Honey Cardamon Biscuits

Honey Cardamon Biscuits

Honey Cardamon Biscuits

Smell is such a powerful sense. It can instantly evoke memories, transporting us to another place with the merest whiff. The smell of hot Anzac Biscuits takes me to Gran’s kitchen. Hovering in front of the oven in drooling anticipation. Gently shoo-ed from underfoot as Gran eased the trays out. These biscuits have a similar effect on Beloved. Not quite the speculaas he remembers from his childhood, but the rich, sweet-earthy cardamon aroma is close.

Spiced Blackberry Banana Muffins

Spiced Blackberry Banana Muffins

Spiced Blackberry Banana Muffins

My basic muffin recipe uses rather a lot of butter to keep the mix moist, making them unpalatable for some of my dairy-intolerant friends. A little research and a lot of experimentation later, this fruity treat evolved. I’ve used almond oil and meal, giving it a light texture and a pleasant nutty counterpoint to the spiced fruit. If you have a tree-nut allergy (or don’t like almonds), you could substitute sunflower oil and ground sunflower seed or even pumpkin seed oil/meal. The fruity flavours come to the fore if a neutral oil (such as Rice Bran or Grapeseed) is used. You can use whatever berries you may have at hand too, fresh or frozen. The one in the photo was made with brambleberries, but I have made variants with boysenberries, black mulberries and many of the black or red raspberry cultivars.

Paella

Paella

Paella

When the Moors came to Spain and Italy in the 8th century, they brought with them a shiny new Religion. So enthusiastic were these Missionaries-with-attitude, they put to the sword anyone who did not embrace it (a recurring theme in Human History). They also brought new medicines, philosophy, music, language, sciences .. and food. Rice found its way into Spanish cuisine, along with a whole tasty spectrum of spices.  Latin was the language of Catholic medieval Europe. The latin for cooking pan is patella, which morphed (as languages do) into padilla or paelle, depending on where in the Mediterranean you lived. Pragmatic Catalonian peasants named the hearty rice dish after the pan they cooked in it .. and Paella was born.

Lemon-Lime Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust

Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Gingersnap crust

Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Gingersnap crust

When I was little, I used to look forward to parties at Gran’s house. She often made amazing sweet-tart lemon cheesecake that I just loved. When I grew up, I was astonished to discover how very, very simple (dare I say “cheaty”?) it was to make. It didn’t take me very long to realise that its very simplicity lent itself to myriad variations. Berry or chocolate swirls appeared in the lemon filling. Strawberries and grated chocolate appeared over an orange filling. Cherries and cream edged a port wine filling. Crushed pineapple and mint with mango filling. Vanilla shortbread, chocolate crunch, shredded oatmeal or Anzac biscuits went into the base. All spawned from the one basic recipe. This is definitely one of my favourites!

Big Bang Sauce (Herbed Tomato Passata)

Big Bang Sauce

Big Bang Sauce

This Summer has been the first for years that I have enough ripe tomatoes to make this more-or-less traditional Passata. Normally, the Junior Sorority and Beloved can be found prowling the tomato beds to pick off stragglers. Some years, none of the crop make it into the kitchen! Now that the four elder daughters have flown the nest, even Beloved had gorged his fill and the scarlet fruit has been left to ripen unmolested. Now that the days are getting shorter, and the evenings cooler, bruschetta, lasagne (and other pasta dishes), enchiladas, chili con carne, and other hearty stews are reappearing on the menu. A jar or three of home-made passata makes a tasty addition or base, Indeed, pretty much anywhere you read “tomato puree” or even “crushed” tomato, this can be substituted.  I tend not to put a lot of garlic into the sauce, because I prefer to add it fresh to each dish. Indeed many of my Italian friends make the sauce plain and add the herbs to each dish. I like to take advantage of the small forest of basil flourishing and at its peak during Summer heat rather than the limp winter growth, or dried stuff.

And why “Big Bang” sauce? Well everything starts with the Big Bang ..