Christmas time is all about giving, and theres no better gift than something you have made. Turning what you have grown into culinary gifts, for me, brings back the joy of giving. Enjoy!

Carrot & caraway relish

Makes 4 cups

Thanks to Chris Stephan from Pen & Palette in Adelaide for sharing this recipe. It sits loud and proud on the cheese platter. Grab a cracker, top with a blue, cheddar or a soft Brie and spoon over some carrot and caraway relish. It is hard not to finish the whole jar!

1 kg carrots, washed and grated

2 cups caster sugar

2 tablespoon caraway seeds

4 cups white wine vinegar

Combine all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Spoon into hot sterilised jars, seal, label and store in the fridge.

Spicy Beetroot Chutney

Makes 6 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 kg beetroot, peeled and grated

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1 cup raw sugar

1 orange, zest and juice

200mls red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt

300mls water

Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onions until softened. Add the beetroot and cook for 10 minutes. Stir through the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, simmer, uncovered for 40-45 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beetroot has softened. Stir the beetroot occasionally making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Turn off the heat and fill hot sterilised jars, wipe around the rim and seal with a lid.

Caramelised onions

Makes 2 cups

 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 large brown onions

1 tablespoon salt

4 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions and salt and cook very slowly for 20-25 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Keep the heat low otherwise they could catch and burn.

Add the sugar and vinegar and cook for 10-15 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Cook until sticky and caramelised. Spoon into sterilised jars and seal.






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Spring into your veggie patch


We are halfway into spring and one of my favourite times of the year. The temperature is rising and the vegie patch looks abundant. Whatever is in your garden spring into action (had to be said!) and pull together your own spring veg salad. I love how the quick pickled radishes not only gives this salad a zing but the radishes become a vibrant rosy pink colour, brightening up any salad. Enjoy!

Spring Veg salad and quick pickled radishes with lamb & feta patties

Serves 4

500gms lamb mince

200gms feta

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped plus extra for serving

1/2 cup chia seeds

150gms freshly podded peas, blanched

1 bunch asparagus, blanched

4 zucchinis, thinly sliced

6-8 radishes, thinly sliced and pickled (see recipe)

1 preserved lemon, flesh removed and thinly sliced

2 cups rocket

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup Greek plain yoghurt

2 cloves garlic, crushed, extra

2 tablespoons lemon juice

mint leaves, to serve

Combine mince, 100g feta, garlic, breadcrumbs and mint in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place chia seeds on a plate. Form mince mixture into small patties, then place on plate and turn to lightly coat in seeds. Cover and refrigerate while you make the pickled radishes.

In a large bowl combine the blanched peas and asparagus, zucchinis, preserved lemon and rocket.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook patties, in 2 batches, for a few minutes each side or until browned and cooked through.

Remove the radishes from the pickling liquid and gently toss with the salad ingredients. Combine the yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice and set aside. Divide salad among plates add extra mint leaves and remaining feta. Top with the lamb patties, serve with garlic yoghurt.

Quick pickled radishes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoons salt

6-8 medium sized radishes, ends trimmed, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, stir together vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir through the radishes. Allow to stand for 30 minutes before serving.

NB: these quick pickled radishes are best eaten on the day but can keep for 1 day in the refrigerator.

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Broccoli salsa verde


Broccol-ee or Broccol-eye? I was surprised when I served this up on ABC Northcoast Good Gardening show recently when some listeners pronounced broccoli as broccol-eye, how do you pronounce it? However you say it, this versatile veg is at an abundance right now. This is a big hit with my family and a great way to use up your glut. It works perfectly as a dip with a crudité of raw broccoli, carrot and celery or perfect on top of a toasted slice of sourdough rubbed with a garlic clove and topped with shaved parmesan, great tossed through pasta and delicious alongside grilled salmon or bbq steak. Enjoy!

2 large heads of broccoli (700gms), chopped into small chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
10 anchovies
1 cup milk
1/3 cup salted capers, rinsed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a large saucepan, place the broccoli, garlic, anchovies and milk. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40-45 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. You can add a splash more milk if needed.

Remove from the heat, add capers, lemon juice and pine nuts and blend using a hand blender. Gradually add the olive oil, season to taste.


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Cauliflower winter salad


I cannot get enough of roasted cauliflower, its a big hit in my household. Its so simple and so rewarding. Roasting brings out a creamy nuttiness to this veg. You can serve up the roasted cauli with any roast meats, grilled fish, thrown into a risotto or spiced up to make a winter salad. I also like to puree roasted cauliflower with some milk or to be more decadent cream and butter! If you don’t want to roast you can make cauliflower cream by cooking the cauli in milk/cream and butter and then puree, yum! If you have a glut of cauliflowers, make cauliflower pickle or a big batch of soup to freeze. Enjoy!

Spiced roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and feta salad with a yoghurt preserved lemon dressing

1 head cauliflower, outer green leaves removed, broken into small florets

good pinch sea salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried red chilli

zest and juice of 1 lemon

400gms cooked chickpeas

200gms feta, diced

a small handful fresh parsley leaves

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Greek style plain yoghurt

1/2 preserved lemon, pulp & pith removed, skin finely diced

1 tablespoon lemon juice, extra

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Combine oil, spices, salt, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Toss the cauliflower florets in the spiced oil until well coated. Spread onto a large baking tray and cook in pre heated oven for 35-40 minutes, tossing half way through, or until golden.

Combine the yoghurt, preserved lemon and lemon juice and set aside. Toss the chickpeas, feta and parsley together and season with pepper. Add the roasted cauliflower and combine well. Serve with preserved lemon yoghurt.


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Roast fish fillets in a puttanesca sauce

Lets keep it warm and fuzzy for the cooler nights and roast your fish fillets in a puttanesca sauce – a Mediterranean tomato sauce with capers and olives, they add some great flavour. I sometimes stray from tradition with this sauce and sprinkle over some crumbled feta. Enjoy!

Puttanesca baked fish fillets

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced

6 anchovies, roughly chopped

6 semi-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips

2 x 400gms tinned tomatoes

splash red wine vinegar

4x 150gms white fish fillets, skin off and bones removed

1 handful black olives, pitted

2 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed

small handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat oil in a frying pan. Add garlic and chilli , anchovies and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the semi-dried tomatoes, and tinned tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with pepper. Add a swig of red wine vinegar to give it a bit of punch at the end, season to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180-200C fan forced. Pour the tomato sauce into a deep-sided roasting tray (reserving a cup full). Season the fish fillets on both sides with a little salt and pepper, then place on top of the sauce and pour the remaining sauce over the fish.  Sprinkle with the olives and capers.

Cook in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (cut into the thickest part of one or two of the fillets; they should be opaque(pearly white). Remove from oven and sprinkle over fresh parsley. Serve with roasted potatoes and a green salad. 


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Creamed corn with sweetcorn and jalepeno relish on polenta pancakes

Creamed corn with sweetcorn and jalepeno relish on polenta pancakes

If you grow corn and had an abundance here is a great recipe to use up your harvest , you will love my triple hit of corn in one dish. The different textures help make this dish. The polenta pancakes are firm, similar texture to a corn bread, then there is the softness and creaminess of the creamed corn and a burst of corn kernels in your mouth with the relish.

I have had a mixed reaction when I mention creamed corn. Some think of baby food and others screw their noses and only think of the canned experience.

I cooked this up for Phil Dudman, Garden Guru, on ABC Northcoast Good Gardening and got the thumbs up and he was in the, “Creamed corn….argh baby food.” camp.  You can make the creamed corn and relish the day before, just reheat the creamed corn before serving. Enjoy!

Triple Corn Brunch
Serves 6

Creamed Corn
30gms butter
1 red onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
200gms bacon bones
6 corn cobs, silk, husks and kernels removed
2 cups milk
6 fresh curry leaves
1 kaffir lime leaf
zest of a lime
lime wedges to serve

Sweetcorn & jalepeno relish
makes 1 cup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 corn cobs, silk and husks removed and kernels removed
1 jalepeno chilli, seeds removed and finely diced
100mls cider vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder

Polenta pancakes
1/3 cup polenta
1 cup besan flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
salt and pepper, to season
2 eggs seperated
3 teaspoons vegetable oil

To make the creamed corn, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened.

Add the bacon bones and cook for 3 minutes then add the corn kernels and cobs, milk,  curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves. Season with salt and pepper remembering the bacon bones can be quite salty season with more pepper than salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until kernels are soft.

Remove the bones, cobs, and leaves and strain through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid. Blend the cooked corn in food processor or with a  stick blender adding enough liquid until you have a semi-smooth puree. Keep warm.

To make the relish, heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a medium size saucepan. Add the onion reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes until onion is softened.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes or untilthe liquid has reduced slightly. Pour into a sterilised jar and seal.

To make the polenta pancakes, in a large bowl add the polenta, besan flour and baking powder with a pinch of salt and pepper and make a well in the centre. In a jug whisk together the egg yolks and buttermilk and pour into the well and mix to combine. Whisk the egg whites in a seprerate clean bowl until soft peaks form. Fold through a third of the whites into the polenta mix.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a teaspoon of oil. Drop a 1/4 cup quantity of batter into the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden underneath and bubbles form on top. Turn and cook for a further minute or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with 2 more batches with the remaining oil and batter.

To serve, divide the polenta cakes onto serving plates and top with creamed corn and then the relish and a sprinkle of lime zest and wedges of lime.

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Whiting revisited

Finishing off the Whiting dish with a Vietnamese salad

My Garden Guru buddy, Phil Dudman and I visited Coffs Coast Growers market a couple of years a go and we were able to choose from their broad selection of goodies, direct from the producers. We came up with some tasty delights. One of them was an Eastern School Whiting with Vietnamese salad.

I have changed the recipe slightly for this weeks ABC The Big Fish programme but really it doesn’t have to be whiting. Use whatever your catching or what’s seasonal in your fish shop. Enjoy!

Butterflied crispy whiting with Vietnamese salad

Serves 4

1/2 cup plain flour
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 Whiting, butterflied and deboned, leaving tails in tact
macadamia or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Steamed rice, to serve

Vietnamese Salad
1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/3 cup lime juice

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 small red onion, halved and sliced into thin slivers

1/4 wombok (Chinese cabbage), finely shredded

1 carrot, peeled and grated

2 celery sticks, finely sliced

1 bunch green asparagus, chopped into 5cm pieces, blanched(if using small asparagus no need to blanch)

1/3 cup roughly chopped macadamias, toasted (see notes)

1 tablespoon finely shredded Vietnamese mint leaves

2 tablespoons shredded mint leaves

2 tablespoons macadamia oil

To make the Vietnamese Salad: combine rice vinegar, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, red chilli and pepper. Add the onion and leave to marinate.

In a large bowl combine the remaining salad ingredients and add mint and macadamias and set aside.

Place flour, salt and pepper in a large freezer bag, add the Whiting and shake well to coat. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, add just enough oil to cover the base of the pan. Add fish pieces in a single layer, skin side down (you may need to cook in batches), turn gently after 2-3 minutes and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until golden. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Finish the Vietnamese salad: add macadamia oil, onions and their marinade to the salad mixture and gently toss to combine. Place salad on a platter, top with fish and serve with steamed rice.


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Gramma Pie

One of the recipes from Bangalow Banquet Cookbook

Challenge was on from the ABC Saturday morning presenters Graeme Stuart and Garden Guru Phil Dudman for me to find an authentic Aussie Gramma Pie recipe. Low and behold that afternoon I came across a beautiful cookbook featuring recipes and stories about Bangalow, a town in the hinterland of Byron Bay, that is popular with tourists for its authenticity but more importantly for the towns spirit and energy.

This book was a community effort, not only to share the towns heritage but to showcase local producers like Coopers Shoot tomatoes, Singhs piggery, Hayters Hill Farm, Nash Stone fruit and the Jarrett’s farm from where this recipe hails, thank you Edna and there are many more stories told throughout. There are also amazing and do-able recipes from local residents and restaurants.

This is not your average community thrown together cookbook. It s a piece of history from the Northern Rivers of NSW. This is a pure voluntary community effort and it is beautifully photographed by a collection of professional photographers in the region,  food styling and recipe editing by Jody Vasallo, who has worked in the cookbook industry for a number of years and painstakingly produced by a long list of skillful and generous people in the region.
All profits from this book go to raise well needed funds for the Bangalow Public School and Bangalow Community Children’s Centre. The book retails for $39.99 and you can go online to Bangalow Banquet Cookbook facebook page or if visiting Bangalow pop into the Post Office or Bangalow Cellars and pick up a copy and take home a bit of Northern Rivers history (it is now in its second run of printing…go Bangers!). Enjoy!



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Chrissy presents….

100% linen 100% Australian teatowel

Looking for a Crissy pressie…then look no further!
Here’s a chance to treat yourself (or some other special person) to something new from the garden2kitchen range of goodies!Our 100% Australian linen teatowels have been very popular and proudly show our ‘GROW your food, KNOW your food, LOVE your food’ message.

You’ll also find handmade aprons, camphor laurel cutting boards and recycled timber herb boxes here—> http://bit.ly/1iUzFPP

Phil & Julsx
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Spanner crabs for Christmas

Paul Porters catch of Spanners

Christmas is just around the corner and there is something about having crustaceans on the Christmas menu that is a big part of the great Aussie Christmas.

Christmas Eve, I serve up a platter of crustaceans. Cooked prawns, bugs and crabs sprinkled with fresh herbs like dill, chervil, coriander. There is always lots of lemon wedges, wasabi mayonnaise, homemade cocktail sauce (my boys insist we have that sauce),  served with a crunchy green salad and crusty bread.

The crabs I use are usually  spanner crabs found in the northern NSW and Queensland waters. I find their meat sweater than the blue swimmer and mud crabs. It may be because they are caught between a mile and 15 mile off shore on sandy bottoms, so they have a more of a smorgasbord of food to choose from than their cousins in the mangroves. Although they only yield 25 per cent meat, they are cheaper than other Crabs and some chefs prefer their distinctive flavour.

Paul Porter’s 7m aluminium cat

Paul Porter has been catching spanners commercially since 1989. There wasn’t really a market for them domestically as most people either had no idea what they were or how to prepare and cook them. Thankfully that has changed and Paul sends most of his catch to Sydney Fish Market.

If you want to have a go at catching them Paul suggests going out when there is no swell and using mullet or pilchards as bait. Paul sends down his trap in the late afternoon and says an hour later he can haul up to 15-20 but you need to check what the quota is for recreational fishers. Good luck and let me know if you do catch them and how you cooked them.

So what does Paul do with his spanner crab? Besides eating them cooked from the shell he has shared with me his wife Rebecca’s recipe of Hot Crab Dip. Perfect for the the silly season. Enjoy!



500 grams drained cooked crab meat

250 grams cream cheese, softened

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup thickened cream

4-6 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 drops Tabasco sauce

½ teaspoon garlic salt

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Water crackers to serve

Fresh dill to garnish


Grease an ovenproof dish (4cup capacity)

  1. Combine crab meat, cream cheese, mayonnaise, thickened cream, spring onions, mustard sauces and garlic salt in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, mix well.  Spoon mixture into the prepared dish, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  2. Cook, uncovered in a moderate oven, 160ºC, for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  3. Stand dip for 10 minutes before serving with crackers.  Garnish with fresh dill.


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