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February 2015

Friday Food: Ricotta, Spinach and Tomato Bake

Ricotta sliceWell, that was a little unexpected break from blogging. The weather was humid and I was poorly. The weather has since been cooler and we have been sneaking in extra sleep time during the day. And lo, today I cooked a loaf and this ricotta bake.

Our Library has a new emagazine feature through Zinio, which means you can download magazines FOR FREE. New ones, like Feast and Delicious and Gourmet Traveller and so many more. You can store them on your tablet and then delete them as you choose. But, you can keep them forever.

So, to celebrate NOT having to buy cooking magazines, I bought the first issue of the new Australian Women's Weekly cooking magazine. As you do. It's called Food, and I think it is rather good. It did cost $10, but there are lots of recipes I would make.

I made the Ricotta and Spinach bake, but I replaced the roasted capsicum with tomato pasta sauce. Because I like it better. Other than leaving out the pesto on top, because I am not serving mine all at once and pesto goes dull brown after a few minutes in the open air, I pretty much followed the recipe. I found the fresh ricotta I bought a little dry and I would add some extra egg or liquid next time. I also made mine in a bar tin, because I can never find a matching ring and base to any springform tin. I do despair.

It tasted delicious, I actually heated up a little of the leftover pasta sauce and ate the bake warm. Since then I have also tasted it cold, and it is just as yummy. Perfect for the lunch box, and since I was baking something for MrsDrWho's going Back To School, perfect for her too!!!

I only made half the recipe, but I have given the full amounts here.


Ricotta, Spinach and Tomato Bake       serves 6

  • 1 kilo (4 cups) of fresh ricotta
  • 160g (2 cups) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 extra egg yolks
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 250ml tomato pasta sauce OR 200g drained roasted capsicum
  • 40g baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley and chives, chopped OR fresh basil

To serve immediately, top with:

  • 1 tbspn (40ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 2 tbspn (80ml) water

Preheat the oven to 160*C or 140*C fan-forced. Grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin. I used 2 small loaf tins, 20 x 11cm (8 x 4 inches) and half the ingredients.

Ricotta base

In a large bowl, put the ricotta, grated Parmesan cheese, eggs and egg yolks and the crushed garlic. Mix well to combine.


Then it is just layering the ingredients into the tin. Start with half the ricotta mixture, then the spinach and I added the parsley and chives (or about half the basil) here too. Then add the tomato pasta sauce or the roasted capsicum.

Topping and baking

And finally the other half of the ricotta mixture. I smoothed mine carefully with the back of a spoon dipped into a cup of boiling water. I also scattered some extra grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake for about 90 minutes. It should be golden brown on top. The recipe says to rest it for about 30 minutes before you remove it from the tin, and I think this would help the springform bake keep its shape.

Here is where you can add the pesto topping, by combining the pesto and water and then drizzling it over the top, and randomly scattering the rest of the basil leaves. Serve with a green salad and maybe some garlic bread.

Ricotta spinach & tomato bake

Friday Food: Plum & Raspberry Sauce

Plum swirl yoghurtStarting the year off as I mean to go on: Friday Food on Saturday!!

Plums were only $3 a kilo and there were plum recipes in my new Taste Magazine: a marriage made in the kitchen. I made a kind of version of the swirly sauce, and then used it in three yummy ways. How very MasterChef of me.

You could use any stone fruit, I think cherries would be fabulous, or peaches. I used frozen raspberries and they worked perfectly well.

My recipe makes a cup of the sauce. In deference to the recipe I did push the sauce through a sieve. Normally I don't care about the pips. I revel in the pips.

Such an easy recipe and it could only, possibly, be improved with a slosh of something alcoholic. Oh, or it could be the basis of a sparkling cocktail. I wish I had thought of that earlier.


Plum and Raspberry Swirly Sauce   makes 250ml: 1 cup

  • 5-6 plums
  • 4 tbspn sugar, but adjust to your taste
  • 120g, or about 1 cup of raspberries

Roughly chop the plums. I cut around the stones as they were not easy to remove. Put the plums and sugar into a saucepan over a low-medium heat.

Prepare the plums

Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and stir every now and then for 10 minutes, or until the plums have pretty much broken down. Add the raspberries.

Plums and raspberries

Bring back to a simmer and stir for 3 more minutes or until the raspberries have broken down and become saucy. Now is the time to taste the sacue and add more sugar if you wish. It will dissolve quickly in the hot mixture. Cool until it's safe to handle, and then press through a sieve with a spoon. I ended up with only a couple of tablespoons of seeds and a whole cup of sauce.

Simmer and sieve

At this point, you can put the sauce in an airtight container and it will keep for a week in the fridge, or longer in the freezer. I have kept some aside for later on.

I swirled some of the rest through Greek yoghurt.

Plum swirl yoghurt

I baked cupcakes and swirled the sauce through the batter and topped them with tiny plum slices as well. 

Plum swirl cup cakes

You can see the gentle swirl through the cake. It is lighter when it bakes.

Cup cakes swirly

Finally, I swirled the plum and raspberry sauce through a litre of softened vanilla ice cream. If I had time, I would have made my own no-churn vanilla ice cream. Time has been whooshing past.

Swirly plum ice cream

I feel I have made very good use of my plum and raspberry sauce. I have more plums. And raspberries. I foresee more swirly sauce in my future!!!

Friday Food: Cups and Saucers Biscuits

A tea cup and saucerArnott's Biscuits are celebrating 150 years of biscuit making. As part of their celebrations they have a recipe for Tic Toc Tea Cups. They are so cute!! When I was a little girl "bought" biscuits were such a treat. My mum cooked lots of cakes and biscuits, but they didn't have the elan and mystique of "bought" biscuits.

I don't think I have actually eaten one of these. Ever. They are a party food, along with Fairy Bread and little pies and sausage rolls.

I am not sure if Tic Toc biscuits and Lifesavers are available everywhere, but I am sure everyone can use their initiative.

And now for something completely different: I've made a video today. So good luck with that. As well as being a poor photographer, I am not that handy with the video setting on my green camera!!


Tic Toc Cup and Saucer Biscuits     makes 28   

  • packet of Tic Toc biscuits (28 in a packet)
  • 28 pink and white marshmallows
  • a large packet of Musk Lifesavers, cut in half.
  • about 100g white chocolate, melted


Gently melt the white chocolate, either with short bursts in the microwave, or in a glass bowl over some simmering water.

Dip the smaller end of the marshmallow into the chocolte and place it in the centre of a biscuit, icing side up. Or clock side down!!

Dip the ends of the half Lifesaver into the white chocolate and stick it to the side of the marshmallow so it is the 'handle' of the marshmallow cup.

Leave the biscuits to set and you are done!!!

Tic toc cups and saucers

I See Treats Of Cream, Red Roses Too. I See Them Bloom For Me And For You.

Well, it's official: Last year was hot. Our island's three largest cities, including ours, had the hottest day time temperatures since record keeping started and it was the second hottest year. No wonder we were hot!!! No wonder The Labradors have been in the paddle pool. A Lot.

Don't bump me

Poor Gilly, Peri was so eager to get into the pool I think that was a bump. And after all that, Peri was not quite getting all the benefit she could have. Just two wet feet thank you very much. Gilly is mid shake, her ears are very long and flippy.

Doing it wrong and ears

This week we are looking forward to slightly cooler temperatures and rain. I think the up and down weather set off Peri's newly diagnosed arthritis. She was very hoppy on her right front leg. If I rubbed her shoulder she ran off happily. It was noticeable when she got out of bed, or up off the floor after a nap. As she moved around, the limp went away. We saw Dr Gary, who divined that Gilly was there for moral support, and found arthritis in Peri's right elbow. She has some tablets to take for a fortnight, I think there is a positive difference already. I just didn't want her to be in any pain, and I know Labradors are stoic and brave and just put up with things. Dearest Peri.

Peri and Gilly on the rainy day walk

I am not cross about things as much now. So today when I spotted these in the supermarket:

Yes, Easter is here

I took a picture as a trophy, as if participating in a treasure hunt. First Hot Cross Buns of the year?? Yes, spotted them today. It's like Car Bingo. I think Shell used to give out special bags of puzzles to keep children occupied on long car trips, and there was a sheet of things to cross off whilst looking out the window. So I have ticked off Back to School which started before Christmas, and now Easter. I think Valentine's Day is next on my particular Holiday Bingo card.

I did see some pretty marvellous things at Woolworths. They are selling oddly shaped fruit and vegetables: The Odd Bunch. I bought carrots for The Labradors and I ate some too. I am happy to buy weirdly shaped, too big or too small, fruit and vegetables for a cheaper price.

Good fruit and vegetable news

I bought a new dress pattern from The Etsy. It is a more casual style, less fitted and maybe a little cooler than my usual Princess-style bodice. It is the Jamie dress from Sis Boom. I love that even though it is a PDF pattern, I only needed to print out 10/88 pages. I am very happy to save printer ink. There is a three or four day sew-along, so I think I might try that. I have some old sheets to make a toile.

Jamie dress

Forty years ago this morning, my sister woke me up to tell me that the bridge had fallen down. I turned over in bed and told her to go away and not to be so silly. She was, in fact, correct. On January 5th, 1975 the Lake Illawarra collided with several pylons of Tasman Bridge at 9-27pm. Sadly, twelve people died, five driving off the broken bridge and falling into the river. The city was divided for almost two and a half years and in the intervening time people travelled by ferry or an Army Bailey Bridge.

I haven't been knitting, but I have crocheted a Dalek Hanging Towel for a gift. It is a kitchen towel. I am not the world's best crocheter, but I learned how to bobble and carry the cotton and crochet over it too, to cut down on the number of ends to be sewn in. I used 8ply instead of 10ply so I fiddled about with the pattern to make it work. And be a decent size too. I ended up crocheting a round of double crochet, just to finish it off nicely.

Dalek hanging towel

The Jan/Feb Donna Hay magazine is out, and once again it is full of delicious icy treats. I am going to make one for taking to MrsDrWho's house tomorrow night. I am not sure which one.

Icy treats

And top to bottom, left to right: (Some are styled popsicles, in Australia we eat ICY POLES)

  • cookies and cream icy poles
  • choc dipped banana icy poles
  • caramel swirl icy poles
  • chocolate milkshake icy poles
  • cheats' summer sorbet slice
  • berry ice cream slice
  • passionfruit three milk ice cream cake
  • tiramisu ice cream cake
  • banoffee ice cream pie
  • black forest ice cream cake
  • lamington ice cream bars
  • coconut lychee raspberry icy poles

I think one of the cakes would be easiest to transport. I shall email MrsDrWho and her family ice cream cake photos and see which one they like the best .

The GardyGardeners are not coming this week and so The Labradors will go for an extra walk. I can't bear their loyal waiting at the gate, softly crying - well woofing really on Gilly's part really, to no avail.

The temperature has dropped and there is a gentle cool breeze. Time for a cup of tea and maybe an early night.


Friday Food: Marinated Cauliflower And Sprout Salad

Cauliflower saladIn deference to tomorrow's 32*C forecast, I decided to make something that didn't require any heat whatsoever. The weather has been so wonderful for us, in the low 20s or even teens. All December.

So, this salad is from the weird recipes in the Super Food Ideas magazine for January/February 2015. The other recipes have, eg., fresh raspberries, avocado and lentils, or maybe fresh blueberries, pearl barley and watercress.

Cauliflowers are very cheap at the moment, I paid 75 cents for this one. And I had almost everything else to hand. I couldn't buy mung beans so I used bean sprouts and I bought too few snow peas. They add sweetness to the salad, but I like things on the savoury side anyway. I already had fresh mint so I substituted that for the basil.

I trimmed the flesh from the outside of two tomatoes and discarded the seeds and pulp. I have been doing that more often lately, especially when I don't want the added moisture in my recipe.

The salad needs to marinate for an hour. Just enough time to watch the news and have a cup of tea!!!


Marinated Cauliflower And Sprout Salad   serves 4

  • 2 tbspn (40ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbspn (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 600g cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
  • 1 or 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 200g snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves

Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in a large bowl.


Add the cauliflower, diced tomato

Cauli and tomato

and sliced red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and leave to marinate for an hour.


When the hour is almost up, slice the snow peas, pick the basil leaves and mix with the sprouts. The red onion is well and truly pickled, or dressed. I love that it is pink all the way through and wriggly!!! Combine the two parts of the salad and serve.


I really enjoyed the unusual flavours, which did actually go together very well. I think this would be good with fish, or maybe pork??? And as a plus, no need to turn on any hot appliances. That's pretty marvellous.

Marinated cauliflower and sprout salad

She Loves You Yeah, Year, Year!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas 2014

We had a lovely Christmas lead up and Christmas Day. I made a dozen bags and gave them as gifts to many and various people. The bag is my Go To pattern right now.

  Bags in december

Peri and Gilly received so many presents but I think they will like, best of all, their Sound of Music present. Or I will!! Yes, they are goats' horns.

The hills are alive with the sound of horns

I baked Christmas treats for lots of people: Mincemeat cupcakes, gingerbread biscuits, coconut ice, peppermint fondants, white chocolate lemon truffles, Christmas tree biscuits, Christmas spice shortbread stars and mint truffles.

Christmas treats

I sewed an impossibly cute mug rug for WeeJack and Bessie's mum.

For wee jock and bessie

For The WeeSingapore Boy a Harry Potter inspired quillow.

The Harry Potter Quillow

On one side I appliqu├ęd some Harry Potter items: HP initials, lightning bolt scar, glasses, and a golden snitch. On the other side the House colours. It folds from a quilt to a pillow, hence the quillow name. Folding it up is a bit like being Captain Parmenter on F Troop though. He could never refold the map as it was originally.

Quillow pillow

And suddenly it is the new year. How did that happen??? We spent New Year's Eve in our traditional way: filling in the new diary with dates and birthdays and holidays. We were not on the verandah because it was very windy. I have not one, or two, but three new Labrador mugs!!

New Year's Eve

Peri has been inordinately cute and grubby as usual. She is starting to feel her age, but still keeps Gilly in line and runs as fast as she can on our walks.

Peri is a grub

And Miss Lorelai Gilmore is so compact, she sits so beautifully and is quite petite!!! She has been keeping an eagle eye on all the happenings in the street, especially the two fireworks displays last night.

Gilly is so compact

And here's a gift from The HouseOfs that puts absolutely No Pressure on me.

At all.

No presssure gift

On seeing it they, (like most people I know) thought what excellent blogging material it could provide. How right they are. The first week is Snowflake week, and here I am wearing the Snowflake barrette, right next to their version.


And so a new year begins. We don't make resolutions. There are some things we might like to do this year, but other than just living, being happy and enjoying time with The Labradors, family and friends there's not much more I could ever wish for.

It has been a happy and sad end to the year. Happy because of all the wonderful Christmas gatherings, my mum and aunt came to visit and I saw all my friends. Sad because there was a death in my friend's immediate family. I do feel very helpless and can't do my usual thing of cooking up a storm because everyone's fridges are full of Christmas food and drink. There is nothing to do but live life and grieve. Eventually time passes and one day you realise are not as sad as you were the day before.

Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, the god of doorways, has two faces: one looking to the past and one to the future. The month of January takes its name from Janus. And that's what we do in the New Year- consider the past and the future.

So here's to 2015 and all it will bring.

'Clink' (That's clinking cups of tea........)