Rice and Beans: not quite Mujadara



I made this last night, second time in quick succession because it is much appreciated by the family. My vague intention was to document it here after a pretty long hiatus from this site.

I woke up this morning to find this message from our globetrotting model sprite:

Hello!!!! I am staying with family in Bristol and guess what my go-to website is for recipes to make them….IZZY HAVE YOU EATEN!! Please update it more, I love it so so much your recipes are amazing and so easy to follow! How is LA life? Missing u xxxoxooxxx

Well, such an enthusiastic message has gotten me off my rear end and here is that recipe I was contemplating.  It is so completely easy, but really tasty and a great side dish to go with a protein or else for a vegan or vegetarian, it is good with something like a saucy eggplant dish.

  • 2 cups cooked rice, white or brown
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, I use Rice Bran oil
  • handful of toasted walnuts (optional)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • handful of soaked and drained currants (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and when hot, add all the powdered spices except the cinnamon.
  2. Add the onion and when the pieces have softened, lower the heat and cook further till brown and well coated with spices; all up about ten minutes.
  3. Place the warm rice in a serving bowl.
  4. Add the other ingredients into the bowl: walnuts, currants, beans, cinnamon.
  5. Add the hot spiced onion mixture with the rice and beans and stir well. Add salt to taste and if you like, you can add some chopped parsley for colour.



Garlic and Chilli Pasta: Speedy Quick!


Everyone’s always got a plastic container in the fridge at some time with languishing left over spaghetti.  You know, the night before when your eyes were bigger than your tummy, all that.

Well, here’s a perfect delicious speedy quick left overs lunch (or dinner) to make with that cold pasta with virtually nothing- well, some salt and chilli flakes and garlic do the trick. A few parsley stalks would be a bonus.


  • 1 cereal bowl left over cooked spaghetti
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 level teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/3 bunch flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (optional)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a  large shallow fry pan.
  2. When oil is hot, add garlic and chilli flakes.
  3. Stir until flakes darken and garlic turns golden.
  4. Add spaghetti and toss well so that the flavoured oil coats all the strands well.
  5. Throw in the parsley and toss for long enough for the parsley to soften.
  6. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Add the extra tablespoon of oil after you’ve removed the pasta from the stove and toss to coat well.


In another small fry pan with no oil, brown the breadcrumbs while stirring slowly until it changes colour to a golden brown.

Add the breadcrumbs at the very end and mix well before serving . Serves 1 for a meal or two for a snack.


Helpful hint:

If you are using more pasta, increase the other ingredients like oil, chilli, garlic, breadcrumbs, etc in half measures.







Two Sisters In Melbourne And Baking Nana’s Christmas Cakes

I put Little C on a plane to you this morning, and came home to cook up Nana’s Christmas cakes. The diced fruit’s been marinading in lots of brandy, and the house smells very Christmassy! Now we just need the added layer of a fresh pine tree in the house, and we’ll really be ready to celebrate.

So glad you girls have some time together today in Melbourne. I think you’ll put C in a good frame of mind for her college interview tomorrow. After all, you’ve been there and done that. I clearly remember the three of us dropping you off at college on a cold wet night. I felt so sad that evening, but you settled quickly and had such a great time at Ormond.

Enjoy the granola and curry puffs I sent through our special courier today. And I hope you share with the H family.

It is so exciting to think of all of us being together in Sydney for Christmas. It is only a few weeks away!

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Also just before I dash off to get these babies out of their tins and onto some wire racks to cool, I should share with you that I’ve been making lots of salsa for snack time. So easy: just throw into the blender  a punnet of cherry toms with what ever’s close at hand: mint, green apple, cucumber, bell peppers, cilantro. I had some chopped water melon the other day and added that too. Pineapple is a nice addition.  The kick you get from a pickled green chili added to the mix is quite fab. Squeeze in some lime, and you are good for a FRESH snack.

Good luck with the interview tomorrow- I know you’ll have Little C well primed. Thank you for having her to stay and lookking after her, dear Izzy. xx

Fresh herbs from the garden: great in a salsa

Fresh herbs from the garden: great in a salsa

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Snack Time: Little C’s Kale Chips


You want to make WHAT? And yes, your sister was quite determined this week-end morning to make kale chips. I did have a bunch of kale in the fridge, no, I did not need to use the kitchen that very moment, so why would I have a problem with that?  I have to tell you Izzy, than once made, I could not keep my hands off these chips!

Little C is keen that we continue to include as many of the ‘superfoods‘ in our diet as possible. She made a great contribution with this snack!


  • 1 bunch kale
  • ¼ cup dry yeast
  • 4 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Line two pastry sheets with baking paper, and turn oven to bake setting, on 160 degrees celsius.
  2. Cut the stems off the kale leaves, including the spine. A nice clean pair of scissors will do the trick neatly. Cut the leaves into pieces.
  3. Wash the leaves and dry them thoroughly.
  4. In a large and shallow bowl, mix all the ingredients together to form a nice loose paste.
  5. Drop a few leaves at a time into the bowl and ‘massage’ the leaves lightly, coating them well with the paste.
  6. Lay the leaves on the baking tray.
  7. Pop the trays into the oven, bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, turn the leaves over gently ; they will be crisping up at this stage so handle carefully.
  9. Bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with a cocktail, beer or a cold white wine ; delicious!

IMG_2715IMG_2720IMG_2724IMG_2731IMG_2696It’s the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and today certainly felt like the onset of summer: warm sunny skies and a scent in the air of flowers. The garden, green all winter,  is stirring. buds are popping up on everything- the wisteria, the agapanthus, and gardenia. I’m glad to hear you had a lovely time in Lorne this week-end. IMG_2706IMG_2735IMG_2726

Home Made GRA-NO- LAH! And You Are DONE With Your Degree!


Here I am in the centre of the universe  (Sydney), and I go out to buy granola. I cannot find anything that fits the bill, Izzy! Too sweet, all of them.  Then of course, catering to our PARTICULAR tastes: none of us in this family likes too much dried fruit in our toasted cereal.

I tried all the supermarkets and delis and even the health food shops.  I was actually in the local health food shop, and while talking to the lady there about the perils of store bought granola, we both came upon the same conclusion: make your own!

As I write this now, you have written your very last essay for your Bachelor of Arts degree.  Dad and I are so proud of you, Izzy!  I remember clearly how we dropped you off one cold and windy Melbourne night at Ormond College to begin your life at university. The rest of us made our way back to the Northern Hemisphere without you, feeling empty and sad. You were so BRAVE, cheerily waving us goodbye!

I am thankful that is all behind us now, and we live on the same continent. You have been amazingly independent and positive, carving out a new life in Australia, away from your family. Your kind and sweet nature has been rewarded by deep friendships, and Melbourne has been a good home to you.  Grouse is a group house most people would envy. You are a wonderful group.

Wow- back to…….granola! I think having road tested a couple of varieties with the wider family here, and across the way at Darling Point, and a nice compromise has been reached.  But here’s the thing: granola is so PERSONAL! You might like raisins in it but not coconut. I love coconut in mine, but not dried apricots and cranberries. So Izzy,  add what you like, and leave off what you don’t, but the base works well, and isn’t too sweet, and is as always…….easy to make! I’ve been eating mine with a dollop of yogurt and some sliced fresh fruit over it. Very fine!


  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or a combination of seeds you like: try linseed, chia, flax seeds,pepitas, etc.
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • ¾ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce or pear or prune compote if you prefer it
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2  cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups almonds slivers
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups raisins or other dried fruit of your liking


  1. Mix everything except the raisins together very well in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Spread mixture evenly on cookie sheets lined with grease proof paper, and bake in 170°C oven, turning over regularly. Should take anything from 40 minutes to an hour.
  3. Once golden brown,  allow to cool and mix with the raisins or other dried fruit. Store in an airtight jar.

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Puri and Veggie Curry- Hooray for Aunty R !

We were chatting on face book like we mindlessly do. It is usually at the very end of the day- very tired, brain dead, not particularly witty, friendly or even chatty. But it is always good,coz it is my sister, and I don’t have to put on any nice nice for her. She understands, I understand, it is all good.

One of the questions last night: what was for dinner?  She’s been so busy at work lately, she cooked last night for the first time in…… she says ‘ages’. As we know, Aunty R also has an ACE cook of a husband, and Uncle C often gets to the stove before her. (And I must get around to coaxing some good recipes from him).

Puri and veggie curry? Whaaaaat? Does this ever happen to you? Sometimes I am so SHOCKED to hear what someone has cooked. Why had that delicious thought never crossed my mind?  I cannot believe it sometimes. This was how I felt when she said quite simply and mildly: puri and veggie curry. I felt electric currents of excitement. I wanted the recipe RIGHT AWAY. Of course Aunty R obliged….right away. So over face book chat came bits and pieces of the recipes for puri and her version of a quick and yummy veggie curry.

Puris are the not so well known baby cousin of chapatis. Chapatis are cooked on a hot griddle ( or frypan) while puris which are made from the same dough are deep fried and puff into pillows. Mash a hot puri into an accompanying vegetable curry, dollop some plain yogurt and lime pickle on top and experience heaven.

Is your vegan house ready for this, Izzy? I think it will go down well. For your vegan friends, please substitute the yogurt with more hot water; works just as well.  And the veggie curry is great with coconut milk. Enjoy folks.







Puri- about 10 pieces ( feeds two to three people)

  • 1 cup ‘Atta’ flour, or whole meal flour
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water
  • rolling pin
  • extra flour for dusting
  • oil for deep frying


  1. Combine the flour with yogurt.
  2. Add hot water a drop at a time until you get a good dough consistency.
  3. Cover in a bowl with cling wrap and leave for at least an hour.
  4. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin onto a flour dusted surface.
  5. When the dough is rolled out thin ( about 2 mm), use something round with a sharpish edge to cut circles into the pastry. Circles should be about the size of a drinks coaster. 
  6. Heat a saucepan filled with oil, and when very hot, gently slide your pastry disks into the oil.
  7. They will puff up quickly, but be careful not to burn them. Flip over and using a spoon, ‘bathe’ each surface with hot oil.
  8. Remove puri from the oil after a minute or two and drain on paper towels.
  9. Serve warm. 

Aunty R’s Quick Veggie Curry

  • 1 cup of cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup aubergine, cut into bite size cubes
  • 1 cup potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters.
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 green chilli chopped fine


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and throw in the onion, garlic and chilli.
  2. When onion mixture is soft, add turmeric, aubergine and potatoes, and stir to combine well.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water and salt. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the potato and aubergine soften.
  4. Add the cauliflower and tomato, and lime juice and stir well.
  5. If potatoes are still hard, add a further small amount of water (1/4 cup) and replace lid to cook for another two minutes.
  6. Uncover, stir and add the milk. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  7. Turn off the heat and serve warm with puri.

Note: using the same herb and spice mix, I made this curry with peas, potatoes and spinach instead. Puri is also excellent with chicken or beef curry, and dhal or sambar.

Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

When we lived in LA, you two girls came with us  to the T’s for dinner one night.  You were in for a treat. That Venice Beach location, and a wonderful infusion of Aussie family atmosphere was so pleasant . On top of that, DT’s prowess as an Italian chef was about to be revealed.

As the sun melted into the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashed with the tide coming in, we chatted at the kitchen island, about all things Australian. DT was cooking you girls something special she said she’d always made for her boys. As is true of most Italian cuisine, freshness and simplicity were key to a memorable dish of pasta.

The W family were here last week-end, and brought with them a large container of tomatoes, capsicums and chills from their garden. At first I used them sparingly, these  fresh garden picked delights. But as the days wore on, I knew I would only be wasting them if they perished. THAT would never do! It was time to make DT’s pasta dish!

This recipe is so simple, one doesn’t need a recipe, but a few things bear following to bring out a perfect flavour.  I know it is a deceptively simple recipe, Izzy. But the warmth of the pasta releases a wonderful aroma in the uncooked tomato and basil, and the mozzarella adds a slight creaminess which counters the  tomato acidity perfectly. Please tell Grouse honcho MW that he can substitute the cheese with soft tofu.

Pasta with Tomato and Mozzarella 

  • Very ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil,washed and picked off the stems
  • some good medium firm mozzarella 
  • pasta of choice (penne or spagatinni is favoured here)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
  2. When the water is boiling vigorously, add the pasta and boil carefully till perfectly al dente (pasta should be chewy not crunchy, neither should it be allowed to turn soft and squidgy). 
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cut tomatoes into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to bring out exceptional flavour. 
  4. When the pasta is perfectly boiled, drain, and quickly toss it in the bowl of tomatoes.
  5. The warmth of the pasta will soften the tomatoes slightly, adding to its juiciness, and creating a bit of a sauce. 
  6. Now add the chopped up pieces of mozzarella. It will melt slightly, adding to the ‘sauce’.
  7. Serve immediately, while still warm, but not before you tear up the  basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta.

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