Happy Birthday, Mum!

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It’s my mum’s birthday today. I can’t pop in and see her, take her flowers or make her a cake because she’s visiting with my brother down in Tasmania. (And yes, they are all safe from the fires, thank you!)

So instead I thought I’d take a moment to say thank you to my mum for some of the ways she has enriched my life.

Thank you mum for teaching me manners, and helping me understand that the feelings of others are important.  Thank you for teaching me to be considerate and compassionate.

Thank you for letting me follow you around the kitchen, for fostering my love of cooking, and for letting me make dinner – even when I did use every herb and condiment, and every pot and pan just to make one very strange-tasting dish.

Thanks for letting us spend so much time with our grandparents.  I am only now appreciating what a gift that is in my life.

Thank you for all the sacrifices you made to make sure we got a good education.

Thank you for teaching me that we should celebrate the important occasions in our lives.  In honour of this last one, here’s cake.  (BTW – You were the one who taught me how to make the chocolate leaves…)

cake 2010 004

I hope you get to indulge in some fabulous tasty treats today. I love you.  {{{HUGS}}}

Happy Birthday Mum!

And if any of you would like to make this delicious Celebration Chocolate Mud Cake for yourself, my easy-to-follow recipe is here:

Celebration Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe

PS Don’t feel you have to wait for a special occasion to make this, because there is always something to celebrate in life!

Rhubarb Cream Puff Recipe

When you’re in a hurry, but still want something fabulous for dessert, this is it! There is no particular skill required, and the beauty of this recipe is that you can use any seasonal stewed fruit if you can’t get rhubarb!

Ingredients to Serve Four: one bunch of rhubarb, 2 apples, sugar, one cup or 300ml cream, one lemon, 2 sheets of commercial puff pastry, one egg, vanilla essence, raw sugar, 2 tablespoons flaked almonds, ground coriander seed (optional)

Rhubarb Compote:

Wash the rhubarb stalks well, and cut into inch long pieces.  I used one large bunch, which had about 8 stems in it. Weigh the raw rhubarb, and then measure twenty percent of the total weight of the rhubarb as raw (demerara) sugar. Then chop two pink lady apples (or any other apple of your choice) into smallish pieces, leaving the skin on but removing the core. Throw the sugar, rhubarb and apple into a pot. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. The rhubarb will break down and release its own liquid so no other fluid is required.  Cover your pot and place over a low heat.  Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.  It will take about ten to fifteen minutes to cook, and the rhubarb and apple will be soft and delicious. Set aside.  You can serve this warm or cool – whatever is your preference.

Cream:

Beat 300ml cream (or a cup – don’t get too fussy about quantities here), a dash of vanilla and a spoonful of sugar to taste (you don’t want it too sweet) until it forms soft peaks.

Pastry:

Preheat your oven to the temperature recommended by the pastry manufacturer.  Use two sheets of a commercial puff pastry. Cut each sheet into four.

Lay the sheets on some baking paper on a metal tray.

Beat the egg with a dash of water, and brush over the pastry.  Then sprinkle four with a little raw (demerara) sugar,  and the other four with some sugar, a dusting of ground coriander seed and the flaked almonds.

Put into the oven until puffed and golden (about ten minutes).

To assemble, flip the four squares that have no almonds upside down onto a serving plate.  Add a layer of rhubarb, pushing roughly to the edges.

Spread a splodge of cream on top of the rhubarb.

Top with the other pastry lid, and you’re done. These are best made close to serving time so that they don’t go soggy.

Pastry lids can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container. Recipe can easily be increased for a crowd.  For an afternoon tea or something slightly daintier, you could also cut your raw pastry squares in half again, which will end up making eight long fingers instead of the four larger puffs.

If you have any compote left over, it goes very well with scones (biscuits), or as a sponge filling.  It’s also a perfect match with a good vanilla ice-cream.  Enjoy!

Simple Baked Camenbert Recipe

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
~ C. S. Lewis

Our little farmhouse is as popular as any Byron Bay bed and breakfast come weekends,especially on Market Weekends! I’m returning home this morning, after a very big week of psychic work in Brisbane, and this afternoon guests arrive to spend a few nights with us.  It doesn’t give me much time to get ready, in anticipation of feeding the hungry hordes.

Afternoon drinks on the veranda is a much-looked-forward-to Friday ritual in our neck of the woods, and I know my visitors will be hungry after their long drive.  I won’t have had much time to whip up anything very spectacular – so my fallback treat today is Baked Camenbert.  Baking camenbert is so simple, and the result is a rich, melty fondue-reminiscent cheesy heaven! You can scoop it out onto bread or crackers, and there is always a fight to eat the ‘skin’ at the end of the cheese-dipping session.

Our beverages of choice will be Hendricks Gin and Tonic (thanks to my dear friend Rachel for putting me on to this gin), Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (a locally brewed and quite excellent beer) and perhaps a bottle of bubbles or a crisp dry white wine.

Now, to the business of baking camenbert.  I have some splendid, meal-worthy variations of this recipe but for today let’s just start with the basics.  You’ll need a wheel of camenbert (more if there is a crowd!), and some good quality crackers, crispbread or mini-toasts.  A good fresh bread, ripped into chunks can also work well.  I like the camenberts that come in the little wooden boxes.  The box helps the cheese stay in shape as it bakes, but if you can’t get hold of one like that don’t worry.  It will still work out fine!

If you want to make your own crackers and crispbread, I thoroughly recommend the recipes from the fabulous Darla Cooks blog. Just click on the link to visit cracker recipe heaven. Here’s a picture from Darla’s blog of her own crispbread making efforts:

This image courtesy of the amazing Darla Magee-Price

Anyway, back to cheese….

Using a sharp knife (serrated ones work very well for this) carefully cut the top rind off your wheel of cheese.  Then score the inside of the cheese lightly to help it cook through evenly.

If you have some sprigs of fresh rosemary, and a little fresh garlic to hand, these will turn your camenbert into something magical.  It’s so easy.  Just skin a few garlic cloves, cut in half if enormous, and poke into the cheese.  Poke a few sprigs of rosemary in the cheese as well.

Now place your cheese on a baking tray and pop it into a very hot oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. If you don’t have a nifty wooden box for your cheese, and the rind is quite soft, you can place the cheese in a small oven proof bowl or ramekin, or make a little paper and aluminum foil collar to keep your cheese in shape.  Or live on the wild side, put a piece of baking paper under your cheese and be prepared to eat it sloppy if it doesn’t hold its shape.

Check in with your cheese every so often.  You want it browned and bubbly but not burned.

To serve, simply slide your cheese onto a serving platter, surround with crackers, provide a knife if that’s your kind of entertaining style, and watch it be demolished!

Nana’s Pikelet Recipe and a Few Good Yarns

Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you.  Now tell me about hundreds of things.  ~Saki

Pikelets are a bit of an institution round here, especially for morning or afternoon tea. For those of you not in the know, pikelets are like fluffy little pancakes – very tasty with a cup of tea and a neighbourly chat.

Yesterday our good friend Geoff came to visit.  Round here, we all refer to him as ‘Timber Cutter’. He’s an old, old man now, with big gnarled hands and still-strong arms (although his skin has thinned and he’s always got a bit of bark off), and he remains a demon with a chainsaw.  He can fell anything, quickly, safely and accurately.

Over the years he has logged up and down the north coast of New South Wales, and he knows this country and its seasons like no-one else I’ve ever met. Geoff’s not a well-educated man, education was a luxury when he was growing up, but his manners and values are old-school and he is one of life’s true gentlemen. He has an enquiring mind, and keen observation skills.  He thinks deeply, and speaks after much consideration.  When he speaks it’s generally worth listening to. These days he doesn’t do much felling. He’s replaced that with talking. I think he’s making up for all that time when he was out in the bush on his own, or too busy for idle chatter. Oh man, Timber Cutter can talk.  But we never complain.  We just fill up the teapot with a good strong brew, go out onto the shady verandah, keep the tasty treats coming, and sit around listening to his many tales. Pikelets are his favourite, and I always make enough for him to take some home.  I use my Nana’s recipe.  The following recipe will serve four, but I always double it!

Ingredients:  1 cup self raising flour (for my American friends, you can make self raising flour by adding 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to one cup of all purpose cake flour),1 large egg, 1/2 cup of milk,1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of melted butter or 1 tablespoon of cream, extra butter for your skillet/frypan.

*Note – these work just as well with commercial gluten-free flour.  I also like making them with 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup buckwheat flour and two teaspoons baking powder for my gluten-free friends.  Spelt flour, while not gluten-free, is also great!

The finished product, ready to be devoured!

Method:  Add the vinegar or lemon juice to the milk to sour it, and set aside.  (Nana always made her pikelet batter by hand but if you want, you can mix this with an electric beater!)

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Whisk the egg and pour into the centre of the well.  Then add a little milk. Using a wooden spoon gradually beat the mixture from the centre, slowly incorporating more of the dry ingredients.  Keep adding a little more milk until the mixture is combined and has a thick, creamy consistency.  Add in your butter or cream and stir again until combined.  Let the batter sit for ten minutes to thicken further.

Rest your batter for a superior pikelet :)

Heat a heavy based skillet or frypan and grease lightly.  Place spoonfuls of mixture, well spaced onto the hot surface.  When they begin to show large bubbles on the surface, turn them over.

Nice big bubbles show it’s nearly time to turn them over…

Pikelets are delicious served with butter and jam, jam and cream, or butter and golden syrup.  My Pa also liked his with a thick smear of butter, sprinkled with sugar, and then doused in lemon juice. They are great as a lunchbox snack and it’s easy to add variations to the batter.  Some of my favourites include:

  • Stewed apple chunks and a dusting of cinnamon
  • fresh blueberries and a little lemon zest
  • sultanas/raisins
  • date pieces and a shake or two of powdered ginger
  • mashed up ripe banana

While we munched away and sipped our tea, Timber Cutter regaled us with stories of the Frost of ’54, which came in November (nearly Summer in Australia) and decimated the lucerne and potato crops, timber-getting at the back of Kyogle in the 1950’s, and tales of growing up in a time where more people had a horse and cart than a car. We laughed and cried over crazy stories and tales of tragedy. Then we went for a walk around the paddocks, looking for koalas and watching the birds.

Can you see me? Sorry – she was up very high and the zoom on my i-phone is not flash.

All in all it was a very satisfying afternoon of yarns, friendship and a shared table.

Don’t you love Bert the dog, gazing hopefully up at the dwindling pikelet pile!

Marga’s Orange Syrup Cake Recipe

We’re picking the last of our organic oranges before the heat of summer sets in, and I know a perfect way to use some of them up: my maternal grandmother’s orange syrup cake recipe.  Marga gave this recipe to me when I held my first proper dinner party – a rural affair at my college share-house, where the boys were so delighted to be invited to ‘Roast Dinner and Dessert’ that they scrubbed up and wore ties!

This is a beautiful, moist and flavoursome cake, that is easy to make, keeps well and is a little bit special. It’s just perfect as a dessert, or as the star of an afternoon tea.  I served one of these cakes recently at a friend’s 40th birthday picnic, with glasses of celebratory champagne and fresh orange juice.

*You can tell by the name that this cake is going to be one massive natural and refined sugar fix, so if that’s an issue, please avert your eyes. It’s also the reason this is one of my ‘special occasion’ cakes.

Ingredients:

Cake:  1 orange – grate rind finely and then juice fruit and set both aside, 3 eggs, 1 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar), 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 225 grams), 1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour, 2 tablespoons sweet orange marmalade (I was lucky enough to have some of my neighbour’s amazing organic orange marmalade left in my pantry.  Thanks Richard! xx)

Syrup: 1 orange – grate rind finely and then juice fruit and set both aside, 1 cup of pure icing sugar (confectioners sugar) . You can also add one tablespoon of Cointreau or Grand Marnier Liqueur for an adults-only version with a little more kick.

Yoghurt: 1 cup of natural yoghurt, 1 to 2 tablespoons honey (use to your taste)

A few extra oranges to segment as a garnish…

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius (moderate or 355F) or slightly less (I use 160 degrees) if it is fan forced.

Choose a tin.  It looks pretty for a special occasion in a fluted ring tin, or you can make it in a 24cm round tin, a loaf tin, or two smaller tins.  The pictures of my effort show one loaf tin and two smaller rectangular tins because I made a double batch. (I always make a double batch…)  Grease your tin well, or line with baking paper

Grate the rind from your first orange, and then juice it and set both aside.  Beat your butter and sugar together with an electric beater until your mixture is pale and creamy and the sugar has dissolved.  Then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in your marmalade and rind and beat again.  Then alternately fold the sifted flour and orange juice, working them gently together until combined.

Now gently spoon the cake mix into your prepared tins, pushing it well into the edges.  Wash your hands and then use your wet palm to smooth off the surface of the cake, and to spread the mixture uniformly across the pan.

Bake for forty five to fifty minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  After twenty (smaller tins) to thirty minutes (larger tins) uncovered, and then lightly cover the tin with foil to prevent the tops over-browning.

While the cake is cooking, prepare your syrup by finely grating the rind of another orange, juicing it, and adding these to one cup of pure icing sugar. (If you are using alcohol, also add this in now.)  Stir with a spoon until the sugar has dissolved and then set aside.

For your garnish, segment some more oranges and keep on a plate, and then combine your honey and yoghurt together in a bowl.

When the cake/cakes are removed from the oven allow them to stand for ten minutes in their tin.  If you remove them sooner they have a tendency to break! Don’t be alarmed if they have sunk a little in the middle.  They sometimes do in a larger tin. After cooling a little place your cake onto the serving plate and then spoon or brush the syrup over until it has all been absorbed. Arrange segmented oranges on the top for a pretty affect.

If you intend on serving the cake cold, or at a later time, then go ahead and pour the syrup over it while it is in the tin, but do this bit by bit rather than all in a rush.  Then let it cool in the tin, all syrupy and good.

To serve, slice your cake, add some honey yoghurt and a few orange segments and enjoy!

Variations:  Substitute 1/2 cup of almond meal for 1/2 cup of flour (no more or it becomes stodge!)  You can also use a packaged gluten-free self rising flour.  The cake will have a slightly heavier texture, but that is perfectly fine for a syrup cake.

PS: If you really want to honour my wonderful grandmother, eat a little slice for breakfast the next morning with a cup of coffee.  Cook’s privilege, she always told me.  ♥ xx

Lemon Delicious Pudding Recipe

Lemon Delicious Pudding – a bowl full of heaven!

My Meyer Lemon tree is dripping with ripe fruit right now, and this pudding is a perfect way to use some of them up.  The pudding is served warm, and is light enough to be enjoyed all year round.  If you are lucky enough to have any left over it is also tasty eaten cold!

My Grandmother’s recipe from my old book…

The picture above is from my book of treasured recipes.  As you can see by the stains, it is a well-used and well-loved little book, with pages of recipes from family and friends.  This particular recipe comes from my mum’s mother, Margaret Nurcombe, known to us as Marga, rather than Grandmother. Marga passed away just over a year ago, but every time I smell a gardenia, see my Meyer Lemon tree (she had an enormous one in her back yard too!) or make this pudding, I think of her.

Ingredients to serve four:

3 eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon self raising flour (for my American friends, you can make self raising flour by adding 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to one cup of all purpose cake flour), 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar extra.

The recipe can be easily doubled to feed a larger crowd.  I have also made this with gluten-free flour very successfully.

Method:

Prepare your lemon zest, and then your lemon juice and set aside.

Juicy Meyer Lemons from my farm

Preheat your oven to 180C (moderate or 355F) or slightly less if it is fan forced.

Separate your eggs, and place the yolks and sugar in a large bowl.  Beat until thick and creamy, making sure the sugar has dissolved.  You can still see the sugar granules in this picture, which means it’s not quite ready.

Beat egg and sugar until the mixture is rich and creamy and thick.

Add the milk, lemon juice and rind and beat on low speed to combine, then add the flour and mix through.  Yes, it is only 1 tablespoon of flour – I know it doesn’t seem like much, but the texture of this pudding is like a sponge or a souffle – you want it to be light!

Clean your beaters to make sure there is no trace of yolk left on them (which would prevent your egg whites from beating up nicely).  Beat your egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.  Add the extra tablespoon of sugar and beat again until the sugar is dissolved.

Fold the egg whites gently through the lemon mixture, until they are just combined.  Be gentle with this bit!

Gently fold egg white through the lemon mixture…

Pour into a greased dish, and set the dish in a pan of cold water. Bake for 50 minutes.  The top will rise like a sponge cake, but underneath there will still be a tangy sweet lemon sauce.

Pudding in water bath, ready to go into the oven.

It smells heavenly when it comes out of the oven…

Nicely browned on top!

But the real magic happens when you take a spoon and cut into it.

The pudding makes its own lemony sauce!

Lemon Delicious Pudding is delightful on its own, but is also well teamed with a good vanilla ice-cream.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.  It’s so easy to prepare, and it is one of my all-time favourites! ♥

Roast Carrot and Pine Nut Salad

This is a delicious salad that can fill you up on its own, or that makes a beautiful side for other dishes.  I’ve made this with baked carrots, but you could also use baked parsnip or sweet potato for equally tasty results.

Hint:  If you are prone to nibbling on the baked vegetables prior to serving, double the quantity – or at least cook a few extra as chef snacks…

Salad Ingredients:

4 cups of mixed leaves (today I’ve used rocket, mustard greens and baby spinach because that’s what was in my garden), a handful of chopped spring onion/green shallots, 2 large tomatoes chopped into wedges (or use a handful or two of cherry tomatoes), 1/2 a red salad onion sliced into fine rings, 6 to 8 largish carrots , 2 heaped tablespoons of pinenuts

Chop the carrots into batons or wedges, coat lightly with olive or coconut oil and bake in a moderate oven for around 30 mins or until cooked to your liking.

Toast the pinenuts in a dry frypan over medium heat for one to two minutes until they are light to golden brown.  Watch them carefully as they can burn easily!

Lemon Dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup virgin cold pressed olive oil, generous pinch of salt, generous pinch of raw sugar, 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger or 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root.  Place in jar, add  lid and shake like crazy until emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Pour over salad just before serving.

If you’re looking for a higher protein content, add some fetta cheese, or some grilled haloumi (my absolute favourite with this salad!)

The salad can be served warm, with the carrots straight out of the oven, or as a cold dish once your baked vegetables have cooled.  This transports really well for picnics and other adventures too.  Enjoy!

Day 17 – Gratitude Challenge

Image from favim.com

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
~ Charles M. Schulz

Yesterday, after I blogged about gratitude, I blogged about food.  I realised that I just couldn’t go 30 days without sharing one of my other great loves.

It’s so easy to be grateful for food, and the food related moments in our lives. When I look back through my own life I think of my mother, painstakingly turning cupcakes into mice and pirates and pigs for my seventh birthday party.

I think of carrying my precious home-made wedding cake balanced on my knee as I travelled by canoe from the island where our tiny plane had landed to the island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands where I got married.

I think of the amazing cup of hot chocolate I enjoyed on the terrace in Gubbio, Italy, and the incredible tappas and sangria I enjoyed on a sun-soaked afternoon in Barcelona.

The best hot chocolate of my life, as I scribbled notes for my novel at a tiny alfresco table on the terrace in Gubbio, Italy.

I think of the coffee at my favourite cafe in Byron Bay, or of scones and mugs of tea on the veranda at my farm.

Nana teaching me to make scones, Marga teaching me to make the perfect plum pudding, Mum teaching me how to make boiled fruit cake.  BBQs and dinner parties with friends. How much food, and love, and happiness are intertwined in my mind….

Food is indeed a great source of gratitude.

Counting Our Blessings and Using our Gratitude Rock

If you need a detailed reminder of our daily process, you can review it here in Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge.

  1. List five Blessings in your journal, explaining why you are grateful for each one.
  2. Count your Blessings off on your fingers, summoning positive emotion and saying Thank You from your heart for each one.
  3. Take your health request from under your gratitude rock and affirm Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for the Gift of _____________  in my life.  Know that this gift is finding ways to express itself in your life and that you are becoming magnetic to this gift of health.  Really feel that positive energy in your heart.
  4. Tonight before you go to sleep, hold your Gratitude Rock and affirm I am richly Blessed. I have an Abundance of Good in my life. Visualise one thing you have been grateful for today. Swell that positive energy up in your heart like a beautiful golden light, and give a heart-felt Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to the Universe, then imagine a tiny shower of golden light travelling from your heart into your Gratitude Rock.
  5. Still holding your Gratitude Rock, bless your fellow travellers on this Gratitude Journey by sending them golden light, and saying Thank you.  I Bless You.  I intend for you Love, Miracles and Abundance. Know that as you are saying this for them, they are also saying this for you. Feel that connection and gratitude and know that there is real love and support for you here. Place your rock back beside your bed, and go to sleep, cocooned in this good energy.

If all you do today is these five steps, know that is enough.

If you’d enjoy working with an additional challenge, here it is!

Gratitude Feast

Today, treat yourself to a favourite food.  It might be a trip down memory lane to a favourite meal from your childhood, a visit to a cafe or restaurant, or a dish you keep for special occasions or visitors. You might even ask your mum or your grandmother to bake something for you!

Banana-Nutella Pancakes in Thailand. Mmmmm….

As you eat your food savour it with all of your senses.  Really pay attention to how it smells; how it looks on the plate; the texture, temperature and taste on your tongue.  Enjoy each mouthful.  Take time to appreciate not just the food but the surroundings, and the company if you have any.  Allow yourself to take pleasure from your meal.

When you have eaten, say Thank You to the person or people who have prepared and served your food. Say Thank You to the farmers and all the unseen helpers who have helped bring this meal to you.  And remember – Thank You to the Universe for the abundance that is all around you.

I sincerely hope you enjoy today’s challenge.  Bless ♥ xx

Fairy Tea Party – won’t you join us? Image by rowdyHarv – Flickr

Best Easy Stewed Rhubarb Recipe

Stewed Rhubarb served with Baked Custard. Delish!

As much as I am grateful for gratitude (and my 30 Day Gratitude Challenge) I am also currently very grateful for rhubarb – and I don’t think I can last another 2 weeks without some sort of food post.  So here it is – Blissful Best Rhubarb!

Ingredients: fresh rhubarb, raw sugar, lemon

Method:  Wash rhubarb stems and remove ends and leaves. Cut into inch-long chunks. Weigh your finished amount.  Throw rhubarb into a saucepan and add 20% of the weight of the rhubarb in raw sugar to the pot as well.  Then add a sqeeze of fresh lemon.

Now stir over low heat, and then cover.  Remove lid and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick – don’t have your heat up too high or it will!

The rhubarb will cook down in its own juices, and that will take ten to fifteen minutes depending on how much you have, and how hot your pot is!

Finish with another small squeeze of lemon. The rhubarb will now be soft, with a few large chunks left, and that lovely sweet/tart pink stringy goodness.

Serve with fresh cream, ice-cream or my favourite – baked custard.  If you’re lucky enough to have left-overs this will brighten up any breakfast cereal and also goes well with yoghurt.  Enjoy!

PS  – Here’s my delicious baked custard recipe here

Cheesy Grilled Mushrooms Recipe

I love this recipe. You can make it in five minutes flat, and it works as a breakfast, lunch or dinner solution!  If you’re a vegan you can omit the cheese, or use a cheese substitute.

It’s also a great gluten and carb free alternative to pizza, but tastes every bit as good.

Ingredients:

  • Flat field mushrooms (I’m using Portobello mushrooms!)
  • Tomato paste, tinned diced tomatoes, salsa or similar
  • Garlic or garlic powder
  • Capsicum (bell pepper) diced small
  • Fresh herbs well chopped – parsley, oregano, chives, thyme and basil all work well.  Use dried if you don’t have any fresh herbs to hand.
  • Grilling cheese, such as mozzarella, cheddar or gruyere
  • Rocket or other slightly bitter green leaves for your salad
  • Balsamic vinegar

I haven’t given specific quantities because you’ll need to vary this depending on how many people you’re feeding, how big your mushrooms are and the size of your appetite.  As you can see from the picture below, my mushrooms are enormous so one will be plenty per person.

Method:

Pull the stalk out of the mushrooms by giving it a gentle twist with your fingers.  Trim up any loose bits to give you a reasonable area to stuff. There is no need to peel the mushrooms, but wipe them over with a damp cloth or paper towel if they need it.

Now spoon some tomato paste/diced tomato/salsa etc into the bottom of the mushroom cup and spread it around with a spoon. Add in some of the capsicum (bell pepper) and a generous sprinkle of fresh herbs. Crush on some fresh garlic or sprinkle on some garlic powder, then season with salt and pepper. Make as many as you need.

Place the mushrooms under a hot grill, or on a tray in a good hot oven.  Allow to heat for a few minutes to warm the mushrooms and filling through.

Now place some sliced cheese onto your warmed-through mushrooms.

Return to grill or oven until the cheese is melted and nicely browned.

Serve with a handful of rocket or other seasonal greens, drizzled with some balsamic vinegar. I find this is plenty as a meal on its own, but you can also use this as a tasty side dish. If bread is your thing, feel free to add some to your plate as well. Enjoy! ❤