Dining in

I made two New Year Resolutions for 2016. To start a blog (check) and to use all the beautiful recipe books I have been given over the years.

I’ll hold myself accountable to the second one here, with a diary of what I cooked, and from which cookbook. Of course, I’ll be cooking plenty of other meals but I’ll only list the recipes from actual recipe books, not from my head or online recipe collections.

Break:  Mr M and I took a break from the recipe challenge for a few weeks, because of an interstate trip for my work, an interstate wedding, and of course of holiday to Japan – which you can read about here.

WEEK 10: I’ve failed at making wontons in the past, but had more success this time.

  • Date: 10 March. Recipe book: Modern Australian Food //The Australian Women’s Weekly. Recipe: Pork and prawn wontons. Verdict: I substituted the pork mince for chicken. They were delicious – I served the wontons with  simple salad of coriander, red onion, shaved carrot and shaved cucumber, and steamed Asian greens.
Duck breast with fennel and orange.


WEEK 9: We picked up some free-range duck breasts from a local breeder, which Mr M cooked.

  • Date: 6 March. Recipe book: Outback Pantry//Lynton Tapp. Recipe: Duck breast with blood orange and fennel. Verdict: This is the first time we have cooked duck at home, and we’ve only eaten it a few times. The Muscovy duck was delicious – more flavoursome than expected. It worked well with the fennel puree and the tartness of the orange. The dressing (sherry vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, olive oil and salt) was so good! Local touch: We used duck from Spudcutters Poultry, Brinkworth, South Australia.
Sunday brunch: Smoky beans with chorizo

WEEK 8: We started this week with a bang, with both Mr M and I cooking new recipes on Sunday.

  • Mrs M: Date: 21 February. Recipe book: Modern Australian Food //The Australian Women’s Weekly. Recipe: Smoky beans with chorizo. Verdict: After a sweet breakfast on Saturday, I decided to try a savoury option from the same recipe book. Mr M and I love Spanish flavours, so this dish caught my eye – chorizo, beans, tomatoes, capsicum…yum! We paired it with toasted garlic ciabatta. It was very easy to make, but there was heaps. The left overs could be frozen, or repurposed for lunch as chilli with cheese, avocado and fresh diced tomatoes (or even nachos with the addition of corn chips). Try it at home: recipe.
  • Mr M: Date: 21 February. Recipe book: The Great Australian Cookbook // assorted chefs. Recipe: Abruzzo-style pork stew with roasted capsicum, chilli and fennel. Who ate it: Mr M and I. Verdict: Mr M and I had a (home-grown) pig on the spit recently, so we had some left-over pork in the freezer, which was perfect for this Italian stew. The stew was rich and fragrant thanks to fennel seeds, pancetta, vinegar, chilli and wine and it worked well with polenta to soak-up the juices.
Saturday breakfast: Raspberry buttermilk hotcakes with honeycomb butter

WEEK 7: After another crazy week, we only just scraped through – saved by Saturday brunch.

  • Mrs M: Date: 20 February. Recipe book: Modern Australian Food //The Australian Women’s Weekly. Recipe: Raspberry hotcakes with honeycomb butter. Who ate it: Mr M and I. Verdict: Yum! The buttermilk in the pancakes and the tartness of the raspberries cut through the sweetness of the whipped butter with honey (we didn’t have honeycomb) and maple syrup. The recipe made too many pancakes for the two of us, so we saved them for a dessert the next night – they were still delicious! Try it at home: recipe

WEEK 6:Oops – we missed this week’s challenge as I was away for work.

WEEK 5:Another double-up, with both Mr M and I trying new recipes.

  • Mrs M: Date: 1 February. Recipe book: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals // Jamie Oliver. Recipe: Swedish style fishcakes with fresh zingy salsa and roasted baby potatoes. Who ate it: Mr M and I Verdict: A great healthy mid-week meal. The fishcakes (salmon and crab) were delicious and very easy to make. The salsa was beautiful and fresh – cucumber, tomato, capsicum, chilli, basil, onion, limes and red wine vinegar. However, I blended the salsa a little too much in my new food processor and it was a bit to ‘soupy’. There was also A LOT of salsa, so I used the excess the next night as a pasta sauce and it was beautiful.
  • Mr M: Date: 3 February. Recipe book: Apple Blossom Pie: Memories of an Australian Country Kitchen // Kate McGhie. Recipe: Braised lamb shanks with capers and soured cream. Who ate it: Mr M and I. Local touch: Mr M used home-grown lamb shanks from our farm. Verdict: It was unexpectedly delicious – I admit I was doubtful about the combination of capers, sour cream and lamb but it worked. The sauce was tart, which cut through the richness of the lamb. We’ll be adding this recipe to our list of winter warmers!

WEEK 4:Credit to Mr M for fulfilling this week’s challenge!

  • Date: 28 January. Recipe book: Argentine Street Food // Enrique Zanoni and Gaston Stivelmaher. Recipe: Empanadas two ways (lamb and ham/cheese). Who ate it: Mr M and I. Local touch: Mr M used home-grown lamb mince. Verdict: Mr M did a great job with these fiddly little parcels of goodness. He made the dough and two different fillings. They were delicious! The recipe made heaps of empanadas so we got two lunches and two dinners out of them (empanada overload!) and still had around 10 which we ended up freezing. Try it at home: recipe

WEEK 3: Mr M and I actually made three dishes from our cookbooks this week! Go Team M!

  • Mrs M: Date: 17/18 January. Recipe book: Greek // George Calombaris. Recipes: a) White bean skordalia. B) Grilled prawns, jamon (Spanish cured ham, similar to prosciutto), tomato & capers. Who ate it: Mr M and I. Local touch: I used prawns from Port Lincoln. Verdict: The Skordalia is a dip made from white beans (soaked overnight then cooked), garlic, olive oil and white wine vinegar. It was delicious and versatile – I made a lot, so we’ve been eating it spread on sandwiches. It would be a high protein alternative to mashed potato. I used it in the second recipe, spread on flat bread and topped with the prawns, tomato and caper salsa and jamon – an easy, delicious mid-week meal.
  • Mr M: Date: 19 January. Recipe book: The Great Australian Cookbook // assorted chefs. Recipe: Charcoal chicken and chilled broccoli salad with miso vinaigrette (Emma McCaskill & Scott Huggins, Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant, SA). Who ate it: Mr M and I. Verdict: This is an all-day dish, as the chicken needs to soak in the brine for 8 hours, but boy is it worth it! Mr M spit roasted the chicken over the BBQ and it was truly amazing. It was the juiciest chicken I’ve ever eaten, and the fennel from the brine gave it a beautiful flavour. The cold broccoli salad was actually incredible too, who would have thought! Crisp broccoli topped with flaked almonds and a beautiful vinaigrette.
A very good carrot cake!

WEEK 2: I love baking and this week’s recipe was a winner!

  • Date: 15 January. Recipe book: Apple Blossom Pie: Memories of an Australian Country Kitchen // Kate McGhie. Recipe: A VG carrot cake. Who ate it: Mr M, the T family (afternoon tea) and D&E (dessert). Verdict: So, so good! It was definitely VG (very good). One of the best carrot cakes I’ve eaten. It was delicious and so moist, and of course who doesn’t love cream cheese icing! This is my new go-to cake recipe.

WEEK 1: I started the challenge full of enthusiasm and cooked two recipes to kick start the year.

  • Date: 7 January. Recipe book: Maggie Beer’s Kitchen. Recipe: Chicken braised with figs, honey and vinegar. Who ate it: Mr M and I. Local touch: I used figs grown by a friend and rosemary from our garden. Verdict: An unusual but delicious combination of flavours. The cinnamon, honey and figs provided a sweet layer (Mr M reckoned it tasted a bit like a chicken donut) but the verjuice and apple cider vinegar balance it out. The meat was lovely and juicy, but as I used skinless chicken pieces, the honey didn’t ‘brown’ the chicken as much as the recipe photo. Try it at homeRecipe.
  • Date: 8 January. Recipe book: Outback Pantry // Lynton Tapp. Recipe: Chilli market greens. Who ate it: Mr M and I. Local touch: Beans and broccolini from our fabulous local produce shop/deli. Verdict: Thanks to the chilli, garlic, sea salt, lemon juice and toasted almonds, these were an excellent twist on boring greens and the perfect accompaniment to crispy-skin salmon on the BBQ (courtesy of Mr M). We’ll definitely be making this dish again