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Month: June 2015

And the Winner Is….

Arrgghhhh!!!!  It’s been an intense couple of weeks and I realised this morning I had totally forgotten to announce who won the giveaway book.  So without any further ado, the winner is…

No, actually there will be a bit of further ado because, I just happen to have a very special guest here with me today.  Yes, it is Anne Marshall, editor of Australian Cooking For Today.  (If today was 1977).

Anne’s  “vast experience and knowledge of Australian cooking have gone into editing this colourful new book, which provides recipes and information for all occasions and for all types of cooks from beginner to gourmet”.

So, further ado over, take it away Anne and announce the winner of this wonderful book!

WinnerWell I cannot think of a more deserving winner than the lovely Yinzerella. I cannot wait to see what she decides to cook. 

Will she unleash the Zombie Apocalypse by cooking Brains and Eggs?

Will she resurrect Weiner Wednesday to cook the Frankfurter Roka Salad?

Will she take a walk on the weird side and make the Canned Pheasant Casserole?  (Main ingredient being 1 can whole roast pheasant in burgundy jelly. I have no idea if this is available anymore.  I have never seen it in any shop.  But I kind of hope it is still around. I hope right now someone somewhere in the world is tucking into some canned whole roast pheasant in burgundy in jelly. And that it’s not from 1977. 

Whatever Yinzerella does, it will be wonderful. I can’t wait to see it!

Australian Cooking For Today

Email me your deets, Yinz and I will get this behemoth in the mail to you soonest.

Have a great week!

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Mexi-Can! Chili Con Carne

It’s been a while since we dipped into the pages of The A-Z of Cooking…and yep, we’re still only up to C. This time though we head away from the fun, fun, fun of Children’s Favourites and into the darker world of cost savers.  Retro Frugality can a very scary place!

Chili Con Carne4jpg
Chili Con Carne4jpg

Surprisingly, all three recipes featured in this section were things I would have been happy to make.  There was the Chili Con Carne, a Tagliatelle with Bacon and Tomato Sauce and an Oxtail Casserole.  I REALLY wanted to make the Oxtail Casserole just because the others are things we probably eat fairly regularly and I have never cooked with o before.  But, someone had a hissy fit in the butcher when I asked for oxtails.  Sometimes it’s difficult trying to be a retro food blogger when you live with the fussiest eater on the planet!!!  It will be made though.  I have enough meals alone to warrant making some, even if just for myself. 

A-Z of Cooking - Chili Con Carne Ingredients
A-Z of Cooking – Chili Con Carne Ingredients

But for now, we needed a meal to be eaten together and, turned out, we had everything to make this chilli already in the freezer, fridge and store cupboard.  This is really important as you will soon find out that not all my ventures into Mexican cooking have been so expeditious.   You will also notice that there are no green peppers, as specified by the recipe ingredients, and there are mushrooms which are not mentioned.  I am not fond of bell peppers of any sort as they tend to repeat on me for HOURS after I have eaten them.  Plus, I had mushrooms and, in the cost cutting vibe of this post, waste not, want not right? 

Chili Con Carne Recipe
Chili Con Carne Recipe

I had one problem with this recipe.  And that was the lack of cumin.  Funnily enough, as I was writing this post, I was watching a Heston Blumenthal show where he made chili con carne and he too mentioned how important it was to have cumin in your chili recipe. 

Then again, Heston’s’ chili contains 27 ingredients and at least  3 processes….I love Heston, I really do.  But 27 ingredients for chilli? And that doesn’t even include the muffins?

I’m sure Heston’s recipe is the best chili you’ve ever eaten.  I’m equally sure that the A-Z of Cooking’s Cost Saving Recipe won’t be. 

BUT.  And it’s a big but.  (Sir Mixalot would be proud).

Chili Con Carne 5
Chili Con Carne 5

Is this a tasty dish? This recipe lacked some flavour, most notably cumin.  And personally, I would have increased the chilli content too. However, I think the mushrooms added some umami  that would not have been present had the green peppers been used instead.  And it was tasty even without the cumin. So yes, big tick on tasty. 

Does it fill the brief of being a cost saver? Absolutely.  The basic chili cost around $7.00.  And that made 4 large or 5 medium sized serves. 

Should this become something that is in your repertoire of basic dishes that you can then flavour and snazz up whatever way you want? Totally! 

Is it something you will make over and over?  You bet!

It’s a good, solid, basic chili recipe.  Sure it’s not Heston.  But it not everything needs to be.  In fact, nothing except food at The Fat Duck should be. 

And if you want to jazz it up, any,  or all, of the following would make good additions:

  • Avocado Salsa
  • Corn Chips as dippers
  • Warm tortillas
  • Pico Di  Gallo
  • Guacamole
  • Grated Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Pickled Jalapenos
  • Cojita or crumbled feta cheese
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce

This is great, quick easy weeknight cooking, it is also great, maybe even better the next day for lunch or dinner.

Chili Con Carne4jpg
Chili Con Carne4jpg

 Eat, enjoy! With the money you save on this why not treat yourself to a margarita or two.

Have a great week!

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Skippy Cake For Sara. Kinda, Maybe, Sorta

My friend Sara recently sat, and passed with flying colours, her Australian citizenship test.  By way of celebration, she asked me to bake her a cheesecake.  Sara has asked me many times to make her a cheesecake and, to date this has not happened.  This time was no exception

“In honour of your new Australianness I will make you a Skippy* Cake” I said.

There was a long pause.  Then.

“What’s a Skippy cake?”

That night I emailed her this picture of a Skippy Cake which is from The Party Cookbook”  from 1971, edited by Ann Marshall and Elizabeth Sewell. 

 The next morning she sent me this:

 Sara email

Well, never let it be said that I’m the type of gal who goes around promising to make people Skippy Cakes and not delivering, so, here it is Sara, your very own Skippy Cake!

Skippy Cake 2
Skippy Cake 2

 Actually, rewind and delete that.  I am exactly the kind of gal who promises a Skippy Cake and does not deliver because sadly, Sara works in our Canberra Office and I am in Melbourne.  Technically,  yes that 1400 kilometre round trip is do-able in a weekend.  But so is an ultra-marathon.  And I’m not doing one of them either!

The Skippy Cake and the Mushroom Cake I made a few weeks ago got me thinking back to the awesome cakes my mum used to make me. 

There was this when I was….hmmm….how old?  Four? Six? If only it was completely obvious what year I was celebrating….

Five Cake
Five Cake

 And she crocheted that purple dress for me too!

A few years later and I got my very own Dolly Varden!  The utter joy of this was hard to describe. And her skirt is the exact same colour as my 5 year old birthday dress!

Dolly Varden
Dolly Varden

 It’s just a shame you can’t see the detail in the dress.  It was gorgeous! And every rose, every detail hand made!  There was one to top that too.  One year she made me barrow full of fruit and vegetables and flowers. So imagine this:


But in cake and LOADED with vegies, fruit and flowers.  Hundreds of teeny hand made fondant apples and roses and oranges and eggplant, bananas and tulips, pumpkins and tomatoes…it was loaded!  And how did we repay her hours and hours of painstaking work?  By not taking a single damn photo. 

How much do we suck?  We are the worst family in the world. Seriously.

So, filled with nostalgia, it was it was hardly surprising that my eye was drawn to this in my local supermarket on the weekend:

 The cover calls it Australia’s most famous children’s cake book.  Others go as far as to call it the “best book ever written in this country”.

And you know, there’s not that many children’s cake books that have a comedy routine and a song dedicated to them.

 So fancy a peek at some of my faves?

For the budding artist there is a paint palette:

 Artist's Palette

Got a mini-maestro in the house ? How about a piano cake? Can you believe it? A freaking piano!  Can you see why this is Australia’s most famous children’s cake book? the best book ever written in this country? the best book ever written?

 Piano Cake


And the one I always wanted and never got.  The Pool Party cake.  If I didn’t already have an AMAZING cake figured out for my own birthday this year, I would be making this one.  Next year for sure!

Pool Party Cake
Pool Party Cake

 I mean they’re no Skippy cakes but they are all kinds of awesome. 

Not all is wonderful though. There is a very cryptic message in the forward where editor Pamela Clarke advises that “four of your little friends are missing”.  I really want to know what those four missing cakes are.  Obviously something nowadays seen to be massively politically incorrect – my money is on at least one Golliwog.  It’s certainly not gender based stereotypes because the book is full of them. The section on boys cakes has 3 cars, a rocket and a helicopter.  The girl’s cakes  have a sewing machine, a stove and a dressing table.  It would really piss me off except that stove cake is just adorable!


Stove Cake
Stove Cake

Then, there is some stuff that borders on the downright creepy.   Take this thing, called a Mary Jane, which looks like it should be the leading role in a horror film:

Mary Jane Cake
Mary Jane Cake

 And surely you’d only make the Happy Clown if you wanted to psychologically scar your kids for life.

Happy Clown
Happy Clown

 But then clowns totally creep me out anyway.  This is how much.  You know that actor Brian Dennehy?  I watched him in a movie where he played John Wayne Gacy aka The Clown Killer.  This sounds like he killed clowns but he actually dressed up as a clown and killed  young boys.  Lots of young boys.  And then buried them in the walls of his house. Since seeing that, I’ve never been able to watch anything with Brian Dennehy in it again.  Because in my mind, he is a creepy clown serial killer. Which I’m sure he isn’t.  I’m sure he’s a lovely man.  But that movie scarred me.   Don’t take my word for it. Watch this.  And tell me it doesn’t give you the screaming heebie-jeebies.  Mute your sound though, I don’t know what that noise is but it’s awful.  The entire movie can also be found on You Tube if you want the full extent of the horror.

What? How did we get onto serial killing clowns?  We’re meant to be talking about cake dammit.  Children’s cakes in general.  Skippy Cake in particular.   Here is the recipe which I  followed pretty much exactly.  It’s a really nice butter cake even if you don’t want to go the full Skippy.  Do try the toasted coconut over the icing though, that was delicious.

Skippy Cake RecipeYou don’t have to use all that food colouring.  You could puree some raspberries for the pink cake.  I didn’t even bother with the yellow colouring in the icing because kangaroos are brown or grey not yellow.  I added some cocoa powder to the icing mix to make it brown but the coconut pretty much covered it all up anyway.  And remember when I destroyed that curry with the bright green pandan essence? No you don’t because that’s a kitchen nightmare I’m saving for a special occasion.  Well that’s what I used to make the grass.    

The hardest part was making the kangaroo template:

Skippy Cake Template
Skippy Cake Template

 Skippy Cake 3

The actual cake was lovely!

Skippy Cake 4
Skippy Cake 4


Skippy Cake1
Skippy Cake1

For those of you who might not know, the cake was named after a very famous Australian kids tv show called Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.  Skippy was a problem solving kangaroo.  It was set in a national park and if hikers got lost, Skippy would find them or if someone fell into a hole in the ground Skippy would summon rescuers to help them.  Iconic childhood viewing!

Also, you may be wondering what happened to The Skippy Cake seeing as Sara did not get it?  Well it just so happens that it was my bosses birthday that same week and he just happens to support a football team called The Kangaroos. 

I took the Boomerang part with Sara’s name off and we ate that at home and then I took The Skippy Cake into work and we had a birthday morning tea.  I went back into the kitchen an hour or so later to wrap up the last few pieces for some of my friends who were not in that day and it had all been eaten so I think everyone liked it.  My boss even took photos and showed his kids that night! 

And I already have an order to make a cake for someone else’s birthday. 
He wants a cheesecake….

Hope your week is a piece of cake!

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Eat Your Tapenade Eggs Princess

Today is a twofer as I have a whole mess of things that I want to get out before I go on holidays….less than a month to go now!!!! 

I was intending to do two posts from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, which is the current selection over at The Cookbook Guru.   But they were both about eggs so I thought I may as well combine them and do a kind of then and now. Because you see, one of these recipes comes from the 1977 edition of the book which I own.  And the other comes from the 2010 edition which I borrowed from the local library.  Neither features in both.

MF Eggs CollageSo, this time, it’s up to you to guess which is which….leave a note in the comments along with what you most like to cook and, if you get it right,  I will send you a vintage Margaret Fulton Recipe from the 1977 version.  You can choose from:

  • The First Course
  • Soups
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Salads
  • Pasta and Rice
  • Desserts
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Entertaining
  • International

But now, on with, on with, on with the show.

Tapenade Eggs

Tapenade Eggs
Tapenade Eggs

I was really worried about this one.  Because tuna is pink and egg yolks are yellow and olives are black and the good Lord only knew what colour of hot mess might end up being  crammed into some poor unsuspecting egg whites! 

I think that colour is called puce.  But that is not a nice word, particularly when describing food.  Actually I have no idea what that colour is called.  But it’s inoffensive, and given the ingredients, could have been a lot worse!

Tapenade Eggs3
Tapenade Eggs3

 I made these for dinner one night. 

When I get back from holiday I am going to start a series of posts on the stuff that I eat when Mark  is working nights.  Sometimes it’s the best.  And sometimes, I steam a bunch of asparagus, make some toast into soldiers and microwave a jar of hollandaise sauce.  And I sit and dip.

I won’t post that but I do find I tend to veer from the more experimental or foods he is not fond of (vis a vis the AMAZING prawn and fennel fritters I made the other night) to just plain lazy which can also sometimes be pretty awesome. Both of these recipes are from what I call “Me Alone” nights. 

Whilst the Eggs Tapenade were pretty good on the night,  I had some left over which I took for lunch the following day and….AWESOME….I don’t know what happened in my fridge overnight but those ingredients totally chilled out and got to know each other a little better and the result was spectacular!  If you make this try it out – eat one fresh, then let the mix sit overnight.  And let me know if you too could really taste the difference!

Tapenade Eggs2
Tapenade Eggs2

 Tapenade Eggs Recipe

  • 125g pitted black olives
  • 6 anchovy fillets, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp capers, drained
  • 100g tuna in oil, drained
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 hard boiled eggs

Crush the olives in a mortar or chop in a food processor.  Add the anchovy fillets, capers, tuna and the juice of half a lemon.  Pound or process until the mixture has formed a fairly smooth paste.

Still pounding, or with the motor running add the oil in a slow steady stream. 

Taste and add more lemon juice and pepper to season.

Set aside (can be made a few days ahead and stored airtight in the refrigerator).

Halve the eggs lengthwise.  Mash or sieve the yolks and mix with the tapenade.  Pipe or spoon into the egg whites and arrange on a serving platter.

(I also decorated my eggs with some chopped parley, chopped piquillo peppers, capers, toasted pine nuts and a sprinkle of smoked paprika).

Eggs Princess

How could I resist a recipe with this name?  And thank the Lord for the night time.  And this recipe.  Because it lead me to MY discovery of the year.  And I’m highlighting the word my here because I really don’t know if this is a super amazing thing that not so many people know or if you have all known about it forever and I was the one “discovering onions”.  I have absolutely no idea of what that means either but it is a phrase my family use when you come late to the party on anything.

Mum.  Elucidate.  Please.

Eggs Princess
Eggs Princess

But here is my discovery and it has seriously CHANGED. MY. LIFE. You can poach an egg to perfection.  In a microwave. 

Perfectly poached eggs in 50 seconds.


Here is a link. 

Microwave Poached Eggs

And if you all knew this and didn’t tell me before?  You’re too mean!  I love a poached egg.  I also love a poached egg with a creamy ham and mushroom sauce with a dash of cayenne!

 Eggs Princess 2The recipe says to serve this with toast triangles as a lunch dish.  I popped mine on a toasted English Muffin and had it for another dinner alone!

  Eggs Princess Recipe

  •  4 poached eggs
  • 180g mushrooms, sliced
  • 90g butter
  • 180g ham, diced
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Saute the mushroom in 2/3 of the butter in a frying pan.  Add the ham and half the parsley. Heat through on a low heat.

Mix cream, egg yolks, remaining butter and lemon juice in a double boiler.  Stir with a spoon or whisk until slightly thickened then season to taste with salt.

Heap ham mixture into a serving dish (or an English Muffin) and arrange eggs on top.

Spoon sauce over eggs and sprinkle with parsley. 

 Eggs Princess

 So, retro lovers over to you. 

Which is the vintage recipe and which is the modern?  You’ll have a week from the date of posting to post your guess and the section of the Margaret Fulton Cookbook from which you would like your recipe to come.  And if you cook it really quickly, you could even get if featured on the Cookbook Guru which is featuring this awesome book until the end of June.

Good luck and have a great week!

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Brazo Di Gitano – The Gypsy’s Arm

Cross my palm with silver and I will tell you tales of magic and wonder.  Or just keep reading ‘cos I cooked something really good!

GypsyI see, in your future a little taste of Spain….because today in a final piece of birthday indulgence, I bring to you The Gypsy’s Arm…aka The Brazo Di Gitano.

And what you may ask is the Brazo Di Gitano?  Well remember back at Christmas when my family took against me for bringing a Potato Salad Roll  to our Christmas festivities?  I felt then that despite their negativity it was my duty to bring the PSR to the world.  This did not start well.  My St Patrick’s Day Corned Beef PSR was an mitigated disaster.  But redemption is at hand with The Gypsy’s Arm. 

I LOVE this recipe.  And yes, I am yelling at you because it’s that good. It’s like someone took every lovely taste of Spain and mixed it together and then wrapped it up in potato.  And mayo.

Gypsy's Arm
Gypsy’s Arm

 Why a Gypsy’s Arm?  I have no idea.  But when something tastes this good why question it?  I found the original version of this recipe in Anya Von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table which I thought was an amazing book even before I discovered it had a potato salad roll.

New Spanish TableSo what’s so good about this recipe?  Well, potatoes and mayo…

 But also tuna, tomatoes, olives, capers, red onions and anchovies.  And to make things even better, I added some avocado to mine, hence the greenish tinge. 

Gypsy's Arm2The flavours of this dish took me right back to a trip to Barcelona a few years ago.  It really is Spain on a plate.  And so easy.

Make your mashed potato and spread out on a tray.

 Gypsy's Arm3I left mine a bit chunky so it was still a bit like a regular potato salad.  Then put your tuna filling on  top.  Spread to the edges.

Gypsy's Arm4Then, shake, rattle and roll!!!

Gypsy's Arm5Don’t worry if it cracks a little, or a lot, you can just press it together.  Plus you will shortly be adding your mayo (and avocado topping) so small cracks won’t matter.

Then, channel your inner Gaudi and decorate the outside of roll as you see fit. 

Gypsy's Arm7
Gypsy’s Arm7

 Trim the edges so you have a nice clean line before serving. 

Gypsy's Arm6Eat and transport yourself back to the streets of Barcelona…


Barcelona Barcelona4 Barcelona Gaudi Barcelona1 Barcelona - Casa Batllo 4 Barcelona - Casa Batllo Barcelona3 Barcelona2Have a great week!  And there are only 2 days to go for the Birthday giveaway.  Subscribe or get one of your friends to subscribe to win a fabulous vintage cookbook.  Prize drawn on Monday!

 Recipe Card

Gypsy's Arm
A potato salad roll that transports you to Spain with every delicious bite.
Write a review
  1. 900g / 2 pounds medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  2. 3 tablespoons milk
  3. 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  4. Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
For the Roll
  1. 180g oil packed tuna, drained and flaked
  2. 1 medium-size tomato, finely chopped
  3. 1/3 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives, plus more for decorating the roll
  4. 6 to 7 piquillo peppers (from a can or jar),
  5. 8 to 10 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  6. 1 tbsp capers
  7. 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  8. 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  9. 6 sliced pickled jalapeno peppers(optional) plus more to garnish
For The Topping
  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/2 avocado (optional)
  3. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 large garlic clove, crushed with a garlic press
  6. Dash of tabasco (optional)
For The Decoration
  1. Sliced olives,
  2. Slices of Piquillo Pepper
  3. Anchovies
  4. Pickled Jalapenos
  5. Diced Tomatoes
  1. Boil the potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. Let potatoes cool and then peel.
  2. Combine in a bowl with milk and olive oil and mash until fairly smooth. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Cover a large baking sheet with waxed paper. Spread mashed potatoes onto waxed paper in a thin rectangle approximately 30cm x 15cm.
  4. Mix the tuna, tomato, olives, capers, red onions, piquillo peppers, and parsley together. Then spread this mixture over the mashed potato. Spread out to the edges as much as possible.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Starting at the long end, roll the potatoes up jelly-roll fashion, using the paper to shape the roll without catching the edge of the paper in it. When roll is finished, slide the paper out from under it. Pinch together any tears in the potato roll.
  7. Combine mayonnaise, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk to mix and season with salt to taste. Spread the mayonnaise mixture all over the roll and decorate with piquillo peppers, anchovies,tomatoes, capers and olive slices. Place the roll in the refrigerator to chill for 2 to 3 hours. To serve, cut the roll into thick slices.
  8. Enjoy!
  1. You can vary the ingrendients to suit your taste. Love anchovies? Add some to the filling. Hate 'em? Leave them out altogether!
Adapted from Taryn Fryer
Adapted from Taryn Fryer
Retro Food For Modern Times
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