Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Red Hill Portsea Picnic

Red Hill Portsea Picnic© by Haalo

Another cheese from our recent visit to Red Hill Cheese - read more on the Cheese Blog.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #193 Recap

It's the end of another herb blogging week and many thanks to all that have joined in on the fun. It's been great reading up about new and old ingredients alike and welcoming new faces.

I've presented the posts in order of their main or featured ingredient. Enjoy!


Mango, Apricot and Walnut Mini Strudel
by Dhanggit from Dhanggit's Kitchen

What's not to love - sweet, fruity, pastry goodness in mini form! Dhanggit fills her pastries with a mixture of home made apricot jam, mango jam and walnuts.


Creamy Basil Pasta
by Nupur from One Hot Stove

Nupur calls it a "propitious alignment of the celestial bodies" but after a year of having this recipe bookmarked she's finally gathered all the ingredients in one place to make it. The creaminess in this vegan dish comes from raw cashews!

Black Beans

Beef with Black Beans
by MC from Trailstops

This is MC's first entry to WHB and I hope there's many more to come. The black beans MC uses are salted soybeans and MC makes a black bean sauce by combining black rice vinegar, oyster sauce, palm sugar, water and cornstarch with the black beans. After stir-frying a mix of rump steak, enoki mushrooms, garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onions, this black bean sauce is added in the final moments to complete the dish.

Bok Choy

Firecracker Salmon and Soy-Glazed Baby Bok Choy
by Joanne from Eats Well With Others

Joanne finds an ideal match to her favourite fish Salmon in the form of these healthy and delicious baby bok choys. After first searing the bok choy, they are then treated to a dip in the reduced ginger spiced marinade.


Cucumber Salad with Borage Flowers
by Winnie from Heathy Green Kitchen

Winnie informs us that Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes and cucumbers and best of all it's totally edible, leaves and flowers. For this dish, Winnie combines spiral sliced cucumber with a simple dressing of rice vinegar and sesame oil and garnishes with those beautiful blue borage flowers.


Wild Mushroom Salad
by Jude from Apple Pie, Patis and Pâté

Jude introduces us to another interesting ingredient, Culantro and uses it in this beautiful Thai Wild Mushroom Salad. Jude believes it has a stronger scent but weaker taste when compared to cilantro - all I know is that I want to go and find some!


Fruit Salad with Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Pineapple and Dill
by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen

Kalyn's been enjoying herself at Blogher this week but she's left this fabulous and definitely not boring, fruit salad for us to enjoy. It's dressed with an intriguing mix of red wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard powder, onion powder, olive oil, salt and pepper and finished off with a liberal scattering of fresh dill.

Fennel Bud

Fennel Bud and Mint Herb Butter
by Maybelle's Mom from Feeding Maybelle

Even a raccoon (you'll have to read the post!) couldn't stop Maybelle's Mom from producing these mouth-watering fennel bud and mint buttered corns cobs. It's also very useful to note that all part of the fennel are edible including the seeds, buds and flowers.

Green Chillies

Green Chillies with Sesame Paste
by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs)

Graziana grows Hot Jim chillies and picks them when green to make this thai-styled dish. The chillies are halved and stir-fried until brown. A sauce is made by combining sesame paste, fish sauce, lemon and yoghurt which is then mixed through the cooked chillies.


Pinipig Cookies
by Jude from Apple Pie, Patis and Pâté

Jude is back with pinipig which are described as "the Southeast Asian equivalent of Kellogg’s corn flakes", glutinous rice grains that have been flattened and toasted. Jude uses it to create these buttery cookies.


Porcini Pea Risotto
by Astrid from Paulchen's Foodblog

As Astrid notes this isn't the classic way to make risotto but the end result is fantastic and I'd also agree, this does look gorgeous! The pea and porcini risotto is finished with mozarella and shredded fresh basil.

Rainbow Chard

rainbow chard tart© by Haalo

I battle a dying internet to post about this Rainbow Chard Tart.

St John's Wort

St. John's Wort Oil
by Brii from Briiblog in English

Avid gardener Brii makes her own St John's Wort Oil. Using a base of olive oil, hypericum perforatum flowers are steeped in the sun for 20 days. You can read up on the medicinal benefits of St John's Wort Oil in Brii's post.

Thai Basil

Pad Kee Mao/Spicy Ground Chicken and Rice Noodles
by Jerry from Jerry's Thoughts, Musings and Rants!

Thai Basil has taken over Jerry's garden but just one look at this dish and I think we'd all be wishing for a Thai basil bonanza. What's not to enjoy in this delicious melange of thick rice noodles, chicken, shallots, garlic, peppers, eggs, bean sprouts and peanuts. Flavoured with oyster and fish sauce, lime juice and the fresh fragrance of cilantro and thai basil this is a dish guaranteed to please.


Pasta with Summer Pesto, Tuna and Cherry Tomatoes
by Cinzia from Cindystar

Cinzia presents a dish that leaves us transported to Italy - a cold pasta dish full of summer flavours, cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, basil, parsley and oregano. I can very easily picture myself of that lovely terrace, enjoying the view and this delicious dish.

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash and Black Bean Saute
by Katie from Eat This

While MC presented a dish using asian black beans, Katie uses the south american version to help celebrate the new season of squash. Katie gives it a Mexican feel with the addition of garlic, jalapeno and cumin.

From the recap, time to move onto the details for next week and Weekend Herb Blogging #194!

Our host will be Anna from Anna's Cool Finds.

Entries must be received by:
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time
To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to anna AT annalou DOT com with WHB#194 in the subject and the following details:

  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 328px wide

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rainbow Chard Tart

This week I'm hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and I thought I'd add a little colour to my day in the form of Rainbow Chard.

rainbow chard© by Haalo

This won't be an overly long post as my internet connection is at best temperamental to virtually non-existent at times.

rainbow chard© by Haalo

I've used this chard - stems and leaves as a filling of a tasty filo tart. Added interest comes with the addition of a good stinky, washed rind cheese and a smoky topping of ultra fine rashers of Kaiserfleisch.

rainbow chard tart© by Haalo

Rainbow Chard Tart
[makes a 20x28cm tart]

8 sheets Filo pastry
melted butter

1 red onion, finely sliced
1 bunch Rainbow Chard
Fingal Gold, cut into small cubes (or use your favourite washed rind)
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
Kaiserfleisch, very finely sliced

Make the filling:

Slice the leaves from the stems - wash the leaves and drain before roughly slicing.

Wash the stems, trim the ends and then cut diagonally into bite sized pieces.

Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a non-stick pan over a medium heat - when the butter has melted add in the onion. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion has softened but not coloured. Tip in the sliced stems and continue to cook gently - stirring occasionally until the stems wilt.

cooking chard© by Haalo

I like using the stems as they add a different flavour and texture to the dish. Finally stir through the shredded leaves and cook until the leaves start to collapse. Set aside and allow to cool.

Make the tart base:

Butter a sheet of filo liberally with melted butter and top with another sheet. Continue the process until all 8 sheets have been used.

Assemble the tart:
I use a loose-bottomed rectangular tart tin for this dish.

Brush your tart tin with butter and then place the assembled sheets into the tin and mould into shape. Fold any excess pastry over the edge of the tin and brush these edges liberally with butter.

Arrange a few cubes of washed rind cheese over the base and then top with the cooled Chard mixture. Stud with a few more pieces of cheese.

Break the eggs into a bowl, pour in the cream and milk and whisk until combined.

Place the tart onto a baking tray and pour over with the egg mixture.

Carefully lay slices of Kaiserfleisch over the top - you could use bacon but it's most important that you get it sliced as thin as possible so that it will crisp up by the time the tart is done.

uncooked - chard tart© by Haalo

Place this in a pre-heated 170°C/340°F oven and bake until the pastry is golden and the filling has set.

Rainbow Chard Tart© by Haalo

Let it cool for a few minutes before unmoulding.

rainbow chard tart© by Haalo

An ideal lunch for a cold winter's day.

Remember, there's still time to take part in Weekend Herb Blogging.

Send your entries to whb AT cookalmostanything DOT com with WHB#193 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 300px wide

You can find out further details in this post.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #193 Hosting

Thanks must go to Lynne for hosting Weekend Herb Blogging - be sure to catch up with the delicious recap, there's something to suit all seasons and all tastes.

This week it's my pleasure to host Weekend Herb Blogging.

Entries should be received by
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

If you haven't taken part or it's been a while since you last joined in, here's a quick summary of the rules.

You have the week to post about any herb, fruit, vegetable, flower or plant. Your post can be informative - spotlight a particular ingredient and/or include a recipe where your chosen ingredient is one of the primary ingredients in the recipe.

Post should include the phrase Weekend Herb Blogging and a link to this hosting announcement.

You can post anytime during the week but remember to email me by the cut-off time.

Send your entries to whb AT cookalmostanything DOT com with WHB#193 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 300px wide

Weekend Herb Blogging is always on the look-out for hosts so if you'd like to host please send an email to

weekend.herb.blogging AT gmail DOT com

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage

Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have brussels sprouts on the menu.

brussels sprout© by Haalo

I know they are unloved by many but I just adore them and winter sees them at their peak. Like all members of the brassica family, sprouts are best cooked simply and quickly.

The simplest is to quickly sauté just steamed sprouts in mix of olive oil and browned butter - cooking only until they start to brown but if I'm after a little more flavour, then I'll make this.

brussels sprouts with pancetta© by Haalo

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage

brussels sprouts
fresh sage leaves

Prepare the Brussels Sprouts:

If you can find them, baby brussels sprouts are great to use in this dish whole. If not, just try to select the smallest ones you can find - I find these are just naturally a bit sweeter and fresher tasting.

Slice the end of each and remove thick outer leaves before cutting in half. Place the halved sprouts into a steamer and steam for a couple of minutes, just enough to only slightly soften them.

Prepare the pancetta:

pancetta© by Haalo

Pancetta is a cured, rolled pork belly but if you can't find it then you can use bacon. I buy the pancetta as a thick slice and then just cut that into appropriate sized lardons.

Assemble the dish:

Place a heavy, non-stick pan over a medium heat without any oil and when the pan has heated through, add in the pancetta. Sauté this, stirring frequently to brown the pancetta.

Sprinkle in a few fresh sage leaves and then add in a small knob of butter. Once this has melted, tip in the sprouts and continue to sauté until they have heated through and have started to colour.

Once they have coloured, taste and adjust for seasoning if desired. Depending on the pancetta used you may find they don't need any extra seasoning.

brussels sprouts with pancetta© by Haalo

These are so tasty I could happily indulge in these alone and forget the main. If I'm after a true comfort hit, then serve these alongside some smooth and creamy mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Red Hill Fingal Gold

During our visit to Red Hill Cheese on Saturday we didn't just settle with enjoying a tasting plate we did also come away with some cheese - the first of which is one of the wonderfully stinky, washed rinds - Fingal Gold.

Fingal Gold© by Haalo

I'll leave the specifics for the Cheese blog where you'll also find all my cheese posts in one spot!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #192 Hosting

Thanks go to Cheryl for hosting - head over to the recap for some fascinating new ideas.

This week we welcome Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu as our host.

Entries must be received by:
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time
To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to lynnylu AT gmail DOT com with WHB#192 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 400px wide

Like to be a host?

If you'd like to host then send an email to:

weekend.herb.blogging AT gmail DOT com

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.

Baked Apples

Cheryl from Gluten Free Goodness is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have another Australian invention, Pink Lady Apples.

Pink Lady Apples© by Haalo

These were developed in Western Australia in the 1970's and are a cross between Lady Williams and Golden Delicious. They were originally called Cripps Pink after their creator John Cripps but it seems marketability has guided its name change.

Pink Lady Apples do have my favourite characteristic in any apple - crispness and they are also quite juicy making them a great eating apple.

When working out what to do with them, I've been guided by their size. These particular ones were quite small and rather than cut them up I've decided to stuff and bake them - this way I can keep them whole.

There's probably a million recipes out there for baked apples so I thought I needed to do something a little different with the stuffing. I still had some of those beautiful slivered pistachios, that vibrant green is calling out for something equally striking. The answer came in a most unsual form, certainly something I'd not seen before, dried pomegranate seeds!

dried Pomegranate seeds© by Haalo

Who can resist the lure of those ruby seeds (I know I can't). They give you crunch, sweet and sour in one bite. My next ingredient offers colour and also a sweet citrus hit - a finely diced slice of glace orange. Flaked almonds adds another textural element and is a natural partner to apple.

To bind this filling, I've made a rough type of caramel from butter and brown sugar and if you have any extra, it's lovely drizzled over the finished product.

One other thing and I know Cheryl would approve, this is naturally gluten free!

Baked Apples© by Haalo

Baked Apples

4 small Pink Lady Apples (or use your favourite baking apple)
20 grams slivered pistachio
20 grams dried pomegranate seeds
10 grams flaked almonds
1 slice of glace orange, diced finely
15 grams butter
30 grams soft brown sugar

Place the butter and soft brown sugar in a pan over a low heat - stir until the butter has melted and the mixture has combined to form a slack caramel. Set to one side.

Put the slivered pistachios, pomegranate seeds and diced glace orange into a bowl - give them a stir to evenly distribute the ingredients, pour in a little of the caramel mix, just enough to bind the mixture. Sprinkle over with flaked almonds and gently stir through.

Use an apple corer to remove the cores from each of the apple. Carefully stuff the filling into the opening and place the apples onto a small baking dish. Pour in a little water and then bake in a pre-heated 160C/320F oven until softened.

After 15 minutes, baste the apples with water and keep doing this every 15-20 minutes until the apples are done to your liking.

Baked Apples© by Haalo

Baked Apples will never win first prize in a beauty contest but they more than make up for it in taste!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Redux - Milk Ice Cream

This time of year the only cold white stuff I'm interested in is snow but for half of the world, the interest is in the edible variety.

Since it's a bit too cold to actually make ice cream why not dip into the archives and revive what I think is the best ice cream there is - Milk Ice Cream.

Milk Ice Cream© by Haalo

Unlike traditional ice-cream there's no eggs, no need for a custard base. It is a simple mix of milk, milk powder, cream and sugar.

Try it - you won't regret it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Email Abuse

At the start of this year one of the many changes undertaken in regard to this blog was the introduction of a new email system. The old gmail account though still active has been replaced with a new self-managed system.

Things were running perfectly until the beginning of March when I received a spate of emails from various sites, indicating that I had signed up for what can be classed as junk mail. What concerned me is that the email address that supposedly had signed up for these things, is one that has never been published and the only way people will have seen it, is if I have emailed them. In other words, this is not something random.

Fortunately one of these emails had a safety measure and included the IP responsible for requesting the sign up, so I saved it and the others I'd received and carried on as normal.

At the end of the month a few more of these emails came through including another one that listed the IP. Now I could compare and sure enough, they both originated from the same IP. While I can't prove the origin of the other emails I had received, I knew that at least two were from the same source.

I decided to check where this IP was located and to my surprise discovered it was in Florida. Now part of me could not believe that someone is really that vindictive and petty but in checking with the IP address I'd saved when dealing with a certain photo thief, would you believe, the numbers were identical!

So if stealing photos and writing insulting and abusive emails weren't enough, they now have stooped to fraudulently using my email address to sign me up to spam.

So I wrote to the ISP, with the details and as I expected I never heard back from them but at least the spam stopped.

Flash forward to today, another 6 spam this morning and another 9 tonight and guess what another one has that security feature and yes it's coming from the same source.

I really don't know what goes through a person's head to behave in this manner - perhaps bullying is the way they usually handle things. I have news for them, I am not one to be bullied or harassed.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Apricot and Pistachio Upside Down Cake

The only thing wrong with winter is that you miss out on all that lovely stone fruit. Sure you can buy the canned variety but they lack the spark you get with fresh fruit. Apricots especially seem to be a pale imitation of there fresh counterparts. So while in summer I can make an Apricot Upside Down Cake without any additions, this winter version using canned Apricots has a few twists to impart some more interest to an otherwise dull flavoured fruit.

For fragrance, Orange Blossom water has been added to the batter as well as slivered pistachios to give it a middle eastern touch.


Apricot and Pistachio Upside Down Cake

150 grams brown sugar
75 grams butter
canned apricots, drained
250 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
180 grams caster sugar
200 grams melted butter, cooled
40 grams slivered pistachio
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1-2 teaspoons Orange Blossom Water
80mls milk, approx

Make the topping:

Place the butter and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over a low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved

Pour this into a prepared pan - I used a loaf tin but you use a 20cm/8inch cake tin instead.

Arrange the apricot halves neatly over the surface - canned apricots seem to shrink a lot more when cooking so be warned, make sure you pack them in.

Make the cake:

Sift the plain flour with the baking powder and place into a bowl. Add the caster sugar, eggs, Orange flower water, cooled butter and pistachios and beat, adding enough milk to create a spoonable batter.

Spread the batter carefully over the apricots and then level off the surface with a palette knife.

Bake in a preheated 160°C/320°F until golden and cooked through. If you find the surface is browning too quickly, cover with the cake pan with foil.

Once done, let it sit in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto your serving plate.


You could also add the orange blossom water to the topping or maybe serve it with some orange blossom flavoured thick yoghurt.


Inside you have that lovely golden buttery cake, studded with those bring green slivers of pistachio. A warming treat for a cold day

Monday, July 06, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #191 - Hosting

Many thanks to Laurie for hosting and if you like strawberries you must check out the recap for some really imaginative recipes involving this wonderful fruit

This week our host will be Cheryl from Gluten Free Goodness.

Entries must be received by:
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time
To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to cheryl AT eharrishome DOT com with WHB#191 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 300px wide

Like to be a host?

If you'd like to host then send an email to:

weekend.herb.blogging AT gmail DOT com

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.
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