Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas table

This year I used Pinterest to plan my Christmas, I took ideas from all over and stuck them all together, so thanks to Pinterest and ikea I am pretty happy with how things have turned out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dateberry Delish

I really should leave the creation of names up to someone else, but while the name I have given these treats might seem a bit bland that is certainly not the case with these delectable morsels.


  • Medjool dates (fresh dates from the fridge at your grocer)
  • Small strawberries (smaller berries have more flavour)
  • Thick balsamic vinegar (I prefer the Mazzetti gold label - 4 leaf vinegar)
  • Honey
  • Roasted, salted cashews


Slice the strawberries thinly and drizzle with balsamic. Allow these to rest while you slice each date in half lengthways, removing the stone.

Place the strawberries in the halved dates, trickle honey over the portion then top with a cashew. If you like you can also add a few flakes of pick Murray River Salt for a great flavour contrast.

Simple, quick and amazing with espresso, turkish/greek coffee or black turkish tea.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Smoked Salmon Quiche

Very basic, and very tasty!


  • 100g Smoked Salmon
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 3 slices of swiss cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg
  • parsley
  • Shortcrust pastry


Grease a pie dish and lightly dust with flour - fit shortcrust pastry into the dish and lightly pre-cook this for 5 minutes at 200 degrees.

Slice the smoked salmon thinly, and chop the cheese into small cubes. Beat the eggs together with the milk and seasonings - pour this mixture into the pie dish. spread the salmon and cheese evenly around the dish and bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes.

Serve garnished with a little sour cream and freshly sliced smoked salmon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lobscouse - with beef!

Ah yes, its a theme thing. . .

I feel like that kid in 'The Castle' - "Dad, I made another stew".

This time it is beef, with a warm smokey flavour and loaded with winter vegetables.

"It is one of the oldest Forecastle dishes, and eats very savoury when it is well made" - The Far Side of the World


  • 1 Large Onion - diced
  • 1 Leek - chopped
  • 1 Swede - diced
  • 1 Parsnip - sliced
  • 3 large carrots - sliced
  • 3 large potatoes - diced
  • 450g Diced beef
  • 500g Pumpkin - diced
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 400g of Borlotti beans
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 200ml of dry white wine
  • ground pepper
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • water


Fry the onion and leeks together in a tablespoon of oil till translucent then remove.

Add the beef with remaining oil and brown. Return the leeks and onions to the beef and add the garlic. Stir and pour in the white wine.

Simmer for a few minutes before adding the tomato paste and seasonings. Add enough water to cover the meat the simmer for 30 minutes.

Top up with water as required. At 30 minutes add the borlotti beans - if using dried beans you'll need to have soaked them for 12-24 hours before use, otherwise tinned beans will do to substitute.

Simmer for a further 30 minutes then add the vegetables. Simmer for one hour stirring occasionally and topping up with water as required. The lobscouse should thicken quite well over this time - and will indeed"eat quite savoury" when done.

Makes 8 large serves or 14 small serves. One small serve is about 140 calories.

Friday, March 27, 2009


This is a favourite of mine - I have known the dish for many years, but not by this name. It is supposedly a welsh dish, but the Irish lay claim to one variant and the famous Lancashire Hotpot is yet another. The name 'Lobscouse' became familiar to me after reading Patrick O'Brian's superb Aubrey/Maturin seafaring series (on which the movie "Master and Commander" was based). Originally from the Norwegian 'Lapskaus', the welsh adopted both the dish and the name with only slight changes.

Yes, its a stew, and just in time for winter. My version is not exactly traditional, but it is tasty, filling and warming. Can be consumed with wine, mead or ale.

  • 300 g Carrots, chopped
  • 300 g Lamb or beef (or both!), sliced
  • 300 g Potatoes, diced
  • 300 g Pumpkin, diced (it will thicken the lobscouse)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of green peas – to be added at the end
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Pepper to season
  • Salt to season


Dice the onion and add it with the oil to brown lightly in a deep heavy based pot - a big Le Creuset is ideal if you have one.

Add the meat along with the chopped garlic and brown until the first touch of caramelisation can be seen. Season with salt and pepper and add the white wine and tomato paste.

Stir until it thickens and add 3 cups of water and the chopped pumpkin. Sprinkle the cocoa over the top then cover and leave on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally and adding water to maintain the volume.

Add the potato and carrot and allow to simmer covered for a further 30 minutes - again, check every 10 minutes or so, taste and add seasoning as required.

When the meat pulls apart easily the lobscouse is ready - add the peas and simmer a further 5 minutes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meatball Soup


  • One cup each of - carrot, celery, potato and zucchini diced
  • 400gr beef mince
  • 2 small handfuls of bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • one diced onion
  • 1x 440gr tin tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ - ¾ cup of angel hair pasta
  • 1 ½ L water
  • seasoning


Combine the mince, garlic and breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to make the meatball mix, then break into teaspoon sized pieces and roll into meatballs. Brown them off in some olive oil then remove them from the pan.

Sauté off the onions cooking with no colour then add the diced vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the water, tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil.

Once it has come to the boil turn it down and simmer it, skimming off any scum that comes to the top.

Add in the meatballs and the pasta and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is cooked, skim during the cooking.

Now check your seasoning, I use salt and pepper and knorr chicken stock powder

This soup makes 7 cup sized serves -

242 calories
1008 kilojoules
6.8g fat
16.1g protein
28.1g carbohydrates
3.6g fibre

Turkey, Mushroom and Spinach Soup


  • 1x turkey forequarter *
  • 250gr mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ zucchini
  • 1 large potato
  • ¼ cabbage
  • 1x420gr super sweet corn
  • 1x440gr tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 bunches of English spinach
  • 4L turkey stock

  • Method:
    Thinly slice the mushrooms and sauté off in a little butter until the have browned. Add diced onion and chopped garlic and cook until the onion is tender, add in diced potato and zucchini and finely shredded cabbage.

    Pour in stock, tomatoes and corn, bring to the boil and skim, reduce to a simmer and add in the rice and chopped turkey. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring and skimming frequently.

    Finely chop the spinach ( wash the spinach twice and spin in a salad spinner to dry) once the rice is cooked check the seasoning then turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.

    *roast the turkey forequarter for an hour and ½ at 200C, then make a stock out of it, to a big pot add some celery, onion and carrot and the turkey, cover with water (5L) and bring to the boil, once it has boiled turn it down to a good simmer and skim off the fat and scum and simmer it for 40 minutes, drain off the stock to a clean bowl, keep all the meat and throw away the vegetables, skin and fat.

    Once it has cooled take all the meat off the bone and chop it for your soup.

    This soup makes 17 1-cup serves, each serve has -

    157 calories
    656 kilojoules
    3.4g fat
    13g protein
    19g carbohydrates
    1.5 fibre

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Basil Pesto

    Pesto is an amazing food - and one that Mrs Grendel and I do not share.

    By that I mean that I love it and Mrs Grendel does not like, not one little bit, so when I eat pesto, I eat it alone.

    I have had a terrific season for basil this year - I only grew 5 plants but each flourished and I have been supplying basil to the local pizzeria (owned by my next-door neighbour) for their Margarita pizza.

    I finally got around to picking up some pine nuts so that I could prepare a small tub of pesto to flavour the much smaller meals I eat these days.

    Pesto is high in calorific content, so use it sparingly but the flavour from this recipe is intense so you actually don't need much at all.


    • 1.5 cups of fresh basil leaves
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic (see below)
    • 60 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
    • 55 grams of toasted pine nuts
    • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


    There are very few things so easy to prepare. First toast the pine nuts very gently and loow to cool. You can either do this by placing them on a tray in a low-to moderate oven for 10-15 minutes until they just start to brown, or my preferred method is to place them in a large frypan at very low heat and stir continuously until browned. Allow the pine nuts to cool and head outside to pick your fresh basil. If you have none of your own, make sure any basil you buy is very fresh. Wash the basil and dry the leaves gently.

    Peel the garlic gloves and add these, along with the basil, cheese and pine nuts into a food processor. Give it a quick pulse and slowly add the oil. When you have an even consistency spoon it carefully into a small container for storage. Pesto can be frozen if you pour a layer of oil on the top before freezing. Allow to thaw slowly in the fridge for a day before use.

    I've never had to freeze mine - it doesn't last that long around me.

    Note on buying garlic - it is really important to choose garlic carefully. Locally grown garlic has an allicin content high enough to give it that delicious garlic 'bite' and allowing the garlic flavour to be heard along with the fresh basil.

    Imported garlic, especially that from China, is very 'weak' in comparison. The Chinese garlic is often bleached white and the monoculture of garlic variety that seems to come from China lacks anything like the fresh locally grown product. Some imported garlic from Argentina and Mexico falls between the locally grown and Chinese garlic for flavour.

    Vital Statistics

    For those interested in such information one serve of this recipe (about a 15th of the total amount you make) includes approximately:

    98 Calories
    408 Kilojoules
    9.9g Fat
    2.1g Protein
    0.4g Carbohydrate
    0.1g Fibre

    Obviously the less you use, the less calorific content. To get the totals for the recipe - just multiply by 15.

    Pumpernickel Bruschetta

    A key ingredient of this meal is a pesto that I make myself - and I'll post the recipe for that shortly, however, this was today's lunch, and it was very tasty - as well as colourful.


    It is a simple meal with simple ingedients:

    • 1 Ripe Tomato
    • 4 Marinated Kalamata Olives
    • 1 tablespoon of soft cream cheese 
    • 1 slice of whole rye pumpernickel
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh pesto


    Simply smear the pumpernickel with cream cheese, dice half a tomato and several olives (I used 4 large ones) and scatter across the bread. Top with pesto. A variation you might like to try is a little diced red onion. I don't generally add garlic as my pesto is loaded with it.

    Pesto for me has never been about small jars or tubs, for as with coffee I am a pesto snob. I make it fresh and eat it within a few days, which means I make only small amounts at a time. Shortly I'll post my pesto recipe - which is remarkably similar to many other pesto recipes, although mine tends towards thicker and with more garlic than most.

    Vital Statistics

    For those interested in such information this meal includes approximately:
    235    Calories
    984    Kilojoules
    11.7g  Fat
    6.2g   Protein
    26.6g Carbohydrate
    5.8g   Fibre
    By using a 'light' cream cheese you could easily cut the fat content considerably.

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Pumpkin Soup

    Ingredients :

    1kg pumpkin (kent or jap)
    300gr fresh tomatoes or a 440gr tin of crushed
    1 onion

    This is a nice quick soup, throw it all in the pot cook it up and whizz it!.

    Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel and chop the pumpkin and cut up tomatoes (or add in your tin of tomatoes, cover it all with water and put it on the heat, bring it to the boil then simmer it for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is falling apart.

    To season I use knorr chicken seasoning and salt and pepper, always season a little at a time so you don't over do it.

    Let your soup cool for 1/2 an hour then whizz it either with a hand held mixer or put it in the blender, check your seasing one more time and then it is ready to serve.

    I package all my soups into one cup serves and freeze them, an average serve is 1 1/2 - 2 cups.

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    chicken and vegetable soup


    3 carrots
    1/2 celery
    2 parsnips
    1 small turnip
    1 small swede
    1 zucchini
    3 medium potatoes
    1/4 cabbage

    1 brown onion
    3 gloves of garlic
    1 can of beans
    1 can of diced tomatoes
    1 cup of rice (uncooked)
    400gr cooked chicken
    4 rashers of bacon
    Now this soup is a main meal in itself. Your spoon will stand up in the bowl. This is also a big pot of soup, those ingredients fill an 8L pot, feel free to 1/2 or 1/4 it. Also feel free to leave anything out you might not like, these are my favourites.

    Wash and prepare your veggies, I grated the carrots, celery, swede and turnip.

    I diced the potatoes, zucchini and the parsnips, I like to have something to chew.

    Here is everything prepared and ready for cooking.

    First saute the mushroom, I like mine with some colour to them.

    Then ad the onion, garlic and bacon.
    (bacon is optional, I had some in the fridge)

    Now add the grated and diced veggies.

    The cabbage, corn, chicken and rice go in second last.

    Bring the soup to the boil, you will see scummy stuff on the top, scoop this off as you don't want it boiling back into your soup, this also gets rid of any fat you have used.

    Now ad your cabbage, rice, chicken, corn, beans and tin of diced tomatoes, skim the top and simmer for 15 minutes until the beans and rice are tender then stir through the chopped parsley.

    This soup freezes beautifully, I bag one cup serves into clip lock bags, flatten them and freeze them. This soup made 24 cups of soup.

    Other variations -

    cook off 500gr of mince with the onions and leave out the chicken and bacon.

    Swap the rice for vermicelli pasta

    Stir through finely chopped spinach once you have turned it off.

    chicken, sweetcorn and noodle soup


    500gr cooked chicken
    2 x 440gr tins super sweet corn
    1 1/2 L chicken stock
    1/2 cup plain flour
    1 cup (uncooked) vermicelli pasta

    Ad 1L of stock to a pot and bring it to the boil.

    While your stock is heating put your flour into a bowl and with a whisk, whisk in the cold stock until you have a smooth paste then add the rest of the stock to the bowl.

    When the stock comes to the boil whisk in your slurry of flour and stock, this is what is going to thicken your soup.

    Keep whisking until it starts to thicken then add in the corn (juice included) and the chopped chicken.

    Bring it back to the boil and add your vermicelli and simmer for 10 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    Cauliflower, cheese and bacon soup

    This is rich and very tasty with a lovely velvety finish and a wonderful smell.


    150gr bacon
    1 brown onion
    2 cloves of garlic
    1/2 a cauliflower
    500gr potatoes
    1 L water
    500ml milk
    chicken booster
    salt and pepper

    1 cup of grated tasty cheese

    Roughly chop the onion and garlic and slice the bacon, cook off without colour in some olive oil or butter for about five minutes.

    Chop the cauliflower and peel and chop the potatoes, add them to the pot and cook them for 2 or 3 minutes.

    Add to the pot 1L of water and 500ml of full cream milk and a tablespoon of chick stock powder, or if you have chicken stock replace the water with stock.

    Bring it to the boil then turn it down and simmer gently for 30 - 40 minutes until the potatoes are very tender. Turn it off and leave it to cool slightly for 30 minutes.

    If you have a hand held mixer use that to process it, otherwise put it through the blender, once it is blended stir through a cup of tasty grated cheese.

    This soup does not freeze well as you can not reheat it to a high temperature as it will split and look very revolting, it will keep in the fridge very well for 3 days, this recipe makes 3L of soup.

    reheat it gently on the stove or on 70% heat in the microwave.

    back to basics : chicken stock

    I love making stocks, I remember back in the olden days when I was a saucier the first thing I would do when I walked into the kitchen was put on my stocks. This one is a home style version because who has a 120L pot tucked away in their kitchen.

    You will need -

    2 carrots
    4 sticks celery
    1 large brown onion
    1.5kg of chicken chops (this is just the thigh bone and the meat, no other bits)

    roughly chop your vegetables and put them in your pot, an 8-10L pot would be best.

    In a hot oven roast the chicken skin side up for 30 minutes, put the chicken and the liquid from the chicken into the pot with the vegetables. I kept the skin because it ads colour and flavour to the stock.

    fill the pot to the top and put it on the stove on high and start to bring it to the boil.

    The most important thing you can do for your stock is skim it, get a ladle and a bowl and as you see the fat and scum form scoop it up and get rid of it, if you don't and you leave it you will end up with a cloudy stock.

    Once it has reached the boil, skim it again and reduce the heat so it is just simmering. Simmer for 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool.

    When it is cool put the whole thing in the fridge over night, then you can remove any leftover fat, take out the chicken and strip the meat off them and strain the stock. If you want to keep some stock for later use you can put the strained stock back on the stove and bring it to the boil and reduce it until your volume is 1/4 of its original. Once it is cool you can freeze it in ice block trays and you now have concentrated stock.

    I use the chicken chops because I want both the meat and the stock for making soup. You can simply use bones or a whole chicken raw, the process is exactly the same, even the cooking time. if you use a whole chicken you must let it cool over night in the stock, it produces really lovely tender chicken.

    Saturday, December 27, 2008

    Blackberry Syrup

    It is blackberry season and while these thorny brambles may be a noxious weed from an agricultural perspective, the small black gems that you have to fight your way in to retrieve are very nearly worth the trouble.

    Mrs Grendel made two batches - the first had something go slightly wrong, but the second was delectable and will serve over icecream or even as part of an espresso based drink.

    Fortunately I didn't have to dodge the thorns or brave the heat, I merely waited at home for Mrs Grendel to bring back the treasure chest of blackberries (from a secret location).

    They are an impressive sight, and at around $10 per 150 grams in our local store the haul Mrs Grendel brought back was worth nearly $100.

    The syrup we made can be poured straight over ice cream, used as a flavour base in an ice cream, gelati or sorbet or even as a cordial in a cocktail.

    You can of course just eat the berries but then I'd have only an empty bowl and nothing to blog about.

    • 1 kilogram of Blackberries 
    • 250 grams of sugar
    • water
    • 1 vanilla bean


    Wash the berries berry gently, slice down the length of the vanilla bean to halve it. Add with sugar to the saucepan. Add water and bring to a slow boil.

    Once boiling reduce to a simmer for half an hour. Strain the berries and pour the hot syrup into sterilized preserving jars.

    Seal and refrigerate.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008


    Guacamole is a favourite in the Grendel residence. There was a little issue for a While as Junior Grendel Number Two was not only a double-dipper, but a tertiary dipper as well and bits of child-spit-soaked corn chip really are as unappetizing as they sound.

    My recipe was one I developed while a teenager working in the Fruit and Vege section of the local Coles. On Saturdays we were allowed to place samples of the produce with the display's and this included a horrible packet based Guacamole mix to which you just added an avocado. It put me off the avocados so I made up my own recipe to better 'sell' their qualities.

    The trick is to get really good quality avocados. I prefer to use the Haas variety and just at the point where they are soft to the touch but still green and pale yellow inside. Other varieties can be used but are often fibrous and don't mash cleanly.

    Today is Christmas tree dressing day at the Grendel house so I made a small bowl to snack on while we hang the decorations.

    • 1 avocado
    • 100ml sour cream
    • 1 half lemon (juiced)
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • pinch of seasoning salt
    • pinch of pepper
    • dusting of paprika


    Halve the avocado and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork then finely chop or crush the garlic. Add the garlic and lemon juice. Season with the salt and the pepper - taste at this point and adjust seasoning. You may need to add more lemon if you are using very fresh garlic cloves as they often have a wonderful but powerful flavour.

    Add the sour creme and mix well. Serve it with your preferred crunchy dipping item.

    Saturday, December 13, 2008


    Sangria is a traditional Spanish summer red-wine punch. There are any number of recipes for sangria and generally with the basics of fruit juice and red wine to begin with you can improvise endlessly to find one you enjoy.

    I made a jug today and have been enjoying it slowly through the evening.


    1 Apple, diced
    1 Orange, diced
    1 lime, diced
    60ml Triple Sec (Orange Liqueur)
    100ml Port
    500ml citrus juice (I used a lemon/lime/orange blend)
    400ml red wine (you may increase or decrease this to your taste!)


    Dice the fruit, pour the alcohol and fruit juice over the top (easy eh?)

    Let it chill in the fridge - the fruit pieces soak up alcohol nicely.

    Serve chilled over ice.

    Pantry Tom Yum Soup

    I know, soup is a strange one to be doing at the onset of summer. As I have recently (10 days ago) had gastric banding I am now at that stage where I can move from banana smoothies to pureed and slippy-down easy type foods. I am sure I now have 10 varieties of cup a soup in the pantry in the search of something with some flavour. This morning out in the back yard I spied our lemongrass and I knew then what I was having for lunch!

    Everything apart from the tin of prawns came from the pantry so this isn't a truly authentic Tom Yum but a pantry Tom Yum suitable for someone with diminished capacity (for food that is)

    Alli's pantry Tom Yum soup

    • 1 tin of prawns
    • 1 packet of two minute noodles (discard the flavourings)
    • lemongrass
    • 4 mushrooms (I had swiss browns)
    • garlic
    • chilli, fresh or dried
    • 1 lime
    • 2 spring onions
    • palm sugar
    • fish sauce (2 tblsp)
    • lime and chilli seasoning
    • chicken stock or booster


    Boil some water and cook the two minute noodles, I broke them up into very small pieces.

    In a pot sauté the mushies, I sliced these thinly then turned them and sliced them again, the garlic, chilli and lemon grass, add 500mls of water or stock (add your stock powder here), the fish sauce and palm sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.

    Drain and chop the prawns (if you are operating on diminished capacity feel free to leave them whole!), juice the lime and finally chop the spring onion

    Taste your broth, should be nice and flavoursome and very lemony, season to your taste and turn the temperature right down. Throw in the prawns and noodles and finish it with the spring onions and lime juice and serve!

    Traditionally this soup have kafir lime leaves and coriander, I'm not big on coriander so I leave it out on purpose. It doesn't have noodles either but I like to make it as meal and the two minute noodles are going down ok right now.