Maple candied walnuts


I love walnuts.  Perhaps this started with the grand old walnut tree in our garden when I was little.  When I wasn’t swinging from it or chasing the chickens that lived at its feet, I was happily crushing walnuts between concrete blocks so I could prise the nuts from their wrinkly little shells.  I still remember the pang of pride the day Mum put the mangled results in a small dish at the dinner table for everyone to share, even though the results of my efforts were mainly bits of concrete with the odd bit of bruised walnut flesh.


So I felt a very lucky person indeed when I was offered some walnuts recently, still in their green casings.  Of course I jumped at the chance. One of the things I love most about walnuts is their versatility – they will happily partner with savoury or sweet, and can turn an ordinary salad or muffin into something that little bit more scrumptious and gourmet.

I fancied something autumnal and sweet, and after a little research settled on experimenting with candied walnuts spiced up with some maple and cinnamon, borrowing heavily from the caramelising talents of BraveTart who I have learnt from with my candied sugar experiments in the past.  And here’s how I got there:



  • 12 walnuts – of course whole is ideal, but I was whacking mine with a hammer to get them out of their shells and some where less than whole, which didn’t seem to matter too much
  • 12 toothpicks
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 4 T white sugar
  • 1 T water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt


Put toothpicks into the walnuts.  They get their pretty little stalagmite-like shape from being hung upside-down, so I put a wooden board along the edge of the sink to hang them from and some baking paper in the sink to catch the drips.  I also prepared some strips of masking tape for taping the toothpick ends to the board.

Put all of the other ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, swishing the pan to stop it sticking.

When the sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns amber, put the pot on the wooden board.  Take each tooth-picked walnut in turn and dip it into the sugar, coating it generously.  Turn it upside down over the the sink so the caramel drips off.  Secure and tape the other end to the wooden board.  It may look a little like a Game of Thrones-style torture chamber for walnuts, to be honest.


When the caramel has hardened and cooled, pull the toothpick out and you will have pretty little maple walnut teardrops to use as garnish or gobble up as is.  They are lovely with ice cream.


Antipasto, courtesy of Edmonds

Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally hit the International Dishes section of the Edmonds Cook Book.


As I make my way alphabetically (and rather slowly, I do admit) through the Edmonds Cook Book, the A section to date has yielded a fair bit of baking and things involving almonds.  But now, we find ourselves at Antipasto, opening a rather ambitious International Dishes selection including foreign delicacies like nachos and cucumber salad.

I suspect in this day and age, many of us are familiar with antipasto and its role as the opening dish in an Italian meal.  In our little far-flung corner of the world, however, the inclusion of Antipasto, and indeed an International Dishes section at all, to the Edmonds was no doubt a bold leap into the unknown at the time.

This may explain why tasty cheese makes up the cheese selection in the ingredients list, when in other antipasto recipes we see rather more exotic cheeses such as aged Manchengo or Gruyere.  But tasty cheese is a firm favourite in our shaky isles and it is only appropriate that it features in the Edmonds take on antipasto.  And I don’t want to seem as if I am sneezing at tasty cheese.  There are very few snacks as lovely as a thick slice of tasty cheese on a cracker with a generous spoonful of my Mum’s tamarillo chutney.

So for an antipasto platter, Edmonds-style, you will need the following:

  • 425g can artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 6 to 8 slices of smoked beef
  • 250g tasty cheese
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 slices of salami



And the rest is pretty simple chaps.  After draining and rinsing the artichokes, all that one is required to do with the ingredients is ‘arrange decoratively on a plate.’  I will leave the arranging up to your imaginations.  This is how mine looked and it was most pleasing with a little tipple on a late Summer afternoon.  Enjoy.


Chocolate and ginger Anzac biscuits


These little lovelies simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the mighty Anzac biscuit, which inspired me with its comforting blend of oats and golden syrup. I shan’t be going into too much more detail on this point, because Anzac biscuits will be coming up shortly as part of my Edmond’s challenge and I’d hate to spoil anything, except to note that the Anzac biscuit is a source of national pride for many an Antipodean baker.

Whenever I feel in need of a bit of nourishing, I turn to my trusty jar of rolled oats and all kinds of delicious are never too far away. These biscuits are easy to make and although my ones have apricot and raisins, any dried fruit you had in residence in your pantry would make a happy union with the rest of the recipe. Ditto the chocolate; I like milk chocolate and dark is also most toothsome. I’ve yet to try white chocolate, but I reckon this would also be pretty fabulous.

Enjoy these with a steaming hot mug of tea, and with the oats and the fruit, I do believe they would make an acceptable breakfast. They are pretty much porridge in a biscuit, after all.

Happy Baking.

You will need:
1& 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup apricots, chopped
2 t fresh grated ginger
200g chocolate of your choosing, roughly chopped
150 g butter
2 T Golden Syrup
2 T hot water


In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, grated ginger and chopped chocolate.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a pan over medium heat.

Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and then add this to the melted golden syrup and butter. This will cause the mixture to bubble up. Tip it quickly into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Put tablespoon-sized dollops of the mixture onto greased baking trays (I get about 20 out of this recipe).

Bake the biscuits at 180 celscius for 15 minutes or until they are golden, and then cool on a baking rack.


Re-rising to my Edmonds Challenge: introducing broccoli with almonds


You could be forgiven for thinking my Edmonds Challenge had gone off the boil somewhat…truth is, it had, and for that I apologise. But, dear readers, we are back on the boil, quite literally in fact, as today’s recipe includes broccoli, boiling water and a saucepan.

A while ago, I promised a run of almonds as I worked my way through almond recipes in the ‘A’ section of our national treasure the Edmonds Cookbook, and indeed they did as I grabbled with some new treats, including devilled almonds and almond biscuits.


Today we greet the last entry in the ‘Almonds’ section, Broccoli with Almonds. And can I say, what a delight. Lightly cooked broccoli covered with lemony butter and toasted sliced almonds. Oh yum.

This happy marriage of food with butter and nuts has its own official culinary term, ‘amandine‘, which means food cooked with butter and seasonings and garnished with a sprinkling of almonds.

Edmonds’ own take on this delight, a ‘Broccoli Amandine’ if you like, is a little gem. Easy and tasty, it would be a classy and delicious accompaniment to any supper. I chose to accompany mine with a little brown rice for lunch and can report this was a very satisfactory pairing.

The recipe is below…enjoy.

Edmonds Broccoli with Almonds
500g broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

Cook the broccoli in salted, boiling water until it is just tender.
In another saucepan, melt the butter and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Drain the broccoli.
Add the almonds to the butter mix and spoon this over the broccoli.


Lime and polenta cake


You can tell the state of the economy by the price of a lime, or so the saying goes.  What it’s meant to tell you, I’m not sure, but I can reliably inform you that limes in these here parts cost a small fortune at the moment.

This is why I can never resist the bags of juicy, home-grown limes which perch temptingly by the counter for only five dollars a pop when I visit the lovely Shannons to attend to matters of personal grooming.


I’m never at a loss for what to do with a lime  and with a whole bag in hand, my thoughts turned to this delicious orange and almond cake that my lovely sister brought along for a lunch visit a few years ago.

Curiously, I learned, the orange is boiled to provide a flavoursome, moist base.  It may feel sacrosanct to boil a precious lime, but with a whole bag, I was feeling reckless.  Having never considered the possibility of boiling fruit for the purposes of cake before, my imagination was on fire.

A little polenta to the recipe, inspired by Nigella’s lemon polenta cake recipe, gives this cake a lovely texture and just the right amount of chew to the crust.  I enjoy the tanginess of the limes, but for the more faint-hearted, include a little extra sugar if you like a touch more sweetness.  And, if you make sure to use gluten-free baking powder, this even ticks the gluten-free box.



  • 4 limes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Butter and line a 21cm springform tin.

Put the limes in a saucepan, cover them with cold water and pop them on the stove.  Bring to the boil and boil for an hour.

Drain the limes, watching for your fingers as they will still be a little hot.  Chop the limes into bits and pick out any seeds.  Use a blender or masher to puree the limes, skins and all, until smooth.  Set this aside.

In a largish bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale.

Add the pureed limes, ground almonds, polenta and baking powder to the egg and sugar mixture.  Gently fold in until everything is just combined.

Pour the mix into the prepared cake tin.

Bake in a 180 degrees celsius oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer prodded into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake is just beginning to pull away from the sides of the tin.


Leave the cake in its tin on a baking rack to cool before turning out. I can heartily recommend this cake warm, with a little yoghurt or vanilla ice cream on the side.





Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it something else entirely ungodly?

We’ll go for the third option here.

It was Midwinter Christmas and, following a decision a few weeks earlier and most likely assisted by the fine beers available at Goldings Freedive, Turducken was the dish of the day.


I like to think of Turducken more as a Frankenducken. An unwitting turkey becomes host to both an entire chicken and, in our case, four duck breasts, evolving into a bulging meat sack that is neither bird nor beast, but is definitely dinner.

I have to say our Frankenducken may never have got off the ground (so to speak…sadly for all birds involved, their flying days were well and truly over) had it not been for the wisdom and generosity of YouTube, in particular this aptly named ‘How To Make A Turducken’ clip by Armand Ferrante, who happened to be crowned Wholefoods Best Butcher in the US in 2012.

And thus, all research was completed, the de-boned and de-frosted poultry was collected from the butcher, a poultry lacer was purchased, and the hour of truth had arrived. Our merry Mid Winter Christmas party gathered in the rented holiday home’s kitchen to look on in horrified fascination. A hush fell over the group.


Constructing a turducken is not pretty to watch, but it certainly is interesting. We were blessed with the culinary skills and can-do attitude of Chef and Chief Sommelier Jeremy, who began by splaying out the deboned turkey on the bench and generously slathering the upturned surface with stuffing.

Next, the chicken is laid out across the turkey, with more slathering of stuffing, and finally the four duck breasts (de-skinned) are laid out across the top.


Here’s the bit where you need the poultry lacer. No, I had never heard of such a thing either, but we concluded it sounded much more sophisticated than’meat needle,’ the name we had assigned to this tool in earlier planning sessions. The Frankenducken comes to be when the turkey is sewn back up together with the chicken, stuffing and duck inside. The poultry lacer works a little like a corset, with the metal spikes pinning each half of the unfortunate bird together and providing eyelets for the twine that sews it up. The chef will need some willing helpers at this point.



The appearance of the metal spikes and stitching does nothing to dispel any thoughts of Frankenstein’s monster. Here we have our final product, pre-cooking. There was much sniggering, the exact cause of which I will leave to your imagination as you gaze upon this sight.


There are a number of schools of thought on how one should cook one’s Frankenducken. My main concern was reliability. I did not want a raw bird on our hands, nor a house of Christmas revellers struck down with salmonella.  And so, I found myself tiptoeing around the kitchen like a little Christmas elf early in the morning, putting our Frankenducken in the oven at roughly 110 degrees celsius.

This seemed terribly low to me, but it was most effective. Our turducken took about 4 and a half hours to reach the recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees farenheit and maintained its heat for several hours happily nestled in a layer of foil.


Now, for the most important question that is no doubt on everyone’s minds…how did it taste? Quite delicious! The low temperature cooking left all meat moist and tender, with bacon layers on the turkey breast crisping up pleasingly.


I’m wondering if we should try a goose next year.


Pollo alla Romana


Bacon, chicken, red wine…what’s not to love?

Forgive my absence; I’ve been on a food writing course at the weekends over May and June, which has taken up all of the food writing time in my life.

I’m back with a vengeance however, and with a few new bits and pieces for Lick Your Plate.  This post dedicated to Pollo alla Romana, or Roman Chicken, stems from a class exercise on re-writing classic recipes in one’s own style.

I have to say I had not heard of Pollo alla Romana before this little adventure, but reliable sources, especially the lovely Rachel Eats blog which is all about eating and living in Rome (jealous much?), pit it as a Roman classic.

And I say jealous much because I fell totally and utterly in love with Rome when I was lucky enough to visit, and this love made Pollo Alla Romana jump out at me as a suitable classic to tinker with.


To make my version of Pollo Alla Romana you will need:

  • 1 x whole chicken, cleaned and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 50 grams pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 600 grams fresh tomatoes, chopped (save the juice!)
  • 3 red bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Yikes, was my first thought, a whole chicken cut into pieces?  Yes indeed, and with the help of Chef Tony and his YouTube clip, let me assure you it can be done.  It’s a little brutal and if you’re inexperienced in such things like I am, there’s quite a bit of wrenching and cracking.


Heat the oil in a heavy pan with a lid.  The one featured is known in my household as ‘The UFO’ on account of its similarity to a flying saucer when it has its lid on and is perched on the kitchen shelf.


Brown the chicken pieces in the pan, doing this in batches if you need to.  Remove them and set aside.

Add the pancetta or bacon to the pan, stirring to stop it sticking and to scrape up any of those delicious meaty bits that stick to the bottom.

When the pancetta or bacon becomes fragrant and releases its fat, add the garlic and cook for five minutes.

Pour in the wine and let it bubble up, then add the tomatoes with their reserved juice and the peppers and cook for about five minutes until they start to soften.


Return the chicken to the pan (it will look full!), season with the salt and ground black pepper as suits your tastes and place the lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar.

Turn the heat right down and simmer gently, giving the pan a stir from time to time to ensure nothing sticks.  It is ready when the sauce coats the back of a spoon – about 45 minutes.

Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.  We had ours with large hunks of fresh wholemeal bread and it was a suitably hearty winter fare.  Pasta, polenta, or the less Italian mashed potato, would be suitable partners too in my opinion.

Buon appetito readers.