Update on Tamarillo Chutney made in March

Update on Tamarillo Chutney made in March

As my entire excuse for procrastination (here, at least) is that I only want to give information that is tried and tested, I thought I better give an update on my Tamarillo Chutney.

I left the chutney for three months to allow the flavours to mellow (as is, apparently, the golden rule of Chutney making).

Tamarillo Chutney

Tamarillo Chutney

The results: we are very happy with the easy to eat, quite sweet, fruity chutney. Today we had a little platter of crackers, homemade rocket pesto, creamed cheese with chives and sundried tomatoes, sliced cornbeef, cucumber and tomato with a small dish of this chutney. Lovely family moment. Oops, forgot to take a pic for you, sorry.

Can’t wait until the Tamarillo Tree fruits again so I can make a bigger batch of chutney (and of that amazing jam)

You can’t put chocolate in that!!

You can’t put chocolate in that!!

Just cooked the craziest meal. Mexican Molé that I saw on Good Chef Bad Chef re-runs. I’d call it shit on a stick, except it was a sauce.


You can see the original recipe on Good Chef, Bad Chef (as it isn’t mine) but the recipes on the site are obviously an after-thought to the show and are always missing ingredients and/or method. If you haven’t seen the show (or the comments on the recipe don’t set you straight) you wouldn’t have a hope. I keep going back to the show site, though, as they do do some interesting recipes from opposite ends of the food scale – he is a chef who wants to eat meat, butter, lard and lots of it and she is a nutritionist? who makes lots of vegan, vegetarian and ‘good for you’ food. This recipe is one of his, but surprisingly healthy with only a few tiny adjustments.

I will write out the recipe (to the best of my memory) and link back to this story for you. In the meantime, I did comment on the recipe on the site which might help you. I only forgot to say that the chicken is cooked in the first lot of stock and you may not need all the second lot of stock or ‘tomato sauce’ (passata or spaghetti sauce, not just ketchup), just add ’til a sauce consistency.

* Warning, this show is meant to be a mock confrontation between good and bad eating so if you are passionately vegan best avoid.

Thought of the Day – ‘Mindless Eating’ quote

Thought of the Day – ‘Mindless Eating’ quote

Brian Winsink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, describes mindlessly eating:

“Most of us don’t overeat because we’re hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.”

Thanks to The Local Graze for this quote.

Pumpkin Sauce Fettuccine

Pumpkin Sauce Fettuccine

We enjoyed this easy throw-together (as if it were gourmet) while doing the Local Harvest Challenge (see my roundup, here). We were lucky enough to have all the ingredients in our garden and pantry. We used lightly sautéed onion, garlic, zucchini and spinach. You might choose different ingredients to suit what you like or have on hand. (we call this Pumpkin sauce, because we call Butternut a pumpkin)

I’d usually use coconut milk to create the sauce (but I don’t think there are any coconut trees within 160km of our place so used home-made chicken stock that week). No, the fettuccine was neither home-made nor produced within 160km, but everything else was local.

Mini ButternutsWe have many mini butternut pumpkins (squash) ready for the eating from our backyard. Our dog dug up buried Bokashi, thus bringing seeds up to the top of the soil, which allowed them to grow. We let the pumpkins run rampant (along with rockmelons). The plants helped the garden survive some heatwave conditions and the mini pumpkins were the result of not cutting back the vines, I believe. We love them baked whole and have been able to hand them out to family and friends, too.

Spinach Mustard small and large leavesWe also have many “baby spinach” plants (Japanese Mustard Spinach). We use the small leaves in salads and on sandwiches; the larger leaves in stir-fries, soups, etc. These self-seeded when we left one of the original plants to go to seed. We collected a bunch of seeds, but some obviously ended up back in the garden. A great picking garden addition. I have plucked some out of the garden and put in a pot nearer to the back door.

Here’s the recipe… Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of the meal. I will take one next time we have it and update the post.

Pumpkin Sauce Fettuccine

Serves: 2 large serves as a main meal 3-4 as a side or with a salad


Approx 225g (1/2 pound) cooked pumpkin or squash, cut into large chunks *see note

Olive Oil

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic,  finely chopped

1 small zucchini (courgette), cut lengthwise and then sliced

1/2 bunch fresh spinach, chard or silverbeet (cut stalk into small pieces, roll leaves and slice)

Approx 1 cup coconut milk (or stock)

salt and freshly ground pepper

fresh or dried herbs of your choice (optional)

Approx 120g (4oz) dry or fresh Fettuccine (or your preferred serving size x 2)

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve


  1. Cook fettucini in boiling salted water as per pack instructions or until al denté.
  2. Drain pasta and rinse if you wish.
  3. Sauté onion, garlic, spinach stalks, zucchini and spinach (or vegetables of your choice), in a heavy based pan, in a small amount of olive oil if desired.
  4. Remove pan from heat.
  5. Add pasta to the sautéed vegetables and stir through.
  6. Add cooked pumpkin or squash to the pan and stir gently (pumpkin will break down to some extent to form part of the sauce, but try to retain some visible pieces.
  7. Return to heat and add coconut milk.
  8. Season to taste (you could add fresh herbs of your choice at this stage or dried herbs doing sauté)
  9. Stir gently until heated through (adjust sauce thickness by adding more coconut milk if necessary).
  10. Serve immediately, topped with grated Parmesan to taste and perhaps with a light salad.

Notes and Tips:

* I baked my butternut whole and scooped out the flesh for this dish, but my pumpkin (squash) was just the right size for the dish (about 450g/ 1lb). Generally, you will get half the amount of cooked baked butternut flesh from a whole raw vegetable (so a 900g/2lb butternut will give approx 1lb cooked flesh). You can boil, steam, microwave or bake squash or pumpkin for this dish.

All quantities are flexible, as are the vegetables used.

Possibilities are endless with this dish: sprinkle some roasted pinenuts and chopped fresh parsley over before serving; use baby spinach leaves and add at last minute; add bacon when sautéing vegetables. Very versatile dish to use as a side to meats or to serve with a light salad. Great for lunch or dinner.

Butternut is a perfect consistency for this dish, but you could try substituting your favourite pumpkin or squash.

Savoury Layered Pancake Pie

Savoury Layered Pancake Pie

Our best fun cooking adventure while doing The Local Harvest Challenge, was a Savoury Layered Pancake Pie. We had once had something like this at a café and we already had some cooked crepes in the freezer, so we packed locally purchased and home-grown goodness between the crepes and created a ‘pie’.

Savoury Layered Pancake Pie in pan

Note: We call this a pancake pie because we call crepes pancakes. Apologies for any confusion.

We used a 20cm (8 inch) non-stick pie plate which was just a tiny bit smaller than our crepes, so they could curl up the side and create a bit of a ‘pie pastry’ look to the layers. We used 8 crepes, but you could use a few more or less, as you like.

I won’t list ingredients because you can use anything you like and the quantities will depend on the size of your crepes and your tastes (e.g. you might take one small clove of roasted garlic and break it over a layer or you might want lots of whole cloves in there).

You really don’t need much in each layer. I thought some of my meagre layers would have disappeared in the pile, but was pleasantly surprised.


For the roasted vegetable pie,  begin by cutting everything in long thin slices where possible (carrots and zucchini lengthwise, etc). Put these on an oven tray, with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast at 175 C / 350 F until tender, removing items as they are ready and allowing to cool. *See hint.

Spray pan with a little cooking spray if not using a non-stick pan. Place one crepe in the base allowing any extra to come up the sides of the pan. Put a layer of chosen filling on top of the crepe and top with another crepe, once again allowing to curl up the side of the pan.

Continue alternating fillings and crepes. You can have some layers the same if you like. 

These are the layers we used, as an indication only:

1)    Roasted sweet potato slices with lightly roasted garlic cloves – tear or slice garlic and spread around the layer.

2)   Cooked chicken breast slices mixed with sweet chilli sauce topped with fresh rocket (arugula).

3)   Cream cheese** or other soft cheese mixed with hot chilli and parsley. Spread over crepe.

4)   Roasted tomato and onion

5)   Roasted sliced carrots and roasted onion

6)   Spread of cream cheese mixture topped with roasted capsicum (skin removed after roasting) and lightly roasted zucchini slices.

7)   Any combination of cheeses – cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, whatever you have or like. We only used a sprinkle, but it made a difference.

Top with last pancake. Sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook to heat through (175 C / 350 F) for 10-15 minutes. Pop some foil over if crepes are getting too brown before pie is warmed through.

It is surprising how well it stacked up. Too easy!

Serve with a light salad for a perfect lunch or light dinner

Serve with a light salad for a perfect lunch or light dinner


*Roasting: You can put the vegetables that need the most roasting onto the oven tray and start roasting while you continue cutting up. Add and remove items so most things are ready and cooled by the time you are ready to assemble the pie.

**If you are using cream cheese, first soften by stirring or mashing with a fork, then mix in a little milk. This will make a smooth sauce easier to spread on crepes. You can add anything you like to cream cheese, such as herbs, capers or your favourite sauce.

You could use any other fillings you think of: roast meats or ham; other vegetables; sauces (a tomato based sauce or paste would be nice); etc. Just sauté, steam, roast or microwave harder ingredients prior to making up the pie. Probably good to have a little gooey stuff (like cheeses) and a little saucy stuff (but not too wet obviously), just to help the pie stay together when cut.

Variation: I wouldn’t try this with thick pancakes, but you could try mixing different fillings into your pancake batter, cooking as normal and then piling up, warming through and slicing like a pie. A little soft cheese, mixed with chilli sauce or herbs, between the layers might be nice.

Tarhana – ‘soup of a household of modest means’

Tarhana – ‘soup of a household of modest means’

My local fruit market carries a range of ingredients from around the world. We are often finding items we have never heard of or eaten before. Bravely we take strange packets and tins home and search the internet for information about them. Very few have not been experiences worth the effort. One day we found a cloth bag marked Tarhana … and a new adventure began.

Tarhana came in a bag with no instructions

Tarhana came in a bag with no instructions

I asked staff at the fruit market, but they didn’t know anything about what this “Turkish soup with Tomatoes and Piment Sweet Art” was or how to prepare it. Sounds like Turkish Cup-a-soup, or could there be more to the story? Adventurous, (and it was a price we could afford to be adventurous with) we took it anyway.

I searched the internet to find how to make the soup and, not only did I find the recipe on how to make it up, but also the Turkish legend about it. Love food with heart, so here we go…

This story is courtesy of Su from “The Gourmet Touch”, who specialises in Turkish food. Su suggests that people who have travelled in Turkey will tell you of the great hospitality they have been treated to.

“The Turks have a saying which translates to something like “the Lord’s guest”. What this means is that if you should stumble upon somebody’s abode, you will be treated as a guest sent by the Almighty. How cool is that? The hosts will feed you and tend to your needs before putting you on the correct vehicle to your next destination. This, of course, is not something that’s done under an Tourism Board edict. It is an act of generosity and compassion which has much to do with Turkish values.”

So, that’s very lovely, but how does it relate to instant soup mix?

“Legend has it that during the reign of the Ottomans, a Sultan is invited into a back street household where he is offered this soup. He likes it very much and asks for its name. These people are barely struggling to put food on the table so what they eat doesn’t necessarily have a name. It is a soup which is made from dry granules of fermented cracked wheat, yoghurt, and vegetables…”

and spices. In the one that I got there was red pepper; onion; salt; tomatoes; dried mint and yeast.

Tarhana - Turkish instant soup

Tarhana – Turkish instant soup

“…she says “dar hane” soup in answer to the Sultan’s question. This basically means ‘soup of a household of modest means’. Throughout the years it becomes the most consumed soup in the country and its name has mutated to “tarhana”.”

Isn’t that a wonderful story? The idea that this soup is made in order to have on hand something nutritious and tasty to serve a surprise visitor made me want to share this with others. At Christmas time, I made up little bags of Tarhana (just enough to make one or two quantities), along with a copy of this story and the following recipe. I hope that the recipients were able to make this soup when they had guests over.

There are recipes for making the soup from scratch, but this recipe is to make up the soup from the dried prepared Tarhana:


Tarhana ready to eat

Tarhana ready to eat

3 tbsp Tarhana
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp butter
3-4 cups chicken broth/water+bouillon
1 tsp salt or to taste
1. Place the Tarhana and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl and leave for an hour, stirring occasionally.
2. In a pot, sauté butter and tomato paste over medium heat.
3. Pour stock into pot and gradually introduce the Tarhana which should now be dissolved.
4. Cook over low-medium heat stirring constantly. Adjust consistency by adding water if you wish.

I hope that one day you see this little white bag (or similar) in a store and think of this story, and the heart that goes into something as simple as ‘instant soup’.

Tantalising Tamarillo Jam

Tantalising Tamarillo Jam

My favourite thing to do with Tamarillos is jam and I have to share this wonderful recipe that was given to YaYa by her friend Connie. This is now the jam I will make tons of when I next have fruit on my tree.

Waiting on the last of the Yellow Tamarillos to ripen

Waiting on the last of the Yellow Tamarillos to ripen

I decided to add two apples to my eight small Tamarillos because I desperately wanted to make more of this very promising recipe. For the same reason, and because I despise waste, I did not remove the seeds of the Tamarillos, just the skins and the little hard white bit at the top of the fruit and the tiny hard bit on the pointy end of a few. I normally leave the skins on apples when cooking, but decided this jam would benefit from peeled apples.

Peeled Tamarillo with hard spot at top removed

Peeled Tamarillo with hard spot at top removed

What a glorious smell while this was cooking! Absolutely glorious jam. I only got 2 small jars, but they will be savoured.

Tamarillo, Vanilla and Rosewater Jam

Yield approx 1 1/4 cups (1 3/4 cup if apple added)
6-8 tamarillos, peeled and finely cubed (remove seeds if preferred)
2 apples, cored,  peeled and finely cubed (optional)
1 vanilla pod split in half
2 lemons juiced and then strained
1-2 teaspoons of rosewater or orange flower water
approx 2 cups of caster sugar (see below)
  • Sterilise 3 small jars (I always sterlise more than I need, you might only use two).
  • Put a small plate in the fridge to cool down. You will use this later, when testing whether the jam has reached a set.
Tamarillos cut for jam

Tamarillos cut for jam

  • Peel the Tamarillos and cut fairly small. I had small Tamarillos so merely sliced and then quartered the slices. If you don’t want seeds in the jam, scoop them out with a spoon before dicing the Tamarillos.
  • If using apples, core, peel and dice, a similar size to the Tamarillos. Your fruit will mostly not break down while cooking, and will be visible in the pretty finished product, so a little care here will make a difference later
Apple cut in fine cube - I used Bonza apples

Apple cut in fine cube – I used Bonza apples

  • Put the chopped fruit into a heavy saucepan, scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod into the pan and add the pods themselves.
  • Add water until it just covers the fruit and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the fruit is tender.
  • Cool slightly. Measure the mixture.
Measure the fruit to calculate sugar needed

Measure the fruit to calculate sugar needed

  • Return to the saucepan and, for every 1 cup of cooked fruit, add 3/4 of a cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon.
  • Bring to a medium boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and it sets when tested.
  • When the jam is ready, take it off the heat and cool for a few minutes before stirring in the rosewater or orange flower water.
  • Bottle in warm, sterilised jars and seal.

To test, spoon a little jam onto the cold plate and allow it to cool. If you push the cooled jam and it has formed a skin which wrinkles, it is ready. If not keep testing every few minutes. As it is getting closer, you might like to take the saucepan off the heat while testing, so you don’t overcook it while carrying out the test.

Ya Ya mentioned in the original recipe, “The jam may look a little too liquid but will further thicken when it cools in the jar.” Even though it looked runny and didn’t seem to be setting on the cold plate test, I bottled as the jam was starting to darken. The set is maybe even a little too much. So, if you are second guessing yourself, worry not; all will be ok.

You can put the vanilla pods in the jars with the jam, if you like the look. I suggest you cut the pod into several smaller pieces at the beginning to make this easier. I think because I added the apple or because I cooked the jam a little longer, I couldn’t really see the pod in my jar, only where it touched the glass.

Tamarillo, Apple, Vanilla and Rosewater Jam

Tamarillo, Apple, Vanilla and Rosewater Jam

I would love to put this jam into those tiny jars you get in gourmet gift baskets and give some to everyone I know.