Category Archives: Recipes

So Can You Cook? 8

In this spring column, I am taking you on a journey with two of my all-time favourite things – desserts and blood oranges. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a dedicated dessertie (the dessert version of a foodie – of which I’m also one), and will forgo entrees and main courses in restaurants if it means I can have a kick arse dessert. It is the ultimate ending to a meal as far as I’m concerned. I have hundreds of recipes for them, and even though I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I will never get through them all, not even in several lifetimes, I continue to collect and drool over them. When I have friends over for dinner, dessert is decided before the meal plan even begins. If this sounds a bit obsessive to you, you’re right. It is, and I have no feelings of guilt connected to this obsession. I excelled in them at TAFE, and if I were young enough to get an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry, it would be with patisserie. As for blood oranges, I wait anxiously for the first of them to appear at the beginning of spring. Their glorious colour, and sweet tartness make them perfect for salads and desserts. If you visit Europe, especially France, and order orange juice for breakfast, it is more than likely to be blood orange juice you get.
I am approaching the recipes in this column differently than usual. I am going to give you one basic dessert recipe – a blood orange jelly. This is incredibly simple to make, and will impress your guests a lot more than any packet jelly will. I am going to give you a range of accompaniments to go with it to make it a contemporary summer dessert. Don’t forget your presentation. I hope you have fun with it.
If any readers would like recipes for any occasion, help with cooking, information on
ingredients or assistance with planning function, please feel free to email me at . I am only too pleased to help.

Blood Orange Jelly
500ml (2 cups) strained blood orange juice – about 5-6 blood oranges
250ml sugar syrup (½ cup sugar to ½ cup water, then boil 5 minutes)
2 tablespoons grated blood orange zest (Grate before squeezing)
4-5 leaves gelatine (these set better than powder gelatine, and are available from places like ‘Essential Ingredient’, ‘Jones the Grocer’ and Simon Johnson Providore’. If it is too difficult to obtain, use 1-1½ sachets of powdered gelatine)

Juice oranges and strain. Mix zest with warm sugar syrup, leave aside. Alternatively, boil zest with sugar syrup with a more intense orange flavour. Soak gelatine in one cup of the juice (or soak powder in 3-4 tablespoons cold water) for 5 minutes. Heat juice to dissolve gelatine, or mix powdered gelatine with one cup of juice and slowly heat till dissolved. Mix all liquids together, strain, then pour into 6 dariole moulds or other moulds you wish to use. If you lightly oil them with vegetable oil (this has no flavour), they will slip out easier when set. Chill for 4-5 hours to set, or overnight. If moulds are unoiled, or jellies do not slip out of moulds when inverted on a plate, dip the mould in hot water for 20-30 seconds to release jelly. If you need to slide them into position on a plate, rub a small amount of orange juice under the jelly, and slide it CAREFULLY into position. Otherwise, be creative and work around it.

Blood oranges are seasonal, so don’t feel restricted to just using them for jelly. If you have a food processor or juice extractor, try this recipe with apples, lemons, oranges, limes, pineapple, berries, mango or grapes. Just remember to strain the pulp out of the mix.

TUILES: These are delicious, brittle wafers. Sift 50g plain flour, 65g caster sugar, 35g icing sugar into a bowl and make a well. Slowly add 125g eggwhites (2-3 whites. Weigh them), and incorporate with your hands, making sure there are no lumps. Add 65g melted butter, and chill mix for 1 hour. Place a sheet of baking paper on a tray, then lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread mix onto paper in round or square shapes. Allow 1 per person, and don’t be anal about shape. Bake in 150°C oven until a light golden brown all over. Peel off, cool slightly, then shape. Until they are cold, these are quite malleable. You can shape them into cups by draping over the outside of a cup or glass, fold into loose envelopes to insert chocolate wafers into, scrunch them, twist them, or do free-form designs.
ROASTED STRAWBERRIES: How delicious are these! Preheat oven to 160°C. Arrange 2 punnets of washed and hulled strawberries in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons caster sugar. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes, until berries are soft and juicy. Cool in dish.

TOFFEE APPLES: Peel and core 4 Granny Smith apples, then cut each into eighths. In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons caster sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons water, then dip apples wedges into it. Tip them into a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and let them caramelise and brown. Turn each of the apple pieces as they start to caramelise, and take them out of pan when they are cooked on both sides.

ORANGE MASCARPONE: Beat 2 eggwhites until they are stiff, then set aside. Beat the two yolks with 2 tablespoons caster sugar and 1 tablespoon grated orange rind. When light and creamy, gently whisk in 250g mascarpone cheese (from dairy section in supermarket) and 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or a teaspoon of orange blossom water (from health food stores, specialty stores, or ‘Herbies’ at Rozelle). Fold the eggwhites through the mascarpone mix and chill for 1 hour.

POMEGRANATE & FIG SALAD: Finely slice 3 green figs and 1 guava and place in a bowl with segments from 1 orange (use a blood orange for effect). Slice a pomegranate in half and scoop out the seeds into the bowl. Squeeze remaining juice from pomegranate over fruit and serve.

CANDIED ORANGE WEDGES: You can eat the skin and all on these delicious morsels. These are for genuine sweet-tooths. They will keep in their syrup for about a month. Cut 3 blood oranges and 1 naval orange into eighths. Heat 4 cups caster sugar and 2 cups water over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, add the wedges, then simmer, stirring regularly, for 30 minutes or until transparent. Remove from heat, then stand the wedges in the strup for 4-6 hours, or overnight. If you wish, add a cinnamon quill and 2 star anise to the syrup when cooking.
Garnish with a chiffonnade (very fine julienne) of basil leaves.

RASPBERRY SAUCE: Place 300g fresh raspberries (use frozen if out of season or expensive), 50ml orange juice, 3 tablespoons icing sugar and 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (buy miniatures from a bottle shop – they are relatively inexpensive) into a blender and blitz until smooth. Put through a sieve and refrigerate. Spoon around the jelly and garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.

SPUN SUGAR: This is for the more advanced, or more adventurous chefs. People will tell you this is difficult to do, but it just requires good timing and patience. Be prepared to waste or burn 2-3 sugar mixes before you get it right. This is the one thing where a sugar thermometer is a must. The effect of spun sugar is fantastic, and will make you look like a real pro. To do it properly, buy a cheap whisk from a $2 shop, and cut the curved bottoms out of the whisk blades to leave you with a bunch of metal sticks. This is easier to use than forks.
Bring 250g caster sugar and 225g water to a simmer in a heavy-based saucepan. If you want a kitsch effect, put some food colouring into it. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush during simmering, to prevent sugar crystals forming. DO NOT STIR THE SUGAR, as it will crystallise and become hard. Place your sugar thermometer in the syrup, and cook until it shows 155°C (known as the hard crack stage). IMMEDIATELY remove the saucepan from the heat and plunge the pan into cold water to halt the cooking. If you don’t do this, it will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat, and probably burn. Place pan on a board, and wait until it starts to form a thick toffee. Dip the whisk into the syrup and flick the whisk back and forth over a broom handle, rolling pin or an upturned, lightly vegetable oiled cup (to form a toffee cage). For the fork method, place 2 forks back to back, dip them in the syrup then lift and pull coated forks apart, then twist. Continue until you have enough. WORK QUICKLY. If you are using strands, gather them in your hand and mould them to shape. If using the cage, place it over the jelly.

Use all these in any combination to make your jelly a real success.

Tim Alderman 2015


So Can You Cook? 7

About 18-months ago, a group of our friends started what has come to be known as ‘The Brunch Club’. Every couple of months somebody in the group volunteers their yard – the hope is always for good weather – on a Saturday or Sunday. The rest of us put together a plate of something and turn up at around 11.00am for brunch. It is always a great time, and brunch often extends to the early evening. These brunches are that important time where everyone relaxes, and catches up on what everyone else has been doing. It is important for our group, because with some of them living a distance away, and others having the responsibility of children, we tend not to spend a lot of time together. Our friends always manage to surprise me with the creativity they display in their choice of food for these occasions. I include below some recipes that you may find useful should you choose to do the same thing with a group of your friends. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t forget to gather together a varied selection of fruit, fresh, sweet and savoury dishes. Start with a champagne cocktail, then if everyone turn up with a couple of bottles of wine, a long day is guaranteed.

Carrot and Apple Cider Cocktail (an appetite stimulant)
2 medium carrots, chilled and chopped
¾ cup sparkling apple cider, chilled
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
ice cubes

Process carrots through juice extractor then combine with other ingredients. Pour over ice.

Lebanese Pancakes stuffed with ricotta
20g fresh or 7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
125ml + extra 500ml lukewarm water
250g plain flour, sifted

FILLING: 300g ricotta mixed with 250g walnuts finely chopped and mixed with 2 tablespoons caster sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon or, alternatively, 1-2 teaspoons rosewater or orange blossom water, or 1 tablespoon honey.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Dissolve yeast with sugar in 125ml wwater and stand for 10 minutes until bubbles form. Add mixture to flour in a large bowl, then gradually add extra 500ml warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour. The batter should bubble and rise. Heat a heavy-based frypan, and when hot smear with oil (vegetable is best, as it doesn’t flavour). Reduce heat to medium and add a small ladleful of batter to about 8cm (4”) diameter. Fill the uncooked side with a spoonful of the ricotta mixture, then fold into a semi-circle and press edges to seal. Brush with a little vegetable oil or ghee (from butter section of supermarket), then bake in oven until golden. Dip in attar syrup (500g caster sugar, 300g water & 2 tablespoons lemon juice boiled for 7-10 minutes until syrupy, then cool and add 2 tablespoons rosewater or orange blossom water). Serve with your favourite preserve and some slivered or flaked almonds, and dust with icing sugar.
Approx cost $5.00 for the batch. Makes 20-24

Carrot and Orange Salad with Craisins
Craisins are dried cranberries, which are available from the dried fruit section at the super market
4 medium carrots
4 oranges
3-4 tablespoons Craisins, soaked overnight in your favourite fruit juice
good pinch salt
pinch pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Peel thin slices of carrot using your vegetable peeler. Remove skin and pith from oranges and slice into rounds. Mix and refrigerate ingredients to develop flavours.
Arrange orange rounds into a neat mound on the plate, reserving 1-2 rounds. Arrange carrot strips on top, reserving 1-2. Place reserve orange slices, then reserved carrot slices, then sprinkle over Craisins and oil remaining in dish.
Serves 4-6
Approx cost $6

Stuffed and Pickled Baby Aubergines (make 4-5 days ahead)
350ml white balsamic vinegar (from supermarket)
125ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 whole cloves
1teaspoon salt
1 star anise
pinch cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
12-18 baby aubergines (eggplants), between 5-8cm long (3”-4”)

Trim stalks from aubergines and simmer in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain overnight so water leeches out.
Make brine by mixing vinegar, oil, cloves, salt, cayenne, star anise and single garlic clove. Set aside. Make stuffing by mixing walnuts and 2 cloves garlic.
Split one side of each aubergine almost through to the skin on the other side. Press open and fill with walnut suffing. Layer in a plastic or glass container and pour over brine. Seal and refrigerate for 4-5 days.
To serve, remove from oil and drain. Serve as an appetiser or as part of a mezze platter.
Makes 12-18
Approx cost $5

Tim Alderman 2015


So Can You Cook? 6

When I was growing up through the 50’s & 60’s, one thing that was always ritualised was tea drinking. Despite not having the enormous varieties of teas available today, my mother was always very fussy about what brand of tea she used. The rituals involved how the tea was made, and how you went about drinking it. There was an everyday tea-set, and a tea-set that was only brought out when guests were expected. There was also very specific items cooked to go with it, and it was always served at a particular time of the morning and afternoon.
I was wandering through the new Myers at Bondi Junction recently, and in their homewares department, noticed that a whole section had been devoted to coffee – machines of all descriptions and prices, espresso, latte and cappuccino cups and mugs, and blends of coffee. It reminded me of the tea rituals of my youth, and I was pleased to think that in some way, these rituals had been passed down. Coffee is still a very expensive luxury, and indeed worthy of ritualising. I very stupidly stopped drinking it a number of years ago, thinking it bad for my health. It is something I am glad I had a rethink on, and now enjoy one or two cups a day, made using my machine, or my caffetteria. I include my chocolate truffle recipe in this issue, for those who enjoy the indulgence of chocolate (and port) with their coffee.

For Tomato relish:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
4-6 roma tomatoes, skinned and deseeded
pinch chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
Heat oil in heavy pan and sauté onion and garlic till pale gold. Add chopped tomatoes, chilli, paste, bay, thyme and salt & pepper. Cook over low heat till thick, about 20 minutes. Remove bay and thyme. Cool.
For Vegetables:
2 medium zucchini, finely sliced
2 baby aubergine, finely sliced
1 red capsicum, deseeded and cut into strips
1 Spanish onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Brush vegetables with oil, season, then grill or barbeque until just tender. To make sure onion retains its shape, DO NOT cut off base, or alternatively secure each wedge with a toothpick. Remove toothpick before adding to tarts.
For Tarts:
4 x 12cm discs of puff pastry, kept chilled (buy puff pastry from supermarket)
1 egg yolk
200g soft fetta eg Persian
4 sprigs fresh continental parsley (also called flat-leaf)
Make an incision 1cm in from edge of pastry disc. Prick inner circle with fork. Brush with egg yolk. Spread 1-2 tablespoon relish over the inner circle of each disc, ensuring the border is left free. Divide the vegetables amongst the cases, again leaving edge free. Bake at 220°C for 15 minutes, or until pastry is risen and golden. Remove from oven, place 2 tablespoons fetta on top of each tart and garnish with a sprig of parsley. Transfer to serving plates, and if you have it, drizzle with some herb or garlic oil. Serve with Citrus, Avocade and Potato Salad.
Serves 4
Approx cost $4.20 per serve

450g Kipfler potatoes (or substitute for whatever is available)
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
drizzle of olive oil
1 ruby or yellow grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
2 handfuls baby rocket, or salad blend, washed
Scrub and halve potatoes, sprinkle with salt and steam until tender. Remove from saucepan and toss in a bowl with garlic, pepper and oil. Set aside. Remove skin and white pith from grapefruit. Cut segments from between membranes with a sharp knife, and keep juice that you can squeeze from remains. Peel and quarter avocado, then cut into chunks. Either combine ingredients and pile onto plate, or layer potato, then rocket, and avocado and grapefruit. Mix remaining juice with an equal quantity of olive oil, season, then drizzle over salad.
Serves 4
Approx cost – $6.00

200ml pouring cream
350g bitter chocolate broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons brandy, other liqueur or essence (use 1-2 teaspoons if using essence)
150g dark chocolate for dipping
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
Place cream in a heavy-based pot and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate. Stir until smooth (the heat from the cream will melt the chocolate). Stir in brandy, liqueur or essence. Scrape into bowl and cool. Cover and refrigerate, until cold and set firm. Work VERY quickly to form into balls using either cool hands (keep rinsing them under cold water and drying), or a teasoon or melon baller. You should get 50-60 small balls. Don’t be anal about the shape. Refrigerate again until firm. Melt the dipping chocolate either over hot water, or at 50% in your microwave in 30-second bursts. Dip the balls quickly into melted chocolate (use a fork or long skewer to dip), then toss in cocoa to coat. Chill again, then serve with feshly brewed espresso, latte, long black or macchiato, or as part of a cheese platter with muscatels and candied orange peel.
To vary the truffles, dip some in white chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, coconut or crushed nuts. Strange as it may sound, these are also nice if rolled in finely chopped basil.
Makes 50-60
Approx cost – $9.00

Tim Alderman 2015


So Can You Cook? 5

By the time this issue of ‘Talkabout’ hits the streets, it will well and truly be autumn. The problem for many of us over autumn and winter – besides just hating cold weather – is that we tend to eat heavier foods, and so stack on quite a bit of weight. In an attempt to counteract this, try to add more salads into your diet over winter. Sure, there isn’t the same selection of salad vegetables, but you only need to be a bit inventive. Substitute some of the vegetables usually used in salads with seasonal fruits, or bake vegetables and serve them cold with salad greens and a dressing. Why give up the good diet practices of summer just because it gets a bit cool. Then spoil yourself with some comfort foods – occasionally.

Haloumi is one of those strange cheeses that tastes totally bland when just cut from the piece, yet develops delicious flavours when barbequed, grilled or fried.

2 red capsicums
1 large eggplant
175g haloumi cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch basil, leaves picked
8 large bamboo skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes (if you would like to add some subtle exotic flavours to this dish, use sharpened lemongrass stalks, or long lengths of stripped rosemary (keep leaves at top end for decoration) as the skewers.)

Wash capsicums and remove seeds and membrane. Cut into 24 pieces. Wash and trim eggplant, cut in half lengthways, then into 16 semi-circles. Sprinkle with salt in a colander and leave for 30 minutes to remove bitterness. Dry with paper towel. Cut haloumi into 16 pieces. Toss vegetables and cheese in olive oil seasoned with pepper and sea salt. Skewer a piece of capsicum, followed by eggplant, a few rolled basil leaves, and then haloumi. Repeat process until you have 8 large skewers Finish each with a piece of capsicum. Char-grill or barbeque until tender – about 15-20 minutes. Blend remaining basil with oil to serve with skewers, or use purchased olive tapenade.
Serves 4
Approx $1.50 per skewer

This is my own salad, and can be served as a main course or an accompaniment. Rocket and watercress are two of my favourite salad greens. The peppery flavours are a perfect contrast for fruits, especially stone and citrus fruit.

200g baby rocket
small knob fennel, thinly sliced
2 blood oranges, segmented (if blood oranges are not in season, use ordinary, or ruby grapefruit)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
punnet yellow teardrop tomatoes
shaved parmesan, to taste
10-15 whole mint leaves

Dressing – combine 30ml verjuice (unfermented grape juice) with 120ml macadamia oil (use olive or peanut if macadamia not available).

Place tomatoes on a baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper and olive oil. Bake in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes. Cool. Combine all ingredients except parmesan in salad bowl, sprinkle dressing and mix. Shave parmesan over the top.
Approx $6.00 to make

Pastry; (if you are not successful with pastry making, buy shortcrust from the supermarket)
200g plain flour
pinch salt
100g butter, cold and cubed
2-3 tablespoons cold water

250g bitter chocolate (if you can afford it, Lindt 80% cocoa)
2 eggs
4 yolks (freeze whites for meringues or omelettes)
25g sugar
2 tablespoons rum, or 2 teaspoons rum essence (from supermarket)
100g butter, softened
2 tablespoons ground almonds (almond meal)

For pastry, sift flour and salt into bowl. Add butter, and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs ( don’t over-fuss). Add water until mixture comes together when pressed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out thinly on a floured surface and line a 22cm loose-base flan tin. DO NOT STRETCH. Prick all over with a fork, and freeze for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and pastry weights (if you don’t have pastry weights, use rice or dried beans) and bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is cooked and starts to colour. Remove and fill with chocolate filling

For filling; Melt chocolate in microwave (50%), or over a double boiler of simmering water. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar and rum or essence. Fold chocolate into egg mix. Beat in soft butter and fold in almonds. Pour into tart shell and bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Serve with fresh orange slices.
Serves 8-12
Approx cost $9.00, depending on quality of chocolate.

Tim Alderman 2015


So Can You Cook? 3

The multi-talented Tim Alderman shares some expertise with readers

If you were to ask me to name my favourite chefs, I wouldn’t have to spend too long thinking of an answer: Jamie Oliver (I’m slowly becoming a convert, though more for the food style than the man himself) and Sydney’s own Bill Granger would definitely head my list – and it wouldn’t extend much further. Both chefs have a common bond – simple recipes using great combinations of ingredients, with fresh flavours and clever use of readily available ingredients. This is always the secret to success in cooking – keep it simple, and fresh. I think the following recipes will appeal to people who have this in mind whether cooking for themselves, or entertaining. The featured citrus fruit dessert is almost fat free (0.4g fat), and is a taste treat for the tongue with its subtle ginger flavour.

Tempeh, mushroom and green bean salad
8 dried Chinese mushrooms (available from general or Asian supermarkets) soaked in a small amount of water for 30 minutes, then thinly sliced
1 Spanish (red) onion, diced
1 small red capsicum, sliced thinly
1 small green capsicum, sliced thinly
8 medium button mushrooms
1 bunch (approx 15) green beans, sliced lengthways
1 bunch bok choy, washed and sliced thinly
1 spring onion, diced
1 cup wild rice (available most supermarkets, or health food stores)
2 cups water
pinch sea salt
3 tblspn safflower oil
1 block tempeh (available freezer section most supermarkets)
½ cup sauce consisting of equal parts soy sauce, squeezed grated ginger and rice vinegar

Add Chinese mushrooms to other vegetables. Wash wild rice and strain in a colander. In a small pot, add rice and water, bring to a boil, add salt and turn down the heat to very low, placing a lid over the top. Cook for 40 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to sit. In a heavy skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cut tempeh into very thin slivers and when the oil is hot, toss the tempeh in and cook until crisp. Drizzle some of the sauce over the tempeh as it will absorb the flavour. Set aside. Wash the wok and repeat the procedure with the rest of the vegetables, adding them in this order: onion, red and green capsicum, mushrooms, green beans, bok choy and spring onions. Allow a minute or so between each vegetable, stirring constantly before adding the next one. Add the rest of the sauce, and toss the vegetables to absorb the flavour. Combine wild rice, tempeh and vegetables.
Serves 4-6. Approx cost: $2.50 per serve

Gingered citrus fruit salad

3 mandarins
2 ruby (pink) grapefruit
2 naval oranges
2 tangelos
2 blood oranges
2 tblspn caster sugar
1-2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger.

Peel and segment mandarins, removing as much pith as possible. Using a sharp knife, peel grapefruit, oranges and tangelos, removing skin and pith. Segment fruit between membranes over a bowl, reserving juice. Place fruit segments into bowl.
Sprinkle fruit with sugar and ginger. Gently toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Spoon into glasses, and pour reserved juice over. Serve.
Serves 4. Approx cost: $3.20 per serve

Tim Alderman 2015


So Can You Cook? 2

Sorry people. I got myself into trouble from my partner for not putting approximate costs on last issues recipes. I promise I will do it from this issue on.
Well, with the cooler weather, it is time for comfort food. When making soup, make large batches, then divide it into smaller containers and freeze it. This can be done with a lot of foods, and gives you meals-on-hand for any tough times that come along. Remember, if a soup contains milk, yoghurt or cream of any variety, freeze the base soup without the dairy. Add it later when you reheat it.

Fast Tomato and Carrot Soup with Basil Oil
3 tblspn olive oil
2 medium brown onions, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed (use less if preferred)
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
½ kg fresh tomatoes
800g canned tomatoes
1 bay leaf
sea salt, black pepper
1 cup white wine (chicken or vegetable stock if preferred)
½ bunch fresh basil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
extra sea salt

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onions. Sauté, allowing to colour a little, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a further 2 minutes. Add the carrots and the fresh and canned tomatoes. Add the bay leaf, season to taste, then add wine or stock. Cook for 20 minutes for a light flavour, or for up to 1 hour for a more concentrated flavour. Remove from heat and puree.
Blend the basil, oil and salt until smooth, and add a swirl to the bowls of soup as they are served up.
To make a quick damper to go with the soup, mix together 3½ cups self-raising flour, ½ cup dried milk powder, and a teaspoon of salt. Make a well inb the centre, then with a knife blade mix through 1½ cups water (use ½ milk and ½ water if you want it more ‘sconey’). Knead lightly on a floured board, form into a flat disc, place on a baking sheet and mark into 6 sections with a knife. Sprinkle a little flour over the top. Bake in a 200° C oven for 30-40 minutes. If it sounds hollow when tapped, it’s cooked.
Serves 4-6
Approx $11.00 for soup and damper.

Chocolate Drizzle Cake
A yummy vegan cake. If you wish, exchange chocolate for carob, though remember that carob will give a chalkier texture.
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups raisins
½ cup cocoa
2 cups water
¾ cup canola or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup nuts of choice

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan except the flour, soda and last 4 ingredients. Boil for 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 20cm cake tin, and bake at 180°C for 1 hour.
To make chocolate icing, mix together 1 cup icing sugar and ¼ cup cocoa. Mix through 2-3 tablespoons soft butter or margarine, and enough milk or water to make spreading consistency (add this slowly, and mix well. If icing gets too thin, add more icing sugar).

Tim Alderman 2015


So Can You Cook? 38

Saturday is Takeaway!

nu⋅tri⋅tion  [noo-trish-uhn,
1.the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished.
2.the science or study of, or a course of study in, nutrition, esp. of humans.
3.the process by which organisms take in and utilize food material.; nutriment.
5.the pursuit of this science as an occupation or profession.
1375–1425; late ME < LL nūtrītiōn- (s. of nūtrītiō) a feeding, equiv. to L nūtrīt(us) (ptp. of nūtrīre to feed, nourish ) + -iōn- -ion

Related forms:
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al, nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅ar⋅y, adjective
nu⋅tri⋅tion⋅al⋅ly, adverb

So, now that we know what nutrition is, we can cast all that aside, and make some decisions about it for ourselves. We are adults…right!

It doesn’t matter whether you watch the morning programs on tv, or the so-called current affairs programs at night, there is bound to be someone, at some stage, telling you what you should, or more often than not, should not eat. I don’t know about you, but I get a bit sick of it. Okay, I don’t eat the super diet that I supposedly should be consuming, but my diet, by and large,isn’t all that bad. I do cook my own meals 4-5 nights a week, and they do usually involve salads, meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables, so they are what I consider to be reasonably balanced. I eat breakfast, I have a light lunch, and that on its own is pretty good going as far as I’m concerned. However, I refuse to be a food nazi, someone who views food as ‘just fuel for the body’, or an out and out vegetarian or vegan. I like meat, and no one with a sense of rightious superiority is going to tell me that I shouldn;t eat it. I don’t believe in diets (and aren’t there some idiotic diets out there!), nor do I believe in stupid trends like ‘detox’ diets. Anyone with half a brain knows that the kidneys and liver are there specifically to do that – detox. If they are working properly, they don’t need any help, though those making money out of the products probably don’t agree.

But what it really boils down, anda point that is often ignored, is to enjoy eating, making it a pleasure and something that can be used to help you wind down and relax. My lazy night of the week is Saturday night. I don’t cook – full-stop. It can be a pizza, or hamburgers, or fish & chips or even – heaven forbid – one of the three or four times a year when I will say “let’s do Hungry Jacks”. But we do it, and we enjoy it because we are not doing it all the time. And as for comfort foods, well they are just that, as are junk foods provided they aren’t the be all and end all of your diet. I enjoy my “Krispy Kremes”, and my potato chips and chocolate (Mmm), and during winter my hot chocolate with a couple of ‘Tim Tams’,
and nobody is going to make me feel guilty about it. I drink full-cream milk, eat full-fat cheese and have about 4-6 eggs a week (not to mention the bacon I often have it with). And it is the enjoyment aspect of it that I like to emphasise. I eat healthy meals on most occasions, and I can see absolutely nothing wrong with a treat or a comfort food being thrown in there when I feel like it. It is all about balance, and not feeling guilty about having a little extra something here or there.

So, the following recipes are for for the 4-5 nights a week when we do eat healthy, nutitious meals – what we do the rest of the time is nobodies business…so enjoy.

A couple of these are from my favourite Aussie chef Bill Grainger.

Toasted Grain & Nut Cereal:
125g unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
500g rolled oats
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
¾ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cup rye flakes (try Health Food stores)
1 cup chopped, dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots or apples

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place butter, honey and essence in s small saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until honey and butter are combined. Place remaining ingredients, except fruit, in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly stir in the butter mixture, making sure that each grain is evenly coated. Spread the cereal over a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the grains are crisp and very lightly browned.. Stir occasionally to stop mixture sticking to the baking dish.
Remove cereal from oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, and stir through evenly.
The muesli can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
MAKES 1.5 kg

Goat’s Cheese and Lentil Salad w/Roasted Beetroot
4 medium-sized beetroots
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
! Cup of Puy lentils
¼ cup diced Spanish onion
¼ cup seeded and diced tomato
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
To serve:
Mint leaves
8 asparagus spears, blanched and cooled
200g goat’s cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place beetroot in a small baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, salt & pepper. Cover with foil, place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Set aside.
Placelentils with 1½ cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain.
Place warm lentils, Spanish onion, tomato, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt 7 pepper in a bowl, stir and set aside.
Peel beetroots by rubbing gently with your hands (I recommend using gloves, and wear an apron) until they come off. Slice beetroot vertically into 1cm thick slices.
Stir mint & parsley through lentils.
To serve, Divide lentils amonst 4 plates, top with a few sprigs of mint and the asparagus. Slice goat’s cheese into generous slices and place on top. Add beetroot, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Spicy Chicken Salad with Lime:
4 Chicken breast fillets
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cucumber
1 cup coriander
1 cup mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns (spice section of supermarket)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
To serve;
2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in a frying pan, then transfer to a baking dish. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until the juice runs clear when pierced with a knife or skewer. Remove from the oven, and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Shred chicken into strips.
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways, and remove seeds using a teaspoon and discard. Slice thinly on the diagonal.
Place chicken, cucumber, coriander and mint in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Szechuan pepper, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and spring onion and toss until well combined.
To serve, divide iceberg lettuce among 4 plates and pile chicken mixture on top. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Fresh Tomato Pasta:
1kg vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tablespoon sea salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
300g spaghetti
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
To serve;
Parmigiano Reggiano

Score a cross in the base of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drain after 10 seconds, then peel the skin away from the cross. Halve the tomatoes, and squeeze to remove the seeds and excess juice (or use a teaspoon to scoop them out). Chop tomato flesh roughly, place in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
Place drained tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, garlic chilli and pepper in a bowl and stir. Leave for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.
Cook the spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water according to packet instructions, Drain well. Toss through the tomatoes with torn basil leaves and serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014


So Can You Cook? 40

The End

This is my final column in the ‘So can you cook?’ series. I have been doing the column for six years now and feel it is time to draw it to a close before I start repeating what has already been done.
I have enjoyed my time with the column. I hope that in some way I have inspired people to be a bit more creative with cooking and that I have shown that you don’t need a long list of degrees to be able to produce good food. It is an art, yes! But it is also an art that is accessible to everyone and is versatile enough to be a bit complicated when you want to impress or simple enough for an everyday meal – from the charcoal sketch to the oils I guess you might say.
I also hope I have introduced some to new flavours and encouraged people to be a bit adventuresome in their approach to cuisine. The amount of produce now available in Australia is truly staggering, and it is now possible to recreate any recipe from any cuisine totally authentically.
We have certainly come a long way in the last 40 odd years! The embracing of our place in the Asian section of the Pacific has also opened up a whole world of food to us and I think that the way we have taken to Asian food from all such countries shows just how adaptable we are with absorbing the influences of other cultures. And we will no longer settle for watered down or ‘Australianised’ versions of the cuisines. We want the genuine article. Just try to get into Thai Pothong in Newtown on a Friday or Saturday night if you want to see a good example. And no suburb is now complete without a Thai and a Vietnamese restaurant.
This column has also given me a way to comment on things from a personal perspective, often not in a PC way, which I don’t apologise for. I’m afraid that you haven’t gotten rid of me with the ending of this column. I hope to continue to contribute via articles and hopefully still in my outspoken style.
I have been writing for Talkabout in one form or another for about 13 years now. I have always been a strong supporter of the magazine and whether I was or wasn’t writing for it I would still be one of its strongest advocates. I feel that the non-clinical, non-professional (or expert) and non-conformist voices in our community are entitled to an outlet and Talkabout has always provided that forum.
With the closing and sale of my business, and the cutting back of other commitments the most common thing I find I am being asked is “How are you going to fill in time?”. I will continue to research my family history, which has been ongoing for about 20 years now (and thankfully easier with the advent of the internet) and, after many years of nagging from friends and people who have heard my story through the PSB, I am finally going to put an autobiography together.
My life has been interesting (to say the least) and not without the usual dramas associated with surviving AIDS and having my roots in a dysfunctional family. I will probably take myself off to do a few more courses in writing and cooking, and I will have a bit more time to keep my home tidy and together, and get my garden back in order. One thing I can promise, I won’t be bored.
I would like to thank everyone who has read and supported my column over this time. I think that the best way to leave the column is with a bit of a bang by repeating some of my favourite recipes from the last six years. I’m desperately trying NOT to make them all chocolate…

Rich Chocolate Tart (from No 12)

125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
200g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa (Dutch, if you want a richer flavour)
2 egg yolks

Process butter, sugar, flour and cocoa in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and 1½ tablespoons iced water, and process until pastry just comes together. Form pastry into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick and ease into a 3.5cm deep 24cm tart tin with removable base, trimming edge. Line pastry case with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake another 5 minutes until pastry is dry. Cool.

300g dark couverture chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
125g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Combine chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir continuously until butter is melted and mixture is well combined, then remove bowl from heat and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy, then fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into tart shell, then bake at 150°C for 35–40 minutes or until just set. Cool tart to room temperature before serving with double cream (optional). Tart will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days – if it lasts that long.

Thai Beef Salad (from No 22)

1/3 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 stem lemongrass (white part only) finely chopped
2 small red chillies, finely sliced (remove seeds if you want milder)
2 x 200g beef eye fillet steaks
150g mixed salad leaves
½ red onion, sliced into fine wedges
½ cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup torn mint leaves
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

Mix lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, chopped coriander, lemongrass and chilli until the sugar has dissolved.
Preheat barbie chargrill plate to medium-high direct heat and cook the steaks for 4 minutes each side or until medium. Let cool then slice thinly across the grain.
Put the salad leaves, onion, coriander, mint, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl, add the beef and dressing. Toss together and serve immediately.

Banana Cake with Passionfruit Icing (from No 23)
125g butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup mashed banana (preferably over-ripe)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Grease 15cm x 25cm loaf pan, lining base with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl with electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, using a wooden spoon and stir in sifted dry ingredients, banana, sour cream and milk. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake cake in moderate oven for about 50 minutes. Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool. Spread with passionfruit icing.

Passionfruit Icing
1½ cups icing sugar mixture (a mix of icing sugar and cornflour)
1 teaspoon soft butter
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp (approx)

Place icing sugar in a small heatproof bowl, stir in butter and enough pulp to make a firm paste. Stir over hot water until icing is of spreading consistency, taking care not to overheat. Use immediately.

Chinese Beef and Asparagus with Oyster Sauce (from No 17)
500g lean beef fillet, thinly sliced across the grain
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
200g fresh, thin asparagus cut into thirds on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons julienned fresh ginger (fine slice)
¼ cup chicken stock
2–3 tablespoons oyster sauce

Place beef in a glass or plastic bowl with soy sauce, sesame oil and two teaspoons of Chinese cooking wine. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add asparagus and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from wok.
Add another tablespoon of oil and add the beef in two batches, stir frying for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove from wok.
Add remaining oil to wok, add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour the stock, oyster sauce and remaining cooking wine into wok, bring to boil and boil rapidly for 1–2 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced. Return beef and asparagus to the wok and stir fry for a further minute or until heated through and coated with the sauce.
Serve immediately with Jasmine rice.

Waldorf Salad with a Twist (from No 34)
4 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups watercress sprigs

Blue Cheese dressing
¼ cup whole-egg mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
100g soft blue cheese, chopped

To make the blue cheese dressing, place the mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper and blue cheese in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth.
Arrange the apple, celery, walnuts and watercress on serving plates and spoon over the dressing to serve.

Serves 4

Oysters with Lemon & Vodka Granita (from No 34)
½ cup caster sugar
2½ cups water
½ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup vodka
18 oysters
Lemon wedges, to serve

Place the sugar, water, lemon juice and vodka in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the granite mixture into a shallow 20cm x 30cm metal pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the granita from the freezer and use a fork to take the top off and freeze for a further hour. Repeat every hour for 3-4 hours or until set.
Grate the granita with a fork to produce snow, and fill tiny shot glasses.
Serve with the oysters and lemon wedges.

Serves 6

Tim Alderman

Copyright 2014


So Can You Cook? 26

The Season for Giving

I can’t believe it is nearly 12 months since my last Christmas column. Time to steam puddings and bake cakes…again. Well, on the good side I have managed to win the Christmas lunch debate with my mother-in-law. We are going to Canterbury Leagues for lunch. This battle has been going on for some years now, but after the whinging that went on last year I knew it was a good time to push the point. I think it is a relief to all of us. I think we are all sick of slogging ourselves to a melting-point-lather at a very hot time of the year getting food ready that everyone is only half inclined to eat if it is a really hot day.
We have a Christmas bash every year for friends in the jungle…oops, I mean backyard. It happens sometime between mid-November and early December, depending on everyone’s calendar. It is always looked forward to, and usually involves a lot of champagne cocktails – I have most of a bottle of Vanilla Vodka to get rid of at the moment, so know already what sort of cocktail it will be – a lot of wine, and bring-a-plate of food. Fortunately for us, all our friends are gourmands so the food will always be great and adventurous, despite the inevitable battle of who provides what for which course. It’s bad luck to the rest of them that I have desserts planned already, which they will be notified of shortly. Suck eggs, I say!
Part of the Christmas bash traditions is the exchange of gifts – another traumatic buying exercise, and usually ending up being CD’s. However, part of my traditions is the giving to each guest of what is laughingly referred to as a ‘charity bag’. Considering that most of them are too busy or too lazy to make any little luxury items for themselves, I try to do it for them. I find this kind of gift giving to be personally satisfying. There is something genuine about giving friends gifts that you have made yourself. I used to make the bags a mix of biscuits, sweets and preserves, however I have dropped the biscuits as from last year. They have to be made early due to my other commitments, and with the humidity and heat associated with Christmas, I have found that they go soft before they can be given out – as happens with biscuits with no preservatives. So, preserves it is…and a CD.
I have included a bit of a mix in this column of things you can either make to use for yourself, or use as gifts for your friends. They say it is better to give than receive…but they had better make sure I get something in return.
Happy Christmas to all my column readers. Keep yourself safe, don’t drink too much…meaning not to the point of passing out. Enjoy the conviviality of friendships and have a great New Year where all your wishes and hopes and dreams are fulfilled.
See you next year.

You can make this mixture a month in advance, and store in a cool place like the fridge. Can be used in cakes, puddings or mince tarts. Or bottle and give as a gift.

6 cups (1kg) sultanas
2½ cups (375g) currants
2¼ cups (425g) raisins, chopped
1½ cups (250g) seeded dried dates, chopped
1½ cups (250g) seeded prunes, chopped
1¼ cups (250g) glace cherries, quartered
½ cup (125g) glace apricots, chopped (substitute dried if glace not available)
½ cup (115g) glace pineapple, chopped
½ cup (115g) glace ginger, chopped
¾ cup (120g) mixed peel
3 medium apples (400g) peeled, grated
2/3 cup (240g) fig jam
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 cups (440g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 1/3 cups Grand Marnier (or substitute for any citrus-flavoured liqueur, rum, sherry or brandy)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store mixture in cool, dark place for a month (or longer) before using. Stir mixture every two-three days.

¼ quantity basic fruit mixture (above)
250g butter, melted, cooled
3 eggs, beaten lightly
4 cups stale breadcrumbs
¼ cup plain flour

Combine fruit mixture in large bowl with butter and eggs, then breadcrumbs and flour.
Fill large boiler three-quarters full of hot water, cover and bring to boil. Have ready 2.5 metres kitchen string and an extra ½ cup plain flour. Being cautious, place a 60cm unbleached square of calico (if new, soak in cold water for 1 minute, then boil for 20 minutes, then rinse in cold water) in the boiling water for 1 minute, squeeze excess water out, then working quickly spread the cloth out and run flour into centre of cloth where the skin of the pudding needs to be thickest.
Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth. Gather cloth evenly around pudding, then pat into a round shape. Tie cloth tightly with string as close to mixture as possible. Gather and tie of the corners into a handle to make the pudding easier to move.
Lower pudding into boiling water, and tie the ends of the string to the handles of the boiler to suspend the pudding. If your boiler doesn’t have handles, place an inverted saucer or a round metal trivet in the bottom of the boiler to keep pudding from sitting directly on bottom of pan. Cover with tight fitting lid; boil rapidly 4 hours. Check water and refill regularly.
Remove pudding from the pan when cooked and DO NOT PLACE ON BENCH TO COOL. Suspend on a wooden spoon placed between 2 chairs or stools, or over a large bucket. If must suspend freely. If pudding has been cooked correctly, patches of cloth should to dry almost immediately. Suspend for 10 minutes.
To store pudding, allow to cool to room temperature, then either wrap in Glad wrap or store in a freezer bag. Store in fridge for up to 2 months, or in freezer for 12 months.
To reheat, bring to room temperature, then steam for 2 hours.

½ quantity basic fruit mixture (above)
250g butter, melted, cooled
5 eggs, beaten lightly
2½ cups plain flour
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or whatever you used to flavour the fruit mix)

Preheat oven to 150°C. Line base and sides 22 cm square cake pan with one thickness of brown paper and two thicknesses of baking paper, extending paper 5cm above sides.
Combine basic mixture in large bowl with butter and eggs; add sifted flour in two batches.
Spread mixture in pan. Drop pan from 20cm height 2-3 times to settle fruit. Level top with a spatula. Bake about 3 hours. Brush top with liqueur; cover hot cake in pan with foil; cool in pan.
Can be made three months ahead, and stored in an airtight container under refrigeration.

300g toasted marshmallow with coconut, chopped coarsely
400g Turkish Delight, chopped coarsely
¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped coarsely
½ cup roasted, shelled pistachios
450g white eating chocolate, melted

Grease two 8cm x 26cm bar tins, line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm above long sides of pan.
Combine marshmallow, Turkish delight and nuts in large bowl. Stir in chocolate; spread mixture into pans; push mixture down firmly to flatten. Refrigerate until set, then cut as desired.

500g fresh cherries, pitted
¾ cup caster sugar
2 cups vodka, approx

Place clean jars on sides in large saucepan; cover completely with hot water. Boil, covered, 20 minutes. Remove jars from water, drain upright on board until dry.
Layer cherries and sugar in jars. Pour over enough vodka to cover cherries completely. Seal.
Stand in cool, dark place for at least six weeks before using; invert jars occasionally to help dissolve sugar.

Makes about 4 cups

½ cup pouring cream
300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
cocoa powder for dusting

Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring almost to the boil. Add chocolate and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Pour into a greased 15cm square cake tin lined with non-stick paper; refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
To serve, cut into squares and dust with cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator for 10 days. Stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 16

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 medium tomatoes (1.5kg), peeled, chopped
6 medium (780g) blood plums, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 cup port
2 teaspoons juniper berries

Heat oil in large pan, add onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add remaining ingredients, stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Blend or process mixture in batches until finely chopped, strain, discard pulp. Pour hot sauce into hot sterilized jars. Seal immediately.

Makes approx 4 cups.

200g butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence in bowl with electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in flour and coconut. Cover, refrigerate 1 hour.
Divide dough in half. Place each half onto plastic wrap and shape into a 22cm long log. Then wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Cut dough into 5mm thick slices. Place on baking paper-lined baking trays about 5cm apart. Bake in moderate oven about 8 minutes. Stand cookies on trays about 5 minutes before coolong on wire racks. Dust lightly with sifted icing sugar.

Makes about 60. Will keep for 1 week in an airtight container. Keep uncooked dough in fridge 1 week, or in freezer for 2 months.

3 eggs
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup caster sugar
1¾ cups plain flour
¾ cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk eggs and sugars in a small mixing bowl with electric beaters until just changed in colour. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Stir in sifted dry ingredients; mix to a firm dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth. Divide dough into 2 portions. Using floured hands, roll each portion into a 30cm log, place on lightly greased oven trays. Bake in moderate oven 35 minutes or until firm. Cool on tray.
Cut logs diagonally into 1cm slices, using a serrated knife. Place slices, cut side up, on oven trays. Bake in moderately slow oven about 15 minutes or until dry and crisp, turning once during cooking; cool on trays.

Makes about 40

1kg grapefruit
2 medium lemons
10 cups water
10 cups sugar, approx

Cut unpeeled grapefruit in half, slice halves thinly, discard seeds. Combine fruit and water in large bowl; cover; stand overnight.
Transfer mixture to a large pan, bring to boil, simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until rind is soft.
Measure fruit mixture, allow 1 cup sugar to each cup of fruit mixture. Return fruit mixture and sugar to pan, stir over heat until sugar is dissolved.
Boil, uncovered, without stirring, for about 15 minutes or until marmalade gels when tested on a cold saucer. Pour into hot, sterilized jars; seal immediately.
Makes about 10 cups

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014

So Can You Cook? 25

Rites of Passage
This is the 25th cooking column I have done for Talkabout, which means I have been doing this column for 4 years now. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported the magazine, and have enjoyed the various writings and contributions. I hope you have enjoyed reading my articles and columns as much as I have enjoyed writing them. My personal contributions to Talkabout now span a period of 10 years, including a long stint on the Publications Working Group. I have to say that reading back through all the articles and columns I have submitted over the years makes me aware of just how much my writing style has changed, and the pieces are in many ways indicative of how I have grown and matured through my experiences with HIV and AIDS. My articles range from the almost innocent in the early days; to the practical; up to the more cutting edge (some would say irascible) things that I write today, though my output article-wise isn’t as prolific as it used to be. I’m proud to say that a couple of articles have caused a huge furore – always an indication that you have hit a nerve – and a few have never been published because of their controversial nature. I’ve found the ageing process very satisfying, as I am no longer afraid to throw the punches, be it for the better or the worst. Despite anything, I am a passionate supporter of Talkabout. It is one of the few resources the HIV community has that allows those infected and affected by HIV to have a personal voice about life with HIV. The fact that Talkabout has now been going as long as it has shows just how valuable a resource it is. Writing can be a catharsis, a way of purifying and purging pent up frustrations and emotions. I feel some of the very personal stuff I have written over the last couple of years is some of my best. I still manage to surprise myself sometimes. To this end, Talkabout has truly proved its worth. Anyway, on to cooking. Got waylaid for a second there.

Few realize just how important a part food plays in our lives. It is present at every celebration and event in our lives, be it a baptism, a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary, a funeral, or the getting together to enjoy the conviviality of friendship. We celebrate with food at home, at the homes of friends and relatives, in cafes and restaurants, around the barbeque, on picnics and at parties. It is so integrated into our lives I doubt we even think about it. It covers all our rites of passage. It is cultural, indulgent, comforting, celebratory, and religious. I think we use food as much as we do as it is a way of sharing, something we can all share in common. Whether you are a carnivore, an omnivore, a vegetarian or a vegan you use your own style of food to celebrate the great things in your life, and sometimes the sad. It is an integral part of our existence. As a way of honouring the ritual of food, and to celebrate going into year number five with this column I would like to offer some truly indulgent treats to share with friends. Okay, they may be a bit work intensive, or perhaps a bit expensive but hey, isn’t that what it’s all about.
Enjoy; indulge; celebrate.

Scrambled Eggs and Salmon on Croissants;
4 eggs
4 tablespoons pouring cream
40g unsalted butter
125 smoked salmon, sliced
2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
2 croissants or 2 brioche buns

Beat the eggs and cream together ina bowl. Season with saly and freshly ground black pepper.
Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over low heat, then add the eggs. Using a wooden spoon push the mixture around until it starts to set, then add the salmon and dill. Continue to cook, gently folding the salmon and dill through the mixture until the eggs are mostly cooked and there is just a little liquid left in the pan.
Serve the croissants filled with the scrambled eggs.
Serves 2
Chargrilled Prawns with Lime Aioli;
1 large green chilli, seeded
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
4 tablespoons olive oil
24 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact

Lime Aioli
4 garlic gloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 teaspoons lime juice
170ml olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle (or short bursts of a food processor if you don’t have a mortar and pestle) grind the chilli, garlic, oregano, cumin, lime zest, lime juice, orange juice and olive oil together to make a marinade. Season with a little sea salt and ground white pepper. Toss the prawns in the marinade, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, soak 24 small bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes to prevent scorching.
To make the lime aioli, pound the garlic and salt to a smooth paste using a mortar and pestle (or your food processor). Scrape the paste into a large bowl, then whisk in the egg yolk, lime zest and lime juice. Whisking continually (again, this can be done in a food processor with the motor running) slowly add the olive oil a little at a time, until you have a thick mayonnaise. Season to taste, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a barbeque plate to high. Thread the prawns on the skewers. Cook the prawns for 1½ minutes or until they just turn pink and start to curl, then turn and cook for a further 1½ minutes , or until just opaque. Serve at once with the lime aioli, and Pumpkin & Hazelnut Salad.
Serves 4

Pumpkin & Hazelnut Salad;
1kg Kent or Jap pumpkin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
100g hazelnuts
3 tablespoons tahini (now available in supermarkets)
125g plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
200g baby rocket
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Peel pumpkin and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss them in a bowl with the vegetable oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread over baking tray and roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, roast the hazelnuts on another baking tray for 5 minutes or until the skins start splitting. Remove and allow to cool.
Mix the tahini, yoghurt, cumin, garlic and lemon juice to a smooth paste, then season to taste.
Rub the skins off the cooled hazelnuts and roughly chop the nuts. Put them in a bowl with the rocket and add the olive oil and vinegar. Toss together. Divide amongst plated, then top with pumpkin chunks and dollop with the tahini mixture.
Serves 4

Parmesan Lamb Pies;
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g minced lamb
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
¼ cup grated carrot
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
400g tin chopped tomatoes
250ml red wine
3 eggs
200g Greek-style yoghurt
100g grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onion begins to soften and turn a golden brown. Add the lamb and increase the heat. Brown the lamb and add the celery, carrot, cinnamon, tomatoes and wine. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid has reduced. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spoon the mixture into four individual ramekins or a medium baking dish.
Put the eggs, yoghurt and half the parmesan into a bowl and whisk to combine. Spoon the mixture over the pies and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve with Warm Vegetables with White Beans.
Serves 4

Warm Vegetables with White Beans;
½ cup olive oil
6 slices pancetta, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 large eggplant, finely diced
2 red capsicums, finely diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 orange, zest grated, juiced
400g can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed (always rinse canned vegetables)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
basil leaves, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the pancetta, onion, garlic and rosemary. Cook until the onion begins to soften, then add the celery, eggplant and capsicums. When the eggplant begins to soften add the chopped tomatoes, orange zest and orange juice. Cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, then fold in the parsley and spoon onto a serving dish. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, and scatter with basil leaves.
Serves 4

Chilli Chocolate Marquis with Poached Fruits
325g god quality cooking chocolate, broken up
75g unsalted butter, softened
1 hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
100g icing sugar
2 egg whites
200ml crème fraiche (dairy case near sour cream)
1 small mango, halved and stoned (or use frozen if out of season)
300g lychees, peeled and stoned (use canned if out of season)
15g caster sugar
6 tablespoons tequila or rum
100g blueberries

Line a medium loaf tin with cling wrap.
Melt the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl and leave to cool.
In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, chilli and 50g of the icing sugar until smooth. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form then beat in the remaining icing sugar.
Stir the chocolate into the chilli butter and then the crème fraiche. Immediately fold in a quarter of the whisked whites to lighten the mixture, then fold in the remainder. Turn the mixture into the tin, level the surface and chill for at least 4 hours until firm.
Slice the mango and halve the lychees. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan with 100ml water until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 3-5 minutes until the liqid turns syrupy.
Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in all the fruits.. Leave to cool then turn the fruit into a bowl and stir in the liqueur.
Invert the marquis on to a plate and peel away the cling wrap. Cut into thick slices, transfer to serving plates and top with the poached fruits.

White Chocolate & Lavender Madeira;
150g white chocolate, broken up
8 lavender sprigs
25g sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
125g self-raising flour
25g ground almonds
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C
Grease and line the base and long sides of a medium loaf tin with baking paper. Grease the paper. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl.
Pull the lavender flowers from the stalks and beat them in a bowl with the sugar and butter until smooth and creamy (discard the stalks). Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour to prevent curdling.
Stir in the melted chocolate. Sift the remaining flour over the bowl and gradually fold in with the ground almonds.
Turn the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 40 inutes until risen and firm to the touch.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and serve generously dusted with icing sugar.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014