These are tried, tested and much loved recipes. Our families and friends are always unselfish and devote themselves to taste-testing these delicious creations and demand them repeatedly time and time again.

Our aim is to share with you our favourite meals and the little tricks and tips we have learnt along the way.
Time is precious.
Food is expensive.

Both are resources too valuable to waste.

We want to share recipes that deliver delicious, nourishing meals - making the most of your time and ingredients.

Life is way too short for bland, disappointing food.
So ... Feed your inner cook - and Enjoy!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Farro and Mushroom Risotto

Another recipe inspiration from Nigella who can make every ingredient tantalizing.  This risotto is so 'mushroomy' delicious and filling you will forget there is no meat included.

Nigella stresses the use of Pearled Farro (Farro Perlato) which means it has been husked.  Regular Farro (unhusked) would require much longer to soften. 

The cooking time might initially seem lengthy, but you cook, walk away, come back, stir  - so it is good as it does not command constant surveillance. I hope you enjoy this hearty ‘risotto’, to which I have added a few of my own favourite ingredients.

Preparation:  5 minutes
Cooking, checking, cooking:  40 minutes

Serves    5 6   (maybe with a little for lunch the next day if you are lucky)


100 gram dried porcini – soaked for 5 minutes in 125 ml just boiled water

2 – 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Leek – trim and wash well to remove any grit between layers. Halved and finely sliced.
Or   if none available - you could use a very finely sliced white onion

500 gram Pearled Farro

60 ml (3 tablespoon) Marsala
1 ¼ cups (1.25 litres) Vegetable Stock – or you could use Chicken Stock.  Just be sure it is Salt-Reduced
250 gram Swiss Brown Mushrooms or Portobello - sliced.  Regular supermarket cap mushrooms are okay in a pinch -  but will have much less ‘mushroomy’ flavour
Leaves from a Few sprigs of thyme and   ½ sprig rosemary – chop the rosemary leaves a little
½ red chilli – finely sliced.  Leave out or increase to 1 chilli depending on your preference
1 clove garlic – peeled and grated
6 leaves of kale. Destalked and chopped roughly

3 Tablespoons Ricotta  (fresh ricotta is preferred as it is firmer than the tub brands)
Small pinch ground white pepper
3 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Finely Chopped Italian parsley to scatter over before serving


Use a wide heavy base pan with a lid.            Plus you will need a 2nd medium size frypan later.

Heat 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil and stir the sliced leeks through.  Cook over a medium heat until leeks are soft (approx. 5 minutes)

Drain the porcini and reserve the soaking liquid. (have a quick check there is no grit in the porcini or liquid before adding to the ‘risotto’ )
Add the porcini to the leeks and stir through using the spoon to break up some of the larger pieces of porcini.

Add the Farro and stir through to combine.  Pour in the reserved liquid and Marsala and bring to gentle bubble.

Pour in the stock, stir well, bring to boil, cover with lid and reduce to simmer for approx. 30 minutes – or until Farro is soft and liquid absorbed.

When the Farro has been simmering for about 15 - 20 minutes:  Heat 1 tablespoon Olive Oil in the 2nd pan and add the sliced mushrooms, garlic, herbs and chilli. Stir and cook for  5 – 10 minutes until mushrooms are golden and soft.  

Toss into the Farro and stir the mushrooms through. 
(TIP: If the  Faro has been cooking for 30 minutes and not soft or if more liquid is needed just add a trickle of boiling water, stir and re-cover with lid until cooked).  

Use the mushroom pan to wilt the Kale until cooked but still retains a little crunch.  This will not take long.  Add to the Farro mushroom mixture.

When Farro cooked, turn off the heat and stir through the ricotta and Parmesan.
Taste and season with a little white pepper if you desire.
Sprinkle the chopped Parsley over the ‘Farro risotto’.

Spoon into bowls to serve.

If you have very very hungry folks to feed, you could serve with slices of crusty bread but I find this is quite hearty and filling on its own.
                                                      Enjoy!  Colleen

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tomato Basil Chicken Bake

Sometimes we need a meal that almost cooks itself.  Jamie Oliver comes to the rescue with a Chicken Bake full of flavour and little fuss. This is my take on his recipe – and easy to adapt to your preferences.  Served with some pasta or crusty bread and a salad it will satisfy 4 hungry diners!

Serves 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking:   1 hour


8 - 10 chicken drumsticks (depends on size) – remove some of the visible fat

2 onions – peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic – crushed
2 potatoes – cubed
2 anchovy fillets – if you don’t like anchovy replace with a little shake of salt
½ red chilli – finely sliced.  Depending on your preference increase to 1 or leave out.
1 tin cannellini beans – drained and rinsed
Few slices of semi dried tomatoes – finely sliced (optional)
1 tin Cherry Tomatoes in tomato juice – use the juice and tomatoes
½ tin crushed tomatoes 
1 punnet Cherry tomatoes – leave whole
Leaves from 2 small stalks of fresh thyme
Bunch fresh Basil – pick the leaves and finely chop some of the stems.  Most of the basil goes in at the start, then about ¼ after cooking.  Reserve a few small leaves for garnish.
Splash of Olive Oil
Splash of Dry Sherry – maybe 20 ml
Few black olives – optional
Freshly ground black pepper
A Little grated parmesan cheese – optional to scatter over when served
Reserve some of the small basil leaves to scatter over when finished


Preheat oven to 200 oC
Place chicken, onion, garlic, potato, anchovy, chilli, beans, tomatoes – dried, tinned (including the juice) and fresh cherry tomatoes in an oven roasting pan along with the thyme leaves, basil stems and most (3/4) of the basil leaves.

Toss to mix.  Add a little olive oil, the sherry and pepper to taste.  Combine and stir well.

Cook for 1 hour, stirring after half an hour.  If using, add the olives in the last 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, toss in the final ¼ of the basil leaves.

Serve scattered with optional parmesan and small basil leaves.

Can be served with pasta or  crusty bread  and salad.

                              Enjoy! Colleen

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bundy Fruit Cakes for Baked Relief's Love to the West

If you live around Brisbane you might have heard about Digella's campaign to bake either a Fruit Cake or Anzac Biscuits for transport and distribution over the weekend to farming families doing it tough - to show support for our Aussie Farmers this Valentine's Day.

It's not too late to whip up a batch of Anzac biscuits - so check out the her website or FaceBook for a collection spot near you.


I used my "Christmas Cake - Nearly as Good as Nan's" which includes a decent drop of Queensland's Bundaberg Rum


made sure I used Australian ingredients (apart from the spices) and made 6 cakes that I packed snugly in cute boxes with a tea-towel, a personal note and some Bushell's tea - all tied up with string for their long journey to a farming community.  Hope they pass muster!

Update:  Digella has announced they are doing another collection in early March so check out FaceBook and send some love to the west!

Guard dog on cake duty! (This was her photo-bomb moment!)

                                                                                                       Cheers!   Colleen 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Little Lamb Persian Meatloaves with mint and almonds

I love Belinda Jeffery’s user-friendly recipes - when I read them I feel she is in the kitchen suggesting how to make appealing flavoursome meals. Her instructions are so easy to read and always result in something delicious.

I have adjusted Belinda Jeffery’s Lamb original meatloaf recipe to create smaller faster-cooking mini meatloaves. The spices work so well with the fresh mint and almonds. Any left overs (!) they are perfect for lunch the next day – either sliced up with salad or part of a very filling sandwich.

Makes 8 mini loaves.  I allow 1 each for regular appetites and 2 for a Wilbur sized hunger.

Preparation:  Sauce:       20 minutes including cooking time
Cooling time for sauce:   30 minutes
Preparation:  Meatloaf:     5 minutes
Oven Cooking time:        30 minutes


50 gram Toasted slivered Almonds or pinenuts   (TIPtoast these first before starting recipe)

1 tablespoon Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 large onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped or fresh grated ginger

2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/3  cup Tomato paste
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
Shake ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried mint
Sliced Red Chilli –  none, ¼ or whole - depends on how much you like
½ cup golden sultanas
½ cup Honey
¼ cup white Wine vinegar 

500 gram Lamb Mince

Handful each of chopped parsley and chopped Mint
1 – 1 ½ cups fresh white breadcrumbs   TIP: fresh breadcrumbs make the meatloaf lighter in texture
1 egg – beaten


1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
100 gram slivered almonds or pinenuts – do NOT toast first


First lightly toast your nuts in a large dry pan. Set aside to cool.

Re-use the pan, heat olive oil and add onion to gently fry to soften.
After 5 minutes, add the garlic and ginger. Stir regularly.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, spices, sultanas, honey and vinegar. Bring to boil, then simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until mixture is thick and rich.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 180 oC.  
Prepare and line a shallow oven tray.

Prepare the topping by mixing the honey and juice. Reserve. Keep nuts separate at this stage.

To the tomato mix, add the minced lamb, nuts, fresh mint, parsley, 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs – combine well.
Mix the beaten egg through the mixture.
If it feels too wet, gradually add a little more of the reserved breadcrumbs until mix can be shaped into soft log shapes. Divide the mix for 8 mini loaves – TIPS and HINTS:  it is important to shape them gently without compressing the mix too harshly. Compressed meat will cook in an undesirable hard textured loaf.
Place the loaves on the tray and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove loaves from oven and brush some of the honey/juice mix over each loaf.
Scatter nuts on top and gently press so they adhere.  Lightly dab the nuts with the remaining juice.
Don’t worry if you don’t do the final brush – it will still cook okay.

Return the loaves to the oven for a final 10 minutes.  Depending on your oven you may want to increase to 200 oC for final browning.  Check after 5 minutes they are browning not burning on top.

When cooked, remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with your choice of green salad or vegetables.

                        Enjoy!  Colleen

Monday, 3 February 2014

Aussie Damper with Lemon Myrtle Tea

On Australia Day it is our family's tradition to make a big campfire and  cook damper in a camp oven.  Washed down with a refreshing cup of lemon myrtle tea.    But if you don't have a fire close by you can pop it in your electric or gas oven.


3 cups (450 grams) self raising flour
Pinch of salt
80 grams chilled cubed butter
3/4 cup water


Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius

Line a backing tray with baking paper.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
With fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water to the flour mixture using a knife in a cutting motion.
Use your hands to bring the mixture together then turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead for a minute or two.
Shape into a disk and place on the prepared tray.
Using a sharp knife that has been dipped in flour mark 8 wedges on the top of your damper.
Dust with a little extra flour and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and sounds hollow if tapped on the base.

Lemon myrtle tea

Combine a dozen lemon myrtle leaves (see photo above) in a china tea pot pour in boiling water.
Let steep then serve.

Mamma Marmalade