Apple Butterscotch Pudding

Yummy!! This is the most delicious recipe - the almond meal gives the cake topping a really beautiful texture. The apples and caramel are a match made in heaven.

1. Apple Butterscotch Base
5 apples
60g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cream

2. Almond Cake Topping
100g butter, softened
1/2 cup castor sugar
1&1/2 cup SR flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup almond meal

Preheat oven to 180•C.

1. Peel, quarter and core the apples and slice in half. Heat butter and brown sugar in a medium heavy-based pot. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add cream and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute then add apples and cook uncovered 7-8 minutes until the apples are just tender. Place the apple mixture in a medium ovenproof dish.

2. Place butter and sugar in food processor and blend. Then add eggs, then sifted flour and just combine. Mix in milk and almond meal and spoon over the apple mixture.

3. Pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.

Cheats Cheese & Tomato Scrolls

My kids don't eat sandwiches on their lunch, not that the dogs mind - they come running whenever they hear the sound of tupperware being opened in the kitchen these days. These cheese & tomato scrolls were very well received this morning and very quick to make. Maybe I've found a solution...

1 cup SR flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
30g butter, chopped
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp dried oregano
handful of shredded cheese
pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 200•C
Sift the flour and baking powder, then rub the butter into it with your fingers. Add the milk, and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Knead with your hands or a dough hook until just combined then dust a surface with flour and roll out into a rectangle.
Spread on the pasta sauce, sprinkle with cheese and oregano and roll up into a log, then cut into 1 inches pieces. Lie them onto a tray lined with baking paper and whack into the hot oven for 20mins.
I would like to try a grown up version of this too with rosemary and chopped olives and feta...

Red Velvet Brownies

Red Velvet cake seems to be the trend at the moment, but the idea of colouring cake with food colouring seems very unappealing to me... Here is a healthy alternative - moist, dense, delicious and definitely worthy of such a beautiful name! The 'secret ingredient' - beetroot - gives the cake a lovely heavy brownie texture and a heavenly earthy flavour which goes so well with dark chocolate.

2 beetroot
100g butter
200g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa, chopped
1/2 cup unbleached caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup plain flour
2 heaped Tbs cocoa

Preheat oven to 180•C.
Peel and chop the beetroot with rubber gloves on or you'll look like you've murdered someone! Cover and microwave with a little water for 10 mins or until tender.
Grease and line a square cake tin.
Drain beetroot then put in food processor with blade attachment with butter and chocolate - the heat from the beetroot will melt the chocolate. Process until it all melts together and becomes smooth.
Using a spatular, pour the beetroot mixture into a large bowl, then replace the blade attachment with beater. Crack in the 3 eggs and caster sugar and whizz on high until thick and the sugar is blended thoroughly with the eggs. Pour into the beetroot mixture and mix well.
Sift flour and cocoa into bowl and gently fold through then pour into the prepared cake tin and bake 30mins, or until skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin, cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.

10 Minute Double Choc Muffins

Simple enough to make before school, thrown together whilst eating a stand-up breakfast!

They are best eaten straight out of the oven - there's no butter which makes them very fast to make but the tradeoff is they don't keep so well, although the banana does make them deliciously moist! Freshen one up for your afternoon cup of tea by zapping it in the microwave for 10secs.

PS. This is a modification on a basic muffin recipe - if you omit the cocoa powder you can do almost anything. Swap half the SR flour for wholemeal, add nuts, sultanas, a chopped overripe pear or frozen blueberries, add a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on the top, whatever... just keep in mind that frozen fruit will up the cooking time to about 60mins. 

Makes 6

2/3 cup SR flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 heaped Tbs cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 ripe banana, mashed well

Preheat oven to 200•C
Prepare 6 squares of baking paper to line the muffin tin with - I find this works better than paper liners which stick to the muffins!
Sift the 'dry ingredients' into a bowl. (flour, cocoa & sugar)
Beat the egg and add the 'wet ingredients' (milk & oil).
Pour the wet ingredients into a well in the dry ingredients and mix quickly together - you might need to add a bit more milk if its a bit dry here, but don't overmix or the muffins will be tough.
Add the choc chips and banana and mix through briefly, then divide the mixture into the cases, putting the baking paper squares in as you go.
Pop them in the oven and in 20 minutes they're done!

Almond & Oat Biscuits

Delicious school holiday cookies that can be knocked together in a matter of minutes - perfect to take on a picnic to the park. Be warned - you won't be able to stop at just one!

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup golden caster sugar
1.1/2 cups flaked almonds
150g butter
1Tbs golden syrup

Preheat oven to 190•C.
Melt the butter in a small pot over a gentle heat.
Combine oats, sifted flour, cinnamon, caster sugar & flaked almonds in a large bowl.
When the butter is melted, mix in the golden syrup and add to the dry ingredients.
Stir well, then press tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
Bake on lined trays for approx 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks & allow to cool completely before putting in an airtight container.

Coconut Fish Curry

A delicious, healthy dinner with accompaniments, on the table in 30 minutes! Who am I - Jamie Oliver?? The curry is mild so kids will enjoy it and really compliments the fish. 

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1Tbs mustard seeds
1Tbs mild curry powder, such as Korma
2 kaffir lime leaves, if you have a tree in the garden!

Half cauliflower, cut into small pieces
3 small carrots, cut into thinish rings

Small tin light coconut milk
1 stock cube
mixed fish fillets - firm white fish and salmon, skinned and boned
1 bunch corriander, leaves removed and washed

1 + 3/4 cups rice
1/4  cup small dahl, such as moong dhal or urid dhal
2 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1 tsp tumeric

1 banana 
2 Tbs desiccated coconut
mango chutney, to serve

First, get your rice on. Put the rice, dhal and spices into a small pot and add double the amount of cold water (4 cups). Bring to the boil and stir well. Then put a lid on it and transfer to the smallest stove hob on the lowest setting. Set your timer for 12 minutes.

Get your kids busy making the accompaniments! Papadums are so easy to make in the microwave and is a very exciting job for a 7 year old. Simply put down a square of paper towel and either 2 big or 4 small papadums on the edges. Zap them for 60 seconds, move them around and zap them again for another 60 seconds. Make more papadums that you think anyone could possibly eat! Meanwhile, your 4 year old can make the banana and coconut raita.

Slice the onion thinly into rings. Fry gently in a little oil, add the garlic, mustard seeds and curry powder. Put your kettle on to boil. The mustard seeds should start to pop and the curry powder smell delicious. Add the stock cube, kaffir lime leaves and a couple of cups of boiling water. Add the cauliflower & carrots and put the lid on to simmer for a few minutes. 

By now the timer should have gone on your rice! DO NOT remove the lid!! When the timer goes, simply turn off the heat and set your timer for 10 minutes. 

Add the coconut milk to the pot, and your fish fillets and gently stir to submerge them with the vegetables. Partially cover the pot and bring the heat up almost to a gentle simmer but don't let it boil, keep an eye on it, and gently turn the fish through the curry so it cooks evenly. It will only take a few minutes so don't over cook it.

Set the table with forks and spoons, there should be lots of delicious coconut flavoured soup with the curry and put down a couple of placemats so you can take the the two hot pots straight to the table. Add the corriander leaves to the curry at the last minute, don't stir them through but leave them in a beautiful green pile. You could add some sliced red chili too if you don't have kids and it would look even prettier! Fluff up the rice a bit before serving it and enjoy. 

Dutch Oven Pork Roast with Red Cabbage & Apple

I am a great fan of finding ways to use cheaper cuts of meat - they are often tastier and with a large table to feed its just not economical to buy the fancy little chops that the supermarkets offer in their plastic wrapped, styrofoam trays!

This recipe is a winner in that it can be thrown together into a dutch oven in the half hour before school pick up then bunged in the oven and left to work its magic. Getting home from after school winter sports you then walk into a house smelling delicious and a kitchen warmed by the oven, then all that's left is to make some mashed potato and zap some frozen peas in the microwave and dinner is served!

1 large pork round roast - it will shrink to about half the size
1 brown onion
1/4 red cabbage
1 thumb sized knob of fresh ginger
1/4 cup raisins
6 whole cloves
4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup white wine or cider
2 cups chicken stock
3 large green apples
Mashed potatoes & frozen peas to serve!

Preheat your oven to 170•C.
Heat your dutch oven or Le Creuset pot on the stove top, add a little oil and brown your round roast, giving it good colour on all sides. This will take a little time so while you're doing that start chopping the veg. First the onions, thinly slice them and when you're about half way through browning the meat add them in to the sides. Remember to give them a stir and turn the heat down a little if they're browning too fast.
Then shred the red cabbage using a mandolin and peel and thinly slice the ginger, cutting again into rough matchsticks. Add these to your pot also along with the raisins, cloves and pepper and salt and finish browning your meat along with stirring the vegetables around the edges until the cabbage wilts down a little. Leave your meat with the lovely browned fat side up, this will help keep the exposed meat nice and moist during the cooking.
Now add the balsamic vinegar - when cooking red cabbage it is important to use an acidic liquid to keep the beautiful colour. Let this reduce a little then add your wine or cider and the chicken stock, scraping down the edges and bottom of the pot. The liquid should come about half way up the meat. Bring it to a gentle simmer then transfer the pot to the oven with the lid on tightly.

Leave for about 2.5hrs in the oven to cook slowly away...

Check the pot to make sure it is not drying out, then get your mashed potatoes on. Peel, core and quarter the green apples and add them around the top for the last 10minutes.

To serve, take the pork out and take off the string holding it all together, remove the fat and discard, then cut into very thick slices - if you can! Some of it will probably flake and fall apart. The Americans, bless their carotid arteries call this 'pulled pork'. Pork is often a dry meat, even when cooked slowly like this, but smothered in the beautiful cabbage and apple with the delicious juices the result is mouthwatering!

Divine Tomato Soup

I forgot how fantastic this tomato soup is! Dad used to make it at their Pearl Beach holiday house when friends came up in winter.

We would all rug up and walk down to the beach where the waves were enormous and would crash down so ferociously that the earth would literally tremble beneath our feet, and the water would be churned into foam. Everyone would get back to the little beach house freezing and famished, our eyes stinging with the salt spray, cheeks scoured red from the wind, and hair whipped into a tangled mess.

This soup, served steaming hot into enormous black lacquer bowls was always met with revered silence - the proof of a great dish! - and everyone would beg him for the recipe. No doubt he felt a bit wicked knowing how incredibly easy it was to make, yet how satisfying the result was! It was the perfect start to many beautiful winter luncheons. 

3 cans good quality organic tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
2 chicken stock cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tsp sugar
1/2 tsp chill flakes (optional)
a handful of basil leaves, finely sliced
parmesan cheese
fresh bread and butter, or croutons, to serve.

Put the tomatoes, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, chilli, stock cubes and half a tin of water into a pot and bring to a gentle boil then turn the heat down and let it simmer and the flavours develop for 20mins or so. Blend roughly with a bar mix leaving the soup still a little chunky here and there then put back on the stove until you're ready to serve it. Then finely slice your basil leaves and freshly grate your parmesan using the big side of the grater so you get nice big shredded pieces of cheese.

Make sure the bowls are warmed and the soup is really hot - this is important so the cheese melts a little on the surface of the soup! Ladle into bowls and stir in a decent amount of the beautiful aromatic basil leaves, then sprinkle the surface of the hot soup with a really generous amount of parmesan.

Blissfully easy & utterly delicious!

Easy Baked Chilli Chicken

Now that I have two hungry grown men, me and two kids living in the house and occasionally my father staying for dinner as well, I am always on the lookout for economical meals that are tasty, fast, easy, healthy and not too hard to clean up after!

Impossible? ...Almost.

This recipe checks every box and if there's any chicken left over it makes a great sandwich filling. Chicken thighs are not only cheaper, but are higher in nutrients than the breast, and are much tastier too.

This recipe would also work really well as a quick marinade for skin-on thighs to cook on the BBQ too.

8 chicken thighs, skin off
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup soy sauce
3Tbs sweet chilli sauce
1tsp dried chilli flakes (or sambal oelek) - or to taste.
1 lime
Fresh coriander leaves, if available

Preheat the oven to 200•C.
Mix the crushed garlic, soy, sweet chilli sauce and chilli flakes together in a large bowl. Throw in the chicken thighs and stir to combine. Then, line a large shallow baking dish with foil or greaseproof paper and spread the thighs out so they are in a single layer.
Bake in the hot oven for 30-40 mins. Cut them in half to check they're done, and if so add the corriander leaves, squeeze fresh lime juice over them and season generously with salt and pepper.

These chilli chicken thighs are super delicious with steamed rice and corn or asparagus. You could also easily whack a cut up eggplant into the oven at the same time too for the Rocket & Eggplant Salad if you liked.

The baked thighs and lime juice make just enough liquid, I think, to go with the rice, but if you had any cubes of chicken stock in the freezer you could add a couple of these at the end to finish the sauce.

Rocket & Eggplant Salad

The rocket in my garden has gone totally bizerk lately, I can hardly eat it fast enough! The newest leaves are tender and sweet but as the plant matures they get more peppery. Eating this plant is insanely healthy, it has all manner of antioxidants and other things I can't even pronounce, it even has Vitamin K in it which is reported to help fight Alzheimer's, something I'm keenly interested in.

This is the yummiest salad and my absolute favourite way of eating eggplant - caramelised and delicious! When persuaded to try a piece even my 6yr old rated it ten out of ten. We made it recently to eat with a roast lamb dinner. It was scrumptious with the roast potatoes and pumpkin and any vegetarian would be more than satisfied to have it in place of the lamb.

1 large bowl of fresh rocket
1 large eggplant, cubed
Fresh herbs from the garden such as basil or mint
Balsamic vinegar

Put the eggplant in a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil, a little more than you would use on some baked potatoes, season with salt and pepper and place in a hot oven 180• - 200•. Keep an eye on the eggplant. After 15 minutes if it looks a little dry add another drizzle of oil. (Eggplant has a tendency to soak up all the oil its given, so its important not to give it too much, or to make sure your oil is really hot if you're frying on the BBQ for instance.)
The eggplant is ready in about half an hour, depending on the heat of your oven, when it is nicely browned and caramelised.
Assemble the salad by laying out the rocket and adding the eggplant then drizzling with the balsamic vinegar. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice too with the herbs if you like.

My Beef Casserole

Well alas! I am no longer vegetarian... my kids are little carnivores and I have succumbed to eating animals again too... I am reconciling my conscience by saying I will still endeavor to be a conscious eater, and I do appreciate meat all the more for the luxury it is.
Consequently this stew has lots of veggies in it and loads of gravy to make it go along way. It is delicious served with Tim's mashed potatoes (to which he adds a generous spoon of hot english mustard and cream!) and makes great leftovers with chewy toasted olive sourdough bread. Yum! A big pot full like this will feed the family for days, you can stash some in the freezer or even, if you're generous, give a bowl to a friend who needs a little home-cooked sustenance!

1kg stewing steak such as chuck or gravy beef
2 large onions, sliced thickly
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup pearl barley
5 carrots, peeled & sliced thickly
2 sticks celery, sliced thinkly
large handful button mushrooms, halved
4 bay leaves & sprig of thyme
1.5 cups red wine
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
3 beef style stock cubes or beef stock
3Tbs cornflour
1Tbs brown miso paste* optional
chopped parsley, to serve

Fry the onion and garlic gently in some olive oil in a heavy based pot. Meanwhile chop your meat into chunks, taking care to remove the yucky gristle and fatty bits as you go (which your furry friends will love!).
Remove the onion and fry the meat in batches to brown it - this colour will flavour and colour the stew nicely. When all the onion and meat is set aside in a bowl add the red wine and let it boil for a few minutes to reduce. Stir the wine with a wooden spoon to get all the flavour off the pot. Then add all your veggies and meat back in, the tinned tomatoes, pearl barley, bay leaves, thyme and stock cubes plus enough boiling water to cover (about half a litre). Bring the stew up to the boil then immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Keep an eye on it - it should be simmering slowly under the lid. Leave it to cook like this for an hour or as long as you like.
When you are getting close to serving time, take some of the liquid and mix with the cornflour to make a paste (and avoid getting lumps) then pour this back into your stew and simmer to thicken the gravy.
At the last minute, stir in your miso paste and turn off the heat. The miso paste is optional but I find it enhances the stew's colour and makes the flavour more complex and delicious, especially with the pearl barley - it is also incredibly good for you! Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Cream of Cauliflower & Leek Soup

There is nothing better than having a big batch of homemade soup in the fridge, my kids love this one too. This is my latest easy peasy favourite, in a beautiful shade of creamy yellow!

1 leek, cleaned and chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, stem removed and chopped
4Tbs mong or urid dhal
1 chicken style stock cube
1 tbs Keens curry powder
300ml thickened cream

Sweat the leek in a little olive oil in a heavy based pot for a few minutes. Add all ingredients except cream and chives plus enough boiling water to almost cover. Simmer for 20 minutes then blend well with a barmix. Finally add cream and season, then serve sprinkled with chives.

Delicious Lasagne

There are so many delicious varieties of lasagne but this one I particularly like... Its a great dish if you're expecting lots of people as it can be made early in the day, the ingredients can be bought a week before and left overs keep really well too. Throw in a garlic bread and put a salad together and you have a feast!

Serves 8
1 - 2 boxes dried lasagne sheets
1 large eggplant
2 zucchinis
1 tub ricotta cheese
2 eggs*
1 bottle tomato pasta sauce
big handful of basil leaves
2 cups milk*
30gms butter
2Tbs cornflour (or plain flour)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese*

Slice the eggplant & zucchini half a centimeter thick then grill on a hot oiled griddle pan if you have one or BBQ on med-low heat. You want them to cook til tender and have nice stripes from the hot metal without burning. You can fry them just as easily but don't add too much oil. Spray oil is great as you can give them a light spray each time you turn them to keep them moist without going oily. Leave these to cool after they're cooked.
Beat the eggs and add the ricotta, chopped basil and salt & pepper.
To assemble your lasagne... a little tomato sauce to coat the bottom of the deep casserole dish, lasagne sheets, eggplant topped with half the ricotta mixture, lasagne sheets, half the tomato pasta sauce, lasagne sheets, zucchini topped with remaining half of ricotta mixture, lasagne sheets, remaining tomato sauce then lasagne sheets.
Finally make your white sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and microwave the milk for approximately 2 minutes. Add the cornflour to the melted butter and stir, then let it bubble and cook for a couple of minutes - this is important as cooking the 'rue' will get rid of the floury taste. When it has cooked add the hot milk all in one go and stir straight away with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir for about 5 minutes as the white sauce thickens then remove from the heat and add salt & pepper to taste and a good sprinkle of nutmeg. Pour this sauce all over the top of your lasagne and sprinkle with the cheese then bake in a hot oven about 30 minutes.

*For a healthier option use soymilk and Nuttelex, and flavour your white sauce with nutritional yeast powder and omit the eggs. I haven't found a good alternative for the ricotta cheese however.

Lunch-Box Cookies

These cookies are fast - you can make a batch first thing on a good day and eat a few straight from the oven on the way to school. They have no nuts and are relatively low in sugar. Tim said they are really sweet so I might even drop the brown sugar down to 1/4 cup next time I make them to see what happens! Feel free to omit the choc chips and replace with nuts if you want a healthier cookie too. The ginger flavour is quite prominent which I like, but can be reduced to 1/4tsp if you prefer.

3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp sea salt
100g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup alternative natural sweetener such as Xylitol
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
1Tbs tahini
1 cup rolled oats &/or rolled barley
1/4 cup choc chips
1/4 cup chopped raisins

Preheat oven to 190•C and line 2 baking trays.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
Cream the butter, sugar and sugar substitute with an electric mixer, then add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the sifted ingredients and stir until combined then mix in the oats, raisins and choc chips.
Roll spoonfuls of mixture and drop onto prepared baking trays and lightly flatten with a fork, the tahini will make them slightly sticky. Bake for 8-9 minutes and cool on wire racks.

Lentil Stew with Garlic Yoghurt

A delicious soupy stew to warm up your evening! This is really yummy served with boiled potatoes that go so well with the mint garnish and yoghurt topping, but also equally tasty with chewy sourdough toast.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2tsp curry powder
1tsp ground cummin
1tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
1 litre hot vegetable stock ('Beef style Massel' stock cubes work well in this recipe)
1 cup brown lentils
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 zucchini, cut in half lengthways and sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200g broccoli, cut into small florets
1 carrot, small dice
1/2 cup peas
1 Tbs chopped mint
New potatoes or sourdough bread to serve

Spiced Yoghurt
1 cup thick plain yoghurt
1 Tbs chopped corriander
1 garlic clove
3 dashes Tobasco sauce

Heat the oil in a heavy based cassoulet pot. Add the leek and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft and lightly golden. Add the curry powder, cumin and garam masala and cook for 1 minute until lightly fragrant.
Add the stock, bay leaves, lentils and sweet potato. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender about 10-15 minutes.
Get your potatoes cooking; if they are small just peel them and pop into a bowl covered with gladwrap and microwave for 10 minutes. Check with a fork to see if they need any further cooking after this time.
Add the zucchini, tomatoes, carrot, broccoli and 2 cups hot water and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the peas in the last 2-3 minutes and season.

To make the garlic yoghurt use the side of a large knife to mash the garlic clove by repeatedly pressing and smearing it on your chopping board until it is a puree. Then combine all the ingredients for the yoghurt and mix well. Garnish your soup with a big dollop of the yoghurt and some freshly chopped mint. Delicious!

Pumpkin Soup for Windy Days

Thank heavens the time for soups is here! This pumpkin soup is SO easy and really delicious that even your kids will ask for seconds. The addition of red lentils makes it a nutritious meal in itself too.

You might also be interested to know that this soup is great for calming Vata. What the hell am I talking about? Well, according to the ancient Indian doctrine of Ayurveda there are three doshas which pertain to everything - Vata (cold, airy, mobile), Pitta (hot, liquid, sharp), Kapha (dense, stable, oily). Keeping these doshas balanced is the key to a happy mind and body.

Cold Autumn winds easily exacerbate Vata resulting in mental overactivity, insomnia, dry skin and hair, sore throats, stinging eyes, coughs and general fatigue. So to combat these unpleasant symptoms try calming Vata with meditation (great free guided meditations at, massage the feet and hands at bedtime with warming oils (sesame, rose, sweet orange are all good) try to eat routinely and swap salads for nourishing soups, stews, warm cereals and hot bread and butter. Oh, and enjoy this delicious creamy pumpkin soup spiced with ginger!

1/2 Butternut or Jap pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 brown onion, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced against the grain
1/2 cup red lentils
1 litre boiling water
2 vegetable stock cubes
400ml coconut cream

Put everything into a pot except the coconut cream and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the pumpkin and lentils are completely soft. Blitz with a blender stick then add the coconut cream.

Fresh Fettucini with Pesto

If you are feeling energetic you can make the pasta from scratch, its a fun activity to do with your family but you do need a pasta machine. Its worth making extra so you can dry some to have another day.

Same goes with the pesto - if you have a lot of rocket and basil in the garden make a big batch. It keeps well in the fridge as long as you put gladwrap touching the surface - the top will discolour but its perfectly okay. Adding your fresh pesto will liven up any soup, couscous, pasta, frittata, sandwich or veggie burger.

Basic Pasta Dough
Combine 400g flour with 2 tsp salt in a food processor. With the motor running add 4 eggs and process until the dough clings together and feels springy. If necessary you can add a little olive oil too.
Knead the dough for a few minutes on a clean, dry workbench. Then wrap in gladwrap to rest (preferably) for an hour. Put through the pasta machine on the widest setting and run it through about 3-4 times making the setting thinner and finally changing to the spaghetti or fettucini setting. Flour the pasta and hang it over a broom stick to dry.

Fresh Pesto Recipe
1 bunch basil
1 bunch rocket
2 cloves garlic, crushed
30g parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts

Rinse the basil and rocket and dry well in a tea towel. Remove all tough stalks and stems. Place the leaves in a food processor along with the pine nuts, parmesan and pepper, then process adding the oil in a thin stream. Scrape down the sides of the processor with a spatula and stir then process briefly again.

Fresh Pasta Dinner
Toast some slivered almonds. Fry thinly sliced mushrooms and zucchini in olive oil with some crushed garlic in a large fry pan. Cook your fresh pasta in boiling salted water - it will only take a few minutes, taste to check when its cooked. Add a few big spoons of pesto to your pan and a big lug of olive oil. Drain the pasta and add to the fry pan then carefully distribute the pesto through the pasta using tongs. Garnish your fresh pasta dish with the almonds, fresh basil leaves, parmesan, cracked pepper and sea salt.

Autumn Pear & Hazelnut Crumble

This crumble recipe is taken from the book 'Vegan Cooking' by Amanda Quinn & Diipali Lilburne and it just goes to show you can make a really scrumptious crumble without loading it with butter. Vitasoy makes a great vanilla ice cream, but I still haven't found a vegan replacement for that damn good refrigerated custard...

4 large pears, cored, peeled and diced into large chunks
1/3 cup dates, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup oats
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup almond or hazelnut meal
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup hazelnuts, crushed
1/3 cup Nuttelex

Preheat oven to 200•C
Place pears in a saucepan with the dates, water and cinnamon. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Pour into a deep baking dish.
In a bowl mix together the oats, flour, almond meal, sugar and hazelnuts. Melt Nuttelex and add to the oats mixture and mix well. Pour crumble mixture over pears and press down. Bake in the oven 25-30 minutes.

Rustic Mushroom Pies!

If you are craving a hearty winter dinner without the obligatory meat these little pies should do the trick! My kids really like them too served with creamy mashed potato and (of course!) tomato sauce.
They are a little fiddly to make but worth the effort.
Makes 6-8 small pies.

3-4 sheets of frozen puff pastry
1 brown onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 small bag mushrooms - swiss brown or buttons
1 cup vegetable stock
1 small carrot, diced
1Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or thyme)
ground pepper
1Tbs balsamic vinegar
2Tbs soy sauce
1Tbs (heaped) plain flour

Take the pastry out to defrost while you cook the mushroom filling.
Preheat the oven to 180•C.
Fry the onion in a little olive oil, add the garlic and rosemary. Add the mushrooms and carrots then the balsamic and soy sauce and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the carrots are almost done. Mix the flour with a little water to form a paste then add to the mixture and stir until the gravy thickens. Season with pepper and remove from the heat.
To prepare the pastry cases grease some muffin tin trays then use a large cup or small bowl to cut out circles. Press in the bottom half, add the mushroom filling then add the lid. Fold and pinch your way around - they're supposed to look rustic hence the name! Then pop them in the hot oven for about 30 minutes to brown the pastry while you microwave some spuds to turn into delicious mashed potato. Yum!

Eggplant & Tofu StirFry

This is a really yummy stir fry - crunchy veggies, chewy deep fried tofu, caramelised eggplant! Serve with steamed rice and satay sauce. Herbies Spices does a really excellent and delicious satay spice powder that you just make up on the stove with a little peanut butter, brown sugar and sesame oil.

1 packet hard tofu, patted dry & cubed
1 small eggplant, cubed
canola or peanut oil for deep frying
1 red capsicum, in chunks
1 large red chilli, sliced (optional!)
snow peas, topped and tailed
button mushrooms
2 spring onions, sliced into 1" pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
fresh basil leaves
Mix together: 2 Tbs soy sauce + 1 Tbs fish sauce + 2 Tbs oyster sauce + 1 tsp brown sugar
Mix together: 1 tsp cornflour + 1/4 cup boiling water with half a stock cube dissolved

Firstly deep fry the tofu in small batches in hot oil in a wok, draining on paper towel. Then deep fry the eggplant too. Carefully pour the hot oil out of the wok - to a small saucepan is good where it can cool down. Then start your stir fry. Fry the spring onions for a minute, then add the mushrooms and garlic, then lastly the chilli, capsicum and snow peas. Add the soy sauce mixture for a minute then the cornflour stock and stir until the liquid thickens. Serve straight away with the basil sprinkled over.