Sangria, adapted from America's Test Kitchen

This makes enough for 12 servings, and is an easy and delicious way to feed a crowd.

This recipe doubles easily. You could add other fruit to make it more festive. If the orange and lemon slices are left in too long their rinds add bitterness which can be unpleasant. Some people like to add soda water to give a bit of fizz. Adjust the recipe to suit - more of less syrup, fruit, juice. Some people also add brandy for added complexity. America's Test Kitchen only uses 60g sugar, but I prefer it sweeter. Leftovers can be frozen as ice blocks on sticks for an adult treat.

100g sugar - 8 tablespoons
100 mls water
1.5 litres Merlot, or other fruity red wine
120 mls triple sec or Cointreau
3 oranges
2 lemons

Heat sugar and water together until sugar is dissolved. This is called Simple Syrup.
Slice 2 oranges thinly, and juice the other.
Slice both lemons thinly.
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and chill at least 2 hours for the flavours to meld.
Serve in chilled wine glasses half filled with ice. 

Lime Coconut Chicken

This is a basic recipe. You could also add at the beginning ginger, garlic, lemongrass or chilli. At the end you could add kaffir lime leaves, coriander or mint. 

500g chicken thighs, diced preferably, but also whole
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Juice 1-2 limes
Coconut cream – enough to make it the consistency you want
1 tspn sugar or honey
½ tspn salt

Melt coconut oil, add juice of ½ lime and fry chicken, cooking until it is thoroughly cooked, 10-20 mins.
Remove chicken to a plate and increase heat. Evaporate chicken stock until it is tan in colour. 

Remove the excess fat.
Add coconut cream, a little at a time, until it’s a consistency you like. If serving over rice you may want it runny. If serving by itself you may want it a little thicker. You may need to use a whisk to incorporate the caramelised stock and coconut cream.
Add chicken, remaining lime juice and salt to taste. Also add any precooked vegetables you like. (I like broccoli diced tomatoes and capsicum)
Taste for seasoning adding extra salt, sugar or lime juice as you prefer, then serve.

The easiest 'poached' eggs you'll ever make

'Poaching' eggs in the shell removes all the problems of poaching in water and makes delicious 62 degree style eggs. This is not a recipe so much as a method. It works with 4 eggs only, not 3, not 5. And yes, you do have to measure the water.

4 large refrigerated eggs. At least 50g each, or 600g for the dozen.
1 litre water
200 mls water from the cold tap

Measure out 1 litre of water, place in a covered saucepan, and bring it to the boil. Remove from the heat
Gently add 4 large eggs.
Add 200 mls cold tap water and replace lid.
Set the timer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove eggs and crack into serving plate.

1.      The time and/or amount of boiling water can be adjusted for winter or summer, and according to how well done you like your eggs.
2.      The loose white remains a little watery and I sometimes like to strain it out with a slotted spoon.
3.      Left over eggs can be refrigerated and reheated by pouring over boiling water and leaving for a few moments. 

Mum’s Beef Curry

1 diced onion
2 garlic cloves, diced
2cm piece ginger, minced
pinch of chilli flakes

1kg diced beef

Spice Mixture I like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Either use ground spices or grind your own. Or use this combination. 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cloves, 3 Tb garam masala, 2 teaspoons ground coriander. It really is up to you. Most recipes use turmeric and cumin, but I don’t like them so I leave them out. I grind whole spices, but you can easily use pre ground ones.

(optional - 400g tin crushed tomatoes)
400ml can coconut milk
Juice half a lemon
Remaining spice mix

Green coriander
Grated coconut

1. Heat oven to 150C. Heat a large fry pan or saucepan which preferably can go in the oven over medium high heat. This uses only 1 pan for the whole recipe.
2. Dice and fry the onion in a little oil – plain or coconut. When it is brown add chilli, garlic and ginger. Heat for 1 minute, then remove from pan.
3. Turn heat to high, add a little more oil and add half of the beef to the pan. Leave without turning so it browns on one side. Stir and remove when it starts to get liquid in the bottom of the pan. Repeat with the remaining beef. This step is optional, but it gives the curry a deeper beefier flavour.
4. Add a little more oil to the pan and gently fry most of your spice mix. Reserve a teaspoon to add just before serving for a fresher spice flavour.
5. Add beef and onion mix to the pan with a little water (or crushed tomatoes) to come half way up the beef mixture. Bring back to the boil and place in the oven for 1-2 hours, depending on the cut of beef used. (It can also be kept on the top of the stove, but the heat is harsher and you will need to stir it to make sure it cooks evenly. Try to stop it from actually boiling, instead have a few little bubbles come up every few seconds.)
6. Add coconut cream and reheat. If it is too liquid, remove the meat and turn the heat high to evaporate the excess liquid.
7. Add lemon juice and remaining spice mix. Stir in well.
8. To serve I like to place the rice around the outside of the plate and place the meat and sauce in the middle. I surround the rice with the accompaniments. 

Oven Frittata

Oven baked frittata
2 potatoes
2 sweet potatoes or equivalent pumpkin
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch chives
9 eggs
½ cup liquid – cream, milk or water
Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 220.
Peel and dice potatoes and/or pumpkin into 1cm dice.
Toss in olive oil and salt.
Spread on baking paper on an oven tray.
Roast, turning occasionally, until brown, about 45 minutes.
Allow to cool a little and reduce oven heat to 160.
Beat eggs, liquid, salt and pepper together.
Add vegetables and chives and toss together well.
Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a non stick oven proof fry pan.
Add egg mixture and allow to heat for 2-3 minutes.
Place in the oven. Cook until it is just wobbly in the centre – about 10 minutes. If it’s not cooked after 10, keep checking every few minutes. How long it takes depends on the temperature of the egg mixture when you put it into the oven, the actual temperature of the oven and the size of the fry pan. Not cooked enough and it will be liquidy, over cooked and it will be separated into egg and eggy water. It’s better to undercook it though because you can always put it back in the oven.
Remove and cool in the pan before turning out. It will continue to cook a little after you take it out of the oven. This is called ‘carry over cooking’.

Serve warm or chilled. 

Apple Crumble Cheesecake Slice

250g plain or gingernut biscuits
125g butter, melted
500g philly cheese, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup cream
1 teaspoon mixed spice
5 (500g) apples, 3 peeled and finely chopped, 2 sliced
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup brown sugar
50g butter, chilled, chopped

Line base of 30 x 20cm pan with baking paper. This makes the cheesecake easy to remove.
Process biscuits until coarse crumbs, add melted butter, and process again until finer. Press into the base of lined pan.
Beat the Philly, caster sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until just smooth.
Beat in the eggs then stir through the cream and mixed spice.
Fold through the chopped apple then pour onto the prepared base. Arrange sliced apple over the top.
Place oats, flour, and sugar in a bowl. Rub in butter until combined. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake at 180 for 30 to 40 minutes or until just set (cheesecake will wobble a little
in centre). Turn off oven. Cool cheesecake in oven for 3 hours with door ajar. Refrigerate thoroughly.
Cut into squares and sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

Velveting Chicken - Keeping chicken breast juicy

"Velveting" is a Chinese technique used with lean dry chicken breast to make it more succulent and juicy. Although Chinese, you can adjust the flavours to whatever cuisine you're cooking. I like to use chicken treated this way in pastas and salads. You can double triple or quadruple the recipe easily. Just be sure to use a lot more boiling water.

2 tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon liquid - this could be soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, white wine, brandy
1 tablespoon oil - this could be a neutral oil, olive oil, sesame oil.
Pinch each of salt and (optional) sugar. No salt if you've used soy.
2 chicken breasts diced into small, even cubes. The size doesn't really matter, but having them all the same size does, so they're all cooked at the same time.

1.) Toss the first 4 ingredients together and mix well to combine. Add chicken pieces, mix well and place in fridge for at least 30 mins, and up to 24 hours.
2.) Bring at least 2 litres of water to the boil. When it's boiling give the chicken a big stir to break up the coating. Turn the heat off and move the pot to one side.  3.) Then add the chicken and stir gently to ensure water surrounds each piece.
Leave in the water until cooked. This will depend on the size of the pieces of chicken. Test one to see. Try not to overcook them because they can become dry and stringy, and that's exactly what you're trying to avoid. I think slightly undercooked chicken breast is better than overcooked.
If you're cooking them to add to a stir fry undercook slightly because the chicken will receive it's final cook in the wok.
4.) Drain the water away. This can be done immediately before you use it, or prepared hours ahead.


The salt and sugar act as a brine and migrate into the flesh of the chicken, changing the structure of the proteins so they retain more liquid. The cornflour mixture acts as a coat to protect the chicken from loosing moisture and the outside of the pieces from the harsh heat of the water. Magic!

Chicken, Zucchini and Lime Balls

500g minced chicken
2c grated zucchini, from 2 or 3 zucchini
3 Tbsp oil


2-3 green onions finely sliced
3-4 tbsp mint
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp gelatine (this helps keep the meatballs juicy)
Juice from 2 limes

Mix seasonings thoroughly together in a large bowl.

Toss through grated zucchini.

Add chicken mince and mix thoroughly.

Heat olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat.

Use a small scoop or a heaped tablespoon to scoop meatballs into the pan. Cook for about 7 or 8 minutes on the first side. Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown and the centers are cooked through. You may need to do this in 2 batches.

Remove meatballs from the pan.

Raise heat and reduce the liquid in the pan until it is browned.

Pour off the extra oil.

Add meatballs back to pan and toss to coat.

Serve immediately or serve chilled.

Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcakes - sugar, dairy, gluten and grain free

Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 large beetroot, washed and grated raw.
3 eggs.
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt.
1 1/2 cup almond meal.
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil.
1/4 cup stevia
1 teaspoon baking powder.

2 teaspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon stevia
1/3 cup water


1. Preheat oven to 170 C and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake cases.

2. Blend all ingredients (in a blender or with a stick blender) until it’s a smooth batter, then divide between the 12 cases.

3. Cook for 40 minutes.

4. Combine syrup ingredients and mix with stab blender. Heat 1 minute in microwave.

5. Pour syrup over cupcakes after they come out of the oven.

Servings: 12

Preperation: 15 mins

Cooking: 40 mins

Pine Lime Pork with Coconut

Actually, this sauce is delicious with pork, chicken, fish or tofu. Pan fry the protein, and serve this over the top.

2 tblspn coconut oil
2 thick slices fresh pineapple, cut into 1cm pieces
½ white onion cut into 6 wedges
1cm ginger, julienned
1 small cucumber, cut into 1cm pieces
Juice 1 lime
1-2 tblspns sugar
1/3 cup coconut cream
4 kaffir lime leaves, very finely shredded.
½ cup mint and/or coriander, coarsley chopped.
Heat oil over medium heat and fry pineapple until it looks cooked.
Sprinkle with salt and sugar, raise heat and fry, stirring occasionally, until pineapple is caramelised.
Remove pineapple, leaving remaining oil.
Add onion with ½ cup water and  a pinch of salt. Continue to cook over high heat until water is evaporated and onion is nearly cooked. Add ginger and continue to cook until onion is finished cooking.
Continue cooking on high heat, add coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer a minute or two until thickened slightly.
Add pineapple, cucumber, mint and coriander. Heat briefly.
Pour over pan fried chicken, pork, fish or tofu.


These instructions will give a loaf to serve around lunchtime. If you'd like to serve it for dinner, make the poolish in the evening, mix the main dough in the morning and pour into the baking tin. Place it in the fridge for at least 10 hours, and then cook.
2 cups bread flour
500mls water
Pinch of yeast
Main dough
2 cups bread flour
150mls warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon yeast
The night before mix the poolish ingredients together in a large plastic container with a lid. You may need to use your hand (washed, of course) to mix the poolish well. When finished scrape the dough off your hand back into the container.
Place the lid on, leaving a small opening at one corner. Leave out of the fridge overnight.
The next morning add the main dough ingredients to the poolish. Again, you’ll probably need to use your hand to do this. It can take up to 5 mins to get it mixed in properly. The dough will be lumpy at this point, and very slack, but all the flour should be well moistened. It will be too wet to knead.
Let the dough rest for 10 mins. Then wet one hand (this stops the dough sticking to your hand) and slide it half way under the dough. Lift the dough up until you feel resistance, then fold this part of the dough back over itself. Turn the container 90 degrees, wet your hand again and repeat. Do this a total of 4 times, almost forming a square. (Though the dough will not look square. It will be round.)
Let the dough rest another 10 minutes and repeat. And then rest another 10 mins and repeat. So you do the stretch and fold proceedure a total of 3 times. This aligns the gluten strands and you will see the dough become smoother the more times you do it. This all sounds way more complicated to describe than to do. It’s actually quite simple. You just make a square with the dough 3 times.
Line a shallow baking tray with silicone paper.
Allow the dough to rest a few more minutes, then plop it onto the baking tray. Wet your hands for a final time and push and smooth the dough to reach the ends of the baking tray. If the dough seems reluctant to stretch, let it rest a little longer. Press your fingers deep into the dough, touching right to the bottom of the pan. Do this about 10 times to make 40 dimples. This is what gives foccacia it’s charachteristic lumpy appearance.
Set aside to rise for anything from an hour to five hours. If you want to leave it longer than that you could refrigerate it for part of the time. No need to cover it.
An hour before you want to bake it, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  
Drizzle 3-6 tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the dough, being careful not to actually touch and therefore deflate the dough. I like to sprinkle it with rosemary too, but this isn’t necessary
Bake for 25-35 mins, until golden brown on the top. Check it after 20 mins - you may need to rotate the pan if it’s cooking unevenly.

Coffee Toffee adapted from Smitten Kitten (in metric)

I think it might be nice to try 1 cup slivered almonds stirred into the toffee just after it's reached it's maximum temperature.
250g butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (can swap corn syrup or honey)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
170g or 1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (toasted, skinned and cooled) or another nut of your choice

Line a small baking sheet (mine are 9×13, to fit in my puny oven) with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
Melt butter, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, salt and espresso together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk (one that reaches into the corners is especially helpful here) until the temperature approaches 120C at which point you should stir constantly until it reaches 148C.
Pour immediately into the prepared baking sheet — you can spread it more evenly with a offset or silicon spatula but don’t worry if you have neither.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let them sit for a minute until soft, then spread the chocolate evenly over the candy base.
Sprinkle the chocolate with chopped hazelnuts and then, if you’re as impatient as we are, you can slide the sheet onto a cooling rack in the freezer until the toffee is set.
Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. If you’re kitchen is warm, you might prefer to keep it in the fridge so the chocolate doesn’t get soft.

Sauce base from America's Test Kitchen

1 small onion, roughly, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
250g mushrooms, halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
250g minced beef
1 tablespoon tomato paste
500mls red wine
1 litre beef broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 packages unflavored powdered gelatin (5 teaspoons)
Process onion, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic in food processor into 1/8-inch pieces, 10 to 12 one-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until simmering; add beef and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until beef is well browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until any released moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
Add wine and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.
Add beef broth, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns; bring to boil.
Reduce heat and gently boil, occasionally scraping bottom and sides of pot, skimming fat from surface, until reduced to 2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan, pressing on solids with rubber spatula to extra as much liquid as possible (you should have about 1 cup stock).
Sprinkle gelatin over stock and stir to dissolve.
Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring stock to boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. (Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.)

Naomi's Favourite BBQ Sauce

1 onion finely chopped and fried with 
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup passata
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
2tbsp vinegar
1tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Finely chop onion and fry until softened, about 5 mins
Add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and fry until fragrant, 1 minute
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes

Meatballs with Pomegranate, Yogurt and Tahini

This recipe includes two tricks to keep the meatballs moist - a ‘panade’ made of breadcrumbs and milk, and adding gelatine. And as you mix the seasonings into the meat you knead the meat, causing the proteins stick together and create a cohesive texture. 
1kg mince
2 slices bread
1 teaspoon gelatine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons each ground cinnamon and allspice
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks removed
½ bunch mint, leaves only
100 mls milk or water
Pomegranate molasses (optional)
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, crushed
Lemon juice and salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together using a whisk or a fork,
Using the cutting blade on a food processor, process the bread until it forms crumbs.
Add garlic and dry ingredients and process again.
Add parsley and mint and process until finely chopped.
Add milk and process until it achieves a thick paste.
Remove this from the processor and in a large bowl combine the bread mixture with 1/3 of the mince until it is thoroughly incorporated.
Add half the remaining mixture and mix again. Then repeat with the last third of the mince. Mixing the seasonings into the meat takes a while.
Roll into balls. I find this makes about 70 small balls that are just right for a single bite. Alternatively, form into sausage shapes or make larger hamburger style patties.
Place on oven tray lined with baking paper and brush with pomegranate molasses.
Bake in the oven at 120C for 10 mins, or until just cooked depending on size. If you see juice coming out of them, they are already overcooked.
Alternatively you could cook them on the bbq or in a frypan.
To serve, place meatballs on a plate and dot the yogurt sauce over. Then sprinkle with a combination of whatever is available - pomegranate seeds, ground sumac, parsley or pistachios. 
Drizzle with a little more pomegranate molasses.  
Spear each meatball with a toothpick and serve.