Pear and Fennel Seed Chutney

6 Dec

I got this recipe from a 1970 edition of the ‘Australian and New Zealand Complete Book of Cookery’. I find most older books have great, simple recipes for chutneys and preserves.

This one is still in pounds which I didn’t bother to convert as my scales have a switch that can change the measurements from grams to pounds. You can find a conversion calculator here.

Pear and Fennel Seed Chutney

2 1/2 lb pears

1 green apple

1 lb white onions

2 cups (1 lb) sugar

2 cups white vinegar

1 cup seeded raisons

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

Peel, core and chop pears and apple.

Chop onions,

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to the boil.

Lower heat and simmer until thick and syrupy (about 1 hour), stirring often to prevent sticking.

Seal in jars when cold.


Sunday is Preserve Day (but I also made cake)

5 Dec

I woke up late this morning after procrastinating so much last night that at 1am I was soaking the fruit in brandy for the Christmas cake  and preparing and salting vegetables for a mustard pickle that I planned to make today.

The kitchen was a warm and busy place today. We have recently painted, re-arranged and put in a beautiful wooden bench top (hand made by my partner with offcuts from work) and it has fast become a haven of sanctuary away from the television and is the favorite place of us girls to sit, drink tea, chat and eat.

This morning one of my housemate’s sister showed up, so I made us a cardamon coffee (I drop a couple of bashed cardamon pods into the water of the cafeteria and let it brew before pouring it into a cup with a spoonful of agave syrup. It’s lovely!) and so I had company as I started to prepare all of my fruit.

The recipes I chose were: Mustard Pickles; Peach and Honey Jam; Pear and Fennel Seed Chutney; and Kasoundi (recipes to follow).

As I worked, around me thing were being done. While we ate cherries, podded peas and drank tea, hinges were put back on cupboards; broken chairs were fixed; a roast chicken, garlic aioli and baba ganoush was made (by my housemate); countless dishes were done;  a chicken stock was put on with the remains from the chicken and I have just put a cake into the oven while I wait for the Kasoundi to finish cooking.

My feet hurt, my shoulders ache, I am not entirely happy with how the peach jam turned out, I didn’t make my Christmas cake but I do have many jars of delicious preserves and a cake to eat which isn’t really a bad days work for someone who didn’t get out of her pajamas.

Peach, Apricot and Cherry Cake

This is a simple recipe that I have carried around with me for years and I can’t remember where I got it from. Originally the recipe called for figs and raspberries, however I decided to use all of the fruit that I had lying around instead, and personally I think the stone fruit worked far better.

It’s more like a pie than a cake as you make a ‘pastry’, but the pastry is really like a biscuit dough.The outside is all golden and sugary and crunchy but soft and so good fresh out of the oven with cream that it’s hard to stop eating. In fact two of us girls finished off most of it within an hour. It’s all gone already (less than 24 hours later) and I am already wanting more. I might have to get back into the kitchen again. Any excuse to use my Sunbeam!


185g unsalted butter

185g caster sugar

1 egg and 1 egg yolk at room temperature

335g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs sugar

Soft fruit of choice – the original recipe called for 4 figs, 200g of raspberries and the zest of an orange. I used a peach, 4 apricots and a handful of fresh, pitted cherries. I think  lightly poached pears or apples in vanilla syrup would be really delicious too, but make sure you drain them well.


In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and pale.

Add egg and yolk and beat again until combined.

Sift flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt over the bowl and fold in.

Use fingers lightly to bring the ingredients together and press into a ball.

Chill for 15 minutes or until firm enough to roll out.

Divide the dough into 2 and roll out one piece large enough to fit onto the base of a lightly greased 23cm spring form tin. I made it slightly bigger and made it go up the side of the tin about 1 1/2 cms high.

Scatter the base with fruit (I tossed up whether to smear some of my nana’s cumquat marmalade on the base first, but decided against it. Perhaps if I use pears next, I will)

Roll out the remaining dough and fit over the filling, pressing the two edges gently together.

Lightly brush the top with some water and sprinkle with the 2 tbs of sugar.

Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until a skewer tests clean.

I like…

3 Dec

This is a beautiful idea for a hanging garden.

Perhaps one day I will find the time to make one, but until then, I will keep looking at the pictures with envy.

Cherry Blossom

3 Dec

So preserve making weekend is upon me and, as usual I am ridiculously unorganised.

After a lazy morning of procrastination and flicking through hundreds of cookbooks and scribbled notes, I finally made it to Preston Market with a vague idea of what I would make.

Elbowing my way through pushy Nonna’s and people ignoring the “do not choose cherries one by one” signs, I managed to pick up heaps of delicious in-season fruits for hardly anything! I’m talking $1 a kilo for pears and tomatoes and $2.50 a kilo for peaches! I even found cherries for only $8 and banana’s were a steal at $1.49 which is an absolute bargain since the QLD floods wiped out the banana plantations a few months back and bananas have been priced at about $15 a kilo for so long that it’s a rare treat to have one. I think I will make some banana bread.

Anyway, laden with bags and my basket overflowing, I rode my produce home on my bicycle looking somewhat like a donkey or a crazy bag lady and now I am sitting here amongst piles of fresh fruit and cookbooks with a Cherry Blossom cocktail trying to decide which recipes I should make. Let’s hope I decide before I get too drunk!

Cherry Blossom ingredientsCherry Blossom

1 1/2 ounce brandy

1 ounce kirsch (or cherry brandy)

1/2 ounce Cointreau (or triple sec)

1/4 ounce lemon juice

Dash of grenadine

Shake ingredients vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve with a cherry. Enjoy!

Cherry Blossom

I like to share…

30 Nov

I just thought I’d share this link with you where a gentleman named Mark Crick has imagined Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer and Raymond Chandler as food writers. It’s well worth a look!

Mango and brandy-oh

21 Nov

It’s mid November, which means that , apart from being my mum’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mama!), it’s getting close to Christmas.
And when it gets close to Christmas that means it’s preserving time!
For the last few years I have been giving my family jars of my homemade preserves as presents. The first year I did this, I spent the last week leading up to Christmas cooking frantically until all hours of the night, before getting up, going to work and beginning all over again.
Now I am a bit more prepared. I collect jars throughout the year and begin cooking in November.
Preserving seems so old fashioned, but I really love it. I keep jars in the cupboard for emergency gifts and they always come in handy for impromptu barbeques.
I’m delightfully happy that there appears to be a mango glut this year; they are already so ridiculously cheap! I picked some up for a dollar each, so I have a dozen of the sweet fruit just waiting for me to start cooking and eating. Mangos have a beautiful pine-needle aroma and the scent just screams summer and Christmas to me, so it feels fitting to include them in my Christmas hampers.
So this week I’ll be wearing one of my vintage aprons (yes, I collect them) and dancing around to Rosemary Clooney – “Mangos” while I make the first preserve of the season:

Mango and Brandy Chutney

Olive oil

1 1/2 tbs of mustard seeds

3 red onions, chopped finely (I use a food processer)

A thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into sticks

1 1/3 cups of brandy (the nicer the brandy the nicer the chutney!)

6 large mangoes, peeled and roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups of caster sugar

1 1/3 cups of apple cider vinegar

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop (a couple of minutes)

Add ginger and onion and cook, stirring until soft.

Add brandy and cook for about a minute before adding the mango, vinegar and sugar.

Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until it has thickened.

While chutney is hot, divide amongst hot, sterilised jars and seal tightly – it will splutter as it hits the jars, so be careful you don’t burn yourself

Turn them on their lids for a couple of minutes before turning them right side up to cool.

Label them and store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. Refrigerate after opening.

I covered the tops of mine with brown paper and wrapped some kitchen twine around the lids. I used a decorative stamp on the top and hand wrote the name and date on in a black pen. I found small wooden spoons at a local shop and attached them witht the twine. I think they looked quite pretty, but I’m not sure what I’ll do this year!


I made my chutney and it turned out perfectly!

I made six jars and it yields about 2 litres.


17 Nov

Here’s a quick delicious snack reminiscent of honey joys:

Caramel Popcorn

Take about a  1/4 – 1/3 cup of popcorn, pop it and put it aside in a large bowl with 1/4 cup of flaked almonds and a liberal sprinkling of seseme seeds.

In a saucepan melt together 90g of coconut butter and 2 tablespoons of honey. Once combined pour over popcorn and stir until it is coated.

Lay the popcorn on a tray or place spoonfuls in cupcake papers and bake for 10 minutes in a 160 degree oven until it starts to go a lovely caramely colour.

Allow it to cool and harden before eating. It will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.