Cook or Cure!

After an amazing Christmas break with our family, we returned home feeling relaxed, refreshed and looking forward to an additional mini break at home.

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Unfortunately that feeling vanished very soon!  Gary discovered that I hadn’t closed the freezer door properly prior to our departure and everything had begun to defrost!

First job, stock take, make a list of everything that could be salvaged, dispose of what couldn’t, and then work out what to do with a freezer full of meat, seafood and poultry!

Idea’s began to form as I worked through it all, most would have to be cooked and then could be re-frozen.  I realised that I could also, smoke and cure a little as well.

I had duck marylands, I would do Confit Duck and then freeze ready for use.  There was one duck breast, it would be cured, airdried and then sliced/diced and frozen.


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Oranges 1 – A recap!

The oranges are gone, well, with the exception of the few that have been set aside for our breakfast fruit over the next week or so. Overall things went really well, and we have some lovely goodies stashed in the store for future use. We’ve also enjoyed some orange flavoured meals as well.

That being said, the marmalade proved to be my nemisis. The first batch didn’t set and discoloured!  What to do… Add Cointreau to the mix, and lable it as Orange and Cointreau Syrup for use with desserts – I have to say it goes deliciously with date pudding !

So what was the problem?  More pectin you say? That’s what I thought, anyway. So I saved all the pips from the oranges and lemons used in all the other recipes – I had a lovely little pile of them by the time it come to revisit the marmalade. Neither Gary, nor I, could understand what happened to the first batch, it’s never happened before…

With everything prepared, I started again – it was looking beautiful, time to test for set, and again… it just wouldn’t set and turned dark. Fearing it would burn, I took it off the heat and bottled it. The next morning when I checked, it was syrup, nothing like the lovely jelly like consistency of marmalade. By this time I thought I knew what the problem was – while the pot I was using was big enough, it was tall and narrow, not wide and squat.

Not wanting to waste the fruit sugar and time and effort, this time we decided to try and cook it a little more. It just got darker, and again wouldn’t set. Finally, I had to bite the bullet and use commercial pectin (I have plans to make my own in future, but didn’t have time at this point). Set was reached, it doesn’t taste too bad, really, just sweeter than usual and it looks like treacle!  A new wider, shallower, preserving pan style, pot has now been ordered and is on its way. I am hoping that by using it, we will avoid any more marmalade dramas.

So what was cooked? You will have seen some of the goodies in previous posts, but here is the list in full…

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There is one more recipe brewing, but it is going to take another couple of weeks – Collette’s Vin D’Orange. I will put up a post about it when its ready, and let you know what it is like.

Finally given that Jan provided all the oranges for this little marathon, I thought it only propper that I share the recipe for this delicious dessert that she has shared with me – Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream.

Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream

This simple little dessert is the perfect way to finish a meal. It can be prepared ahead - adding the Yoghurt Cream and pistachios just before serving.


  • 6 large navel oranges
  • 6 fresh dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs pure icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 55 g (1/3 cup) pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped

For the Greek Yoghurt Cream

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 125 g light cream cheese
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthways
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) pouring cream
  • 1 tsp pure icing sugar


  1. To make the yoghurt cream, place the yoghurt, cream cheese and honey in a bowl. Use a small sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until combined. Place the cream and icing sugar in a bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until soft peaks form. Fold into yoghurt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to chill.
  2. Cut top and base from each orange. Use a sharp knife to remove skin and white pith. Holding each orange over a bowl to catch any juice, cut along either side of the white membranes to remove orange segments.
  3. Combine orange, dates and mint in a bowl. Sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon. Toss to combine.
  4. Divide fruit among serving plates and serve with pistachios and yoghurt cream.
  5. Garnish with sprigs of mint.


  • My sister Jan passed this recipe to me, she received it from her friend, Mandy, who found it in Australian Good Taste – September 2011, p.80 .
  • Allow 2 hours chilling time.


Until next time…

Bon appétit!



Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Sticks 

Nana Mac’s Potato and Orange Salad

Orange and Mint Jelly 

Orange Cordial

Spiced Oranges

Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream 

Sugar Coated Candied Orange Sticks 

Zingy Citrus Mocktail

A wintery blast!

Wow, what a cold, cold week we’ve had, I barely poked my nose out the door, so there was plenty of creative time in the kitchen to keep warm…

This week’s big hits were Duck and Quince Pies and Cream of Celeriac and Parsnip Soup

The Duck and Quince Pies were made from leftover meat from the duck necks I’d been working with. Can you believe that from six duck necks, I used the skin as the casing for pork, garlic and red wine sausages, duck stock and duck ravioli as well as these delicious pies, not bad, hey!!!?

In the pantry I have jars of deep burgundy coloured quinces that I’d preserved and thought they would go amazingly with the duck. So got to it, making sure that I made note of everything I used and how much of each. The end result was amazing, we got two good sized individual pies together with quite a few cocktail sized pies which always come in handy, either as a canapé, or an addition to some duck dish, just to add a little interest, flavour and/or texture.

Then there was soup and sweet night… Don’t you love that. Nice warm soup and then later as we sat in front of the roaring open fire, delicious sweet treats for dessert. I had purchased a lovely celeriac to make a mash from, but with the weather so bleak and cold, we needed soup. I had plenty of parsnips in the fridge, so this soup, topped with parsnip crisps was perfect. I absolutely love parsnip crisps, so made sure I made extra as a cook’s treat.


Cream of Celeriac and Parsnip Soup

As for the sweet treats,


Who could beat Chocolate Fondant!

With the weather on the improve, I finally got back into The Corner Patch and did a stocktake of what needs to be planted – there’s a lot of work to be done!!

And then escaped to the flower garden where I discovered a little bit of sunshine.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Cream of Celeriac and Parsnip Soup.

Duck and Quince Pies




It’s been a busy week in the corner patch…

It’s been a busy week, particularly for Gary, my husband, as we clear the area that is to become the vegie patch!

When we arrived here, there was a quince tree and a miniature lemon tree, and then six weeks later we found another lemon tree that was hidden between an overgrown hedge and the fence. But there was no vegie patch!

I am very excited that we are now working on the area that I will now refer to as the “Corner Patch”! Just before we went to Melbourne last week, Gary got the chainsaw out and took down four trees. Two flowering pears and two bays. Now for me, I’d much rather have pear trees that give fruit, and who needs two overgrown bay trees. One can only use so many bay leaves, and a tree in a pot is easier to control and provides more than enough leaves for the kitchen. The trees hid what had become a dumping area for anything rubbish and a lot of work was needed to clear it out, in fact it took FIVE trailer loads to the tip to get rid of everything, plus we have stored what wood we could from the trees to dry for the open fire next year.

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It is a standing joke among those we know that last year, in anticipation of the move, I bought 40 or so fruit trees, bare rooted, and we potted them into oversized pots to get them ready for their new home. So they are also about to be planted out, in the new area. A lot of them will be espaliered so that they will become features of the garden.

While all this work has been going on, there has not been a great deal happening in the kitchen. But we have enjoyed a lovely light Truffle Omelette, a quick and easy, as well as DSC03677delightfully delicious evening meal. There was also a smoked potato soup with truffle shavings, cream and a little truffle oil, and a duck salad where I got to try my recently cured, air-dried duck breast, or as some like to call it duck prosciutto, and some of my confit duck leg.  It was delicious.

Hopefully back into the kitchen this weekend, as I have some more duck ideas and some other recipes that I want to trial.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Truffle Omelette


A Beautiful Weekend

The last few days have been just lovely. I had an early rise on Friday morning so that I could take a train to Melbourne. It wasn’t the warmest of trips, but when I arrived in Melbourne I headed straight to the Queen Victoria Markets where I had arranged to meet my wonderful friend, Ora. Before we met up I had been trying to buy duck necks and duck bones with no success, so gave up and headed to my favourite bakery to pick up, what I believe is the best gluten free Turkish bread you can get. Just as I was finishing my purchases. Ora phoned to see where I was. I looked down the walkway a little and there she was, as usual, bright and colourful.   When we met we embraced and chatted a little, and she wanted to know what I needed to get next. When I told her about the duck neck and bones, she took me to the stall where she and her husband buy their poultry and game. It was fantastic!   I got my duck carcasses, duck necks with skin on, duck breasts, duck thighs and quail. On hearing what I wanted to do with the duck necks, the gentleman ensured that the necks had the skin on and also gave me his card suggesting that I phone ahead with my order whenever I am coming to town, and they will make sure that they have everything that I need. I was delighted.

From the poultry stall we headed to a stall I knew very well. It is where I head when I need mushrooms, and when they are in season, that amazing black funghi that grows underground among the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. I was so lucky, they had just received fresh truffles this morning, yesterday there were none. How lucky am I! I select three lovely black delights and they are carefully wrapped in tissue and placed in a glass jar that I place in my handbag for safekeeping. We chat a little about what I will do with three truffles, and I tell the lady that I will use some fresh, the remainder will be frozen for use at a later date. Truffles, do not last long and go soft, so the best thing to do with unused truffles, is to freeze them whole in a container and then, using your trusty truffle slicer, slice them while they are still frozen. You should not thaw them out before using them. Just shave them directly into the dish that you are cooking. She was very interested in what I was going to do.

Something that I like to do, is place truffles in a jar with Arborio rice for a couple of days, the rice then takes on the delicious aroma of the truffle ready for making mushroom risotto with shaved truffle.


The other thing I do is place some eggs in a jar with whole truffle. With the shell being porous, the yolk and white are infused with that sensational flavour. Making the eggs perfect for making delicious omelettes or scrambled eggs.


When we leave the market, Ora insists on carrying one of my bags. I am going to a “Christmas in July” function with friends/colleagues at my previous place of employment and have baked a gluten free fig and onion relish, blue cheese and pear tart, as well as a gluten free rhubarb swirl yoghurt cheesecake topped with mulled wine and pear jelly, cream and toasted coconut. So my bags are heavy and I feel very guilty that she is carrying one of them for me. We stop off for a most welcome cup of tea at one of her favourite cafés near the market and have a lovely long chat before she very kindly drives me to my old work place, which is where we met and formed such a great friendship.

I spent a lovely afternoon eating beautiful food and catching up with past colleagues and great friends, before my husband came to collect me and we headed to our son’s apartment where we would spend a wonderful night with he, his fiancée and our gorgeous little grandson. Our son prepared a delicious meal of salmon and noodles.


His fiancée had everything lovely for us and made us so welcome, and our adorable little grandson kept us well amused and entertained.

The following day, my husband returned home early, while I got to spend more time with our beautiful family, before returning home. On the way home I spent time listening to my French lesson to pass the time and help me with the learning process.

When I arrived home in the early evening, I set to stashing the goodies that I had purchased at the market the previous day, and then to making a delicious mushroom and black truffle risotto.

Slide1I think it was one of the best risottos I’ve ever made. Fortunately just before heading to Melbourne I had made a very large batch of chicken stock so it was put to good use, and I had such a wonderful time preparing the mushrooms, stirring the risotto, and finally adding the pièce de résistance, the beautiful black truffle to the risotto, along with some lovely, slightly thicker slices to the top just before serving.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto

Queen Victoria Market