has nothing to do with pumpkins,
but I wanted to share this cute photograph with you.


Roast Pumpkin with Coriander Recipe

1/2 Kent pumpkin, washed, seeds removed and sliced into wedges (leave the skin on)
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt flakes

To serve:  1/2 cup thick Greek style yoghurt
                 Lime wedges
                 Fresh coriander leaves
                 Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 200˚C.  Place pumpkin slices onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Mix together the fish sauce, brown sugar, chilli, garlic and oil.  Pour this mixture over the pumpking, turning the pumpkin over to coat it well.
Bake for 30 minutes without turning, or until the pumpkin is very well carmelised.
Scatter the pumpkin with salt and serve with spoonfuls of yoghurt (optional) lime wedges and coriander leaves.  Grind over black pepper to serve.


Do you have a favourite pumpkin recipe to share?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Home made Beef and Stout Family Pie

In this world there are pie lovers and pie, well, non lovers.  Ever since I was a teenager I have never liked pies, until I made my own chicken, leek and mushroom pies which improved further when I ventured into making the pastry as well as the filling.
Still, meat pies have never been high on my list of desirable foods.
My family however love them.
So I compromised and bought an electric family size pie maker.
It seems lazy but I know that specific electrical devices, such as the pizza maker, turbo oven, or thermochef cook food perfectly and make timing for cooking simple and easy.
So I promised hubby that if I bought an electric pie maker I would cook a meat pie.  Simple.
I purchased the model online on a Tuesday and suspected it would arrive on the following Monday.
We had a few days away in Lismore and Byron Bay with friends and whilst passing a liquor store in Lismore I remembered to buy a big bottle of 'Stout' for a meat pie recipe I had seen.
One thing I especially enjoy about staying in this region is the availability of wholesome food shops where you can buy by the 100 grams or kilo measures any dried ingredient you might need.  I stocked up on Senshu green tea, freshly roasted local coffee beans and bought some hippy hemp and cotton shirts for the family.  It is so nice to get away to a relaxed pace of living for a while.

We arrived home on Sunday night and sure enough the pie maker arrived on Monday.
On Tuesday I purchased gravy beef on the way home in preparation for the sublime meat pie recipe and located the bottle of dark, almost black stout which had found it's way into my wine cabinet.
This is the first time I have ever cooked a filling the night before and let cool in the fridge.

I bought frozen puff and frozen shortcrust pastry  but sometimes we need help ...

Then I cooked the most amazing two meat pies I have ever tasted , varying the recipe slightly but I was inspired by this recipe.

I am now a converted pie lover and there will be many more variations to come in the future.


Chunky Beef and Stout Pie

4 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1.3kg gravy beef, outer fat removed and cut into 2cm chunks
1 bottle of Stout 750ml ( I bought Guiness extra stout)
400ml beef stock
2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
cracked black pepper
pinch of salt (remembering beef stock is salty)

Heat oil in a large pan and cook onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until it starts to brown, stirring occasionally.
Add beef and cook 5 minutes.
Add Stout and beef stock, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
Bring to a high simmer and simmer, lid off for 1 1/2 -  2 hours.
Season with black pepper and salt to taste.
Let cool.

(Makes 2 beef and stout pies)

2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.
Line your greased 20cm pie pan with the shortcrust pastry, leaving a little extra pastry at the top.
Place half of the filling on top of the pastry.
Place puff pastry sheet, cut to fit on top of the filling and lightly crimp edges to seal.
Brush with a little milk and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Or use an electric pie maker like I did, after the initial 5 minute heating and a wipe of vegetable oil, I used the enclosed pastry cutter to cut the big side from the shortcrust pastry for the bottom.  Place in pie maker, insert half filling on top and line with the puff pastry cut from the smaller side of the cutter.  No need to brush with milk, close lid and cook for 18 minutes.  Place in 150C oven whilst cooking the other pie.


Tell me, do you like to collect kitchen gadgets to make your life easier?
What's your most favourite shortcut electrical appliance?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Artisan Cultured Butter Home Made

Cultured butter has a great depth of flavour and creaminess much more so than regular home made butter.  I have been making my own butter from fresh cream for many years but absolutely love the cultured butter you can buy, well anywhere but my hometown so I set out to research and develop my own Artisan Cultured Butter to rival any purchased cultured butter.

As we all know, fresh and homemade is the best YOU will ever taste!

  I decided to make it on a Saturday afternoon, after purchasing my cream (it must have at least 40% cream for this to work) reasoning that I always woke up once through the night anyway, usually around 4am and I thought it would be easy to simply place the bowl into the refrigerator at this time after the initial 12 hour wait. 

I awoke every hour to look at the clock to see if it was 4am yet.
Trust me, start this in the morning or in the evening to time the first 12 hours wisely when it sits on your kitchen shelf before it goes into the fridge for the next 12 hours. 

I found these simple instructions on this website and was so surprised that the method is simple, but you have to be patient. After stirring the culture into the cream, it had to rest on the counter, covered, for 12 hours, and then go into the fridge for 12 more hours. The previously thick liquid was now solid.

You then have to take it out and wait for the cold cream to come to 54°F (12.2°C). This is still a cool below room temperature. Then you have to whip the mixture.   I placed the cream mixture into my Thermomix, then used the butterfly to whip the butter at speed 3 for about 2 1/2 mins and it was ready to be kneaded.  This can be also be done in a food processor or mix master.
to test for readiness pinch a bit between your fingers. The texture will be smooth and very buttery. Place muslin over a colander and pour in the butter and buttermilk.  Let it drain and keep rinsing (about 4 times) continually with ice cold water.  keep kneading until there isn’t any more creamy buttermilk coming out of the butter but just clear water. Then knead some more. When the texture is consistent I separated it into 3 lots.  Refrigerating one for immediate use (it will last about 1 month) and then I froze the other 2 parts in plastic containers.



  • 1/8 teaspoon aroma B powdered mesophillic starter culture
  • 1 litre minimum 40% cream (low pasteurization), or raw cream
  1. Read all instructions before beginning; sterilise your implements and clean your work areas
  2. Pour the cream into a container or pan with a lid
  3. Measure 1/8 teaspoon of aroma B powder mesophilic starter and sprinkle it over the cream; let it sit for 5 minutes
  4. Mix it into the cream with continual stirring motion to combine
  5. Cover and sit on the counter, without moving for 12 hours
  6. Refrigerate for another 12 hours, keeping it covered
  7. Take out of the fridge and remove the lid, place in your the thermometer into  the cream and wait for the cream to raise to 54°F (12.2°C)
  8. Scoop the cream into the Thermomix bowl with the butterfly inserted, speed 3 for  2 1/2 minutes  (alternatively place into food processor bowl or mix master for about 5 minutes).  You will see the buttermilk separate from the butter then it is ready to remove it
  9. Pour the butter and buttermilk into the muslin lined sieve; remove the buttermilk and pour ice cold water over the butter as you work it inside of the sieve to release all of the buttermilk
  10. Once the water runs clear from the butter, you are ready to knead it on the counter
  11. Knead the butter a few times until the texture is consistent
  12.  in an air tight container in the fridge, it will keep safely for at least 1 month                                                             
  13.  Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Pressure Cooker Beef Rendang

I first fell in love with Beef Rendang in a very small and obscure restaurant in Darlinghurst aptly named "Denpasar" during the 1990's.
It was Saturday night and I met a dear friend for a meal at this Indonesian Restaurant of which we had heard good reports.   We ordered Chicken Kapitan and Beef Rendang with Indonesian fried rice and were simply bowled over by the bold and rich flavours.   We enjoyed our meal so much we even ordered banana fritters for dessert.

When we had finished dessert we were the only diners in the restaurant and the owners were itching to lock up and leave for the night.   We had only drank once glass each from the bottle of white wine and asked the owners for two plastic glasses to take away so we could continue our discussion.  They kindly obliged, happy by that time to see us leave.  We walked only a few hundred metres to Hyde Park, on the corner of William and College Streets, Darlinghurst and sat on the steps diagonally opposite from the Australian Museum.

As my friend lived in Leichhardt and I lived in Waverley we were going in opposite directions so we planned to continue our evening and catch the last trains home.

We poured ourselves a "glass" of wine and settled in for a good chat on a warm summer's night.  About 15 minutes later two policemen approached us on horses and told us we had to move on as it wasn't safe to be out at night in Hyde Park.  We were shocked as we had always felt safe in the city and used to meet to party from time to time ... anyway, they insisted that we had to leave and the horseback policemen subtly followed us to the corner of George and William streets to see that we were indeed going to Town Hall train station.

This was such a memorable night for two reasons; my discovery of Indonesian food and the thrill of being asked to move on by two thoughtful and caring policemen.

I still love Beef Rendang and have tweeked this recipe many times over the years and now I cook it suitably in the pressure cooker to save time but still retain that unique flavour of slow cooked beef.

My latest favourite version comes from Not Quite Nigella whose mother is also a superb cook and this is a wonderful recipe for authentic Beef Rendang.


Pressure Cooker Beef Rendang

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted in a dry pan (keep 2 tablespoons for the spice paste)
  • 1 kilo chuck or gravy beef, cut into 2cm or 1 inch cubes
For the Spice Paste:
  • 2 onions 

  • 1 large cayenne pepper (chilli)
  • 1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 8 dried chillies
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coconut (from above)
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
For the curry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 2½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, spine removed and finely sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons lemongrass, either bottled or freshly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 400 ml can coconut milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup water

  1. Mix together the salt, sugar, tamarind paste and toasted coconut in a large bowl. Add the beef and mix well.  Set aside.
  2. Put all of the spice paste ingredients in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste, adding a little more oil if necessary.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pressure cooker over medium heat and fry the spice paste for a few minutes until fragrant, stirring continuously.  Increase the heat to slightly and add the meat with all of the marinade ingredients.  Stir for about 5 minutes until the meat is browned, add a little water if it starts to stick. 
  4. Add the rest of the curry sauce ingredients and stir for a few minutes.
  5. Place your pressure cooker lid on and bring to steaming (whistling) point, then immediately reduce heat to low and place your timer on for 20 minutes.
  6. After 20 minutes turn off the heat and using quick release, or placing in a sink and pouring cold water over top, release all of the steam and unlock the lid.
  7. Check consistency and seasoning.  I find this is the perfect cooking time for a fantastic result.  If yours is still a little watery you may need to cook it uncovered stirring for a few more minutes.


Am I the only one who likes to get "slow cooking" results from pressure cooking?
In these busy days sometimes it is the only way to eat dinner on time.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Caramelised Apple Cake

One of the best kitchen items that I have is a Thermochef.  My husband bought me one last Christmas and I do use it every day.  When hubby suggested getting me one I did my research and thought it would be an invaluable kitchen item. I certainly could not justify spending high dollars on a Thermomix, but the Thermochef does virtually the same and at a lesser cost = bonus!

Since then I seem to bake even more - luckily I rarely eat sweet dishes but my family certainly enjoys them.

Owning a "thermie" is like being part of an exclusive club.  There are so many websites, books and online clubs that are purely devoted to thermomix recipes.  If you have considered getting one, I strongly urge you to do so; they are a wonderful addition to your kitchen and since Christmas (7 months ago) I have only brought out both my Kenwood mix master and food processor just once.  Otherwise the "thermie" does it all,  more efficiently and quickly as well.

I was home a little early last night so thought to google an apple cake, as there were 5 little green ones on the bench screaming at me to be eaten.  I typed into my phone "thermomix apple cake"and at the top of the search bar popped up Easy Caramelised Apple Cake.
 I didn't see that there were separate Thermomix instructions, I simply popped in the butter and sugar to cream, added the cinnamon, vanilla and eggs one at a time and keep creaming with the butterfly in place.  When the apples were browned I added them with the flour, cream and milk and lightly mixed for 1 minute on low without the butterfly.  
So thank you Sammie for this excellent cake which will definitely become a family favourite.
Here it is, straight from The Annoyed Thyroid website, which is worth browsing as there are some wonderful recipes and inspiration on this site.


3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1.5 cm pieces
3/4 cup (160g)  sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (130g) cream
1/4 cup (80g) milk

Preheat oven to 180Celsius/160Celsius fan-forced. Grease and line base of a round cake tin or line with baking paper.
Heat two tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan  until the sugar melts. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly until browned. Set aside and leave to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, cream and milk. Mix to combine. Add the apple mixture and fold in gently. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and shake gently to smooth top.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.  Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Thermomix or Thermochef Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius not fan forced. Grease and line base of a deep round cake tin or line with baking paper.  Heat two tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan  until the sugar melts. Add chopped apples and cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly until browned. Set aside and leave to cool. If using raw sugar, mill for 5 seconds  on speed 9.  Chop butter for 5 seconds on speed 8. Add butterfly and mix for 1 minute  on speed 4, scraping down lid and sides of bowl half way through. Remove the butterfly. Add vanilla to TM bowl. With the blades running on  speed 3, add the eggs one at time, through the hole in the lid, this should take about 30 seconds after each egg has been added.  Then add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, cream and milk and mix for 10 seconds on speed 4. Scrape down the sides, then mix for another 10 seconds on speed 4.Add the apples the cake mixture and mix for 10 seconds  on reverse speed 3 using the spatula to assist.Using a spatula, transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.


Do you have or have you considered getting a Thermomix or Thermochef? 
Do you google recipes for inspiration whilst in the kitchen ready to cook?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx