Food : Clara’s Syrian olive salad.


As you may be aware, there has sadly been a great deal of unrest and violence in Syria of late. It makes me doubly sad, as a few years ago, I spent a wonderfully fascinating 7 weeks travelling around the country,  when my partner was stationed in the historic city of Aleppo for work.

Aleppo in the north and Damascus in the south are considered to be some of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth, with estimates of habitation for around 5,000 years. And I must say as an Australian who grew up in white suburbia, with a house that was not even as old as me, I had never encountered such ancient and beautiful structures before, and it was/is quite staggering and difficult for me to comprehend that kind of time frame.

When we were there, the people were generous and friendly, and wherever we went, we were always invited for tea, or to share a meal in people’s houses.

My heart goes out to these warm, bighearted people, and especially to my lovely Syrian friend Clara, who shared this very quick, very simple, but completely delicious recipe with me a few years back.



Clara’s Northern Syrian Olive Salad

1 cup of kalamata olives, rinsed and drained
1 tspn chilli paste
1tspn ground cumin
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon (more or less to taste)
chopped parsley to finish

Mix all the ingredients together, reserving the parsley to sprinkle on top. Let it sit for an hour or so to let the flavours meld, and serve with bread.


Food : Ma’s Baked Apple Roll


This recipe is a traditional home-cooking triumph, and is really super-easy to make. It came to me via my partner’s Mum – and I must point out that in my book of collected recipes there are no less than THREE copies of this that he has written out over the years, which just goes to show that he is still besotted by it after all this time.


I know they are very ordinary ingredients, but they give a special result. Try it for yourself and see!

Ma’s Baked Apple Roll

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled cored, & sliced
1/4 cup sultanas – optional

Cook sliced apples (and optional sultanas) in about 1 tablespoon of water until soft, but still holding their shape.

1 cup SR flour
2tblspns butter
about 1tblspn milk

Rub butter through flour to resemble fine breadcrumbs, and then add just enough milk to combine into a dough. Roll it out thinly.

2 tblspoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water

Mix all ingredients together until butter is melted & sugar is dissolved.

Spread the cooked apples over one half of the rolled out dough, sprinkle with two teaspoons sugar, then fold over (apple turnover style), pressing edges together, and place in greased baking dish. Pour over topping, and bake in a moderate oven for 1 hour.

Fabulous with cream or icecream.

Food : Grandma’s beetroot patties


Beetroot is a much maligned vegetable, as so many of us first experienced it only as sliced and heavily vinegared from a can. Forget the vinegar. It is a gorgeously earthy vegetable, and when cooked correctly is wonderful its own right, and is also perfect with grilled or roasted meats.

This recipe is dear to my heart. I grew up with Grandma’s beetroot patties at just about every family get-together, and the rellies and I – well, we kind of expected them, because we all loved them. Many years ago I asked my Grandma for the recipe. She wrote it out for me, but I could never quite cook them the same – and now, she’s taken the secret to the grave!

Nevertheless, this recipe, which I have come to through a bit of experimentation, is pretty damn close. Non-Aussies, take note – vegemite is an essential ingredient.



Beetroot Patties

2 large beetroots, cooked and grated (use a food processor to make the grating easy peasy)
1 finely chopped onion (you can grate this through the food processor too)
1.5 cups mashed potato (don’t add milk or butter)
2 tspns vegemite
1 tblspn dried parsley
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 tspn dried sage
2 eggs, beaten
1 tspn salt
1 cup plain flour
1 cup breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients together, except breadcrumbs. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before taking spoonfuls, and rolling the balls in breadcrumbs (I find about walnut size is best). Flatten them slightly, and shallow fry until browned. The inside texture will be firm but soft, a bit like the texture of a soft cheese.

These are great just on their own, and excellent on sandwiches too (hubby likes them with the ever-addictive Norganic Soya Mayonnaise).


J x


Food : Butternut Pumpkin Soup, Native American Style

This is the second offering from Lori Howarth – her first offering was a photographic one here. Lori’s ancestry is partly of North American Indian, hence this soup recipe. Enjoy.



Butternut Pumpkin Soup(Native American Style)



2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cups of butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 small white onion peeled & chopped

3 cups vegetable stock

1 medium sized potato peeled & chopped

Spice sachet consisting of: bay leaf, 1 clove, 1 small cinnamon stick – tie up in a piece of cheesecloth

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt & pepper to taste




In a large saucepan melt butter and oil over a med-low heat. Add pumpkin, onion, potato, maple syrup, salt & pepper, spice sachet and sauté on low-heat until tender (40 mins). Add stock. Simmer gently for 40 minutes. Remove spice sachet. Check seasoning and sweetness of maple syrup and adjust as needed. Cool. Add to blender and blitz until smooth.




  • Serve heated with cream. Do not boil as it may separate.
  • Serve with coconut milk, a shredded kaffir lime leaf, chilli & fresh coriander for a Thai influence.
  • You can also make this with pink sweet potato (kumara).


Lori would like to thank the Mitsitam Café Cookbook for the inspiration for this recipe. Photography by Lori Howarth.



Food : Croatian pancakes

Aaah, the weather’s cooler…. so now it’s time for some serious comfort food.

A sweet traditional family recipe from my Aunty Daph, who is married to Robert, a lovely Croatian man. Multicultural home-cooking – how good is that!? Yum!


Croatian Pancakes
by Daphne Misbrener

Pancake mixture:
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
30g melted butter

Plum butter (purchase from continental deli, or fruit shop)

Cheese Mixture:
400g cottage cheese (from deli is best as it is drier than creamed cottage cheese in a tub)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar.
Mix all together, add a little cream if too dry.

For Topping before cooking.
Castor sugar

Whisk all pancake ingredients together until smooth.
Heat crepe pan and grease with a little olive oil.
Using a large spoon or a measuring cup, pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mixture
(depending on size of pan) into pan and tilt till suface is covered.
Cook on medium heat until brown, flip over and brown other side.
Stack on a plate.

Grease a large ovenproof dish with a little olive oil.
Spread jam (I use Croatian Provodil plum butter) in centre of a pancake to within 2cm of edge, not too thick as it will run out when heated. Roll it and place in baking dish.
Spread the next pancake with cheese mixture spread lightly, roll it up and place it next to the first jam one.

Alternate jam, and cheese rolled pancakes in baking dish, close together. You can keep in fridge overnight if liked, covered with plastic wrap.
Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of castor sugar.
Drizzle cream over all pancakes.
Cover with foil and bake in a moderate over for about 1/2 hour, untill heated through and look puffy.
Serve one of each flavour on a pretty plate.