Category: Feta

Jane Grigson’s Watercress and Orange Salad

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Ok, so not exactly true for Melbourne, although it has been a fairly shitty summer.  But certainly for my friends in the States, it must feel like that.  But hopefully, this Watercress and Orange Salad will bring you some virtual sunshine.

Watercress and Orange Salad 5
Watercress and Orange Salad 5

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

 This is a very cool salad from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.. I think it looks like a big, beautiful sunflower. And not only is it pretty; it is super tasty too.  How could it not be – peppery watercress, tangy sweet orange, earthy toasted walnuts and salty olives. And it looks so 70’s.  I think it’s the combination of green and orange….

Here is the original recipe from Jane Grigson:

Orange and Watercress SaladAnd here is the original version:

Jane Grigson's Watercress Salad
Jane Grigson’s Watercress Salad

This is very simple to put together.  Line your plate with watercress and start piling in your ingredients.  The worst bit if you do it in the circle is stripping all those watercress leaves.

Watercress Salad LeavesLike a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel…

 Watercress Salad Leaves2Never ending or begining on an ever spinning wheel….

Watercress Salad Leaves3I found the best way to get the orange slices as thin as possible was to cut them with the skin still on, then cut the peel and pith away with a pair of kitchen scissors.

 Oranges for the watercress saladThen just add your walnuts and / or olives. 

Before serving, a grind of pepper and a splash of vinaigrette made with some sherry vinegar and voila!!!  Or should I say “Velado!” because this really has a Spanish feel to it.   

I had this with some grilled salmon the first time I made it and it was delicious!!! The second time I had it with some prawns and it was, again super.  I would love to try it with duck as per Jane’s suggestion. 

And I made it a third time but this time tweaked the recipe a bit – I added some feta cheese and a teeny bit of red onion.  This time, I had it with a lovely sourdough baguette for a light lunch and it was perfection!!!  And yes, I made this three times in about ten days.  It’s that good.

Watercress and Orange Salad 6
Watercress and Orange Salad 6

 So far, Jane Grigson’s recipes are turning out to be amazing.  I am a little disappointed that it is now March and we have another book to focus on at The Cookbook Guru.  But wow!!!  What a book!!!  I am super excited about stepping across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco for my next venture with The Cookbook Guru!!!

 And, if you are struggling through a long cold and lonely winter either physically or mentally, here is a little anecdote that may help.

Back in 1969, there was not much joy camp Beatle – there were personality clashes, legal battles, business disputes….things were going to hell in a handbasket.  But in the midst of all the problems, all the trouble and strife, George Harrison (by far my favourite Beatle) walked into Eric Clapton’s garden with an acoustic guitar and wrote, to my mind anyway, one of the most beautiful, hopeful songs ever written.  In the midst of adversity and all that…

And just to tie it all in together, here is George singing  that song with some Spanish subtitles.

All together now

Sol, sol, sol
Ahí viene

Have a great week.  I hope all your clouds have silver linings.

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Crespéou (70’s Style Retro Picnic Bling)

In his introduction to the Crespéou in Plenty More, Yotam Ottolenghi says

If I was going to sum up my cooking style in five words, 70’s-style-retro-picnic-bling would not be them”

Huh…Weirdly enough that’s exactly the style of cooking I aspire to. 

Still, with an introduction like that, there was no way I was not making a Crespéou!  I was already thinking about  having a month of  food I have no idea how to pronounce (Kouign Amman anyone?).  Google tells me this is Cresp-ay-oo. And also that it’s from Provence and so-called because the layers look like crepes.  Never say I don’t do the research hard yards for you…

Crespeou5So what is this unpronounceable piece of 70’s style crepe like Retro Picnic Bling?

Well, it’s layers of three differently flavoured omelettes stacked on each other and baked.  One red, one yellow, one green.  Which just goes to show the difference between those classy people of Provence and around here.  We’d be calling it something dumb arse like “Traffic Light” Special. 

Crespéou – Red Layer

Yotam suggests red peppers for this layer.   I used sun-dried-tomatoes because red peppers and I have a love-hate relationship.  Without the love.

Hmm, I have realised in looking at this picture of the red layer that I may have put in fresh coriander rather than ground.  Oops.

Crespeou Red Layer
Crespeou Red Layer

 Still, I think that is one of the benefits of a dish like this.  You can mix up the flavours. I have seen other recipes where people have used, zucchinis, mushrooms, olives, all sorts of things. It could really become a “clean-out-your-fridge” type dish. 

Crespeou Red Layer2Crespéou -Yellow Layer

The yellow layer was intriguing.  I have never used turmeric in an omelette before.  It really works!!!  If I was going to mix this layer up a bit thin crispy discs of pan sautéed potato would be great!

Crespeou Yellow LayerThe trick with this dish is to leave the top of your omelettes much more runny than you would any other omelette.  The idea of this is that when you stack them and bake them the egg will solidify and the layers will stick together.

Crespeou Yellow Layer2
Crespeou Yellow Layer2

Crespéou – Green Layer

Another genius combination – green onions, green chilli, basil, tarragon and cumin!!! Wow!!!  This layer was really perky and fresh!!!

Once you have cooked all your omelettes, stack them up as neatly as possible.  And into the oven they go to cook up that last bit of runny egg.

 Crespeou - Stacked

 Once cooked through, you can eat your Crespéou as is or trim the edges with a sharp knife to be able to see the layers.  I used a small square pan so I cut mine into four cubes…


 These were superb. I had it for lunch I think 3 days running and looked forward to it on day three as much as I did  on day one. 

And I know what you’re all thinking.  Which layer tasted best?  I did separate one of my cubes and ate each later alone.  And they were all really good.  But the combination was a-may-zing!!!!

Yotam Ottolenghi also says of the Crespéou that:

“If there is one recipe that might make me cringe in years to come, it will, for sure be this one”

I say “I love you.  Can you not be so happily gay and be my boyfriend? You could cook me Crespéou and we could go on a picnic in a field in Provence and I could dance around listening to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on a vintage Walkman.  Or…hold your head up high and embrace the Crespéou for the lunchbox saviour that it is.  And I’m sure even better on picnics. Especially picnics in Provence.  With heaps of rosé wine and 1970’s disco music on your vintage Walkman.

Which is fairly redundant –  I  can’t think of ANYTHING that wouldn’t be better on a picnic in Provence with heaps of rosé wine and 1970’s music on your Walkman.  Can you?

Speaking of which…before she was Totally Eclipsed in the Heart Bonnie Tyler was Lost in France which would actually be the perfect musical accompaniment to the Crespéou…

 The full recipe can be found in Plenty More or online here

  Bonnie Tyler being Lost in France is here:





Make.  Listen.  Drink lots of rosé and imagine yourself lost in France.

 This week, I’m cooking up some more 70’s Style Retro Picnic Bling courtesy of Jane Grigson!  Have a tres fantastique week what ever you get up to. 

And turn around bright eyes.

And P.S. – I’m totally contemplating the name of this blog to Retro Picnic Bling.  Loving it madly!!!

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Raising the (Salad) Bar Part 1: Cuban Aguacate Salad and Dressing

One of the reasons I love old cookbooks is sometimes you get a little insight in to the lives of the people who owned them previously.  My latest favourite vintage find, Salads For All Seasons is no exception.

S4AS CoverThere is an inscription on the front inner cover that reads “To Ann, Happy Christmas 1985. Love Aunty Ev & Uncle Bill.

S4AS Inscription

Thing is…the book was published in 1971.  I don’t want to judge but I dunno….unless it’s an absolute classic, giving someone a 14 year old cookbook makes me think that some regifting may have been at play here.

I suspect Ann may not have been the favourite niece.

Avocado and Aguacate Dressing
Avocado and Aguacate Dressing

In the foreward Elizabeth Durack Clancy O.B.E. says:

“I commend this book because it is so useful and practical.  “The wilful extravagant maid” can learn some fresh devilment from these pages but the “housewife that’s thrifty” is equally catered for.”

Hmmm…I’m thinking Aunty Ev may have been one of those “thrifty housewives”. And good old Ann, a maid of will and extravagance.  It’s all starting to come together….it certainly explains the parsimony of the Christmas present. And the lack of a term of endearment in the greeting.

Next up, the introduction where author Rosemary Mayne-Wilson tells us:

“Salad used to something served on Sunday evenings.  It consisted of neatly shredded lettuce, tomato wedges, hard boiled eggs and a slice of cheese.  It was served with the sliced leftovers of the Sunday roast.  Generally it was put straight on the plate, but when there were visitors it was served in a crystal salad bowl.  To make it daring, a blob of mayonnaise was added, but this ‘extra’ was confined to adults”

Personally, I’d be quite happy eating that salad.  But more importantly, who knew mayo was a rite of passage?

Wasabi Leaves
Wasabi Leaves

Then again, have you heard of those Menarche Parties that people are throwing their daughters these days?  I swear, if my parents had ever done anything like that to me, I would still be locked in the bathroom, listening to The Smiths on repeat and  sobbing “You hate me don’t you? You really fucking hate me.”

You can view the full horror by clicking on the link below but just to whet your appetite, included in the party pack provided by…

wait for it…

Menarche Parties R Us…

(I swear you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried)

…are 2 games.  One of these is called “Pin the Ovaries”  and the other is called the   “Puberty Marshmallow Game”.

Pinning ovaries sounds like something a serial killer would do.  And I never want to know what a puberty marshmallow game entails.

For the love of God, bring back the dob of mayo on the Sunday Night Salad. “You’re a woman now Ann, have some Hellman’s”.

“Gee thanks Aunty Ev.  Any chance of some tips on frugality?”

Wow,that was a spectacular digression.  Where we we?  Salad.  Yes.  Right. Ok. Sorry, I’m still  being gobsmacked by the puberty marshmallow game.

Salad.  We’re here to talk about salad.

Cuban Aguacate Salad 2
Cuban Aguacate Salad 2

Back to the Introduction of Salads For All Seasons – after dropping in the comment about the mayo, in a lovely piece of randomness, Rosemary Mayne-Wilson tells us:

“Of course this has all changed and now nearly everyone owns a wooden salad bowl”

Bear with me while I nip across to Ebay because I am one of the few who own nothing of the sort.  And now I desperately want one.  I really want one that looks like this:

Super 1970's Salad Bowl

But I’m guessing I might have to make do with something a little more mundane.

And it will come in handy because I’m thinking that this could be a long haul.  There is so much that is both amazing and godawful in Salads for All Seasons, that  I think it’s worth spending some time here.

I was going to work through it from start to finish…until I read some of the recipes and paused for a moment of sanity.  So we’ll be kind of working our way through in a fairly random order but skipping some of the truly awful and the just plain boring.

But just to get us off to a to an extravagant and devilish start, put your hot pink dancin’ shoes on, because your tastebuds are going to be doing the Rhumba with this awesome Cuban inspired salad.


Cuban Aguacate Salad and Dressing

Cuban Aguacate Salad and Dressing


  • Salad:
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Cucmber
  • Handful of leafy Greens (I used Wasabi Leaves just because I found them at the greengrocer and was dying to use them in something - you can use any variety of lettuce, baby kale, spinach, rocket (arugula) etc.
  • Small block of Feta Cheese
  • Chives to garnish
  • Chilli (optional)
  • Toast (optional)
  • Dressing:
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch brown sugar
  • 1 tsp rum
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste


  • Make the Dressing:
  • Mix Ingredients in a jar and chill.
  • Salad:
  • Stone the avocado and slice. Place in a bowl and pour the chilled dressing over.
  • Slice the cucmber. I like mine peeled but you can leave the peel on as you prefer.
  • Wash and spin the leaves.
  • Place the leaves into your bowl, add the cucumber and avocado. Toss well.
  • Sprinkle some feta over the top.
  • Garnish with chopped chives and some finely sliced chilli if you like it hot!

Cuban Aguacate Salad
Cuban Aguacate Salad

Who knew you could put rum into salad dressing? It’s certainly efficient – you can toxify and detoxify at the same time!!! And it tastes great!

I”m going to be spending my week, trying not to think about marshmallows! Hopefully Salad dressing liberally dosed with Bacardi will help that  act of forgetting.

Have a fabulous one whatever you do!

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Get Me To The Greek – Spanakopita – Daring Kitchen

God Bless the Greeks.  They invented democracy, philosophy and some damn fine food.  Including fried cheese.  How good is that stuff?  You take cheese…which is one of my all time best ever foods to begin with…and fry it.  That;’s not even eleven.  That’s twelve! Possibly thirteen.  But, I digress, yeah, I know opening paragraph…and we’re already off track, because today we’re talking about the second wonder of the Greek cuisine pantheon…(or should that be Parthenon?) the cheese and spinach pie, also more formally known as the Spanakopita.

Spanakopita 1
Spanakopita 1

I live in Melbourne, which as anyone in Melbourne will tell you has the largest population of Greek people outside of Athens.  I have no idea if this is actually true or just one of those urban myths about the city you live in.  Regardless of numbers, there are a lot of Greek people and hence a lot of super delicious Greek food.  In fact, just as much as some families have the local Chinese or Indian restaurant, my family would go Greek.

No, not like that you bunch of perverts….I meant we would celebrate family occasions at the local  Greek restaurant.

Spanakopita Ingredients
Spanakopita Ingredients

Mind you, this did come after a debacle at the local Chinese.  You know the classic tale of the gauche family who drink the fingerbowls?  Not that old chestnut for my family.  No way.  Uh huh.

We’re a much classier lot.

So when, towards the end of our meal, the waiter delivered some small bowls of water to our table we dutifully dipped and dunked and positively soaked our fingers revelling in our (sub) urban/e sophistication.  He then reappeared with a plate of…I can best describe them as  caramel coated sweet dumplings.  The idea being that you dipped your caramel dumpling into the icy cold water thereby changing the caramel from a hot liquid to a crispy shell. We all looked to our now slightly grubby bowls of warmish water and the thought of dessert suddenly didn’t seem so good.

Now, I can’t speak a word of Mandarin, but believe me, that wasn’t a prerequisite to  understand what our waiter was muttering as he swished away the original bowls.  There is a certain tone people adopt when they say “You people are morons” that is pretty much universal.

We celebrated with Greek food from then on.

Spanakopita Ingredients - pre massage
Spanakopita Ingredients – pre massage

The February Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Audax of Audax Artifex. The challenge brought us to Greece with a delicious, flaky spanakopita – a spinach pie in a phyllo pastry shell.  I had thought I was au fait with the cooking of this particular dish as it is something I make fairly regularly.  However Audax’s version had a few curve balls.

First there was massaging the ingredients.  It made me think about those Wagyu cows…

Spanakopita 2
Spanakopita 2

Then post the massage there was the squeeze….this was both kind of disgusting and a shit ton of fun.

Squeezing...kind of gross.
Squeezing…kind of gross.
Squeezed Spinach (and my abnormally large man hands)
Squeezed Spinach (and my abnormally large man hands)

Post the squeeze, you end up with two bowls.  Once containing a dry mixture, one containing a milky green liquid.

Post Squeeze Spanakopita
Post Squeeze Spanakopita

It is at this point that I would diverge from the recipe as given by Audax and add some more cheese into the dry mixture.  I don’t know what happened to the cheese but somewhere during the massage or the squeeze it kind of disappeared, leaving a less cheesy spanakopita than I  would normally have.  For me, it’s all about the cheese.

Anyhow, then you add some couscous to the liquid and let it soak it all up.  This is utter brilliance.  The couscous bulks up the mixture so you can have a higher pie and it stops the bottom pastry getting soggy.

Spinach Juice and Couscous
Spinach Juice and Couscous

Another brilliant idea?  Cutting the squares before baking.  Stroke of genius!

Pre-Baked Spanakopita
Pre-Baked Spanakopita


Spanakopita - hot from the oven
Spanakopita – hot from the oven

You can find the recipe here.

Huh, I just realised I’ve mentioned fried Greek cheese in at least two out of the last three posts.  I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

I’m going to be spending my week having at least one trip to the Paradise of Lindos to partake of some plate smashing, some haloumi and maybe even a little bit of this…


Have a great week whatever you get up to!

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Belle & Sebastian’s Plum & Feta Salad


I can’t believe it is almost time to go back to work.  Where did the summer holidays go?  Actually, the whole of summer was M.I A.  I wore winter boots the other day.  We’re living in crazy times….

Belle & Sebastian Plum & Feta Salad
Belle & Sebastian Plum & Feta Salad

But maybe because the réntrée, as the French would say, is about to commence I have had a particular song stuck in my head for about the last four days now.  Luckily, this was one I could tolerate, unlike the last time which was Rooms Are On Fire by Stevie Nicks.  Can you imagine 6 days of “There is magic all around you, if I do say so myself…”?

Ever wanted to bang your head into a wall just to MAKE IT STOP?  That’s what that week was like.

This time is the fabulous Step Into My Office Baby by Belle and Sebastian. Who I love with an almost unrivalled deep and deadly…They’re clever and funny and named after a French book from the 1960’s. They have great album covers and witty whimsical lyrics…

Belle and Sebastian

Smart, funny, savvy, slightly nostalgic for a past that probably actually existed…If I was a band I’m almost sure I would be  Belle and Sebastian.

Even though this says I am The Beatles.

What Band Are You?

And, as if all of that musical talent wasn’t enough, they’re also creators of a super refreshing salad!

I found this recipe in “Lost in The SuperMarket: An Indie Rock Cookbook “by Kay Bozick Owens and Lynn Owens and have been waiting for plums to come into season ever since.  And those happy days have finally arrived. The shops are full of them.

As a complete digression…they are also full of hot cross buns.  WTF is wrong with people?  It’s JANUARY!!!.  Ok, don’t even get me started…here’s the book….


And here is more of the Belle & Sebastian Plum & Feta Salad!  Tangy from the plums, salty from the feta, sweet from the honey, fresh from the mint….and just look at the fabulous colours…

Belle & Sebastian Plum Salad2
Belle & Sebastian Plum Salad2

I had mine with a very simple grilled salmon steak and it was a match made in heaven!!! The tanginess and saltiness of the salad cut through the richness of the salmon perfectly.

Belle & Sebastian Plum Salad3
Belle & Sebastian Plum Salad3

But I think the Belle and Sebastian Plum and Feta Salad would also go really well with chicken or pork and it would be super wicked amazing with duck….

I’ll give you another B&S anecdote just for free…for YEARS, I thought their gorgeous song Piazza, New York Catcher was called PIzza, New York Catcher….food obsessed or what?

So here are my tips to make the réntrée more bearable:

1. Make this salad….it will cheer you up

2. Listen to some Belle & Sebastian… here’s some I prepared earlier…

  1. The Blues Are Still Blue
  2. Dress Up In You
  3. Piazza, New York Catcher
  4. Step Into My Office, Baby

3. Don’t look up “The Boy With The Arab Strap” at work thinking you will just get the Belle and Seb album cover.  You won’t.  And some of the images you will get will be definitely NSFW. Not to mention unsavoury.

So what song is stuck in your head?

And what band are you?

Have a great week!

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