Il Rifugio Perfetto

Yes, it means exactly what it looks like: the perfect refuge.

I’m referring to the YouTube cooking site that seems to’ve grown hugely since I first became aware of it. But my impressive degree of ancientness means that I really don’t understand whose site this one actually is: it seems to be divided among 2 or 3 women .. I leave you to sort that out for yourselves.

This is how the title arose:

and in fact there are cleaning videos early on. I know this because, as I often do, I sorted the videos from oldest to newest; and at a sort of mid-point, I found these two side by side:

and from then on we appear to have abandoned the cleaning and taken with enthusiasm to the cooking ! (I wonder if she just exhausted cleaning topics, or if her husband said  – in Italian, of course ! – “Oh fer crissake ! – will you STOP vacuuming under my feet and .. and go and do something in the kitchen ?!”  [grin] In truth, there are a few cooking videos slotted in among the cleaning ones, but not many.

The place-marking video for the cooking ones has V/O and post-production; but, I am very happy to say, thereafter there’s no voice-over at all – just sound effects and some basic captions, deo gratias. She includes ingredients underneath every video (you know, above the comments), so it’s up to the viewer to note down the method for later. Or learn it off by heart if you’re clever like that.

Her particular schtick is (apart from the meals’ being Italian) low-cost cooking. She doesn’t ever use high-falutin ingredients: even the vegies are completely familiar. She’s largely vegetarian, but not entirely; and she does heaps of baking cakes and bikkies.

Check it all out: you won’t often be lucky enough to find cooking videos without dialogue – which is, in my opinion, a bloody blessing !

A new oldie

Here’s a recipe that is in my .. erhmm .. history ? rolladex ? Whatever. It’s a recipe known to me and not one to bring sweat to my brow. It claims to be a curry, but you’ll need to hot it up if you like real curry.

Chickpea Curry


  • 1 onion, halved and sliced finely
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped small
  • 1 long red chilli, chopped fine (2 is better !)
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tsp fenugreek*
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbs coconut flour

*if you have a mortar and pestle, these should be ground together; but if you don’t, see if you can buy ’em already ground


  • Place a large saucepan on medium heat and add the oil.
  • When the pan is hot add the onion, garlic, chilli & ginger, cook for 10 minutes stirring often. (This is the most important part of making the curry: getting your base ingredients lovely and golden will insure the finished curry has a powerful flavour. So says the AvantGarde Vegan — quite cute, if you go for that hair shaved up the sides thing ..)
  • Add all the spices & cook while stirring for another 3-4 minutes to let the spices roast & release their aromatics.
  • Throw in the tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute before adding the chickpeas: stir well so they are coated.
  • Shake the can like mad and pour in the coconut milk and stir well; then bring the pan to a simmer.
  • Let the curry bubble away gently for around 10 minutes.
  • When the rice is cooked, just before serving stir the coconut flour into the curry to thicken it up a little.

I didn’t make this one for a long time, thinking in superior fashion that a curry of nothing but chickpeas would be, like, BORING ! – channelling Villanelle .. [grin]  It isn’t: the spices give the chickpeas a super burst of flavour.

Of course you can add any vegies you like: the harder ones come to mind. I think partially-cooked potatoes and cauli are great – you need to pre-cook ’em a bit to avoid having to cook the shit out of those yummy spices while waiting for the vegies. Just saying ..

Soup season has begun !

No anxieties about making soup ! I shoulda been doing more of this, as I have several thousand soup recipes. Well, OK, several then ..

Broad Bean, Pea and Rice Soup


  • 2 shallots finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen broad beans
  • 700 ml vegetable stock
  • ¾ cup long grain rice
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • seasoning to taste


  • In a large saucepan sauté the spring onion and garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes
  • Throw in the oregano, peas, broad beans and seasoning. Mix well and cook for 5—8 minutes, until the beans take on a little colour
  • Add the vegetable stock and stir; bring to a boil, add the rice then cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Place the baby spinach on top of the soup and let it simmer until it wilts
  • Do your best to get it into the bowls with the spinach still on  the top
  • Serve with crusty bread

My very dear friend the-Goanna-up-in-Sydney (where I lived for 41 years) was telling me on the phone that she makes a lot of soup; and it reminded me that I should be doing that, too. You can make a perfectly yummy one by throwing a chopped vegetable into some stock, adding seasoning and a bit of cream if you have it or perhaps a drop of Tamari or balsamic vinegar – depending on what you’re cooking – and then using what Stringer and I used to call “a whooshoo” .. you know, one of those hand-held stick choppers ? .. to blend it. Of course, the more vegies you put in, the better; and who doesn’t often find a bit of broccoli, a zucchini and half a butternut lurking in his/her vegetable keeper ?

Just remember that, were you using precisely that trio, you’d need to put the pumpkin in first for a while then add the broccoli and last the zucchini: vegies do need different cooking times.

But yes: soup of the evening, beautiful soup ! – the Mock Turtle knew what he was singing about.   :)

Ah. P.S.: the original recipe called for half a cup of broad beans. I really like broad beans, so I doubled it.

The LAST new recipe

It’s all got a bit beyond me, this constant experimenting with new vegetarian recipes. My problem is simple, and probably incomprehensible to most cooks: I get stressed by the various timings.

Let’s say a recipe instructs me to “cover and allow to simmer actively for 8-10 minutes, and meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce”. What almost invariably happens is that I take too long to make the sauce and the [whatever], simmering away with gusto, has thickened down to the point of being glutinous. (No, not gluttonous – that’s moi !)

Multiply this by one, two or three other stages and you have a large, stressed and rapidly becoming enraged cooking person.

OK, so it don’t happen every time; and I have certainly taken to reading any recipe through exhaustively .. but as I’ve generally forgotten the opening sentence by the time I’m half-way through, that doesn’t help enormously. Sighh .. No: senility and increasing grumpiness combine to produce a steamy kitchen !


Here goes for the last recipe I’d never made before.

Pay attention this way, Sue !   :)

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Root Vegies mash

prep: 15′   cook: 45′   serves 4


    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 4 red onions, thinly sliced
    • 200g puy lentils
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
    • 1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 350g peeled and diced carrots
    • 350g peeled and diced swede
    • 350g peeled and diced potato
    • 50g parmigiano, finely grated


    • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions for 8 mins until softened.
    • Put a kettle on to boil. Stir the lentils, rosemary, stock powder and balsamic vinegar into the onions, pour in 1 litre boiling water, add seasoning, and simmer for 25-30 mins with the occasional stir until the lentils are soft but still have some bite.
    • Meanwhile, cook the root veg for 25 mins. (I can only imagine it’s really exciting if you get these two stages to match ..)
    • Mash the root veg with a masher. Add seasoning.
    • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lentil mixture into a pie dish, top with the mash, then scatter over the cheese.
    • While it’s still hot, grill the pie to melt the cheese
    • Serve pie with cooked green veg. My favourite green veg is cabbage, but broccolini passes muster; and you should prepare ’em small. Use one of these

for cabbage, and not only will you shred it wonderfully fine in  no time at all,  but you will also festoon practically everything around you with little light green bits. Yesss !   :)

Astoundingly, this is REALLY tasty. Well, I think I’m surprised by the lentils part: I expected the bottom of the shepherd’s pie to be fairly bland, but it was extremely flavoursome. Of course, I should’ve said “is”, as there’s enough left over for even the largest and grumpiest of cooking persons to have several more meals out of it. Which is how I eat, basically. And I don’t get bored, either.

So that was it. From now on I shall simply rotate among the plentiful number of recipes I’ve made before and know I like. There are so many of these that already I’ve reached the stage of saying “Oh, I’d forgotten all about haloumi pasta ! Great ! That’s my next dinner !”.

I do believe I’ve done it ..

.. posted a recipe that needs no alteration or faffing about with in order to be able to be consumed by my mate Sue !!

HOORAY !    [grin]

Spicy Lentil, Sweet Potato and Coconut Casserole (Serves 4)


  • 1½ tbsps coconut oil
  • an onion chopped small
  • piece of ginger, chopped small
  • seasoning
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • medium sweet potato, cut into 1” cubes
  • medium carrot, chopped smaller than s.p.
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tsps curry powder
  • 2 cups Massels stock
  • 2 cups coconut milk


  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and ginger until onion starts to soften.
  • Add the turmeric, curry powder, lentils, sweet potato and carrot, with seasoning, and stir to combine.
  • Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils and carrot are tender. It’s possible you may have to cook it a little longer for the lentils; but try hard not to over-cook the sweet potato !
  • Stir in the coconut milk. Check seasoning and warm back to desired serving temperature.

This recipe was claimed to be a curry. Words fail. It is, however, just about as simple as a recipe can be – right up my alley.

I have swapped ginger powder for fresh ginger.

I have increased the volume of coconut milk and decreased the stock amount to match up.

You are at liberty to re-change, should you so wish. But I can tell you that with my alterations this recipe is singularly yummy. In fact, I’m finding it fairly amazing how delicious all these vegetarian recipes are .. but that is not to say that I haven’t tried some and cast them into exterior darkness as soon as tasting ’em. You’re seeing only the successes: what else ?!

My first lentil recipe

I went to a shop that sells bulk foods, a couple of weeks ago, and bought (inter plura alia) half a kilo of small sort of green lentils. Today I decided it was time to cook the little buggers – not the whole ½k ! – and found in my recipe files the following:

Borlotti & Lentil Casserole

Prep: 10’ – Cook: 1 hr 30’ – Servings: 6 portions


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum,finely chopped
  • parsley – stalks chopped fine, leaves rough
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsps smoked paprika
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • tin chopped tomatoes
  • tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
  • 200g puy lentils, rinsed
  • tsp Massel vegetable stock powder
  • 3 squares dark chocolate


  • In a large casserole heat the oil and add the onion, leek, pepper, parsley stalks, garlic, chilli and spices. Fry gently for 4-5 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture gets too dry.
  • Add the tomatoes, then refill the empty tin with water, tip this into the pan, re-fill it again to half-way and add this too.
  • Tip in the borlottis, lentils, stock cube and chocolate, stir, then bring to the boil.
  • Turn down to low, cover and cook for 1½—2 hours until the lentils are tender and sauce has thickened. Remove the lid for a while if there’s too much liquid. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  • Stir through the parsley just before serving, and top with sour cream.

OK. That’s the recipe and here is my dinner a little while ago:

See the sort of hazy part inside the right-hand top quadrant ? – that’s steam.   :)

Because I’m strange, I had it with couscous rather than rice; and I can tell you from my own somewhat gluttonous experience that it tastes very nice indeed !

HOWEVER ! See what I put in red text ? – the cooking time ? Well, I dunno what lentils are like where this recipe comes from (and I have zero memory of where I found it), but my small more-or-less-green lentils were perfectly cooked in half an hour ! So please keep in mind – should you, like me, like the sound of lentils and borlottis together – to keep tabs on your cooking time, yes ?

And if you do, you’ll derive as much enjoyment from this yummy and healthy vegetarian meal as I did. And will ..

Easy on the heat, this time

Can it be true ?, they all cried: she’s posting ANOTHER recipe ? What is wrong with this woman ? – why can she not be stopped ?!

Heh heh .. because I’m on a roll re cooking at this time. But I will have to stop as of tomorrow, for there is zero space in my freezer. (And to be brutally honest, I don’t even know if what’s already in there will all re-heat entirely edibly ! But I’m pretty confident ..)

Today I present for your delectation the recipe I didn’t make when I said I would, but only the night before last ..

Oh, before I forget:

THESE are shallots !
Whereas these are spring onions,



  • 1 medium-size eggplant, peeled and cut into ½” dice
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (use peanut if you have it)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5cm ginger, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced small
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • smallest can tomato paste
  • can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup unsweetened peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 1 large-ish zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced ¾”
  • 2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
  • ½ cup coarsely-chopped parsley, plus some for garnish


  • In a large pot, heat 3 tbsps oil, medium-high heat. Add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a bowl, leaving oil in pot.
  • Raise heat to high and add eggplant (probably some more oil as well). Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shallots.
  • Add oil to pot and heat over medium-high: add ginger and chilli and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add all spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more.
  • Add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Add diced tomatoes, stock, eggplant and shallots and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.
  • Place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add one or two ladles of the hot liquid, and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back in.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover and cook 10—15’, until it’s tender.
  • Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and chopped parsley. Let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary.
  • Serve in bowls with rice, garnished with parsley (and chopped peanuts, if you like).

I must be honest about this recipe: it is not the easiest or least finicky I’ve made. I did promise only to post simple recipes, amongst which this one isn’t entitled to be listed.

HOWEVER ! Whilst I did not even eat it on the night it was cooked, but left it sitting there overnight and then divided it into containers and glommed the contents of one down last night, I am here to tell you that it is REALLY, REALLY DELICIOUS !!

So I s’pose that boils down to saying that the end justified the means; or, basically, that it was very much worth it !    :)

Yes, it’s another chilli – but even healthier !   :)

I can’t seem to get enough chilli recipes to keep me happy !

Friday night ago I had 2 friends to dinner and fed ’em a chilli based on Quorn mince – which recipe is, I promise you, DELICIOUS ! The Quorn simply provides .. well, bulk, really; it doesn’t make you think you’re eating meat (even if the manufacturers would like that). But on the other hand, were it real mince in that chilli, you wouldn’t be aware of the taste of meat – if you see what I mean.

I forgot to take a shot of it.

Anyway. Last night, having made my friend S (yes, the one who monsters me about my crochet) take me to the 7am to 8am elderlies’ shopping hour at Coles and then, having discovered the largely empty shelves, go shopping for me elsewhere, I was in the happy position of having the ingredients of no less than FOUR major meals – so I made the first on my list.

Apart from the somewhat mucky state of the sides of the dutch oven, does that not look good ?? – so I provide herewith ..


Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped small-ish
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 green capsicum, chopped
  • 1 medium onion (or 2 small), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (mine is, like, hot)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • can diced tomatoes including juice
  • can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 125g tomato juice / passata
  • salt


  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the carrots, capsicums, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the chilli, chilli powder and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Add canned tomatoes and all three beans, tomato juice, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil ..
  • .. then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the flavours are blended, about 40’. If it begins to look too dry add some water (see below) as needed.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings.

To be noted: be aware of the strength of whatever chilli powder you have !!! The recipe actually requires a tablespoon of chilli powder (ACK !), but I was wise ..

As you can see, there’s no bulk liquid in the ingredients. I found I needed to add more passata; and I also filled the emptied tomatoes can with water and added some of that.

Having stuffed my face last night with this yummy chilli, I found that this-morning it tastes even better (no, not chilli for breakfast: just tasting while putting into containers for the fridge) ! But I shall ignore it for a bit; because tonight I’m making Slightly Spicy Peanut Stew !

Almost irresistible, this one !

Should I apologize for my single-mindedness ? – naah.

I’ve completely rearranged my pantry so that my spices & stuff now have their own section; and have fallen in love with cooking new recipes all the time. Only problem is storage; and I’m about to run out of room in the frig and the freezer. Will be obliged to stop cooking for a while.    :\

Bean, Potato & Vegetables Bake


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3 large potatoes, 1 red capsicum and 1 large-ish zucchini, all cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 or so large-ish button mushrooms, halved
  • 400g tin whichever beans you like best, drained and probably rinsed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsps smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder OR 1 long red chilli, sliced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 75g cheddar, grated
  • 3 pieces dark chocolate, bashed to bits with the base of your cooking knife (or whatever)
  • Fresh parsley to serve


  • Pre-heat oven to 200°C
  • Spread the diced potatoes out in a large casserole or baking dish, add the oil and toss. Roast, tossing again halfway, for 50 minutes or until the cubes are starting to get crisp.
  • Add all of the vegetables to the dish, along with the kidney beans, tinned tomatoes, and spices. Season generously, and mix well to combine. Return to the oven for a further 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the tomatoes have formed a rich sauce.
  • Scatter the chocolate and stir it well in; then top with the grated cheese and bake for 15 more minutes.
  • Serve topped with parsley if desired.

This one created a real storage problem, as I wanted to keep it the more-or-less single layer it was cooked in. Had to leave it to go totally cold, and could then pick the remaining three-quarters in three sort of solid bits; each went onto a dinner-plate, into a big freezer bag and then into the frig. So now you know why storage is at a premium !

I think I’ll have to invest in those foil food-keepers with lids that Nigella uses so much. Reusable and all, and not plastic – win|win, right ? Besides, they don’t take up as much room as the plastic ones do, so I could cook, like, more ..   [grin]

Oh yes: note that this dish takes a tad under 1¾ hours to cook, allowing for the taking out of the oven and steaming up the specs and swearing, stirring, and returning to the oven again (X 2) ..

This is one damned fine (and VERY yummy) chilli !



  • 2 large-ish sweet potatoes, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsps medium chipotle seasoning (1 if hot)
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced (sorry, Sue 1: see additional bit at bottom ..)
  • 2 long red chillis, seeds in, sliced fine OR a jalapeño, seeded and sliced (2)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (3)
  • water as needed
  • 1½ tbsps polenta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 squares dark chocolate
  • 2 cans black beans, drained, rinsed
  • sour cream to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 220C. Line baking sheet with baking paper. Combine chipotle, tsp salt and 2 tbsps oil in a large bowl, mix, and toss to coat the sweet potatoes. Spread the cubes on baking sheet in a single layer, and roast in preheated oven until the outside is crunchy and inside is tender, 20″—25” (good idea to turn them over half-way through). Let cool.
  • In a slightly cavernous dutch oven put the olive oil, onion, garlic, capsicum, chillis, chilli powder, cumin and oregano: stir well and cook over medium heat until onion is softened (~ 5”).
  • Add tomatoes, and some water to cover, and bring to simmer. Add polenta, salt and chocolate. Bring back to simmer, stirring constantly; then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30”.
  • Stir drained black beans and cooled sweet potatoes into the mixture. Add water if it’s too thick. Simmer about 15”. Season to taste and serve topped with sour cream.

I forgot to drain the  black beans; but that meant the chilli didn’t get dry. Every cloud.   :)

Sweet potatoes can be hard to chop – a bit like .. oh, pumpkin. Or maybe it’s that I don’t have the hand strength of yore. I chopped mine into ¾-of-the-top-joint-of-my-little-finger-sized chunks; but next time I’ll make ’em a bit bigger, I think. Might even go the whole of the top joint ! – I do like to live dangerously from time to time ..

The sour cream on any chilli (and I’m making a lot of these) is simply heavenly ! But of course you can serve chilli over rice; and this one’s great for rice because it has luverly sauce.

And here’s something for Sue, to whom nearly all the recipes I post are no good on account of their various nightshades content:

Replacing the nightshades in cooking

Have you come across her posts before ? – if not, I grin smugly. If so, I trudge off dismally ..

Jack Monroe really knows her onions kidney beans

This time I’ve .. borrowed from the UK’s national broadcaster, the BBC. Well, at least they spell “chilli” correctly !  [grin]

Jack Monroe is an extraordinary young woman, and has managed her sudden rise to culinary fame with simple aplomb. Also, she’s not a proselytiser about being vegan, and that causes my ancient heart to warm to her: veganism is so .. demanding. Perhaps I mean for an old fart ?

Anyway. I have just today discovered during seemingly endless browsing of pressure cookers, their pros and cons and the bewildering number of brands of the damned things, that I might be able to forget pressure cookers and simply use my microwave for fast cooking.

What ? — no, I didn’t ever think of it before. Why would I ?: that would completely ruin my spotless reputation for incomparable dickheadedness !

So I just tried the recipe below for my tea/dinner, even though I don’t have the dark chocolate in my pantry OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN THIS HOUSE ! she said before they could laugh scornfully. It works ! – it’s a really nice recipe !    :)

I believe I’ll get off my bum tomorrow morning and walk up to the bus that takes me to Woolies, wherein can be found many kinds of dark chocolate. And before you start again with the smartarse comments, I actually don’t like dark chocolate (but do have a weakness for white ..); so I shan’t be stuffing it into my cakehole in handfuls.

Oh: two important points !

  1. If you, like me, have a fairly ancient and not frightfully powerful microwave, double each cooking time mentioned, OK ? It’s still going to be under ten minutes’ cooking.
  2. Use a container much bigger than the end volume, to accommodate .. ah .. increase in size.



  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fat garlic clove, chopped very fine
  • knob of butter
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes (or more, to taste)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes, drained (and juice reserved)
  • 400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ vegetable stock cube
  • 2 squares dark chocolate


  • Put the onion, garlic and butter in a microwaveable container, give it a quick stir, then heat in the microwave on High for 30-40 secs. Leave to stand for 1 min, then add the spices, sieved chopped tomatoes, beans, stock cube and 1 square of the chocolate.
  • Cover with cling film and pierce 3 times. Place some kitchen paper under the container and cook for 2 mins on High. Stir well and leave to stand for 1 min.
  • If your chilli starts to dry out, add some of the reserved tomato juice.
  • Add 2nd piece chocolate; cover and cook on Medium for a further 2 mins. Give it a good stir and allow to stand for 1 min before serving, topped with sour cream (or whatever floats your boat) on rice.

Recommended. But then, I wouldn’t post it if I hadn’t liked it, would I ?

Another ripper of a vegetarian recipe !

.. she said modestly ..

Lifted it from our national broadcaster the ABC. They should live so long.

I’m hoping this one is acceptable to the tum of my much-admired blogger, Whispering Gums.  Hers is a sensitive organ and can give her a hard time unless she anticipates said contrariness. Fingers crossed ..

Sweet Potato Curry with Chickpeas and Baby Spinach


  • 1½ tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  •  ½ onion, finely diced
  •  2 tbsps garlic & ginger paste<*>
  •  1½ tsp ground cumin
  •  1 tsp ground turmeric
  •  1 tsp ground cinnamon
  •  ¼ tsp chilli flakes (or more, to taste)
  •  2 tbsps peanut butter – either kind
  •  500g sweet potato, cut into 3 cm – I prefer 1″, to be honest – chunks
  •  1 can full fat coconut milk
  •  1 cup vegetable stock
  •  1 can chickpeas, drained
  •  120g baby spinach leaves
  •  ½ a lemon
  •  salt


  • Heat the oil over low-medium heat in a heavy-based pot. Add the garlic and ginger paste<*> and cook for until fragrant. Add the onion and salt and cook until the onion softens.
  • Add spices and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds (heat but don’t burn them), before adding the peanut butter and stirring in.
  • Add the sweet potato to the pot and stir to coat it in the spiced onion mixture, before adding the coconut milk, stock and chickpeas.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring every so often, until the sweet potato is tender (about 15’).
  • Just before serving, add the spinach and the juice of half a lemon and stir in.
  • Taste and add any additional salt or lemon juice as required.

Serve over cooked rice.

No tomatoes, see ? – but some greens !  I know I’m not eating enough greens right now: I shall have to find recipes that include them.


<*>garlic & ginger paste is easily found, and it does away with so much faffing about !

Oh, YUM !

Cooked this last night, having included another packet of fiendishly expensive Cyprus Halloumi in my Coles delivery order –

And btw, please note:

From experience I can say that anything else isn’t of necessity rubbish, but in general a bit less solid. Chacun (à) son goût. Including whether to use the preposition.

Two packets are a bit more than required, and I did have difficulty getting it all marinated .. should’ve left some out.    :\

Spiced haloumi pasta


  • 300g cooked short pasta (Too much, imnsho: I used 275g, and frankly it should be 250g. Penne lisce are my go-to short pasta.)
  • 400g haloumi
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (I dropped in a number of dried ones)<*>
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsps chopped parsley


  • Cut the haloumi into 1cm cubes. Toss it in 1 tbsp oil and all of the dry spices.
  • Heat the other tbsp oil in a large (and deep !) frypan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until softened.
  • Add the haloumi and curry leaves, and cook until haloumi is golden. (This is problematical, inasmuch as it’s just been tossed in turmeric .. I played it by ear)
  • Add the tomatoes and chilli flakes, then bring to the boil.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Stir in the pasta and cook until heated through.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the parsley.
  • Divide among bowls and serve with mango chutney.

My change for next time will be to (1) add another half tin of tomatoes: were you to cook this exactly as listed, definitely use TWO cans ! – and, almost more importantly, to (2) use a bigger bloody pan !!!

I was amazed at how delicious this recipe is ! Throughout the evening, in fact, I kept hoping that Boodie would get off my lap so that I could return to the scene of the crime, the pan of .. THIS STUFF, and have another forkful.

Alas that I have no idea how it’s going to re-heat: I think I’ll have to add some evoo and stir it in well. But in spite of reducing the amount of pasta – thank heavens ! – and of having nibbled at it several times, I have another three meals in storage thinggies in the fridge.

BIG success !   :)

Update !

It reheated in the microwave brilliantly: I didn’t even need to stir it ! Must’ve been the spiced oil, of course .. D’ohhh ..

Now only two meals left.



<*>I must find out how to grow a curry leaf plant !

I just cooked this for my tea, and it ain’t the first time


  • Chop finely a 10cm piece of ginger
  • Chop up 2 medium (ripe) tomatoes
  • Chop up half an onion
  • Chop up 3 cloves garlic
  • Drain/rinse 1½ cans (c. 540g) chickpeas
  • Oil into pan, add onion garlic and ginger
  • Sauté for a few minutes
  • Add 2 tsps curry paste
  • Add 1 tsp garam masala
  • Add seasoning
  • Stir and cook for a minute or two until fragrant
  • Add chopped tomatoes
  • Cook for a few minutes until they start to break down
  • Shake wildly then add full can (c. 400mls) coconut milk
  • Stir; bring to the boil, lower heat to medium
  • Add chickpeas, cook for 7’-10’
  • Taste, adjust as necessary
  • Squeeze lemon juice only over portion/s to be eaten – NOT over any remaining for another meal !

Coupla things to note: remember the seasoning. I forgot it – often do – and had to add it to the portion on my plate. Doesn’t work as well as when it’s cooked in.

Don’t bother to peel the ginger. I got this tip from the beautiful Alison Roman in her recipe for “The Stew”; and it works fine any time the dish you’re making will be cooked for a while. Let us all give thanks to Alison !    :)

Oh; and btw – don’t reheat leftovers in the microwave. It tries to turn the chickpeas into popcorn. [grin]

There’s a link to the video of the bloke from whom I got this, under the recipe’s name.