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Col's fruitcake

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My mum made the best fruitcake. She was a cake decorator which meant elaborately detailed ornate wedding cakes, but also birthday cakes. There were four of us kids and when we had a birthday cake it was always iced fruitcake, so at least 4 times a year I got to eat mum's spicy fruity recipe. I remember innocently feeling genuinely sorry for other kids when I went to their birthday parties and they had 'lousy sponge cakes'. In my adult life I've always had my radar up for good fruit cakes. For many years now I get at least one Lions fruitcake at Christmas time; some occasions, including for example bush walks, are for me, impoverished without a good piece of fruitcake and a cup of tea. Apart from the 'staple' Lions fruitcake, my other go-to is YummyKitchen's Celebration Cake  which the major supermarkets stock around Christmas time. I have tried once or twice to bake my own, and have been disappointed (good cakes but not what I was aiming for) until I tried a

Couscous with greens and pan fried chicken

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We needed some thing relatively easy tonight and this turned out super good. We had some chicken thighs from Kunara Organic Butcher, and a friedge full of veggies from out trip to the farmers market yesterday. Servings 2 Time about 30 mins  Equipment Pan to make the chicken Saucepan medium size bowl knife and chopping board Ingredients oil 4x chicken thighs 2 large handfuls of chopped kale 1 small or ½ large zucchini diced 1 bunch of broccolini, chopped about 10 pitted Sicilian olives, halved  ¾ cup couscous  ¾ cup stock knob of butter pepper and salt Method Season the chicken thighs and place into a medium heat pan In the saucepan, add some oil and sauté the green veggies (except the olives). Once heated, cover so the moisture from the veggies steams them. When the veggies are almost done, throw in the olives, then, tip them into a bowl and keep aside. Turn the chicken Boil the stock in the saucepan, then turn off the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. (By n

Col's caravan chicken and veggie curry

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I love curry. Maria is less enthusiastic, so I enjoy getting some spices brewing when I get a chance. We had some chicken thighs from Kunara organic butcher and some veggies in the fridge that I wanted to use before we head to the farmers market again on Sunday. And I wanted to experiment and make up my own flavour too .... I also had the chance to be around the van late afternoon so I could baby sit the pot while it brewed away. Servings 4 Time 2½ hours, most of that cooking time. Equipment (main) Chopping boards and knife Wooden spoon caste iron enamel pot saucepan for stock and couscous Ingredients ghee 1x onion, chopped 1x tbsp minced ginger 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced / finely chopped 1 heaped tsp of the following spices for depth cumin coriander seed (ground) turmeric plus a few dried bay leaves ½ tsp of the following for 'brightness' cinnamon cloves (4) grated lemon rind (½ lemon) then the following for heat (although I mede this one very mild) paprika dried chilli c

Lamb stock

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After dinner tonight, Maria cleverly suggested we  make some stock from the left over loin chop bones. We sat in the van tonight with it simmering away for a couple of hours with some onion, carrot, garlic, bayleaf, herbs and pepper and salt. Can't wait to use it to enhance a dish sometime soon.

Chicken broth with greens

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Today was Noosa Farmers Market Day and Johanna introduced us to her favourite stalls. Noosa is one of those markets that has a vibe. It is more than a row of stalls, it generates a local community feeling that  encourages people to slow down and make a morning of it, rather than get in and out to 'get the job done.' It's not quite Mullumbimby but it's good. We spent a few hours around the beach and after some exercise in the ocean we opted for a carby lunch, so on the way back the van we agreed something light and fresh was the go. We had enough other stuff to put together this broth, using mostly produce we'd picked up at the farmers market.  Servings 2 Equipment Chopping board and knife pot for broth pan for frying ladle for serving and tongs for stirring noodles Ingredients 3x stock cubes (we used some freeze dried 'bombs' from the market) 1x sachet of instant miso soup (if I had it I would have used a table spoon of miso paste) Splash of soy sauce peanut

Chicken and mushroom risotto with green capsicum and Sicilian olives

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When Maria suggested risotto for dinner tonight I felt bored with the flavour combination that has become my default. So I tried a new set of flavours and very happy with the end result. We were cooking for 4 tonight but obviously halve the quantities for 2. A keeper for sure. Servings 4 Time Time to chop and prepare ingredients, then ~ ½ hour cooking time. Equipment (main) Deep pan Large saucepan (for stock) Chopping boards and knife Spatula and wooden spoon (I find I use two stirrers with risotto because the rice tends to stick.) Grater for parmesan \ Strainer for olives Ingredients olive oil 1x leek, chopped 1x green capsicum, chopped 1½  cup arborio rice cup of cheap wine wine chicken stock, ~700ml (2 x cubes) 5x free range chicken thighs 6x medium size handful of Swiss brown mushrooms, chopped 1x jar of pitted Sicilian olives 1x cup of chopped parsley parmesan, small pile grated (for a bit of punch) butter, 2 x knobs (for creaminess) pepper to taste Method Cooking risotto requires

Fettuccine alla matriciana

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When we first moved to the northern suburbs of Melbourne in the mid 80s, we fell in love with Lygon St. The seemingly endless rows of restaurants seemed to offer a boundless supply of Italian cuisine options. But the one that became our family go-to was a trattoria called Papa Ginos that was opened back in 1973 and is still run by the same family that started it. Papa Ginos is known for its generous portions and informality ... at the time we lived on a tight budget so it suited us just fine. I took friends there and we sat in the dim light feasting on good food and wine without the expensive tab. And whenever we found ourselves with the privilege of eating out in those early days, we'd gravitate back to the complementary bowls of bread and more-than-enough entree size bowls of hearty deliciousness. The first dish I ever ordered there was fettuccine alla matriciana. I loved it so much that for many years, whenever we were lucky enough to be dining out in an Italian restaurant, the

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