Semi-Dried Tomatoes

Fill your kitchen with the intoxicating aroma

of roasting garlic, herbs & sun ripened tomato.

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This absolutely gorgeous addition to my Gifts From The Kitchen series will have the savoury lovers salivating! It’s a wonderfully practical culinary shortcut to enhance pasta & pizza dishes throughout the festive hangover.

Simply start by using an apple corer to cut out all the middle cores of the tomatoes before placing them into a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds only! Remove them immediately to plunge into a bowl of ice & water to cool.

Now I know that doesn’t actually sound like enough time to achieve anything at all, but trust me, it does! This is what allows you to be able to peel the skins off the fruit.

Once you’ve peeled all the skin off, cut the tomatoes in half & place them straight onto a baking tray.

Drizzle them with a wee bit of olive oil, then season with salt & black pepper. Throw on a few garlic cloves that you’ve peeled & ‘squashed’ with either your palm or the flat blade of your knife & sprinkle over some dried mixed herbs, or you might like to just throw on some thyme sprigs if that’s more your thing.

Bake them in a 140c oven for 4 hours before then putting them straight into a clean jar, topping with olive oil & screwing on the lid to seal.

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Strawberry Chips

Celebrate the arrival of Summer in Australia with these 

Sweet pops of naturally healthy goodness.

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With all the excesses of Festive Feasting, this is a lovely wee recipe to let you feel good about indulgence again. Whether you enjoy them on their own as a sweet snack or use them as garnish to punctuate your other luscious treats, they are sure to be a winner!

The beauty of these Strawberry Chips is just how EASY they are to make too! You get a lot of bang for your buck on this one.

Simply chop the tops off your strawberries before halving or quartering, whichever size floats your boat. Then lay them on baking paper lined trays & pop them into a 100c oven for 3 hours.

That’s it!

Told you this one was super easy!

Cashew Butter Slice

Decadently creamy layers of nutty goodness with a luscious chocolate crown.

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How can anyone go past a gorgeous home-made chocolate topped slice?! It’s one of the simple pleasures in life & the first recipe in my 2017 Christmas Gifts From The Kitchen series.

This slice is made in 3 stages to get those 3 layers so prepare to spend some time with it.

To create the base layer, simply combine 2 tablespoons of coconut syrup with 1/3 cup of cashew butter in a mixing bowl. Next, stir in 1 tablespoon of a good quality cocoa powder. Finally, add in 1 cup of  desiccated coconut & prepare to get your hands messy! Mix all of that together really well before pressing into a cake tin or baking pan that you’ve lined with baking paper. Pop that lot in the fridge for half an hour.

Next comes the middle layer. This one is super easy! In a small, heatproof bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of coconut syrup with 6 tablespoons of cashew butter over a pan of gently simmering water until it gets nice & soft which makes it more pliable to work with. Press that gently over the base layer & get it back in the fridge to set for another hour.

Finally, the luscious crowning chocolate glory! Over a pan of gently simmering water, melt 200g of milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl then simply pour over the slice & spread. You guessed it…..back in to set in the fridge it goes.

Now, because you’ve been smart & lined the tray with baking paper at the very start, you can simply lift the set slice out onto a chopping board! A great trick when cutting this up is to have a jug of boiling water on the bench next to you & constantly dip your knife in so it heats up, making it glide through the slice easily.

Fish Cakes

Golden encrusted discs housing a

fabuliciouzly soft & flavourful gift from the deep.

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I simply adore Fish Cakes & would order them every time at one particular restaurant in Sanctuary Cove on Australia’s iconic Gold Coast. I haven’t found them that good any where else in the nation……until I started making my own! Hubby goes absolutely wild for these, devouring them greedily as if he’ll never experience them again. It is such an easy recipe, but that’s what a lot of good food is ~ Simple.

Start by frying off 750g worth of fish fillets in a wee bit of heated oil. I use Basa which is about 4 fillets. Then you’ll need to flake them up into small, mince like, consistency in a bowl.

Add in 300g of mashed potato (this is a great way to use up cold left overs!) along with 1/2 a bunch of chopped up flat leaf parsley, 1 teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper & then whisk 1 egg well & pop that in the bowl too.

Combine that lot well & then season generously with salt.

Rest the mixture in the fridge for half an hour then shape into cakes, dust with a wee bit of plain flour & shallow fry over a medium heat until each side is lusciously golden.

Drain any excess oil off your Fish Cakes before serving with a colourful salad & lemon wedges.

ClapShot

A nod to my Scottish heritage,

this fancy mash is fabuliciouzly sweet.

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It’s one of the most treasured of Scottish dishes but it’s one of those oral knowledge recipes that’s usually passed down in the family rather than recorded, so here is how you can all make this classic wee bonnie meal!

Start off with 2 saucepans because the veggies take different times to cook. Place 500g of peeled & chopped potatoes in one & 500g of peeled & chopped swedes in the other. Cover both in water, add salt & bring to the boil. Let those bubble away on your cauldron until the root vegetables are soft & tender before draining them well.

Now you can mix them together in the one pot. Mash them up good & proper before adding in 50g of butter along with 75ml of double cream. Mash them thoroughly until lovely & smooth.

Season the ClapShot generously with salt & white pepper then finish off by stirring through 1 tablespoon worth of freshly chopped chives.

Hubby declares this to be the BEST mash EVER!

Spinach Dip

This Retro Classic is a breeze to whip up & with only 3 ingredients!

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This four day pseudo long weekend, created by the iconic Melbourne Cup horse race in the world’s most liveable city, always marks the start of our Festive Social Season. It’s a time where we glam up in a fashionista style unlike any other day of the year! I love pulling on my fancy frock, securing a stunning fascinator to my tresses & downing a glass of celebratory bubbles.

Alas, tis not to be this year as we must quickly pack up our belongings to depart our mountain top abode! We reluctant nomads are being forced on the move again due to the sale of yet another rental property. Not to the other side of the country this time, though, just sliding down to the bottom of this big hill.

But, I digress. It’s always lovely to have simple, easy foods to pick at & nibble throughout any party but especially at the races. This classic Spinach Dip is a proven crowd pleaser & it’s high time it made it back onto our Celebration Tables!

Simply bring a pot of water to the boil & throw in the contents from a 120g packet of fresh baby spinach leaves. Let them boil away to wilt then drain them & allow to cool ever so slightly.

Meanwhile, empty a 300g tub of sour cream into the pot & add in a 30g packet of spring vegetable soup mix then mix that in thoroughly along with the spinach.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens up nicely then set aside to let the flavours develop for at least 15 minutes but it’s much better if you pop it in the fridge overnight.

Traditionally, this dip is served in a hollowed out round cob loaf with the scooped out bread being used to dip with but when needing Gluten Free, rice crackers & carrot sticks get devoured just as quickly!

Swedish Cream Sauce

A fabuliciouzly versatile sauce with countless applications!

An absolute must in your culinary arsenal.

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To have a variety of sauces up my sleeve has saved me so very many times from kitchen disaster! The ability to create a fam-bam pleasing meal from standard pantry & fridge items is both totally satisfying to me & their tummies!

For this gorgeous sauce, start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over low heat before adding 1 tablespoon of white flour & then whisk it until it turns a lovely golden colour, just to make sure that the flour is cooked out.

Next, pour in 1 cup of beef stock, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of thickened cream & a good splash of soy sauce. Give that lot a jolly good stir before seasoning well with salt & white pepper.

Turn up the heat to thicken up the sauce to your liking & use it any which way your imagination can dream up!

In the photo here I’ve teamed this Swedish Cream Sauce with pasta & meatballs. These basic meatballs I’ve shared before but just a quick reminder of what’s in these ones.

Into a bowl place 500g of either pork or chicken mince (whichever floats your boat) along with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup, 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper & then season generously with salt & white pepper. Mix it all up well with your hands then roll into balls. Heat up a little oil in a pan & fry them off until cooked through.

Spiced Pumpkin Scones

Fabuliciouzly light & oh so devourish!

These scones, with a hint of something special, won’t last long enough for the lashings of butter to melt upon them!

Start off this culinary delight by peeling 1/2 a butternut pumpkin & chopping into rough cubes. Bung into a baking dish, sprinkle with cumin & paprika to your taste before drizzling over a wee bit of oil & whacking into a 180c oven to roast for an hour. Drain the excess oil off then mash it up & set aside to go cold.

In a mixing bowl, cream together 30g of softened butter with 2 teaspoons of caster sugar. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been told to use a wooden spoon to do this so that’s what I shall pass onto you too 🙂

Next, throw in 1/2 cup of the mashed spiced pumpkin, 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, 1 beaten egg & 3/4 cup of milk. Give that lot a jolly good mix in.

Into the bowl plop 2 & 1/2 cups of self raising flour & mix together to form a dough then get your hands in there to knead it lightly. The mix will be awfully sticky so just wet your hands to pull bits off & roll into balls. Place the balls onto baking paper lined trays then lightly press down to flatten the tops & sprinkle with a wee bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Pop them straight into a 210c oven for 5 minutes before reducing the heat to 200c for another 5 minutes.

Be mindful of the hungry hoards thrusting their hands at the hot trays as you pull out your luscious scones!

Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi

Delightful wee pillows of fluffy potato that simply make you smile.

I’ve always loved making my own gnocchi. There’s something which I find just so satisfying about taking a humble potato & creating a fabuliciouz meal from it. Now that Mini Me & I are both Coeliac, I thought my “fluffy pillows” ,as she calls them, were yet another distant memory of our culinary past but NO! I have discovered a Gluten Free recipe which is a somewhat acceptable alternative.

Start by popping 3 large, starchy tatties into a pot of water & bringing to the boil. Make sure you leave their skins on so that no water can get into them. Once they’re cooked through, peel them whilst hot (careful not to blister the prints off your fingertips!) then use the fine side of your grater to mimic what a potato ricer would do with a nice fine shred.

Make a well (hole) in the centre & add 1 egg yolk with enough ricotta cheese to knead into a dough.

Heat some oil in a pan to shallow fry before pinching bits of the dough off to roll into balls then use your thumb to add a slight depression in the middle before placing gently into the hot oil.

Turn the gnocchi carefully to crisp up both sides before removing to drain any excess oil.

You can team them with your favourite pasta sauce or whack them through a fresh salad.

Strawberry Jam

My Fam-Bam loves my Homemade Strawberry Jam

declaring it to be sticky yumminess!

Honestly, making your own jam is dead-set simple! You’ll be amazed at how easy it really is using your slow cooker! Imagine the delight on your loved one’s faces when you give them a jar of your very own homemade jam, made with love.

So grab yourself a kilo of strawberries, give them a quick wash then chop the tops off & cut them up roughly. Bung them into the slow cooker along with a chopped up green apple, ensuring you leave the skin on (this is where the pectin is which is what sets your jam).

Pour in a kilo of caster sugar & 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Give that lot a jolly good stir & whack the setting on high for 4 hours with NO LID.

Then all you have to do is just give it a blitz with good old Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) & pour into sterile jars.

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Yep, that’s it! Homemade jam! YUM!