Fresh Tomato Sauce

From Marco Pierre White, via Master Chef Australia.

olive oil
2 onions, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
600 g. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 bottles passata
2 cubes chicken bouillon
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs oregano

Drizzle olive oil in a pan and set over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook until soft but no colour.  Add cherry tomato halves and cook until broken down and juices are released.  Add passata sauce, rinsing out bottles with 1 c. water and adding to the pan.  Add chicken bouillon cubes, thyme and bay leaf and allow to simmer gently until thickened and reduced, about 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and pass through a sieve.  Sauce freezes well if not used immediately.

For an easy pasta recipe, add cherry tomato halves and red chili flakes to the tomato sauce, add chopped basil and serve over pasta; top with fresh parmesan cheese.

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Whole Wheat Bread

Super easy, super tasty loaf.


¼ tsp. active dry yeast
105 g. / ¾ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. cool (60°F / 15°C) water

Mix the ingredients together, should take about 30 seconds or so and have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and put it in a cool place (65°F / 18°C is good) for 12 to 14 hours; overnight is good.  If the temperature is warmer, shorten the time to 8-10 hours.

After the fermenting time, there should be a bunch of bubbles on top, it should be giving off a pleasant acidic / yeasty / alcohol aroma and be about doubled in size.  If not, leave it for a few hours more.

Bread mixing:

Mix the following into the pre-ferment by hand:

1 c. lukewarm water
375 g. / 2½ c. bread flour
2 tsp. fine grind sea salt

If there is any dry flour left, add 1-2 tbsp of water to combine; if too wet, add 1-2 tbsp of flour.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave for 3-4 hours, till at least doubled in size.  Then place the covered dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to a week.

Oil or spray a loaf pan, then sprinkle 1-2 tbsp plain flour onto a work surface.  Sprinkle plain flour onto the top of the dough, and tip it out onto the floured surface.  Sprinkle a bit more flour on top, to keep the dough from sticking.  Using your hands, flatten the dough into a circle; then fold in one side then the other, and then roll into a log.  Place it in the oiled pan with the smooth side up, and lightly oil the top of the loaf.  Tent aluminium foil over the pan, leaving enough space for the loaf to rise.  Leave the loaf to rise at room temperature from 4-6 hours, or in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F / 240°C for at least 20 minutes.  Place the tented loaf pan on the middle oven rack, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil tent and bake for another 20 minutes.  If the top of the loaf is dark, take it out after the 40 minutes; if it is too light, bake for another 7-8 minutes.  Let cool completely before slicing.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Mom’s peanut butter cookie recipe, from a very well used Betty Crocker cookbook. She said she doubles the recipe, and always uses Skippy crunchy peanut butter; unfortunately it’s not available in Australia.

Peanut butter cookies

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Seasoning Mixes

Italian Seasoning

Great for any pasta dish, pizza, or even popcorn!

½ c dried parsley
4 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp dried oregano or marjoram
2 tsp dried minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Mix all ingredients well.  Store in an airtight glass container and label with an expiration date of one year.

Poultry Seasoning

⅓ c dried sage
⅛ c celery seed
¼ c dried lemon peel
¼ c dried marjoram
¼ c dried parsley
¼ c dried savory (either winter or summer savory)
¼ c dried thyme
¼ c dried rosemary (optional)

Combined all ingredients and blend well.  Use a spice grinder or blender to pulverise into a powder.  Store in an airtight glass jar and label with an expiration date of one year.

Basic Seasoning Salt

½ c coarse sea salt
¼ c dried granular kelp
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried garlic granules

In blender or spice grinder, process all ingredients until the mixture reaches the desired consistency, either a coarse grind or a finer powder.  Store in an airtight glass container and label with an expiration date of one year.

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Basic Bread

The simplest basic bread recipe, making a tasty white loaf.

3½ c / 525 g bread flour
2 tsp finely ground sea salt
2¼ tsp active dry yeast
1⅔ c lukewarm water, about 80° F / 27° C

Fluff the flour with a spoon before measuring.  Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a big mixing bowl, and mix together by hand until salt and yeast are evenly distributed.

Pour in the water and mix by hand, squishing the mixture through your fingers for about 30 seconds; the dough should be the consistency of wet play dough.  If there is still some dry flour in the bowl, add another 1 or 2 tbsp more of lukewarm water; if the dough is too liquid, mix in 1 or 2 tbsp more of flour.

Seal the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 3 hours; at this point, the dough should have doubled in size.  Place the dough in the refrigerator, and leave it for at least a day; it can also remain refrigerated for up to a week.

Oil or spray the inside of a loaf pan, then remove the dough from the refrigerator; the dough should be a bit sticky.  Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of flour on the bench top and on top of the dough in the bowl; tip the bowl over, and gently squish the dough out onto the floured bench.  Sprinkle another 1-2 tbsp of flour onto the top of the dough so it doesn’t stick to your hands, and flatten into a circle.  Fold the left side of the dough into the centre, then fold in the right side, then gently fold the dough into a log and plop it into the oiled pan with the smooth side facing up.

Spray or brush the top of the loaf with oil so foil won’t stick to it, and cover the pan with tented aluminium foil; the tent should be loose enough so the loaf can rise about 2 inches.  Leave the loaf set, undisturbed, for four hours. (Note: if you can’t bake it after four hours, let it rise for at least a couple of hours, then put it back in the fridge for 1-3 days.  If it’s been refrigerated, let it return to room temperature before baking).

Set the oven rack to middle height.  Preheat the oven for at least 20 minutes at 475° F / 240° C. Put the pan with the foil tent into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  Check the loaf; if the top is a nice dark brown, take it out; if not, bake it for another 7 or 8 minutes.

Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool on a cooling rack.

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I can get 10-12 crumpets from this recipe, using just under ½ c. of batter per crumpet ring.  Because I use whole flour instead of white, a little more water may be needed.

12 oz / 350 ml semi-skim milk, warmed but not boiling
1 lb / 450 g all purpose or plain flour (I used whole grain plain flour)
⅛ oz / 5 g dried yeast
2 tsp sugar (or substitute ¾ tsp. stevia)
12 oz / 350 ml finger-warm water (approximate)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Oil for cooking (peanut oil works well)

Whisk together the milk, flour, yeast, and sugar.  Once combined, add half the water and beat into the batter; continue to add more water until the batter is thick and smooth, about the consistency of thick cream.  Cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm, draft free place until foaming – about 1-2 hours.

Whisk the salt and baking powder into the batter, then heat a heavy frying pan on the stove to hot but not smoking.

Wipe the pan surface with a light film of oil; also oil the inside of crumpet or pastry rings.  Place a few rings evenly throughout the heated pan and fill just below the top with batter.  Cook 5 minutes; there should be many tiny holes on the surface and the crumpets should be setting.  Flip the crumpets over and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and release from the crumpet rings.

Note: If the batter seeps from under the ring it is too thin; whisk in more flour.  If the crumpet is heavy and without holes, the batter is too thick; add more water.

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Kay’s Goat Milk and Oatmeal Soap

This is Kay Schwandt’s recipe for an easy melt-and-pour soap.

10 g. beeswax, finely grated or in pellets
455 g. goats milk melt-and-pour base
3 tbsp. honey
¼ c. finely ground powdered milk
¼ c. finely ground oatmeal
1 tbsp. fragrance

Chop the goats milk base into ¾” cubes.  Combine the beeswax and goats milk base and melt together in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until thoroughly melted and combined.  Stir in the  honey and combine thoroughly.  Stir the powdered milk and oatmeal together and stir into the melted soap; stir until slightly thickened so that the oatmeal is evenly mixed throughout the mixture.  Pour into soap moulds and allow to set.

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