Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Onion pudding with baby carrots and chicken gravy (It’s gravox).

First I need to tell you a little bit about my uncle John, and when I first had this onion pudding. Uncle John has been my Uncle Roger’s partner since the early 80’s (maybe even the late 70’s), and in every way that counts: he’s family (although he doesn’t like to admit it). So he’s my uncle.

So…onion pudding? My sister and I went to the UK for Christmas in 95/96: it was the first time we had seen snow, the first time my sister (14) had traveled outside of Australia, the first time we had ever had a cold Christmas (our norm is 30°+ degrees Celsius, not 0°+ degrees Celsius) and seen how amazing Christmas is in the UK, and the first time we’d seen real holly (it doesn’t just come in plastic, you know.).

One of the enduring memories from that trip was the Christmas Tree and fireplace Mantle that my Uncle Roger decorated. Amazing. Seriously AMAZING. This was pre-smartphone era, so I don’t think I took any photos unfortunately. But I do photograph presents my Uncle sends me, and save the cards he sends me: for.a.reason.

Another enduring memory is the Christmas lunch Uncle Roger and John made, including this Onion Pudding. This Onion Pudding is a family Christmas tradition in Uncle John’s family, and he shared it with us. I had never had savoury pudding before, and IT.WAS.AMAZING.

That was 95/96. I asked him for the recipe when I went to the UK in 2014, and then serendipitously bought a pudding basin and pudding cloth on one of those flash sales sites earlier this year (in Summer, if I recall correctly). So it was fated that this year, in winter, I was going to make Uncle John’s Onion Pudding. 22 years after I ate it for the first and only time, I WAS going to make it. Or else.

Retro dinner party, with Uncle John’s Onion Pudding. And yes I am in Australia, and that is Union Jack bunting in the very background…what of it?

[For the record: you don’t need a pudding basin to make this pudding, and I knew that. But what can I say? It was a kitchenware sale, and I was on a roll. In other news: I’m now researching steamed pudding recipes.]


  • 250gm butter
  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 onion, diced (*if you have a food processor, I have a nifty additional tip I will share in the method)
  • Pudding cloth


  • 2 tsp dried/fresh herbs of your choice ( I went without, it’s nice as is)

Mix the flour and the butter until it’s at breadcrumb stage (I did this in the food processor, so quick, so amazing. Food processors may actually be a revelation). Add the onion (HOT TIP: I added my lazily diced onion while the flour/butter breadcrumb mix was still in the food processor and then pulsed it a couple of times to cut up the onion even more. AMAZING).

If you have a food processor, now you will need to tip everything into a large bowl. If you don’t have a food processor (and I was once like you before I found the light), then you’re probably already making this in a bowl bless your gorgeous heart 😉

Now: you need to stir in some water, but don’t go crazy. Stir in water one tablespoon at a time AND stir the batter with a knife (not a fork, not a spoon: a knife), I used a butter knife, if it helps. You’re aiming for a consistency that just binds together: the dough/batter should be firm but not wet.

Get your pudding cloth, dust it with flour, then shape your pudding into either a ball or a log shape (swiss roll was how it was described by Uncle John) on the pudding cloth . You can see from the pics I was aiming for a ball but did not tie my pudding cloth tight enough, so I ended up with a disc shaped pudding. Uncle John’s pudding was a round ball, FYI. I bow to his onion pudding making skillz.

Pop it in a saucepan with high sides, cover with water, bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer for an hour.

Serve your Onion Pudding with Chicken Gravy or Turkey Gravy (Poultry Gravy). Onion Pudding is a great accompaniment to a traditional Christmas dinner: turkey, peas, baby carrots, gravy, other amazing winter food stuff. And it is tradition in Uncle John’s family.

But this pudding could be eaten as the main focus: it’s that nice. Just remember the gravy and ENJOY!

Retro Dinner Party with onion pudding in the background


It’s also a great accompaniment to a Crown Roast (a la Robert Carrier), fish pie, tuna potato pie (long story) when you hold a Retro Dinner Party #justsaying




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Recipe: Zucchini Soup

Zucchini Soup Ready To Be Eaten


I’ve been trying out the 5:2 diet since May last year. It’s pretty cool: I’ve lost ~9 kilos so far, slow and steady. I am enjoying fitting back into some of my clothes again, and look forward to more fitting in the near future 🙂 That’s one reason I went on my Great Pot Noodle Experiment of 2016.

So I am on the lookout for low calorie (VERY low calorie) recipes I can meal-prep and eat on the fast days. This Zucchini Soup is a bit of a winner: when you blend the zucchinis, the soup becomes thicker and creamy looking so you could be fooled into thinking it’s richer and higher calorie than it is. I’ve worked it out as about 66-86 calories per serve (but I am not a qualified nutritionist, and am relying on online calorie calculators for quantities), and I get about 6 serves out of this.

You will need a blender or stick mixer to blend at the end.


  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 tsp diced garlic (I used diced garlic in a jar for convenience)
  • 1-2 Zucchini, diced
  • 4 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1-2 tsp Vegeta Stock Powder
  • 1-2 tsp Olive Oil for frying
  • 6-8 cups of boiling water (put your kettle on when you start this recipe)

Pop the olive oil in your soup pan, and heat. Add the onions and start cooking until they are translucent. Add the garlic and fry, then add your celery and fry for a while. The onions should never turn brown at any point, we’re aiming for softened, translucent vegetables so you will need to keep an eye on your pan, and keep stirring. Add the zucchini and fry for a while, still making sure veggies are being stirred regularly and nothing is sticking to the pan.

When the Zucchini has softened, add your boiling water and stock powder. Stir to combine and then simmer for 20-30 minutes on the stove until the vegetables are completely soft.

Take off the heat, and leave to cool. Then blend and portion out into your storage containers.

When I take this to work for lunch, I will pour the soup into a bowl and add a little bit of water (1tbsp) to the jar, shake and pour into the soup bowl to get the very last dregs.

It’s pretty delicious, and I am not sick of eating this yet (although I do have something different for dinner to ensure it doesn’t wear out its welcome).

66 Calories of Lunch 🙂

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Good for breakfast, brunch or brinner.

I served these as part of a two-course brunch for Les Chicas. We also had fancy (but very easy to make) breakfast trifles to finish. And champagne. A lot of champagne.


  • 300gm grape tomatoes (approx 5-6 per person)
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 240gm ricotta (I accidentally picked up light ricotta)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 and 1/4 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 very thin slices of red onion
  • 250gm rocket

Serves 5 people (3 pancakes per person).

I made the pancakes before my guests arrived, then popped them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and covered with alfoil. Then I popped them back in the oven to heat up closer to brunch time.

In a largish mixing bowl, whisk ricotta and egg until combined. Whisk in milk, then flour. When everything’s combined, stir through basil and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt a bit of butter in a large fry pan, then pour in 1/4 cups of mix per pancake. I could fit about 3 pancakes in my largest fry pan (the pancakes will spread to 10-15cm wide, so allow for that). Cook until golden, then flip to cook on the other side.

When your first batch is done, do a second batch. I could do 2 batches before I needed to wipe out the pan and add more butter. It look 5 batches to get through all the mix. When you’ve finished each batch, stack them in servings (3 pancakes per person) in your baking paper lined baking tray. Don’t forget to cover the tray with alfoil when done.

Preheat your oven to 220°C, timing it so that when your guests arrive you can pop the tomatoes in to roast (they take 10-15 minutes). Pop the tomatoes in a baking dish with 1 tbsp of EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the skins have split.

At 10 minutes, pop in the baking tray with your covered pancakes into the oven. If you are taking the tomatoes out, dial down the oven to 160°C. The pancakes need about 5 minutes to warm again.

Add the rocket and red onion to a bowl, pour over the remaining olive oil and the apple cider vinegar. Toss thoroughly.

To serve: pop a pancake stack (3 pancakes) on the plate, put a pile of the rocket & red onion salad on top, then artfully place 5-6 roasted grape tomatoes on top.

I recommend serving with a french champagne to drink on the side 🙂



Artfully placed tomatoes.

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Recipe: Toasted Muesli


Toasted muesli, served traditional style.

I had Les Chicas over for brunch last week, so decided to kick it up a notch with a two course brunch of basil and ricotta pancakes (savoury) and then breakfast trifle (sweet). To make the breakfast trifle, I needed a toasted muesli. This recipe is pretty delish on its own (yes, you can eat it by the spoonful), with milk and in the breakfast trifle so I thought I would share.


Cooling in the pan


  • 1/3 cup rice malt syrup (finally a use for the remainder of the jar of “honey for sad people” that I bought for a recipe)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup golden flax flakes
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Makes enough toasted muesli for 6-7 days worth, or 4-5 days worth and 4 breakfast trifles. (NB: I only eat small rice bowls of it for breakfast, see picture at the head of this post. That’s what my serves are based on.)

Preheat your oven to 160C and line a large roasting pan with baking paper (hot tip for making sure the paper doesn’t slip: spray a little oil in the pan, then put the paper in. It’s a lifechanger).

In a bowl mix together the rolled oats, coconut, pepitas, flax and chia seeds. Pour in the rice malt syrup and maple syrup and mix to coat everything well.

Spread mixture in roasting pan, make sure it’s an even layer, then pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out, stir well and then make sure it’s all laying evenly before popping back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then pour into a bowl and stir in the cranberries. Then transfer to the jar you’re going to keep in. Will keep in an airtight container for ~1 month.



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Crostini in tableau with pots of gazpacho and some lovely champagne glasses: Downton-ised Ladies High Tea.

Let’s talk about Crostini: because they are simple to make, keep for weeks and are flexible, they will make pretty much whatever topping you put on them gourmet.


Scrambled egg and bacon crostini, with a caramel sponge cake: Baby Shower.


  • 1 baguette (french loaf) sliced into 1cm thick rounds
  • 1 can spray olive oil

If you have an oven, a baking sheet (and preferably some baking paper) plus a sealable container (a Decor box or similar) you are set to make Crostini. Set.

Pop the oven on to 180C, and while it is preheating pop your baking paper in your baking tray and then lay out the rounds of baguette onto the tray. Single layer, no overlapping.

Lightly spray your olive oil onto the side facing up for all the rounds, flip them over and spray that side too. You want lightly sprayed, but completely covered: not dripping with oil.

Then pop them into the oven and set your timer for ~5 min (it’s not exact, every oven is different and bread smells awful when it burns so keep an eye on them). When they are golden on top, take out the baking tray, flip your baguette rounds over and then toast again.

It will probably be 2-3 minutes for this side, but again: keep an eye on it.

Once toasted, let them cool in the pan on top of the stove. Then pop into your storage container and seal: they will keep a week or two.

FYI: this is also the process you use to make croutons, only your bread portions will be smaller and your oil spray heavier.

The things you can do with crostini

You can make mini pea, mint & feta bruscetta plus if you get a tub of Red Rock Deli Dip: Beetroot, Feta, Cashew & Balsamic Vinegar you can spoon that onto your crostini, also decorate with home-grown mint and feta and you have some lovely canapes for dinner, drinks or high tea:


Arranged like a daisy: High tea.

If you have spare cream, a couple of eggs and some home-grown chives and/or parsley, you can also make little scrambled egg bites. They can be vegetarian (above) or you can throw some bacon in the oven to crisp up, and then add strips of bacon to your crostini (below) and you have some lovely canapes for morning tea or cocktail/champagne breakfasts:


Vegetarian and bacon-loving options: Baby Shower.

I scrambled the eggs for the high tea and then topped with snippets of chives, but for the baby shower I scrambled the eggs with the chives and parsley (saved decorating time).

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Recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes


Stuffed with a dollop of home made parsley butter on top

First it was pumpkin and now tomato: 2015 clearly is the year for stuffing things inside vegetables and cooking them.

This recipe is perfect for the occasions when you want to make something special for a vegetarian, but you don’t want to stuff a whole pumpkin to do so.


Side view, looking luscious

This is a pretty simple recipe, like the pumpkin you can change up the stuffing: add in some pine nuts, or bacon. Perhaps some kale finely sliced. Whatever you want.

The only thing to note is that the tomatoes are more fragile than the pumpkin, so you need ingredients that are relatively soft and can be gently pressed into the tomato. You can’t use as much force stuffing these babies as you can a stuffed pumpkin.


  • 6 vine ripened tomatoes
  • For the stuffing:
    • 1 cup medium grain rice
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 2 tbsp parsley
    • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
    • 2 tbsp grated gruyere (or parmesan if that’s to your taste)
    • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Cook the rice by absorption method (1 cup rice to 1.5 cups water, bring to boil, turn down low and pop the lid on and leave for 10 minutes, then turn off and leave for 10 minutes), with one minor change.

When you’re about to turn off the stove and leave for 10 minutes, take the lid off the pan and use a fork to fluff up the rice. Then add in the butter, parsley and spring onions. Use the fork to mix through, then pop the lid back on and leave for the required 10 minutes.

Meanwhile: cut the top off the tomatoes and reserve. Use a tea spoon to scoop out the seeds and innards of the tomato, so you just have the outer layer of tomato flesh and skin. Like a little tomato bowl.

The rice should be done by now, so add the gruyere and stir through. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.



Then grab a spoon (a soup spoon is ideal) and spoon the stuffing into the tomatoes. Use the spoon to gently press the filling in, so you can add more. You will have to be gentle, you don’t want to squash the tomato or tear the skin.

Pop the lid back on each tomato, and pop them on a tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil.

Then put in the oven for ~25 minutes.


Unfiltered #2

Serve with a dollop of parsley butter on top.


Unfiltered #3

These stuffed tomatoes make a nice, light meal. You could serve 6 as a starter, or serve with greens and a nice salad as a main.


Unfiltered #4

Stuffed tomatoes: an easy way to impress the vegetarians in your life…and everyone else too.


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Pumpkin in a cake tin. As you do.

Another dinner date at mine, making use of the flowers and the tidy left over from The Ballerina’s dinner visit. One of this gang of 4, The Divine Miss K, had a wardrobe clean out and was sharing her bounty of shoes, jewelry and clothes with the other members of the gang.

The Divine Miss K is actually vegetarian, so I set myself the challenge of finding a roast vegetable dish that count take the place of a meat roast. So a roast dinner where a vegie dish takes centre stage as the hero. And as the 4 members of the gang do like French food, clearly it had to be a french food themed dinner.

After starting with Rachel Khoo’s Cervelles de canut (Fresh Cheese with Shallots and Red Wine), both the original and a Casa Moi adaptation, the main course revolved around stuffed pumpkin.


Prettiness that keeps on giving.

But not just any stuffed pumpkin, a recipe based on a family recipe from a pumpkin grower in Lyon. The original recipe had bacon in it, but it is customisable: as long as you have bread, cream and gruyere plus the herbs used, you can go anywhere with it.

I choose a pumpkin that fit perfectly into a cake tin, which was perfect: you do need something to contain any juices in case they overflow, but you don’t need a proper pan or anything. Just cover the bottom of the tin with baking paper, as if you were baking…a cake.

Pumpkin preparation

You have to cut a lid and then scoop out the “innards”, so all the seeds need to go.

To cut of the lid, use a sharp kitchen knife and gently stab down at about a 45 degree angle into where you want the lid. I found it almost impossible to cut at this angle, so you will need to keep “stabbing” down to mark out your lid and cut through the flesh until you have cut all the away around.


This pumpkin is…stuffed.

The lid will likely still be attached via the seeds, so as long as you have confirmed you have cut the actual flesh (by this point you’ll be able to run your knife around the lid), switch to a butter knife and use it to lever off the lid, working around the lid like it’s a paint tin.

Once that’s done, you need to scoop out the seeds and fibres attaching them to your pumpkin. I don’t have a history of Halloween pumpkin carving to inform me, so…I started with a serving spoon, down graded to a soup spoon and then finally got in with my hands. The soup spoon will allow you to cut through the fibres, but pumpkin seeds are tricky, slippery little suckers.

Even though it’s only a vegetable, that part of the prep actually made me squeamish.


Pumpkin dutch oven.


Serves ~4 with lots of pumpkin for leftovers, but not much filling. If you plan to serve 5-6, you could do it but you will need to dish out the filling equally to everyone’s plates and then start spooning out the pumpkin. The epicurious recipe may look like you can cut it in slices, good luck with that: you’d need a firmer filling that what this recipe provides.

  • Pumpkin (22 cm in diameter)
  • 100-200 grams of bread, cut into 1.5cm chunks
  • 100gms gruyere, cut into 1.5cm chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives: finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup spring onions: finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/3-1/2 cup double/thick cream
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to season

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Toss everything – barring the cream and nutmeg – into a bowl and stir well. The recipe tells you to pack this into the pumpkin, mix the cream and nutmeg together and then pour in. I found the thick cream I had to work with, too thick, so I mixed the 1/3 cup into my bowl too, along with the nutmeg.

Then I stuffed the pumpkin with this bounty. It was quite easy spooning out the wet mix into the pumpkin with my trusty serving spoon. I used the lid to press it down to fit all the  mix in, then poured a little bit of cream over the top of the opening and let that settle into the pumpkin.

Pop the cap on the pumpkin, then pop the whole thing into the oven for ~2 hours (mine ended up  being in the oven for 2.5-3 hours due to timings of arrivals and entree).

You can use a skewer to test how well the pumpkin is cooked, from the outside. When there’s give, it’s cooked (but do make sure it is being evenly cooked in your oven).

Because I cooked my pumpkin in a springform cake tin, it was easy to open the sides and then slide the pumpkin carefully onto a platter. At that point you are dealing with a slightly soft, rather heavy and incredibly hot unwieldy behemoth. So make it easy on yourself, try not to set up a situation where you have to lift it onto anything. Sliding is much easier on you, and your pumpkin.


Pumpkin on the table.

Serve with broccolini, green beans and asparagus, quickly cooked and drizzled with olive oil. And ribbon sliced purple carrots fried with shallots, butter and parsley.


Main course.

This dinner was epic. The dessert, supplied by the Baking Queen, was a a rum chocolate mousse. I will see if she will let me feature that recipe on here.


Off dessert, back to the sides.

As mentioned, this does serves ~4 with lots of pumpkin for leftovers, but not much filling. If you plan to serve 5-6, you could do it but you will need to dish out the filling equally to everyone’s plates and then start spooning out the pumpkin.



If you have pumpkin leftovers, spoon it out from the vessel and then turn it into soup. It’s delish 🙂

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