Saturday, 22 August 2015

Kangaroo "Abritzi"

Heresy, perhaps. But I found the substitution for the traditional lamb to be quite delicious, with an even softer and more melting texture. There was less of the punchy gaminess so the seasoning was better with slightly less lemon juice and more black pepper. Kangaroo fillets are also much easier to prepare than lamb rump, as they are completely lean, so there is no thick or gristly fat to cut off. Thus this is a speedy version -- at least, if you live in Australia and have access to kangaroo fillets.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Sausage and Lentil Stew

A great winter warmer -- the secret ingredient which knits together all the flavours is crushed fennel seeds.


  • Six good-quality meaty Italian or French-style sausages
  • 10-12 pickling onions or shallots
  • 3 rashers bacon
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • generous glass of red wine
  • 150g green lentils
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 100g vacuum-packed, canned or rehydrated chestnuts


Chop the sausages into short pieces and top, tail and peel the onions. Trim any tough fat off the bacon and cut into strips. In a large Le Creuset or similar pot, fry the sausages, onions and bacon together for a few minutes, until some of the sausage skin is crisping. Meanwhile, dice the carrots and celery and crush or finely chop the garlic. Add to the sausage. Fry, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes more, then deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Crush the fennel seeds lightly in a mortar and pestle, then add to the stew, along with the lentils. Top up with a little hot water, so that the lentils can cook. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, checking and stirring occasionally so it does not stick to the pan. Cook until the onions are soft, sweet and falling apart -- usually slightly longer for shallots than for pickling onions. Stir through the chestnuts and allow to heat through. Serve with mashed potato or potato Colcannon.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Dairy-free Chocolate Cheesecake

I know, that sounds terrible, right? It's actually amazing. And all I needed to make it was a small aubergine... (well in my case, a large aubergine, because my cake pans were a different size to what they suggested!) I don't know how many people this serves, but it's so rich that we were eating it for lunch-dessert and real-dessert for about a week!


  • 3 small or 1 large whole aubergines (weighing roughly 600g)
  • 450g best dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
  • 75g good quality cocoa powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 large or extra-large eggs (could substitute tofu to make this vegan)
  • 300g clear honey (could substitute sugar or agave syrup to make this vegan)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp brandy
Line two 8″/20cm springform tins with baking parchment and lightly brush the base and sides with a little oil. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Peel the aubergine(s) using a vegetable peeler and place in a large microwaveable bowl, then microwave on high for 8-10 minutes until soft and collapsed. Roughly dice and pour away any thin watery fluid. Blend/puree using an electric blender. Again in a microwaveable bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave, this time on a medium setting, for 5 minutes, stirring several times. As soon as the chocolate and aubergine are less than 50C, combine with the pureed aubergine, then add all of the other ingredients and mix well (no need to worry about overbeating as this recipe has no flour!)

Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and bake for 30 minutes. A skewer probably won't come out clean, as the final texture is more like a cheesecake or mudcake than a spongecake.

Butternut Squash and Red Onion Galettes

Frozen puff pastry is a wonder for making the simplest meal look super-fancy. These were a whiz to make and you could leave them in the oven after assembly, ready to switch it on half an hour before you want to serve them. My recipe was inspired by this page.


  • Four sheets of frozen puff pastry
  • olive oil or butter
  • Three red onions
  • Half of a large, or a whole small butternut squash (about 600g)
  • a large handful of fresh sage leaves or 2 tsp dried sage
  • 50-100g blue cheese (to taste)


Defrost the pastry, preferably slowly by leaving it out on the counter, while you do the rest of the cooking. Thinly slice the red onions into rings, or if you're in a hurry, half-moons. Peel and chop the butternut squash into bite-sized pieces. Finely shred the sage leaves. Gently fry the onion and squash in 2-3 tbsp of oil or butter, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, and the squash is golden and just barely beginning to break up. Turn off the heat and stir through the sage leaves, and season very well with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 180 C. Lay out a couple of large baking trays and cover with greaseproof paper, then brush with melted butter or oil. Lay out each piece of puff pastry on the lined tray and spoon a quarter of the mixture into the centre. Roughly fold up the sides -- I find it's easiest to fold up each corner, then crimp the new small edges to stop the corners unfolding again. If you like, you can brush the pastry with oil, milk, butter, or egg, but I find the frozen stuff is fine without. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and risen, and cooked where it is in contact with the tray. Remove and top with crumbled blue cheese, and serve with a simple salad of bitter lettuce dressed with a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Kangaroo Bobotie

This is some real fusion food -- a South African national dish made with the Australian national animal! It turned out pretty well, but it had a sort of colonial feel to it -- something like a shepherd's pie that has been improvised using unexpected local ingredients. Tasty, but I think I prefer mousakka, as this felt a bit protein-heavy and the sweetness made it rather same-y. Maybe I'll play around with the recipe a bit more til I find a version I like. There are hundreds of different variations online!