i made you this

you wanted the recipe, well here it is

mini pasties

Posted by Miss Andrea on November 15, 2011

we recently held a fundraiser at work called pie-day friday. everyone baked something, we all donated money for charity, and had a great time standing around eating everyone else’s baked goods for lunch.

a number of people promised cakes, so i opted to make something savoury. since childhood i’ve loved pasties – but haven’t ever made them before. so i made these up – and guess what, they worked!

these mini pasties are after the traditional style, with easy-to-find ingredients. the recipe makes small pasties in large quantities – good for a winter party, a pre-christmas after-5 tete-a-tete, perfect for a pie day friday.

* serves: up to 20 people
* degree of difficulty: medium
* make time: 1 hour prep, plus baking time


600g lamb mince
600g potatos
600g carrots
2 sticks celery
1 large onion
2-4 cloves garlic
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp flour
2 branches fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon oil

10 x sheets frozen pastry (your preference of puff or shortcrust)
1 x egg white


dice all the vegetables (except peas) and finely chop garlic.

fry onion and garlic in oil; add mince and brown.

add diced vegetables, rosemary, seasoning and paprika, stir through, turn to low heat and cover.

cook gently for about 20 mins or until the vegetables are softened.

remove from heat, stir through peas and parsley, cover and allow to stand for another 10 minutes.

meanwhile, heat oven to 180 degrees C.

defrost frozen pastry sheets as per instructions, in batches as you use them. Cut each sheet into four.

in each quarter, put 2 tablespoons of filling, then fold in a triangular shape and press the edges tgether. Pinch the edges into a pattern.

place pasties in batches as you make them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, brush with egg white for a shiny finish, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

eat straight away, or allow to cool and reheat later.

makes approx 40 small pasties.

vegetarian variation: omit the mince and use vegeetable stock.


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magic banana cake

Posted by Miss Andrea on June 14, 2011

this cake is ‘magic’ because there’s no fancy equipment or ingredients, it’s suitable for the most kitchen-inept, and it always works.

i learned the recipe from a friend of a friend, in a dim sharehousing past when the yellow fruit was plentiful and budget-friendly.

bananas have become a luxury item post-cyclone, so don’t waste those that are a bit past eating; older, browner bananas make a better cake.

and one day, when they’re plentiful again, it’s a great way to use up the browning bananas in the fruit bowl and impress your (house)mates at the same time.


2 large (old, brown) bananas, mashed
2, 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1, 2/3 cups caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp lemon juice
175g butter, softened
2 eggs


heat your oven to 180 degrees.

grease and flour (or line with baking paper) one large square cake tin or two loaf tins.

tip lemon juice into the milk to sour the milk.

put all the dried ingredients into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.

add the soured milk, softened butter, eggs, and mix into a thick cake batter.

now add the mashed bananas and stir through.

for a gorgeous rustic textured cake, only mix until the banana is just combined; a lot of mixing will produce a smoother result, more like banana ‘bread’. (rustic gets more compliments).

bake for 90 minutes (single tin) or 40 mins (2 tins), or until a skewer comes out clean.

dust with icing sugar for a quick finish, or top with whatever icing you like – a cream cheese icing works very well.

serve warm with cream.

if the cake lasts a few days it’s great toasted.

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“special” fried rice

Posted by Miss Andrea on July 22, 2010

the other day at work we were discussing what we do with the odds and sods that accumulate in one’s fridge over the week.

it turns out we all have at least one (or more) recipes to ensure we ‘waste not’.

for what it’s worth, my dad (a war baby) never threw anything out… and that included food.

when we were growing up, every sunday he’d drag out all the scraps and leftovers from the fridge. dad is chinese, so the leftovers always included rice.

then he’d get out the wok, and fry the lot, and for sunday us kids would get “special fried rice”.

these days if i end up with leftover rice, i’ll do the same.

essential ingredients:
soy sauce

plus any of the following (diced):
floppy celery
floppy carrots
any other wrinkly or floppy vegetable
any odds and ends of frozen vegetables that aren’t enough for a full dinner serve
old eggs
leftover meat (ham, lamb chops, the end of the pork roast, you get the idea)

– if using eggs, scramble first with salt to taste, fry and set aside
– fry the diced items with a dash of soy sauce until cooked
– add the rice (warm it in the microwave) and toss
– add soy sauce to taste, toss some more (add the scrambled eggs now too)
– serve.

it’s always different, and always yummy.

there will be other bottom-of-the-crisper recipes to come, too. what’s your bottom-of-the-crisper food?

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stuffed squash

Posted by Miss Andrea on January 7, 2010

dear Suzie Q, thankyou for the enoooooormous zuchini you found in your garden patch (it was 2 feet long – seriously!)

in view of your kind donation, and because you asked me what the heck anyone would do with that much zuccini, here’s the recipe. it’s completely made up, and so you should feel free to change it a bit, a lot, or throw it out entirely and make something else like zuccini patties.

hope you’re enjoying the leftovers for lunch…


1 overgrown zuccini that is too big for normal cooking (we used to call these a ‘squash’ when i was little)
500g mince (i used pork & veal mince)
1 large carrot
2 celery sticks
1 very ripe tomato
1 onion
1 cup of wholemeal flour/oat flour/breadcrumbs
herbs (i used garlic, basil, chives, sage, tabasco) and seasoning to taste
1/2 cup of tomato juice
olive oil


heat your oven to 200 degrees c, and get out a baking tray. cut the zuccini in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. if the zuccini is too long and you have to quarter it, leave some seeds at the cut end to form a ‘wall’ to stop the stuffing from spilling out.

chop the onions, carrot, celery and tomato into very very small pieces, and saute them in a good dash of olive oil with the garlic, herbs and seasoning until soft.

put the raw mince into a bowl, adding the flour/breadcrumbs, tomato juice and a tablespoon of olive oil. toss in the cooked vegetable mix, and stir until thoroughly blended. the mix should be sticky and clump easily, not runny or dry. this is your stuffing.

spoon the mince stuffing into the hollowed-out zuccini. form it into a little heap on top of the zuccini, and use it all up.

bake for about 20 minutes or until mince is cooked. serve with some salad.

something different?
use a different mince meat (or even poultry, fish or tofu if they float your boat);
change the vegie combo, eg. mushrooms and eggplant, or pumpkin, sweetcorn and fetta;
change the seasoning, eg. coriander, basil, ginger, lemongrass and soy or fish sauce

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a pizza base that works

Posted by Miss Andrea on November 19, 2009

in some towns, you just can’t get a decent pizza. then it’s time to make your own.

the foundation of any good pizza is a decent base. this one works quite well in a domestic oven, if you turn it up very high. i’d love to try it in a real wood-fired brick oven some time. i tore it out of a weekend newspaper a very long time ago, and it appears here with some small adjustments.

give the dough enough time to rise, in a warm place. make sure you use a decent quality flour; i find a plain flour packaged by an independent supermarket group is fine. it’s much better than an expensive flour with a bunch of vitamin additives in it that i inadvertently used once, with disappointing results.

toppings are a matter of taste but as the original recipe says, more is definitely less. i’d add that fresh is best, too.

what and how:

1 sachet dried yeast (approx 7-8g)
200ml tepid water
1 teaspoon sugar

combine these in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or until the mixture froths up.

2 1/2 cups decent quality plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp olive oil

put these in a large mixing bowl; add the yeast mixture and combine first with a wooden spoon and then your hands til you get a ball of dough.
knead the dough on a benchtop until it’s smooth (at least 5 minutes).
grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. cover (clingwrap is good) and place in a warm spot. leave to rise for about 30 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.

(now is a good time to prepare your toppings. turn your oven on to at least 250 degrees C, or as high as it will go.)

tip the dough back out onto the bench and punch the air out. divide into 2 or 3 pieces, roll and shape them into thin bases.
dress the pizzas, pop them in the oven until cooked (about 8-10 minutes) and you’re hot to trot.

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lazy snags & vegies

Posted by Miss Andrea on August 19, 2009

sausages 2
dear t,

oh boy. you know that i like to cook, i LOVE to eat, but i’m also lazy. there are not enough hours in the day, and you have to prioritise!

this is a great recipe to throw in the oven when you get home, so you can get on with more important things. half an hour or so later, voila! it’s done. (nice to bring the leftovers to work, too)

thick sausages, good quality* – 2 per person (or as desired)
a selection of vegetables suitable for roasting, cut into small / medium size
(recommend: potato, pumpkin, carrot, beetroot, parsnip, zuccini, button squash, onion, fennel, tomato, garlic)
1 x tin crushed tomatoes 
fresh rosemary (one spike per 2 sausages)
olive oil
seasoning to taste

heat oven to 180 degrees
cut vegies and toss in olive oil
arrange sausages and veges in the bottom of a shallow tray.
add rosemary (or other herbs of choice) and season.
pour can of tomatoes over the lot.
bake for around 30 mins or until done.
if you’re very fussy about the look of the sausages, turn them over after 15 minutes.

plate up (gawd) and serve with a good mustard and some chutneys.

omit the tinned tomatoes
add more ‘delicate’ vegies at the 15 minute point, eg. brocolli, cauliflower
use in-season seasonings – check your garden for coriander or basil, oregano or sage for a change 

* i choose sausages from the lyneham butcher in canberra because they are excellent quality meat, have several rustic styles in their massive selection (tolouse, traditional italian and chorizo) and seem to have almost no fat. i once saw them described as being ineligible to be termed ‘sausages’ as their meat content is too high… but i’m sure that’s just a rumour.

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broad bean snack

Posted by Miss Andrea on November 18, 2008

spring is broad bean season, and reputable fresh food purveyors have mounds of them. at the farmers market last saturday i was stuffing handfuls of fresh broad beans into a bag, when not one but two people came up to me and asked what i did with them.

were they kidding? fresh broad beans are delicious! you don’t have to do much at all. try it for yourself.

choose beans with firm, bright green skin and smaller beans where possible – they are more tender. if you’re motivated, broad beans are easy to grow, even in a small garden plot.

this recipe is a very simple way to enjoy their flavour. the key is speed – if you boil or fry the beans for too long, they grow floury or the skins become tough.

the recipe also conforms to my mantra, “bacon makes everything taste better”. I mean, just about every civilised culture on earth has their own version of bacon, right?

to feed: 2 people, as a snack or entree.

1/2 kg broad beans, unshelled
approx 200g piece of speck or kaiserflesch)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
sea salt

shell the broad beans; chop the speck (or kaiserflesch, or other bacon variety) into small chunks.

boil water in a saucepan; heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan.

fry the speck until half cooked; as it continues to cook, boil the beans until soft (about 30-90 seconds – the smaller or fresher the beans, the less time they need).

drain the beans in a colander and run under cold water to refresh.

drop the beans into the pan with the now cooked speck; toss for 30 seconds. as you do this, drizzle in a little good-quality olive oil, a good dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

serve up immediately! yumyumyuuuummmmm.

variations: try a chorizo sausage per person instead of the speck.

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warm chorizo & bean salad

Posted by Miss Andrea on October 27, 2008

dear Miss K, I’m glad you still use this one – thanks for reminding me about it. iit’s a bastardised version of a recipe i read in a magazine in a cafe about a hundred years ago; i scribbled the recipe onto a napkin but of course lost it long since. it used to be a fave because it’s embarrassingly easy to make but tasty and good. tips: always keep a can or two of canellini beans in the cupboard. don’t forget the tomatoes.

(and if you like this, when winter comes try out the soup version…)

the following quantity is for 1 person; multiply quantities by number of hungry guests.

1 chorizo sausage, diced

1 can canellini beans, drained

1 large ripe tomato, diced

good sized bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 tbsp red balsamic vinegar

coarse-ground pepper, to taste

fry the chorizo in a dab of oil in a non-stick pan until browned. add the tomato and beans, and gently cook until warm. stir the parsley through, then add the oil, vinegar and pepper. serve immediately.

try these variations:

use leg ham instead of chorizo (a good option after christmas when you’ve got to do something with all that leftover ham!), or indeed any other kind of preserved sausage or smoked meat

try another kind of white bean, eg. butter beans

substitute the parsley with fresh basil for a completely different flavour

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sweet potato & pork curry

Posted by Miss Andrea on August 14, 2008

ingredients for sweet potato & pork red curry

ingredients for sweet potato & pork red curry

dear Miss J, I hope your curry night goes well this weekend. since you are taking a curry to a dinner party, it needs to be one that will travel well, so we might give the green chicken curry a miss. this one is dead simple (if you use a store-bought paste), tasty and a bit different than your average curry. you can eat it for days afterwards.






500g belly pork strips / pork spare ribs with minimum bone – just make sure the meat has some fat on it. you can make it with lean pork but the result is pretty grim.

1-2 red sweet potatoes – there should be more potato than pork

1 onion

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 pkt red curry paste (mild/medium)
1 tin coconut milk
fish sauce
palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 lime
1 bunch of basil
optional veg: a handful of green beans, or a small zuccinni
basmarti rice


thai basil

thai basil

all ingredients available at your average supermarket.

slice the onion into thin strips, and chop the pork into bite-sized pieces. peel the sweet potato and cut into chunks.

in a saucepan, fry onion and pork in a little oil until browned. add 4-6 heaped teaspoons of red curry paste (to taste) and fry gently. add chicken stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 30 mins. add sweet potato chunks, and a little water – enough to just barely cover the food. cover and simmer for another 20 mins. pork should be tender and sweet potato soft.

remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce a bit, then add in the coconut milk, and stir through. add the chunks of beans or zuccini. allow to heat and just simmer very gently for a further 10 minutes – the sweet potato should be starting to disintegrate and thicken the sauce. during this time add about half a tsp each of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar to the curry and stir through – taste and adjust as necessary (if too sour, add sugar; if too sweet, add lime; if too bland add a dash of fish sauce.) depending on the curry paste you’ve chosen, you may not need to add some or all of these three condiments – so the taste test is important.

roughly tear the basil leaves and stir a handful through the curry. remove from heat, and serve with basmarti rice (or grab the saucepan and head off to your curry night).

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chili con carne

Posted by Miss Andrea on August 7, 2008

I’ve never been to the Americas and so freely admit this may not resemble the real thing. It is, however, a good and easy comfort dish that sticks to the ribs. It can be made by the least kitchen-savvy and freezes well.


chili con carne

chili con carne will never win any beauty prizes - but it will please the stomach and warm the heart. Close your eyes, and eat up.

Miss K, you rang me from the supermarket last night because you’ve lost track of the version we wrote down once a few years ago. I thought I’d have to make it again to accurately recall the specifics – until I remembered the recipe was borrowed by the Inverell Community Health staff for their Winter Warmers Cookbook. And I just happen to have a copy. How odd is that?



500 grams lean beef mince

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1 large zuccini, grated
1 – 1 1/2 cups beefstock
2-3 cloved garlic
salt and chilli to taste (suggest 3 dried chillis)
1-3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 heaped teaspoons each of cumin and garam masala
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 x 375g tins kidney beans

brown rice for 4 people
optional for serving: grated cheese and/or sour cream

heat a generous amount of oil in a large saucepan

when the oil is warm, add spices and fry for 30 seconds. add the onions and garlic, then the mince. fry until mince is brown.

stir through the tomato paste, then add beef stock and grated vegetables. bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.

simmer for about 45 minutes. in the meantime, cook the rice.

drain the kidney beans and add; bring back to a medium simmer and cover. simmer for 10-15 minutes.

serve chili on a bed of rice. feeling fancy? add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with grated cheese.

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