Saturday, December 31, 2011

Xavier and Joe's Bloody Mary oyster shots

Another lovely thing we had at Christmas, but which is great for New Year or indeed any celebration, are Bloody Mary oyster shots, freshly-shucked oysters presented on a bed of coarse sea salt, clustered around a potent and tasty Bloody Mary oyster shot. This stunning looking dish was a combined effort by my son Xavier and son-in-law Joe.
Xavier's recipe for Bloody Mary:
Tomato juice
Good vodka(we used Russian Standard)
Worcester sauce
Salt, pepper
Celery(to decorate, can also be used as an edible swizzle stick!)
Mix together in cocktail shaker(quantities as required, to taste). Serve very cold in small glasses with a fresh oyster down the bottom of each glass. Knock it back in one!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pippa's delicious salmon gravlax

One of the beautiful dishes we had at Christmas this year, but which can be enjoyed at any time of the year, was my daughter Pippa's beautiful home-made salmon gravlax, cured in salt, sugar, and fresh grated beetroot and orange juice. It looked spectacular with its dark red underside, tasted fantastic, and was prepared in minutes(though you need to leave it for 24 hours to cure before serving).
Here's her recipe, with quantities suitable for a half-side of fresh salmon(skin off).
You need three grated beetroots and 3 juiced and zested oranges. Mix together with some sprigs of dill and pop it in a long china or glass dish big enough to hold the salmon. Then mix 100 g of sea salt(coarse)and 3/4 caster(fine) sugar and coat fish in it, pressing it in on both sides. Then put salmon on top of beet/orange mixture, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for 24 hours. The next day, take it out, wipe off any excess salt/sugar with a cloth , take the salmon out of the dish and slice it thinly to serve. Serve it with sliced Spanish onions, thinly sliced cucumber, and a cream cheese and caper mix on the side.

Writers and editors on food 13: Meredith Costain

A new post in my guest series, featuring a deliciously simple recipe to see in the New Year!

Meredith Costain is a children’s author who lives in inner-city Melbourne with her partner – publisher and YA author Paul Collins – and a menagerie of pets, who frequently wrangle their way into her poems and stories. Her books range from picture books through to novels and non-fiction for older readers, and include Doodledum Dancing, Bed Tails, Dog Squad, A Year in Girl Hell, and novelisations of the TV show Dance Academy. She presents writing workshops for kids and adults around Australia and (when lucky enough to be invited) overseas. Visit her at

This is a quick and easy recipe that you can have on the table in just over 20 minutes. Don’t be too worried about quantities and times – just throw it all together and serve when it looks ready!

Atlantic salmon with sesame seeds and ginger soy sauce

• 2 pieces of Atlantic salmon – skin off
• 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
• 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
• knob of ginger, finely diced
• 1/3 cup soy sauce
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves

1 Pan fry the salmon for about 3 minutes on each side, until it’s just starting to lose its pinkness in the middle.
2 Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients (except for the spinach) in a bowl.
3 When the salmon looks almost cooked, pour the sauce over the top and cook for another minute on each side (or to suit).
4 Sprinkle the baby spinach leaves over the top during this stage so they start to wilt.
5 Place the salmon and spinach leaves on the plate, leaving the sauce on a high heat for a few more moments to reduce and caramelise slightly.
6 Pour the sauce over the salmon.
7 Serve with boiled or steamed baby potatoes (with a litte dijonnaise for a French twist!) and green vegetables such as runner beans, snow peas or asparagus.
8 Enjoy!

Serves 2

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Christmas menus

Big family Christmas at our place this year. Lots of cooking! And on the menu is:

Dinner today(23rd):

Entrée: Shrimp rémoulade, using fresh Sydney tiger prawns, the rémoulade made with herbs from the garden, Saskia Beer's horseradish mix, Maille wholegrain mustard, and home-made mayonnaise made with our chooks' eggs.
Main course: Chicken in a basil, oregano and white wine sauce, with fresh home-made pasta, green vegs, and lots of salads. Cheeses, too, from a Stilton to a French goat cheese.
Dessert: Paris-Brest cake(beautiful choux pastry ring filled with butter cream and praline). One of David's specials.

Christmas Eve dinner:
Entrée(and appetisers): Chilled duck foie gras from south-west France, white anchovies, Hunter Valley cacciatore, all served with crackers and our own home-grown green olives.
Main: Barbecued meats with various marinades and sauces, home-made bread, lots of salads.
Dessert: Raspberry and strawberry charlotte, with whipped cream. Also David's creation.

Of course each day we'll also be having aperitifs--Tokay, muscat, kir, and/or cocktails, plus good wines to accompany everything(and we'll definitely be taking Deborah's suggestions from previous post!)For non-alcoholic drinks, there's also deliciously refreshing home-made elderflower pop.

Christmas Day lunch:
Will be a stupendous buffet, accompanied by cocktails, French champagne, and a selection of good wines from Australia and elsewhere!
Cold course: freshly-shucked oysters, home-cured side of salmon with beetroot and orange glaze, cream cheese and dill side, with rye bread or crackers, and our butcher's lovely ham, served with home-made mango salsa(mangoes from Stanthorpe in Queensland).
Hot course: Rare roast rump of beef sauce cassis et groseille(blackcurrant and redcurrant sauce), home-grown small potatoes sautéed in duck fat, home-grown steamed snow peas, selection of other green vegetables.
Salads: Mushroom, tomato and basil, mixed green salad, couscous and pomegranate salad.
Dessert: Buche de Noel frangourou-style(as below), and home-made Christmas cake featuring dried fruit soaked in armagnac. The first traditional French offering is made by me, the second traditional English offering by David, demonstrating the true entente cordiale in our family!
Super easy, super delicious frangourou Christmas Log cake
(requires no baking, can be made Christmas Eve).
This was my mother's invention, we had it every Christmas when we were kids, and I still make it every Christmas.
1 packet sponge finger biscuits
200 g unsalted butter, melted
1 or 2 eggs(depending on how much mixture you have)
half to 3/4 cup hot strong sweet coffee(a good instant coffee works fine)
Cooking chocolate, melted with a little cream.
Crush all the biscuits, add the hot sweet coffee, the melted butter, and mix well. Add the slightly beaten egg(or two). You need to obtain a good stiff mix that you can easily shape into a log. That's what you do then--shape it into a log, and then put it in fridge till it is set. Meanwhile melt the chocolate over a low heat with a little cream, stir till all melted and glossy. Spread over the cake, on the top and sides. Put in fridge to set overnight. You can also decorate the top with angelica leaves, almonds, sugar holly, whatever you feel like!
To everyone I wish a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and every other seasonal festivity, and a happy New Year! A bientot!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday wine and food pairings: guest post by Deborah Gray

I'm very pleased to be bringing you today the first of an occasional guest series, covering a topic that goes ever so well with good food--good wine. It's written by wine expert Deborah Gray. Deborah, an Australian native, has spent the last twenty years importing Australian wines into the U.S., focusing on bringing small, high quality, family-owned brands to distributors, retailers and restaurants across the States. Her first book, How to Import Wine – an Insider’s Guide (Wine Appreciation Guild) published in August, 2011, has just been named “Best US Professional Wine Book 2011” by Gourmand Magazine. Her websites are at: and she blogs at

Her post today is on holiday food and wine pairings, and also includes a delicious mussels recipe.

Holiday Wine and Food Pairings
Conventional thinking used to say red wine with meat, white wine with fish, but we’ve moved far beyond that these days. The primary goal in enjoying wine and food together is to have the flavours play off one another, allowing each to show to best advantage. At their most sublime, food ingredients taste much more piquant and appetizing and wine will shine as its perfect complement. At its worst, wine can taste bitter and unbalanced and food is overwhelmed and tasteless.

Consider not just the main element, but also the way the dish is prepared. White fish with hearty ingredients, such as mushrooms and tomato based sauces can be overpowered by a light wine. In addition, if the dish is to be prepared with wine as an ingredient, a wine pairing of that same wine is often a great choice.

Salmon is a prime example of a food that can pair with quite diverse wines.

• With a béarnaise sauce, a Chardonnay aged in oak is heaven.
• Poached in good quality Sauvignon Blanc would fit hand in glove with the same Sauvignon Blanc.
• Grilled with a mustard glaze, cherry sauce or mushroom side picks up the classic flavours of Pinot Noir or Merlot.

Now to the holidays...I’m not going to make any one turkey wine pairing suggestion, because the Christmas holiday meal is chock full of incredibly diverse flavours – white and dark turkey meat, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetable with creamy sauces, casseroles and gravy. An assortment of reds and whites will go well with it all, depending upon your tastes and preferences: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Beaujolais Nouveau, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, to name a few.

What I’d like to do is suggest some holiday bubbles that may not have come to mind before and makes a festive event of any occasion.

Prosecco, an Italian grape, made into a dry, sparkling wine is not only a less expensive alternative to Champagne, but absolutely delicious and fun its in own right. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif prior to the meal, served with a cheese platter, or paired with many of the same dishes as any brut white sparkling.

A particular favourite of mine is ceviche, a dish common to Latin American countries, where each region gives it its own flair utilizing lime, lemon or bitter orange to marinade fresh fish or shrimp. Ingredients are few, always fresh and usually include some form of chili pepper. In Mexico, street vendors serve it in paper cups from carts. The bright fresh flavours of Prosecco are the perfect accompaniment.

Sparkling Rosé, also brut (dry), is a versatile choice for many foods. I’ve included a recipe here that is not necessarily traditionally holiday, but illustrates that while mussels are the main ingredient, tomatoes and garlic give the Rosé its ideal pairing.

Mussels Steamed with Leeks, Tomatoes & Garlic

2 medium leeks
3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
14.5oz can petite-diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 lb. mussels, scrubbed well

Trim dark leaves and root ends from the leeks. Split the leeks lengthwise and rinse them well under cold running water. Slice them crosswise into about ½ inch thick half-moons.

In a large, heavy pot, cook leeks, garlic and bay leaf in the oil over medium heat, stirring often, until the leeks begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Sir in the tomatoes and their juices, tarragon and pepper flakes and simmer to meld flavours for 5 minutes. (This mixture can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead and left out at room temperature.)

When you’re ready to cook the mussels, return the leek mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the mussels, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mussels open, 3 to 8 minutes. Spoon the mussels, broth and vegetables into large bowls and serve with crusty artisan-style bread, sliced, for dipping in the broth. Serves four.

If I’m to continue the theme, may I throw out all the other turkey/wine matches and suggest a magnificent and inimitable Aussie Sparkling Shiraz?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Writers and editors on food 12: Helen Evans

Helen Evans, a former teacher, lives in Armidale NSW and is a writer, storyteller and textile artist. As well as visiting early childhood centres each week as a storyteller, Helen runs the family gallery in Uralla, NSW, where examples of her textile art can be seen(as at right). For more details visit her website

In this beautiful piece, Helen remembers childhood Christmases, and a favourite recipe.

Christmas dinner has always been the meal of the year for my family. Traditional British fare of baked vegetables and roast meat as the main course were what my Mother had grown up with, and she maintained that tradition all her life. We were lucky during the war years, that a cousin in the country used to bring in a hen, dressed in its feathers, for us. My brother removed the feathers on Christmas Eve and it rested in state in the meat safe that hung on the back veranda until Christmas morning when it would be stuffed with bread crumbs and herbs. Daybreak found us gathered excitedly on Mum’s bed to open parcels and then to play with the treasures until breakfast. As soon as that meal was over, it was time to make the Christmas pudding. My Dad, who was in Malaya from 1941 serving in the AIF, had never liked traditional Christmas pudding, so Mum made his favourite, a steamed date one accompanied by jelly, custard, stewed cherries, and cream. We three children always helped to make it. I stirred the jelly crystals, my sister beat the eggs for the date pudding, my brother cut the dates and measured them into small piles, each one an ounce, while Mum creamed the butter and sugar. We stood there expectantly to take turns in adding the ingredients at the right moment, to put in the three-penny and sixpenny bits, and to clean out the bowl when the mixture was transferred into the aluminum pudding bowl. Before the lid was secured, we had greased pieces of brown paper that Mum tied over the top of the bowl with string. The big old iron pot had been brought in from under the laundry tubs, and was by then bubbling and steaming on the gas stove. Mum carefully lowered the pudding bowl into the water and after adjusting the water level, that lid was also put in place. The pudding cooking, Mum put the chook in the baking pan to brown in the oven, then peeled potatoes, pumpkin, squash, carrots and stringed the beans. As the morning progressed the aroma of the food began to fill the house, something never to be forgotten. As there was no refrigerator, the red jelly was sitting in a dish of cool water in the coolest spot under the grape vine. We had decorated the dining room several days before, but for Christmas dinner, the special white damask cloth was put on the table and the precious silver cutlery came out from the sideboard. The pewter and glass tankards that Dad had sent from Malaya would be filled with lemonade and there was a dish of lollies and table raisins that Mum had found somewhere.

Serving the dinner was a nervous time for Mum. Would the meat be just right, would the vegetables lift from the baking pan, would the pudding be cooked through? We’d all be dressed in our best and waited quietly while Mum removed the dish from the oven and served up the meal in the kitchen. We carried our plates, all piled high, into the dining room and sat while grace was said. How we enjoyed those Christmas dinners. Our pudding plates were also filled generously and topped with thick cream skimmed from the boiled milk. Milk had to be boiled in order to keep it fresh. The pudding was always perfect and none of us swallowed the hidden money. We counted out our cherry stones to the old rhyme tinker tailor soldier sailor… My brother always managed a second helping, but then feeling so full, would have to let his belt out. Washing the dishes was also a family affair and the rest of the afternoon was for resting and reading.
Each of us has developed a new Christmas dinner tradition, but those far off Christmases still bring a smile to my face and no desert is more enjoyed by me than date pudding. The big old iron pot originally owned by my Grandmother, now lives under my laundry tubs and comes out each Christmas to cook the pudding. Here is the recipe for the date pudding.
Steamed Date Pudding
4oz butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
8 oz dates
8 oz flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar and add well beaten eggs. Stir in milk, add dates (stoned and chopped). Sift flour, baking powder and salt and stir in very lightly. Turn into greased mould. Steam for three hours.

Writers and editors on food 11: Felicity Pulman

Felicity Pulman is an Australian author with an interest in crime, history and fantasy. Her novels Ghost Boy and the Shalott trilogy reflect her fascination with such possibilities as knowledge travelling through time, ghosts, parallel realities and reincarnation. Her very popular medieval crime series for older teenagers, The Janna Mysteries, indulges her love of crime, history, plants and herbal healing. Her short stories for adults have won several awards. Many have also been published, as have Felicity's numerous articles on various topics including writing and the creative process. Felicity is also a popular presenter at schools, conferences and writers festivals, where she talks about her work and/or gives workshops for students and budding authors.Her website is at

A lovely festive recipe from Felicity:
After growing up in Africa I found, when I got married, that I had to learn how to cook, keep house and later, look after children - a HUGE learning curve! We moved to Australia after we were married and for several years there were only two of us celebrating a rather lonely Christmas away from our families. A friend passed on this old family recipe for Christmas pudding - and for the first time I learned the difference between store bought and delicious homemade! Over the years our family has grown and I've had to double the quantity to make the pud. This year 17 family and extended family members will sit down to Christmas dinner at our place, with a new baby girl being our fifth grandchild. We are truly blessed in our family and our friends. May I wish you and yours a happy and blessed Christmas with your loved ones, and may all your wishes come true in the new year.
Christmas Pudding
500g mixed fruit; 1/4 cup brandy, 4 oz butter, 1 tsp Angostura bitters, 3/4 cup br sugar, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup chopped almonds, 1/2 cup grated carrot or apple, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp mxd spice & cinnamon, 1 cup soft (not new) breadcrumbs.
Method: prepare fruit the day before; soak overnight in brandy and bitters. Cream butter/sugar and add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add almonds, carrot/apple and mix. Sift flour and spices, add with breadcrumbs to mxd fruit. Add to cream mixture, mix thoroughly. Butter pudding basin and place small square of butter paper at base. Spoon into basin and press down. Cover top with butter paper and double thickness foil. Tie lid down. Place in large saucepan with enough boiling water to come halfway up basin. Cover pot with lid and boil 4 hours. Remove foil to let steam escape. Replace when cool to store. On Christmas Day boil another two hours.
NB For family size pud and a bigger basin, I double the quantities, and boil for 5 hours, with another 3 hours on Xmas Day.
BRANDY BUTTER: Cream 125g butter; gradually add 2/3 cup icing sugar, then brandy to taste. Should be creamy, light and foamy. Chill. (Can also be served with store-bought brandy custard or brandy cream - all delicious!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Writers and editors on food 10: Michael Pryor

Michael Pryor has published more than twenty-five fantasy books for Young Adults. His latest book is ‘The Extinction Gambit’, the first in ‘The Extraordinaires’ series, from Random House Australia.

Here's his delicious recipe for spiced lamb fillets with two dips.

Serves four.
For the lamb fillets
Eight lamb fillets
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
½ - 1 teaspoon chilli powder
A handful of rocket per person
Combine cumin, paprika and salt in a large plastic container. Add lamb fillets. Shake until well coated. Cook lamb on hot griddle or in large frying pan for about five minutes, until tender but still pink inside. Put aside for a few minutes, covered with aluminium foil. Slice each fillet into four or five pieces.

For the baba ganoush (eggplant dip)
2 large or 3 medium eggplant
220g plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.

For the hummus
2 X 400 g tins chick peas (you can cook your own chick peas if you like, but tins are easier)
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
1 small dried chilli
3 cloves garlic, crushed
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Combine ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Add some water if the mixture is too thick.

Serve lamb fillets on a bed of rocket, accompanied a dollop of baba ganoush and a dollop of hummus. Crusty bread is a fine addition. A good cabernet goes well with this, but I wouldn’t discount a pinot noir either.

Note: it’s best to make the dips the day before, as the flavours will have time to integrate, especially the garlic. Mmm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Writers and editors on food 9: Adèle Geras

Adèle Geras was born in Jerusalem: the seventh generation of her mother's family to be born there. On her father's side, her grandmother came from Rabat, in Morocco. She's written more than 90 books for readers of all ages and after living in Manchester for 43 years, now lives in Cambridge. Her website is

This is my Moroccan grandmother's recipe.

Messoda's Cauliflower

2 cauliflowers divided into florets (keep the green stalks. Wash and chop these.)
2 large eggs beaten.
120 gm flour and more if you need it.
salt and pepper.
Oil for frying...sunflower I guess or light olive.
Juice of three lemons.
2 fl. oz water.


Prepare the cauliflower florets by dipping each first in beaten egg and then in flour, which you've seasoned previously with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot and then add the florets. Fry a few at a time until they're mostly a lovely golden brown.
Line the bottom of a heatproof casserole dish or thick bottomed saucepan (on top of the cooker) with the cauliflower greens, then remove the cooked florets from the frying pan and lay them on the bed of greens. Pour the lemon juice over the top of everything, add the water, cover the casserole turn down the heat and gently simmer for about 20 mins. Season to taste.
This is wonderful with roast potatoes and roast meat of any kind. I like it best of all the next day, cold from the fridge. That's if you can manage to get any left over. The stalks, by the way, stewed in the lemony water are DELICIOUS.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writers and editors on food 8: Paul Collins

Paul Collins was born in England, raised in New Zealand and immigrated to Australia in 1972. He lives in a historic bluestone home built in 1851 with his partner, fellow author, Meredith Costain, and a menagerie of pets including a kelpie called Jack and Molly, a red heeler.
His many books for young people include The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler and series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest book is Mole Hunt, book one in The Maximus Black Files. The trailers are available here: and He is also the author of over 140 short stories.
Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards.
He is currently the publisher at Ford Street Publishing ( Visit him at

Paul's Spinach Quiche

One of my all-time favourites as a single bloke was spinach quiche. Easy to bake, and I'd prepare three at the same time. When baked to perfection, I'd cut 'em into four slices, cover with Gladwrap and stick in the freezer for future easy meals. Sometimes lunches :-).

6 pack of filo pastry (preferably shortcrust but can use puff). If you're keen, you can roll your own pastry
Large tub of Greek yoghurt
Large pack of grated cheese
Three tomatoes
Two onions
Two bunches of spinach (cut the stems off)
Eight eggs.


1/Grease three quiche tins and place two sheets of pastry in each. Smear a bit of butter on them and stick in oven till slightly brown.

2/ Boil spinach in minimum water for three minutes. Squeeze out water and leave to cool. Meanwhile sauté onions.

3/ Beat eggs. Add cheese and yoghurt and mix well. Then add cooled spinach and onions.

4/ Place mixture in three quiche tins. Add some grated cheese over the mixture and place tomato slices on top. I sprinkle paprika over the quiches. Bake at 180 C for 45 mins or till top is golden brown and firm.

Voila! Dinner, lunch, snacks for a while. Especially if you're single!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writers and editors on food 7: Gillian Polack

Gillian Polack's published writing includes two novels, two anthologies, a cookbook, fifteen short stories and a slew of articles. She was shortlisted for a Ditmar for one of the novels and one of the anthologies and she won a Special Achievement Ditmar for one of the banquets featured in the cookbook. Gillian has a doctorate in Medieval history from the University of Sydney, and advises writers on use of history in their fiction.

Gillian's latest non-fiction book is Historical Feasts, available at it

Her delicious Hanukkah recipe for latkes is a family recipe.

Gillian's latkes
This is not only seasonal, but with a little twist that makes it purely Australian!
2 big potatoes (grated)
1 big onion (chopped fine)
2 big eggs
plain flour (just enough to keep to mix from becoming too moist)
salt and pepper (or lemon juice and just a dash of chilli – this is the Australian twist)
oil for frying (canola is best)
sour cream
Mix the potato, onion, egg and seasoning. Keep the flour aside to add when the mixture gets running.
Heat the oil in a pan (how much oil you use depends on you – they are nicer deep fried, but healthier fried in almost no oil at all).
Put the mixture into the pan using large spoons and flattening each spoonful before moving to the next. Don’t cook too many at once.
Remove when golden-brown and drain on paper towel. Eat while super-hot and crisp (don’t let them sit!) with a dollop of sour cream.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Writers and editors on food 6: Therese Walsh

Author Therese Walsh co-founded Writer Unboxed ( Kathleen Bolton in 2006. Since then, WU has been named as one of the top 101 sites for writers by Writer's Digest five years running, and was named one of the top 10 sites for writers last year by Write to Done.
Her debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Crown, Random House), was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009, was nominated for RWA’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and is a TARGET BREAKOUT BOOK. She is the founder and president of RWA-WF, the women’s fiction chapter of RWA.

Home-Made Cranberry Sauce

I love it for Thanksgiving and Christmas both, and I love the picture I snapped of it at Thanksgiving. :-)

1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp ginger
2 bags fresh cranberries
1 c. toasted and chopped pecans
6 strawberries, hulled and mashed
maple syrup to taste

Mix sugar, ginger, and juice in a pot over med-high heat, and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 bag washed cranberries, and cook until the "pop" (5 minutes). Add next bag; cook 5 minutes more. Then add strawberry mash and pecans to mix. Remove from heat, and add maple syrup to taste. Serve cold or warm.

Writers and editors on food 5: Jan O'Hara

Jan O’Hara left her writing dreams behind for years to practice family medicine, but has found her way back to the world of fiction. Currently the voice of the Unpublished Writer on Writer Unboxed (, she’s hard at work on her contemporary romances, hoping one day soon to become unqualified for the position. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two children, and welcomes visitors to her citrus-infused blog, Tartitude. ( You can also find her on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Here's Jan's recipe for a most unusual fudge!

Creamy Curried Fudge
Neither my kids nor my husband care for it, but I tend to appreciate different and exotic flavors. This is a sweet that isn’t too cloying, yet also satisfies in small quantities. I bet it would be superb served alongside a fruit and cheese platter for dessert.

18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use 300 g bag)
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp curry powder (I use Madras powder)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
~3/4 cup Thompson raisins
dash sea salt (this is nice if it’s in large crystals)

1. Toast the coconut in a thin layer on a sheet pan at 350 till golden. (Can use a skillet too.)

2. Over low heat, stirring constantly, melt chips and blend with milk until smooth

3. Stir in vanilla, 1-1/2 cup coconut, curry, raisins, dash of salt.

4. Spoon onto wax paper and spread to desired thickness. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Press remaining coconut into the top.

5. Chill until solid.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Writers and editors on food 4: Jackie Hosking

Jackie is a Nigerian born, Cornish Australian who loves good food, good wine and good rhyme. Mostly she is a children's poet, weekly she is the publisher of PASS IT ON - the children's book industry, networking e-zine and every other time she is a mother to her own three children. Jackie also enjoys helping fellow rhymers tighten their meter which she does via her Rhyming Manuscript Editing Service. To find out more about Jackie you can visit her blog

Here is Jackie's absolutely fabulous recipe-in-verse, featuring inimitable Cornish pasties! Love it, Jackie!

For Cornish pasties
All you need

Are steak and onions

Spuds and swede

Shortcrust pastry

Rolled by hand

Salt and pepper

Makes it grand

Forget the carrots

And the peas

And never mince

Your skirt-steak please

The vegetables

Will need some slicing

Watch it though

There’ll be no dicing

Potato first

Chip it fast

Onions, suede

And meat goes last

Layered twice

And piled up high

So much better

Than a pie

Fold it over

Crimp the side

Not too long

And not too wide

In the oven

For an hour

Time to clean up

All the flour

Cornish pasties

Taste just great

And bigger than

A dinner plate

Friday, December 2, 2011

Writers and editors on food 3: Hazel Edwards

Hazel Edwards is one of the best-known and loved children's authors in Australia, with her third published book, There's a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake, first published in 1980, being a great Australian classic that just keeps selling and selling. But Hazel's written many more books than that beloved classic, in fiction, non-fiction, picture books and more, and as well as writing for children, also written for adults. An all-round performer, Hazel's also involved strongly in the literary industry, has mentored gifted children, and taught creative writing, amongst many other things, and is currently pioneering an e-publishing venture. Hazel's site is at

For this series, here's her account of a very special afternoon's menu:

Recently, we had a break up/launch at my home for the Holmesglen Diploma of Professional Writing 'Non Fiction Projects' and 'Writing for Children' Both groups had each completed a book length manscript.They were invited to bring a plate of food to share linked to their title or the theme of their book. It was also my last group of students at Holmesglen as I will not teach there next year,

Samples Included:

The Diffability book for parents of children with Aspergers , stressing differences, not disabilities, had Asp(aragus) burgers.
Unicorn shaped sparkly biscuits for the speculative fiction.
Cottage pie for a memoir drawing on home and Mum's 'Unexpected' cake
Cheese cake for 'In my fashion' , a memoir.
'It Makes Cents',The how-to teach kids about money' had little pig money boxes
Owl cupcakes
A cat-shaped cake for 'The Shape Shifters'
A mountain of chocolate for the climbing novel.

and other imaginative food of the mind links.

(from Sophie: Sounds--and looks--gorgeous, Hazel!)