Thursday, 18 June 2015

Pumpkin Chilli

Finding myself with a surfeit of pumpkin from the garden, and a craving for chilli, I searched around until I found this recipe. It really is a delicious combination, and you won't even notice that this is not a 'con carne'. That said, I love to throw in a little chorizo or bacon to smoke things up a bit. I modified the ingredients slightly, since I don't know what was in their 'chilli powder', but I assume you wouldn't want an Indian-style chilli powder, and that's all that's available here. You can leave this in the fridge for a few days and the flavours will keep developing.


  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 red or green peppers, chopped
  • 750g butternut squash or eating pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 100g of smoked bacon or cured chorizo, finely diced (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp chilli flakes (up to you)
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, including the liquid
  • 2 cans kidney or black eye beans
  • 300-500ml vegetable stock
  • 2 avocados
  • sour cream (optional)
  • crispy tortilla strips
  • fresh leaf coriander (optional, for garnish)

In a large Le Creuset or sauce pan, sautée the chopped vegetables (onion, pepper, squash, garlic) and bacon or sausage, if using, in one to two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add all of the spices canned ingredients and stock, and stir. Don't use all of the stock if it looks like it will make the chilli very runny, but feel free to top up as it cooks if it looks too dry. Cover for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

By the time your chilli is done, the butternut squash should be nice and tender and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chilli consistency that we all know and love. Serve the chilli in individual bowls, topped with diced avocado and sour cream, if using. Use the strips to eat mouthfuls of chilli!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Kangaroo Moussaka

The grocer had a special on aubergines (not very seasonal but at a dollar each, grown in Australia, how can one resist?) and I really wanted to make moussaka. Unfortunately, the only thing less seasonal than aubergines at the moment is lamb! Neither the butcher nor the supermarket had any lamb mince, nor were willing to make any. So I thought -- why not try a kangaroo moussaka? The meat has a similar gaminess, and it's a more environmentally-friendly option in this country.  It's also a healthier option as it's generally leaner than lamb.If you're making this outside Australia, of course feel free to use lamb mince, or a mixture of beef and pork if you prefer.

One thing that's a little off-putting about the kangaroo mince is that it doesn't smell nearly as good early on in the cooking, but after 45 minutes of simmering, it suddenly disintegrates and becomes just as if not more tasty than lamb. So stick with it, it'll work out in the end!

I started with this recipe and modified it to suit my own tastes. I really prefer having potatoes separate to the moussaka, for contrast -- baked or mashed, either way. If you need to feed more than six people, but don't want to / can't buy fractionally more kangaroo mince (it comes in 1kg packs in my supermarket), feel free to bulk out the moussaka with a couple of grated carrots, or a cup of cooked lentils.


  • 1 large or two small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
  • 1kg kangaroo mince
  • 2 carrots, cleaned and grated or a cup of cooked lentils (optional -- use if you need to feed more people)
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground cinammon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 large eggplants (aubergines)
  • olive oil
  • 1 small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 120g butter
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 4 cups warm milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ground or freshly grated nutmeg

Heat a little olive oil in a non stick pan and gently saute the onion until starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook the mince until it loses all its water and begins to brown. Add the diced celery. If using, add the carrot or lentils. Add the cinammon, bay leaf, herbs and wine; stir and deglaze the pan, then add the tin of tomato and simmer for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill or barbeque the eggplants, brushed with olive oil, until soft and golden on both sides. Also, make a bechamel sauce: melt the butter in a pyrex bowl, in the microwave, then stir in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk, drop in the bay leaf and nutmeg, then microwave for five minutes, stirring every minute. The sauce should thicken.

Set the oven temperature to 180C. In a large rectangular dish, alternate layers of eggplant and mince until the dish is nearly full. Check the bechamel and taste for seasoning. Spoon over the top and smooth it over with a spatula. The layer should be quite thick. Bake for 25-45 minutes or until it’s all golden and bubbly. Serve with mashed or baked potato, and steamed vegetables or Greek salad.