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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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!

Spiced Pumpkin Bites

These bite sized Indian inspired balls of spice

could be directly from my witches cauldron for the grown up trick or treaters! 

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I had a 1/4 of a butternut pumpkin leftover in my fridge & thought what on earth can I do with that?!?! Read on to find out how scary the inner workings of my brain can be!

So, I started by peeling & chopping up that 1/4 butternut pumpkin, tossing it into a pot of water & bringing it to the boil.

Whilst that was happening, I grabbed out my mini wok to create a spice paste. How I did that was to pop in a splash of peanut oil along with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1/4 teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger powder & 1/2 tablespoon of red thai curry paste. Then I turned on the heat to fry those spices off until Hubby came running with the fragrance!

By this time, the pumpkin was nice & soft so I drained it, put it back into the now empty saucepan & mashed it up. I added in a good knob of butter too!

Into the spice paste in my mini wok, I added a splash of full cream milk, just a normal amount that I’d use to make a mash (you know, how you do butter & milk to any mashed tattie or pumpkin) but I put the milk into the spices first to loosen them up so the milk I used for my mash was spiced, rather than placing the spice paste directly into the pumpkin.

Next, I mixed through some cooked rice to continue along with my Indian theme & which would act as my binding agent.

Pop that lot in the fridge to chill.

When you’re ready to eat, simply heat up some oil in a pan, roll the spiced mashed pumpkin into balls & coat in whatever crumb float your boat before frying them off to colour as it’s already cooked. Make sure you set the balls aside to drain excess oil off & serve whilst still hot.

Now these are soft, so not finger food by any stretch of the imagination, so you will require forks for these wee beauties.

 

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.

French Onion Soup

It’s well & truly soup season here on our mountain top!

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French Onion Soup is one of those super easy retro classics that every home cook should have up their sleeve.

Start by peeling a couple of large onions & cutting into thick slices.

Heat up a generous knob of butter in a stock pot & chuck the onions in with a teaspoon of sugar (I use raw sugar). Stir that until the onions are nicely translucent, they should be golden but not darkened in colour.

Throw in a dessertspoon of plain flour & cook that off before gradually pouring in 2 litres of chicken stock. Season it well with salt & white pepper.

Whack the lid on & cook that over a gentle heat for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Then it’s Chompin Time!

Potato Soup

Lusciously creamy hot soup with a flavoursome crunchy surprise,

this is Hubby’s second favourite soup that I make.

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This is hands down so dead set easy to make, you’ll be sure to whip it up all Winter long!

Heat up a good glug of oil in a pot & bung in 3 large spuds, which you’ve peeled & chopped. Pop the lid on & let them do their thing over low heat for 10 minutes.

Next, pour in 1 litre of chicken stock before throwing in 2 bay leaves & bringing to a simmer. Whack the lid back on for another 10 minutes cooking time.

Meanwhile, let’s crack on with the potato chip croutons!

Peel & dice 1 large tattie, heat a good glug of oil in a deep sided frypan, throw in 2 teaspoons of minced garlic along with the diced potato & simply toss those about to cook over a high heat until they’re gorgeously golden – how easy is that?!?!?!

Back to the soup – remove the lid & take out the bay leaves, they’ve done their job, then remove from the heat before adding in 250ml of sour cream. Give that lot a jolly good stir. Now it’s time for good old Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) to make his grand appearance! Whazz that soup up until sumptuously smooth & finally season with salt & ground black pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls & plop the potato chip croutons into the middle.

Fabuliciouz!

Oh, & in case you’re wondering, Hubby’s favourite soup is my Nan’s recipe I use for my Pea & Ham Soup!

Pumpkin Soup

It takes just THREE humble ingredients to whip up this absolutely fabuliciouz soup!

Yep, you read that right! 

Only 3 Ingredients!

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  1. Butternut Pumpkin
  2. Thickened Cream
  3. Cayenne Pepper

After a fairly intensive weekend of dancing action for Mini-Me with her first competition, I needed to whip something up in a hurry that was both tasty & able to fill our tired tummy’s! This Pumpkin Soup has always been our fam-bam go to staple for just such occasions.

Start by peeling & chopping up 1/2 of a butternut pumpkin before bunging the chunks into a saucepan with a wee bit of water. Pop a lid on & allow that to simmer away slowly over a gentle heat to reduce. Just keep an eye on the liquid so that the pumpkin doesn’t stick or burn as every single one of them will be different in the amount of water they let out during cooking.

When the pumpkin is mushy soft, remove from the heat & mash it all up then grab good old Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) to blitz to a gloriously smooth consistency.

Pour in 300ml of thickened cream, stir to combine & whack back on the heat to gently warm through.

Finally, season with cayenne pepper to however much floats your boat.

Then It’s Chompin Time!

Hasselback Potatoes

Gorgeously crunchy exterior meets lusciously soft interior,

creating what could possibly be described as the best ever roast tatties!

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To make these wee pillows of chippy awesomeness you will first need to crank your oven to a stonking hot 200c so that it gets ready whilst you crack on!

Peel 4 good sized potatoes before cutting them in half lengthways. Bung them, cut side down, on a chopping board before ever so carefully slicing very thin slits the length of each tattie making sure not to cut all the way through, so stop about 2/3 of the way down.

Next, gently melt a couple of tablespoons of butter over low heat. Brush the melted butter onto a baking tray then pop your sliced tatties carefully onto it. Smother the tops of the tatties in more of the melted butter by brushing on with abandonment! Don’t use it all though!

Whack into the oven for 30 minutes to bake, ensuring to brush with the reserved melted butter roughly every 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, into a mixing bowl goes 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese along with 2 tablespoons of whatever crumb floats your boat. Give it a jolly good mix & when the half hour on the tatties is up, evenly sprinkle the mix across them, shake a nice amount of paprika on & whack back in the oven for another 15 minutes to turn golden brown.

Curried Egg Filling

Aussies of my generation will well remember the good old Curried Egg Sanga in the school lunchbox!

Nostalgic love or Dear Lord let it go?!

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Nothing could be simpler than this classic filling! Use it in sandwiches, rolls, wraps or even sushi!

Use a fork to smash up a hard boiled egg before adding in a tablespoon of whole egg mayonnaise, a teaspoon of curry powder (naturally, I use the good old Keens!) then season well with salt & pepper.

Mix it all together & voila! You’re ready to spread!

I’d love to hear your memories on this one in the comments below!