Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cranberry Orange Loaf with a Crumble Topping


Here’s something ironic. I write a food recipe blog and I have trouble following recipes. I’m forever substituting, deleting, thinking I know better and generally being a know-it-all. Mr Firehouse is always commenting on this fact. Recently he spied me working in the kitchen, pen and paper in hand. He wanted to know what I was writing and I commented that I was writing down accurate measurements for a recipe, to blog about later. He was genuinely shocked. You see, I think he thought that my inability to follow a recipe was innate, something I couldn’t control. But often-times it’s not. Partly it’s my curiosity. Will it taste better with brown sugar instead of white? Will it cook faster if I parboil? And partly it’s a kind of experience. I know that the flavours of one recipe might be perfect, but I prefer not to follow the cooking instructions, because I’ve done it before, my way, and it’s worked. Sometimes, like for this particular loaf, it’s seasonality. I loved the idea of a yoghurty, moist, citrusy cake but blueberries are not in season and rather than use the frozen (and often just as good ones) I thought of trying a classic American fall combination of cranberry and orange.  The recipe for the cake comes from Donna Hay and was shared with me by my good friend and fellow baker Jill, all the way from Australia. I added the crumble topping for extra texture and also because as you now know, I can’t leave well enough alone.



  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup caster/superfinesugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated orange  zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted
  • 150 g fresh cranberries

Crumble topping

  • 2 tbsp. cold butter chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. of flour


Preheat oven to 160C /325F. Place the butter, sugar, eggs,yoghurt, orange zest and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk until well combined.


Fold through the cranberries and spoon into a lightly greased loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper.


In a separate bowl place all of the crumble ingredients and using just the tips of your fingers rub them all together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.


Sprinkle over the loaf  and bake for 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.


Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.



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Filed under Cake, Sweet Treats

Mustard Carrot Curry


I was speaking to a friend recently who cooked a curry for dinner and commented on the thousand and one ingredients. While she enjoyed the curry she was lamenting the fact that cooking curry from scratch is time consuming and requires a multitude of often expensive ingredients that will go off in a cupboard before you decide to cook curry again. It’s for this reason that we rarely cook rice and curry during the week. We often eat pasta, meat and veg or simple stirfrys. When the need for curry hits, I like to have  a few fail safe and easy curries that satisfy one of two requirements

1.use very few ingredients

2. take very little time to cook

If a curry fits into either (or both) of the above categories it becomes infinitely more likely that I’ll cook and enjoy it without spending half my day slaving over a hot stove.



  • 150 g carrots chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp. unroasted curry powder
  • 1/2 small tomato chopped
  • 1 tsp.seeded mustard
  • 150 ml coconut milk
  • salt to taste


In small saucepan add the carrots, onions, garlic, curry leaves, turmeric, curry powder and tomato. Add enough water to cover the carrots and place on the heat.


Cook until the carrots are soft and almost cooked. Now add the coconut milk and bring back to the boil.


Simmer for a few minutes until the curry has thickened and finally add the mustard and salt to taste.


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Filed under Curries, Vegetable Dishes

Brussel Sprouts Mallum


Brussel sprouts and I have a  pretty good relationship, thanks mainly to this dish. I didn’t suffer the overboiled, over cooked, covered-in-cheese-to-hide-the-taste brussel sprouts growing up. My mum discovered brussel sprouts late in life (I don’t think they exist in Sri Lanka) and so did what any Sri Lankan would do, make a mallum.  A mallum is a uniquely Sri Lankan dish of wilted greens seasoned with coconut and spices. Brussel sprouts make a lovely textured green in this dish, with just a hint of bitterness.

I love this dish additionally because there’s no finely chopping greens. In Sri Lanka, a home cook’s prowess is measured by how finely they are able to slice the greens for a mallum or sambol (the raw version). I cannot slice a nice mallum, ask my mum. My leaves are always different sizes and different shapes. Therefore, my favourite things to make mallum out of always fit nicely into a food processor. In saying that, this recipe works great with kale, parsley, carrot leaves as well as the more food processor friendly broccoli or cauliflower.



  • 350 g brussel sprouts
  • 180 g dessicated coconut, rehydrated (you’ll need 3-4 tablespoons of coconut milk and hot water for this)
  • 1 tbsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 3-4 dried red chillis chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • curry leaves


Trims and halve your brussel sprouts before removing any discolored or yucky outer leaves. Then give them a rinse and place them in a food processor. Process for a few minutes until they’re finely chopped.


If you’re using desiccated coconut rehydrate it at this point . In a bowl mix together the coconut, coconut milk and hot water. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds and let it cool. This helps rehydrate the coconut and get back some of the coconut flavour that is lost in the desiccation process.


In a large frying pan add a little oil, the mustard seeds, cinnamon, chillis, curry leaves and garlic. Fry for a few minutes until the mustard seeds start to pop. 


Now add the onion and allow the onions to soften.


Finally add the brussell sprouts and  coconut to the pan and stir fry for about 5 minutes until the greens are just wilted. At this point taste the mallum and add salt as needed.


Serve warm or if you always make heaps like me, cool it down and place a portion in the freezer. This mallum freezes beautifully!



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Filed under Curries, Sri Lankan Food, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian Curries

Bourke St Bakery Style Sausage Rolls


A friend recently asked my what traditional ‘Aussie’ food was and my immediate reply was meat pies and sausage rolls. I don’t know that they’re uniquely Australian, the English eat pies after all.  But to me, pies and sausage rolls  speak of Australia. Hot pies in metal cases streaming out of the canteen, eating a sausage rolls at a party with flaky pastry covering your face and of course it isn’t the same without oodles of tomato sauce (distinct from high-fructose corn syrup laden tomato ketchup).

The best sausage roll I’ve had in Australia has to be the offering from the Bourke St Bakery. Flaky, crispy and buttery on the outside with a pork and fennel filling within. It’s amazing. Perhaps some of it’s inherent appeal lies in the fact that I’ve always eaten it on a sunny day in Centennial park followed by one of their amazing tarts. Bliss!

This is a version of that sausage roll with my homemade rough puff pastry which I made based on the recipe from here, Guy Awford’s blog. If you don’t have to go to the trouble of making the pastry, embrace it. Pampas is your friend.



  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 10g fennel seeds chopped
  • 1.5 thyme sprigs
  • 50g onion chopped finely
  • 50g celery chopped finely
  • 50g carrots chopped finely
  • 400g pork mince
  • handful of bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 sheets of puff pastry
  • egg wash for brushing- 1 egg and milk


In a small fry pan fry the garlic, onion, celery and carrot ( I chopped mine in the food processor) until soft. When the vegetables have softened add the thyme and fennel and cook for a few minutes. Leave the mixture to cool.


In a bowl combine the minced pork, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and cooled vegetables mixture. Use your hands to mix it all together.


Lay your pastry flat and make a sausage of mince about 2-3 cm from the edge of the pastry. Using your hands is the easiest way I’ve found to do this.


Now take the edge that is bare and wrap it over the sausage roll. Tuck the pastry in and keep rolling until you have wrapped the whole log of meat in pastry plus a little extra for the “seam”. Brush a little water at the edges to make it stick. Cut to your desired size at this point.


Eggwash the tops of the rolls and add a few fennel seeds on top. Place the seam down on a baking tray at bake in 350F/180C oven for 45 minutes.





Filed under Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork, Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Uncategorized

“Pancakes” and Pani Pol


Afternoon tea is just about my favourite time of the day. Sitting down to a hot cup of milky, black tea accompanied by something sweet or some cheese and biccies (crackers). This Sunday just gone I told Mr Firehouse that I had a real hankering for Sri Lankan style pancakes with their sweet coconut filling. I then mentioned that thanks to an unfortunate mis-hap with a new beef rendang recipe (read: mis-reading the recipe and putting in almost a kilo of coconut into a curry so there was almost as much coconut as meat), I had used all the coconut in the house. Mr Firehouse sprang into action, and volunteered to go to the shops.

“Sure” I agreed, “if you bring the coconut, I’ll make some pancakes. ”

” I’ll go after the Seahawks game” he said, “there’s only a few minutes left.”

Silly, naive me! Gridiron games don’t end  in the amount of time on the clock. The clock stops every few seconds so that 5 minutes of play can last 25. Not to mention, this particular game went into overtime. Anyway, it was about an hour later by the time the coconut arrived at home and I got to make my afternoon tea.



Pani pol

  • 1 cup. Treacle
  • 1 cardoman pod
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of water

Crepe (Pancake Mix)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • salt to taste
  • melted butter to brush on pan
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric (optional)


In a bowl with a whisk or in a blender mix all the crepe ingredients together until the mixture is smooth (no lumps). I find that adding the liquid slowly helps if you’re doing it by hand. Leave the mixture to sit for about half an hour which helps the bubbles subside and stops the crepe from tearing.


In the meantime I make my pani-pol by heating the kithul treacle in a pan with the spices.

Once it comes to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavours infuse. At this point I simply add the un-sweetened desiccated coconut and stir. Finally add the water and give it another stir.
Leave it on the heat for about 10 minutes until the coconut has absorbed the pani and become dark and caramel like.

Once done, remove the spices and leave the mixture to cool.

Heat a small (20 cm) frypan on medium heat and brush with oil, then add 1/3 a cup of batter and swirl so that the batter covers the whole pan. When the edges start curling use a spatula to flip the crepe over and cook for a minute or so.



Repeat with the rest of the mix. You can stack the crepes ready to roll.

When all the crepes are ready, place one on a plate and then add 1-2 tablespoons of pani-pol (depending on your preference) along the top edge of the crepe.


Then fold the sides of the crepe in lightly. Start rolling from the filled end and keep rolling until the filling is completely enclosed. Place on a plate with the seam down. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling.


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Filed under Sri Lankan Sweets, Sweet Treats

Pinto Bean Curry


I grew up in a house that didn’t often have parripu. Ammi wasn’t a huge fan and would usually find new and wonderful things to make hodi (gravy dish) with. Cucumber curry (recipe to come) and spinach curry were much more prevalent at dinner than parripu. We had friends growing up that had parippu at every meal, so I suspect as a Sri Lankan this was quite unusual. Parripu at our place was usually a sign that it was shopping day tomorrow and Ammi’s fridge was empty.

As such, when I cook Sri Lankan food at home, parripu is not often on the menu. Especially in Australia, when I cooked parrippu Mr Firehouse would pipe up and ask

“What? Is there nothing else in the fridge?”…cheeky bugger.

Nowadays I like to use the multitude of canned beans out there to make a dhal style curry. Chickpeas are an obvious choice but red kidney beans, pinto beans and lima beans are also an excellent choice for this recipe!



  • 1 can beans (pinto here) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • 1 red chilli sliced
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • curry leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 small tomato chopped


In a medium fry pan add the oil, onions, garlic, cinnamon and curry leaves. Fry for a few minutes before adding the chilli, curry powder and turmeric. Keep frying until the onions are soft and slightly translucent.


Add the beans and give the curry a good stir.



Add the tomato and 1/2 cup of water and simmer on high for 5 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.


Finally add the coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes until the curry becomes nice and thick.


   Add salt to taste and serve with bread or rice.



Filed under Curries, Vegetable Dishes